16 April 2018

Eagle Eyes

I was 16.
My barber had a cork bulletin board 10 feet from the chair. On that board he allowed customers to post 3X5 cards with stuff they wanted to sell, rent, whatever.
While he cut my hair I would read the contents of those cards to him.
He couldn't believe it.
So I had him stand against that wall with a newspaper and I read the articles to him... from 10 feet.
I literally had the eyes of an eagle.

I fought against using them, but "trombone player arms" finally took over when I was about 50 and I was forced to get reading glasses.
As you've read here, I succumbed and got hearing aids a couple months ago.

This getting old is crap.
What's the alternative?

Bartender... one more... over here please.

23 March 2018

Huh?

March, 1966.
GREETINGS! the letter said.
I was 19 and it was my induction notice.

Included were instructions about how and where to report for a physical to investigate whether or not I was worthy of further attention and training from my wonderful Uncle...
Sam.

My memory is foggy, but I remember standing with 100 or so others my Uncle also had an interest in. At one point we were all told to disrobe to our skivvies. It was obvious they intended to poke, probe, examine, and report findings to decision-makers.

My memory of the hearing exam is NOT foggy-
That technician looked into my ear canal and asked, "What would cause you to have scar tissue on your eardrums?"
My response was that I had worked clearing brush with a chain saw for a construction company. That company felt they could get a couple extra horsepower by removing all the mufflers from their saws. At the end of each workday I was deaf for an hour or so. When I mentioned my discomfort to my parents they said, "Your ears will get used to that."
My parents were right. My ears DID acclimate.

But my ears were not damaged so badly that I could not wear Olive Drab.
Basic training exposed me to the M-14.
Advanced training... more M-14 and some M1911.
OCS... more of the above, AND add the M60A1E1 and M48A1 tank.
And then Helicopter Flight School and the start of FIFTY years of assault from the sound of a turbine engine.
My ears never had a chance.

My tinnitus is irritating, but not debilitating.
But the fact I can no longer understand my wife when she speaks from another room is frustrating.
And having to have "Closed Captioning" continually on the TV is aggravating for all those viewing with me.
I went to the VA for help a month ago. They tested, then took molds from my ears.
The devices arrived and were fitted last week.

I didn't know what to expect.
Everyone I've talked to that uses them has a "love/hate" reaction to them.
I think I like 'em more than hate 'em.

I think the latest generation of these things is dramatically improved.
The fit is very nice... I just feel like I'm wearing a set of foam ear plugs all day long. I'm actually surprised I don't get uncomfortable with them at all as the day wears on.
They fit behind my ears, so, unless you're looking awfully close you can't tell I'm wearing 'em.

The two sides talk to one another, so anything you hear in one ear is also transmitted to the other ear. That alone improves hearing. For years, hearing in my left ear has been better than in the right. I can tell the volume in the right ear is higher than the left... I'm assuming they set them this way because the right side needs more help.

The batteries are short-lived. The VA gave me a BUNCH of 'em with the aids, so I'm set for several weeks until I have to dun the VA for more. The first ones lasted 6 days.

I don't know why, but I expected them to last longer.

Sara Jean loves 'em. She says I'm not talking as loud as I did before getting them... good for everyone around me.

I checked on the cost of the things...
As a taxpayer, you don't want to know.

The only time I really need CC on TV now is when we're watching something produced by the BBC.
(Sara Jean has always needed help understanding British stuff too, so she doesn't mind my use there.)

I used to equate hearing aids with old people.
The "man in the mirror" is someone I no longer recognize.
And now he has devices stuck in his ears.


Thank GOD gave that old man a sense of humor!

17 March 2018

The Shape of Things To Come

During a conversation with an old High School Classmate years ago... (a retired Full Colonel from the Air Farce), the suggestion was put forth that unless republicans changed their values they'd never win another election.
I responded "So, all republicans have to do to get elected is succumb to ruining the country as the democrats have?"
My classmate wasn't happy with my response.
We haven't communicated since.

But isn't that what's happening to us?
DACA is unconstitutional... Barack Obama knew it, but did it anyway.
The rule of law? What's that?
That's so OLD SCHOOL.


But it's now obvious the trend is irreversible.
We no longer have two political parties.
We have "bad", and "worse", and have been forced to vote for the lesser of two weasels since 1980.

Our debt has ballooned from $20 TRILLION to $21 TRILLION in under six months of Trump's leadership. We are on the verge of not being able to service that debt.
What cannot continue... won't.
What will it look like?
Venezuela.

What do you absolutely HAVE to have to survive?
Getting those things won't hurt ya if I'm wrong.
Not having them if I'm correct will be... uncomfortable. :(

I think getting 'em now would be a good idea.

10 March 2018

Inertia

Yes, it's been over a month since I've put fingers to keyboard here.
Reasons?
Part of it I discussed with a virtual friend this morning-

Having access to FaceBook and a more focused audience is a release valve. Much of what I might have shared here has been published there. 
Near-instant response to comments there is rewarding, (or irritating).

It's now been almost 13 years since "Pitchpull" came into being.
I was more active... Flying EMS... I had started my own business... We had bought, and were managing a property in Destin, Florida.
There was a lot of exciting stuff going on, and it was easy to write about interesting things happening in our lives.
Now, in retirement, there is still much going on, but thankfully it's mundane.
The Lord has blessed my family with good health and enough wealth to be comfortable.
Who wants to hear about that?

And another thing I have found is important for me and mine-
Someone close to me once said, "I don't play that game".
More and more we find that simply removing yourself from the negatives in life, including "Drama Kings/Queens" works wonders at lowering blood pressure!

We can and DO travel. We spent a couple months of Autumn in lovely Destin. We've Wintered in Gilbert Arizona where days generally are 

75 degrees + -,  and nights are about 50 degrees. 
In the three months we've been here we've had two days of light rain. Perfect.

We've been to Las Vegas for a weekend, to include a visit to "Front Sight", a shooting complex in Pahrump, Nevada.
I don't care for Las Vegas, but the drive to, and around there was GORGEOUS.

We'll be headed back home to the Midwest soon. But we'll be there less than a week before we head to Washington, D.C. for a week to attend an OCS reunion I'm coordinating there.
Then, a month later, we'll do something that's been on my bucket list for years-
We're cruising the Mediterranean for two weeks, to include a stop for a full day in Santorini, Greece.

So, lots to write about.
But would you be bored or irritated hearing about it?

Some will. Some won't, obviously.
I feel guilty not writing here.

I simply need to overcome inertia.

22 January 2018

Those Damn Dams!

Some years ago I was a member of the Science Center in BigTown. One of the member's benefits was to be able to attend, free, any of the almost weekly seminars given by "experts".
We went into town to watch the new Blue Angels movie on the IMAX theater there, then noticed a Native American "expert" would be giving a talk an hour after the showing of the movie.
Thinking it might be interesting, after the movie we went to buy brats and burgers at the concession stand to use up the free hour.

The expert was a lady from one of the Western tribes near the Hoover dam. She discussed all the horrible things that had happened to the population surrounding the dam, especially how the environment had been negatively impacted... Indian lands submerged, populations forced to relocate, and ecosystems downstream from the dam dramatically changed.
There was NO discussion of the power being produced and transported to cities like L.A. and Phoenix, or the indirect benefit of recreational activities like boating and fishing, not to mention flood control.

The expert volunteered to stay behind after her talk to answer questions the audience might have.
I asked, "The situation boils down to one problem, doesn't it?

There are WAY too many people in the world who require water and electricity. How does your organization intend to work for a solution to those problems"?

Stunned... like I had slapped her in the face...
Crickets.

But it's the truth, and it IS a problem we should be facing and educating the world about:
People consume stuff.
More people? More stuff consumed!

Be part of the solution-
Feel free to send this post to friends.

17 December 2017

Autonomous Vehicles

Up 'til recently, the idea of an autonomous vehicle has been anathema to me.
I like to drive... I'm an "enthusiast".
I've owned an Olds 442, a couple Corvettes, and a few Sporty sedans to include our latest... a Taurus SHO.

I LOVE the feeling of pressing your right foot to the floor and having the "G Forces" press your body against the seatback.
And I have never understood anyone who thinks a Toyota Prius makes a good primary mode of transport.
But I'm ready to admit something-
I hate long trips.

We've just finished a stay of two months in Destin, FL.
We love Destin, and have had a wonderful stay.

But loading our 250cc Piaggio MP3 into the back of our Cummins/Ram truck and driving the 11 hours each way is something I have grown to despise.
We came home for a few days to take care of a few "Honey-do's", and plan to leave soon to begin our Winter stay with our son in Gilbert, AZ. That drive will take 22+ hours. We have reserved motel stays in Edmond, Oklahoma and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and hope to arrive in Arizona on the third day of the drive.

IF-
We had the ability to rent a motor home that we could program to autonomously make the drive while we sat in the rear reading a good book, fixing meals, and using the bathroom facilities without stopping, I would be ecstatic.
And looking into my crystal ball I see our society moving in that direction whether we like it or not.

I will mourn the loss of freedom when human error makes slipping behind the wheel, putting your right foot firmly against the floorboard demanding the horses under the hood press your backside into the seat a "danger to the rest of society".
But I absolutely will NOT miss the long days driving down a boring slab of concrete to get somewhere you MUST be on a date certain.

I take comfort in the fact it will take tree-huggers a while longer to automate motorcycles...
And, thank Goodness they accelerate fast enough to satisfy my inner hooligan for the rest of my driving days!

"James, we'd like to go to Gilbert, AZ!"

11 December 2017

The World Is A Mess. But It Could be SO Much Worse!

Global warming is man caused.
Humankind's pollution is poisoning our air, our water, and our food.

How wonderful that Stalin killed 12 million vermin.
Mao killed over 45 million.
Hitler probably killed 8 million+.
Planned Parenthood has contributed to untold numbers of deaths.
(Sources I checked indicate these numbers are horribly conservative.)

Think what a poisoned, weatherweird world we'd be living in if all these people (and their offspring) had survived.

(Sarc button off.)

07 November 2017

Destin, November 2017

We've now been back in Destin a couple weeks...
Good food; good weather; GREAT view.

My reclining chair is situated so that I can turn my head slightly to the left to watch TV, or slightly to the right and view the Gulf of Mexico.
Life is tough.

I've been wondering something for some time now and was reminded of my question this morning-
I watched as a Pelican soared by, then turned back, circled with his/her head cocked toward the inside of the circle and downward, then abruptly descended and crashed into the water with a big splash.
It sat on the water a few seconds, gathered itself up, flapped its big wings and paddled with big webbed feet, then took off to repeat this maneuver somewhere else down the coast.

To my good friend from Boeing-
Why can we not consult with the Pelican's designer and build aircraft to withstand these kinds of forces?
:>)

28 October 2017

SR-71's, U-2's, And...

It's time to reveal a little something about myself.
Most folks are aware of the famous U-2 that caused a big kerfuffle during the Eisenhower administration (and is still being flown today in updated form).
Few know that I actually have flown the FABULOUS U-3 ! 
Please, try to contain your excitement.

22 October 2017

Playing Cards, Balloons, and Vocalizations.

First question-
Did you ride a bicycle as a kid?
I did. 

I had a Newspaper route and measured that I rode at least 9 miles per day.

Second question-
Did you find ways to make your bicycle sound as if it had a motor?
Again, I did.
Our gang found that if we bought a bag of penny balloons, blew one up and attached it to the front wheel in such a way that it would rub against the bike's spokes, it would make a sound that surprisingly imitated an engine. The faster we pedaled, the more it sounded like a motorcycle going fast. Friction and heat would eventually fatigue the balloon and pop it, but for about three minutes we were pumping away with smiles on our faces.

Third question-
How many of you that answered affirmatively to questions one and two ended up actually owning a motorcycle as soon as you could buy one?

I did.