Cpt Smiff

I really can't remember his name so I will make up one to protect what then was the guilty.  I met the good Captain in Vietnam when I first got assigned to a new unit.  I had gone over on the USNS Geiger with the battalion and to prevent the entire unit going home on the same day, they infused us to all the units in the 42nd and 51st Artillery Groups.  Man was I a winner with getting assigned to the 1st Bn, 92nd Artillery in Pleiku.  Their professionalism was driven by a great Black Lieutenant Colonel Alfred J. Cade.  He went on to be a Major General and deserved more.

Well, back to CPT Smiff.   As the Battalion Signal Officer in Vietnam, he really didn't have a lot to do.  In the USA the guy would plan on the emplacement of wires and make sure the battalion could communicate.  In Vietnam, I don't remember any wire except inside the perimeter of our headquarters.  Needless to say, he spent a lot of time smoking and joking.  I think he pulled a tour of duty at night in the Battalion TOC once a week.  What that meant was that he slept on a cot in the Headquarters after he sent the duty runner down to the EM club for his two beers.  Ok, three beers if you counted the one that was shared by the duty dog.  That was the old dog that hung around the headquarters and loved to share a beer.

I had very little contact with the good Captain except for once or twice we shared the duty of Class A Agent.   We would go over to Camp Inari and draw a couple of thousand dollars worth of Military Pay script and several thousand of Piasters that the soldiers could spend on the economy.  If you are stationed way out in the hills and valleys of Vietnam, the Military Pay Script was virtually worthless.  Most of the soldiers would take a small payment in piasters or nothing at all.  Normally the Class A Agent Officers would get a helicopter and leap frog to the forward areas and then meet up that night to go back to Pleiku. 

One very strange trip was one where we had a battery so far north that we both wound up there and abandoned by the helicopter because of bad weather.  The Camp was known as Dak Pec and it was right next to a runway and a Special Forces camp.  We were told that the helicopter would go back to Dakto and pick us up as early as the weather would break in the morning.  Basically we were there with out any of our personal stuff and slept where ever there was a vacant bunk.  Both of us had a pair of armed guards.  I think their main duty was to keep us from playing poker with other people's funds. 

The next day the helicopter picked us up and took us back to Pleiku.  Someday I will retell the story of the helicopter that auto rotated in and barely kept from crashing but not today.   The next month I went back up North to pay that battery and they said they were clad that CPT Smiff wasn't with me.  It seems that one of the guys in the bunker that CPT Smiff shared woke up with a bunkmate named Smiff.  Nothing was ever reported that I knew of and who was I to complain?

I was assigned out as a Forward Observer for about two months and when I got back to Pleiku I was told that the good Captain's smokers cough was finally diagnosed as Lung Cancer and he was transferred to Japan where he promptly died.  I always did wonder if that was the first rounds of HIV and what was called the White death in Vietnam.  The report was that if you got it, you never went home alive.  But, who was I to know. 

MUD - Reporting on Vietnam, 1968

Should I be worried?

As I look at the Stats on my blog, I see a growing trend or color change in Russia and China.  Alaska and Canada have been on the increase for years but what does it mean when the former communist countries are reading what I write?  I don't know but I do wonder.


Tome for a Change?

There comes a time for major changes to be made and there is a general lack of confidence in our Government to make the needed changes.  When the Veterans returned home from WWI & WWII, there was a need for a large Central Organization to oversee the Medical system for Veterans and provide for them what the Civilian system couldn't. 

Well, here is the start of the change I see needed.   First, I think the system needs the part of the VA that over see's the adjudication of the level of compensation needed for Service Connected Injuries for our Veteran's.  In my humble opinion, the percentage of damage done by wounds should be evaluated by the VA and they should determine the level of compensation based on that determination. 

Most of us have some Medical health care and don't need a separate but equal  system to bolster that.  The VA should be able to provide some form of insurance to cover medical costs and not have to provide the service itself.   As is noted here in Topeka, the VA closed its emergency room and everyone is transported to one of the two excellent emergency rooms.  That's a start and next the critical care units should be considered.  Our hospitals have great facilities and just standard care would be the basic.  The VA's have already cut the surgery  down to several locations and I see little need to take a person to Kansas City for Orthopedic surgery.  Have it done locally and move on smartly.  My eventual support from the VA would be to have them in charge of $ and insurance to pay for Medical Care. 

For years I have fought with the idea that there is much duplication within the Defense Department that needs streamlined.  In my perfect world there would be a Land Force, and Air Force and a Naval Force.  I'm sorry but the Marines and Coast Guard would just me missions done by one of the above.  There are Naval Aviators and Marine Aviators just as a place to start.  All radios and equipment must cross talk and work under a central and joint command. 

While I am at that, I would have a Ground Force National Guard under the control of the Governor's with a Reserve Mission of reinforcing the Active duty force.   The Air force Reserve and a Naval Force Reserve would not.   

In my world, either FEMA or Home Land Defense would fold their tent.  For now, the Border Patrol mission is up for grabs to the service that can do the job.  The DEA, FBI and CIA might be worried if I were in charge.

The good thing is that I am not in charge but I will challenge them all that the voters are restless and see the need to have income match outgo a lot better.  Perhaps the current people in Political Office need changed to get the ball rolling in a better direction. 



Little Visitor

Today we are watching Rikku, a three year old because of a scheduling conflict. Dad had to work and the normal baby sitter is busy. It is really fun to see what a wonderful young lady she is growing up to be.  I forget what life was like with a young child.  Typical of most only children, she is able to use her creative side and entertain herself.  The pillows became an ice palace (Frozen) and she loved to watch the young squirrels that play on the deck.  I can hear Barb and Rikku playing upstairs and having fun.  

Having a good time at Rabbit Run
Earlier this year, Barb and I dog sat Rikku's Dachshund brother, Oscar.  I think it reminded me of how much work having a dog is.  It was fun for a day or two but it did convince me that right now we don't need a dog.  Dang, I hate it when that happens.

Sometime today, Dave will be over and we will work on the brakes of his car.  It seems that either Dave uses his brakes a lot and hard, or the General Motors brakes haven't gotten any better than they were on the Vega.  Seems like I redid them on the Vega about every 20,000 miles.  Much the same on Dave's cars.   The good news is that the parts are cheap (relatively) and I do know how to do it.  I have found that if the brakes are worn on just one side, it is probably a stuck caliper and we are just as well off changing it from the first.  I changed the pads and rotor one time and a very short time later I had to redo it and change the caliper.  Oh well, won't be the first time or the last.

Dave is getting well fairly fast and his blood tests are showing an improvement.  Slow but steady.  He had a hiatal hernia and it caused a bleed.  When he started to feel bad he took a lot of aspirin and things progressed steadily until it took a trip to the hospital.  He right now is on a lifting restriction of 25 lbs. and will be good company but not much help with the brake job.  I know he knows how to do it as he has been there and done it with me several times.   I like t get in there and turn wrenches from time to time.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want a full time job doing it.  At this stage of my life, I don't want a full time job of doing anything.  With about 21 acres of mowing, I can always fire up the tractor and find something to do.

Better get back to sharing the Rikku duties.  You know how much I hate spending time with little children.



People, Places and Things

From time to time Barb and I can be in the same room and watch the same program.  Generally about 5 PM we watch Jeopardy and it is fun to see how many of the answers we get right.  What is really amazing is just how close I come to having the right answer but not fast enough. If they would double the time it is on to an Hour and give me the extra time I might be able to be on the Jeopardy Old Farts Edition.

As I age, my memory gets more like that every day.  I am on the verge of forgetting all the bad encounters and only the great smiles I have shared with people.  Let me tell you about Zeke a friend of mine.

A few years back, I was an instructor at a Call Center and one of the other instructors was a guy named Zeke.  He hadn't been on the platform nearly as long as I had and I pretty much had one class after another.  That kept me out of the Training Office so I didn't spend hours on hours working with him.   I did find out that Zeke's Dad was retired Military and I think he told someone that I reminded him of his Dad.   Not a bad thing in my book.  A mixture of love and hate with a dose of respect never hurt any relationship. 

The training staff had a few moments where they did group activities and I think the "Pot Luck" lunch was one of their favorite.  Zeke's mom made a killer Lasagna and he was known to bring a big old pan of it.  After the meal, we would kind of pick up after ourselves and try not to leave too big a mess for the Janitor.  Someone picked up Zeke's Mom's pan and placed it on top of a trash can to wipe down the table.  It didn't get put back on the table and the Janitor took it out with the trash.  The next morning, Zeke saw that the pan was missing and was concerned that his mother would be mad.  It was kind of funny to watch him in a low hover about what to do. 

Being the old fart I am, I called his dad and told him the story and asked him to call Zeke to tell him to bring that damned pan home as Mom was going to make him lasagna.  Sure enough in a few moments the phone rang and Zeke went from low hover to high panic.  "What to do, Oh what to do?" I let him stew for a few minutes and then my laughter gave me away.  "Dennis, what did you do?"  I finally broke down and ratted myself out.  Zeke went from relief to a genuine concern that he didn't have a clue what to do.

I told Zeke that most cooks have special pans they use but replacing a good pan with a new one just often was just as good.  I sent him over to the Specialty Shop in one of the local Malls to find a replacement.  Wal*Mart often has good pans a little cheaper but I thought Zeke should be good to his mom.  He did and all was well.

I am writing this short story about Zeke as today he is releasing his movie about bullying.  He made this movie in the Atlanta area and it will be released there.  I can hardly wait to see it reach here in the Heartland.  Now seems like a good time for everyone to see an example of what it's like in the real world and how we might be able to reach some of the young people and keep the fights and killing from happening.  My Hat's off to Zeke.

"Core" The Movie Coming soon to the Heartland


What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

I saw a T-Shirt the other day that said getting older is mandatory, growing up is optional.  Other than the abnormal aches and pains I have, I don't feel a day over 29.  Someone once told me that they waste being retired on the old because they can't do as much.  They just don't understand that that's the beauty of retirement, you can generally do as much as you want.  I guess the big difference is how well you prepared for retirement financially.

Plans like diapers often need changed.

The other night, I had a discussion with a young man who will be a senior this coming school year.  I asked him what he was going to do after High School?  Not a clue or even a simple idea crossed his mind.  Right now he is working this summer and trying to find the right balance between having enough money and enough fun.  I know that because of Social Security, he has a chance to stay in school and get paid until he is well into his 20's.  I guess I need to sit him down and have a Dutch Uncle talk.  Yes, I know that often kids don't change their behavior without a Significant Emotional Event.  I am not sure I am up to that but I'll give it my best shot.

The wife of a friend of mine said that her retired husband probably won't really retire when she does because of his fear of not having enough to do.  I won't even try to explain that time is like water in a balloon and you can put as much or as little as you want.  Kind of reminds me of the time one of the Nephews was over visiting my mother and told her that he was "Bored."  With out delay she said, "No, you are boring." 

I guess a big part of this whole situation is based on the principle that life is a journey not a destination.  Set you goals on getting to a plateau such as an Associates of Arts and a good job or go for the degree.  Whatever you do, do it in a smart manner.  Work as hard as you can while you do and try to complete your degree with as little debt as possible.  I hated to say, "Do You want fries with that?" but "Paper or Plastic?" was only slightly better. 

This coming weekend I had the opportunity to travel east or west to help people move.  In both cases I re-considered both options and kept my damned mouth shut.   The thought of a couple days on the road and filling a truck with things is just more than I am really up to.  Besides, who would do all the mowing there is to do right here.  I am just waiting for the grass to dry out so I can go hit it with the mower.  Wait, I didn't have that on my life's goal.  Did I.

Can you see the smile from there?


Wednesday Musings

Yesterday we had our Daughter-in- Law's parents over for dinner.  I think the final count was 10. They brought her nephews over and we fed the masses.  Good food, good conversation and for me a great big mess to clean up this morning  Seeing as I made most of the mess, I feel it is only fare that I had to pitch in and clean up the dishes.   I think Barb ran a load of dishes yesterday and even after the one I did today, there is one more round of hand washing  to do.

I for one am glad that Sandy and Larry Parks will be moving back to town.  They spent about 10 years in Vegas and are looking for a house as we speak.  They will probably retire and stay here.  If they can find the right house they will probably stay in it for a long time.  If not, they will probably fix it up and move into a better place in a year or two.  

They are about the same place we were when I retired.  I didn't have a clear understanding of just how much the actual retirements would total up to.  A little here, throw in a few quirks for the small years they worked and perhaps it will be enough to survive to a ripe old age.  At least that's what we hoped for.  it had worked out better than that for us.  Sandy has about 10 years in the Rail Road retirement system and no one is sure how they make that one work.

Better go get myself cleaned up and then it is off to get a haircut.  I know my Barber likes it when I don't go a couple of months between cuts. 



Not sure what happened, 250,000 Hits

In March, I hit 200,000 viewers and here only a couple of months later I have hit 250,000.  I don't think I have changed anything but something must be working.  Thanks to all of you out there for visiting. 
If this works, the following is the first blog I wrote.

This is the first Blog in my new site. I hope you can read and ride along with me as I journey through the rest of my life. I have no idea where this will go nor do I have a plan. It is a journey not a destination.

You can se my Tour Elite 2 (TE2) recumbent bike in the picture above. Barbara took it as I was riding at Lake Shawnee. The bike was built by my brother-in-law, . The first TE was a good bike but the brakes were in need of help. After 100 miles on that bike I sent it back to him and he rebuilt both the frame and the brakes. It is designed on the Tour Easy main design with several additions. It is about the best thing I have ever ridden. He also built a bike for Dave and I do wish Dave and I could ride more. Dave lives right off the Shunga Trail and has about 8 miles of great riding right outside his door.

Barbara is a "Bent Rider" also but would rather take a camera and look for great photos than ride for miles. It is nice that we share a hobby but our short term goals are different. This difference is probably a lot like or lives. Barb will be here for the long haul and I'll ride hard and die wet. Barb will be one of those little old ladies out in her garden when she is in her 90's. The other day she came to the lunch table and had a piece of a leaf in her ear. She rubbed the ear and found the debris. She asked me why I didn't tell her about the leaf. I told her that I thought it was her life's goal to be the kind of person that goes out in the garden and comes back in with caterpillars and leaf pieces in and on her. She agreed that I had a point and we moved on with lunch.

I have ridden about 700 miles on the TE2 now and try to get in as much riding as I can. Yesterday it was too cool in the AM so I waited until evening to ride. Barb went with me over to the lake and I rode the 8 miles perimeter of the lake in 40 minutes and Barb rode up to the dam and back (4.5 miles) with the camera. I see her downloading pictures from the digital camera so I can only suppose she took some fall pictures. 
I am looking at our retirement income and payouts on the investments and pensions. Barb's is pretty straight forward but mine gets wierd because of the Civil Service and Military were both not a part of Social Security. There is something in the law that won't let you draw three pensions from the Government without the "Offset" in Social Security. After paying for the required 40 quarters I can't draw any benefits. If Barbara draws my Civil Service and Military Survivor's benefits (after I am gone) it will cancell her Social Security benefits. I know, whine and cry. I did not intend to start that this early.

I guess I need to stop here and go do some of the things I need to do in my other life as a house husband
Mean Uncle Denny (MUD)

The day after.

One of the things I miss the most about being retired is the meeting and discussing (and/or cussing) the State of the Union.  For some reason I just got in the mood to cook yesterday afternoon and right after I started I found out that the Guests from the West will be here tonight.  Oh well, my smoked meats seem to be well eaten even a day after.   Even though Barbra has said I can't go to the store to buy anything until we have eaten at least half of the things in the fridge, I may sneak off and get some bacon to put with the potatoes. 

One way I get my fill of talking with people is at the Barbershop Chorus.  Last night we had a young guest that is a senior at one of the local High Schools.  He has a bass voice that is about three notes lower than mine.  I can get down there but I gravel out a note or two higher than he can get low.  This is exactly what we need to do.  Somehow we need to find a group of young singers to breathe life in to our program.  I'll bet I am a couple of years younger than the average age of the chorus.  Yesterday evening one of the members, Wilmer said to Max our new guest that he was glad to be the oldest member meeting the youngest person in the room. Wilmer was a WWII veteran and has to be close to 90. 

The other day, I made a discovery that is to me remarkable.  Barb has bought those English Cucumbers from time to time and I finally found that I think they are better with onions in a vinegar dressing better than the regular kind.   As a lark, I poured a sesame and oil dressing on some and they were to die for.  Shows you that an old dog can learn new tricks, especially if he is a tricky old dog.

About once a week, we venture to the far side of town and visit our Sam's Club.  Yes, I know that most of you shop Costco but we don't have one here and I refuse to drive 50 miles for that privilege.  I think the local one has meat that is as good as HiVee and a little cheaper.  The only bad part is that you have to buy (and feed) groups of ten or more to take full advantage of the large packages.   I have found that the bread products made in store to be very good but I have yet to have a loaf of bread made outside of the store that tasted fresh to me. 

Oh, wait, Sam's Club has a new salsa in a quart jug that is way too yummy.  So far I have put it on toast like a bruschetta and eaten it by the bowl full with those Scoops Chips. (I need to pick up another bag of them when I hit the local store) I highly recommend it as a side for any meal.  Dang, I have made myself hungry and now I need to cook breakfast with the salsa.  We have a few Asparagus plants and fresh asparagus and salsa in an omelet is way yummy.   Now to see how that salsa works in one. 

Years ago, I was on a business trip in San Antonio.  We were staying at a downtown Hotel and it just didn't seem right to me that I should pay almost $10 for the breakfast buffet.  I had been out walking the day before and saw a restaurant where it was painfully obvious that it catered to the local Mexican (or Texican) American crowd. I went there for breakfast and had their huevos  rancheros  or eggs cooked ranch style (I apologize if this isn't spelled right, my Spell Checker isn't bi-lingual)  The only short coming was that they did not have toast only tortillas.  I think that really broke my mold on what I put in or on my eggs.  I think the only thing I really object to is over easy with catsup.  That was my Dad's breakfast if he could get it.  My dad ate Oyster Stew for lunch every work day of his life at Beech.

Dad got off at 11:30 and walked right up the block to our house.  At 11:34 he would go into the kitchen and open a can of Oyster Stew and put it on the stove.  he would then go into the bathroom and do whatever business he had there and come back to the kitchen to pour that stew into a bowl.  Half a package of crackers and a cup of catsup and he would seriously chow down.  Mom had some big old bowls that would hold that entire mess and if Dad was really feeling frisky, he would put a couple of dashes of Tobasco in on that mess.   I'll bet if he was out of Oyster Stew, he could just eat crackers and catsup, that had to be what most of his meals tasted like. At 11:54, he would go back out the door to go back to work.

 I think the only thing he didn't put crackers in was Beans because Mom always made corn bread.   In fact we never just called it Beans, because it was Beans and Cornbread on our menu.  Kind of like Pork Chops and Spanish Rice.  Mom could make this in one pan and serve a family of 6. 

Dang, I'll bet I have gained five pounds just sitting here writing this.  Barb was up late and isn't up yet.  I guess I'll have to wait to see the whites of her eyes and then fix breakfast.




I do try to keep track of any new comments on my blogs.  The one noted exception is a blog from a couple of years back where I had 162 comments.  Yes, they were mostly spam and even if they weren't, I went blind from trying to read them all.  Perhaps a better term would be mind numb.

Poppies for your Memorial Day


Watchin' Memorial Day Movies

This morning, I started to watch the old movie about "Sgt York."   I knew the story about his exploits winning the Medal of Honor so I only watched the first 2/3rd of the movie.  Yes, I watched only the real corny part.  During the rest of the day there will be war movies galore and some are worth watching over and over.   Not sure how many I will watch.  We will have chorus practice tonight so at least I will get a break then.  One fun thing we will do is put together some quartets out of the chorus members and see if there are any new quartets that have the right stuff. 

On Friday we got the annual Williams Fund information on Basketball tickets for this next season.  The Hawks will be young but they have a lot of promise.  They even have signed a 16 year old from the Ukraine that will turn 17 this summer.  The good news is that he will play two years at least to be eligible for the NBA Draft.   We can hope that his parents will encourage him to stay the next two years and get a degree.  Heck, He will be only 21 when that happens.  Lots of time to go play pro ball. 

Last week, I spent several; days catching up the mowing and there are places you can't tell that I did anything.  Bummer.  For most of last week you could hear mowers out there shortening the grass. 

Next week, our son Dave and his wife Barb will have been married 12 years.  Not sure what we will do to celebrate but we'll work on that.  One good thing is that Barb's parents are moving back to the Topeka area from their jaunt in Las Vegas.  Looking forward to spending some time with them talking about adventures in our lives. 

Barbara is on the Internet today looking up all the medical terms from Dave's chart.  He had a bleeding spot in his stomach and got pretty sick.  His mother is still concerned that he could start bleeding again and not get well.  He was pretty weak and pale. 

Oh well, Happy Memorial Day. 





Places to Go and Not So Much.

I have been to a lot of places and starting with the places I recommend all the way to not go here is my list.

-  Start with the National Parks right here in the good old USA.  Zion, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, the North Rim of the Grand canyon.  Zion is a one day trip and Yellowstone is a week long trip.

-  San Francisco.  Had a lot of good times there.  Fort Point under the golden Gate Bridge to the Chocolate maker near Fisherman's Warf.   They had a 75 mile trip by car posted that took you to all the sights that was worth an afternoon trip.   Finish with a dinner in China Town.

- San Antonio.  My favorite part of a trip I took there was the dinner we had on the boat on the River Walk.  At least take a taxi trip and see the river from one end to the other.  The Alamo and the Missions were a nice day's worth of sight seeing and eating great food at Margaritas by the Mercado.  Just once you should see the Spurs play in their Arena. 

- Saint Louis.  Don't be fooled by what you hear about the bad parts of Saint Louis.  Look on line and see all there is to do there.  We even found a Doll Museum near the old Ball Park.  The Budweiser Brewery was a fun trip.  If you take kids, the 6 Flags there is a pretty good day's trip. 

-  Chicago.  Dave went there on a Band Trip and we had to go back the next summer.  So much to see and do there that there is no end of the list of fun things to do.

-   Madrid Spain.  We spent only a day or two there and I am sure that I could spend a week or two between Madrid and Barcelona.

Panama - Been there done that.  Not my list to do again.  I have spent two weeks in the jungle and a week in Panama City.  I wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience but I wouldn't want to do it again.

Belize -  Slightly better than Panama but mostly because there is little language barrier in Belize.  et more than a hundred yards outside of Belize City and it looks and feels a lot like Panama.

Vietnam - I lump this in with about most of the combat zones as really good places to get killed.  There were some really spectacular places to see but throw in Malaria, Tigers and poverty to get places to avoid.

My real recommendation is that you find the place you feel comfortable and go there the most.  I really find that about 7 days away and I want to be home - a lot.  Where ever you go, don't forget that what is appropriate here in America can get you thrown in Jail or out of the country.  Take pictures and rock back to see the pictures later on.



Fat Albert

In Vietnam, I had a unit Commander that was called Fat Albert for good reason.  Most of us had heard Bill Cosby do the voice of a guy who's bulk caused lots of problems.  He was probably closer to 30 so he was probably about 10 years older than most of us.  After eating all that good chow in Vietnam (C-Rations and good in the same sentence Dennis?) he was also about 100 to 150 lbs. heavier.   If you look at pictures of the kids in Vietnam, the word Skinny comes to mind.

At my Vietnam Weight of about 165

In a firing Battery of a Howitzer battalion, the Battery Commander has a pretty important job selecting the layout of the guns and the support sections (Ash and trash as we called it)  In Vietnam once we were on a Fire Base, the unit XO pretty much ran the place and the Battery commander has a tough job making sure the mail got delivered.  Normally the Commander and the First sergeant had a tent that hosted the nightly poker games and where a lot of smoking and joking went on. 

As Fat Albert went, he was pretty much useless as teats on a boar hog but he stayed out of the way for the most part and left me and my top Gun Sergeants alone.  Generally one or the other of us was out on the gun line at all times.  Our jobs were to make sure that they knew what the hell to do and where to do it.  Typical of any unit that was not the Boy Scouts (They have adult Leaders) there was a constant need to keep the place policed up as trash and helicopters are a bad combination. 

During my year in Vietnam, I spent a lot of time out with the Infantry and slept on the ground a lot.  During my time out there, I never had an air mattress that was good at holding air all night.  The closest one I had was when we were at LZ Mary Lou and a mortar round hit right by the door to our bunker.  Everyone but me was wounded a little.  That was not true of my brand new air mattress.  Even with a roll of duct tape applied all over it, it leaked.  At least I had a cot and wasn't directly on the ground.

On a trip through Pleiku, I went to the supply room and  begged for an air mattress that would hold air.  The Supply Sergeant went over to the shelves and took out a brand new one that was still in the plastic wrapper.  I don't remember the exact price I paid but I think it involves a case or beer or a quart of something.  I was the proud owner of an air mattress that actually held air and didn't involve blowing it up two or three times during the night.  When someone would be blowing up their air mattress, all sorts of rude comments would always come their way. 

Back to the Firing Battery.  I was the unit XO and had been in the Fire Direction center where I met an still had a lot of friends.  On guy, the team called him Twiggy because he was so skinny and short.  I think his real name was Terwigeler, but after almost 50 years, it could have been anything.   He had been in Vietnam almost as long as I had and never had an air mattress that held air.  When he heard that I had an R&R, he begged me to let him have the use of mine while I was gone.  After careful discussion of the rules which included a daily airing out in the sun and a weekly wash, we struck a deal on the use of the mattress in my absence.

I had an in country R&R and went to Cameron Bay.  As soon as I arrived there, I found out that there was a plane for Hawaii that had lots of empty seats on it.  The clerk asked me if I wanted to go there rather than sitting around the beach and drinking beer in Vietnam.  Long story short, I was on the next plane to Hawaii.  I will leave out the incriminating details.  And I will damn sure tell you that there was never one thought about that stupid air mattress when I got to spend 5 days and six nights in a real bed with my wife. 

When I got back to the Firing Battery, I had lots of tales to tell and the air mattress did not cross my mind until late in the day.  I didn't think it would hurt to wait until the next morning to get it back.  When I went over to the Fire Direction Center, I saw Twiggy slipping out the back door and hollered to have him stop.  He did and said he would go get the air mattress.  It was clearly flat as a flitter and the end of the mattress seam was busted. Right in the middle of that poor mattress was the dusty footprint of a size 15 boot. There was no fixing that mattress.

The story went that one afternoon, Twiggy was taking the mattress out to let it get some air and dry off and just as he went out the bunker door, a mortar round hit on the other side of the fire base.  Fat Albert the Battery Commander was near the door and he rushed in to get out of danger.  It mattered not that Twiggy was in the doorway holding that air mattress.  Fat Albert planted on of his size 15 boots on the combination of Twiggy and the mattress.  Boom went the seam and Fat Albert fell down thinking he was hit.  When the laughter died down, it was clear that the effective bursting radius of an air mattress was zero meters and all was well.   There was perhaps a little leakage on the front of Fat Albert's pants but no brown stains on the backside. 

The sad end of this was that for my last month in Vietnam, I did not have an air mattress but I did have good thoughts of my time in Hawaii and promise of good times coming soon.  A little later on that day, I got a call from Base Camp that wanted to know if I wanted to stay in Vietnam and extra 60 days and go home without serving at a State Side base of just a little over 120 days.  Take me home Country Road.   This story is brought to you by Twiggy and fat Albert and that air mattress that sacrificed its life to make this story possible.  Happy Memorial Day...


Rainy Saturday

I guess the stillness here will be unbroken today because the rain has probably stopped the races today at Heartland Park.  Normally when the breeze is out of the south, the sound of those 1,000 horsepower motors just vibrates the windows all day and early into the night.  Not today Skippy.

My cousin Kathy is out west visiting her new grandbaby Juniper, aka June Bug.   So far I haven't been treated to any pictures of those two but I'm pretty sure that Elizabeth and her husband will fill us in on the pictures.  My cutest cousin and her cute Grandbaby are just a picture - irresistible.

Today I read a bunch of people telling others on Facebook, that they must remember the real reason for Memorial Day.   I cry foul on that.    I served and fought in the Vietnam War so people could feel free to drink a beer or eat a brat and not have to worry about who or what is marching in Red Square or any parade.  If they want to have a good thought or two, good stuff Maynard.  If not, that's what freedom truly is. 

Yesterday Barb and I went to Lawrence to have lunch with my niece, Janet.  She just moved back to the heartland and will start her training with the Postal Service next week.  The job is just part time for a start but I'm sure that she will soon be full time when they see the Petty work ethic come out.  The key piece of guidance she got from the interview was to never under any circumstances pet or touch any dog.   Something about the Post office uniform just makes them crazy and they draw blood - a lot.  Janet was my first Niece and I have always had a special feeling for her.  She is just one of those people that others just love too.  Come to think about it, all my nieces are pretty damn special. 

We have one Niece, who will go unnamed here to protect her identity that will go to Brazil next month.  They have tickets to the soccer matches there even if the USA doesn't have that big a chance to bring home the medals.  I hear tell that her husband has it on his bucket list to swim with the pink dolphins in the Amazon River.  I'll just skip that one thank you. 

I got the monthly Oil Royalty check yesterday.  Thanks Mom.   It makes for a nice addition to the retirement pay except for Income Tax Time.  Barb reminds me that getting money and paying taxes is better than getting no money.    'Cides, we haven't missed many meals.

The other day, I saw a wounded Veteran on TV and he had a special bike built to accommodate his injuries.   It reminded me of  the time my Brother-in-Law came here and build my recumbent.  Just to watch him build that bike was an experience I should have had to pay to watch.  He is one of those guys that just knows how to make things work and work well.  Speaking of that bike, Barb and I need to get them out and start getting into shape for the year.  I put them out in the new metal building and it is true what they say about out of sight - out of mind. 

 On the trail out to lake Clinton by Lawrence.
Oh well, things to do and books to read.   Even dogs know enough to stay out of the rain here in the heartland.



Up On My Soap Box Again

There are times that I wonder why I have this urge to climb up on a soap box and get all "John Kerry" on this blog.   I have the world by the short hairs and love the life I have.  I can't think of anyone I would trade with, except for one of the younger members of the family.  But even then, I wouldn't have all the wonderful memories.  

Today was a treat on Facebook.  There were smiles galore as the Graduation season is here.  People have shared the smiles and I am glad to see all the smiles.   Throw in all the smiling little faces of the young children, and it was a treat to open that program yesterday and today.  There was even a few of the young loves in there and it was just great.  It was enough to give the world a big old "Salute."

Bob Johnson's photo.
How could you not smile with faces like this on Facebook?
Yesterday, I asked Barb if her Graduation from High School was like a super event that liberated her or if it was just like a door open so she could go on with the rest of her plans.   I celebrated the event but it was very unsettling to me.  Back in the 60's,  the Vietnam War was on the doorstep of all of those of us that didn't have really good plans or good grades.  I was a little deficient in both back then.  I made the best of my time in the service and it was a leg up to life.  It didn't hurt that I met Barb and she agreed to Marry me. 

Last night, I fell asleep early and woke up in the middle of the night wide awake.   The sad part was that I had the choice of watching "Shawshank Redemption" or "Dancing with Wolves."   I know, I have seen bot of them enough to almost quote the lines as they are said.  I think it is the way the good guy comes out on top that appeals to me.   Tom Hanks and Kevin Costner are  great actors.  I think "Dancing with Wolves" is a view into the life of the Plains Indians and a little bit higher on my list because of the location.   Growing up in Kansas I have always loved the open sky and the thought that one time there were buffalo roaming widely.  Other than the fact I don't love horses, it might have been a good time to be alive.

Yesterday I managed to drag the old couch out of the living room and wrestle the new chair in.  My only fear is that the couch may become a resident of the garage that I am just managing to get empty.  At least I have both Barb's Buick and our Ford inside.  The pickup had never been an inside vehicle so I don't worry too much about it.  One of these days the rust is going to finish the cab off and it will need replaced.  For now it is a "Running Jessie."  Now there is only one more major event to accomplish.  The Fence on the South side of the property needs redone and the kid I thought would be my helper isn't well.   Neither is Dave.  I know Barb wants to help but I don't think she and Barbwire are a good mix. 



Lending Money

In my lifetime, I have loaned a lot of people money and have found that it is a lot easier to part with  than regain that money.  Here are a couple of the stories.

In Basic Training,  my bunkmate.  Wait, that sounds kinky, he was on top and I was on the bottom.  No wait, that sounds worse.  He had the top bunk and I had the bottom bunk of bunk beds.  Crap, I almost forgot the reason for this part of the story.  Oh yes, this guy was from a pretty rich family and he had joined the Army to work for the Army's version of the NSA in Germany.  On our one and only free weekend he went to the PX and bought a Butane lighter and a tube of Butane to refill it.  The first time he tried to do it, it scared the hell out of him and from then on, he paid me a dollar each time it needed refilled.  It was mind over matter.  If you didn't mind the hissing and overspray, it didn't matter.  Well to make this long story shorter, the nearer we got to Graduation, the more money he had invested in me and that Butane lighter.  He asked to borrow $50 dollars with the promise he would send it back to me at our next Duty Station.  Neber hache GI.  Never heard a word from him again.  I was just glad I didn't loan him more.

Later on at Fort Irwin, a friend asked me to go to Sacramento on a long weekend so he could pick up a car he wanted.  It turned out to be a Jaguar XJ and when he closed the deal, he didn't have the money to buy gas to get it back to Fort Irwin.  Like a dope, I loaned him $100 and guess how long it took me to get that back?  Like forever - no, never.

When Barb and I were starting out in life, she gave me one simple rule that has served us well.  We don't make loans if there is a real need for the money.  We treat it as a gift and if we get it back, all the more good.  If not, Barb asks me if we really have missed any meals.  If the answer is no, we move on smartly and chalk another person off the list of loaners.  So far no one that has ever borrowed money and not paid it back has ever asked for more. 

The one big exception in all of this was my sister Myrna Sue.  She was building a new house in Lawrence and needed a little help right at the closing.  We loaned her money and she paid it back to the penny.  They has signed over a tractor as collateral and I really would have loved to have that tractor.  Dang I hated that I had to wait another 20 years to get a tractor.  But, most importantly, I still have that sister and hope to have her for another 20 years.


Solution to the VA Problem.

I know this will raise the ire of a lot of people, but I offer this solution to the VA problems with my eyes wide open and am willing to hear all sides of the problem from others.  Don't get mad, tell me what you think.

Clearly, the Medical care system in the United States has the capability to support a very large group of people and I have often wondered why we built a separate "But Equal" system.   I have Medicare and Tri Care and pay for very little in the way of coverage.  I have (To date) never been told I don't qualify of that I need to go somewhere else for care.  Based on my experience alone, I would think that the VA should be there to evaluate the disabilities of our servicemen and women and pass out money and insurance.  Simply put, the assets of the VA hospitals have to be a costly thing and the same money could support the Veterans better if spent within the current private medical system.

One thing that happened this last month was that based on the results of testing, Tricare told me that I need to get off Solara for my Cholesterol.  They said that the medicine without Niacin does as good a job and is way cheaper.  They said if I wanted to continue Solara I would have to pay the almost $200 per 90 days or go to the generic for $15.00 for a 90 day supply.  Guess who changed his way of doing things.  Money Talks and BS walks. 

PVT Petty 1966, Fort Leonard Wood, MO

When I joined the Military in 1966 (or I should say they drafted me) we were told that our medical care would be free for life.  Guess what changed there?  It became free only for those that had service connected disabilities and or service and the inability to pay for services if they could get on the list and wait.  I think my offered change would soon become the norm and people would eventually accept it and then the only worry would become the cost and limited ability of the system to deliver health care.

Just another note, the VA here in Topeka closed their Emergency Room and all vets are sent to the local Hospitals.  This was a cost saving measure and so far so good.  I don't know if the VA is paying the local hospitals for the services they provide or not.

In closing, there is one aspect to those that were on the waiting list for the Phoenix VA that eludes me.  If something was wrong and it was going to kill me, I sure as heck wouldn't wait to go to the VA and die just to spite them.  I know that Barb would wheel me down to the local hospital long before I died.  (I hope)

Old MUD, 2014 (Now minus the chin whiskers)



She Won!

My Brother's daughter, Rebecca Petty, won the District 94 Republican Primary in NW Arkansas for their House of Representatives.  Now she will face a Democratic opponent later on to see who gets to represent the Voters of the home of Wal*Mart.  I know she will go to Little Rock and work hard to represent the voters.  There are many things I agree with her on but one or two that I don't.

I have said time and time again that I think Abortion is about the worst way to have birth control.  With that said, I think it is bad for our Government at any level to get involved in what should be a matter between a woman and her Doctor.  How can we say we want smaller Government and then try to put the nose of a camel under that tent flap. 

Where we do agree is on most of the constitutional guarantees.  There have been things done that I would like to see changed.   We have managed to create a huge new Government entity in Home Land Defense.  I thought that the Department of Defense, the FBI and FEMA were enough.  I would also charge the CIA on obtaining information over sea's about the threats to our Nation.  Many of us see the Department of Homeland Defense as a bigger threat than our enemies. I am still out on that one.

The one thing I want to say about Becky is that she is a loving and sweet person and she has worked hard for those causes she believes in.  The one item on her list that the entire family supports is the need to protect our children.  Her daughter was killed about 15 years back and the convicted killer still sits on Death Row today playing the system with his rights.  There has not been any proof but there is another murder in Arkansas that fits his profile and in my humble opinion he needs to be put down like the mad dog he is.  Karl Roberts is a convicted killer and Arkansas needs to step up and end his miserable life.

As you may have guessed by what I write, living to the ripe old age of 66 here in the Homeland and being exposed to over 30 years in the Military has left me on the conservative side of the ledger.  Given freedom to do so, I would do my best to reduce the size of our Government to the point that it is only spending what they take in in taxes.  Outgo must be less than or equal to income.   That's our rule here at Rabbit Run and should be applied to every level of Government.  One problem I see is that our National Government seems to be full of people that want to solve every problem with National Legislation. 

 Here in the Heartland, guns are in almost every house and home.  There is not the mass killings like in major cities where the unsavory elements kill without regard to the value of that person.  Somehow our Skinnerian Box experiment in the cities has just gone off the rails.  People there have just lost sight of the American Dream and now want Government to step in and fix the broken pieces.  I personally don't care if Detroit, Chicago and New Your City exist or not.  I don't see it as my problem to go there with my tax dollars and save them from themselves.

Another problem I see is that somewhere there is an expectation that the right of Freedom of Religion is being adopted as a stance to somehow will fix our problems.   I agree that the belief in a higher authority and conducting yourself in a manner as described in the holy books is a good guide.  But with that said, it is optional on the way I believe.  No, I won't get involved in a theological argument here and I won't tell you what to believe. 

I am going to spend a little time with our son today as he is having employment problems with the State.  The kind of problems that may take the involvement of a Lawyer to fix.  Enough said.

MUD, and Mad



This is another of one of those short stories about a friend I had back in the day.  I will call him lucky because a lot of the time he was.  I'll save the worst for last.

Lucky grew up with a father that was a very hard man and didn't cut him any slack.  He had worked hard all of his life and he wanted to make sure that his children knew the value of Hard Work!   It was so hard that Lucky's mother finally had her fill and took the daughters with her as she left.   Lucky and his older brother were left with a difficult father and in time, a step mother that made their Dad look easy.  Lucky had the misfortune of being exactly like his step mother and they butted heads at every turn.  I think he also had a streak of orneriness that made him work harder getting out of work than working.  He could manage to make an easy job last longer than a hard one.  I would say that "pissed off" would be a good name for his step mother.  Perhaps I left of the word permanently in that appellation.

Lucky was the same age as I was but because his birthday fell after Labor Day he was a year behind me in School.  We played in the same neighborhood but his free time and friends were generally not the same circle I shared.  It wasn't until High School that I really got to spend much time with Lucky.  I was aware of his feelings and his tough home life, but there was little I could do to help him.  One day, he saw me at lunch and asked me to come out to the fountain in front of our High School.

He said that he had reached that point in his life that he could join the military without needing the signature of his Dad.  He had another year of High School left but wasn't up to swallowing his pride much longer.  What could he do?   One answer was the Military.  Most of us thought about the Military option for our life, just most of us didn't want to join, just wait for the draft.  Lucky just wanted to prove that he was a vibrant and strong man.

Did I mention that Lucky was a little short?  Not a bunch short, but below the national average by about a half a foot.  What does short guys do to prove that their height is not a factor to them?  Yep, he joined the Marines at the end of his Junior Year in School.  Off he went to parts unknown.  I do not know if he was a Hollywood Marine or a Paris Island Marine, all I knew was that when he came home that Christmas he wore his uniform the entire time.  He said they told him he had to and there was no quit in following orders for Lucky.  I think he even managed to patch up things with his Dad that Christmas.   

The next report I go from Lucky was that he was not going to Vietnam until he turned 19.  He had joined the marines and the best qualification he had was as a pop up target known as Infantryman.  There was no shortage of places in Vietnam for him to go and the Marines were salivating until he reached 19.   I did hear that the Marines put him through a special course at 29 Palms and he took and passed the GED while on hold.  Many of us were proud that he was getting promoted and getting some Education.

About the time I went into the Army. I got word that Lucky was in Vietnam.  He was doing well and managed to stay unwounded or killed.  I did meet him once when I was home on leave and he was pretty well decorated and a full Corporal rather than that Lance Corporal.  A little later on when I got out of the Active Army, I heard that Lucky was at 29 Palms in Southern California and was a Sergeant and Married.  A little while later, I heard that he was on a second tour in Vietnam and a Staff Sergeant and his wife had just given birth to a set of twins.  Lucky completed that tour with another set of decorations and awards.

One day I met his brother and he was full of bad news.  It seems that Lucky was assigned to 29 Palms and his wife was living in the Los Angeles area.  Lucky was able to go home each weekend and was wearing out an old pickup truck driving back and forth.  One Monday morning Lucky was driving fast to make it back to 29 Palms by the time to report.  He was in a traffic accident and was killed.  I didn't get the details but I did hear that his wife was going to have the burial in California.

I am sorry that I had to end this story on a sad note but that's the way it happened.  I am glad that he had a chance to be happy for a while and that I hope that memories of Lucky puts a smile in the heart of his friends.  I will try to focus on the good things because I know Lucky would want it that way. Semper Fi! Marine.


Take A Day Off!

Seems like I have been on or working on a mower for several days in a row.  I think it is time to take a day off and see what mischief I can get into.  I know there is a ton of things to do but a part of me just needs to see if recuperation is in my future.  Nah, I'll bet I find something to do that involves work sometime today.

What do you think you will be when you grow up?    I know there was a lot of things I could have been but a singing Farm Laborer was just not in my vision.   Another thing I did not see is how hard I have to work to maintain my health.  Sitting on my butt is just not the way to achieve and maintain good health.  This next year I am going to spend a little more winter time working on fitness so it is not so hard to get back to full strength.   Well, at least as strong as a 66 year old man can achieve. 
Barb and one of her life goals.  A good book and a place in the sun.

Have I told you how lucky I am to have my wife Barbara?   With her help, we have amassed a good enough amount of retirement funds and can really enjoy life.  When one of the mowers wasn't working I complained and Barb asked me who was keeping me from having a new mower.  Yes, as much as I love to shop, I am somewhat a cheap Charley.  A part of me wants to drive to the nearest store and buy a new mower and part of me says fix the old one.  I guess I will probably use the old stuff until I can no longer get or keep it running.  You should see the junk in my old mower bone pile.   The sad part is that the mowers don't wear out evenly.  I know that there is one mower out there that had a good motor on it and one with a good mower deck.  The bad news is that I can't manage to cobble them together and make it work to my satisfaction.

Today on the Today Show, there was a person pitching the good advice they got from their father.  I'll bet that 90% of it is just made up bullshit.   Over my lifetime, I have said many times that it is a shame the young don't learn from the good advice of their parents.  Just as that thought comes out of my mouth, I am reminded by my own imp of perverse that we learn best those life lessons that are accompanied with a Significant Emotional Event (SEE).   Getting advice from a parent seldom is accompanied by a SEE.  Many of my lessons start out with the thought, "I wonder what will happen if..." That's when the learning really begins.  My Dad said that I didn't want to make a living digging ditches.  Guess who started working construction to pay for my schooling?  When I stopped really working hard, I got soft and fat and had to work hard to get/stay in shape.  The moral of the story?  I am not sure but if you have one, please send me the answer. 

I do have a simple recommendation to help keep you happy.  Find something you love to do and do it.  Sing, plant, find a hobby that keeps you involved.  There isn't a school Board out there that couldn't use a new member.  Even the race will get you up and off your butt.  The ideal thing in life is to find a job that you love and do it your entire life.  If you can't find one that fits that ideal, find something to do with the money that will.  Throw in some retirement saving and you will get to you end goals.  If none of that works, sit on your butt until you have a heart attack.  If you think it is hard to get in shape with a good heart, wait until yours  doesn't work as well. 

There is a saying that the American Indian was reported to say each day.  "Today is a good day to die!"   I agree but try to not let it really be today.  When I was 20, I thought 60 would be old and now that I have passed that mark I am thinking  80 or 90 might even be a good, or better time to die.   I just hope whatever kills me is quick and not too painful.  I also don't want my last thought to be, "I wonder what will happen if..."



Name is Changed to Protect the Guilty

When I was in High School, I could look out the window and see the Ford Dealership right across the road.   I will say they were the Runner Motor Company but that is just a made up name.  There was a son in that family that went to school with us.  I use the term US because there were over a thousand students and unless you knew someone pretty well, chances are you wouldn't have many classes with them.  The son of that Ford Dealership owner's name was Kris.   I think he had the distinction of being one of the few guys that was held up in the locker room after gym class.   I didn't hear how much money was stolen or if the perps were caught.   There were about 400 students in our class and Kris and I weren't the best of friends.

Do you remember what happened in 1964?  Yes dear one's the Ford Motor Company changed the name and the body style of the Falcon (a crappy car in my opinion) and out popped the Mustang.  Only a few guys were lucky enough to have one that first year.  Kris had a great convertible and he was a hit with the girls.  I will have to give it to him that he was probably not that bad looking and a hot car didn't hurt. 

Needless to say, Kris and I were not in the same Social Circles and I had to work to afford my 55 Chevy and a girl friend at the same time.   I worked out at Rock Road and  Kellogg there in Wichita.  The station was a main building with a circular building in the middle of the gas pumps. It kept me hopping to man the drive there and I worked darn near a 40 hour week.  Needless to say, my grades in school weren't stellar and I was in need of a nap - a lot. 

Rock Road and Kellogg was the major intersection on the east side of town and you could go east to Augusta  on a great road and south to McConnell AFB on a two lane road.  We were the last place before the Turnpike entrance and we got a lot of traffic as people would stop and fill up.  I always checked the oil and looked the fan belts over.  I made a lot of extra money selling fan belts and wiper blades. 

Did I mention that the road going east was a great road and many of my friends would bring their cars out there and hit it hard going East?  One night Kris stopped in driving a 427 Cobra and he was in a panic.  He had driven the Cobra as fast as it would go and the speedometer was twisted off at the maximum speed of 160.  He didn't know how he was going to explain it to his dad.  I reached in and tapped the dash right over the needle.  The speed dropped down about 20 MPH and I hit it again.  Another 20 MPH fell off.  When I continued to tap it and it got to 60 MPH, he said quit!   Dad will believe that. 

After High School, I did not hear what happened to Kris.  I'm sure that he went off to some college with a new Mustang and did well.  Those of us that did not go and do well in College would up in Drafted and in the Army if we were lucky.  When I was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma for Officer Candidate School, many of the guys went down to Burk Burnett, Texas and bought a new car.  I had to keep the 61 Volvo Dad and I bought but I loved that car.  Drove it many miles and while it wasn't a new Mustang or a Cobra, it got me to where I needed to go. 

After all, who needs a chick magnet and anything more than basic Transportation. Well....


Getin' Old(er)

Most of my life I have spent a lot of time in the spring getting back into shape after a winter of reading and writing.  This year it seems to be taking a little longer to get there.  In fact, I feel like I could take a nap right after I wake up.  I have managed to drop about 10 lbs. but it isn't helping me feel lighter and in shape.  I have been working pretty hard and I guess that is a good a part of the problem but dang, it was easier earlier in my life.

Dave had three acres of grass at his house and I found it pretty easy to just leave the Troy Built mower at his house and get by with the old one here.  The other day I went up to his house to mow and the mower was in pitiful shape.  Starting with a dead battery and a drive belt that was pretty cracked.  I put a new battery in it and accidentally shorted across the terminals.  The Troy Built has a 20 Amp fuse and I must have fried it.  I decided to just bring it home and give it a work over.  I am glad I did as there was a big mouse nest under the motor cover and it would have started a fire if I had mowed very long.  I also decided that the belts needed replaced and when I got it back up together, it wouldn't start again.  I pulled the battery and checked the fuse.  Sure enough, it was a bad fuse and when it was replaced, everything worked.  All that work was about a full day of working and I was one tired guy.  I did manage to go back to Dave's and mow for a couple of hours but I ran out of gas before the mower did.   I'll go back today and finish mowing and trim.

Dave was over a week ago on Sunday and was going to help me move the couch.  He looked pale and didn't feel well. He went to Medi Assist and they sent him to the ER.  He was about 1/4 of the normal Hemoglobin  level.  His was 4 and normal was 17.  The admitted him and gave him three pints of blood.  He continued to lose after it got up to about 7 and they gave him a fourth pint.   The sent him home with some iron pills and an acid reducer.    He has a place where his stomach was raw and oozing blood.  Sure hope he is back on the mend soon.  He has a friend that is a Doctor and she said it was a wonder that he didn't pass out when it fell below 5.  His heart beat about 88 to try to circulate the blood fast enough to oxegenate everything.  My normal pulse rate is about 66.

Our Barbershop Chorus is just starting on the path of our summer singing.  We will sing the third Sunday of the month at different churches and several ball games and the kick off for the Senior Olympics.  Should be fun as well as keep us busy.  

Oh well, better get moving.  It was windy last night and there is no dew on the grass.  I might be able to get the mowing and trimming done at Dave's early and fit in a nap.   Have practice tonight.




For some reason, I have been one of those people that seem to attract strange people.  When I went to the Armed Forces Examination station in Kansas City There were several of us from Wichita that were all sworn in the same day.  One of these guys started to hang around with us and when we asked him what he was going into the Army as, he said he spoke Herman.  You know like they speak in Hermany.  He had enlisted for four years to be a linguist and his Army Security Agency assignment would be translating traffic along the border in Hermany.  

We were sworn in and bussed to the Receptions Station at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.  It seemed like we stood in line after line and this guy just kept talking and talking and talking.  All the time, he was pretty difficult to understand with his speech impediment.  The good news was at the time I still had most of my hearing and didn't have to read lips.  The bad news was that I still had most of my hearing and had to listen to him.  On and on through the first two or three days we were subjected to facts and history of Germany way beyond the point of caring for most of us.

On the third day, we went over to the Main Post Theater and were given the Army's driving safety class.  Yes, it was mostly animation to keep the attention of the normal draftee.  It was a cartoonish list of Rules, Laws and Orders on driving.  Somewhere in the middle of the film there was an accident scene about three soldiers on weekend leave headed to Saint Louis that had a car with a faulty muffler.  Carbon Monoxide has been seeping into the car and they ran into the back of a Tractor Trailer.  The accident investigation showed the bodies of those three soldiers cut off about mid chest in full color.

Our Herman friend stood up, screamed, started crying and ran out of the Theater.  He was so traumatized that he had to go to the Hospital.  I am sure that he was discharged as unfit for Military Service.   The only question I had was,  Is he for real or did he find the perfect scheme to get out of the Army right when the Vietnam buildup was in full swing?  Act like you are wanting to go and then act crazy worked.  Many of us asked ourselves who was right and who was wrong.  I will promise you that there was no way in my family that I coulda, shoulda or woulda gone to Canada to escape the draft.  Now, if I had been found unfit, I might have been able to go home.

Years later Barb and I went to Hermany and I can't imagine how anyone with the inability to say G's could learn the German Language.  I loved the food, the people and the beer.  I wasn't crazy about the little red Opal on the Autobahn playing with those big fast Mercedes but I love the side roads anyway. 



Over the last few days, there has been a couple of running and gunning discussions about what is wrong with the USA.  It is my contention that while it has been harder to get there, our version of the American dream can be achieved. People have cited facts all over the place.  One person says that our taxes have gone up and up and another person has declared that corporate taxes are so low that there is no middle class.

If you were paying attention to what the world has been up to, there was a move to stabilize the growth of the USA and move jobs to other places to even out the wealth.  We shuffled jobs to Mexico and China as fast and as hard as we could and now we wonder why the "Middle Class" is having a hard time.  If you haven't heard this before, "Follow the Money." 

We have also been changing the fundamental way we have be guided by the constitution.  It has been a lot easier for the President to issue a Presidential Fiat and change things than it has been for Congress to make changes for the good.  Another factor is that we have a congress that seems to be all over the place rather than a united attempt to find and fix our real problems.

The other trend I have been noticing is the lack of civility by the "Political Correctness Police."  In stead of just saying that Sterling is just another rich old man that doesn't really care what we think, the NBA wants to suspend his Constitutional rights, fine him and take his franchise away from him.  There is a small matter of the California Law that says that his wife owns half of everything (Community Property) and no one seems to give a damn about her rights.  Someone this week said that Hillary Clinton had a fall and had brain damage.  Who jumped up to her defense - Yep'er. good old Bill.  If there was any proof of Brain Damage right there is the answer.  I can't imagine most wives would have not, "Stood by her Man" but would have taken half of his assets and set that Tom Cat Free.  

The other day, I read three, "God is my Savior" messages from a friend but there was a fourth one that I don't remember.  I chided him that he should every once in a while post something that he himself wrote not just cut and paste on Facebook like the Spam it was.  Guess what?  He unfriended me.  Dang, I love it when that happens.  Saved me the trouble.  I fully support your right to believe in any sort of a God you desire.  I don't even mind if you post something to that effect every so often.  It is that constant dribble of the same message over and over multiple times a day.  I wonder who he is trying to convince?  Him or Me.

One of my fears is that one of these days the powers that are in charge will pass a part of the Law that drags us down the slippery slope that erodes our free speech.  I think it will start with stupid speech and work its way down from there.   You doubt this could happen?  Look at all the gun laws that have been supported by the courts.  Try to own a gun in Washington D.C.  or New York City.   Go try to buy a gun and see if that inch of paperwork is just almost too much. 

Speaking of freedoms,  many of my friends have posted messages that announce their gun ownership and state they defy the Government to come get them.   It was gun registration that aided the Nazi's prior to WWII to be able to "Come Get the Guns."  

I won't even bring up all the hoopla about Same Sex or Equal Opportunity Marriage laws.  Who does what to whom in your bedroom is your issue not mine.  What book said, "All Pigs are equal, some are just more equal than others?" 

Oh well, moving on...



The Weather

There is an old saying that if you don't like the weather in Kansas, you should wait a day.  We went fro the high 80's to a possible frost warning for tonight and by this weekend we will be back into the 80's. 

Our son and his wife live about a mile north of us and they had hail big enough to break windows and the mirror of their car and we had marble sized hail.  Barb did find one or two that were pretty big but nothing like what beat up their house. 

No, I don't think it is climate change, just the changing weather pattern.  Even if it was man made, how the heck does the Government building a Ponzi scheme of fines and energy credits think they can change it?   Another example of men thinking that they need to change things to save us.  Is that cure worse than the disease? 

Our local government is working on another round of sales tax increases to help support the Expocentre (Their spelling not mine)  Just how much money do we need to support it?  Isn't there enough money in the Property Tax and current sales tax to support it?  What about the people on a fixed income that got bupkis for a raise over the last couple of years.  Who would have thought that the State Employees would have been given a smaller raise than those on Social Security? 

Crap, Here I am on another tirade.  Gonn'a quit right here and right now.