Happy Halloween

I guess it should be no surprise that Barbara loves Halloween. The only problem is that we live in the dark woods and have never had a trick or treater. When the Reimers were here in Topeka we would go over to their house and man the door there or take the girls out for the walk to the neighbors. This year we will probably go deliver treats to some of her friends just to say hi. You know the saying, you can take the adult out of the kids but you can never take the kid out of the adult. I never worry about what she will make as her treats, cookies and cakes are the best.

One of my favorite nieces was born on Halloween. (Just so you know, they are all special to me and I love them all) Barb was over looking through all of her pictures to find one of Jennifer when she was a little girl. It will be on Facebook soon as I just heard the scanner running.

Every year right before Halloween the DirecTV has a run on scary movies. This morning Jamie Lee Curtis was on for the umpteenth showing of Halloween. I like scary movies but every once in a while just want to watch a western. Nothing beats scary like Mongo knocking out a horse. I would even settle for a John Wayne shoot'em up with about a gazillion dead Indians. Nothing wrong with Indians, they were the only enemy we had in the 1860-1880 time frame. There may have been a few enemies out there external but nothing scared farmers like an Apache raid.

You may or may not know that I have been keeping all the short stories about Vietnam that I have posted over the years. The only book that I can find near to it is flavor is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. My experience in Vietnam was a collection of funny , boring and scary short stories. I'll continue to work on the venue to produce the final effect. Not yet though.

Have a scary Day out there.



Who, What, When, Where and Why; and Spiders

When I went to school, the teachers said that the first paragraph of a good news story needed to tell the Who, What, When Where and Why (If available). In today's paper, there were so many stories that failed to tell these important points that I felt like I wound up dumber for reading the paper. One story about a shooting in a Nevada WalMart never did tell you in what city in Nevada or the name of the person arrested. There was a quote from a Reno spokeswoman for the Reno Police but darned little info. I won't go on any more but to mention that an editor let the mention of Prostrate Cancer get through the process? That darned prostrate cancer will just lay you low.

Just so you know, Barbara is from the group of people that actually like spiders. She thinks that anything that eats other bugs is just fine with her. Her friend, the Shawnee County Extension Agent, Jamie Hancock wrote an article about them in today's paper. I know that this is the only person Barbara likes more than Martha Stewart. Most of us are really freaked out when we find ourselves directly involved with spiders. I really hate it in the late summer or early fall when they build webs across the path and I have to find them by having my entire body covered with those damned sticky webs and on occasion a spider or two. Dave's wife, Barb Jr. hates spiders and I don't hold it against her.

So, as Jamie and Barbara would say, leave them alone and they will leave you the same way.



Mention in History

Waiting for a Ride in a Bird Dog
Montaignard Village up the road from Ambush Alley

Convoy at Traffic Control Point in Dak To

View from back seat of Bird Dog

I was given a link to the history of the 1st Battalion, 92nd Field Artillery the other day and found out that I was mentioned in the history of the battalion. On the 5th of May 1968 I was flying as an aerial observer and called fire during an ambush of my unit. As usual, the Battalion Commander and the Battalion Signal Officer jumped in a helicopter and rushed to the scene of the clean up as most of the real ambush was busted up by the time they got there. The report went on to mention that the Battalion Commander and the Signal Officer were awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and I got mentioned in the notes. Oh well, the guys in my unit knew who was really there to save their bacon. It really made my day to know that most of my guys there went home safely.

Things like this make me wonder just how many times are we mentioned in some obscure publication and we don't even know. I know the Internet helps us find most of the posts if someone took the time to really enter the information. No, I don't think it is important to go back and try to recreate the past over one small award. The one thing I got home with was my body not poked with any new holes. No Purple heart for the Kid from Kansas and I was glad for that.

I did get home with Malaria and had enough blood taken over that 10 days in the VA Hospital to have filled a blood bank. They used a new medicine on me and I am fortunate to have never had a recurrence of Malaria. I had friends whose dad's had Malaria from WWII and at least once a year went back into the VA for treatment.

The weather here was down right cold yesterday and has turned warmer today. The wind has kicked back up and I doubt that Barb will want to ride if the temp is under 70 or the wind is +10 or over. I did have her bike looked at by our local bike shop to help fix the shifting problem. It was way out of adjustment on the rear wheel shifter and is OK now.

OH well, miles to go and things to do.



Gentleman Johnny Lott

In my time in the service, I met a lot of people that I remember very well. The XO of the gun battery I was first assigned to the 1st Battalion, 92nd Artillery was a fellow we all called Gentleman Johnny Lott. He was from the South and had a very soft drawl and whenever he would talk to the cannoneers in our unit he would say "Gentlemen, listen up." In spite of being one of the dirtiest bunch of guys you would ever want to meet, he always called and treated the guys as gentlemen.
He and I were not in the same place very much. He rotated home and I became the XO of the battery. I wish I could tell you funny stories about John but mostly I heard the stories about how calm he was and much he cared about the men in our battery. I hope he was able to carry the calm intelligent person he was into his later life.


Big Whoopee

Flying Crane bringing Joes and makin' Dust
Huey on helicopter pad

Chonook w/100 rounds and powder
Back in the late 60's, the Military was pushing to build up the "Boots on the Ground" strength in Vietnam to over 500,000. That was what General Westmorland said was the price to win the war. As we all know, there was never a number that would win the war once it was decided that the war was to be fought entirely in South Vietnam. We fought the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong to death in the south. After TET 68, we had the enemy on the run and could have won the war had we been willing to go on the offense. After we withdrew from the active battles in 1972, we were unwilling to go back in and re-join the fight and the North Vietnamese claimed a victory. Don't let any of the revisionists tell you that the Military lost that war, we all did for Political reasons.
Where I wanted to go with this was that the price of having so many soldiers in combat was that there just weren't enough of them to entirely fill the needs in our units. Instant access to the numbers was solved by Project McNamara or McNamara's Project 100,000. Someone finally decided that a hundred thousand of the category 3, or slightly lower intelligence soldiers would fill out our strength and because most of these guys would only serve as Privates and at best Specialist 4's, their lack of ablilty would not inhibit our efforts. In 1967, these draftees began to filter into the Army as Ammo handlers, truck drivers, grunts and Combat Engineers (Spelled with a shovel not heavy machinery).
One of these mental giants showed up in my battery in 1968 and immediately the guys started calling him "Big Whoopee" or Whoop for short. When something really intelligent or erudite was said he would say "Well Big Whoopee." Somewhere there is a football team that could use him as a defensive lineman as he was about 5 foot 8 and 250 lbs. He could also double as a tackling dummy but he would probably hurt too many teammates. His lack of intellect was made up for by his strength. He was a walking testament to leadership. On his own, he would not start any task but once started, he was the last man standing. Perhaps there was enough smarts to know when he was given the most menial tasks, but once properly instructed, he would finish most jobs with relish. There was one problem that his section Sergeant soon found out and that was that Whoop would stay at the old job site at the end of the project unless properly relieved. Not a major hurdle but waiting for a helicopter by the Helicopter Pad all day and night wasn't a good use of time.
Almost all of the guys on the guns hated for the Ammo resupply choppers to come in. Mostly in our 155 unit it was one of those flying cranes (CH-54's) and they could carry four or five hundred rounds at a time. That meant that if there were 10 guys on the detail, they would have to each hand carry 50 rounds at approximately 100 lbs each from the pad over to the guns. On a hot day in Vietnam, you almost can't drink enough water to match the sweat. Most of the guys could/would carry one round at a time and it was backbreaking work.
One day, Whoop claimed that he had hurt his shoulder and could not carry any more of "Those Damned Joe's" (Projectiles, 155mm High Explosive). He nursed that excuse for about 24 hours and it took a trick to get him back on duty. One of the other cannon crewmen said he could carry two projectiles at a time and he bet no one else in the section could. The projectiles came from the factory with a nose plug that had a carrying loop built in. If you had strong fingers, you could get two or three fingers in that loop and carry one with one hand. Most of us couldn't in a normal situation. Whoop. not to be outdone said he could carry four, no sweat. They went back outside and each member of the section tried one in each hand. Only a couple of them could do it. True to his word, Whoop just stuck his fingers in the loops of four rounds and picked them up off the ground. Someone said can you lift them up to shoulder height? He did and that ended the sick call excuse for the remainder of that tour.
During the monsoon season, it would rain day and night without a let up. If a unit was in contact, we would fire for them until they said stop. If you have ever seen a howitzer fire on TV, you would know that the force of the blast would put a lot of weight on the spades on the legs or trails of the howitzer and if the ground was wet it would really bury the spades down in the mud. After one hot contact mission, we awoke to find one howitzer had buried the spades in a big old mud hole. We dug that gun out and filled the hole with mud. There just wasn't gravel to do a proper job. Later on that day we got a fire mission and Whoop grabbed the lifting handle on one trail and began to help shift the gun. When he stepped in the mud hole, he began to be forced down in the mud. He hollered, "Help me, this thing is going to drown me in the mud!" I think he would have hung on to that trail and be forced down in the mud had one of the guys not told him to "let go of that damned trail." I think the sound of "Help Me, help me" was heard around the battery for at least a week. Always followed by laughter I might add.
A couple of weeks later, a strange helicopter landed at our fire base. No, it wasn't a strange helicopter but not one that normally came to our firebase. The only passenger was a Sergeant Major from one of the 4th Division units. I happened to be out by the pad when it arrived and I walked over to meet it. The Sergeant Major that got off what was obviously a command bird (clean and shiny) said he was "Private Johnson's" father and wondered if he could pay him a visit. I had no clue who he was talking about and shouted over to the guns to have them tell PVT Johnson to report over to the pad. Someone hollered back and said, "Which one, the black one or the white one?" "The Black One" the SGM Hollered back. Once I saw who his son was, it was pretty obvious that whoopee was built like his dad. Here came Whoopee at a dead run and picked up the Sergeant Major and lifted him over his head. Then came what would have been a crushing hug and tears from Whoop that he was sure glad to see his father. I left them to visit and finally after an hour or so, Whoop came over and said his dad wanted to talk to me.
When I got back over to the Helicopter pad, the SGM asked me to try to get Whoop through the rest of his tour without him going back to LBJ. LBJ was the Long Bin Jail where GI's served their jail time for minor infractions. It seems that Whoopee liked to smoke a little dope and at least out in the field his supply was very limited. Time in jail didn't count as time in the Nam and Whoop had already been in 'Nam over a year. I spoke with the other leaders in the unit and worked hard to keep Whoop on the straight and narrow for the rest of his tour. To the best of my knowledge, he at least left our unit on the way home. If he got there, I never knew.
I guess life is a lot like that. You will have some young men and women that will do their job to the best of their ability and then you have some that just don't know any better. At least Whoopee had a good attitude and smiled at good jokes. I wish him well where ever he is.
MUD (Ret)



Last night we had a Halloween Party for Austen and Kyler. We carved pumpkins, decorated cookies, grilled hot dogs and brats and went for a spooky walk in the Flying Bat Farm trail and generally laughed the evening away. The Triggs brought their daughter Rikku (3 Months old) and we all had a ball. We expected a few more kids, but it didn't get in the way of having fun. Poor old Dave had to work so he missed this year's edition of fun.
Hope you all have enough fun this fall to fill your hearts with smiles and laughter.


Just a few Things

Some Pictures are worth a Thousand Words
I think that is my Yashica Electro 35 from the pre digital days. Erma and Curly Fruits will live in our hearts forever.

- I don't know where you stand on Homosexuals in the Military, and really don't care. I personally have served with at least a couple (That I knew of) and found them able to do their job as well as the next person. I have a lot of love for a couple of homosexuals that are close friends and one is family. It has been my experience that "Don't ask, Don't tell" is a failure in leadership. I would tell everyone that I expect all military person's to conduct themselves as if matters of Race, Religion, Color, Creed, Sex and sexual preference don't matter. The Military has a code of conduct that requires people in uniform to perform their duties and obey the rules. If the POTUS and the Secretary of defense tells the Military to obey the rules or be fired, they will. It might take a few times that the hammer needs brought down but it will happen a lot better than people outside the military know.

- Leonard Peltier was an American Indian Movement (AIM) activist and it is about time that the POTUS sat down with the Director of the FBI and talked about the need to sign a presidential pardon. There has been a lot of doubt in the evidence that convicted him and enough time since his incarceration started that old wounds need to be closed. If we really are going to be a "stand up" Nation, we need to look at ourselves as the world see us. Right or wrong, Leadership needs to start in the White House.

- I want everyone to know that I do not blame Barack Obama entirely for the above items. There has been a Clinton and a Bush or Two that could have taken the high road on these issues. For some reason the Congress must think they must force us to change rather than using their leadership ability. True leaders would help us discover things in such a way that we think it is our idea. John McCain took a lot of flack from the hard Core Conservatives for his reaching across the aisle. Now that Nancy and harry don't they squeal like stuck hogs.

- Dave Ramsey has an interesting approach to savings vs investing. If it is less than 5 years, it should be considered savings. Longer periods should be investing. I would take it one step further in the definition. 5 years or less, I would call it savings/paying off debts. 5 to 15 years I would call it a diversified investment program and 15 years an longer I would call it buying a house. The key to it all is developing an understanding of a budget. I think his idea of paying minimum of all debts until you have a "snowball" built up is a good idea. His attack on the debts from smallest to largest is a good idea. I like his description of Beans and Rice as a great place to start on the road to financial security as good. I have a niece that needed some dental work right in the middle of this process. I think the fact that she acknowledged the need to put a halt in the process to pay that bill as a very adult thing to do. Dave might have wanted her to save up for and cash flow the expense but it wasn't his smile. Barb and I bought Dave's house on a note from the Credit Union and I'm sure that The Debt Doctor wouldn't have agreed. We have attacked this note with a vengeance and it will soon be paid for. If you can't borrow money to make things better, what can you do in the short term? One more time, Income should equal savings and outgo. If you have to exceed that for more than a year, you are in trouble.


Cool Mornings

Fall at Rabbit Run
Crown Vic waiting for a road trip
Taco with his stick.

It is around 50 this morning and that is jacket weather for me as I walk out to fetch the morning paper. As as soon as I finish here, I will go spend a few minutes with Taco dog and play his favorite game - Fetch with a Hickory stick. When we started this game a while back, he could hardly walk after the stick. He now runs after the stick and walks fast coming back. There is the delay of marking each tree in the yard but with a male dog, some of that is expected. Life is way too short to not play with the dog. I there is a smile in every throw of stick.

In the mornings here at Rabbit Run, we hear the Shawnee Heights band practicing for the weekend activities. We don't get to hear all the music, but the drum line sounds manage to work their way through the trees and valleys. Kind of like having our own Indian pow wow nearby. It is mostly the Tom Tom drums we hear. Yesterday the dog was barking like crazy and just as I walked out the back door, a hot air balloon fired his burners. he was right over the house and had to fire up to make the field over by 45th. I don't think he would have liked to set down in the woods here.

Today I am going to spend a few hours outside making the path ready for the Saturday night fright walk. I am going to make artificial spider webs with mono filament fishing line. One strand across the path and then just hang strands down in the path. Nothing creeps people out more than wondering where the spider is in the webs. I even have a package of rubber fishing lures (without hooks) to put on one of the strings. Creepy cold rubber things on one of the lines. I also need to find a good way to have electricity down at the well area for creepy sounds and lights for the ghost that will appear. I'm not sure if I have quite enough extension cords to get clear down there but we'll see.

Oh well, another fifteen minutes shot in the rear. Gotta go. Bye




Yesterday I told everyone that I was back up and running. That lasted only so long as Barb was logged into the net. When she shut down, so did my connection. I just stayed off it for a day and about noon today I started all over again. I reset the router and started all over again. This time I did not tell the set up program anything, I just let it do its own thing. When it finished, both computers work and Barb is hard wired through the router and I'm wireless. Great stuff.

We are getting ready for a Saturday night Halloween party for the kids. Kyler and Austen each will bring five friends over and we will try to do entertaining things and eat. The finale of the evening will be the walk in the dark woods to visit the graves of the family killed here at Flying Bat Woods. I'm sure that there will be at least one or two scary things that will just show up for the fun of it. The funny part about the walk in the woods, is that everyone wants to have spooky signs and such. It will be darker than heck out there until the full moon comes out and people won't be able to see anything I don't want them to see. In the dark night, the imagination is scarier than the real stuff.

I think we have everything, or at least one of everything the store had for Halloween. Throw in a ton of food and the cabinets are all full. On to the fun....



It Died

- After 4 years of pretty much non stop use, our ATT 2Wire Modem died the other night. We had the ATT guy out last month to check our line and make it faster. I'm sure that it got so fast that the modem finally self destructed. Having a son that works at Best Buy really takes the sting out of the replacement. I am now back up on the air with Barb hard wired and me on a wireless net. Yes Barb, I know I have a mess on the floor over there and will pick it all back up in a little while.

I forgot how hard it is to speak computer with a semi English speaking person. I'm sure she said her name was John. There is a series of email names and passwords I just no longer knew. Then she kept telling me to look for the sticker on the bottom of the box. It was on the bottom of the modem - Duh Dennis... I will write all this crap down this time but probably won't be able to find the booklet in 5 years. Oh well....

The weather here in the heartland is with the shorter days, starting a little cooler and not getting quite as warm. The rain that was to land yesterday, made a little thunder and pout enough dirt on the windshield as to make me run the washer for one pass. We did get a couple of trees planted at Dave's.

We had a great day yesterday afternoon with Austen and Kyler. We are planning our great Halloween Bash for next weekend. The boys are really excited about the plans for the walk in the woods. We also had pizza for dinner and there isn't much left.

Better run - at least the computers work without having Dave come over to fix all my problems.



Our Fair or Fare Language

Fall Table decorations by Martha Jr (aka Barb)

Many of us use different figures of speech to emphasise things. Most of the time it is an appropriate saying such as "Can't dance and it's too wet to plow." But often some obscure words come out and no one really knows the origin of the saying or the exact meaning. "Heavens to Betsy" as an exclamation doesn't have a literal meaning, just that it sounds like what we mean. Is it fare to say that it is it complicated or that we need to pay the price (as in fare) to use them. The other night as we went to hear the Topeka Festival Singers, we were regaled with the Westborough Baptist Church's all girl "A Capella" choir singing their rendition of God Hates America. Instead of our favorite song, they filled it with all sorts of creative sayings some of which were amusing to me but none of them I will include here.

Here in the Heartland, a term I adopted because Ohio thinks they are in the Midwest, many sayings have come to us from whence we came. I grew up with Art's use of Gott in Himmel and I never was sure if it was jars in a figurine or god in heaven. All I was sure of was it was never said when a pretty girl walked by, only when something dastardly had happened. As a young man that loved food, I was easily swayed to his way of thinking by some of the great German food put on their table by Carrie. She was my kindergarten teacher and next door neighbor and always good for a graham cracker handout now and then.

Where I absolutely fell in love with the funny use of words was in the Army Field Artillery. They would take something like laying an aiming circle to make sure the guns are all pointing in the same direction and turn it into phrases. SAD-ULU was not a description of an African Warrior. It was simple subtract the Azimuth of fire from the Declination Constant and using the Upper, lower(floating the needle), upper motion putting that setting on the aiming circle. Another was take the fire out of the old lady. Subtract the Azimuth of fire out of the angle of the end of the Orienting line (Upper recording motion) and put it on the circle while siting on the end of the Orienting line (Lower Motion). Then of course, what young hot blooded male didn't want to yell, "The Battery is Laid" once the common direction is established.

I also love word stories that end with mixed up phrase such as, "People who live in grass huts shouldn't store thrones." I had a friend that would start every class he taught in the Guard with one of those funny twisted word stories. Most of us thought it was great if we could evoke a chuckle from the audience and he would absolutely shine if people threw paper wads at him when he would tell a bad pun. He once spent several minutes to set up a baseball story to use the line, "It was the bear that made Mef Famey walk us."

In my history of living in Kansas, I can't remember many falls that have been nicer or longer. The mornings start out cool enough to wear a jacket but the afternoons have been glorious. Almost too nice to stay inside for an afternoon nap. A year ago we about froze our butts off at the Lenexa Chili Festival. This year we wore short sleeved shirts and loved it. It is my hope that we can continue to ride our bikes at the lake until well after Thanksgiving. Yes, hard core people would ride outside all year long, but don't confuse me with that 20 year old hard core Lieutenant I 0nce was. I could "Hump a ruck" (carry a back pack) with the best of them once but now I work hard to remember punch lines.



Great Day!

My new friend Fried Chicken Chrispin Tristin. Don't tell MUD that you can't rhyme anyone's name. Can you tell he played the rhyming game? Took a little while to warm up but a great little guy.
This is Amanda taking pictures and keeping tract of where the other camera's are. Makes me want to be young again.
This is Barb and Kim talking in the shade. Pretty soon all the girls were together and having a great visit. Our niece from Tulsa was there and we had a great visit with her. Barb has her picture on Facebook.
Can you imagine that there is a person that goes to Chili cook offs and doesn't eat meat? He loves cheese pizza. Oh well, more chili for the rest of us. Andrew or AJ is a great kid.

We went to old town Lenexa to visit the Cedar Creek Chili team. They have a great set up and compete in several categories from wings to Chili. The weather was so nice, and I don't think it could have been better. It was in the 70's when we got there and by 2 PM was almost 80. The great food and good company made it the almost perfect day.
One of the nieces mentioned that she thought my mother was kind of mean. Barb told her that Mom wasn't as mean as she loved to have a good controversy going on and got them going by telling the last person she was with what she thought they wanted to hear. Instead of being united, we did have a few spats that were not needed. Yep, I was right in the middle of some like the rest of the kids were.
Leaves are falling like snow here and if the trees would just give the rest up, I would get out and rake them all up. It would be just a big waste of time to pick up half and then have another pile added later. OH well, I will get out and do something fun today.


Takin' a Day Off

Yesterday Barb and I cleaned out the garden and put it to bed for the winter. Bales of straw and composted manure now cover the surface. I haven't made up my mind if I an going to add more manure and soil or till it all in.

Because of all our good work, I'm going to take the day off. I hope we wind up in Old Town, Lenexa. Chili and cinnamon rolls sound pretty good. I'm not sure about the rolls but there be Chili there.



Life 101

One of the things enjoyed by the "Older Adults" is that we have more experiences to even out the day to day adventures called life. There are even a few of us that can remember when Wichita State not only played football, but won a game now and then. Life is not like Facebook where every teenage remark has instant impact and lasting effects. In the best of years, even the number one team seldom goes undefeated. Yes, K-State won the Sunflower Game and in a damned impressive manner.

Every once in a while, in one of those dark moments between awake and sleep, I ask myself what do I really want out of life? The correct answer is that I have what I have due to the planning I made and damned sure had better get used to it. Once you cross the threshold into retirement, it is kind of late to make mid course corrections. The nice thing is that so far the planning we did seems to be enough to help us cross over to the finish line with some flexibility. If I have to worry about what there is to eat, it is only because I'm out of Klondike Bars and have to eat vanilla ice cream. I am pretty sure that Barb has the bills paid and we have enough utilities to read our books and newspapers.

I am probably going to work over the garden today. I have to take out the drip irrigation system, cut the dead plants down, spread composted manure and till the entire garden. I will also manage to get in a few throws of fetch with Taco and sit in the Sun to catch a few rays.
If that isn't a great life, I don't know what's better.

Oh well, you probably didn't learn a lot here today but it costs no more than what it is worth. A summary of the message is "Getting what you want isn't nearly as important as wanting what you have." If you want to be happy, do it the old fashion way and save for it.



Random Stuff

Sunflower State Game Tonight

I think it is about time that I re-mention the Free Speech controversy again. While I might listen to the argument for some kind of a minor fine for stupid speech I have already done my duty to support the idea of free Speech. I really have to hold my nose from time to time when I hear people say things that just smell bad in the light of day. It is not in my normal behavior pattern to "suffer fools gladly" and I will often tell people what a stupid thing they say when they say things that even a simple man like me couldn't believe. I guess my laughter and size keeps me mostly out of fights when I say things. I really haven't had a fight since I learned to kill people in Basic Training. Good thing that!

These mid-term elections are shaping up like they might be a lot of fun to watch come election day - eve. There is money leaking out all over the place in spite of the best intentions in the law to limit spending. I think there should be a law that makes it a crime to spend more money on the election than the job pays. I would hold everyone to that from the School Board to the Presidency. Money should not be able to influence voters, but it does. I would ban the PAC's that can throw money into the fight without any accounting for the source. I wouldn't go back and use it as a weapon to kill the PACs, only make it the law out in the future.

What I find funny is the things people say in elections. For example, the current Attorney general of Kansas could read the tea leaves and see that once the Democrats got their act together they were going to pass some kind of Health Bill. He didn't join in a six State lawsuit to oppose it to save the Taxpayers the added expense. Now his opponent is saying that he supported the Health Bill. There is a hell of a long distance between not opposing a bill and supporting it. Even as a kid I knew when dad took off his belt, someone was going to get a whipping. Get it now or get it later. It was only a matter of time and it didn't matter how much I cried to mom.

Real Leadership in Congress would come up with a plan to make some kind of a plan to help seniors invest in America to help pay off the national debt. I for one would be glad to have a program that paid off the debt to the Chinese if I could deduct it from the taxes I owe. Hell, I might even be willing to cut my Social Security payment down to help that cause. I'm not saying that there is any way I would take it from those seniors that rely on the payments for their entire support. You can bet your bippy that I would want any funds collected for this be put in a strongbox and paid for the cause it was intended. I think that even a fool can love his country and fear his government.

The weather here is so nice in the afternoon that it makes you want to get out and play in the yard, ride a bike or just throw a stick to the dog. I have done a little of all three in the past couple of days and need to shut this off here so I can do some more right now. (9.947 Miles on the trail at lake Shawnee & 7 throws throws to TACO)


What a Day Yesterday was!

Can Christmas be that far away?

Let me be the first to tell you that there is just no way in hell that I could ever work in a mine far below the surface. I don't care what they pay or how many safety measures they take. I am glad the miners in Chile got out but shudder to think that I would ever have to fit in a small round tube to get out. Kind of like the joke about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. How many big old guys would they have to cut orders on to throw me off that plane.

I went out to the National Guard Museum at Forbes Field yesterday morning to have coffee and doughnuts with the retired guys that meet the second Wednesday of the month. It is really interesting that most of us managed to retire with a good foundation financially. There was not a lot of negative talk about the lack of a raise in Social Security for the second year in a row. Most of us there have investments that we can get to and don't depend on one form of income to get by. The only talk about the POTUS was about a speaker at the 35th Division Reunion that said some negative things and how most of them felt that the speaker was wrong to say it the way he said it. One person that was there said he didn't disagree with what was said but the time and place was inappropriate.

I think that we all have been through the good and bad times in Washington and know that things will change. Not always for the better but they will change. Somewhere we all hope that the Congress finds a way to tighten the spending a little (or a lot). They all admit that many of the younger guys retired from the Guard and are now working full time for one of the Defense Contractors or as Civilian employees right there in the Guard. There will be some new unemployment but in the long run we will recover. I think our worse fear is that we will down the road fail as the Soviet Union did and things can get a lot tougher.

One common denominator in most of the guys was their love of travel. Most have at least one good trip each year and almost all have traveled to Europe at least once. My favorite thing was to see the wall between the Germanys on one trip and then to drive right through the old gate into East Germany as it all came back together. Having the wife along was bonus. Barb is a great traveler unless it is in high mountains and then she copes pretty well. I think that is looking up in Zion rather than down in Bryce and the Grand Canyon that made it all the better.

Martha said today is National Dessert day. Who knew?

Oh well, things to do and places to go.



Fun Evening

Barb and I went to the Topeka Festival Singer's concert at White Concert Hall (Washburn Univ) last night and it was very good. The focus was on religious songs and I would have thrown in a little more fun but all in all what they performed was excellent. I told Barb that I either wish I was good enough to sing with them or that my memory was so bad that I couldn't remember that I was once good enough. I am not sure if it is my hearing that just doesn't hear the perfect pitch or my memory that just doesn't remember all the words.

We met an "Old" Guard friend at the concert and he remarked that he hates to go to these things because of all the old people there. Knowing that he is a few years older than I am and I am one of the white haired members of the audience made me smile. He is still in denial and dies his hair the worse shade of black you could ever see. I told him that I am not sure that I want to join a club that would have someone like me as a member. I'm sure that remark went right over his head. Yes, the Westborough group was there and they even sang their rendition of God Bless America. The needed a few male voices but they were very in tune even if their message was not to my liking. What a positive thing they could be if they would focus on the joy that people have in religion rather than the hateful sections of the bible. Oh well, they will die only if people just ignore them.

We got about an inch of rain in the past 24 hours and the trees are dropping leaves and turning about the same time. By the time the leaves dry off, they will be stuck to the sidewalk and the deck. If they fall dry, I just take the leaf blower and move them along down the hill. That's probably the thing I hate the most about the fall, LEAVES. Looking out the south side windows, there is a little red in the leaves. barb and I know that it is probably poison ivy growing up on the trees and just leave it alone.

Better run. I hear Barb up after a late night reading session.



Nuts, Gnats

In a move to be more green, Barb has really been working hard on composting. She has been keeping the compostible stuff in a bowl and taking it out once every two days or so. With the availability of all the pears and apples, we have the inevitable fruit flies that annoy the heck out of me. I guess it is the fact that when I grew up, we called those little winged suckers after where we saw them in the summer months. In August, those poor old dogs in our neighborhood were always tormented by the gnats that circled their nether regions. For the lack of a better name, we called them "Dog Pecker Gnats".

Yes, it is hard to be politically correct when you grow up in a poor neighborhood. We had a lot of people from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri there and most were first generation Kansans. They tended to call things as they saw them with out the benefit of a PC filter. Add to that, the negative effects of 30 years in the Military and you get a vocabulary filled with colorful descriptions that can't be used at the dinner table. I was the first generation there to use the correct version of the "N" word. Yes, boys and girls it is naked not Nekkid. Nekkid is when you don't have your clothes on and are up to no good.

We had a break last night in the 2 week drought. I tried to get over to the rain gauge in the garden but I was wearing sandals and with the rain last night, my feet were getting wet. I will just say that we got some and let Barb sort it out. She'll drag hoses all over the place to make sure the plants don't go to bed for the winter with dry feet. If I'm lucky, I'll get the hoses all picked up before I have a yard full of frozen hose snakes. If not, they will be there until spring.

1/1/1 to 10/10/10 seems to be a big thing. I am just glad as hell that I survived 1968 and the rest is gravy. Barb started it out right for me by marrying me in Feb 1968 and then a trip to Vietnam on the USNS Geiger spoiled the rest of the year. I think that 42 years of married life is just a testimony that Las Vegas weddings can work if you want them to. Take it from me that War is a great way to get your butt shot and in some cases die.

Oh well, can't dance and it is really too wet to plow...



Bidding But not yet Kissed

I have a NIKON D70 that has been well used and I want to have a used one to take apart and see what the pins for the CF card look like on the back side. My camera stopped working in the the middle of the Bryce Canyon shoot and it stayed down until I straightened it out. It seems to be working OK right now but still would like to see what connects the pins to the processor. I have been bidding on E-Bay and am not going to spend big bucks on a broken camera. If I win an auction, I'll have a spare. If not, no big deal.

The weather here is definitely on the nice side and the Jet Stream is way north so the changes this past week were only cool fronts not cold ones. We could use some rain but only to keep Barb from dragging a hose all over the yard. She does not like to put her plants to bed with dry feet.

Barb mentioned that the battery light was on on her Buick. Rather than stop and look at it, I drove to the auto parts store. Imagine my surprise when I found the serpentine belt shredded and just laying there. No need to put the tester on it. The alternator cannot charge the battery without the belt. The part that really surprised me was that the water pump on that car is driven by the cam belt and it did not overheat. Other than the battery light indicator it acted like everything was OK. It took me less than 10 minutes to repair it and most of that was time spent getting the belt around all the pulleys in the right way. Good practice.

This morning, I noticed that all of our cars have great tires on them right now. Most have been in for an oil change and are in pretty good shape although all are headed for the high mileage list. Is that a good sign or a bad one? I hope it is like that for me, lots of miles but well loved.

OH well, moving on...



Indian Summer

As a child, I often heard the description of a warm period in the late fall as Indian Summer. It will be in the 80's again today with clear skies and low humidity. No offense to the American Indian, that's what we called it.

Barb is at a hair appointment right now and sometime today we will go for a bike ride. Got to keep the legs in shape. It puts a smile on our faces and warmth on our face. If we go early enough, the foot traffic on the path will be minimal. If we wait until noon or later, the dogs, kids and people will make it slow going.

I am watching season 4 of Dexter and must have missed a couple of the earlier episodes. Fun update.



Great Car Mystery

Dave and I have been working on his Malibu with 130,000 miles on it. I am doing my best to keep it on the road for at least another 20,000 miles (or more). He seems to have problems with the driver's side brakes and when a bearing noise started, it sounded like the driver's side. Yep, I tore into that sucker and replaced the out side bearing on the driver's side. When the noise continued, I replaced the trans/axle or whatever the hell they call it now days. No improvement. I took it to the transmission guy who fixed it in July and asked him to see if he could tell me just what the hell is the problem.

The first thing he did was to check the transmission fluid and smell it. It was cherry red and no burnt smell. He then test drove it. he started out in low and accelerated. He shifted the lever in to 2 and it shifted very well with no hesitation. Same with 3 and all's well. About 30 MPH, the whine from the front wheel was loud. He said that if you listen, you can hear the noise change when you turn the wheel left and right. He indicated that one of the wheel bearings was bad and the noise was transmitted by the steering so you couldn't really tell which one.

Well, Duh, if I replaced the driver's side, it about had to be the passenger side. I stopped by the Parts Store and spent another $80 on parts. I now can change one of those suckers in less than an hour. Put everything in its place and the noise is gone. Isn't that the way things are, fix one bearing and it is the other that is noisy.

Oh well, it drives like a dream now and it will go to its grave with great wheel bearings. 'Nother day, 'nother project....


PS. It appears that the 80 dollars spent on an impact wrench and sockets was a darn fine investment for me.


My Screen Saver

This is my friend Grissy. She belongs to my best friend Ken. This was shot with his new camera. Got to 80 today here in the Heartland. Run, hide, I think barb wants another tree cut down.



Thinkin' Globally, Shootin' Locally

This morning it dawned on me that I haven't pushed the shutter button for over a week. I spent my time downloading last weeks shots and looking for things on EBAY. The reason I took the class was to take me places to shoot but also to help me enjoy my camera. Mom had a sign on her bathroom door that said "Happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you have." Here are a few of the Rabbit Run photos.
Leaves of Three, let it be
Barb's wildflower garden

Great Gate flowers
I am also going out to air up the bike tires so we can go ride. Great day right now. UPDATE: We rode about 7 miles when we were riding 8 and realize that two weeks off riding and your legs leave. Wonderful day out there. Just now is 80.

Great Chili Hunt

I have decided that I am going to dedicate a few hours to hunt for the best bowl of Chili I can find. McAlester's Deli in Lawrence served me a pretty darned good bowl the other day and it was in the lead until I had a bowl at Cook's American grill here in Topeka. To be fair, Cook's salad is so darned good that I might have given them extra credit.

As the mornings are turning cooler, I just haven't wanted to get out early and ride. I'll try to get Barb to go with me when it gets above 65. Should be a good week for a mid afternoon ride. I guess I'll just throw on a jacket and go play fetch with the dog. He had been escaping the dog pen and I reworked the electric fence. So far he is respecting the new fence. I built it a lot tighter and have it almost dog proof. We'll see.

I have been looking at cameras on EBAY and see a lot of the same ads over and over. I think I want to start with a replacement body for the D70 but then I see the D80's for a few hundred more and then there are the D90's. Oh well, no search is worth its salt without taking some time. We really don't need any lenses as we have a pretty good supply. I do hate to buy the body only as a lot of the cameras have a lens for just a few dollars more, Oh well.

Better go see what I can do to make Barb's day. Thanks to Dave's wife, we didn't forget her birthday. Might even do a card today as I just didn't get it done yesterday.



Mo' Pics

On my last day of shooting, we traveled to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and passed this along the way. Beautiful cliffs and bright red rocks. It was in the middle of the day so the dramatic shadows were not available. Pretty place in spite of the time of the day.

Even without the trees the bluffs along the road were tremendous. There were shallow valleys along the road and there were cows and at least one buffalo herd.

View of the Grand Canyon from the north rim was spectacular. Many people walk from rim to rim and then have to take the bus back. 12 miles across and 300 miles on the road around through Flagstaff.

I tried to take evening shots at the North Rim and walked out on the path from the Lodge. They need to complete the handrail on one side so unnamed scaredy cats can get out to the end of the trail.

This was the last picture on the D70 that I was able to download. I have the new card in the camera and it seems to work now.

Everyone needs to see Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon at least once in their life. I can say now, "Been there, done that!" Hope you have enjoyed the pictures of this Road Scholar trip. I highly recommend any trip they sponsor. It is conducted in a professional manner by real people that treat you with understanding.


Waitin' for E-Bay

I looked on E-bay for a non functioning Nikon D-70 Camera to take apart and see just what the Camera card pins are hooked to. While there, I just looked at the D-80 Camera auction. There is a nice D-80 body only for $335.00. Yes, I put in a bid and now am waiting the last hour to see if I am the winning bid. I also bid $25 on a non functioning D-70 body but that won't end until tomorrow. I got a couple of snarky remarks from Barb about needing to get rid of two before I buy anything new. I think I'll go up and see if there is anything in the hall closet that needs disposed of. We keep our camera equipment in there and have a couple of used cameras that could go to the good will.
update - My bid of $335 was a great price and I should have not been surprised when in the last few seconds, the actual price jumped by over $25 bang, bang, bang. There was no way I coule even enter a bid it all happened so fast. So, I learned a lesson and should bid mu Max bid to a realistic place. To tell the truth, a Bid of $400 would have been less than half of retail on a new D90. Oh well...

I am trying to decide if the 57 Chevy is worth spending money on or if it needs to be sold. I am not happy with the way the 4 barrel carb works and am pretty sure that I need to step down to a smaller one or even a 2 barrel. There is a small matter of the steering not being tight and the lack of power/disc brakes. I could mention the need for A/C but that's for next year if/should I decide to drive it. There are a lot of things I need to implement the use or lose rule to.

Oh well, I'll just keep on trucking on.



Car Trouble

Yesterday Dave brought his Malibu over and we worked on the left front brake again. It looked good and nothing was worn more than the other side. After putting it all together again, I took it for a test drive. There is either a wheel bearing gone or the trans axle shaft driving the driver's wheel is gone. I need to look at the manual and see if there is more to be found. I don't know enough to tell what the problem is right now.

I hate it when I have all the tools to fix a problem and don't have the technical knowledge to even tell what to fix. The more complicated things get, the more we are determined to be a disposable society. It it takes a $90.00 service call to fix a used mower, people just tend to spend $125 for a new one. I can find examples of this all over.

When I worked in a gas station in the 60's, I could rebuild a generator or starter for my Chevy. Once they started putting in Alternators, that all stopped. Everything on a car today is Factory Rebuilt or new parts replacement. That's the ticket, we need to be able to rebuild the mechanic when his knowledge isn't up to the task today. Sadly, ain't going to happen McGee.

Oh well, frost on the pumpkin this morning.



Customer Service

In our automated world, are we losing the person to person part of doing business that I call Customer Service? For a while, I thought that it was the fact that our young people are spending so much time not talking to people that was a part of the problem. I have started to notice that the bean counters are applying so much pressure to deal with a customer fast and efficient that time not satisfaction has become the focus. Staffs are cut to the bare minimum and how well they do is measured in not having pissed off customers, not happy customers.

The other day, I shopped in a HyVee store and asked a person where an item was located. That person insisted on taking me to the correct aisle and to where the product was located. All I really wanted was to know where it was not to be led on a safari looking for that item. On the other hand, I got what I wanted.

I think Customer Service is related to a comment about Leadership I once read. Leadership is getting the other person to do what you need them to do and having them think it was their idea. If a person thinks you are concerned about them, they will give you a good grade on Customer Service.

I worked as an instructor at a call center and there were many goofy things done to make customers happy. Instead of really fixing problems, they would give a customer a credit on the amount the person owed. Made for a good feeling one time but led to a frustration when the problem would re-appear time after time. The customers didn't want money, they wanted their small problem fixed. If GETCC they couldn't fix a small problem, were they doomed to appear unable to provide service in the long run. They were adding new customers and not insuring that the customer's problems were taken care of and that they paid their bill. I tried to get a step put in the system that caused the representative to look at the customer's bill and see if they were paying. A simple comment about the state of the payment would have made the system look legitimate and not phony.

Oh well, There are places I shop for lower prices and places I shop at for good service. I don't go to WalMart for excellent service, I go to Best Buy for a friendly young person that knows what the hell they are talking about.

OK, I'll go play fetch with the dog, at least he acts glad to see me.



Cool Mornings, Warm Days

As we enter October, I find myself still dressing like it is is August. I took out the trash in shorts and sandals and found it about 50 degrees out there. A little cool for not enough clothes. Perfect weather for Barb's Cashew Blueberry pancakes. Throw in a couple of cups of coffee and some time on the blog and it is just right.

I am concerned that a lot of us are thinking that a new batch of Representatives and Senators will change the face of our Government for the good. The sad part is that unless we can find a way to elect people that will serve for a short period and do good for the country - AND GO HOME when it is over, we will get what we got! It needs to be more like the service to our country we did as young men and women and not a place where people build our sense of entitlement by providing an endless stream of wine, women and song. If Washington meant living in a barracks and not a home there, it might be seen as a place to do business. It should be an unaccompanied tour and you had to return home to your State each weekend. I would limit it to half time in Washington, D.C. and half time at home.

Let me be clear that most of the people I know have the goal of making the United States the best place it can be. The achievement of that goal is in the way we do it. On one side, there are people that feel that we should be friendly with the Nations of the World and they will like us. The other (and extreme side) feels that we need to keep our fists strong and take no crap from anyone. When I hear that all the people that are here illegally are going home to live in a better place I will seriously worry. I do hate that right now there are a lot of people out of work and people that think Government will step in and save them from all ills. No, I don't have all the answers, but to blame it on the last guy isn't the answer. I also don't blame it all on the President or the Congress. There is enough blame to go around.

In my perfect world, there is a leader that helps us all know that this is about the best place in the world to be and success is just a few steps from here. Barb and I grew up poor, and we both worked hard, got a good education and worked to make our lives a better place. We are at almost the opposite ends of the political spectrum but both worked to make our world a better place. We might think Globally, but acted locally.

As soon as it is warm, I'm going to go out and do a few errands. Spent most of the day mowing yesterday and am looking for a less serious set of actions today. Have a great weekend.