Spring Rains Bring New Sump Pumps.

Yesterday I went to Menards to look for some way to close off the top of Dave's Septic tank.  There were all sorts of people talking to the guy in the plumbing department about sump pumps.   He was stationed on the aisle for the pumps and many brands were sold out. I hasn't rained hard enough for the pumps to run for a while and all the rain this week has exposed the old pumps to run and fail.  As I went out the front door of the store, a couple of men were carrying a pump into the store with a very wet and determined look on their face.  My advice to anyone replacing their pump, do it on a regular basis and buy the top of the line.  Cheap is not the answer.

I mowed early this week and now the ground is so soggy that I don't think I could get out there with my mowers.  There is one stretch of the front yard that I didn't mow and with the slope and sogginess I doubt that it will get mowed for a while.

News on the vision of the Master Gardener.  Her cataract surgery went well and yesterday she picked up her new glasses.  This morning she told me that she has not needed glasses for so long that she almost forgot to put the new one's on.  I reminded her that at least now she could find her glasses.  She has put them in the same place by her side of the bed for so long that it was automatic to grab them even if she couldn't see them.  I think it was ironic that she needed the Braille system to find her glasses.

Yesterday I went to Barry the Barber's shop for a haircut.  He is a baritone in the Barbershop chorus with me.  It is always fun to talk shop with him.  (Get it, barber and shop)  He was also in the military with me and we tell stories about the guys we served with.  He and I were both in the Guard a long time ago and things were a lot looser back then.  The rules about drinking and having fun were a lot easier.  Oh well, I would love to be young enough to serve with the kids today but alas I know I don't meet the high standards that are required. 

It was down in the 40's today so Barb brought her plants into the garage one more time.  Normally the 15th of April is a fairly good time to make sure her plants are kept frost free.  She has said that soon they will go out, frost or not.  What? Mother's day is only a week away?  Oh well, I just dig holes, she plants.

Years ago, I was playing with my nieces and they were in the back of their Mom's Station Wagon.  They were visiting the Gas Station owned by their dad and I worked there.  I snuck up and growled through the window.  A game we had played many times before.  This time the youngest niece turned to run away from the window and her feet got wrapped up in a blanket that was on the floor.  She fell on the back of the seat and hit her mouth hard enough to break some teeth.  (Thank god they were her children's set not the permanent) As she was eating an ice cream bar to calm the pain, she was saying "Mean Uncle Denny"  My sister said that yep my name was mud.  So, my family nickname and nom de plum is now MUD.

Better run and get ahead of the curve for the day.



Rain, Rain Go - Glub Glub Glub

It was a dark and storm night again and it rained somewhere between three and five inches here at Rabbit Run.  Didn't see or hear hail but there was a rotating wall cloud just west of Topeka that looked bad to those of us that watch the clouds.  It never did spin out a tornado but it did circle the drain up in the sky. 

This morning the master gardener told me that we need to get some milk if I go out.  Right after that, I opened Facebook and there on the computer was a picture that summed up a lot of things to me.

The dairy right up the road sells some of the best milk you could ever buy.  It isn't cheap, but it is still cheaper than Budweiser. 

Do you realize that you can buy a gallon of gas cheaper than a gallon of bottled water?   If you buy a case of 24 bottles of water, it costs $2.99 if you buy one bottle at a time it is $1.59.  "Splain" that to me Lucy!

Oh well, enough of that deep subject, I had better get on the road.  Things to do and places to go



War Stories

In a lot of cases, the only difference between a war story and a fairy tail is the opening line.  Yep, tales start "Once upon a time."    The veracity of a War Story has no basis on the truthfulness of the person telling the story.  What it does rely on is how long it has been since it was told and how many times it has been told with minor embellishments.  I swear the further from the actual event and the number of times it has been told blurs the actual event.  Yesterday I mentioned that the VA had in Leavenworth a place for old soldiers to go live when they need help.  Barb said it would be a great place for an old soldier who likes to tell and recount the telling of war stories to spend his final days.  I am pretty sure she was looking right at me.  Not sure why.

Some of my stories are actually War Stories but some are just the recounting of humorous events that happened in uniform.   One year we went to Fort Riley to do our spring shoots and it had rained all week and the place was so muddy that we could hardly get off the road and into our firing positions.  I spent the day up on the Battalion Observation Post and trained the Lieutenants how to shoot artillery.  I really loved that job and was pretty good at it.  I could also tell war stories about my time as a Forward Observer in Vietnam so it was mutually a good time. 

After waiting until about 3 in the afternoon, we finally started shooting and shot the heck out of things out there in the Impact Area.    There was a mortar crew right at the base of our hill that was shooting at the same time.  It was a pretty clear and sunny day and the temperatures were in the 60's.  After shooting until dark, we closed the OP and I went back to B Battery where I was assigned.  My Recon Sergeant came to me and asked if I was going to go anywhere that night.  Nope, we could sit around and talk and then get a nice night's sleep.  He took my jeep out "Mushroom Hunting."

The next morning, I woke up to the smell of bacon cooking at the mess hall.  They cooked all the bacon and were cooking Morell mushrooms in the pan the bacon had cooked in.  Seems like the hunt went well and the result was a breakfast fit for a Kid from Kansas.  They cooked the mushrooms and then put all the eggs in the mushrooms and made a scrambled egg mixture that was wonderful to smell and even better to eat.  They had lots of coffee, two slices of bread with a big slice of the egg and mushroom mixture and two sliced of bacon.  I was in hog heaven. 

After a couple of canteen cups of coffee, I started back over where my tent was to start packing my duffle bag.   I looked up and saw that my jeep hadn't returned  and started to look for my Recon Sergeant.  When I found him, he said the jeep was over at the maintenance section and did not run.  I went over there and found out that my jeep had been fished out of a mud wallow and it had stopped running.  I started to examine the jeep and found that it was just covered with mud.  The drain holes in the bottom of the battery box were plugged and the water had no way to drain out.  It had shorted out the battery and once the holes were cleaned out, the jeep could be jump started so we could take it home. 

On our way home, I got the rest of the story on the adventures of mushroom hunting at Fort Riley.  It seems the guys took a couple of jeeps out and were driving through the mud holes on the tank trails.  Seems like my jeep was the winner as it made it almost all the way across a very large and deep hole. Not all the way, but most of the way. 

We did drive to a car wash in Ogden, KS and cleaned out the radiator  so it didn't overheat.  We then went back to Horton where our home base was.  My Sergeant then took it to the car wash and spent most of his money to clean the jeep up. 

The only person that was mad about this was the owner of the car wash as we made one hell of a mess.  Oh well, that was what he put it there for and he got over it.

Have a great day and good hunting if you are a fan of Morell Mushrooms.

MUD  In case you are curious, the nick name MUD is short for Mean Uncle Denny - A story I will tell again someday. 

Ahh, Springtime in the Heartland

If you aren't addicted to the Weather Channel, you need to know that here in the Heartland the spring rains that the Poets brag about are often accompanied with thunderstorms, hail and air that circulates like water going down the bathroom drain.  Today is one of those days where they start telling us about the bad weather early and continue often. 

Joplin Missouri a few years back

Yesterday Barb and I went to Fort Leavenworth to get our ID Cards renewed.  I thought mine had no renewal date but was surprised to see that it was out of date almost when it was issued.  This time I got one that does not expire and Barb's will need updated only once more when she is 75.  Do you wonder what they do with all that information?  When we went through the gate at Fort Leavenworth, the MP had a hand held scanner and he clicked on it like the ticket takers at a KU game do.  When the little machine beeped, he handed the cards back and said have a nice day.  Makes me wonder where that data base is and how much of my life resided there.

Years ago, the Military built a DNA data base for Mass Casualty identification.  I know I am in there.  My entire Health history is on line with a Data Base from Cotton-O'Neil clinic and probably the VA.  Having been cleared for a Top Secret Clearance back in the 90's,  there is probably a really good record of me and my past somewhere.  I am one of the good guys and the Government knows all of my warts and short comings.  Makes me wonder what they really know about all of us.  I know you can search on line and find out about anyone.

When we were in Leavenworth, we drove south to Lansing Kansas where we had a house in the 70's.  It was still there although it is a different color and there is now a fireplace in the basement.  The road we lived on hasn't had any new housed built on it since we left.  Lansing does have a bunch of new houses on the south west side of town.  Lots of fast food joints now also.

Today I have an appointment with the endocrinology center to  check my thyroid.  When they were doing the scan to see what was wrong when I threw Pulmonary Embolisms, the found that my thyroid has several stones and was about twice the size it needed to be.  Other than it was just too big, everything was OK.  This check should get me off that list.  Might have to go have a cat scan but what the heck.

Better get my butt on the road and get ready.  have a great day out there and watch the sky.



It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Last night was the kind of night that weathermen in the Heartland start warning you about way early in the day.  As the day wore on, the warning area kept growing larger until about the evening time when most of the State Map was one color or another.  Most of it was yellow for tornado watches but there were red cells with lines drawn out ahead of them showing where there had been circulation spotted in the clouds.  These areas were generally accompanied with warning of golf ball to baseball sized hail. 

Nothing hit really near here but I did keep a fine watch on the local channels just in case.  In case you didn't know of have forgotten, in 1983 a tornado came to visit and we were home at the time.  Our house on Driftwood court was pushed off the foundation and we had to rebuild.  The good news is that we had fairly good insurance and most of the loss was covered.  The irreplaceable things were not lost and life went on.  That did make us a lot more aware of warnings. 

In 1961, the year of the Kansas Centennial, I earned a trip to Colorado by selling newspaper subscriptions.  I did so well in my own route that the District Manager took me to several other routes an I not only earned a trip, I made a good amount of pocket change.  The highlight of that trip was the trip up the Mount Manitou Incline.  We had been in line for a half an hour when they announced a severe weather warning and shut down the train ride up the side of the mountain.  The manager had us all move in under an awning over the loading platform and we watched in awe as an intense rain/hail storm closed in on us.  One of the trip sponsors had just purchased a brand new Chevy Station Wagon and the hail beat the hell out of that car.  I had never seen baseball sized hail until then.  It broke the windshield out of that car and  it looked like an Army of Midgets armed with ball peen hammers had attacked the body.  We had a front row seat to that hail storm and I will always believe it when they say stay out of the hail.

The other day, I was thinking about the damage the septic system truck would do to Dave yard when a story from Vietnam came to mind.    In the middle of the Monsoon season, a unit in our support area got hit and  we fired for several hours.  At first light, I went out to witness the damage done to the floor of the parapet from the firing of the howitzer.  The trails of the gun had dug down and in the ground so far that the howitzer was at almost a 45 degree angle to the ground.  The crew and volunteers from the other gun sections dug most of the morning to free the gun from the mud.  They gathered up debris and tried their best to fill the hole left there in the parapet.  They moved the gun several feet to the rear so the spades on the trail could dig in new dirt rather than in the hole.  The next day. there was a fire mission and one of the cannoneers was helping move the gun to a new direction.  As he got to the place where the hole was, he started to sink into the muck in the hole and... well, I do need to stop here and tell you that there was a project 100,000 where lower IQ soldiers that would have been turned down for service without a war were allowed into Infantry and Artillery units.  Our nominee for French Fries short of a Happy Meal was called Big Whoopee.  OK, back to the story.  As Big Whoopee stepped into the hole, he started to be pushed deeper and deeper. He hollered, "Hep me, this dam thing will push me down in this hole and I'll die."  The other guys almost fell down laughing.  They told him to simply let go of the howitzer and get the hell out of the hole. He did and the progression towards total immersion stopped.  That is a story that was told over and over for weeks.  The story was always told with the opening words, "Hep Me."  The rest of the story was not necessary as laughter would break out anyway.

Oh well, better get going.



Why I write this stuff

Once upon a time I was talking with my niece, Beck and she said I should write a blog.  My niece Jennifer echoed this and I started writing the blog because it felt good.  It wasn't an assignment, it was a joy.   I realized that I was doing it for me and no one else.

At one time I had readers from all over the world coming in to see what would come out of my mouth (OK, Fingers) on a daily basis.  I reached over 900,000 hits and it was growing fast.  Now my daily readership is down under 100 and I am really wondering what it is that I am doing different?

Perhaps it is not because of the difference, but the sameness.  It is hard to entertain at a high level every day.  In fact, I don't do it every day and that may be part of the problem.  Or, is that people are getting more and more involved with their activities and just don't have time for my simple rambling.

What amazes me is that there are blog sites where people stop in and leave comments every day.  If I look at the statistics of this blog, I seldom get comments.  Some day I will figure that out but not today.

Today in the Parade magazine, there is a great article on the Electorate College.  It is a fine description on how the College works.  What is left out is the why there is such a convoluted way of electing a President.  It is almost as if someone tried to find a way to disenfranchise those of in the smaller States.  I did find it interesting that the electorate votes from each states is based on the same basis as the number of members of Congress.  Two Senators from each State plus one for every member of the House of Representatives (Approx. 700,000 in population)  Throw in a couple for the District of Columbia and viola, there is your answer to the number of members in the Electorate College.  The rub comes in how the States divide their members up.  In some states, it is winner take all.  In others it is by Congressional District.   In some states it is not even a vote but something they call a caucus, whatever that is.  In my perfect world, the election would be based on popular vote.  Yes, I know that would have gotten us one less bush.

Oh well, I have things to do and places to go.  Have a great day out there.



Wednesday, Sunny Wednesday

The sun is out after getting some rain overnight.  One of these days I am going to get out and do a really good search for Morell mushrooms.  We had new asparagus showing up so the weather is getting about right.  If anyone had any good ideas how to start getting them to grow, I would be very appreciative.

One of these days I hope the rain stops early enough that by the time the temperature hit 70 it will be dry and smooth sailing on the bike path.  I have a custom recumbent bike that Putt-Putt built for me and I love it.  He is also responsible for finding the recumbent that Barb rides.  He has offered to build a custom frame for it but it seems to be good enough for Barb.  Wet bike paths and goose poop make for slippery conditions.  That is especially bad when the rider is near the ground and the bike has no fenders.

Do you ever watch the program called "The Dog Whisperer?"  I catch it now and then and today a couple had a German Shepherd that was out of control.  I know that Cesar took his time and he didn't cure all the problems in 30 minutes but it again pointed out that the problem was the owner not the dog.  Once he got the owner to understand that the dog wanted to be in a pack and if the owner didn't take over, the dog would become the pack leader. 

Today in the paper there was an article about the Kansas City Chiefs.  They are near the top in rushing but almost last in passing yards.  Somewhere, somehow they need to find a way to find a more balanced attack.  When all you do is rush, they get to load up the box against you and that was the end of the Chief's season this last year.  I hope that figure out ways to get better this year.  The Royals seem to be doing pretty well so far. 

Well, enough of this, work to do and I better get on it.



Rain in the Heartland

We are getting the rain we have needed for a month or two.  With a gentle rate of fall it seems to be soaking in rather than running off.  For a spring rain, there is little wind also so things are going to be well when it is all finished.  One of these days we need to move the plants out into the garden and off the racks and out from under the grow lights. 

When we planted some trees at Dave's, his engineer friend noticed that one of the trees is right on top of the septic tank.   We realized that the tank probably has never been pumped so they dug it out. m Yep, it needs pumped out in the worst way.  The problem we did have was that the top of the tank is open and it is raining.  I had a plastic swimming pool that the dogs used and I took it up and put it on top of the tank.  It probably will need to have a couple of days to dry out to be able to get the pump truck out in the yard where the tank is. 

Yesterday was the grill day here at Rabbit Run.  I made a trip to the grocery store and found some great meat at a fairly good price.  Put it on the grill with some hickory for smoke and things are great.  With Barb's potatoes and veggies, it was a meal fit for a king.  There will be a lot of leftovers for several meals later on this week.

This morning I am watching the Barret Jackson Auction and they just rolled a 1981 Corvette over the block.   The announcers said it was a terrible year for Vette's and only had a builders title.  It had been in a wreck and the Insurance Company totaled it out.  The car sold for $6,500.  That is several thousand dollars below what a car on either side of 1981 would have brought.  Someone got a pretty nice car for not a lot of money. 

Oh well, things will slow down the next couple of weeks.  There will be a trip to Oklahoma but it won't take long in the court. 

Have a great day our there.



What a Day

The Topeka Barbershop Chorus had their 70th show yesterday and I think the word "Wow" is the best word to describe what we did.  For years we have tried to do two shows on the same day and I think the age of our chorus showed the second show.  One show was right on point and we all sang our hearts out.  We had three guest quartets including the Central States Champions, Harmonium" and it was a blast.

Next year I am going to give up my role in moving the risers to younger members of the chorus.  I came home last night and was dead beat.  I slept about 10 hours straight and the Aleve this morning was much needed.

This causes me to ask the question - What are you doing for fun?  In the news they said that regular activity with a group does as much good as smoking does bad.  It improves your physical and mental health.  I don't think you all need to run out and sing with a group, but getting out and visiting with like minded people works wonders.  I sing and Barb is a Master Gardener. 

I am not sure what made it hit home the hardest but the thought of Think Globally but act Locally hit me in the face like a big old whipped cream pie.  I spoke with the Washburn Rural Girls Quartet and got to hear some great ideas on the future.  To me the saddest was that one of the girls feels there is little chance for her to go on to College.  Her family is poor and have two little kids.  She is sure she will have to sit out a semester from time to time to make money so she can go. 

Just once again, I will offer to you that the Military was my way of going to college.   Right in the middle of the Vietnam war, I was drafted and then went on to OCS so I could have enough time to finish my degree.  As it turned out, some smart guy expanded the GI Bill so I could have gone to college for the full years for two years of service.  I sure as heck used that time to get my degree and I would encourage any young person that feels a little maturity isn't a bad thing to join the Military (You pick a branch) and then use the GI Bill to get their degree. 

Oh well, things to do and places to go.



Getting Old

I guess I am reaching the age where the statistics will foretell that I am subject to the illness that old people have.  Last year out of the blue, I threw a bunch of pulmonary embolisms and spent almost a year on blood thinners.  Add to that I fell down and had a really bad bleed in the left hip and it still hurts every once in a while.  Throw in that several of my siblings have had cancer (Me Too) Heart problems and yesterday I found out that my brother has gall bladder problems and is in the Hospital in Tulsa.   Dang I hate it when that happens.

No, I am not ready to cash out my chips and give up this game I call life.  I have given up selected stupid things I did in the past but there aren't a lot of new things I need to do in the future.   I do wish that it was easier to crawl down from the lawn mower after mowing 3 or 4 acres.  I can't imagine what it would be like to have only a push mower.

I am firmly convinced that either the politicians in a lot of states have either lost sight of the bubble or just are hiding the real issues with made up stuff.  The newest thing is the sex of people using the bathroom.   I have never been sexually harassed or seen anyone in the bathroom that didn't belong there.  Well, there was this one time we were in the line for a bathroom in Austin when a small guy broke the line and had to go so bad he peed in the sink.   I guess he really had to go.  I have been tempted to do the same from time to time.  There was this one time that in shop class one of the guys went in the hand wash station but admittedly it was this very large granite looking thing that could have been confused with a urinal.  In both of those cases there was no confusion about the sex of the person, only laughter by the rest of us.

I have been writing some of the adventures of stupid people but I have admittedly have not included many of my stupid adventures.  Here is one short one.  On a convoy, somewhere north of Pleiku we were making tracks down a road.  There were about 10 or 15 guys walking on the side of the road and they were all wearing those big rice hats that come to a point at the top.  I asked the guy driving the jeep to get close enough to let me take one of the hats.  Yes, I knw it was stupid now but at the time it didn't seem topo bad.  As the driver got closer, he let the mirror hit one of the guys on the arm.  I am pretty sure that by slowing down, the impact didn't break anything but that ended that stupid game. 

More of the Adventures of LT MUD later.



Headed towards a million Hits

Not very long ago I was having several hundred hits a day and I got to 965,000 hits and then I hit a wall.  Not sure why, but instead of being to a Million  this year, I did the math and It will be over 1.6 years for me to hit my mark of a million.  I guess if you can stand to read this, I can continue top write it. 


What Will Your Obit Say?

For some strange reason, I am one of those people that read the Obituaries each day.  I joke that I am just making sure that I am not in there but I do find it interesting to see the transition of names across the decades.   How long has it been since you have seen an Opal, Warren, Dennis, or Glen.  Well, Warren is way too easy as I have a cousin who's son named his son Warren after his grandfather.   Oh well, back on topic.

I think I found the perfect obit yesterday here in Topeka.  A Lady who was  had an obituary that stated that she died after 70 years of bad behavior.  Not sure what they thought wasn't appropriate but you gotta give them an A for telling the truth.  I read a lot of  things about people that couldn't have been all that good.  Some of them committed their acts in my company so I know what not to print in my obit.

Here are some highlights that might not make it into my obit.  I was an ornery little boy and full of mischief that included deviling the hell out of two of the nicest sisters anyone could have ever had. While I had the goal to be as good as my dog thought I was, I am sure that his standards weren't very high.  I saw him lick and eat things that I couldn't/wouldn't even think about. 

I am pretty sure that I was the kid that other parents warned their children about.  I like to think that I was like the germs that some mothers expose their children to so they will have immunities later on in life.  I am pretty sure that most of my friends were fairly bright but they were kind of tame compared to some of the fanciful ideas I would come up with.  I am sure that the phrase "Hey Watch this" or "I wonder what will happen if I do this" crossed my lips on at least a daily or at least a weekly basis.  More in the summers and less in the winters.

I think my wife will probably leave out the really bad parts when she has my Obit published.  At least the names of some of the girl friends will not make it into the litany of my life.  As far as I know, I only fathered one son but there are things that could have happened that I claim to have no knowledge of. 

There is a collection of war stories on this computer that some day will make it into a collection even a book perhaps but I would have to get sued for liable in some cases.  I'm not sure that I have enough names to change all the innocent or the guilty.  

I am fairly sure that many of the teachers I had in school would be amazed that I actually graduated from College.  I somehow had the idea that D stood for Denny so I got lots of them.  It wasn't that I didn't learn, it was that homework being turned in just wasn't in my brain housing group.  I am sure that the teachers were proud of how well I did on the standardized tests, they just weren't sure how the information got in there.  I could read the text book for science or history and never open it again the rest of the year.  I did have to open the math books but only to find out what the problems were, if and only if I decided to turn them in. 

I hope that everyone will see that I listened to my Dad's advice about Marriage.  He said don't do it unless you find the person you will spend the rest of your life with.   I hope that 48 years meets his standard.  I might just be lucky that my ADD just kept me here plugging away.

Oh well, There is a lot to do today even if it isn't on the calendar.  Have a great week out there.



Name Changed to Protect the Guilty

When the National Guard was notified that they would have a Brigade Activated for the Vietnam Conflict in 1968,  The Kansas Army National Guard was authorized to conduct a short course of their Officer Candidate School.   Years later, I was able to sit down with one of the Tactical training Officers and discuss the careers of a couple of the guys that completed that training.  One of them was a pretty good friend of mine and the other was just someone we all laughed at.  I will call them A and B just to protect them from any hard feelings.  Their Tac Officer told me that both had been boarded at least once and had they more time they would have never been commissioned.

The first time I met A, he was my replacement in Vietnam.  I mean that he came to my battery in a jeep and I hot seated it in that jeep back to base camp.  I didn't even  know his name then and really didn't care.  I had no attachment to the Kansas Army National Guard at that time.  It wasn't until much later after renewing our meeting in the Guard that I got the rest of the story.  It seems that our battery had a couple of tough times after I left. 

The only thing that I found remarkable about A was his inability to stay awake in a moving vehicle.  Seems that his parents would put him in the car to help him fall asleep.  Something about the sound and movement of the car just put him to sleep.  At one time, we were both commanders of a battery in the same battalion and we would drive to drill together as often as we could.  Needless to say even if we took his car I drove.  It only took one time of him falling asleep get that straight.  The last time I heard anything about A, he had made Major and that was where his career peaked.  I liked him as a person but was not impressed with his technical ability as a Field Artillery Officer.

I saved Officer B for last because there is so much more to laugh about.  My sister lived in Topeka and told me about the time that B lived right across the street.  He was a duffas even back in High School.  He was given a bow and arrow for a birthday present.  The first thing he did was take it out and see how high he could shoot an arrow.  Remember the old saying "What goes up must come down?"  Yep, as they were leaving the next day, they saw an arrow stuck in their roof.  One of their daughters said that they saw B shooting arrows the day before.  My brother-in-law called a roofer and then took the bill to the parents.  They paid it very quickly to avoid having my brother-in-law call the cops.

This only a story I heard from one of the other guys but it sounds so typical of B.  One of the pieces of field equipment always worn in the field was the gas mask.  For most of the enlisted men, it was something their section Sergeant would check.  Young officers weren't often checked so B would have his carrier full of candy bars and snacks when he would go to the field.  On one trip to the training area, we were going up Agony Hill with a convoy.   For some odd reason a loaf of bread fell off one of the mess trucks.  B in his desire to make sure he had enough goodies to eat leaned out of his moving jeep to try to pick up that loaf.  Guess who fell out of his jeep?  Yep B fell out and he left a trail of snickers, Baby Ruth's and butterfingers for about 25 yards.  The worst thing he damaged was his stache of goodies.  There were a lot of prickly pear cactuses and he did have to visit the Medics to get them removed.  I am sure that his candy bar caper was one of the reasons he wasn't levied for a trip to Vietnam.

One event that I did witness with B was the time I was running the Battalion Observation Post (OP) as the battalion trained up for their Army Training Tests later on that spring.  As it happened, the first position each battery went into was called a hip shoot.  The unit would get a fire mission as they were moving and they would have to pull off the road and shoot a mission as fast as they could.  I was standing just below the crest of the hill and could watch as the batteries went into that position without them seeing me. B decided that he would climb up one of the trees to watch.  He started to climb up and I just watched from my place just below the hill top.  The battery executed a hip shoot in great fashion and were rounds on target in less than five minutes. About the time they were give orders on the radio to move to their next position, I happened to glance at B.  He had just reached a place where he could see the battery.  They were long gone before he ever got down out of that tree.

I am not sure what happened to B after they returned to Kansas.  I am sure that his inability helped him to be released as soon as they could. 

I went on to complete about 30 years in uniform and retired as a full Colonel, 06.   I hope some of my friends have some good stories about me to tell at my wake.  I have told the wife that I want to be there when she brings out a case of whiskey and a keg of beer.  Kind of like the movie Weekend at Bernie's. 



Moustache or not

I have to use the term mustache early in this post to see if I  spelled it right in the title.   It seems that my spell checker doesn't work in the title bar.   Oh well, here goes.

In Vietnam, a lot of us away from home for the first time thought that a moustache would make us look older or at least more macho.  In Aviation units, there was a plethora or handle-bar moustaches that were worn with pride.  This is a short story about one of them. Let me start by telling you that I was a failure in 1968 in growing any type of facial hair.  All it did was advertise my youth and not add to my age. 

Private Petty, 1966

As I was headed to Hawaii for an R&R with my wife Barbara, we flew to Cameron Bay to gather up plane loads of people.  One of the guys scheduled to go on the flight I was on was a Cobra Helicopter pilot.  He was a cocky devil-may-care guy with a handle bar moustache that he actually waxed.  I think it was about two inches beyond the corner of his mouth and because he twirled it from time to time seemed to stay where it needed to be. 

As the time got closer to fly out, the subject of the acceptance of the moustache to a wife that had never seen this one.  I think his words were "Screw That, either she likes it of not and I don't give a Damn"  Your can dumb that down into Military Speak but those that know what he really said and the rest of you really don't need to have me add to the profanity in our world.

Well, you can imagine the laughter we all had when he showed up for the flight home without that proud 'stache.   Seems like she didn't like it and she had something he wanted real bad.  Seems like a fair trade to me.  Besides, the moustache could grow back but the words he uttered were locked into my brain housing group.

The following story happened to me and may not be indicative of what other combat soldiers experienced.   On the first night we were in the field in Vietnam our battalion took about 37 mortar rounds and lost a bunch of guys KIA and even a lot more wounded.  I will forever have the sound of a mortar firing etched into my memory.  The round fired from a distance makes a "thunk" sound.  Next time you get you vacuum cleaner out, hit the hose attachment with the flat of your hand and it will make a pretty close sound to that.  I have had people tell me that the round makes a whoosh sound when it arrives where you are but I tried to be as flat on the ground as I could.

Well, to make a long story even longer, the first night the wife and I were in a hotel in Hawaii, we were trying to sleep when in the middle of the night the person in the next room flushed one of those mechanical toilets.  You know the kind, they have a metal handle sticking out of the side of the pipe  
and probably flush 5 to 10 gallons when it flushes.  It made a sound that pretty much replicated the sound of a Mortar from about 3 klicks out.  To make it worse, the handle made a whoosh sound as it slowed down the water flow to stop flushing. 

Put yourself in my place, and add the fact that I had just traveled half way around the world that day and was in a very deep sleep.  The first move I made was to roll off the bed and onto the floor.  The next move was to look for my rifle and helmet.  There I was in my birthday suit and it was like one of those dreams where you go to school naked. 

Imagine if you will, having the love of your life look over the edge of the bed and ask you why are you on the floor and tell you there are no rifles here. 

OH well, that was the limit of my PTSD on that trip.  I forgot all about Vietnam for a few days and nights.  Now, 48 years later I hardly ever even notice except I am asleep on the couch and the AHC Channel has some battle scenes.



Now How The Hell Did That Happen.

I was a Field Artillery Officer assigned to a General Support unit in Vietnam.  What that meant was there were no units that we fired for all the time.   We were assigned in different areas to give additional fires to other Artillery units that needed some additional help.  The only problem with that was from time to time the Field Artillery Brigade would levy us for an officer to go out on short missions.  I had the distinct pleasure of duty of going out with an Army of Vietnam unit that was training a Montagnard unit.  I also went out with an Australian unit conducting Basic Training.  I did a short stint with a Mechanized Unit and a short stint with an Aviation unit.  The strangest and longest assignment was with the 3Bn, 503 Abn Aka 173rd Abn.  There was a kid from Augusta, Kansas that went home when his Dad had a heart attack.  While there he developed Malaria and what was supposed to be a week or two turned into 6 weeks. 

We were north of Saigon in the mountains and there was a reported build up of North Vietnamese regulars and we were put in there to search and destroy them.  We criss crossed the area with three other Companies and to my knowledge we never made any significant contact.  The only KIA's we reported was when someone said that on one of their trips back into the old night position, there was a lot of stuff we had put in a trash holes dug back up.  I told the commander that we should put an artillery ambush on our position after our next resupply.  I did that and when our scouts went back there were numerous blood trails that led to a grave a couple of kilometers from the fired upon location.  There were three or four bodies in there but they were not NVA regulars, probably a local band of Viet Cong.

Sometime in the next week, we were making our way across a large valley when an Aerial Observer reported that there was a convoy of elephants that looked very loaded down with arms and ammunition.  Our Battalion spread the three companies out in a blocking position and sent in a company from another battalion in behind the pack train to drive them to our location and ambush. 

Everything went as planned and sometime about five hours after the operation began, the troops that were behind the elephants closed into our position.  Somewhere out there in the jungle, those darned elephants just disappeared.  I am pretty sure that they didn't go up over the side of the mountains on each side of the valley and somehow their trackers lost the trail of the elephants. 

I was all ready to get at least one elephant kills but nothing, nada, zip zilch was ever turned up.  No how the heck did that happen?  I am pretty sure that they didn't go down into some tunnel complex.  Oh well, Elephants one, US Army Abn - Zero.


Thunder Thornton

Once upon a time, there was an officer in the Guard with me that everyone called "Thunder."  I had no idea what or why was the origin of that nickname for almost a year.   On our first night in Camp at Camp Ripley, Minnesota I found out.

A little background here is that the base camp at Ripley was a series of tin buildings near a cinder block mess hall for each company/battery sized location.   They were just 2X4's covered with a tin covering.  They were a little better than sleeping outside, but not by much.

After an evening of our first day in camp activities and a little beer drinking we went back to our building to go to bed.  I started to say go to sleep but that is the rest of this story.  After what was a short time period, Thunder made his first snore.  It was something like a person being choked to death with someone holding his nose.  Gwaack was the first half and then silence.  For about 15 seconds, he held his breath and then coughed out what sounded like a lung.  Then the Gwaack sound again in full volume.  The again silence for a short period and the coughing again.  I am pretty sure that today he would be diagnosed as having sleep apnea but back then it was just a terrible sound that caused many of us to move our sleeping location to another tin hut.  Oh, I left out a step.  By the third sequence of the snoring,  we all went from wondering if Thunder was going to die to hoping he did.

At the end of Camp, several of us took a hammer out of the Carpenter's tool chest and presented it to Thunder.   He was also given a work order from the Camp Facilities office to tell him that he needed to go to our hut and re nail all the tin back down as he had rattled them loose.

Not too long ago, I heard an ad for the United Way on the radio and low and behold it was Thunder and his wife talking about the work they were doing for the Untied Way.  Way to go pal.


Do You Know?

I am not sure why, but the people that visit this blog seems to be falling off fast.  I was headed well towards a Million hits and now I struggle to hit a hundred a day.  I wonder if some great site in the world is filtering off the people they assign to visit or has the readership of blogs just fallen off that much?  I do know that if I hit "Next Blog" it seems to trap me into a theme and it never lets me get out of that loop.  If I mention baseball or basketball, it takes me to sites about sports.  It has done the same with cooking and photography.  Perhaps it is because my blog is all over the place and has not enough theme to it.  If you would take a few moments and leave a comment about what you would like to see here I would be very appreciative.  

Well, I do have the taxes done for 2015, but they aren't in the mail yet.  I will have to send Uncle Sam a few thousand and the State a couple of hundred.  The good news is that we have it to do it. 

I am struggling with the hobby of barbershop singing.  It seems to go on and on each week with no let up.  This fun hobby seems to be more and more time consuming.  I have been reading how to make it more fun but it, at least to me is more than the fun part, it is the time part.   I think we need to take a couple of weeks off after our spring contest.  Either that, or we need to go places and sing for the fun of it. 

What do you do for a hobby?   It seems like a lot of my hobbies are a lot like work.  You all know the saying that if you find a thing to do that you love and make it your vocation, you won't have to work a day in your life.  Perhaps it is kind of like that with a hobby.  I do know that working on my 57 Chevy kept me very busy for a year or so.  Time flew by.

Once Upon a Time -  Yes, this is a story, filtered through the deep recesses of my mind and only as accurate as my memory is.  Put on your seat belt and ride along.  After spending 6 weeks out with    
an infantry unit in Vietnam, I went to the battalion Headquarters and wet on the leg of the S-1 about needing an R&R in the worst way.  (Or should that be in the best way?)  Long story short, I managed to get on the list and off to Hawaii I went.  When we took off from Vietnam, the meal on the plane was some form of a Spanish Omelet.  Most of us had been eating C-Rations and it was very spicy and gave us heart burn.   We landed in Guam to refuel and the Pilot came on the intercom and told us that the only meal they had was again the Spanish Omelet and the only way we could get a different meal was to stay there for about 4 hours.  Knowing that the majority of us had wives waiting for our arrival in Hawaii what do you think we chose?  Bring on the omelets and  fly on.

Several of the guys had been in fairly normal assignments in Vietnam so they had their fancy uniforms ready to put on for their arrival.  I am fairly sure that it didn't matter what I wore there, just showing up was the important part.  One of the guys sitting in my row on the plane was one of those guys with an impressive ribbon rack and a well pressed uniform.  He got it down from the overhead and put that fancy dancy uniform on.  Just after we took off, the stewardess started to serve the meal.  Being fairly close to the back of the plane, we were to get our meals last.  I am not sure how long it took, but it was not fast(ly)  The stewardess would get a tray of the omelets  and go forward.  For some reason there was an air pocket and as the stewardess walked by, she dropped an entire tray of those spicy omelets right into the lap of that spiffed up soldier.  What a hoot.  there no way he could salvage that uniform and he was forced to put the old uniform out of the bag and wear it.

On the trip back to Vietnam, he admitted that his wife didn't even seem to notice what he had on other than to wonder out loud why his uniform smelled like tomato sauce and green peppers. 




Nothing New

Seems like there is just nothing new I need to write about today.   Pretty much same old stuff as yesterday.   Did manage to get a few things done but not much and there is still a lot to do.  

In the world of Baseball, the Royals are in fourth place with a record of 1-1 and the last place team is 0-1.  Yes, I felt I needed to post this because it was in the paper.  Makes me wonder why they don't do like the scoreboard at KU games where they don't post stats until at least a couple of minutes into each half.   

OK, here are a few recommendations for improving basketball.  When a team is throwing in the basketball, how come the five second count doesn't start near the end of the game where a team throws the ball inbounds and the ball is allowed to bounce up the court, and the clock doesn't start until it is touched.  If the team has five seconds to inbound the ball, why doesn't the referee call the five seconds all the time?  Seems kind of stupid to me.   I have noticed that different referees don't make the opposing team honor the same distance on balls being inbounded.  If it is so important, why isn't there a line on the court?  

There seems to be a lot of difference in what the referees call a technical foul.  Roy Williams can shout and almost tear off his suit coat and other guys get a technical when they just shout "Dang." (or words to that effect)    Players not in the game should be made to sit on the bench and not cause disruption to players on the court.

CRAP.   Seems like I AM SUFFERING FROM BASKETBALL WITHDRAWL.  OH well, it will go away sometime next fall.



Got a Little Rain

I think the weatherman said it was a little over 1/10th of an inch but every drop helps.  Did manage to get a little mowing done yesterday but only after sharpening the blade on the mower.  The oil didn't need changed as I did change it after the break-in period last summer.   Still wish I had spent just a little more and picked up a Hustler not a Cub Cadet.   Oh well.

Have you finished your taxes yet?  I have it almost done but the paperwork is on a card table right here by my computer.  I was told that the due date this year is the 18th.  Probably will get it done this week to avoid the rush.  I have to pay so there is no big hurry on my part. 

For some reason there was no paper outside this morning.  Not sure why but it really is no big deal.  I watched the local news and other than the funnies I am pretty much caught up.   I saw a good part of the women's finals in Basketball and I'll bet there are a lot of teams that were in the men's championship that UConn could beat.  They were pretty darned good.  It has always been interesting that season tickets to the KU women's games cost about the same as one game of the men's games.  Not sure why.

We have friends in Morocco and I thought for sure they would come back home when their daughters got to high school age.  Their oldest is 15 and so far no news about their return.   Dang. 

One thing I need to do is to get a haircut today.  Barrie the barber will probably fit me in somewhere.  He and I sing in the Barbershop Chorus and I am glad for his friendship. 

Last Monday, our Director said that he wanted Matt to sing the solo at the beginning of Loch Lomond.  I have been telling him that for at least a month.  Matt is a new baritone that has as pure a voice as we have had since the leaving of Christopher.  I can fill in but my almost 70 year old voice is far from pure.  Perhaps as a Bass but not on the high notes of a baritone.

It looks more and more like our Director is leaving and the Topeka Chapter of the Barbershop society will need a new director.   Is anyone out there interested?  The money isn't great but I will promise you that we will do our best to have fun.

Better go get cleaned up for the day and give Barrie a call.



Alternative Ways of Thinking

Here are just a few of the things that I sometimes think about:
  • Where the heck does racism come from?  I am pretty sure that in my world, it is pretty not much of a factor.  I sing in a chorus with a black member and a black Director.  There is a black family that lives nearby and we waive when I drive by just like I do with the rest of the neighbors.   
  • How can the Democrat Party have such a grip on the voting of the blacks?  In those areas where there are a lot of blacks there is a predominately Democrat leadership.  The failures there are historic.  Detroit, Ferguson, Birmingham, AL and many of the large cities are failing and wanting the Middle Class to come rushing in to save them.  The middle class is too failing and soon there won't be anyone to save us all.
  • I hear over and over that the Government needs to pass more laws to fix the ails of our society.  Haven't you had enough watching the Government fail at one cause after another to put your faith in new laws and regulations. Just who the heck do you think sent or allowed our companies to send jobs overseas?  Then they allowed companies to not pay taxes on the profit they make.  Stupid.  This is a failure of both parties.
  • Just when I want to complain about the fact that we are a disposable society, I find out that even if I did want to spend more on a printer repair than what a new one costs, there is no one pout there fixing printers.  Next time you are at Best Buy ask them what a printer tune up would cost.  The printer cartridges themselves often are more than the cost of a new printer.
  • Just when you want to tell the schools they have to cover a new subject, ask yourselves where the heck they would fit it in.  We have gone to computer testing to see how our kids are doing and then the State wants to pre-test and the Feds want to test and the teachers have to teach the tests just to keep their jobs.  Just who the heck is this silent majority of people that have determined what it is that the kids should know to be successful in the real world?
  • Wasn't Bernie Sanders an independent not very long ago? 
That's all folks...

Roy Who?

When Roy Williams left Kansas to go back to South Carolina, we developed the saying, "Roy Who?" when anyone brought up his name.  I think that Villanova just out snickered them in the National Championship.  If you don't defend a three point shot at the end of the game, you need to hang your head and go home.  Oh well...

Springtime is here in Kansas I can tell because the urge to mow is upon me.  I have to go spend a couple of hours sharpening blades and changing oil but I too will be out there mowing in no time.  The house here at Rabbit Run is full of new plants just getting started and soon we will have a garden up and running.  I have stakes and wire to make the supports for all the tomato plants.  I haven't put them in the ground yet but that's no small step for a tall stepper.

Oh well, I guess I'd better go find things that I need to do more than sitting here at the Computer.



Well It's Over

For the BIG XII fans, the playoff's are over.  Not sure what happened but Oklahoma just bombed out of the tournament.  It is just as well that I have things to do tomorrow night so I wouldn't have watched anyway.  I will probably buy season tickets and go to all the KU home games anyway. 

Lots to do now that the weather is getting the days right.  I will start outside and then work my way inside.  Probably will have to take a nap mid afternoon. 

Barb had her right eye worked on to fix a cataract.  With the help of a contact lens and reading glasses she has fairly normal vision until she gets the other fixed the middle of this month.  Not sure what she will finish with but probably a fairly light prescription and either bifocals or reading glasses.  

Barb and I have agreed to not talk politics.  This next Presidential election will be so messed up that no one can even get up the energy to discuss things rationally.  How do you chose between a Liar, a looser, and a Wackadoodle.  If you don't know who to put under each heading, you might understand what my dilemma is.  It is such a bad thing that no one will stand up and say,  America is so screwed up that we should stop writing new laws until we can figure out how to eliminate the bad one's.  I would nominate Dave Ramsey as Secretary of the Treasury.  His idea of making a budget and sticking to it just might wake up Washington.  I am pretty sure that no one in Washington can even spell Truth and get it right 5 out of 10 times.  I hear that the Republicans are screwing up the future for our kids.  Last time I looked, we were well on the road to hell many years ago.

Have you listened to the argument that Clinton balanced the budget?  Well, he did manage to, with the help of Congress to have out outgo equal income.  The real problem is that they did not pay even one dime of the national debt off and that elephant in the room is out there eating more and more or the income.  In fact it is costing us so much that we are borrowing about 30% of every dollar we spend.  How long will that last?  Probably about as long as we have things in the USA to sell to China, or they run out of money.

Oh well, Better run and see what is waiting for me outside.