03 August 2020

A Blur Of Black


It's true that time heals wounds. But WOW, three weeks later we still tear up at the loss.

She was a street find. We quickly realized she was easily trained. She was quiet, social, and gentle.
We were hers 14 years.
And losing her to cancer made me wonder- How do parents who lose children function at all?

We were blessed to share her life.
And we'll never forget our Lucy.

08 July 2020

The "Jiffy Lube" Saga

A couple years ago I wrote with some enthusiasm about how, being bored in retirement, I had found a possible part-time job I'd enjoy.
I had gone to "Jiffy Lube" to use a coupon to get a special price on an oil change. There was a "Help Wanted" sign prominently displayed on the front door.
The store manager there was a Viet Nam Veteran and we chatted. I asked about the employment situation and, since it was late in our Spring season in Arizona, inquired about the possibility of working at the store the following Fall. This manager was optimistic about my chances.
Wonderful.
This store was within walking distance of our Winter residence, so I could leave the car in the garage in case Sara Jean needed it. And they were asking for part-time workers. I DID NOT want a full-time job.

When we returned to AZ in the Fall, one of the first things I did was go to the store and get an employment application. The new manager there gave me one. I filled it out and returned to the store with it the next day. This new guy told me I ought to hear something from company headquarters within a few days.
So I waited.
And waited.
And waited.

A couple weeks later I returned to the store to ask what was going on.
There, it was pretty obvious this new manager had taken a look at my application and work history, and wanted no part of me anywhere near his store. I was a little put off.
"Look", I said... "I'll do most anything... empty trash cans. Sweep the floor."
He nodded and said he'd pursue what was going on with my application.

But I knew there'd probably be no response to my employment request-
A 24 year old Jiffy Lube store manager does NOT want some 72 yr-old retired Army Major running around, looking over his shoulder.

Ain't that a shame?
I'da been great at that job.

03 July 2020

Innovation


I think racing should promote improved technology- in performance, efficiency, and safety.
The rules should be written in such a way as to not stifle, but encourage change for the better.
When race teams try something innovative and it works, it'll soon be adopted by other teams; but only after those that first took the risk have been rewarded for their forward-thinking.
Technology that is too complicated, unreliable, or counterproductive, like the Tyrell Six-Wheeler shown above, will be pretty quickly abandoned.

Rules in racing today are being written to achieve parity in racing-
To equalize the teams for closer finishes, I suppose. And the sanctioning bodies have achieved that goal. In some races today, the winner can only be decided by looking at a photograph.
Some can only be decided by looking at electronic data.
I suppose there is SOME excitement in that. But I think I prefer watching a race where something new has been tried; for instance when there's a new performance-enhancing gadget on the track and there's a question as to whether it'll last long enough to cross the finish line first at the end of the race.

Rules today stifle that kind of risk taking.
And racing has become boring.

01 July 2020

Separated At Birth?


Avid watchers of "Downton Abbey", we didn't notice the similarity until we watched the Miniseries "Liar".

Do you see it too?

25 June 2020

STICK IT TO THE MAN !

I have family that have actually uttered the words of the title to my post:
"Stick it to 'The Man'!"
And they believe in that ideology.
To the degree I can, I have separated myself from that element of my family.

It set me to thinking about an "Association" that's in real trouble for a number of reasons today, not the least of which seems to be they have forgotten where their bread is buttered:
NASCAR.

This "association" is just now beginning to allow fans to return to the stands to watch the performance of their "talent" on the track. The fact they want us to believe we're watching "stock cars" with Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota emblems on their hoods is a major pet-peeve of mine and will be the subject of a future post about how stupid the general public is.
But that's not the subject of this post.

This post is about last weekend's gathering in Talladega, Alabama.
Think about they money "the man" risked to make that race happen. Track owner. Promoters. Television coverage and their sponsors.  Concessionaires. Insurance providers. And (shudders)... attorneys...
HUGE amounts of money had to be spent in order for this event to happen on the scheduled date.
And contracts had to be written to cover all aspects of what happens IF it does not happen on the scheduled date... AND what happens if it runs on a later date... AND what happens if it doesn't happen at all.
That's a LOT of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

And what happened?
Mother Nature said, "Not so fast, Bubba", and rained on everyone's parade.
And everyone went to "Plan B".

The race DID happen a day late, after we all went through the heart-sinking thought that someone would be stupid enough to suggest lynching one of the drivers would have been a great idea if only we were still in the democrat-controlled post-Civil War years.
DAMN those garage door pull-ropes!

And we peons have absolutely NO idea what hoops "The Man" had to jump through to make the race happen a day late. (I still watched it, in its entirety, on FOX Sports. Bubba finished 13th, and when the FBI pointed out he should have just closed his garage door he insisted it was still a noose.)
I enjoyed the race, and thank "The Man" and everyone that was involved in pulling off that event.

But here's my point:
I've pointed out here many times that I'm not rich. I have enough income that my needs and the needs of my family are met. I have enough discretionary income left over that we can do "frilly" things like buy tickets to go see NASCAR races if we want.
But someone with a WHOLE LOT MORE MONEY needs to risk a BUNCH of money to make more money in order for me and my family to go watch Bubba finish 13th in a "Stock Car" race.
I have NO desire to stick it to that man. In fact I thank him and all the others that had to put their necks on the block in order to make that even happen.

I fear what I see going on in my country right now. I hope cooler, smarter heads will prevail.
In the meantime I'm cleaning, lubricating, and practicing.
You should too.

23 June 2020

Waste Management


We've been home from Phoenix three months now.
Due to retirement, our "home town" trash disposal folks punted our collection service to an out-of-town company.
Are their services more expensive? Of course.
Dealing with them has been a fiasco from the outset-
Three weeks after we arrived home they FINALLY brought out a receptacle for our trash. (And we had to pay a $50 charge for that.) We paid an initial quarterly fee to get them to start regular service.

Today we got another bill from them.
And it's for more than we were told. They've added a bunch of new fees...
Fuel Surcharge. Environmental adjustment fee.
We don't generate a lot of waste. It seems usury. And the company has NOT been responsive when we've called to deal with them.
So we just called and canceled their service. They'll pick up their receptacle in three weeks.

Our neighbors are all having similar experiences.
We WILL find another way to dispose of our waste in an environmentally friendly way. But I fear what we are gonna see, more and more, is a roadside that looks like the above photo.
And then? We'll all be paying someone to pick up our nasty roadsides with our tax dollars.

Some municipalities include trash pickup in services provided by taxes.
That sure seems to be a better way to keep our community litter-free.

18 June 2020

The Purple One


When you see some high-ranking soldier on TV with a "barn door" full of ribbons on his left breast, what do you look for?
For me, I first look for the purple one.
Medals on a military man's chest, by regulation, have a priority. Medals of valor rank first. The Purple Heart comes after them. But it will appear in line BEFORE medals of merit and campaign medals.
Thank Goodness, my search of our warrior's chests for the purple one is almost always fruitless.

Today at Wally World I saw him again. I'd seen him a couple weeks ago, wearing his "Purple Heart" baseball cap, and wanted to approach and, these days of "stolen valor", challenge him about it.
At that time I was in a bit of a rush, so I let it go.
Today? I had the time and the inclination.

I walked up to him, pointed to his cap, and said "I got one of those too. Where'd you get yours?"
"Phu Loi", he replied.
And a half hour of conversation ensued.

He was an Army medic. His whole Viet Nam tour was spent in the South of the country, from the outskirts of Saigon clear over to the Cambodian border.
He was the genuine article. And I thanked him for the job he did.

Hearing I was a helicopter jock he made the same statement I have heard a thousand times:
"You guys saved our asses SO often. Thank you."
To which I related the fact that my job in Viet Nam was to use the helicopter to kill people, and when I came home I used the machine to save people's lives.
We both smiled.

He talked about watching us fire the mini-gun at night... about what an awesome sight that was...
How counting bodies after the gunships had done their thing was like walking through a Civil War battlefield.
I said, "I have no idea how many people I killed during my tour."
He said, "You have no idea how many of US you saved."

And as always, the tears came.

07 June 2020

"Dream Sheets"


I've used that photo in this blog before. It's a Bell UH1-C model similar to the one I flew in Viet Nam. I LOVED the old bird. Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars didn't. Oh well...
They were Marxist/Socialist/Communist/democrats. 


About halfway through my tour of sunny Southeast Asia in 1969 I realized I needed to have a hand in planning my future. At the time the ARMY had a form we called a "Dream Sheet" that you could fill out and specify what YOU would like to happen to your life in your future career efforts. By this time in my ARMY life I had figured out that if I could figure out that if what the ARMY needed could coincide with what I wanted to happen, I had a pretty good chance of actually succeeding in guiding my life. So I filled out the form and said I wanted-
1. To go back to Savannah, GA to be an instructor at Hunter Army Airfield there.
2. To go to Germany to join a helicopter unit there, or
3. Go to Ft. Knox and fill whatever helicopter Command job the ARMY needed.

A couple months before my DEROS- (Date to return from overseas service), I got orders assigning me to Hunter AAF in Savannah, GA.
There, I successfully graduated from the ARMY's "Method of Instruction" school and became an instructor, teaching Vietnamese Air Cadets how to fly the Bell UH1 Huey helicopter.
My assignment there lasted from November of 1969 until August of 1972.
To quote a phrase from the Brad Pitt movie "Fury", it was "The Best Job I Ever Had!"

While you're living your life you are too close to it to be objective.
I had survived my Viet Nam experience.
I was a 22-yr old Captain in the ARMY making more than enough money to keep a smile on my face.
I was flying a machine that by this time I was "putting on" like an old pair of house-slippers.
And I was doing a job that obviously was necessary to help my country.
It took 14 years until I found another job that gave me that kind of satisfaction-
Flying an EMS helicopter.

Memories of Savannah make me smile.
Chatting with others I realize how fortunate I am to have 'em.
Now? I'd like to make some more just like those.

04 June 2020

The Apollo Missions


We're coming up on the 21st anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. In Viet Nam when our team landed there, I looked up at the moon in awe and felt pride that I was defending a country that could accomplish such a feat.
We've just experienced the first "commercial" launch of a vehicle taking men into space to rendezvous with the International Space Station.

If you, like me, have an avid interest in history and how it relates to our lives today, I think you'll enjoy Bill Whittle's four-part series on how we... the USA, won the "Space Race" and got to the moon.
Click on the link above to see Part One.

I hope you enjoy the series as much as I did.

31 May 2020

"Respect My Authoritah !"

I've been a cop.
It's a lousy job.
While I wore a badge I mostly flew a helicopter above the guys down there doin' the dirty work.
And I was glad I wasn't down there with 'em.
Cops are now, for all intents, front-line soldiers.
And I'm amazed that anyone wants to do the job these days, considering the compensation they get.
If we continue to treat them as we are, I fear NO ONE will want to do the job.
And then... where will we be?

We live in interesting times.