24 May 2014

Ignorance, Or The Presence of Evil?

Long-term readers are aware of my frequently-updated post "The List".
There, I ask WHY entertainers are willing to alienate fully HALF the folks that might be interested in buying their produce by openly expressing their political views.
Do they have the right to do it? Certainly.
I, and millions before and after me have put our lives on the line for these misguided souls' right to openly illustrate their views (which, if allowed to come to fruition, would quickly put a stop to their ability to openly express political views).

The post immediately before this one is an example.
On "AXS TV" I watched a show called "The Big Interview", hosted by Dan Rather. The evil Mr. Rather was interviewing members of the band "Crosby, Stills, and Nash" individually and as a group.
During the individual David Crosby interview, Mr. Crosby profusely thanked Rather for his courage (HA!), in continuing to promote the truth. (!!!!)
Rather nodded and tried to act humble.

One of the very first things I did when I got home from Viet Nam was buy CS&N's first album. I played it on my new (bought while I was in Viet Nam) stereo system as loud as I could without incurring the wrath of neighbors.
I LOVE CS&N!!!

But they'll not get another dime of my hard-earned cash.
How did we get here?

18 May 2014

"Low T"

We men are told beyond a certain age we lose some percentage of our "Man Juice" yearly.
I have no doubt that's true, because I see both physical, and emotional evidence of it almost on a daily basis.
I'm not physically as strong as I once was.
I don't have the stamina I once had.
My physical attributes are changing. (We won't dwelve into that anytime soon.)
And the thing I, and those closest to me, see most readily is the change in my emotions.
I cry at some of the most ordinary, beautiful things in life.
Present me with something MORE than mundane, and I may be impacted to the point of speechlessness. (Giving up my POW/MIA bracelet bein' a prime example.)

I just watched Crosby, Stills, and Nash on "The Big Interview" with Dan Rather (Gag!) on AXS Tv.
Rather asked Nash about how he was motivated to write songs and he told THIS STORY in his own words.

I'm glad you weren't near.

I'd have been embarrassed.

16 May 2014

"But It's A Dry Heat"

We're now in a Phoenix suburb called Gilbert, Arizona.
We're indoors in air-conditioned comfort, watching "The Five" on television.
Ambient temperature outside is 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
People familiar with this area will try to convince you this heat is bearable because the humidity is so low...
"But it's a DRY heat."

Yeah, it is. Humidity is 8%!
But an oven is also dry.

If you are outside in this "dry" heat, you literally feel like you are cooking.
How did anyone ever live here before the invention of Air Conditioning?

11 May 2014

May 2014- On The Road Again.

We loaded the truck.
Now that our son is FULLY settled in his own home, (which also happens to be newer, bigger, and nicer than ours), we decided to make room for more STUFF at our house by taking all his STUFF to him. Where will he put it all? That's HIS problem, not ours!

Old Tonka toys. A container of "transformer" toys that probably cost as much as a month's groceries.
Books. Videotapes. The bed of the truck contains 20 years of memories. It'll be interesting to see what ends up for sale on eBay.

"Preflight" the truck for the trip:
Changed the oil- It takes 10 quarts and two containers of STP!
Check the tires- Air pressure and general condition. The rears are only a few months old. The fronts are gonna be a concern... they still have good tread on 'em, but the previous owner lived in Palm Desert, California and the heat there has taken its toll on the sidewalls;
Weather cracked, I hope they give me the same amount of warning the rears did before I changed 'em. I'm bettin' they'll make this trip and last through the summer so I can buy new in the Fall.
Coolant level is good.
Windshield washer reservoir is full.
Headlights, wipers, turn signals and brake lights all okay.
GPS and Sirius XM on board.
Let's light this fire and get on the road!

Headed West at 0930, that's actually early for us. We always have good intentions but ALWAYS seem to find last minute things we forgot that MUST be attended to before departing.
We checked the weather and it looks like smooth sailing all the way.
A full tank of diesel, a cup of hot coffee in each cupholder and Lucy navigating, (that's a joke! She sleeps ALL the way...) we're on our way.

Two hours into our journey, Sara Jean asks, "Is that a siren I hear?"
"I don't think so", I respond. "I think that's alternator noise in the radio."
And it was. A few minutes later the "GEN" warning light came on.
Battery voltage still reading 13 volts, I shut down all the unnecessary power users and took the next exit off the Interstate.

At these times your mind races...
"What's the best way to handle this?"
I considered my options-
If the alternator is shot, I could do what I've done in the past- stop at an auto parts store like "AutoZone", and buy an alternator. Purchase the parts there and they'll loan the tools to do the job.

We're on a busy arterial street, there SHOULD be an AutoZone here somewhere.

Instead, a Guardian Angel intervened-
Just ahead on the right I see a big sign indicating there's a "Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep" dealership, and their Service Center is in the rear. We pull up and I go inside. This is a BIG, BUSY place...
There are FOUR service writers!

I approach the closest one and he asks, "How can I help you sir?"
"We have a minor emergency. We have motel reservations in Amarillo, Texas for tonight and we have an electrical problem in our truck."
He says, "Wow. Well, we'll get to you as soon as we can, but that may be an hour and a half or so."
"Beggars can't be choosy", I respond.

I go back out to the truck and try to start it, thinking if it'll start I may still act on my "AutoZone" option. Nothing.
And I mean when I try to start the truck I get NOTHING...
No click. Nothing.
It's only then I notice when I open the door the dome light doesn't come on. This truck has two batteries... can they both be THAT dead? I pop the hood, start poking around, and find a loose cable to the primary battery. I have Sara Jean hold that cable tight to the terminal and open the door...
The dome light works! I turn the key and the Cummins roars to life.

After 30 minutes the "technician" comes out and I show him what I have discovered, and ask him if he can also hook up a multi-meter to the system to insure the alternator is still working.
He drives our truck into the service bay and raises the hood. In twenty minutes he's finished.
Ninety minutes and $89.96 later, we're back on the road.
When I review how this unfolded I realize, IF we had first encountered an AutoZone, I'd almost certainly have bought a new alternator- $$$$$$$, and that would not have solved our problem.
We arrived at the Amarillo "La Quinta Inn" at 0030 hours, tired, but happy to have more than half our trip behind us.

Do you believe in Guardian Angels?
When I review my life experiences believe me...
I have ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT they exist, and mine sometimes works overtime!

30 April 2014

I Feel Naked

She was the Lifeguard at the Officer's Club swimming pool.
I was the Officer's Club manager.
She was almost 5' 2" tall, weighed 104 pounds, and looked good in a two-piece bathing suit.
We talked.

Spending the summer with her folks in Savannah, her full-time job was teaching kids at a school in Alpharetta, Georgia. She was smart, funny, and cute as a newborn pup.
I asked her out. She allowed as to how that might be fun.

It was June of 1972.
For it or against it, most everyone in the country had decided the way we were prosecuting the war in Viet Nam sucked, and wanted our troops to come home, including several hundred Prisoners of War.
I had noticed an outfit called "Viva" was offering bracelets with the names of P.O.W.'s and M.I.A.'s designed to bring attention to their plight. I mentioned this to the Lifeguard, the gal that would later become my 1st wife, and she replied, "Let's get two of the same name to wear!"
So I put a check in the mail for two, requesting they have the same name on both.
Two weeks later they arrived. I put hers on her wrist, she put the second bracelet on mine.
We both vowed we would not take them off until our guy's status was determined.

Keeping the bracelet on my wrist was sometimes a struggle;
At my annual flight physical with the ARMY, the technician giving me the EKG would invariably say, "Take that off", pointing to the bracelet. And after I explained that wasn't gonna happen, most of them would acquiesce and wrap the bracelet in tape, then continue with the procedure. There was never a problem.

One summer day in 1982 I was mowing a lawn for a friend. The temp that day was in the 90's and the humidity was almost that high. Finished mowing, I was hot, sweaty, and covered in dust and grass clippings. To rinse off I dived into our pond.
Instantly I realized the bracelet wasn't on my wrist. Under those circumstances the bracelet would have held a little residual heat, but this time my wrist felt instantly cool.
I panicked, retraced my steps and couldn't find it. I gave up the search and started to walk away, but something in my head said, "Take another look".
I walked straight to a Honeysuckle bush attached to a fence in the rear of the yard and there it was...
The bush had reached out and grabbed my bracelet!
I put it back on, and in 42 years that was the ONLY time it was ever off my wrist.
Now and then I'd do an internet search to see if I could find any news about my guy.
It always ended up the same; they had found bones/DNA from his navigator, but nothing on him.

This week I searched again.
They've officially declared him K.I.A.. I was shocked to see one site even reporting they had found his DNA at the crash site. More importantly, that site had comments from his nephew, including a home town. Another search netted me a phone number, I called and left a message.
The nephew called the next morning. We talked for half an hour about his Uncle, the war in Viet Nam, and my experiences there. I told him of my intent to not remove the bracelet until his Uncle's status was determined, then to send it to a family member. He told me the report they had found DNA was not true. Still, he's been officially declared dead.
The nephew was excited to hear I'd send the bracelet.and gave me his full address.

I removed the bracelet yesterday and boxed it up for its journey.
It's like a part of my body is gone. Washing my hands, I always bump-bumped against the bracelet to remind me it was there.
Now every time I wash my hands I'm reminded.

Forty-two years.
Well over half my life.
A spot on my wrist needs a tan.

I  can only hope this brings peace and closure to this hero's family.

25 April 2014

Selling. Reluctantly.

"You guys are welcome to stay a few days in our condo."
We left home late, and arrived Destin at about 2 A.M..
We grabbed an adult beverage and went out on the balcony. Overcast... no light at all, we couldn't see much. BUT...
We could hear the murmuring of water hitting the beach and could smell the sea.
We finished our drinks and, worn out, retired to bed.
In the morning we returned to the balcony and our jaws dropped...
We were separated from the beach by old highway 98, but the view was absolutely breathtaking!
Sugar white sand. The water ranged from deep emerald green to aqua in color.
Where can we sign up for more of this?

So we went to the manager and asked, "Do you have a list of people who would like to buy when units become available?"
She answered, "Yes, and I'd love to see some new, YOUNGER faces around here." She recorded our phone number. I expected a call in a year, maybe two.
Three months later I answered the phone and heard, "The unit next door to the one you stayed in is for sale. I've talked with the owner and the price is reasonable. Act NOW!"

But "reasonable"?
Try as hard as I might, crunching the numbers didn't make me comfortable with the purchase.
So, knowing they had the money and might be interested in a second unit, we called our friend that had generously allowed us to stay in their unit those months earlier...
"We can't afford it. If you want the condo, here's the number to call."

"Would you be interested in owning half of it?" they asked.
And the answer to that question put me smack in the middle of my comfort zone.
That was April of 2000. Together we bought the condo with the gorgeous view of the Gulf, put a solid week of sweat equity into painting, wallpapering, repairing, replacing old appliances;
All intended to make the place attractive to add to a rental program so others would pay the bills.
At least that's how it was supposed to work.

In 14 years, the place has never fully paid for itself.
Oh, don't take me wrong...
We've LOVED owning it.
We've loved the idea that at some point in "the future", we'd be able to come spend Winters here, away from sub-zero temps and snow plows running up and down the road.
But every time we came down to spend time here we've had to bring a hammer, screwdriver, and a paint brush. The blinds inevitably have been screwed up by renters. The carpeting ALWAYS needs minor or major cleaning.

In 2005, if our crystal ball had been working, we could have sold the property for three times what we paid.
But our crystal ball at that point was just an interesting piece of glass. The market pretty much collapsed and the value of the condo returned to just about what we paid.
But it has slowly, surely, been going up since.

And then came the anxiety.
Our country is changing. Our economy is changing. Seemingly EVERYTHING is changing.
I don't like what I see.
As much as I love being here looking at that gorgeous beach, I think having money in hand to buy things we might need in case of "trouble" might be more important than owning a piece of property most of a day's drive distant.

We burned the mortgage two months ago.
We have what appears to be a solid contract for the condo.
The sale won't make us rich, but will put some money in the bank and, almost as important, will take the worry/expense of always having to fix something renters have broken off our shoulders. 
This week we're spending what may be our last week in this second home as "owners"...
The table where I wrote the first post for "Pitchpull"  in April of 2005 will no longer belong to us.
Bittersweet.
Our sadness is somewhat tempered by the fact that money in the bank will allow us to come rent here most anytime, anyplace we want.

And we DO still LOVE Destin.
We'll be back.

10 March 2014

Springbutt

Yes... "Springbutt".

Not familiar with the term?

You may not be familiar with the term, but you certainly have seen "Springbutt" in action.
Let me set the scenario for you:
You're at a seminar or class you MUST take. You may be an expert in the subject matter.
No matter, you have to be there for whatever reason. Some would call it a "ticket punch"...
The fact you've attended the class clears the way for you to either continue, or progress. Maybe even be promoted.

Pro pilots have to do this all the time. FAA requirements force them to constantly train. Annual check rides. Semi-annual refresher rides. Computer-driven academics on survival, weather, instrument flying procedures...
Sometimes the work you have to do is the same work you did last year, the year before that, the year before that, the year...
You get the idea.
It's BORRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNNNNNG!
But ya gotta do it for whatever reason in order to keep the paychecks flowing.

So I was in this class devoted to keeping me and my fellow pilots SAFE.
There were about 40 in the class. I was sitting next to a contemporary I had known for 25 or so years.
Up front, in the second row, was Mr. Springbutt...
An enthusiastic new CFI who had just accrued enough time to get a job with one of our local helo companies.

Every chance he had, Mr. Springbutt would raise his hand and interrupt the person providing the information most of us were being "refreshed" with, because we had heard it a thousand times.
Mr. Springbutt wanted to share "How his company was now doing it", or a method he had learned that might improve the way the rest of us were doing our jobs.
Each time he'd raise his hand, I'd glance at my friend seated next to me, just in time to see him roll his eyes.
As hours droned on, the rolling of eyes began to be accompanied with a sigh.
There was no question, my buddy was beginning to be tired by Springbutt's interruptions...
The sooner we got outta here, the sooner we could have an icy-cold brewski in our hands!

But the information from the second row continued to be forthcoming. Springbutt was VERY impressed with himself. More eyes rolled. Sighs throughout the class started to be more audible.

At the break before the last hour of class my peer had had enough. When I saw him working his way toward Springbutt I followed along in his wake.
My buddy introduced himself to Springbutt with a smile and asked, "How much time ya got in your logbook?"

"1600 hours".

"My friend, I have more time in my log than that at night, in a 30 degree right bank, in a light mist with 1 mile visibility! Please, no more questions or suggestions."
I had difficulty stifling my guffaw.


Springbutt stayed seated the next hour.
And the cold beer tasted wonderful.

28 February 2014

The List

Newly added: Liam Neeson  

I'm confused-

If you are in the business of selling your talent to the masses, why would you express yourself in a way that would anger 50% (+ -) of your audience? Add to that the fact that most of us non-Hollywood types think you live in a cloister of like-minded people and have NO IDEA whatsoever how real folks make a living out here in the world.
Why not just shut your pie-hole and let 100% of your audience enjoy your work?


I present to you my list...
The list of folks that I refuse to support with my hard-earned $$$$$ because they're destroying my country.
"The List" will be updated and re-posted as new "smarter than you and me" folks make themselves known.
(Feel free to leave suggestions for additions in your comments.)

Robert Altman
Ed Asner
Alec Baldwin
Ellen Barkin
Rosanne Barr
Meredith Baxter
Joy Behar
Tony Bennett
Sandra Bernhard
James Brolin
Jimmy Buffett
Jim Carrey
Jackie Chan
Ladies and Gentlemen- Cher!
The Dixie Chicks
George Clooney
Elvis Costello
Sheryl Crow
Matt Damon
Ted Danson
Johnny Depp
Danny DeVito
Pee Puff Diddy-Daddy
Phil Donahue
Richard Dreyfuss
Roger Ebert (Assumed ambient temperature.)
Mike Farrell
Will Ferrell
Tina Fey
Sally Field
Jane Fonda
Megan Fox
Janeane Garofalo
Danny Glover
Whoopi Goldberg
Kathy Griffin
Tom Hanks
Woody Harrelson
Heart
Dustin Hoffman
Scarlett Johansson (Man I hate that she's on this list!)
Samuel L. Jackson
Ashley Judd
Val Kilmer
Kris Kristofferson
Spike Lee
DAAAAAAVIIIID LETTERRRRRRRRMAN!
Jennifer Lopez
Madonna
Bill Maher
Barry Manilow
Paul McCartney
John Mellencamp
Jay Mohr
Michael Moore
Liam Neeson
Chris Noth
Bill Nye
Rosie O'Donnell
Keith Olbermann
Gwyneth Paltrow
Sean Penn
Rob Reiner
Tim Robbins
Alan Rosenberg
Tim Roth
Linda Ronstadt
Susan Sarandon
Jerry Seinfeld
Martin Sheen
Sarah Silverman
Bruce Springsteen
Martha Stewart
Ben Stiller
Oliver Stone
Barbra Streisand
Wanda Sykes
Gore Vidal (Assumed ambient temperature.)
Kanye West
Oprah Winfrey
Henry (The Fonz) Winkler

25 February 2014

In The Rickshaw

We see it in movies. (My wife and I watch a BUNCH of old black-and-white movies, so this image may be more vivid for us than you)...
Coolies or slaves slogging across the sand in some desert, carrying a potentate or otherwise VERY Important Person in the curtain-shrouded chair.
Or sometimes the chair is on wheels, pulled uphill and down by some extraordinarily fit Asian, taxiing some foreigner to an important meeting across town.
Whatever...
The person being transported is taking advantage of work being done by others.

I can't help being philosophical here.
Those of us living comfortable lives today are "In that chair".
And, depending on your age, that chair was pulled by your parents, grandparents, or great-grands.

They watched as their world grew unsettled.
It's easy to just deny evil is in your neighborhood, and that's just what they did...
Starting in 1933 they watched and hoped...
Ignored the fact that rules laid down to prevent another conflagration were being ignored.
Ignored the fact that other neighbors were suffering as essential energy sources were being gobbled up by belligerent forces.
What did it matter? The light was at the end of the tunnel...
Beer was back.
The worst of the depression seemed behind us.
Chamberlain had the right idea. "Smart diplomacy" had saved the day and avoided war.
Until it didn't.

And then our parents+ got their noses bloodied. It was no longer possible to ignore what was truly going on in our back yard. And correcting the problem was going to be UGLY...
Uglier that it would have been had we just seen the problem and corrected it earlier.
But they shouldered the ugly task and suffered greatly.
And corrected the problem.
MILLIONS and MILLIONS DIED.

We've been riding in the Rickshaw they provided for years, enjoying relative peace, prosperity, and freedom.
We've all heard over and over the old saw, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it".
I think most everyone believes the saying to be true, but the lessons I glean from my historical studies may not be the same lessons you learn.
And there's the rub isn't it?


I'm scared to death of what I see on the news these days.
I'm even more scared by the feeling I'm surrounded by a bunch of Neville Chamberlains.
I hear drumbeats.
I see folks that bear a striking political resemblance to evil people our parents ignored.
As we now reduce the size of our military, I remember the U.S. in the 1930's and remember how our population and resources came alive after about 1940, at great cost, until we could fight without one hand behind our back.

I fear the Rickshaw ride may soon come to an end.
I fear the tools our enemies have at hand will make this conflagration worse than anything our parents could imagine.
I HOPE our citizens learn from history before it's too late.

God be with us.

05 February 2014

When Parents Die


I'm ready to pull my hair out.
It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. We planned. We solicited advice from "Experts"...
Set up the machinery so things would go smoothly.
Still... this is a fiasco.

When my Dad retired he cashed out his retirement funds, all in Company Stock, and scared Mother to death. Indianapolis Power and Light Co. had always been a solid investment. But new regulations were just over the horizon and things were changing dramatically at the company.
Dad had a funny feeling. My parents sold the stock and put the proceeds into a "Single Premium" life insurance policy. That decision turned out to be one of the best my Dad ever made...
Within two years the value of IPALCO (Ameren) stock dropped 90%.
In retirement Mom and Dad lived happily for nearly 30 years, able to travel and do most of what they wanted without being restricted by money.

Dad died in 2003. Within a year, Mom had a minor stroke that impacted her vision. No longer able to stay in the lakefront home she shared with Dad, we knew big changes were in store for her.


For three days my Sister and her clan worked frenetically to sort out the "stuff" Mom HAD to have, then organized and had a Yard Sale to dispose of the rest.
Working, I couldn't be there, and I was glad to have the excuse. But I wasn't spared the stress of this change...
We put the house up for sale thinking it would move quickly. Ha!
The bubble in real estate had burst. Folks looking at the house offered "Fire Sale" prices. One prospective buyer hired a house inspector to look the place over. His list of things that had to be repaired was disheartening. Sara Jean and I drove 10 hours round-trip several times over the next months to spend my time off work to paint, do carpentry, clean, and tinker to make the house sell-able.

"Luxurious Senior Living" read the sign...
Sis got Mom situated there and started a new chapter in Mom's life.

An empty house is a nuisance. Insurance companies don't want to insure them. I had a Dickens of a time finding a company that would cover it for catastrophes... for a shocking premium.
The house sat empty for the better part of a year before it sold.

But let's get back to the money...
When Dad died we took the advice of one of our "Experts" and hired an attorney to set up a "Living Trust" for Mom. We then took the proceeds from the life insurance policy Dad bought with his retirement funds and bought an annuity, naming Mom's Trust as the beneficiary. Of course, the Trust laid out instructions as to how Mom's estate was to be handled in case of death or incapacitation.
Smart. Simple. Painless. Right?

Mom died late in June of this year. I've been struggling with the annuity company since.
I'm about to pull out my hair.
It's almost as if they think the money is theirs, not ours. After much struggling, cajoling, and finally threatening to hire an attorney and sue for damages, they issued a check to the Trust last week.
Then I had a hassle just finding an institution that would take those funds so I could pay Mom's bills.

We're finally on our way. When the checks for the new account arrive I can finally pay Mom's final bills, a full eight months after her death. What remains will be divided up as per instructions laid out by the trust.
But I have to wait until the I.R.S. gives me a green light...
They have to have their pound of flesh before we can finalize Mom's wishes.

I have a suggestion for you all, dear readers:
Give ALL your stuff to your loved ones while you're alive.
Save those you love the chaos.


Die BROKE!