So Fall Off the Damned Cliff!

As today progresses, the talk of the "looming" Fiscal Cliff is about all the news on any Media source.  I am afraid that we truly do need to fall off the cliff to get the system energized to start working on the big problems.  Simply put, we need to tax more and spend less.  Failing to do that will just continue us in the cycle of "Do what you did and you will get what you got!"  Yes, it easy for me to say.  I have mine and so far the gutless Congress hasn't even looked at taking some of it away.   I think the wife and I agree that we have some to give if it would help fix what's broken.  I might feel different after I pay my taxes after April 15th, but I get over it.

With that said, the NIMBY (Not in my back yard) Crowd is running around re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and trying to find someone else to blame the iceberg on.  I really hate that something Al Gore said a couple of years back is correct.  he said we need to step our economy down a little and do with a little less.  Now that I have mine, I agree with him.  But I want the Federal Government to do a little less also.

Today I listened to talk radio on my way to stock up with last minute goodies for New year's eve.  It is also going to snow 4 - 6 inches so all the old folks were out stocking up at the last minute.  One of the callers was actually pissed off that the gun laws aren't the same in each State.  The talk host (a fill in over the holiday period)  missed a wonderful opportunity to educate that bozo on just how our Government runs.

First of all, there is a Federal Constitution that details what the founding fathers expected the Feds to do.  They also made ways to change that knowing that no Government can remain Static forever.  They left those things that were not in the Constitution to the States.  I know they were thinking that nothing in Maine could resemble Georgia so the States were left with a broad latitude of things under their control.  I can't imagine that the Governor of Kansas or Nevada would tell us that we couldn't go to Sonic and buy a Route 44 drink. Don't even try to tell me that the restriction on guns acceptable in new York would even clear committee in our State Government.  

What I really want in life is a Government that values my ability to think and produce as much as they value the tax I pay.  I have a nice income but it would scare most people to know just how much the State of Kansas and the federal Government taxes me on what I do and earn. 

Surely there is a way to fix the problem without bothering us with all this talk about a Fiscal Cliff.  Just remember that even with an approval rating of about 8%, the majority of all the Congress got re-elected this last cycle.  Just yesterday our local paper said that the governor got 3 out of 5 of his items done this last year.  Last time I looked, that only about 60% and would not get him admitted to any college in Kansas.



I do love the Smell of Cordite in the Morning

In Vietnam, one of our morning rituals in the Field Artillery was burning the excess powder increments. The Artillery round go a set distance based on how many Charges (Bags of powder) and the elevation on the tube.  Unless you are trying to reach out to the maximum distance, there were always a few powder increments to burn the next morning after a night of firing. 

Right after the Monsoon Season, I found myself with back with my battery and we were located on a hill top west of Kontum, Vietnam.   For the most part everything we ate drank or fired was brought out to us by helicopter.    Our mess section was located in a base camp in Kontum and on occasion they would send us a hot meal.  Most of the time it was C-Rations for us. 
One morning, we awoke to bright sunlight and a valley floor filled with clouds.  It was a beautiful sight to be higher than the clouds and in the warmth of the sunlight.  I think there were smiles everywhere and it just seemed to be like some kind of a holiday after almost endless days of rain and clouds.  I did my best to see if there was a way I could add to this wonderful morning.

During one non rainy day the week before, the mess section brought out a breakfast meal the night before and cooked it for us the next morning.  there was no way we could duplicate that feat today because the clouds covered the valley and the air field.  But, an old fishing trick put me on to something.

We managed to snag a three pound can of coffee from the mess section and I was determined that at least one morning we were going to have hot fresh coffee.  Not that damned instant kind, the real stuff. On a fishing trip a couple of years earlier, after a day and night of fishing, my dad emptied out the work can and after a quick wash in the creek made us some of the best coffee we had ever had right there in that can over a small fire.

I discussed this with the Chief of the firing battery and he said that the empty powder cans looked like big old tin cans to him.  We lined up three of the canisters and filled them about 2/3rds with water.  We split the coffee between the canisters and then started throwing powder increments near them and using the flames from them to heat the coffee.  Using a whole powder bag turned out to be a bad idea as it boiled the water right out of the can.  We dug a small trough near the cans and started cutting the increments open and throwing a hand full of the powder at a time in it to heat the water.  Just right and when all the powder was gone, there sat three cans of steaming hot coffee.   The word was sent out and the battery turned out to get a canteen cup of the hot stuff.

Many of the guys had packages of hot cocoa out of a C-Ration and made a hot coffee and cocoa mix right there in the middle of nowhere.    I think we all smiled the rest of that day. 

At the family Christmas party, I was reminded of a special gift I was sent for Christmas 1968.  My sister Myrna sent me a bottle of 409 Cleaner.  I wondered what the hell that was for until I really looked at the bottle.  When I unscrewed the lid, I realized that it was filled with a good Scotch.  Knowing that a cease fire was scheduled for Christmas,  I saved it for that special occasion. 

 On Christmas eve, we all sat around the Fire Direction center playing cards.  I filled a two quart canteen with the scotch and the rest with water.  I sat there with a dumb look on my face and drank myself into a good night's sleep.  I don't think anyone else really knew what I was drinking, and I really didn't care what they had in their cups.  I'm sure there was more than just my stash being consumed that evening

I sure loved the smell of cordite in the morning.   Someday I hope to meet up with my old friends at Fiddler's Green and share a cup of muzzle blast and get to swap some of these stories.

(Old Retired Army Guy - Field Artillery)

Wintertime Cooking

One of the things I love about wintertime is that if you are bored you can always cook a pot of soup.  We try to stock up on the basic ingredients when we shop and are seldom out of everything.  I have canned stocks, stocks in a carton and bullion (Beef and Chicken) on hand most of the time.  I find the petite diced tomatoes add a great flavor to any soup.  Leftovers are the main ingredient.  I don't get to use my smoked turkey or the pork roast in the soups as they wind up in the enchiladas I love.  Throw a pkg of frozen shrimp in the freezer and a couple pounds of potatoes in the pantry and you can whip up a good soup about anytime.

For the Petty family dinner, I made a fancy pot of soup using collard greens and Kale.  Last night I made frozen cut leaf spinach with dinner and it hit me that it would have been just as good in the soup and much easier. I have found that our local grocery store has started carrying strips of peppers and one had the pkgs of the trinity or onions, celery and carrots. I couldn't get the spell checker to even recognize the french term. 

This morning I made the snickers dip for our New years bash.  It is basically cream cheese, frozen dessert topping and ground up snickers bars.  I have graham crackers to use as the dipping tool.  I may buy a couple of granny smith apples when I am out today.  I have made the same dip using shrimp and Green onions but Barb doesn't like shrimp much.  

Oh well, better get cracking or cooking and get on with my day.

Who Goes There?




I am pretty sure that my trail cam caught a picture of Rudolph the red nose deer.

On the other hand, this is living proof that even an amateur can Photoshop a picture.  There were no new pictures on the trail cam this morning.



Who Am I Trying to Fool?

I think retirement is a lot like combat.  There are seriously boring times with brief interspersed moment of more action that I need.  The good news is that I can nap here at Rabbit Run and recover quickly.  I am also a lot less likely to die by doing chores than I was doing combat in Vietnam.   

This Christmas we kind of instituted a new rule.  We tried to limit the gift exchange to one gift and for barb and I the new rule.  "If I can't eat it, wear it or read it, we don't need it."    Pretty much worked out.  

This morning it is only 11 degrees here in the heartland.  Out on the flat topside fetching the paper with a pair of sweatpants left the boys a little more exposed that I care for.  Going down to the trail cam out of the wind it was no big deal.  I think I am going to play with the settings tomorrow and change the batteries.  Yesterday was overcast and the pictures were kind of dark.  There were only 18 or so and the deer were there for over a half an hour.  Should have been 60 or 70.  

Daddy Buck

Family Photo
Seems like the turkeys have been on vacation somewhere else lately.  I am back to feeding chopped corn and I do try to spread some around to share with the turkeys.  I think I am mostly feeding  the other birds hanging around here for the winter.  

Oh well. books to read and miles to go.



For Harvey

Who do you consider your best friend?  For me, the choice is real easy.  Harvey was the first friend I ever had and in a lot of ways lived a life on parallel courses.  Harvey was the only boy in the Blinn Family and for a lot of the time, I only had two sisters.  I think in a lot of ways it was us guys against the girls.  Harvey was a year older but due to an unfortunate accident somewhere during elementary school we were in the same grade for the second half of our school years.  Until somewhere about the third grade, Harvey lived just two houses south of our house on Byrd Street.

I am not sure, but I think some of the attraction Harvey had for me was that he just followed me to see what trouble I would get into next.  He was careful, quiet, clean and more precise in the way he did things.  Kind of the opposite of me in a lot of ways.   I would not call him shy, just deliberate in a lot of ways. 

We went to Minneha Elementary and I'm sure he was figured into the group that had an asterisk our name to be separated if possible.  Jesse James, the two Denny's on Byrd street and Harvey were separated as much as possible.   You know, I don't have a clue what kind of grades he made in school.  As for me, I thought "D" was for Denny.  I'm sure that a lot of teachers gave me D's to ensure they didn't get me again the next year.

The year we graduated from High School, Harv and I worked construction together.  That first summer we were both common laborers and shoveled a lot of sand and concrete.  I always tried to get assigned to a job where I helped the carpenters to get that extra 15 cents an hour as a skilled laborer.  I managed to get the nails of the right size and the extension cords to where they were needed.  We mostly worked on jobs where Harvey's dad was not the superintendent.  I really liked to work with a fellow names Blaine Wilson as he could almost outwork any of us young punks and enjoyed to laugh and tell stories as we worked.  He treated me like a son and I did my best to not let him down - ever.

The fall in 1965, Harvey and I both started school at Wichita State.  Back then, ROTC was a mandatory subject and Harvey pledged the Military fraternity the Scabbard and Blade.  I didn't and just was one of the crowd.  I remember that the first semester I made straight C's and also didn't apply for a student deferment.  Second semester, I managed to find a 10 point pitch partner that cheated as much as I did and we played ourselves right out of attending classes.  I withdrew from all but one of my classes except for  religion and I got an F rather than a with drawl for that class.   Later on, that caused me to be readmitted to WSU on probation after I got out of the service. 

In July of 1966, I got my draft notice.  I went up for the "Pre-Induction Physical" on my 19th birthday and when I went for Induction in September, Harvey was going for his Pre-Induction Physical.  That put me about a month ahead of him in the Army.  I did manage to get over to visit him when he was in Reception Station.  He seemed to stay there a lot longer than I did and by the time I got through AIT and into OCS, he was off somewhere  in his AIT.  He too applied for OCS and I was almost middle class by the time he got to Fort Sill, OK.  Fort Sill was one busy place and we never got to visit much.  He was lower class and I think he was just turning middle class as I got to my last week there.  

I think we got away from Fort Sill one weekend for a trip to Wichita Falls.  There was a motel on the north side of town and right next door was a Mexican Restaurant that served the biggest glasses of beer and the best Mexican food.  I think the glasses were about a quart of beer and a couple of those and a big platter would just about end our weekend right there.  I remember that we would generally just go back to the Hotel and crash until the next morning.  There was a pancake house outside of Key gate that we would go to and then back to post.  

When I got orders for Fort Irwin, Harvey said he was going to Germany.  I thought he was crazy but he was right.  I went from Fort Irwin to Vietnam and he went to Germany.   I got out of the Army in the summer of 1969 and Harvey got home just in time to start the fall semester at WSU.  

Oh, I left out a couple of steps.  The summer we were drafted, Harvey joined the Carpenter's Union. and they counted his time in the Army as time in the Union.  By the time he got out of the Service, he was on their books as a Journeyman Carpenter.  He had very little experience but danged if he wasn't able to make a hell of a lot more per hour that I was.  And, during the time I was at Fort Irwin, I met and married Barbara, the love of my life, and still to this day my wife. 

During the next couple of years, Harvey met and married Pat.  They have a son Ed Blinn.  They were not destined to be a long term couple and it was later that Harvey met and Married Wynsue. 

Over the years, we have managed to stay in touch and even though we are separated by 800 miles, we can get together and the conversation just starts where we left off the last time.  I think that is the sign of a friend and I am proud to say that Harvey is my best friend.




More Red Tape

Friday,  the phone rang and without looking at the caller ID, I answered it.  It was a debt collection bureau and they wanted to speak to Dennis.  "Yep'er, you got him."  Prior to launching into the meat of the matter they wanted me to give them my social security number to verify who I was.  Nope, it is your nickle and if you want to impart some information on me, give it a whirl.  They insisted that I needed to give them what they wanted first.  Wrong.  As far as I know, all my bills are paid and I don't owe anyone anything. She indicated that she couldn't open the data base from the City Water Department without that information  Thank you goodbye.  

I thought about it and realized that with three rental properties in the city there is just an outside chance that a bill may have been overlooked.  I called the City Water Department and with them, I verified the last 4 of my SSN and was told that in fact the final bill from this past summer had in fact been turned over to a collection agency.  Now, the why that was that done comes to mind.  For some reason the city knowing that I was not in their data base for my home service made me post a $25.00 deposit.  For some reason they failed to enter my home address as the billing address. They sent the bill to the rental property address and  I never saw the bill.   Hence it is overdue.They gave me the billing location number so the collection agency could open their data base without my SSN.

I called them and got the same person I had spoken to earlier.   She denied any knowledge of my calling earlier and even though I gave her the parcel number to open the data base refused to do business with me.  I asked her to think about it and tell me how anyone but me would know the parcel number?  I gave that information to her and I just don't give out my SSN to anyone over the phone (only a half truth) She did open the data base but would not tell me the exact details even though the water department had and I told her what I knew.  I told her that they were just going to have to put it in writing and send it to me.  

I hate stupid people that hide behind the red tape.  Nominee number one.  The Kansas Credit Bureau.


Don't Mess With Success!

Our family developed a routine a few years back that seems to work well for us.  Being so far from her parents, Barbara and I started spending the Christmas weekend with her family. It didn't hurt that they lived in Southern California.  In response to that, my family started to get together the Saturday before that and have the Petty family weekend then. That gives everyone a chance to have their own private Christmas at home.  It evolved into everyone bring a favorite soup and a White Elephant gift exchange.  We generally eat and visit, followed by the gift exchange.  Our family rule is that we start from youngest to the oldest and pick one gift at a time.  If you see something you want, you can take it away from that person and they open another gift or they get to take one away from someone else.  The only rule is that a gift cannot be taken away more than once in each round.  The first person has the final say and can take home any gift from anyone.  This is fun as the gifts have gone from truly "Basement" finds to gift boxes with Booze in them.  I try to take home my wonderful gift secure in the knowledge that next year there is always re-gifting. My Doctor and my liver have me on a strictly no "booze for you" routine

Barbara is so sneaky.  She has a telephoto lens and stands clear across the room as people open their gifts.  She get in most cases a candid photo of the participants and I love to see the looks on the faces of people that have just opened their gift.  

Normally Barb is not in the photos.  I picked up her camera and took this one

I had the opportunity to spend some time with the kids (21 is probably the average age for that group) and to see what they truly think about all of the events unfolding in the world.  Contrary to what the old white Republicans think (Mostly me), they think things will all work out in the end.  They are full of the hope I had at that age.  In spite of the Watts Riots, the assassination of MLK, a war in Vietnam, Watergate and inflation we too moved on.   It was interesting that later on, during the KU game there was an almost continual texting with friends going on.  This multitasking was how they enjoyed the game.  I just enjoyed watching KU win. heck, I still haven't gotten Dave to show me how to set up my voice mailbox.

Speaking of winning, K-State played Florida and won yesterday also.  I am sure that the K-State fans enjoyed that home court win a lot.  many of them are getting ready for a trip south to the Tostitos bowl.  I wish them well and hope they have a fun time.  I am really not a college football fan and the thought of spending hours driving somewhere to see a game I can watch on TV is just not my style.  Especially when I have seen some of those games played in freezing blizzards.

My hope for you all is that for even a moment, you can forget the trials of the world and enjoy something about the holidays.  Between the family, the food and the friendship there just has to be something for you in there. There has been for me.



Don't You Hate Red Tape?

A while back, I had a meeting engagement with the VA over a simple hearing test to see just how bad 30 years of Army service in the Artillery had damaged my hearing. I was told when I was discharged that the VA would do a hearing test when I got to the point that my wife complained.  I went to the VA and was issued a pound of paper to even see if i qualified for a hearing test. The final encounter was that I was not deaf enough to be issued hearing aids but the constant ringing in my ears qualified me for a 10% disability.  The catch 22 in that deal was that they would pay me 128 dollars a month but it had to be taken out of my Military Retirement check for my combined years of service.  OK, it was a transfer of the money into a Tax Free form that I don't hate, it was the law of unintended consequences kicking in that I hate.

Sure enough they notified me of an adjustment in my retirement check very soon after they declared me subject to a constant ringing in my ears.  Tinnitus?   After a couple of months I finally got my first check in the mail for $128.00 along with a stern warning that the Government thought that my getting a real check was an imposition and I needed to have that changed.  For some reason, I assumed that they would just deduct the $128.00 out of the one electronic deposit and make another for $128.00.  WRONG!   Being the busy person that I am, I figured that I would get around to it soon enough. Surely $128.00 was not hardly worth any notice by the Federal Government. Again, WRONG!

Yesterday I got an official Government letter that told me I was in violation of some Federal Requirement and if I didn't call some 1-800 number I would stop getting any Government payments.  OK, Fair warning is enough for me and I called the number and got what was either a trainee or the least informed Government worker I have ever dealt with.  Having a background in Government and in teaching Customer service for a call center, I am expert in spotting someone that really doesn't care what I want.  The lady launched into her speech and when I asked her to slow down she acted offended.    She had a list of five things she wanted me to have and that was that.  I politely informed her that I was calling because of her letter and there was nothing on that letter that indicated I needed half of what she was asking for.  Not being stupid, I was prepared to give her all the identification she would need and the banking information to send the check to.  beyond that, if they would put additional requirements in a letter to me I might be able to share with them the name of the person I was dealing with and what I thought of her crappy service.   For some reason that broke the ice and we began again to start the process rolling.

Last four of my Social, My Mailing Address, the amount and source of the check and all the Banking information.  Then I was informed that this might take a couple of months to get into the system and I should get a letter in the next 7-10 days to notify me that the change would take effect.  Peachy, I will report later on if any of this came to any good end or if it was a waste of time. 

MUD Feeding the Deer


First Snow Storm of the Year

Like the sign says, "If you don't like the weather in Kansas, Wait a Day!"   It was kind of gusty yesterday  and that is typical of a front moving in.  Last night it started to rain about 9 PM and by midnight it was snowing.  This morning we have between 1 and 2 inches of snow stuck to everything.  It is mighty pretty but when you get out the 30 MPH wind picks up those small ice crystals and pelts your face.   Not a good day to be out.  Good day for cookies, hot chocolate and a good book.  It might be hard to tell from the picture, but every branch on the trees have about a 1/2 inch of snow coating them.  Pretty, as in pretty cold.  By this afternoon, the roads will be melted clear and we might finish our one or two things left on our Christmas shopping list.

About 5 PM on the 19th

About 10 AM on the 20th.
 Deep down inside, I know there is a food chain and when I add food to the critters up from the bottom, the varmints higher up the chain will come in to eat also.  The porch was covered with small birds eating some black oil sunflower seeds and all of a sudden they scattered like mad.  One of the birds flew into the window and just as he did, a small hawk grabbed him and flew off.  We have what we found out was a sharp shinned Hawk that lives here in our woods.   There are a lot of Red tailed Hawks nearby but the small sharp shinned Hawk is the main small bird predator. 



Sittin' in the Dark Jes' Writin'

Barb says it worries her sometimes when she goes upstairs and then later on finds me sitting here in the basement writing on my blog.  It must be the quiet that is so unsettling.  I can't figure out what else it could be?   

There is a first time snow storm headed here to the heartland late today and we might even get a couple of inches of snow.  Some time this morning I am going out to put the rear blade on the tractor and make sure it will start.  I might even work on the Styrofoam dog house and heater device I made to help it start when it really gets cold.  It is somewhere near 40 right now.  

Not sure why, but the critters have not been as plentiful around the trail cam for the last few days.  The normal production is around 50 or 60 pictures and the count has been less than 20 the last couple of days.  The battery pack says it is good for another 25 days but with the cooler weather who knows how well they work.  

Yesterday this was the only thing on the camera.  It is the deer with the hurt rear leg.  I do think she looks a little better and her ribs are not showing as much.  Looks like she still can't use her bad leg.  Come really bad weather she will be in trouble.

I am participating in the Million Veteran Study with the VA.  They have taken a complete medical History and will compare it with my DNA to see if there is anything predictable about my DNA, Behavior, Disease History and how it all fits together.  For those Conspiracy people out there, I gave blood for the Mass Casualty data base years ago and have a blood draw as a part of my physical about once a year so I am not concerned that my DNA will turn up in a data base I don't want it to.  In fact, I'm sure I'm on the top 10 most boring list and most likely to start sewing next.  Or, perhaps the least most likely person to propose to my boyfriend in the White House list.  That's just not the way I bat but whatever floats their boat.

Well, better get rolling, smiles to go and it will soon be time to get together with the family. Merry Christmas, Kwanza, happy holidays or whatever.  

 Here's hoping the Jayhawks  can keep putting it together.  They sure are a fun bunch to watch.



Short People Stories

Hum, what I mean is short stories about people I have met.  There have been one or two short people worth having a paragraph written about them but I won't focus on their height, just the opposite I will try to talk about what makes them stand out.

Years ago (Is this kind of like once upon a time?)  I commanded an Artillery Battery in the Guard.  It was located in a small town in North East Kansas and there was the darnest collection of people I ever met.  the 69th Brigade had been mobilized during the Vietnam War and when it returned many of the soldiers in that unit just ended their time in the Military.  A lot of young men wanted to join the Guard rather than be drafted. Within days of the unit opening their doors to enlistments, they filled their positions.  That had occurred about 4 years prior to my commanding the unit.  That meant that it was a collection of people that would for the majority end their enlistment about the time I gave up command. 

I don't harbor any ill will to those young men that served in that unit.  In fact many of my favorite day dreams are from that time in my life.  Today will be one of those days.

Prior to being assigned as Battery Commander I was assigned to the unit as a Forward Observer.  If there was ever a job that I was in at the right time it was that one.  I knew how to read a map, call for fire and deal with the Infantry.  In fact, it was so simple that I could have slept my way through that assignment.  

During that assignment, I met Phil.  he was a young man that was well educated and a lot more capable that the job required.  In fact, I think he was a Vice-president of a local bank and married to the President of the Bank's daughter.   He and I spent many hours cussing and discussing the world in general and the Military is specific.  We were ending the war in Vietnam and there was all sorts of hate and discontent out there.  Kind of reminds me of what it feels today is like.

Phil had a lot of friends in the unit and one day after our training  when we were at Fort Riley he asked to borrow the jeep and go mushroom hunting.  the Morel mushrooms grow everywhere in the spring at Fort Riley.  This had been a pretty wet spring and  they were ubiquitous. (everywhere- I always wanted to use that word and didn't find many places to use it) They returned late that night with several large trash bags of those tasty delights.

The next morning I woke up and much to my surprise the jeep wasn't right outside the tent area I was sleeping in.  I walked over to the mess hall and while I was drinking a wonderful cuppa coffee, I saw Phil sneaking across the back of the tent area and I told him to come here.  He obeyed the order but wasn't his usual self.  "OK Phil, where the hell is the jeep."  He told me that it was over by the maintenance truck and it needed some work.  

The mess team had taken those morel mushrooms and using the bacon grease had cooked then to a wonderful state.  They then took all the eggs and crumbled bacon and added them to the mushrooms. This was all cooked up in what they called a square head pan and it turned out to be a slice of heaven between two slices of bread.  I'm sure that Phil wanted me to eat and have a second cup of coffee prior to seeing the jeep.

I guess there was a game of driving through the tank wallows on the tank trails and Phil and my jeep was not the winner.  In fact, it had to be pulled our of a lob lolly and drug back to the battery.  The normal drain holes on the bottom of the jeep were plugged with mud and it was still full of water the next morning. There was a line of mud about three inches up the windshield and the map pockets on the back of the seats were bulging with muddy water.  Yes, the water in the battery compartment totally shorted out the batteries and it was one dead duck.  I wanted to really be mad at Phil, but more because I didn't get to go on the adventure than anything.  He and I started to drain the jeep by unplugging the drain holes with sticks. We checked and no mud or water had gotten into the gas tank or the engine. Even when the battery box  was less full of water we had to jump start the jeep.  Much to my amazement it did start but soon baked the mud on the engine to a hard loaf of brown clay.  We did our best to clean out the fins of the radiator so it wouldn't overheat.    I told the Battery Commander what had happened and he let me and Phil take off early to get the jeep washed at a local car wash so we could get home.  

Phil used up all of his available cash at the local car wash just cleaning  off the mud off the engine and out of the radiator.  I knew there was a new car wash right across the street from the Armory so we headed back to Horton.  Phil spent the better part of the rest of the day cleaning that jeep.  I spent my time working in the supply room checking weapons as they were returned after cleaning.  At the end of drill, we had a routine that included a short beer session and the adventures of the Midnight Mushroom Hunter came to light.  I think we laughed so hard my ribs hurt for a week.  

Phil went on to transfer to a helicopter unit as a crew chief for a few years and then went to OCS.  I lost track of him after he was commissioned.  I did run into him at an airport one day and he was working for the FDIC and was afraid someone would find out he was at the airport with a team that was ready to swoop in on one of the Savings and Loan Associations to take it over.   

So there was one day in the life of Phil and Denny the FO.  Someday he and I will meet at Fiddler's Green and share a cup of muzzle blast and laugh at the fun times in our lives.

MUD (Ret)

Autism and Asbergers

Until just recently, there was within the psychiatric community a definition of those high performing autistic children, the label Asbergers.  These were those autistic children that were the high IQ type that were difficult to tell from "normal" because of their intelligence.   My wife was a special education teacher and we were blessed to know one of these children and the wife had him through most of his elementary years.  

Like most autistic children our friend Tex (a name I made up to protect the innocent) had a tough time reading the things that make most of us social.  There is no way he could really understand the many ways we interact as he just didn't have that connection.  What was apparent was the lack of control in his ability to understand what he did and how it effected others.  

Normally, Tex was so regimented that his mother had to send his lunch from home.  Tex could not vary from a routine and there was just no way he could be changed without a major meltdown in his life.  For years, his mother sent yogurt in his lunch.  It was the kind that had the strawberries on the bottom and you either ate the bland yogurt first or mixed it in.  For some reason, known only to his mother, she (or whoever shopped that week) bought the yogurt that had the flavor blended in the entire package.  This small change caused Tex to have a melt down at lunch and his mother had to come and take him home. 

After months of working with Tex, the wife attended a class that told the care givers and teachers of Asbergers students to make a list of the rules.  Better yet, have the student write the list and then refer to it to help them perform in a more normal manner.  For some reason the Autistic child needed this tie to what is normal and at least in Tex's case it helped him perform a lot more normal.  The last time I saw him, he was a six foot, two hundred pound seventh grader and he stood out enough on his own.  

I am writing this to give you background on what I think went wrong in the New Town, Connecticut case.   No, I do not have a Masters Degree, only a lifetime of working with people and a history of watching one special Autistic child grow up. Take it for what it is worth.

Autistic children have a world of things to learn.  Many of them are impaired but a number are above average in intelligence but lack the understanding of what other people think.  Combine that with a very hard time when it comes to change, and wrong things can and do get stuck in their rules of acceptable behavior.  With that in mind, I as a parent would never spend any time with an Autistic child around guns.  They just lack the ability to feel for others and guns are the expression of taking the life of others that they just cannot understand.  It is hard enough to teach them the rules of simple games.  

When my father was going through a rough time in his life, one Christmas when we were there my mother had me take Dad's shotguns home with me.  We couldn't afford a gun safe at that time and the best way to keep things safe was to remove the guns.  My father was Bi-Polar and there was almost no bottom to the low's when he got depressed.  

No one will understand the why Mrs Lanza did what she did.  In that same notion, her son Adam will remain a mystery to the world.  All I can say is that in my opinion, I would have spent time with Adam teaching him to read, paint, ride a bike and to focus on things that he could use in his life.  I would have either sent the guns home with a relative or kept them locked up.  

But, with all that said, it is my humble opinion and what you read is worth what you paid for it.  If you don't like this, get you own blog and write.



Say What?

Yesterday, I expressed my feelings on how I think people should be responsible with their guns.  I feel the incident in Connecticut was caused by a person that was allowed access to guns when his lack of stability should have kept them locked away.  On one side of the page, I was attacked by one person for wanting gun control and on the other I was accused of being a NRA dupe and totally opposed to any any Government actions.

I do not believe that the Government owes us or anyone a total system of laws to control any behavior.  In fact I think the Government does a pretty poor job of it.  Just because it happened doesn't mean I want the government to stop doing what it needs to do.

But with that said, there are laws about guns that I feel should be enforced.  A gun should have a serial number and should be visible. Any gun without a serial number needs to be disposed of.  Yes, there are probably some antique guns without them but most of them are in a safe place and not out on the street.  

Yes, if you use your gun illegally, you loose the right to have a gun.  Felons do not have the right to bear arms because they lost that right. People with DUI's have to earn their right to drive a car.  I think the current rules on buying firearms are fairly normal.  If you want to own a gun that the Government doesn't know about, go to the paper and buy one locally or at a gun show from a non firearms dealer. 

Guns should be locked up when not in use.  I cry inside every time I see a story about a child that is shot because someone left a loaded gun where it should not be and a child finds that gun.  Gun safes are a hell of a lot cheaper than the the guns and they need to be in a safe place.

Parents have the responsibility to teach their children how to act around guns. 

So, if this makes me a gun control nut or an NRA Dupe, so be it.    Most of us don't believe everything about anything and have mixed feelings about everything.  This morning, our local paper carried an article about two Topeka Policemen killed last night by an idiot with a handgun.  Makes it harder and harder to not think we might be in line for some changes.



Guns, Guns and More Guns

There is no simple solution to the problem of people killing other people with guns.  It is kind of crazy to have a country based on freedom and then have laws that inhibit what the basic tenants of that freedom are.  I contend that we need to focus on how not why.   Every gun comes with a serial number and that is the way they should be recorded.  To have a proper serial numbered gun is fine but remove the serial number and that gun should be destroyed.  Every owner should have a gun safe to lock the guns in and they need to be locked up when not in use.  If you have a loose gun and someone gets hurt, you go to jail and loose your right to bear arms.  Children should be taught by everyone to leave guns alone and report them to an adult if they turn up in strange places.   Commit a crime with a gun and you forever lose your right to bear arms.  PUNISH THE BAD ACTORS, LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS AND DON'T SPEND MILLIONS LOOKING FOR REASONS WHY.

One major thing I have said above is they there is never a good reason why people do anything.  One of the headlines in today's paper was that they were going to examine why the Connecticut shooter shot those people.  In almost all instances, the why is never found, just the how.   Trying to find out why in normal people is difficult, in abnormal people, the why is dang near impossible.  The first problem there in Connecticut was the mother taught an autistic child to shoot guns and left them where they were available to a person with an inability to connect with people.  Teach him to read, paint but leave the guns out of the life of an impaired child. 

Our congress is facing one of the biggest problems in our fiscal history and yet the new cry is to have them work on gun control to keep shootings down.  I am not sure they are capable of doing anything that is to our favor let alone mess with one of the rights given us by the constitution.  The second amendment is our right to bear arms.  I think it is symbolically put there to remind out government that they are the servant of the people and we are given the right to bear arms and oppose the Government if it really goes off the rails.   I think we can all point to Government programs that have been based on good intentions and the laws of unintended consequences that put the solution in the tank.  In the 60's, it seemed like a good idea to build Government Housing so everyone could have a safe house to live in.  What it did was to accumulate the poor in one place and make it easy for the gangs to take advantage of those poor people.  Take away the community and you soon had chaos.  

Social Security was a good idea but it lost its way in all of the rhetoric.  There were people out there that more than earned their benefit but a lot of people were included in the program far above what they ever put in.  In the distant past, families stayed together to provide homes, shelter and safety to the old people.  Social Security took over that role and we lost the focus on taking care of people.  This is not mean, only the inevitable result of  a system where the Government is given a responsibility we all should own. 

A couple of years ago, I was in a school as a substitute teacher and the school announced a "Code Blue." ( It could have been a Code Red but the color was not important.)  As soon as it was announced, the halls were cleared and the class room doors were locked.  It seems there was one child out of control and they were in the process of moving him to a secure room.  I don't know why every school doesn't have the ability to lock all the doors and keep bad guys out of the reach of the children.  There should be a security check point and everyone should be screened.  It works for airports...

Oh well, on with the day.



What Horrible Timing for a Blog Name.

Yesterday my blog was called the "World is Safe."  It all about my attempts at making cookies and that I would not "Bench" myself from cookie baking because of poor performance.  Then, the world fell apart in Connecticut.  I cannot fathom the mixture of anger and sadness that must grip that community. With that said, All I can say is everyone should have a gun safe and keep the guns locked up.   Passing new laws when the old ones aren't enforced should tell us enough about our country.  

Just a few short years ago, we emptied the institutions out with the promise that we would provide enough places for the damaged and infirm to get treatment.  What it has produced is a jail and prison system full of people that would have been in the Topeka State Hospital, dry, safe and not a problem to the people in our world.  Now, unless a person is proven to be a hazard the people or themselves, they are sent home with a bottle of pills and a promise.  Sure, in the hospital where someone puts the pill in their hand and watches them take the medicine, they are fine.  What happens when they get out on the street where there is no one to help let alone supervise.  Chaos is inevitable.

Yesterday here in Topeka a little noted article was about a pit bull mauling a two year old and killing her.  It was a rescue dog that a family felt safe around.  Something set the dog off and he killed a little girl.  Makes me sad that someone probably teased that poor dog until he had a real strong fight instinct.  Sad day double time yesterday.

This deer has a broken left leg and is so skinny her ribs show.
Turkey looking at camera
New Feed dish



The World is Safe!

Yesterday I attempted another batch of peanut butter cookies and they were OK.  Not up to Barb's standards but OK.  My threat was that if this batch didn't turn out OK, my career as a cookie maker was over.  I think my error on the first batch was that I mixed up a couple of recipes in the cook book as I was making them and missed the 3/4 cup of brown sugar.  Throw that in with the fact that I used a hard sugar and didn't cream the sugar, egg and shortening and the cookies were just so un-tasty that Barb just found them a home in the trash.  I did manage to eat two of them with Nutella between them but they were a lot like eating a picnic on the beach.  

Yesterday Barb and i were out at lunch and had lunch with our Daughter-in-law.  It was a nice visit and then we went shopping.  I went to Orchelins, a town and Country store and found some whole corn and some "Deer Feed."   Last night as I was watching TV, I kept catching a whiff of something that smelled funny.  I tracked it down to the deer pellets with some kind of magic berry flavor added to make it irresistible to the deer.  

This was taken at 5:00 PM
Yesterday about 5 PM I took a pan of the new stuff down on the trail and 8 minutes later the deer were there eating.  This morning the turkeys were cleaning up the last of the cracked corn.  

5:08 PM
I guess the deer were hungry. You can see the new pan I bought to help the feed stay out of the dirt.

This morning the turkeys were here with their bellies empty.

Oh well, Its my camera and my yard and I don't shoot with anything but a Train Cam.



Big Enough?

When we had our niece, Carrie Craig, design this house, I had no idea that having a big dinning room would cost me so much money.   No, not in the building, in the annual Christmas Tree hunt to fill that room.  It seems that Barb has a wonderful sense of pretty and big in Christmas Trees is a part of that.  I went to Home Depot and bought the biggest tree that my stand would hold.  I guess I need to get a bigger tree stand next year.  After trimming down the trunk so it would fit, the tree is just barely legal in Barb's book.  Oh well, with lots of lights and bulbs it'll do.

For some reason, I am just not onto the complete Christmas spirit this year.  I guess I need to find and focus on the good things and stop obsessing on the things I can't change.  For the sake of not depressing you too, I won't go into the details.  I even tried to make cookies and they flopped.  It seems that the fancy Turbinado sugar  I bought is designed to be a coating, not a part of the cookie.  They were flat and tasted like someone dropped them on a beach.  Oh well, better luck next time. They were so bad that even a Schmoe Girl couldn't eat them.  Somewhere there is a land fill with crappy cookies. The good news is that Barb's cookies, Divinity and Fudge were up to their usual standards. 

I guess I need to stop flapping and do something
I need to be a lone wolf (OK Coyote)
I'll try to stop following the same crowd
I'll try to find some night life


Sad Day

Nuff' Said.



Clean Genes

I had this vision that somewhere in the back of my mind that it was possible that I had a few cleaning genes.  Well, good luck on that...    It seems that we can clean up the joint fairly quickly if pressed, but the button that we need to press doesn't seem to be pressed often.  I should have started in the garage when the weather was nice but now it will have to wait for spring, or at least a lot warmer weather.   

In my perfect world, the yard around the house would look like one of those German forests where all the dead branches are picked up.  Heck, I have dead trees down in the yard and would be miles ahead by just having a fire move through.  Might consider that  if it were not for the fact the house has wood siding and I just don't want it to burn with the much needed forest debris.  

Yesterday I went over to the media blaster's place to see how the bike is doing.  The powder coating guy is in the Air Guard and he got deployed to California until Christmas.   The guy was kind of fearful that I might be upset about the delay.  We had talked about getting the bike back by the middle of December but I reassured him that it was way too darned cold to ride and after New Years will be OK.  We discussed how the powder coating guy might keep the stuff our of some of the critical places where there needs to be threads for bolts.   He assured me that his powder coating guy had a lot of experience and would be careful.  I am sure that if I get the bike to the bike shop sometime between New years and Spring they can put it all back together and working.  I would do a lot of the work if I had all the specialized little tools.  Just removing the pedals on a bike is hard if you don't want to ruin the bearings.

Once upon a time, I had visions of having all my property paid off and life would be a breeze.  Then I woke up to the fact that there was no escrow account collecting the taxes and come December each year they strike with a combined force.   Throw in the insurance climbing each year and it just piles on.  The good news is that Barbara has always raided the minimum balance she wants in the checking account and it so far has not exceeded our ability to pay.  If the income taxes go up by the proposed amount, it will seem like we are making regular house payments again.

I think today may be the day I drag Barb out to look at the Christmas trees.  I think that last year we found the right tree at Home Depot.  We have this great big high ceiling in the dinning room and tall and big are ways to describe what she will want.  Remember that we have this rule, I do structural and Barb does pretty.  It is my job to ensure that the tree stands up and doesn't fall over, and decorate where she wants decorated.  I will carry the boxes up from the basement and hang lights but the finishing touches will be at her direction.   

The other day I went to the store to buy some peanut butter for cookies.  I found some "Turbinado" sugar and used it in the cookies.  It is a rough grainy sugar and just didn't dissolve in the mix.  It was kind of like eating cookies with sand in them.  I also didn't put the sugar and butter together in the mixer so it didn't dissolve well.  Today I will go get some more shortening and this time use real sugar and the mixer.  Oh well, I am the cook not the baker.  

For some reason my blog page has been under attack by some porno sites.  What ever you do, don't click on the links that show up in the comments.  I promise you that the title nakedyoungteens means it.