18 January 2020

Cutty Sark

Long-term readers know I had a "frequently strained" relationship with my Dad.
But I loved and respected him and knew the feeling was mutual. Whenever I could do something nice for either of my parents and it was feasible, I did it.
Dad was good with his hands. Among the many things he did well was assembling something useful out of a bunch of pieces.

Just home from Viet Nam, I was in the Post Exchange and saw a nice, big model of the beautiful British "Clipper ship", the "Cutty Sark".
You've seen images of her... trim, fast looking, (and she WAS fast).  I knew Dad would enjoy building the kit, so I bought the model and made a present of it to him when I was home on leave.
Months later on my next trip home I had no doubt he'd have the kit assembled. And of course, he did.
Beautiful. It sat prominently and proudly displayed on top of the TV in my family's living room.
It sat there for several years, (gathering dust :>) )

Some years later I came home in Spring and Cutty Sark was no longer on top of the TV.
"Hey Dad... what happened to the Cutty Sark?"
"We had the windows open to let the warm Spring breeze through the house. Cutty Sark sailed off the edge of the earth!"

Fitting, I think.
She was a thing of beauty, designed to catch the wind.
And she died doing what she loved.

16 January 2020

Management Material ?

My son had an acquaintance that lived nearby.
I didn't like him much. He just gave me a "negative vibe".
Unemployed for an extended period of time, when I asked him what was goin' on with his job search he replied, "I'm management material. I won't take a job just flippin' burgers".
His Mother died. The family sued the Doctor and got a multi-million$ settlement. The money is in a trust.
Management? Indeed.

So then, as I frequently do these days, I started comparing my life to the life of kids today.
I became a "manager" at age 20 when I graduated OCS.
I certainly thought I was "management material". Obviously, lots of other folks thought so too.
How much managerial knowledge can a 20-year old kid have?
Upon reflection... in my defense, I DO think I was a better candidate to manage others than my son's friend would have been. And I think I MOSTLY made decisions based on common sense. I have no horrible memories related to poor decisions I made.
Thank God.

In 2008 we elected a Junior Senator from Illinois with virtually NO management experience to the highest, most important post in the world, simply because of his skin color.
Many heroes are dead because of his poor decision making.
I wonder if he has nightmares about them?

04 January 2020

Woman in Gold

^ That's the title of the movie I watched last night. I recommend it.
 Here are the details
if you're interested. (I LOVE Helen Mirren!)

Based mostly on a true story, at the end of the movie there's a statement that over 100,000 priceless art objects stolen by the Nazis have not been returned to their rightful owners.

I read a book some years back about what happened to the Japanese when (Democrat!) FDR forced them into concentration camps.
They too, for the most part, lost all their worldly goods.
Is there a "Restitution" movement ongoing for the Japanese too?

01 January 2020

Is That All There Is?

My title is an old Peggy Lee song. Haven't heard it? Go look it up.

Retirement is... okay.
I loved my job and hated to leave it. But there comes a point (more than once in my case) where regulations have ruined things in my life, and I had to move on.
When you begin to feel like someone is constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for you to make a mistake so they can terminate you from the workplace, it's time to move on.
Luckily, "moving on" in my case meant I could REALLY move on.
I retired in 2013.

But I loved the old job and loved the satisfaction I felt from doing what I thought was "God's work" and receiving a paycheck for it.
I'm not certain I'm over it yet. But my dreams of work happen less and less during the night now, (and they were always stressful anyway so I'm glad!) And I finally realized sitting in a chair with the remote all my waking hours was going to add so many pounds to my frame it would kill me, so Sara Jean and I share a couple hours a day
walking/talking/listening to "Oldies Radio" to keep "Mr. Cardiovascular Problem" as far away as possible. (We recommend it.)

Three years now we've spent the Winter in the Phoenix area. It's obvious to us now why many come here as "Snowbirds". Once in a great while the temperature will reach 39 degrees F. But even then the temp will rise to the mid 50's during the day.
Rain? In the three+ months we were here last year it rained three days. And those days were not bitterly cold.
It's wonderful here during the Winter. But I am BORED STIFF. You can only ingest so much irritating news before either going crazy, or relieving stress by SHOUTING AT THE TV!
I've done a lot of shouting at the TV.

There was a "Jiffy Lube" coupon in the Sunday paper last year offering a semi-synthetic oil and filter change, up to five quarts, for $19.99. We "do-it-yourselfers" know that's a darned good deal.
So I took our son's truck and had the Jiffy Lube people do the job. While in the waiting room we noticed the "Help Wanted" sign on the front door, and I asked the manager, "Could I, as a Snowbird, apply"?
And he quickly said "Sure!"

So I stopped by that store last week, got a job application, filled it out, and turned it in the next day.
I hope for a response tomorrow.
How much work will they offer? How much will the job pay?
I don't really care.
I just want to do something... anything... that needs doin' and will put a smile on my face.

Wish me luck.

30 December 2019

Music's Impact

I'm in a melancholy mood. A family emergency is unfolding.
My Bride and Son are in Chicago, providing comfort and support to my extended family.
I'm left alone in Arizona caring and supporting our aged pup, Lucy.

At times like these my mind thinks of songs that fit my mood.
Today, this piece by Elton John is one of those.
I had never researched the situation that motivated him to write it.
If you are interested, the story is HERE.

22 December 2019

I got home from Viet Nam late in 1969.
At some point soon afterwards I saw these guys sing this song at a club in my hometown of Indy.
I'm a free speech kinda guy. I think you ought to be able to say whatever you want, however you want, so long as speechifyin' is all you do.
I'm not positive what these guys are trying to say. I suspect in 1969 they were trying to convey some sort of anti-war sentiment. But the tune has stuck with me all these years to the point that when I'm in a club with a good bluegrass/country band and they ask for requests, I ask them to sing "Two Hangmen".
Most bands know of it.
Most of 'em won't do it, claiming it has "Too many words!"

For some reason it's been on my mind all day. So I thought I'd share it with you to see if I can get it out of my head.
Hope you enjoy it.

07 December 2019

Pearl Harbor and Dad, Redux

I almost never repeat an old post.
Today I'll make an exception; I first published this in 2005:

My Dad was born on 7 December 1921.
So had he lived, he would have been 84 today. Dad started smoking when he was 13 or so, and succumbed to lung cancer two years ago.
He was truly a part of what we now call "The Greatest Generation."

Dad had joined the Indiana National Guard when he was 19. When the news came on his 20th birthday that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, I wonder what he thought about this surprise birthday present?
At 20, I suspect he was frightened, but like most of his generation, knew there was a job that needed doin' and was ready to get to work.

My Dad was typical of many Dads of that era. He didn't talk a lot about what happened to him during the war, but in the jewelry box I had found the Purple Heart and knew my old man was special. He was like that about life too.
He didn't brag. He was not formally educated, but he was the type of guy the neighbors would bring their broken appliances to because they knew if Greybeard's Dad couldn't fix it, it was genuine junk!

He was a carpenter, mechanic, bricklayer, roofer, electrician, concrete finisher... you name it, he could do it, and he could do it better than average.

I was proud of him for a thousand reasons.

When I reached manhood, I started hugging him and telling him THE WORDS.
You know "THE WORDS" don't you?
He was uncomfortable saying them, as were all the macho guys of his generation. And because he was uncomfortable, I was too... at first.

But over the years, the hugs and the words came more easily, 'til finally he was the hugger, and I was the huggee...
and he freely said THE WORDS...
"I love you."
I was glad I had made him uncomfortable for a little while.

So now you know, for our family this day is important for more than bombs and battleships, although we had family directly under the bombs on the West Virginia at Pearl, too.

I'd like you to share the importance of this day and honor my Dad by being the hugger.
Give all those you love a hug for me today, please, and say THE WORDS.

I know my old man would like that.
Happy Birthday Dad.
I love you.

30 November 2019

"Smart" TV's

"In America you watch TV. In Russia, TV watches us!"

Now our cell phones, TV's, and Alexa watch (and listen intently) to us.
And we gladly subsidize it.

26 November 2019


We are in Destin, Florida.
If you've never visited here, you should put it on your "list". The beaches are the color of driven snow, and the water changes color with the angle of the sun or coverage by clouds, but is almost always some spectacular shade of green.

Destin is located about midway 'twixt Pensacola and Panama City, Florida.
U.S. Highway 98 connects the three.
Forecast temperature today was 75 and mostly sunny. I had an errand I needed to do in Pensacola for a friend, and decided it'd be a great day to get the Piaggio MP3 out and exercise its legs.

I took 98 West to the beach town of Navarre, then dropped South a little and picked up the coastal road that skirts the Gulf all the way to Pensacola. That road takes you through the "Gulf Islands National Seashore". It runs through dunes, with now-and-then glimpses of the Gulf, and is a reminder of what this area must have looked like before man started building houses and condos everywhere near the water. Again... spectacular.

Navarre is 30 miles from where we're staying in Destin. The ride was as our weathergirl had predicted... mid-70's temps and mostly sunny.
And then my lifelong irritation with weather prognosticators struck again. Fairly thick clouds that had formed over the water Southwest of me moved overhead, and started spitting at me. The wind got chilly. Stupid me... I didn't bring coat OR rain gear. I hunkered down behind the windscreen and soldiered on.

I rode through Pensacola Beach. The rain stopped. As I made my way further North- inland, the temperature rose and my ride became comfortable again.
I completed my errand for my friend.

Pensacola has a park dedicated to Veterans on property within sight of the Gulf, just Southeast of the old part of the city. It's a quiet, beautiful setting.
One of the memorials there has a Marine "Cobra" helicopter on a pedestal, overlooking a miniature version of the Viet Nam Wall, complete with all the names inscribed on it. I've passed this park many times while visiting the area, but never stopped.
Today, I remedied that.

When I visited the Wall in Washington, D.C., I was surprised at my reaction-
I couldn't stop myself... started to cry.
Today, alone, under clouds and the threat of rain, my personal rain began again.
I don't know how anyone can look at 58,000 names etched into that black edifice and remain dry eyed.


25 November 2019

"Can You Hear Me NOW?"

We continually hear our cell phones have "some order of magnitude" more computing power than was available on Apollo 11.
Watching my son use his Apple device, I know that to be true.
I want my phone to make and receive calls...
How much "computing power" do I need?