13 May 2022

Box Cars


 

Circa 2001-
Dad and I were sitting on the balcony in Destin, Florida enjoying the view of the Gulf of Mexico.
We were separated from the beautiful turqouise-colored water by the "Scenic Gulf Highway"... the old U.S. Hwy 98 used mostly now by folks staying in condos along the beach.
Dad said, "Start watching. All the vehicles are either Minivans, Pickup trucks, or SUV's."
And he was right. Now and then in that neighborhood a Lamborghini or Ferrari would pass. But the VAST majority of traffic was one of the three types of vehicles Dad had mentioned.
And the only differences in the appearance of the S.U.V's manufactured by different factories was the color and the size. They all shared the shape of a cardboard box on wheels.
I would challenge ANYONE to be able to tell a Ford from a Chevy, a Nissan from a Toyota or Honda.

We've grown to be like soldiers in uniform, and marvel when we see a classic car like those pictured- beautiful, and distinctive from a mile away.

I miss my youth.


05 May 2022

February, 1969

This "thing" in Ukraine troubles everyone, I'm sure.
But I suspect it tightens my gut more than others. War is a BAD thing. I wish we humans could realize that the money spent and human treasure lost just isn't worth it. How much better would our world be if the resources spent to prosecute violence on our neighbors was spent doing GOOD in the world?
Where would Germany and Japan be today if they had devoted all that money spent pursuing world dominance in 1940 to simply producing great machines the rest of the world wanted and needed?
But then I remember that Karen gets in my face when I don't wear a face mask.
How in the world can I expect all of us to get along when we cannot even agree on the simple stuff?

The people of Ukraine go to bed at night and hear the sounds I heard in Chu Lai, Viet Nam in 1969.
A 105mm howitzer makes a BIG noise twice... once when the shell is fired, and again when that shell reaches its destination. Hearing it often, you learn pretty much to ignore the sound. That is "Outgoing", and even though it is very loud, you get accustomed to the more muffled sound because of the distance between you and the artillery battery.
Now the sound of 122mm rockets falling all around you? That's a different sound altogether. It is ear-splitting! It is a sound that makes you realize you may not survive the next minute.
And I fear THAT is the sound many of those residents of Kiev remaining in their homes are dealing with.
My heart aches for those people

This situation is not good for the people of Ukraine. It is not good for the people of Russia. It is unsettling for the entire world.

"Someone" needs to step up and read up about the failure of "Valkyrie", and make the world a better place.
And... SOON, please.

I want my heart to stop hurting.


02 May 2022

Auto Parts

The little town we now live in has a population of... 6,000, down from a peak of 7,000 before all of our industry closed down. While Real Estate BOOMS in much of the rest of the country, our community is in the doldrums.
And that's okay.

We have a WalMart, a Pizza Hut, a Mickey D's, decent Mexican and Chinese restaurants and three "Mom and Pop" eateries. Our cost of living is NOT through the roof.
It's a good place to live.

My question today is about parts for automobiles-
We also have an "Autozone", an "Oh-Oh-Oh O'Reilly's" and on our Main Street we have an inconspicuous "Bumper to Bumper" store.
South of town, not far from Autozone, they've just opened a "NAPA" store.

How many Parts stores can a town of 6K people support?
I guess we're about to find out.

27 April 2022

Heroes and Villains


Nineteen times I made the trip from Torrance, California back to the Midwest in a small helicopter.
Every time I made that trip I would marvel at the number of those wind turbines there were on hilltops and ridgelines along that route. Where there is one of 'em, there are HUNDREDS.
I have no idea what they cost, ($$$$$!) but I always wondered how long it would take for the energy they produce to recoup your initial outlay on one of them.
(And that doesn't take into consideration the amount of money you'll spend maintaining the eyesore so you don't get the result shown in the image.)

I've seen photos of them burying LOTS of the rotor blades because (like the old Soviet-era "Trabant") there is apparently no way to recycle the materials the things are made of.

I can't help worrying that so much of this solar/wind energy stuff is gonna bite us in our derriere in the long-term.

You jump.
I'll watch and learn.



23 April 2022

Back To Work!

Retirement!
How many of us look forward to it... scrimp, save, juggling investments around to maximum benefit for that day we can "Hang up the wings" and relax and do only what we wanta do?
That was me.
I started investing in Mutual Funds in 1970. I was initially conservative with my money, then after researching I realized that the market was volatile and there was a way to take advantage of that volatility long-term.
So I did.

I was investing on my own. When IRA's, 403b's and 401k's became available to me I took full advantage of 'em.
And when my company offered me an ESOP I was excited. I watched as my "ownership" of the company grew and made me feel rich.
I began to feel really comfortable with what my life would be like in retirement.
And then the bottom fell out of the bucket.

The financial institution that had initially valued the assets of the company that we employees purchased suddenly realized they had NO expertise in valuing something like a helicopter.
And we employees owned 15 of 'em.
The valuation of the stock we employees owned suddenly dropped to 10% of the initial valuation.
I was no longer headed toward a millionaire retirement, but I was still gonna be okay.
And I am. My investments, coupled with my Social Security and ARMY pension make life in retirement...comfortable.
So retirement? It ain't horrible.
But...

I've been retired 9 years now. We've been traveling. When I reflect on the places we've been in the world I'm pretty amazed, actually.
It's been wonderful.
We've had the luxury of getting away from "The Great White North" during Winters, and that is something I've ALWAYS craved to do.
I've had the ability to buy and enjoy nice toys.
Still... retirement, as I had imagined it, has left a LOT to be desired.

My dream was that it would be all flowers, warm breezes, and all the Pina Coladas I could drink.
Much of that part of it has come true. But I forgot about "purpose".
In my job as EMS helicopter pilot I frequently was involved helping people often having the absolute WORST DAY of their lives.
And my part of that day... helping to make their lives better... was important. Many times my part of that day meant the difference between life or death.
I knew that while I was doing the job. What I did not realize was  how much I would miss that feeling of satisfaction when I retired.
So for nine years I have reflected on having what I felt might be the "best job I ever had", wondering what I might do to fill the void I was feeling.

I've found something that helps:
I took a job with our local "Meals on Wheels" organization delivering food to people in need. Several of the folks that receive our meals would go hungry for the day if we did not deliver the Noon meal.
For my work I am paid "minimum wage".
I don't care.
(Don't tell anyone, but I'd likely do it for no pay at all.)
I'm needed.
And that feeling is worth more than any dollar value.

Are you getting ready to retire?
How do you feel about your work?
Let's talk about what happens to your life when you're spending a lot of time in a recliner, pressing buttons on a remote control!



20 April 2022

Neurologic Testing

I took Sara Jean into Big Town yesterday for follow-up testing on her condition.
The results? Our "experts" say she has "mild impairment" and is slightly worse than she was during testing six months ago.
We sorta knew that before we went to the trouble to drive 90 minutes to chat with the experts.
I (we) have noticed degradation in memory; navigation; and mood.
And of course the realization that things are getting worse does NOT help the atmosphere in our home.

We still have no diagnosis. And if, as we suspect, the problem is Lewy Body Dementia, the only time we will have firm knowledge of the problem is when her brain is cut into very thin slices and shows the signs of Lewy Bodies.
Right now our experts will only go so far as to say they think the problem is "dementia".
Thanks a lot.
We sorta knew that already.

All this stuff is stressful. Sara Jean hates it because she realizes she's not faring well in the testing.
I hate it because when she is under great stress and "Momma ain't happy", our household is an unhappy one.
The drive to Big Town is unpleasant. We reminded our experts of that fact, and the light bulb went off:
"We can do the next testing virtually if you would like."
"Yes... we would like."
I don't think it will change much of the pre-testing stress, but it will keep me from being aggravated with Joe Biden when I fill up my fuel tank after burning three hours of fuel.

We cannot know exactly what we face in the future, but we have a pretty good idea. And this is not at all where we expected to be when we reached this point in our lives.

"Spring is sprung. The grass is riz."
It's time to wake the new RV and start making some memories.

I know I'll remember them.
I'm not sure Sara Jean will.
We need a miracle.



15 April 2022

Ballistic Info:



A few years back I bought one o' those suckers.
Chambered for .45 Long Colt OR .410 shotgun, I then bought "defense" shotgun shells for the thing.
I asked a "firearm savvy" E.R. Doc friend of mine what he thought of the thing. His reply?
"If you shoot someone with it, shoot 'em in the FACE!"
Humanitarian, my friend the Doc.

My question? If I shoot someone with the .45 Long Colt, the ballistic signature of that round will be traceable.
What about the shot shell? If I "shoot someone in the face" with the .410, is there a ballistic footprint that can be traced?

13 April 2022

Oxen. Submarines. Jelly Beans. And "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?":


 

Watching this video will require 26 minutes of your life.
I believe you'll find it is worth that expense.

03 April 2022

"Government Run"

I knock on the door, then knowing she's expecting me to walk in so she doesn't have to struggle to the door with her walker, I greet her cheerfully as I can; lay her lunch on the table between her and her TV, and try to extricate myself as quickly as possible because I have 25 more "clients" to serve.
This is difficult because I think I may be the only human contact she has on days I deliver.

I've now been delivering "Meals on Wheels" six weeks and my experience has been just about as I imagined:
There are folks that really need the service.
And there are folks that are taking advantage by "gaming the system".

The above-mentioned lady lives in a house in serious disrepair. It's dangerous to walk across her wooden porch to her front door. I'm sure her roof probably leaks.
But some of the homes where I deliver are beautiful and well maintained, with two nice cars in the carport. Why are we delivering meals to these people?
And this is the problem with all these Socialist government-run programs, isn't it?

Yes, we need a safety net for the folks Jesus Christ would have cared for.
But when I'm elected "King of the World" I'll be making some BIG changes in this program.