Once Upon a Time

This is a short story that for the most part happened.  The details have been colored with a brush to make up for the shortened memory of the author.  Go with the intent not the details.

Many years ago, I attended a workshop in San Louis Obispo, California.  There is a California Specialized Training Institute at the old Fort near Morro Bay.  They put on many interesting classes that are for City Planners and County Emergency Preparedness personnel.  They always like to have a National Guard Officer or two attend to help us understand the State/County response and the ability of the guard to assist.  This is generally a one week course with the last class day spent in an exercise where the staff stage a map exercise that presents a natural disaster and a Civil Disobedience occurrence at the same time.  It generally taxes the students to meet many requirements at the same time and the good news is there is no loss of property or life.  The Military would call this a Command Post Exercise (CPX) and Map Exercise combined. 

If you have never traveled to San Louis Obispo, be prepared to either drive there fro LAX or rent a car there as it isn't the center of the world for transportation.  It is one beautiful place and well worth the trip.   On this trip, I had a vacation planned in LA following the training so I rented a car in LAX and drove up.  The drive on the coast is a trip in itself and one I highly recommend.

After a full day of travel, I was given a room in a local Motel and back in my drinking days, I was known to frequent the local bar of a cold drink, or two.  I am not the most observant person in the world, but shortly after entering the bar, I noticed that several of the people there were armed.  It was all concealed carry but not by much  Lots of guns under a light shirt or ankle holsters.  The more I looked, the more I saw.  I finished my first drink and went to the car to fetch a bottle to drink in my room.  I figured that the bar there in the Hotel was a place I didn't want to hang out in.

The next morning, I decided to ride the bus out to the training center and there on the bus I figured out why so many people were armed.  There was a class of California Highway Patrol Officers (CHPs) training that week and off duty officers in California are required to carry at all times.  Well, I guess they probably can sleep without one but outside and in the rest of the world they are armed.  My class mates all laughed at the simple guy from Kansas that was scared of a few guns. 

The other part of the story I like to tell is that because they were two time zones ahead of Kansas, I would wake up at my normal Kansas time and have time to eat and then watch the sun come up on the beach at Morro Bay.  Lovely place to visit but I am not sure I would want to live there.


It Was a Hoot

Yesterday evening we had family and friends over for dinner.  Two of this group are young boys and they are so funny.  Barbara always entertains them by finding something they like to do.  They went out and picked fruit in the orchard.   While they were out, their mother discussed that she just doesn't understand life from their perspective.  The funny part is that I'm not sure if any mother really understand little boys.  I am pretty sure that the dad's do but they enjoy the antics of boys so much that they won't admit it.  "Tell them to stop that" is not what a Dad wants to hear.  If God didn't intend them to play with it, he wouldn't have made it so fun.  How do you be open and honest about things that gross you out? 

Yesterday I tried two different ways to grill chicken.  One bunch I used pineapple juice/soy sauce marinade and the other I had a Webber Garlic and Herbs marinade with olive oil.  Both ways were pretty darned good.  Again, if anyone went home hungry it was their own fault.  Barbara made a couple of pies and some great whipped cream.  She had worked hard to find sugar free ways to make great pies.  One of the new pies was one with apple butter as the main flavor ingredient. Yummy.  It reminded me of pumpkin pie with just a hint of something different.

I thought after 67 years there wouldn't be much new in my life.  Wrong.  Barb has discovered a new marshmallow that is flat and makes some wonderful S'mores.  A graham cracker, a flat marshmallow, a small chocolate bar and 22 seconds in the microwave  is just the ticket for a yummy warm treat.  Yes, I know there are some of you that want a campfire but not all of us want to get that warm just for a dessert.

Barbara saw a program the other day about turning cooked cauliflower into a treat with Buffalo Wing Sauce.  Seems that if you bake it with a little seasoned salt and olive oil it can be dipped into the wing sauce or ranch dressing and both are tasty.  Don't overcook the cauliflower and don't coat it all in wing sauce.  One of our guests said that she didn't ever think she would ask for seconds on Cauliflower.  I didn't ask, I just ate it until it was almost all gone. 

This year has been a wonderful year for watermelon here in the heartland.  I can't remember having one that wasn't just great.  The new melons that are seedless are just so easy to eat and they seem to taste better than the those big round Black Diamond melons tasted.  I will miss that taste this winter.

Yesterday I was at the grocery store and met a couple I served in the Military with.  I knew they were John and Theresa but I drew a blank on their last name.  I finally had to ask one of my other Military friends for a help.  They are the Gulls and great people.  I guess that old(er) age is wearing my brain out.  At least I could remember part of their names.  I hope that is not the future where the lights grow dimmer and the porch light is still on.  If that happens, I hope I stay happy like my mother.  I know what a sad old bitter person can be like. 

Again technology struck me right between the eyes.  This morning I opened my e-mails and right there on top of my in box was a couple advertisements and I deleted them.  Crap, my phone went into an update mode and it seems that I deleted over a month of e-mails.  I hate it when that happens.  It probably did just what I told it to do.  The good news is that it all went to the trash and we can restore it.  The good news/bad news is that anything there for more than 30 days goes to the great trash can in the sky and god only knows where it goes from there.

Does anyone out there have a good reference for using/restoring/copying things from the cloud?  I have a computer that can do a lot of things fast but I do need to know how to make those things happen.  Oh well...




Last night, the Music Committee discussed the direction the chorus is headed and if we needed some changes.  The discussion went form being very critical to discussing the point that this is a hobby and what we do is what we do.  There are times we really buckle down and shine and there are times we just come to practice and sing.  I personally love to do both and as long as it is fun I will continue to go.

A couple of years ago, we held our practices on Tuesday night and because our director had a Tuesday night gig, we changed to Monday.  Over the years that change has cost us some members and we discussed that.  My point was that there are always reasons that people change their schedules and organizations.  We need to understand that no matter what night we choose, there will be someone that can't come. 

As a chorus of senior singers, we are all getting older.  There are some members that can't really sing anymore but they are always there.  There are members that have family members ill and they can't come. As our members retire, some are moving away to be closer to family.   For many different reasons we seem to get a little over 20 members at our rehearsals.   It makes for some interesting nights when there aren't enough Basses or Baritones.     I guess we need to work harder like any organization to attract new members. 

I don't have a good model to use as a guide for the chorus change.  In the Military we used MET-T.  That was mission, equipment (Enemy and friendly) , terrain/time and temperature.  I just can't seem to get that into my head for planning for change with a chorus.  We are working on getting exposure as a chorus.  We will sing in the Mall next Monday and sang at a Book Fair at the Capitol last Saturday. 

Right before we went outside to sing at the Book fair, we warmed up inside the Rotunda at the Capitol.  Our rendition of Home on the Range just was so great inside there where the sound echoed like we were a heavenly choir and the sky bounced our sounds back at us.  I am going to pitch to the guys that we need to see if we can get a slot on the Kansas Day Festivities there.  Might even be a good thing for the Governor's Inauguration.  We'll see.

Better move on.


Right Tool for the Right Job

Somehow with all the rain, Dave's yard got deep with grass.  He tried to get our Troy Built Mower out and mow it but  it was almost not enough to get 'er done.  In  all fairness, I have been avoiding replacing a front tire and it would go flat with just a couple of passes done.  Even with a new tire, it just had a tough time.   Did I mention that I have an Allis Ago Tractor with a finish mower on the back?  It has been not very good at mowing deep grass lately and I decided that it probably was because it needed the belts tightened.  Yep, I could almost move the belt by hand and I took out the trusty 9/16 wrench and snugged that sucker down.  Cuts just fine now.  What would have been a three or four hour job with the little mower was done in about an hour.  Other than the time I smoked the belts by catching a piece of junk in the blades, it went easy peasy.  Right tool for the right job.

This is the Box blade for moving gravel

Sometime in the next week or so, I am going to go over to the rentals and see what kind of handy work needs done.   I know the garage door opener on the little house needs work and there is a leak under the sink at the big house.  It has a bucket under the leak and only drips from time to time so it isn't a great big deal.  I suspect it is a slow leak where the hose fastens under the fixture. 

Did I tell you about my buckets of tools?   I have over time as a landlord collected many tools and I have tried to sort them by the function I am doing.  I have a bucket for plumbing (One Heavy Sucker) one for electrical work, one for carpentry and tools for fixing vehicles.  Well, my vehicle bucket is really a bag for wrenches, one for sockets and a Metric Tool Box in the Crown Vic.  The rest of my tools are in the storage shed out of the weather. 

Over the years, I have collected a selection of ladders for various uses.  I have one aluminum extension ladder for really high work, a 8 foot fiberglass "A" frame ladder for painting and lower work and one of those ladders you see on TV that can be put into about any shape.  It folds down into a 4 foot by three foot package so it will fit in the trunk of a car.  I find it just the ticket for painting in stairways and such.  With the addition of a board, it makes a pretty fine scaffold up to about 8 feet. 

I am not sure why I am writing this other than I am killing time right now and feel compelled to write something.  I am only one position from having the 2015 slate of officers for the Barbershop Chorus filled.  I have invited one of the chorus members to take the position and it should be one of the easiest jobs so I think he will accept.  We'll see. 

Better get this show on the road.




Kids today think they have written the acronyms that they use in Texting each other.   Coming from a Military Background, I want to disabuse them of that notion.   In 1966, I was the FNG and went to the MEPS in KC as I got drafted into the Army.   We were sent to FLW, MO to the REPODEPO and sent to our BT CO.  We were issued our WEB gear and then put through D&C until we could march like soldiers.  We trained with our M-14's and fired Qual.  I fired Expert with the M-14 and could not hit the side of the barn with the .45. 

OK, you get the hint that the acronym of shortened words aren't something new for texting.  We have been trying to eliminated extra vowels and consonants for years.  IT is interesting that the thing that cost me many A's and B's in school are now thrown away with ease.  Part of my misspelling is that some genius tried to teach me phonetics early and my mind just accepted that if it knew what I had written, everyone else did too.  If they didn't know what I meant, how could they grade my work with all those little red characters?   Yes, I will say again that I got so many of them that I thought that D meant Denny.  I also think they gave me D's to keep me from flunking and getting me again the next year.  For most of my time at Minneha there were three classes of us so that meant they had a 1 in 3 chance of repeating with me.  I am sure that there are teachers around the State that shudder at that thought.   Well, that might be an exaggeration as a lot of them are no longer living.  I won't take credit for that but there are a few cases where I would love to do so.   There was a story here in the Heartland that there was a goy so hated that if someone shot him, three or four guys would go to the Police Station and turn them selves in seeking credit.   Or something like that.

The other day, our Barbershop Chorus sang at a Book Fair on the north steps of the Capitol building.  I knew they had been working on the State House but I had no idea how beautiful the work is.  If you are a Kansan, you should try to schedule a trip through the Capitol building now that most of the work is completed.  Even the bathrooms are really spiffy.  I love the native Kansas limestone and tile they used.  If you think it looks great, you should hear our chorus singing "Home on the Range" (Kansas State Song) from the lower level of the rotunda.  We rocked it from there.  I am just sad that I didn't have Barbara bring the camera and record it.

The other day, the truck started to make noises from under the hood like the muffler had fallen off.  I decided that yesterday would be a good day to see what was wrong and fix it.  I lifted the hood and started the motor.  It was clearly obvious that the exhaust manifold was loose and at least one bolt was missing.  Makes me suspect that someone needed a bolt and thought the truck looked abandoned.  The bolts that were lose were behind the steering box and I had a tough time tightening them back up.  The one that was missing was right out in the open and easy to loosen.  I made a trip to the hardware store and bought a Grade 8 (Real Hard bolt) but had a problem finding one the right length.  I added two washers and a lock washer and everything tightened up right.  I didn't even have to replace the manifold gasket.  That made me think that it wasn't something that just happened over time.  Had those bolts just worked loose over time, the gasket would have been destroyed.  Oh well, it only cost mw $1.27 to fix it.  Bargain at twice the price.

The other day, someone wrote that if we really want to have a strong Military, we should draft old guys and leave the young guys home to procreate the next generation.    There is only one problem with that as I see it.  There was a time when I could read a map well in any light and now I have to have one of those 100 watt suckers.  I saw a scene from a Vietnam movie crew and I just did not have that "DLR" sense I once had.  DLR is Didn't look right and I had to be told that no Vietnamese farmer would have his water buffalo up by the hooch's as he worked the garden.  First of all, the women would take care of the garden and a water buffalo could eat a typical garden in about 5 minutes.  I also could not see clearly that they really had AK-47s not a garden hoe in their hand.  I would have waited for the Rules of engagement to kick in and probably got shot for my lack of a sixth sense.  Back in the day, I would have been locked and loaded, had a firing battery on standby and ready to blast away. That is to point out that I for one would not be the greatest soldier for the Army today.  Not enough Naproxen Sodium to help me get up in the morning if I had to carry a pack all day.

I would have to have a nap each day
Back in the day



Money, Mo' Money Daddy

Once upon a time, I traveled to San Francisco and one of the guys combined a family trip with our business trip to 6th Army out on the Presidio.  He and his wife took their daughter to California on a train to see the USA and be there when we attended a conference.  They had a young daughter and because my friend was about the cheapest guy in the State, I taught her to say, "Mo' Money Daddy." He just couldn't say no to that cute little person.  The one mistake I made was to rent a full size Lincoln in San Francisco.   You can hardly find a place to park a small car let alone a full size one.  Oh well, lesson learned. 
This little guy has spent 66 years learning more lessons

The local paper, the Topeka Capitol Journal, has started carrying a couple pages of the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.   There is almost always an advice column on Money.  For the most part, I agree with their recommendations, but there are a few things that I find troubling. They don't recommend having credit cards.  I try to never get where I have a balance on my credit cards that I carry over.  I do have one because it is a lot more convenient to pay for our Motel room than have a lot of cash with us.  If we fly, it is nice to have the ability to cancel payment if the Airlines overbook or bump us from the flight.  The one thing that popped up this last bill was that somehow our information was hacked and some charges appeared on the card that we didn't authorize.  New cards are on the way and the bad or bogus charges were reversed.  If that had been a Debit Card, they would have the money first and the bank would have to work to return my money.

One thing mentioned in the Wall Street article was new cars.  Thy mentioned that a lot of people buy a new car about every three years and they lose almost half of their investment to depreciation. Their advice was to stretch that out to about 5 years.  I can do you one better than that, buy used and run the wheels off that puppy.  A few years back, we found a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria with low mileage for about $10,000. It was almost $30,000 new That car is still in our driveway, it gets about 25 MPG on the road and feels like it will do another 100,000 before we find another good used car.  Oh I love to look at new cars, but mostly to see what I might buy in four or five years when they are gently used.   Yes, we are cheap but I like to think of it as Cheap(er).

One thing I find fault with is the advice that we should be investing in the stock market.  Perhaps if I were younger and the return on my money was stronger than the desire for the return of my money.  I have never, repeat never had a good time in the stock market.  I lost money in Custom Electronics, Great Midwestern and then General Motors.  Remember when they said "What's good for GM is good for America."  Tell that to my stock who's value vanished.  Not declined, vanished.  Who will buy all the stock when the Baby Boomers have to start selling it to pay their taxes in a few years.  I don't know about you, but my kids don't have any extra money to buy stock. 

The other day, I went through the checkout line at Sam's club and the clerk was trying really hard to "Upsell" their Master Card to every customer.  I'm sure that it was a promotion and they were made to do it.  After a polite "No Thanks" we left the store.  I had just purchased a new WEB Griffin Book and put their little advertisement in the book thinking it would make a good book mark.  Later on I looked at the information wondering what their real pitch was.  They offered us a Guaranteed $1,500 credit line at 22.3% interest.  The Bank is paying me less than 2% on my money and these clowns want me to sign up for 22% interest?  Are they just nuts or what?    I did read that the average Student Loan is higher than the Credit Card debt of each family.  That amount is about $39,000 and growing. If that is right, the Credit card companies are taking about $8,500 away from families each year just to pay the interest on their card.  I'll bet most people just don't understand the value of their money. They just pay and pay and pay and wonder why they can't save.

Many years ago, my grandfather gave us some good advice and we always headed that advice.  He told us to save as much money as we could but 7% was the minimum.  We have always done that and treated that money as if it were in a lockbox somewhere else.  We have never touched it and don't plan to do so anytime soon.   He said the best investment was any retirement program that threw their money into an investment pot with matching (any amount works) funds.  This can be risky if it is all invested in their company stock (See the GM example above)  but most people change jobs and if they are smart diversify their investments.  The later in the investment cycle you should be almost all in Treasury funds.  The more mature people are, the return of their money is more important than the return on their money.

If you really need a leg up in understanding how your money works, I recommend the Financial Peace University from Dave Ramsey.   At least if you go broke after taking that course, you will know why.  One simple rule is that in the long run, Income must be equal to or greater than outgo.  Now if we could just get our Government to understand that.



Jes' Playin'

As a child, I was one of many Baby Boomers in our neighborhood.  If there was a shortage of someone to play with, it was because we were still inside and probably asleep.   There was no TV when I was under 7 (at least in our House) and a fan was as good as it got so most of the time we played outside.  Even during the school year we could hardly wait to get outside to find some mischief to get into.  On MY block, there was Eugene, Ronny, Harry and my first friend Harvey.  They moved and Eugene's parents moved into their house so they weren't there at the same time.  Throw in brothers and sisters for those guys and you can imagine that we could always put together a baseball game. 

These were just from My Family
I grew up on the east side of Wichita and most of the time in the summers, Beech Aircraft ran a second shift and they left their parking lights on until well after midnight.  In the summertime, it was almost like daylight on our street and we would play outside until they turned off the lights after 1 AM.  Yes, I know it was probably a lot more simple time and I am not sure if there were fewer dangers or just so many more of us that one or two weren't missed as much.  We had several kids that were incapacitated by major diseases and at least one kid drowned in the swimming hole.  I don't remember being traumatized by any of that so either I was one insensitive SOB or it went almost unnoticed by the majority.

There were so many of us that we had to share the swing. This was Lolly, Harvey's sister and I probably had a crush on her.

One of the things that probably changed my life the most was learning to ride a bike.  Once wheels hit the bottom of my feet, I became a mobile missile launching to far off places.  Bikes were like an exponent to the distance and speed we could travel.  I can't even begin to count the stupid things that caused accidents on my misadventures.   Did you know that you can't ride a race bike down a hill and out on a frozen pond?  Well, you can but it is a sure way to bust your butt when the bike goes one way you fall hard on the hard ice.  The only thing that saved me was that I had a big old bulky coat on.  There was a big ditch down the street towards the school.  It was great fun to ride down that ditch and then fly up the other side and land out on the road.  The only problem was that on one such trip, I saw a car coming on the road so I deliberately hit a fence to keep from being run over.  I flew over the fence, my foot got trapped by the bike and there I was hanging over the fence and the bike was on the other side holding on to my foot.  Upside down and dangling was the description of my friend who almost could not stop laughing to help me get un-dangled. 

One year I got a new race bike for Christmas and my parents let me ride it about 5 miles over to my cousin's house.  I did that on a busy two lane road and am probably lucky to not get killed.  At least it was in the day time and not during Shift Change there at Beech.  Our school started after the first shift change finished and ended right before the next shift change.  I always thought it was funny that our school got out at 3:15 each day but as I look back it probably saved the lives of many children that would have hardly been speed bumps as the plant workers rushed to get away from there.  The trip to my cousin's house wasn't repeated as they moved to Colorado that year.  

One really fun thing for me was that my friend Ronny's Dad was the head custodian at the local school.  If there was a special event at the school, Ron and I would go to the gymnasium and set up chairs for the privilege of  getting to play in the gym right after we finished taking those chairs and putting them on carts under the stage.   When we would finish, we also swept the floor and left it in good shape for other days.  Mr. Sawyer would even unlock the equipment room and we could play all sorts of games.  I think Bombardment was one of my favorite.  There was a pretty soft kickball that was just the right size and weight.  Volleyballs were too hard and basketballs were too heavy.  I am sure that I got good at throwing one of them at Ronny.

Have I mentioned Womack Grocery lately?   Up at the end of our block was a grocery store run by one great Lady, Mrs. Womack.  She always had a big old candy case stocked with two levels about 20 feet long of candy in all sorts.  Back in the day, many of the treats were one or two things for a penny and a dime would get you a small sack full.  Malted Milk balls dipped in Chocolate, jaw breakers, bubble gum and those candy dots stuck on paper. There were all sorts of wax things, some full of a sweet fluid.  Can you imagine haw many of us smoked candy cigarettes?  I would love to have a nickel for every tooth I lost because of one of those Big Bogie Taffy bars with peanuts.  For me, an almost endless supply of candy was available because of pop bottles.  We could generally go up to Mellor Street and find three or four bottles worth pennies apiece.  A major find was if my mother would make chili she always had me get a six pack of Pepsi to go along with that chili. She would put the empty pop bottles on the stairs at our house and I could go out the back door with those bottles and right to the store.  I think she probably knew from the dental bills who was responsible for the "Petty" theft.  Dang I miss those days.

Oh well, another hour wasted here on the computer.  I have just finished a Jack Reecher Book by Lee Child and have a Clive Cussler book waiting.  This weekend we are going to sing at the Book fair at the Capitol.  It is scheduled for the same time as the memorial for the officer killed last weekend.  We'll se what the turn out will be. 


I Am Responsible!

I was not the biggest fan of Harry Truman but he did have a sign on his desk that I loved.  "The Buck Stops Here!"  Harry grew up in a time where people just accepted that their position in life makes them responsible for the events that happen in their space.  For 30+ years in the Military, I think I lived that Motto fully and now it is clear that here at Rabbit Run, I have little choice but to pin the tail on my donkey.

One failure that a lot of people make is they think they can lie and et out of something.  Do you think Nixon was canned (or about to be canned when he resigned) because someone in his administration broke into the Watergate Complex?  Nope, it was the lie that he told to cover it up.  People make mistakes and when they do their best and things turn out bad, accepting the responsibility generally enough.  Go to your boss and accept the error of your ways and a large percentage of the time unless it is illegal, immoral or unethical mistakes are forgiven.

When  Friday rolls around, who do you think gets up and rolls the trash and the recycle container out to the court here at Rabbit Run?  Yep'er Skippy, that's my job and if it doesn't get done, the blame is mine all mine.  For the most part, mechanical things and some of the cooking are on my list.  Barbara does the things that are pretty and thoughtful and I keep the engine running. 

I won't take credit for everything, it is just that I feel compelled to point out that in life, we have somehow changed from the model that we have individual responsibilities to a place where we want the Government to do much for us.   If the voters in Ferguson, Missouri feel they aren't represented in their Government,  more than 25% of the eligible voters need to get up off their duff and vote.  Even with the minorities in the USA a small percentage of the population, they can change the outcome of our elections if they get out and vote.  I do.

In the case of wanting the Government to be responsible, there is enough things for everyone to have a bite of the apple.  In fact, we do not have enough money to have Government to accept many more roles right now.  Our Teachers have a very defined role right now and it is teaching the kids to meet the standards in the testing they are being given.   Don't expect them to undertake the role of making sure the kids do their homework if you who have them at least as long as the Teachers do. Morals, respect and love of life are taught to children and most of that is done before they enter School.  I for one wonder where the schools got the job of feeding the kids a breakfast?  If you want your kids to be courteous, clean and know what school is really for, someone like parents need to be there with that responsibility.    Most of the schools have a Psychologist but they alone can't change the basic attitude that everyone must step up to the plate and take a bite out of the Apple we will call raising our children. 

Yesterday I went to a local store to buy a few items on the way home.  The store has almost a whole new bunch of clerks and the young woman that checked me out had a rough time trying to figure out what a zucchini was. I showed her the bump on the end of the zucchini and told her that cucumbers are more uniform in color.  I guess it does look like a cucumber somewhat.  When it was time to give me my change, (I am an old dinosaur that uses real money) she gave me 9 one's and had to count on her fingers how to do that.  The ticket was in the grocery sack and after minute the screen on the register went blank and she had to dig out the receipt.  I told the wife that I did not predict a long and stellar career in the Grocery Business for that young woman unless she is a fast learner.    The sharpies that ply the trade will beat her out of money every time. 

So back to my first and main point.  Everyone in the world can help make this a better place to live if we all step up and can be counted on.  Raise your children, take care of your life and Vote. 
End of message. 



Who's Fault Is It?

In today's paper there is an article about how our schools are failing the children in the inner cities.  The main cite is the Ferguson, MO schools that scored less than 10 on a scale of 100 where the passing score is a 70.   The author says it is the fault of the Teacher's Unions that the children there aren't given access to other forms of Education and that they are forced to attend the failing Public Schools. 

I can't speak for the schools in Ferguson, but I can tell you that the schools here in Kansas are now funded with enough money to teach reading and math so kids that graduate can read and do math.  There has to be something more to the story than "Its their Fault." 

I refer to the old saying, "Do what you did and you will get what you got."  The article in today's paper blamed a part of the problem on the Teacher's Union and then went on to say that nearly 100% of the support and money they have go to Democratic Politicians.  Do you see a solution there?  

I contend that our problems in the schools goes a lot deeper than just money to the schools.  You would have to meet the teachers at our local school to fully understand how hard they work to get our children on track and keep them there.  Then there is the support from the families that make our PTA's strongly in support of the activities.  I won't even begin to tell you that our students are superior, just that their parents try hard to help the children do the best they can. 

If you think our schools are a failure, get involved with a local school.  I think you will see that a lot of the blame should be placed on the attitude that they will fail.  Start with the attitude that our children are the future of our country and help them be proud of the education they are getting.  How can we expect teachers to do their best in a condition that places all the blame on them?   I'll bet that a lot of you have no concept how much money teachers spend out of pocket to enrich their classroom experience. 

Every year for as long as we have been affiliated with Monarch Watch at KU, Barb had taken Monarch Caterpillars to the third grade of her old school.  She helps shape the lessons they teach on the life cycle of the caterpillars and keeps the teachers stocked with enough Milk Weed leaves to let the cats grow and become butterflies.  At the start of the year, Barbara also buys extra school supplies and takes them to the school to make sure that no child starts the year without the items needed to be a success.  She may think Globally but she acts locally.

What do you do except read the paper and accept the fact that our kids are failing and there is nothing we can do except complain about the Teacher's Union?



Lessons Learned

Back in the early 70's, I commanded a National Guard Artillery Battery.  It was Battery B of the 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery in Horton, KS.  That unit had been activated for Vietnam and when they came home, a lot of kids joined that unit to stay out of the draft,  They were for the most part a great group of guys and if you think the guys were great, you should have met the young officers I had assigned.  They were about as fine a group of people as I could have ever asked for.  They were sponges about learning how to run a firing battery.  I think I was in my teacher mode most of the time and they learned a lot and well.  Seldom did I have to cover a subject twice, and there were only a few lessons they had to learn the hard way.

Young Captain Petty

One weekend, we were called at about 8 AM when the drill was to start and told to load up our soldiers and report to Hiawatha for a training exercise.   That required our soldiers to draw their gas masks, weapons and bayonets.  Back then almost all of us had our Web Gear in a duffle bag and most of us had it stored in the Armory.   It took us about an hour to issue everything, do an in-ranks inspection and get everyone in the trucks.  About a half hour later, we reported to the Hiawatha High School parking lot for some instruction on formations used in riot control.  I was glad to have one of the Battalion staff do the instruction and then to have the young officers to actually perform the troop movements. I was a pretty salty Artillery man but not much for the Riot Control formations and orders.  It was very simple and easy so I didn't stress much.  We all learned a lot and it turned out to be one great day of learning. 

When we returned to the Armory, the supply officer was in the supply room and inspecting the rifles as they were turned in.  Back in the day, we issued each weapon with a weapons card and the appropriate bayonet went with the weapon on that card.  I made sure that the officer in charge of the weapon inspection knew that we were scheduled for an IG inspection that next month so he needed to make sure the weapons were clean as they could be.  He was as tough as he could be and several of the rifles were returned to be re-cleaned.  The only mistake in this process was that the bayonets were allowed to be turned in and the rifle's returned to get further cleaning.  When the final rifle was turned in, there were two bayonets missing.  Crap.  No one in the unit admitted they still had those bayonets.  I am sure they were kept more as a token of being in the guard than the value.  I kept the unit late for an hour or so and finally let them go home when the bayonets didn't turn up. 

Instead of making the supply officer pay for the two missing bayonets, I just whipped out my check book and wrote a check for a little less than $15.00 to replace the bayonets.  The new Lieutenants all wanted to know why they weren't held to be responsible.  I told them that we all learn from doing and this was just one of those lessons I didn't teach as well as I should.  It became an object lesson and that from then on, all I had to do was to remind them that I didn't want to have to buy any more bayonets.  It was a cheap lesson that they all learned.

Oh, BY the way, the weapons for the unit passed the IG Inspection and got a special commendation as being well done.  The only exception to this was the Commander's .45 (Mine) was dirty and was not cleaned.  I was an expert at cleaning the .45 and had even used my special cleaning supplies to make sure it was clean and orderly.  When the inspection was over, I cornered the Unit Administrator and asked him what had happened to my .45.   He admitted that he and a couple of guys had taken my .45 over to a local pond and shot frogs.  He just got busy and forgot to clean that weapon.  Had it been any other weapons I wouldn't have been mad but it had to be mine.   Dang I hate it when that happened. 


Oh No, Those people in Washington are Playing Politics

I fully expect the leaders in Washington to tell us the truth when they lie to us.  How can you tell they are telling lies, their lips are moving.  I just had to get that out of my system so I could move on "smartly."   Or dumbly depending on what you expect to get out of reading a free blog.  I would say that I am, trying my best but I'm not sure that I want you to have lower expectations than normal. 

There are times I just want to make sure that everyone knows what form of Government we have and why it is limited the way it is.  First it is based on a piece of paper that was written a long time ago.  It has been slow to change by its very nature and yet has changed very fast by practice.  You and I don't have any real say in how our country is run because we vote for the elected officials and they really run things.  To compound that, a lot of you don't really get out and vote so we are really run by a simple majority of one party over the simple minority of another.  If the electorate really got out and voted, I wonder what we would really look like.

There is a truism, "Do what you did and you will get what you got!"  If we continue sending the same people to Washington, and expect change, who are we fooling?  Isn't that the definition of insanity? 

Shifting Gears -  The weather here in the heartland is looking a lot more like fall right now.  The skies are overcast and the wind has switched around to the north.  It had rained some but not hard of long.  I have this one area that the water puddles up and only when it rains more than a 1/2 inch or longer than a couple of hours.  There was no water collecting there like usual.  We do need an inch or so over the next week and a couple of inches over the rest of September.  Got to put those trees and plants to bed with their feet wet.

Yesterday I went out to my new storage building and looked way up by the door rail.  I saw a big black object there high in the rafters and it appears to be about the biggest wasp nest I have found here on the farm.  Sometime in the next couple of days I will go out and shoot it with one of those sprays that will shoot about 25 feet and then run like hell.  Dave and I don't like wasps and he more than I.  The only good wasp is a dead wasp in our book.  It does kind of make me wonder how big that nest would get if I left it alone.  Now if they made honey, I might consider leaving them alone. I'm not sure they are doing anything for the good of the farm or to earn their keep.  At least the Mud Daubers will catch spiders to put in their mud tubes.  I love wasps when compared to spiders.  My niece asked the Master Gardener what she would do about a big spider in her yard.  My one word description for that is "Squish." 

The other day I saw a TV program about snipers.  It reminded me of a story I call. "Someone shot my Jeep"  In the mid 70's, there were no full time recruiters for the National Guard and not much money to hire part time recruiters.   I was very fortunate to have one hired for my unit and we really liked the guy.  If he had to go out and recruit at one of the local High Schools, he would take my jeep and the kids loved to go out and ride around the countryside in that 4 wheel marvel.  It was my understanding that my recruiter also loved to take his rifle along and they would hunt coyotes as they drove around.

On one rainy Friday evening, I was driving to Fort Riley where we were going to have a Battalion Commander/Battery Commander's call.  As I drove down the road, I discovered that there was a patch on the roof of my jeep and somehow it was dripping right on my knee. The jeeps were left over from the Vietnam buildup so I didn't think too much of it until later.  Being the curious person I was, I waited until we got back home on Sunday to bring it up.  After our drill we would meet in the training room and discuss things over a beer. (or two) 

When I brought up the subject of the leak, the Motor Sergeant just pointed to the Recruiter, Larry.  Larry said he didn't know how to lie well so here was a bucket of the truth.  It seemed that he and a recruit were out traveling to the home of a kid they wanted to recruit.  (Good story but not, I suspect, the whole truth) As they drove down a road they spotted a coyote.  Being always ready for anything, Larry jumped out all set to plug that coyote.  After jacking a round into the chamber, he threw the rifle up on the top of the jeep to get a steady bead.  He looked through his scope and there was a clear shot so he took it.  Bang, and it was clear that he had missed.  The kid with him said, "I think you shot the jeep."  Sure enough about an inch and a half below the view through the scope there was hole in the canvas top and an ugly hole in the windshield frame.  In the sniper story on TV, the sniper shot two rounds into a short block wall that he did not see in the scope picture.  Same with the jeep top, unless there is a way for the top to jump up and get into the way. (Not)

Being aware of the ways of the system, he took the jeep back to the armory and removed the top.  It was sent to the canvas repair shop in Topeka.  He took out a couple of hammers and beat the hole as closed as he could and with a little body filler and OD paint, it was hard to tell where the incident had happened.  Probably had the leak not dripped on my knee, no one would have been any the smarter.

The guys in the Training office didn't know what to expect from me for a short minute.  I think my comment went something like, "You gotta' be shitting me.  He shot my Jeep?"  After that, I thing it was always kind of a joke that some one would ask, "Who Shot My Jeep?" if things were a little tense over some small problem.  I think we laughed about that for at least an hour. 

I'm not sure if that was a funny to you as it was to me.  Somewhere in the near future I will tell you about the two bayonets and how they made an impression on my young officers.