I Do Not Suffer Fools Gladly

There are some days I should not go on Facebook and read some of the crap posted there.  On of my friends posted that she doesn't care if people just walk away, she doesn't want to have them mutter things about her.  She posts some of the most stupid things on Facebook and I have for years just shook my head and was glad she isn't my wife.  She takes in old dogs and then complains about finding dog pee on the floor.  You get what you get.

Another friend posted a piece about tipping.  A waitress said that because she has a college degree, she was somehow entitled to tips.  I reminded her that tips are for service rendered.  I am probably one of the best tippers in Topeka but I also will say something if the service is poor or less than I expected.  Just this week, I told a waitress that I appreciated that she looked me in the face and talked loud enough that I could hear her.  She told me that she (like me) is partially deaf and doesn't really hear how loud she talks.   That is the waitress I would give all the old folks to.  She got a nice tip along with my thanks.

Whatever you do in life, find something you enjoy.  It will seem a lot less like work if you know that the job description told you to bring a shovel.  I took a job one time that the previous boss had been a control freak.  He had every piece of paper go across his desk.  I stayed late and took work home each night and the next morning the mail brought me another foot of paper.  I finally had a staff meeting with the heads of each section.  I asked them just how much it helped or hurt the job for me to see every piece of paper?  They said that anything that was really their job to do should just come to them.   I set a policy that if it is a normal action and all they were doing was approving what the regulation said they should do, I didn't want to see the paper.  When it was a close call or just not in the regulation, it needed to come to me to say no.  I reduced a foot of paper a day to just inches and had time to do some of the evaluations that were long overdue.   I also had time to spend a little time with one bunch of guys that were nearly out of control.  A couple of 15-6 investigations brought a lot of the crap to a slow crawl.  

By this afternoon, it is my hope that the grass might be dry enough to mow.  I just hate to leave ruts in the yard just so it will look good.  (or at least mowed)   What I really should do is wait a couple more days and spend the day reading and then grilling dinner for Dave and his wife Barbara.  I found a couple of pork T-Bones steaks that just look yummy.  With the real thing about 4 times more pricey, we will probably eat pork more often.   Did I tell you that I love bacon?  I love the smell of a kitchen that has just cooked it, I love the taste and there is just little that I don't love about bacon.  I have found that the sweet slices of bacon aren't as good as the hickory smoked kind but it is all good.

Oh well, better get the show on the road.  Another cloudy day here in the heartland but it doesn't seem to have any rain dripping out of the clouds. 



They Lie

Yesterday the weatherman posted a forecast for the coming week and the Master Gardener said there are no raindrops on the screen.  I told her that they couldn't make it even one day without an error.  Well, when I got up this morning, it had rained overnight.  Even the wee hours of Saturday should have had raindrops.  I hate it when that happens.   My yard is in need of a good mowing again.  If I drive on it, I leave muddy tracks and skid marks when I turn.   Probably will be Tuesday or Wednesday  before I can get out there.  That means I will have about 6 or 7 acres to mow all together.

I have a nephew in Kansas City that took his daughters and the son of his sister's to Texas.  I am just amazed that anyone would go there with all the rain they have been having.  I guess a lot of people (mom included) worried about me and some of the things I did.   On my way home from Vietnam we drove all through New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma in a blizzard.  In fact, the roads were closed and I basically broke tracks.  I think we got to Liberal before a Highway Trooper stopped us.  After a delay long enough to eat breakfast, we drove in the ruts of trucks to get to Wichita.   There, we found out that Grandmother Erma had been rushed to the Hospital.  Here's that story -

Erma and Curly lived in a dry county in Arkansas.  They drove to Wichita to greet me as I arrived home.  As soon as they crossed the state line, there are about three liquor stores and they stopped at their favorite watering hole.  I am pretty certain that they bought a six pack of coke and a fifth of Bourbon.   Grandmother fixed them both a drink and off they went to Wichita.  A few miles up the road, Grandfather asked for a second drink and Grandmother again poured.  By the time Curly wanted a third drink, Grandmother said all there was left was coke.  By the time they arrived in Wichita, grandmother was pretty loaded.  He first stop there at 544 Byrd was the bathroom.  After she finished, she stood up, grabbed the back of the stretch pants and pulled up.  That motion caused her to fall forward into the tub where Dad had to go save her.  I am not sure what would have caused my Dad to laugh the most.  The fact that like the punch line to a bad joke he was greeted by Grandma's mooning him or being head down in the tub.  At least the tub was empty and she didn't drown. 

That reminds me of another story from my distant past.   In High School I had a girlfriend that I thought I would like to marry.  At least she had enough sense to keep me refraining from sex so we didn't have to get married.   Her family had been moved by Boeing from Wichita to Seattle and Christmas 1965 I took a bus to go up there and see her.   I can't tell you how depressing the entire time was with the reality that I didn't really love that girl and a week of rain without any sunshine.  It was like my heart didn't know how to put a smile on my face.  On Christmas morning, the sun was out and I walked down the hall to look out the front room window.  As I passed the parent's room, I heard, "Look you can see Mount Rainier"  I glanced that way into the room and there was the mother standing up on the bed completely "starker's" and looking out of the window.   My joke was that I saw the sun and the moon on the same day and that was my Christmas present.   The end of that story was that by noon it was raining again and I didn't see the sun or the moon for the remainder of that trip.  The really good news was that my girlfriend joined the Navy and married the first Swabby that would have her.  

OK, enough of the dark and rainy humor.  I have a good book to read and I'm sure that the beeping from upstairs in breakfast being prepared. 



Things to Live by

A Hero is not some one to emulate, but some one to adopt as the model of behavior.  Don't get out there and endanger yourself, stand above the crowd by your actions.

Spend more time working on who you are than playing hero worship of others.

Just because an actor plays a good role doesn't mean that you should pay any more attention to their opinions than your own. 

You can spend all your money buying lottery tickets and not win a thing.  Pretend you did and apply your money to your goals.   A fair goal worked hard is better than the best goal not worked at all. 

"Dream the impossible Dream" is a pretty song but shitty advice.  You can have dreams, but break them down into smaller chunks and see what you can achieve.  It might surprise you how much you can accomplish by working on the dream one goal at a time.

The difference between having a swelled head and being a swell guy is how hard you work at not having a swelled head. 

We all start out in different places in life.  It is not where you start, but where you finish.  The class you demonstrate getting to the end isn't a bad way to race. 

When was the last time you saw a Wells Fargo Truck in a funeral procession? 

I like to think about my parents now and then for all the good things they did for me.  I refuse to try to remember how things and times were tough, but for what I saw them do to live in spite of tough times.  

I for one, did not live for the money my parents would have when they died.  I did my best to see that they had what they needed right to the end. 

We will all own a plot of ground someday

When we were young, we put money in IRA's a 401Ks to keep from paying the Taxes on that money. Now the Government wants a bite of that apple.  Should I have expected less?  Duh!  You can pay them now or pay them later.  It is all up to you and the IRS code.

I know it seems like an impossible thing but I love my country but fear my Government.  The thing I fear is not that I create a lot of data for my Government to collect, but just what the heck they are going to do with that data.  There is probably some overworked Government employee trying to stay awake as he reads about all the dull and boring things I do.  I promise you that if I have trouble inputting the numbers off a refill card for my cell phone, I am no threat to national security.

I would spend more time with my friends, but who wants that many old people around all the time?  I am pretty sure that my wife keeps me around to help her look younger.

By the time I die, I sure as heck hope they have a quick way to help me end the suffering.  It is the suffering I worry about not the dying.

A short thought by my Brother-in-Law, Ray - There are only 2 sure statements that we can all agree on:

1) The only sure thing is Death and Taxes

2) The World is going to Hell in a hand basket.

In spite of all this gloom and doom, have a great day out there.  Go do something fun...



Are You Sure?

In this world of instant data, can we really be sure of anything?   How can it be possible to sort out the real information in the windstorm of data thrown at us.  Just this morning there was a news story about a young black child shot and killed by the police.  He was carrying a pellet gun and they mistook it for a real gun.  First of all, what parent would let their child go out armed with a pellet gun, and second, how would you like to be the policeman that felt threatened by a pellet gun.  Are You Sure?

We hear a lot of people telling us about global warming and no one said much when Buffalo got hammered with more snow than they could use.   The Climate in Texas was on the side of drought and now it is flooding.  Is it climate change or just the normal ebb and flow of  the weather?   Are You Sure?

I read that we want to be able to trust our President above all others and yet the most popular Democrat has holes in her sails that are just unimaginable.   Clearly she is in the top 1% of the wealthy and the bottom 47% seem to rally to her side.  God only knows what is fact and fiction in her box full of e-mails and it was in a system that no one seems to be in control of. How do we know what is on her mind when she doesn't talk to the press, only presents what she wants to get out is dribs and drabs.  What percentage of the $500,000 per speech Bill gives goes to the Clinton Foundation and stays there?   Are You Sure?

With the historians rewriting our history before the ink is dry on today, how can we be sure that we will get the truth, the whole truth or any thing near the truth.  Are You Sure?

The other day one of the kids said they felt naked on our trip when they didn't have connectivity to Wikipedia.  That site is full of things that people posted there and I am not sure if there is anything like fact checking going on.  Wikipedia says that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck it must be a duck.  C Dem Bd eyes?  R u Sure?  

People are upset that the Koch brothers are improperly influencing our elections.  We want free speech but not freedom of money?   Are You Sure?     How much money would it take to get you to vote a different way?   I am pretty set in my ways but I don't know about you?   Are You Sure?

This is the end of today's lesson.  I think.  I am pretty sure!



My Memorial Day Toast to Dad

Right after Pearl Harbor, my Dad wanted to run down and enlist.  My Mother reminded him that he had a wife and two children to support and if they need him, they will get him in time.  I am sure that Dad wanted to get in on the action early but like me, he just wasn't sure what to do.   He did what Mom thought was right and waited.  Sure enough after a couple of years, his name and number came up on the Draft Board's wheel of fortune. 

Dad said that he went to the Reception Station in Kansas City and they were told to count off in order 1 or 2.  He was a 1 and then they were told that all the 1's were in the Army line.  He told the person in charge he had experience working on Navy Airplanes (he worked briefly at McDonald Douglas in California) and he thought he could do the navy a good job keeping the Navy flying.  The guy agreed and sent him over to be a umber two. To tell the truth, Dad worked at Beech Aircraft in Wichita and probably could have done the Army a better job fixing their planes but this is the story the way he told it. 

Like a lot of young men in the Navy, he went to Great Lakes Naval Training Center.  No, I don't have a clue where it was only that he said it was cold as it could be and he hated every minute of it.    Somewhere in all that processing and training, he was classified as an Aviation Mechanic and was sent to a Naval Air Training center in Oklahoma.  He was able to come home for the funeral of his Father-in-Law and was then soon shipped out for over sea's duty.  When he was asked where he wanted to go, he told them it didn't matter so long as it was on dry land.  He drew the worst assignment he could,  Barber's Point Honolulu, HI.   He told us great tales about his time in the Navy and said the only shot he heard fired in anger was the shot fired when one of the security guards dropped his rifle after a dog bit him out on the flight line. 

Dad at great Lakes Training Center

Dad said the toughest job for the guys was to drink enough beer to have the cans to patch bullet holes in the airplanes.  They were so spoiled that they wouldn't drink beer hot.  He said that a lot of times the transport pilots would take the beer up in their planes to cool it off.  They would rush it to the beach and have beer parties every weekend.  Dad said that the group he was in had the job of fixing the planes brought in off the carriers and returning them to duty.  He said that a lot of the junk came in on a truck from Pearl harbor and flew out to a carrier when they deployed.   By the time he was through, he said he was a certified Airframe and Engine mechanic.   When he returned to Beech, they made him an inspector in quality control because he could read plans and knew how to ensure that the parts were spot on.

Dad stayed at Barber's Point throughout the war.  He said that the task force that went to Japan for the surrender asked for Mechanics and his name came up on the list.  He said there were a lot of the other guys that wanted to go because they probably would get to go home earlier and on one of the carriers when they came back to San Diego. He stayed in Hawaii and was released in late 1946.

In case I don't mention it enough, I was born in 1947.  I guess he made it home for Thanksgiving. 

I don't tell this story in any way to belittle Dad, he was not a hero, but like a lot of the men that served went and did his duty when called.  Today I will go over to the cemetery and make sure there is a flag on his grave.  Anchors Aweigh Dad.




Yes, boys and girls, it rained again yesterday.  Seems like it has been a year where we have had a rain of about an inch every three days for as long as I can remember.  The Master Gardener thinks it is OK but she doesn't have to mow much.   If the sun stays out today, you will be able to hear the grass grow.  There is a wheat field not far from here that is already headed out and looking so green that if the sun comes out, it will grow a foot.  I sure hope the farmers got their fields planted early.  If not, it will be another month before they can get a tractor in there. 

When I went to my son's house, I got his mower out of the shed and it mows poorly.  I guess I need to bring it home and see what's wrong.  I suspect there is a bad bearing in one of the towers that holds the blade on.  At least when it would slow down, something would howl.  I hope I get it figured out before the housing gets torn up.  A $10.00 bearing is a lot better than a $100.00 housing. 

The other day I saw that a pin had fallen out of the mechanism that picks up the finish mower for the big tractor.  I picked up a pin at Tractor Supply and found that it must just be a couple of hundredths from fitting.  Not sure what angle of attack to fix that one.  I put a temporary fix on it for now but I'm sure that anyone that see's the bolt I put in will laugh.

I have a cousin in Colorado that has to have the cutest pair of grandchildren.  We are getting pictures on Facebook and their smiles just are so cute.  The little boy is named Warren after his grandfather and June Bug is just that cute.  Perhaps one of these days I'll share a picture or two with you.

For some strange reason I have been thinking about my Mother and Father a lot this week.  Some of that is because I have been by the cemetery a couple of times in my travels across town this week.  I guess it is about time I paid them a visit.  Last time I bought some flowers and someone else had taken care of their grave.  Yes, I said Grave because they are in a double stacked grave.  Mom got the top bunk just like she wanted.  

This weekend there has been a lot of stories about WWII.  I am a fan of westerns and war movies.  Most of the WWII veterans are in or near their 90's now and we are soon to be without their presence. One of the movies we watched in a leadership conference was 12 O'clock High.   Our job was to find a way to pop some popcorn and set the place up all in one day.  We then wrote a critique of the leadership styles and how some of it worked and some of it failed.  I watched it again yesterday and this time I just enjoyed the movie.  

Better go see what kind of a breakfast I can wrangle up.  I am sure there is a couple packages of bacon.   Did I ever tell you how much I love bacon?  



Still Needin' a Jacket

Strange weather here in the Heartland.  The papers are full of swimsuit ads and I will promise you that unless you can swim in a sweat suit no one will be at the beach much today.  I think the high is predicted to get into the very low 60's.  That means the overnight low was in the 40's.  The only good thing is you can hear the grass and vegetables growing the garden.   Barb has the trickle water system all set but she has had to go out and pour water out of the plants on the deck .  About every three days we have had at least an inch of rain.

While I am writing this, I am listening to some learning CD's for the Baritone part.  It is kind of distracting that I am also trying to sing along.  I at one time I was able to multitask well but now I have to concentrate to stay on task. 

I had a Doctor's appointment yesterday and he was quite forward about my condition and the possible treatment.  I want to get off the Xerelto as soon as possible so I can get back to the Aleve for the arthritis pain.  He said that the conventional wisdom is that I need to do everything to keep from having a repeat episode of the blood clots for at least a year.  He said that a repeat episode within a year is often a lot more severe.  He went to say even fatal results have been a lot more prevalent.  OK Doc, you had me at a year's worth.   Dang, I hate it when that happens.   He did give me a prescription for a medicine somewhere between aspirin and the Ascription with Codeine.  I will try it and see.

There is a 55-56-57 Chevy Facebook group I read often.  One guy said he has a 55 Chevy that he will sell for $26,000.  A few weeks back I asked what the group thought my 57 was worth.  The consensus was $25,000.  I asked the group why the 55's seem to bring as much for a sedan as the 57 2dt hardtop brings.  You would have thought that I had called the guy a bad name.  I guess it is true that every car is worth what someone will pay for it.  With our investment dollars not returning much in the market, any investment is a good one.  The weekend talk radio financial advisor thinks that the stock market is a good place to invest.  He will say out of one side of his mouth to buy low and sell high yet he wants me to spend my money now that the market is at almost an all time high. 

This morning the paper arrived in the proper place and it was chock full of Memorial day Ads.  Barb and I agree that we really don't need anything.  Well, nothing but a few staples and toilet paper.  I really hate to shop for toilet paper.  I can't remember what brand we really like.  I buy what looks good to me and I'll bet I wind up with some single ply sandpaper more often than not.  Even our Daughter-in-law commented to the wife about our low quality toilet paper. 

I will try to get the wife out some today and see if we can find a bread maker that will make her happy.  The one she picked up for $5 at a garage sale has finally stopped doing what it should and I really like her home made bread.  She makes a loaf with sunflower seeds that is about the best.  What kind of bread do you like?  I traveled in Germany and really like a bread that is crusty and has a lot of body.   What I really love is almost not found here in America.  There is a breakfast roll that is so crusty on the outside and yet nice inside.  It is just right for a little cheese or any of the meats they serve for a continental breakfast. 

I think that I have finally found a coffee at PT's coffee that I like.  It is fairly full bodied without that burnt after taste.  I could mask that with cream and sugar but I like good black coffee. I will talk to the local Dillon's store and see if they can bring it to the closest store.  The only place it is available is clear across town.  I know that the expansion of the local Dillon's was made to sell booze but I don't think the Legislature is ready to let the Grocery stores sell booze yet.  No real skin off my nose but it does seem that in another area Kansas is behind the rest of the States. 

Better go see what trouble I can get into.  When you are as dull and boring as I am you have to look for trouble.  Most of the time you couldn't raise hell her at Rabbit Run with a case of whisky and a crew of Artillerymen. 



It's My Day to Watch It!

A few  moments ago, I asked out loud if my Doctors appointment is at 10 or 11.  The response I got from the Master gardener was, "It's not my day to watch it."   Yep, snarky  before 10 AM is sometimes the way we both have gotten as we  get deeper in this marriage thing.   I guess 47 years is a long time unless you count the time I have been called away for Military Duty.   It started with a year in Vietnam about 3 weeks after we were married.  The for another 20+ years I was called away for 2 weeks for Summer Camps.  The first year was no vacation but the 2 week phases were kina, sort'a.  In the long haul that makes it really more like 45 years but who's counting.

The thing that really worries me is that on at least two things today we agreed on what was in the paper.   The thing we didn't agree on was the discussion about an Op Ed piece that has stirred up a lot of controversy.  I didn't even read the article because it was about an Op Ed piece.  Kind of like the debate about the Koch brothers spending money in the election cycle.   If I can't be bought, what makes people think that I can be swayed by some rich guy spreading lies about how well the Kansas economy is doing.  All you have to do is to sit back and watch as the legislature scrambles in an extended session to figure out how to plug the 400 million dollar shortfall.  We do agree that the social experiment to lower the taxes on businesses was an all out failure.

A couple of years back, I asked the tough question - "What are we going to do when we realize that it takes a guy like Sadam Hussein to keep Iraq running at all."  That question was along with, "if in well over 200 years, no one has been able to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, what makes us think we can."  The only thing that kept us from tucking our tails between our tails like the Russians that was we announced that we were leaving and for the most part left.  Barb and I both agree that we were wrong to ever hit that Tar Baby in the first place.   

I am probably one of the strongest supporters of a strong Military.   How on God's Green earth can the people expect the USA to do well over sea's when we have a border that is almost unguarded to the south?   Open your eyes and read about the flow of drugs coming into our country from Mexico on the backs of the undocumented people coming here.   Yes, I have said that the real drug problem is here where the usage is so high.  I would make it a lot harder to bring them in if it were up to me. 

That is probably three things we agreed on.  We still thing that Government is wrong to redistribute money by taking it away from one sector and giving it to the other.  Barb thinks we give too much to the Rich here in Kansas.  I think that's just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the Feds that gave that much to Detroit and Philadelphia. If people don't like it there, they can move.  No one plants their feet in the ground and forces them to stay in a place that most dogs would run away from. 

We are nearing a time when for about 18 months, we will hear from a bunch of educated people tell us how we can fix out Government.  If I thought that any one of them could honestly fix all the things wrong, I would listen.  For the most part I will not let uber rich white people tell me how to fix the relationships between the classes and races.   Hope and Change didn't get it done but we'll probably elect a woman to bring us together.  Oh well....

I got my mower back yesterday.  A nut came off on the top of the mower deck and the pulley was just wobbled off.  I expected them to put on a new pulley and a new nut but they replaced the entire housing.  Then to add insult to injury, they wanted me to pay $186.00 for that privilege.   I told them that after only 4.2 hours of mowing, I expected Cub Cadet to pay for that repair.  They said they would submit it to them but I'll bet they want me to pay it somewhere down the road.   For some reason, I expect a $3,000 mower work longer than 4.2 hours without a major failure.  Just say'n.  If the repair record doesn't get better and stay that way, I will probably lake a loss at the end of this year and sell that sucker. 

Last night when I got the mower home I mowed for about 45 minutes and things went fairly well.  The bad news is that during the night it rained again and now instead of looking like it needs mowed, the yard looks half assed because I mowed around the edge and the middle looks bad.

My solution to all that is to go to the Doctor and talk about what I can do to get to feeling better.  There has to be something that gives me some relief from the arthritis pain without further thinning my blood.  Even two of the approved meds just doesn't cut the fever or the pain.   I apologize that I have been so whiney today, it just reflects my mood.   Gotta run.



Denny, the Singing Baritone

A few years back, I sang as a baritone with the Barbershop Chorus and when I rejoined them this last year I moved to Bass.  They had a great set of Baritones and didn't need me to go back to that section. While they have added a new singer, they lost two others.  I asked the director if he thought they needed a little help and he agreed that I would be a good addition to them.  Last night for the first time in a long time the director had to ask the baritones to back off a little as I sing a little loud.  I am learning the new part and just can't help it if I haven't learned the nuance yet.  Things will continue to get better.  I hope.  We practice on Monday's and decided to take Memorial Day off. 

This morning I woke up feeling about as well as I have been since February.  I can feel the strength coming back and now all I need to do is watch my weight.  I have stopped the loss and I am holding in the low 240's.  That is pretty good for me and perhaps when I get in better shape I can even take it a little lower. 

The other day, I went out to the PT's Coffee roasting facility just south of Topeka and found that they don't have any coffee to taste there.  The sent me downtown to the PT's coffee house and they only had one kind of coffee brewed there.  I went to Dillon's and smelled the coffee beans to see if I could find one that was full bodied and not over roasted.  They had a brand Cow Girl that smelled right but has a little lemon residual taste.  I bought some other coffee and I will give you a report on it when I brew the new brand.   The other day I had a great cuppa coffee at a restaurant and asked what they used.  Unfortunately they get their coffee from a wholesale house and unless I go into the business I can't buy it.  All I want is a simple full bodied cuppa joe that doesn't leave a burned taste in my mouth.  Every cup of Starbucks coffee I have ever tasted left that burned bitter taste in my mouth. If you put enough sugar and cream you can cover that taste but I like a simple black cup of coffee.

What does Memorial Day mean to your household?   I can remember as kids going to Eldorado, KS and putting flowers on the graves of my Grandfathers.   There is a little cemetery near one of the gates to the Refinery and from the grave of one, you can see the grave of the other.  Now days, many people feel that memorial day is a chance to spend the first days of summer doing fun things.  I will go over to the cemetery here in Topeka and put some flowers on Mom and dad's grave.  When they moved here to Topeka, they looked at the options and found that one cemetery had an option of putting two coffins in one grave.  Mom put dib's on the top bunk and it worked out that way.  There is an additional cost of reopening the grave to put the last person buried there but it all worked out.  There was the small matter that mom remarried Wilbur Schawo and we had to add a little brass plate to show that but it really was no big deal.   They make them to show the dates of death all the time.

What are your goals for the summer?   I am not sure that I will take any long car trips this year but you never know.  I do have a new guide that each hour I spend behind the wheel I will spent at least 10 minutes out walking.  Be just my luck I'll get hit by a speeding car...  Perhaps the doctor will let me start riding my bike after my visit tomorrow.  Perhaps not.



Cool Clear Water

The sun is out here in the heartland but it is way on the cool side.  There is about a 20 MPH north wind blowing and if a guy wants to get out and try to mow, he would need a jacket.  That was put in there to remind me that I should need a jacket.  OR for short - DUH Dennis!

Well, looks like the Hawks are reloading again.  They signed a shooting guard to fill in the slot lost with the moving on of Kelley Obre and the injury to Brannen Greene.   They will need some scoring help as they play in the World Games this year in Korea.  Their hotshot SVI, is not from the USA so he is not eligible to play for the Jay Hawks.  Bummer.

I don't understand why Waco is allowing a restaurant to stay open if they attract gangs on the weekend.  Shut them down and move on smartly.   Next thing you'll be hearing that they need to call out the guard to quell the shootings.  Or, is it a good thing that 8 gang members killed each other?   Nah, the justice side of me is showing and I need to show a little mercy now and then.  I think that is an Ad Hominem attack as it attacks the people directly and doesn't give any credence to their abilities.  However, someone showed up with guns and that escalation was a bit much.  And I thought Waco was such a great place to visit.

This morning I was reminded that our friend Kendra who turns 12 today is what Barb calls a Graduation Baby.  She was born on the day when a lot of kids get to go out in this world and see if what they learned mounts to more than a hill of beans.  Kind of makes me wonder how my parents could go out in the world with a high school education and make it all work?  Kind of makes me wonder where are all the public schools that are training our children to make a living by learning a trade.  

Speaking of trades, there was a time when I could rebuild a generator or a starter on my car and do my own brakes.   Now, all I do is replace parts and I am fairly willing to pay someone to do that.  The idea that I could get under a car in the driveway to change the oil is just not in my wheel house anymore.  Makes me wonder why we have to pay a shop $80.00 an hour to swap parts.  They also buy the parts wholesale and make me pay retail when they put them on the car.  The final insult is that they make me pay a small percentage to restock their bench stock even if they don't use much more than a grease rag or two.  

Oh well, I had better get ready and escape this joint, the Master gardener is starting to ask questions about my agenda for the day.  



Sunday Mornings

There was really little in the paper that grabbed me today and the Master Gardener was busy reading the paper so we didn't have one of our rousing discussions.   I did read an article about bears in Yellowstone that was interesting but one point it should have made was barely (Get it?) mentioned.  When we were in Yellowstone, anytime there was an animal near the road, the cars would jam up and make large car lots out of the road.  One time our bus stopped right in the middle of the road and there were buffalo all around the bus.  I for one would not get off the bus but many of the less smart people got right out there amongst the wildlife.  If a 150 lb. black bear can hurt you, why do people think a 1000 lb. buffalo won't.  

Probably one of the most interesting parts of our trip was the elk at our hotel.  Each evening the elk would come into the nice grassy area around the hotel to munch on what had to be the greenest and most tasty part of the park.  There were Park Rangers out there to keep the people away from the elk, especially the mother elk with young one's.   The were pretty large animals and I'll bet those sharp hooves  could slash you up pretty bad.  Telephoto lens. 

The other day I went upstairs and Barbara was out on the south deck with her camera.  She had opened the window and climbed through to catch a deer that was just strolling down the hill.  The wildlife here at Rabbit Run is not afraid of us much anymore.  Yesterday I went out to put a couple of suet blocks in the feeder down by the back door and a pair of young squirrels just sat there and looked at me.   Talk about bold.  I guess with Barb home all the time the wildlife doesn't fear Bowana the great hunter.  Even if I can get spell checker to find a spelling close enough to publish.

The new mower is a 46 inch deck on a zero turn mower.  I guess I got lucky that it isn't any wider as my trailer is only 48 inches wide.  I now have officially have 4.5 hours on it and I think it burns about a gallon an hour.  According to the tag it is a fairly low consumption mower as it rates a 2 on a scale of 5.   Oh well, it cuts the grass well and is a blast to drive.  I will have to wait a day or two to get it back out again as the ground just isn't up to a zero turn in the wet grass.  I don't even want to think about getting the big tractor and mower out.  The lugs on the tractor ties makes the ground into corduroy when the ground is just damp not soggy. 

Oh well, enough of this, moving on to bigger and better things.  Can't dance, and it's too wet to plow.



Saturday Morning Musings

This morning, after breakfast, the Master Gardener and I had a discussion about some items in the paper.   Seems like the legislature is again worrying about small things and not focusing on the fact they will be 3 or 4 hundred million short in revenue next year.  They spent time trying to decide if strong beer could be sold in Grocery stores and Quick Shops.  I can't imagine the reactions of the drunks if they can start to really get hammered from the beer at the convenience stores.  The stores get robbed and people shot there enough without the additional alcohol.  (Can you tell I have stopped drinking? - You can spot the holy rollers from a couple of hundred yards) 

The next article we discussed was the move by the Kansas Legislature to remove the Lesser Prairie Chicken from the endangered species list.  The argument that their being on the list can endanger the Military and Energy Production.  Those sneaky Prairie Chickens must sneak up and ambush those soldiers at Fort Riley.   To tell the truth, in all the hundreds of times I trained at Fort Riley, I don't recall ever seeing a Prairie Chicken.   I am pretty sure they don't like soldiers anymore than the soldiers like them.  Throw in a Howitzer or two and I'm pretty sure they are far, far away.  I did see the Prairie Chickens on the other side of Manhattan at the Konza Prairie.

Back to the legislature.  They saw that a .03% raise in the sales tax would fix their problem for next year. They nixed the idea.  I guess that is just too hard to understand.  Either they have to cut spending or raise taxes.  DUH!

The other day there was a long discussion about the term Political Correctness.  In the method of PC, there are a lot of people out there that want to cut the discussion of what the real problems are.   No one wants to discuss that the cities are for the most part falling apart and most of them have leadership from the Democratic Party.  In spite of how much money is thrown at the cities, they remain the hot bed for riots and unhappy people.  Hint - If you don't like what you got, stop doing what you did.   Second hint -  If you don't get up and go vote, you will continue to have the same old kind of people in charge of your Government.   Hint 3 - If you think that looting a 7-11 will solve your problems, where are you going to buy your beer when they don't reopen? 

From my perch on top of the mountain, the real way to save the cities is to give tax incentives to businesses that will move to provide jobs to the people out of work.  Not to Mexico idiots, the cities like Detroit and Baltimore.  Think about how happy you were when you got a good job and made a wage that you could live on.  Welfare doesn't fix problems, it only feeds the people with problems.  How about all those homes out there in the rest of the USA that the Government has repossessed.  Is there a way to teach people in the cities how to fix them up and get them to live in them?  Baltimore has 16,000 vacant homes and that number is going up by about 3% per year.  Is that a problem we can talk about or will the PC police shut me down....



Rainy Day Sayings

Sayings -

Can't dance and it's too wet to plow.  Not sure where this came from but I imagine it is something from the rural area.

You kids quit piddlin' around and get some work done.  - This is a quote from Grandmother Bessie who didn't like kids very much.  (Or at least me as an example)

If the going is easy it is probably an ambush.  - I am not sure if this was Robert's Rules of Order or Kilroy's Rules of Warfare.  Either way, it is relevant.

The race doesn't always go to the swiftest, but that's a good way to bet. - Not sure who said this but in my family someone would say "Duh!"

Did you wonder why we drive on a parkway and park in the driveway? - I have no clue what genius giant thought that one up. 

We have Freedom of Religion or Freedom from Religion - How you act on this makes a world of difference in the meaning. 

Freedom of Speech makes no difference if you silence your critics because you don't like what they say. - I for one don't ever want to start down that slippery slope because I could be at the top of the list to silence.

One of the rules for individuals is that income must be greater or equal to outgo. - How come the Government isn't held to these standards.

Never ask a man how much something costs if you don't intend to buy it.  -  This is especially true of cars that have been restored by a guy who's wife doesn't watch the outgo.  Most people see the shinny chrome at car shows and all I see is Green.

If people didn't die, we would be up to our armpits in really old people. - Not a really big motto, but food for thought. 

I wish I could duplicate the exact saying but Hilliel the Elder, a Rabbi form years ago said something that went:

Be careful of what you say, it may become your thoughts.
Be careful of your thoughts as they may become your actions.
Be careful of your actions as they may become your character.  

So, if you don't want to go places where you don't want to go, don't say things you don't really mean.

Lastly, don't squat if you are wearing spurs. - Quoted by a guy that never wore spurs

Kid, while you are up would you get me another beer? - Grandma Erma from her lounger on the front porch in Arkansas.  You would have loved her too.


Friday, Ah Friday!

OK, I realize as an old retired dude, there is really nothing special about Friday.   We try to get all our shopping done today so we don't have to get out and about with the crowds over the weekend.  I do have to wake up a little early on Friday to get the trash cans out before the truck comes to pick it up.  This is not recycle day so I don't have to take the tractor out to take the bin to the street.  I can just throw the small cans in the trunk and drive out to the court.  Yep, such is the life of ORAG, the Old Retired Army Guy.   Or as he has come to be known MUD, short for Mean Uncle Denny. 

I guess it is about time to go seek out a new insurance man.  USAA didn't like the electrical box in the rental house after 15 years of carrying it on their roles.  The only reason they looked at it at all was the fact that I put a new roof on it this last year.  Their loss.  Hopefully my gain.   I have two houses, and four cars insured with them and I'll be glad to share my business and money with someone who appreciates me. 

Have I shared with you that there is one hassle about owning your home that none of the money programs mention.  Once you own your home, you have to pay the taxes and insurance out of your own checking account.  When you are making payments, you pay escrow each money and they pay the bills.  Once it is yours free of a mortgage, you pay an amount that is like renting your home from the county and the insurance companies.   Oh well, better than the whole nut including the payment on a note as well. 

I have been seeing an ad on TV that asks the question, can you live on your retirement money when you do retire?   I will say that it is different when you start out but once all the retirement money really arrives and you adjust your lifestyle it can be done.  I guess when you get as dull and boring as we are you too can live cheaply.   I will admit that there is one hole in our budget that I just can't seem to plug.  I cannot get out of Sam's club for less than $100.00.   That's true even when we stop in just to walk around.  Just seems like their bargains, that come in jumbo size, just drag the budget through the dirt.   Oh well, everyone has to have some kind of weakness.  

Officially we are on the rainy side of spring here in the Heartland and even Texas is out of the drought.  Now if California can figure out how to wring some moisture out of all this we can all be on the good side.  Right now the flow of moisture up from the gulf is being blocked by a high to the north and west of here and it is just leaking all over us.  I really don't mind so much so long as the strong storms don't form right over Kansas.  So far they have been over Oklahoma and Texas. 

Have I mentioned that due to the loss of a Baritone or two I may have to swing back out of the Bass section and into a slot as a baritone?  I love the good bass sounds but they aren't having any problem recruiting new people for the Bass sections.  When everyone shows up for practice, they can have as many as seven.  Right now there is only one or two Baritones that show up regularly.   We could have four if we could get Mike back in the fold.  OH well, can't have everything and sound good too.

I am still experimenting with different coffees.  I have decided to go upstairs and throw away the Gevalia I purchased.  It is so burnt in flavor that I either have flavored water or plain mud in a cup.  Oh well,  life is hard then you die. 




I am pretty sure that if you talk to soldiers about their experience in Vietnam,  you would find a different story depending on a lot of variables.  If you look at California, you will see that it is different from North to South.  Vietnam was the same except that the very far south in Vietnam was the Mekong Delta and swampy.   I served mostly in the Central Highlands where the mountains were just to our west most of the time.  Most of the places we were it took a helicopter to reach the base. 

I was an Artilleryman and as such spent a lot of time out with the Infantry as a Forward Observer.  When I finished that stretch, I was on fire bases out to hell and gone most of the time.  They would lift my 155mm Howitzer Battery in using Sky Cranes and the people in Chinooks.  Seems like we would just get the hill top position finished and we would have to move.  We went where the Infantry units were and needed support. 

During my various stints out as a Forward Observer, I served with  all kinds of units.  One was a Mechanized Infantry unit, one was  an Airborne unit (1st Bat 503rd Inf, 173rd Abn) and one was a Basic Training unit of Mountain yards.  One of my favorite assignments was when I was with a RVN unit that had Australian advisors.  "Guns, Where are me Bloody Guns" would go around the unit if I would sneak off to do my business behind a tree.   After 23 weeks of OCS, I just hated to ask for permission to take a dump. 

One final note I found was that Alcohol was then as it is now a really bad thing.  Many of the leaders in Vietnam would spend about half of their tour in the field with a unit and turn into raging alcoholics in a rear area.  I had a battery commander that had been the Battalion S-1 for six months and brought his bad habit to the field.   I didn't mind him getting drunk but when he started to invite my Gun Chiefs over to his hooch to get drunk I just had to ask the Battalion Commander to step in.  After the call for help, the Battalion Commander flew out at first light the next day and found the Battery Commander still too drunk to walk.  He was loaded on a helicopter and I never saw him again. 

Oh well, again I have managed to flitter away another hour or so.


Thursday Already?

This morning we woke up to a dark overcast sky.  Just what we need, more rain.  It is on the side of soggy doggie out there.  Things are growing like weeds, and they are too.  I went over to the rental houses and mowed there and what used to take me about three hours I finished in just a little over an hour.  The zero radius turn mower is the bomb.  It also mows really well with a new blade.

I spent about an hour working on the loading ramp for the mower. When I finished I realized that they are way too long when I have the trailer hooked up on the truck.  I did manage to back that critter up the ramp after lots of practice going forward.   At the place where I bought it, one of the guys in the shop put it on the trailer.  Thank God!

One of my cousins had his wife pass yesterday.  Paul Allen and Sarah Jane were the nicest people.  I'm sure he will be lost without her for a while.   I would be.   Early in their professional career, they went to Germany so Paul could teach school there in the Military School system.  Soon after they arrived they found out that being a nurse was a skill in short supply and she went to work in the Military Hospital.  They got two for the price of one.   They traveled all over Europe on their days off and I at the time was very envious.   Oh well memories...

As the baby Boomers reach well into their late 60's, many of us are losing our parents.  That is the normal order that the parents go first.   In a few cases, the order got reversed and so far we have only one parent still with us.  Barb's dad is well into his 90's and seems to be slowing slightly but who isn't.   In winter's past, I took a little longer getting back into shape each year.  This year I am not sure that I can achieve good health by the end of summer.  Going to have to work on that.

I did get good news yesterday.  The needle biopsy that they took the last time was not cancerous.  It was benign.  That means I will get to keep both sides of my Thyroid gland.   Now to work on keeping the weight off that I lost.   I think I am pretty much at the weight I feel is best for my size.  Mid 240s and 6'3" is pretty good.   Perhaps a little lower wouldn't hurt.  I did notice that my face is filling back out a little.  I was getting pretty haggard looking.

One thing I really miss with taking Xerelto is the Aleve I was taking for my Arthritis.   They have me on Acetaminophen and I can't even tell that it is doing anything.  My body is working hard to remove the blood clots that traveled to my lungs and I have been running a mild fever.  It wouldn't be bad but even a one degree fever gives me a headache.  After a couple of hours on the mower, I am also kind of stiff and sore.  I do need to get out today and walk for a half hour or so.  Build up slowly and get better each day isn't a bad goal. 

For some reason one of the Movie Channels had a day of war movies the other day.  One movie was about the Marines and their landing on Guadal canal.   It caused me to think about our landing n Vietnam.  We were taken off the ship and did not have time to get out weapons out of the Connex Containers.   We rode in a convoy for about four hours and I hated every minute of it. After that, I was never more than a few feet away from my rifle for the rest of my time in Vietnam.

Oh well, better put on my hard soled shoes and get moving.  Speaking of such, I bought a really cheap pair of tenny runners at Wal*Mart and hate them.    In shoes I find that you get what you pay for.  Buy cheap shoes and you get cheap shoes.



Dang New Mower Won't Mow Dirt

I guess I got a little behind in my mowing and I decided to try to mow one path with the new mower.  For some reason the blade dug in and it bent the blade down and sideways.   New mower and it took a new $30.00 blade.  The only problem is that only come in pairs so I had to spend $60.00 and have some wall art.  Oh well, it didn't break anything, just bent the blade.  You should hear the mower roar when one blade is turning with a big sideways blade.  Sounded like a P51 Mustang.

As you might guess, I think I am on the mend somewhat.  I do wish there was some liquid Aleve I could take for the aches and pains when I get done.  That is on the list of things I can't take right now.  Barb will allow me to do some things but she removed all the Aleve and Aspirin from my approved meds in the downstairs bathroom.  I guess I could sneak up and take one but for now, I will just hurt a little.  

My niece posted a saying on Facebook that was attributed to Buda.  He said something about how gently you love and hold is the quality of your life.  He went on to say you should let things go.  Perhaps that was OK in his time but starting out at the bottom I fought fiercely, held on tightly and dang sure didn't just let things go.  I have tried to live life at a dead run and with lots of perspiration.   I knew a lot of guys that smoked dope and did things the way Buda wanted.  Not me!

There is a lot of discussion about the law against burning the flag.  Let me start clearly that I hate that anyone would burn the flag I fought for, except for when they are worn out.  But, I have sadly come to realize that the courts are filled with cased dismissed because the free speech provision of our Bill of Rights allows people to burn the flag as a part of their Freedom of Speech.  That is one slippery slope I never want to have anyone start down.   I am just appalled that so many people are using the Political Correctness banner to silence people they don't want to hear.   

When I went upstairs to eat breakfast the Master Gardener mentioned that the paper this morning had a couple of articles about things people said and the up roar it has created.  One waitress wrote on the Governor's receipt that he should tip the schools.  The Ad Hominem attack on her went far beyond what she said an well into the area of getting personal.  Personally it was so minor that it wouldn't have even hit my radar.  The second article was about the sign a businessman in Lawrence put on the side of his truck as he closed his business there.  He blames all of the problems he had in business on the Marxist's in Lawrence and the poor class of people that live there.   Having tried to buy a property there, I assure you that they value the properties and few of the really poor can afford to live there. 

I reiterate that we need to be careful that in the effort to raise the standards of conversation we don't take away the fundamental rights to Free Speech.  I remind you all that Free Speech is an important part of our society and even if we don't like the message we need to protect it dearly.  When it is taken away, we will lose the one thing that people have fought and died for over and over.  If the people in Germany had been able to tell the Nazi Party they were wrong to go to war would things have been different.  When they started exterminating the mentally retarded and gypsies, had there been a outcry would they have gone on to the Jews?   If we take away the right of our people to say they disagree, would we then have to take up arms to change things?  With our well armed society, I would hate to think about an armed rebellion here in the land of the Free.

Oh well, enough of this, I have acres and acres to mow...



Gettin' Ready to Mow Some Mo'

Because I have so many vehicles with pneumatic tires, there is always one or two that need aired up before I can use that tool/vehicle.  My little pancake compressor that I bought three years ago at Harbor freight for $29.00 finally shot craps.    It would run and run and run but never get to the 100LB shut off point.  I replaced it over the weekend for the on sale next size larger for $39.00.  Yes, I am a cheapskate when it comes to tools.  The new one went right to 100 lbs. and shut off.  Now I just need to air up the portable tank and fill all the low tires. 

I finally got around to reading the Cub Cadet mower booklet today. Lots of neat stuff with words of warning against using it in any manner that goes fast or dangerous.  'Nuff said.  I did learn that there is a setting that overrides the blade shut off switch so you can actually mow in reverse if you need to.  I won't use that very often but I will keep it in mind.  So far I would have only used it once.

We had breakfast with our Son, his wife and in-Laws.  It was a great meal at Perkins.  I'll bet I gained 5 lbs. just reading the menu.   I used my old gauge for the amount I would/could eat and instead of the two egg omelet on the senior menu, I ordered the three egg one.  Next time.  I didn't even order the pancakes but I generally don't order them.   Black coffee and an omelet with some potatoes was more than I could eat. 

Somewhere on the trip back from the Farm Supply store where I purchased the mower, one of the loading ramps slipped loose and I now need to go to Harbor freight and get a set of those steel loading ramps that fold and I can put them in the trunk.   I won't take much of a ramp but it will take one.  Once I figure out where they need to be I will probably mark the frame for the exact location.  I really would hate to have the mower fall off the ramp while I am loading it.  Unless I can hire a kid to do it for me I have to do the unloading and loading.  At least I now know how to put the wheels in neutral so I can let it go down the ramp by itself. 

I guess I have managed to let it warm up enough to mow so I'll get on the stick, go get some ramps and a gas can full of gas for tomorrow.    Be safe out there, I will try too myself.



Mowin' in Circles

Yesterday I went to a farm supply place to look at their mowers.  I really had my heart set of the 70 inch wide mower with the rugged heavy duty deck.  After looking at things in the clear light of day, I realized that my trailer would only accept a 54 inch deck model.  So if I was going to spend an extra $1500 for the larger mower, I would then have to spend another grand on a trailer I could use.  Easy decision for a cheap skate like me.  I bought the smaller mower that also had a reinforced steel deck not one of those stamped deck.  It is one of those zero turn models and it is a little like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time.  I'm pretty sure I can get used to it but there are a few wavy line out there where I started.  I do like the fact that I can stop and go in a different direction real quick.  I was forced to make big round turns with my other mower.  

This morning I made an omelets for Barb and me.  I started with some asparagus and ham and then covered the omelet with cheese.  I am reminded of the words of a Foreign exchange student that said, "You Americans put Cheese on everything."  The other day I read that while we make more cheese than anyone else, the French eat more per person than any other country.  I know, that's more than you really wanted to know...

For the many days in a row, it rained again yesterday evening.  We had dark clouds all day but it must have gotten all together late.  The good news is that so far we haven't had really strong winds.  The rains have been hard at times but right here they have been pretty gentle. (Knock on wood)  I can see that the zero turn mower will chew up the ground if you use the brake real hard on one wheel.   I also found out that the mower blade will disengage if you pull both levers back at the same time.  OK, enough of sneaking the bragging about the new mower.

This morning there was a post on Facebook from a member of the 55-56-57 Chevy Group I belong to.  He asked where are all the old cars that came to the car shows a few years back?   Most of us have gotten older and just don't want to sit around in some park while hundreds of people walk by our cars.  Perhaps if I was still member of a club and knew several people I might but for now the car just sits in the garage except when I want to take it out for a short spin.

For those of you that haven't read all the back posts, I have had a pretty rough spring.  It started with that a bronchitis that lapsed over into a whooping cough illness and almost destroyed the month of February.  Mid March, I started to run a fever again and went to the Doctor.  He gave me a 10 day antibiotic set of meds and it just screwed up my digestive system.  On Easter, I went out to load up my son's mower to take it to his house and I couldn't even pick up the tongue of the trailer.  I had to have help and when I finally got home, my blood pressure was off the chart and my pulse was 104.  The only good news was that I had an appointment the next morning at the Doctor.  He sent me to the Hospital and they did a stress test and an MRI.  A week later I was let out of the Hospital when the found I had Pulmonary Embolisms (Blood Clots) in my lungs.  They weren't massive but they were numerous.  I am now on Xerelto to thin my blood and to see if they can prevent more clots from forming.  I did take a fairly long car trip three days in March and that could have been the cause of the clots.  Who knows.  I am slowly working back up to my normal strength.  The real bad news is that I really don't feel like exercising and the Doctor told me to not ride my bike for a while. 

 I have a niece Jennifer that said all of he children had paws.  I told her that I have Grand Kitties so we're even.  She is a rower and an Captain on the KC Fire Department so she didn't have time to have children, I guess.

Oh well, better get ready to go to the store.  There are a few things I need to pick up for the dinner today.   Going to grill some steaks.



Mother's Day Tribute

A few years back, my mother passed away and if there is a heaven, I'm sure she is there.  Whenever the world kicked me down, she was there to give me a hug and kind words.  I know that many of my friends felt that she was kind of like an earth mother and could hug your problems away.  Mom had been through the LPN training and she doctored so many of my friends back to good health. 

The last few years she was here in Topeka we spent a lot of time together telling stories and laughing.  I don't know how much she enjoyed that time, but I sure as heck did.  I know that she invited the Jehovah's Witnesses in and would pray with them that more people would find peace. 

Mom played the piano is the church for years.  I know that only her arthritis kept her from doing it longer.  She would go to church and pray for all of us.

Mom and my Father's Parents in Eldorado 1942 or 43.


Fort Irwin, California

Go down by the Santa Fe Railroad Yard and take the narrow 2 lane road north out of Barstow, California about 25 miles and you will run into the Guard Shack for Fort Irwin.  From there all you can see in any direction is sand and sage brush as far as you can see.  On a clear day you can see a lot but if the wind is moving at all you will find your vision obscured by sand that will eventually pit your windshield and chrome.   After being there for less than 6 months, Dad replaced the Windshield on the Volvo I had out there.  He then wrecked that car but that's another story.

After another 10 miles or so you will spot your first sign of Civilization.  Units that had been stationed there would paint their Unit Crests on the big rocks along the road.  Another three or 4 miles you will drive onto what is one of the oldest and bleakest looking forts in the Army.  The only salvation is there is an almost normal looking shopping center right as you come on base but even the Officer's club was built prior to WWII.   I think General Patton said," Don't change anything until I get back."  And they didn't.   A careful look at the post and you could see that there was only one or two buildings newer than 1950 and the rest were built in the 40's.  

After signing in at Post Headquarters, I was told that I would be assigned to the 6th Bn, 84th Artillery.   Where are they, prey tell?   Well, the only part of that unit that was there yet was in a Quonset hut over behind the Hospital.  OK, so I drove over there to see what I could find.

There was one jeep located outside the building and a bunch of Civilian cars lined up out front.  When I went inside, there was a Captain drawing the unit crest on a piece of paper and a bunch of 2nd Lieutenants playing cards.  No one hardly looked up when I came in but thankfully I did recognize a couple of guys from the same OCS class I had been in.  I said hello and one of them said that I needed to get over to the Housing place and get a room before they filled up.  He and about 8 others were in a house over in the housing area and they were told that until a unit left in another week we would be housed there.

By the time I got there, the only thing left for me to sleep in was the dinning room.  They had put a bed and a dresser in there but it didn't have any way to lock the door so I would need to have a footlocker with a lock.  I went over to my new home and most of the card players had drifted over to the house.  We discussed the arrangements and all agreed that it sucked but it was better than the Quonset hut we had as our Headquarters.   One of the Guys said that he had seen the assignment of the house and it was where our Battalion Commander was to be housed when he arrived the next month so there was hope we would have a real place by then. 

For the better part of a week we would all get up, drift over to the Headquarters hut and sit around until we saw the need to do something else.  I finally was about to go bat shit crazy when I was told that the Field Artillery Brigade needed some officers to be safety Officers for a unit that was training up for deployment.  Anything beat the hell out of sitting around and I drove over there to see if  I could get in on the work.

They were glad to see me and assigned me a jeep and a driver.  When I met him, we discussed what we needed to do.   He had already been out with someone else and knew the lay of the land.  He told me that I should meet him in the morning at 06 hundred and be ready to spend the day out in the field.  Roger that, I was bright and early the next day and off we went. 

We drove by the Motor pool for the 5th Bn, 22nd Arty which was a 175mm Howitzer battalion.  I met the Battalion S-3 and he directed me to one of the batteries to spend the day with.  We followed them out to a firing point and watched them as they set up and were ready to fire.   The 175mm Howitzers were about 75 yards apart and there were 4 of them in each battery.   As they got ready to fire their first mission, it was a registration so all the rounds were fired from a gun in the middle of the battery (Called Base Piece)  That took about an hour and then they were given a fire mission which meant that I had to run from one of the guns to the other to ensure they had the right data on the gun.  For the next three or four hours that continued and I was about to have a heat stroke. I ran over to our jeep and drank about a gallon of water.  The Sergeant there had filled one cooler with ice and water and had another five gallon water can to refill the cooler as we drank it dry.  I think that between each mission I went over and drank at least a quart of water.

Someone from their Fire Direction called the guns and asked for a Powder Temperature.  One of the Cannoneers said that in the shade the powder Temperature Thermometer was pegged at 114 degrees.  No wonder I was so dry.  By that time I had to get a pair of gloves to climb up on the guns because they were so hot in the sun.   You could have fried eggs on them.  I did notice that the driver I had had used the second can of 3ater to refill the cooler.  All this time, I could not see one speck of sweat on the outside of my uniform.  With the humidity about 5% you sweated but it all evaporated. I would love to tell you that it cooled you off when it evaporated but that would be a lie. 

By the end of the day, I was one tired guy.  I'll bet that I had run five miles in the sand between guns and I was totally flagged.  I told the battery XO that the cannoneers needed to bring the excess powder charges over to the burn area and I would burn them.    I had only been around 105mm Howitzers and 155mm Howitzers and was not ready for the 100 meter string of powder charges laid out there in the sand.  I had no experience in the 175mm howitzer system and I asked the driver if he had done that before.   Sure, LT not problem.  He whipped out a knife and cut one of the powder bags and made a trail of those little pellets over to the end of the pile.   I know you have all seen westerns where the bad guys used a trail of gunpowder  and how it smoked and made a flash. 

When I set off the first few pellets, they made enough heat to about roast me as I ran away from the 100 meter length of powder.  Had the sergeant not had the jeep running and in gear, we would probably have been set on fire when the big increments set a blaze.  Form a couple of hundred feet away the heat was barely under the temp to peel the paint on the jeep. 

When I got in from that day, I stripped off my fatigue blouse.  My Green t-shirt was almost white from the salt crystals.  My black boots had salt crystals on the outside of the boots and my socks were stiff from the salt.  Thankfully I had a day off to recover.  I think all I did the next day was drink, pee and sleep.  

For the next month, I went to the field with a battery and performed safety duties about every other day.  Some of the other guys were roped in and man was I ever glad to see things change when our Battalion got there.  That's a story for another time.  What I can tell you is that you have no idea how much water you can drink until you are in the desert  and have to run around doing things.  I am pretty sure that by the time that got over I was one pretty fit young officer. 


Saturday's Can Be Expensive.

This morning I was up bright and early and convinced Barb that we needed to go to Lawrence for Breakfast.  She immediately agreed and I should have known something was up.  We both tried something new at First Watch and were both disappointed. There was no line so I should have known something had changed. After that we went over on the KU Campus where Monarch Watch was having an open house.

What Barb didn't tell me was that they were also having a plant sale.  She went through the lines of plants handing me what she selected.  They filled a beer flat and when I got to the end of the line it cost me $70.00.     Then we stopped at the Hy Vee Grocery store and a few steaks and some chicken cost me another $90.00.   OK, the $20.00 I spent on Lottery tickets was really not needed but hey, If you can afford to gamble it is no big deal. 

What would you change if you won the lottery?   The first thing we would change would be our telephone number.   The I would get the best accounting firm I could find and see just how much I could share with members of the family and minimize the taxes.   I am sure that our son could take a good part of the winnings if someone else figured out what taxes needed to be paid.  As for me, I really don't need much....   Well, there are a few toys I think I want.  I already have everything I need.

On yesterday's post, I had a comment from a person that served at Fort Irwin when I was assigned there.  He dropped out of OCS and was sent to Fort Irwin to deploy with a unit that deployed a couple of months before we did.  He too remembered the sand and the wind there and I am pretty sure that he was as glad to get out of there as I was.  Even the 19 day boat ride to Vietnam and the year there did not make us to want to go back to the middle of nowhere.   The north end of Fort Irwin (Now the National training center) was the south end of Death Valley...

The grass here at Rabbit Run has escaped my control and if I don't get out there and do some mowing this afternoon it will need a heard of goats or bailed for prairie hay.



Ok Lord, Just how big is a Cubit?

I think we are on the verge of those 40 days and 40 nights of rain.  Things are officially soggy right now and more rain in predicted.  We have avoided those winds that makes circles (tornadoes) and hail .  It is typical of most springs here in the heartland and it takes all day to build up heat and clouds then look out world, there will be hail to pay somewhere.  I am sure the motels are full of people that are out chasing the storms across the plains from Oklahoma City to Lincoln. 

In 1983, we were home on a Friday night near the City of Topeka.  Our dog had escaped and was out wandering around so I took the car out to see if I could find him.  After making a quick search I went home.  As I drove into the driveway, it started to hail a fairly light hail but it was in a rain cloud that was seriously trying to soak the ground.   I pulled into the garage and went to the door to look outside,

By the time I got through watching a flock of birds trying to fly in circles, I realized that when the roof of a house exploded and the debris filled the sky along with those birds it was a clear air tornado.  You only see those large dark pyramids when the tornado flies over a freshly plowed field.  They are really dramatic but even the clear air one's can tear your roof off.   I went to the door to the family room to see what the TV was reporting.  Our son was sitting there and mad that the TV was off.  The power had gone off and I couldn't operate the garage door either.  He said that there was a tornado reported way down south along highway 75.  I thought that it must be directly Southwest of there and we needed to get into the downstairs room. 

I called out to Barb who was upstairs to come down and we all went in to the small bathroom downstairs.   That was all done just before the debris started to hit the house.  I told the wife that there goes the roof when the whole house shifted and moved about four feet.  The movement caused the daylight to stream into the bathroom and then I was hit by a wall and it all got dark.  I guess the house started to roll and then just tipped back into a new place.  Barb and Dave were is a pretty protected place but I was in a large pile of rubble that the house was holding down.

When the rocking and rolling stopped I could hear Barb but I was way too buried to see her.  I told her to get out of the house and I would do my best to try to get out.  I am pretty sure that it wasn't long, but it seemed like an eternity that I could lift up a part of the pile and crawl a few inches forward.  That's what the next few minutes were like.  Lift crawl, life crawl until I got to the end of the pile and could get out.  I never felt anything like the freedom of that moment.

There was a burst water pipe showering the basement and I could hear a broken gas pipe behind the house making jet sounds.  One spark and the whole place would have been toast.  I am not sure who it was that helped me shut off the water so the basement wasn't flooded but a man that worked for the Gas Service Company came down the street and crawled under the back side of the house and shut off the broken gas meter.  It was all there, but want a strange angle it was.

I am pretty sure that of the garage door support had not landed on the back of the Malibu, I would have been crushed as the house settled back into the family room.

This car was in the garage before the house lifted and shifted.
So, if you see me looking at the sky with a worried expression, this is why.  That was about 32 years ago and I still have moments where I feel claustrophobic and just have to get up and go look at the weather outside.  Hope you don't have those feelings and have a safe place to go when it storms.