Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Apache Corp

Vol. 2016 No. 1


This Windows began in the waning days of 2015.

Description of environment, ground cover, and grateful inhabitants: 

To date snowfall in Ucross, Wyoming has been considerably less than normal, but enough to cover the surface and create a Christmas setting including the twenty plus immense blue and green spruce trees, the three giant birch trees even taller than the spruce, wildlife has increased to include wild pheasants, and a group of perhaps twenty Hungarian partridge.  Those birds are added to the normal complement of up to eighty wild turkeys of which the ratio of gobblers to hens is excessive.  To those who haven’t seen wild turkeys go to their nightly roosts high in the cottonwood trees, the elder birds together with their youngsters, now over half grown, run like airplanes gathering speed for take off, the parents landing high in the trees and their progeny at lower elevations.

On the ground the White Tail deer use their front paws to scratch through the thin layer of snow to feed on the grass beneath.  We augment their diet with the purchase of corn, some cracked, as in the phrase, “Jimmy crack corn,” of which I’ve furnished two pickup loads of fifty and forty pound bags, hopefully enough for a month or so with corn prices are down about forty percent this year, it’s interesting to note that with agriculture under duress presently with groceries continuing at high prior year levels.

The area we created called the “Finger Lakes,” is one of the few fed by runoff by the surrounding hills plus irrigation rather than the Big Horn Mountains twenty-five miles to the west from which the Canadian geese (four pair having been provided by Howard Alkire) have been offensive to a neighbor who does not appreciate their droppings on his out of door porch. So far this year, no turkeys have chosen to frequent the roof of my home. 

The twenty plus spruce in my yard are immense and mostly blue, while one green spruce across my driveway on son, Roger Plank’s yard is the largest I’ve ever seen.  Interestingly Roger checked the longevity of spruce and back came the Google report with care their lives can be three hundred to six hundred years.   Yesterday a large White Tail, while watching me through the dining room window, munched grass along the side of my bedroom. My Wyoming associate, Joe Reed, had counted a baker’s dozen deer in my yard.  On Saturday and Sunday we received our first heavy snow of 8” and my driveway has yet to be plowed. 

Tonight the setting sun was glorious and the clouds few and far between.  Perhaps the turkeys took in the sunset as well, for when they headed to their roost down Piney Creek they ran rapidly.

Obama’s State of the Union Address


Before turning to Obama, a few relevant statistics:

Per U.S. Census Bureau – the U.S. population currently stands at 313 million of us, with a child born every eight seconds, and a death occurring every ten seconds. 

RP:  Enough for diversity. 

Our national debt rises above $18 trillion dollars (that’s $18,000,000,000,000 and climbing).

Per person national debt stands at $58,431. While for a family of four the debt equates to $233,724. WOW!

In the first ten trading days of 2016 the Dow Jones averages have fallen fourteen hundred points; a blow to 401ks and companies with pension funds.

Oil prices broke $30 on January 15, 2016 to close at $29.68 per barrel and layoffs have again gone into high hear following the holidays. 

I did not see Obama’s final State of the Union Address, however, I did read the U.S.A. Today article “8 Key Quotes From Obama’s State of the Union” (link follows):


1.    On bipartisanship:

“Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families. So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse.  We just might surprise the cynics again.”

RP:  My Houston very able assistant Deb Koehler’s husband has been working with the Federal Drug Administration for over thirteen years to legislate an anti depressant with minimal side effects.  Thirteen years enables three students in sequence to enroll and graduate from college.  The Federal Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has recently announced another deadline of March 2016 prolonging their ruling once again.

I met the Chairman and C.E.O. of a major drug company years ago who told me they found the process to require over three and ½ years and cost them over $300 million to introduce a new drug for approval.  Today I’m told that has increased to ten years and $1.5 billion.


2.    On the Economy:

“Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.  What is true – and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious – is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit and haven’t let up.”

RP: F.D.R. was elected in 1932; it took WWII beginning in 1939 and millions of lives lost, families shattered forever, and massive rebuilding of infrastructure.


3.    On Combating Cancer:

“Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot America can cure cancer.  Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade.  Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done.  And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control.” 

 RP:  More control by the politicians and more competition and regulations for the private sector doctors.


4.    On Climate Change:

“We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy.  Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future – especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels.  That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

RP:  Coal now provides 37% of the electricity.  I doubt if we can go back to whale oil to light lanterns or solar power to move airline planes.    


5.    On U.S. strength:

“The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period.  It’s not even close.  We spend more on our military that the next eight nations combined.  Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world…when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.”

RP:  I simply do not believe we’re respected when we utilize sanctions to punish and intimidate. Among the world’s 196 nations we have U.S. troops in 156 countries.  Defense versus offense?  B.S.


6.    On the Islamic State:

“As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.  Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped.  But they do not threaten our national existence.  That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit….We just need to call them what they are – killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.”

RP:  Probably it’s come to that!


7.    On Diversity:

“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion.  This isn’t a matter of political correctness.  It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong.  The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

RP:  Sickening!  I’m advised by two Senators and their town hall programs that 5,000 fleeing migrants of over 100,000 have arrived and will come to us unvetted with a language and education barrier unless it’s training to disrupt while enjoying the “freebies” along the way.


8.    On Politics: 

“The future we want – opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids – all that is within our reach.  But it will only happen if we work together.  It will only  happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.  It will only happen if we fix our politics.”

RP:  We’re floundering.

In the 2016 State of the Union Address, I found no reference to national debt at above $18,000,000,000,000.


Quote from the latest book read “Operation Snow:”

“When I asked Len Cacutt, a fireman during the London Blitz and later air gunner in the Royal Air Force, what he really thought of the origins of wars, he replied, ‘All wars are produced by politicians for their own benefits, and it’s always Joe Soap who gets it right in the neck.  It doesn’t matter whether Joe Soap is British, American, German, or French or even Japanese.  He’s the one who gets it in the neck.’”  

 -John Koster


We seem to have a long way to go to replace enough of the greed and self-interest to legitimately become “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

It’s time to get out of the bleachers and onto the playing field.  Beyond voting we have work to do.

All best,

Raymond Plank