24 December 2018

A Baby Is Born!

I've always been one to listen to lyrics. If you suffer from this same affliction and, like me, enjoy a "seasonal boost", I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did: 

23 December 2018

Shade-Tree Mechanics, R.I.P.

Points. Plugs. Condensor.
Change the oil and filter.
I grew up twisting wrenches on my own car and these were tasks I did myself, with SOME frequency.
I lift the hood on our Ford Taurus and the entire engine is covered with a big piece of plastic.
You cannot SEE the engine. (And even if ya could, there are no points and condensor... They've been replaced by electronic ignition.)

There is no carburetor to adjust...
Instead, fuel injection feeds the engine and the whole shebang is controlled by something called the "Engine Control Module".
There ARE still sparkplugs buried under that cover somewhere... 

and I DO mean buried, with their own individual "coils"... another thing that once sat on top of the engine in plain sight and also needed changing "back when", if only once in a Blue Moon.

The Yamaha Super Tenere I left here in Phoenix for my son to ride now has 25,000+ miles on its bones. Last week it failed to start when called upon. We were three days away from arriving in Phoenix for Winter, so I advised him I'd have a look when I got here.
Like the Taurus, the bike is fuel-injected and has electronic ignition. So I knew there'd be precious little I could check in hopes of making it spring to life.
But I did figure maybe the spark plugs were the problem, and since it only has a two-cylinder engine how hard could it possibly be to remove and replace the spark plugs on the beast?

First, you must remove the plastic covers that inevitably hide all the workings of all machines these days.
Having done that, I found you CANNOT see the spark plugs. 

So I resorted to "YouTube" for an education.
Remove the plastics. Remove the 6-gallon gas tank and the big air cleaner it covers. Then, there beneath lots of wiring and plumbing reside the plugs, (FOUR of 'em!)  with their special whats-it attachments (?) on top, (and don't those 'cause they're VERY expensive.)

I surrendered.
The bike is at the Yamaha dealership for repair.
Of course, since I can't do it myself, the bill will be $$$$$$$$$$.

22 December 2018

Entertainment Overload

Growing up in the mesozoic era we were forced to adjust the "Rabbit Ears" antenna to receive channels 4, 6, 8, and 13. 
I can remember turning on the TV early in the morning when the only signal being broadcast was a "test pattern". If we weren't particularly interested in programming being offered at a certain time we'd watch anyway... something was better than nothing, right?

Fast forward to today.
Here in our Winter quarters we have "Dish Network" satellite TV.
We get 40 or so channels snatched from the air via our attached  "Terk" antenna, (although about 18 of 'em speak in a tongue I no habla.)
Via our Roku, we get Hulu, Sling, Newsmax, CRTV, Blaze TV, (those last two have merged now), Netflix, Prime Video, and a number of others.
It's overwhelming.

And the most ironic thing of all?
Sometimes I flip through all of it and can't find anything I'm really interested in watching.
So I read a book or magazine.

20 December 2018

Obama Legacy

Losing the Black Panther polling place case by default.
World apology tour.
"The cops acted stupidly."
IRS/Lois Lerner scandal.
Using govt. assets to pursue the Associated Press and James Rosen.
Withdrawing troops from Iraq against the advice of military leadership, then having to return.
"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon Martin."
"Al Qaeda is dead."
"ISIS is the Junior Varsity."
Ft. Hood massacre- "Workplace violence", not terrorism.
The idea of a "Calliphate" coming to fruition is ridiculous.
"Our Southern border is more secure than it has ever been."
"Russia is no threat."
"Tell Vladimir I'll have more flexibility after the election."
"You didn't build that!"

I'm sure my list is incomplete.
Can you add to it?

26 November 2018

The Jaguar

It was so beautiful, I was thunderstruck the first time I saw one...
The Jaguar XKE.
Compared to this rolling work of art, everything else looked like a cardboard box.
Of course, I couldn't afford it.

Years pass.
In early 1968 I'm in primary flight school at Ft. Wolters, TX. One of my classmates owns a '66 Corvette convertible. He likes his car but itches for a change. That's when, in a parking lot, we saw the '64 Jaguar XKE.
Then we saw the owner...
A cute secretary working on the base. The Jag gave him a perfect way to approach her.
"How do you like your Jag?"

She liked the car just fine, but the maintenance and parts situation for the car were a constant hassle.
"I own a Corvette. Would you be interested in working a trade?"
She was. They did.
During the negotiations he started dating her.
Before we departed Ft. Wolters, they married.
And he got his 'Vette back.

Have you looked at the price of XKE's lately?

09 November 2018


In my mid-teens my best friend's Dad had a '53 Ford F-100 pickup truck. It was all black and had a 239 cubic inch Flathead V-8 engine and a "three on the tree" standard transmission. It was simple and sorta elegantly classic.
I lusted after it.

We are in Destin. A couple we have met here for several years showed up again last week in their new Chevy Silverado pickup. It's beautiful. It's all bling and chrome.
It is NOT simple, or elegantly classic. What it IS, is HUGE.

My mind went back to friend Steve's Dad's sweet '53 F-100...
Parked next to this Silverado it would look like a compact.
And, I think, in most circumstances it would draw more admirers.
Is bigger ALWAYS better?

31 October 2018


Several months back I made the mistake of completely resetting my computer.
In doing so, I lost many of the tools I use because I didn't record passwords. I was able to recover many of them, but my old Juno email account wanted $$$$ to send me my password, and I had been toying with the idea of letting that account die anyway because they charged an annual fee.
IF you were someone I used to correspond with via email, I have lost your address.
Please establish a new pathway with me by emailing me at Olddad65athotmail.com.
I'll delete this post after a short period of time.

15 September 2018

Getting Home, 2018

We boarded the taxi at Ciampino airport to make our way to our evening quarters near the "Leonardo Da Vinci" airport without first insuring the driver accepted credit cards. She had informed us the ride would take about 45 minutes and would cost us about 80 Euros (!).
Ten minutes into the ride we realized we should first have asked about the payment options.
She wanted cash. We had 20 Euros between us.
"I can take you to an ATM" she said. Sara Jean had never used an ATM. And ME? That's me sitting just behind the driver, pained look on my face, with the cast on my right leg and crutches at my side.
I was proud of my wife when she emerged from the strange location with enough cash in hand to get us to our destination.

The Bed and Breakfast was clean, more than adequate, and the lady running it was wonderful. We paused for a moment to drink a bottle of water, then Big Bubba wanted to show us a place he had eaten at before during an earlier visit to Rome. He called an Uber and we soon found ourselves eating REAL Italian food in the shadow of the Coliseum. We returned to the B&B tired to the bone, chatted for a few minutes, then went to bed knowing we had to be up and headed to the airport by 0400.

Having a broken ankle when flying is amazing.
They bring you a wheelchair. You go to the head of the line for boarding passes; to go through security, and then they load you onto a "lift truck" to get you aboard the airplane.
We felt like Royalty... with a broken leg.
Rome to Copenhagen... Copenhagen to Reykavik.
A three hour layover for our flight home gave us time to get a bite and be entertained, watching Icelanders and tourists scurry around. From Iceland we flew with "WOW" Airlines... never heard of 'em, but the flight was comfortable and the crew was attentive to my special needs. The flight on WOW got us home in 7 hours... exhausted again.

So, wrapping up, what can we share with ya?
When we booked the cruise I was hesitant to buy the travel insurance. $532 seemed pretty steep for something I'd probably not need. My agent cautioned me... "You'll be a long way from home, dealing with many things you can't imagine." I told her to add it to the bill. That 5 hundred dollar expenditure has now saved us almost $25,000. Buy the insurance!

Greece is exotic. The food and people are wonderful. But in Athens, there is graffiti on every available surface. In places there is graffiti on graffiti.
There are almost as many mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles as there are cars. Traffic can be heart-stopping.
When I fell in Santorini and realized I'd need medical care I was naturally concerned. I should not have been... my care there was "top drawer". Only after I thought about it a while did I remember that Hippocrates was Greek.

We want to go back.
But I hate the idea of being trapped on a piece of pipe with attached wings for more than five hours.
We may take a boat next time.
And I'll not hesitate to buy the travel insurance.

07 September 2018

When in Rome-

Our cruise of the Greek islands was interrupted when I compound-fractured my right ankle.
Because of this, I spent a week in a hospital in Athens, and got WONDERFUL care there. But we were instantly kicked off the cruise ship when I was injured, halfway through the planned cruise.
Our son, once the dust settled and he realized I was gonna be okay, figured, "I'm in Europe. I'm gonna go see some stuff I've always wanted to see here." So off he went to Malta, then to Zurich where he rented a car and toured the Alps.
Before I broke my ankle our plan was to disembark the boat in Rome, spend a few days in Italy, then fly home from there. My hospital stay used up all the time Sara Jean and I had hoped to spend in Northern Italy. But we still needed to get to Rome to use the flight reservations we had made to use after the cruise ended.

We landed at Rome's Ciampino airport two hours before our son's pending arrival, so with me still hobbling awkwardly on crutches when I wasn't being pushed around in an airport wheelchair, we went to the restaurant to get a bite to eat while we waited on his arrival.

When Big Bubba called to say he had arrived we gave him instructions to meet us in the restaurant and waited. And waited. And waited.
He called again to make sure he had gotten correct directions.
And we waited to see him. And waited.

It turns out, Rome has TWO airports...
Ciampino and Leonardo Da Vinci.
We were separated by an hour's drive.

While we hired a taxi to meet him, Big Bubba went to the Bed and Breakfast he had reserved for us near the Leonardo Da Vinci airport.

And I found out being on crutches makes ALL movement a pain in the butt.

17 August 2018

Dr. George

My Greek Surgeon's name was George Papagiandopolous.
Dr. George was proud of his skills. He asked where we were from, then related that he comes to the U.S. every two years to attend Ortho refresher courses.
"I've been to San Diego, San Antonio, and Chicago", he said proudly.

We were sorta in a pinch. In order to use the reservations we had originally made for getting home from our cruise we needed to depart Athens for Rome on Thursday. Dr. George was concerned about flying with my fresh injury.
His worry was that I'd form an air bubble that would travel through my bloodstream and cause problems. With my EMS experience I knew this to be a valid fear...
Anytime we had embolism patients on board my helicopter, we tried to transport the patient at the lowest safe altitude. 
Doc George came into our room and said he'd allow the flight, but he wanted to be sure we were aware of the risks. He discussed what we should do if I had serious breathing problems in flight, then gave us warfarin (blood thinner) tablets, and four syringes of blood thinning liquid in case the worst happened. To Sara Jean he said in Greek accented but perfectly understandable English-
"If he begins to have difficulty breathing, inject him with one of the syringes and call me IMMEDIATELY, no matter what!"

Then he said "Let's take a group photo!", and gave his camera to one of the technicians to take a photo of he, Sara Jean, one of my Nurses, and me. 
I now wish I had asked him for a copy of that photo!

 The gal from Accounts Receivable came in to discuss payment of our bill.
"You cannot be discharged until your bill is paid in FULL."
Wow. Could I be held prisoner in this Athens hospital?
"How much do we owe?"
"22,000 Euros" she said with a smile.

I called my Credit Card issuer and checked on my available credit. I explained the situation and said, "I need to extend that if possible".
And, thank Goodness, we could.

Thursday morning I was wheeled to the front door. We hailed a cab and I awkwardly "crutched" my way into it. We then drove to the hotel Sara Jean had been staying in while I was recovering. We ate a great meal at the rooftop restaurant which also had a view of the Acropolis, and watched as a Thunderstorm crackled its way over the city dumping quite a bit of rain. The motorscooters and cycles continued to ply the streets as if weather was fine.

The flight Thursday morn to Rome was uneventful, except I was moved everywhere in a wheelchair by an airport employee and we went to the head of the line for everything... tickets, security, and after the flight, baggage claim. I'll have more to say about this in a later post.

We landed at Rome's Ciampino airport two hours before our son's scheduled arrival, so we went to the airport restaurant for lunch while we waited.
And at this point, we begin another adventure.

25 July 2018

Help! Part VII

My two friends from Physical Therapy showed up every day for the rest of my stay at the "Central Clinic of Athens". A guy and a gal, neither was a fluent English speaker, so trying to tell me how to coordinate my movements and use correct posture to keep me from busting my butt was almost laughable.
But practice makes perfect and I got better with the crutches on a daily basis.

My private balcony with the view of the Acropolis beckoned. But there was an obstacle-
There was a four-inch elevated sill at the bottom of the sliding door that I had to negotiate in order to get onto the patio.
It's hard to describe the scenario now. I'd been flat on my back for almost a week. My right foot is painfully swollen; traumatically injured. The leg I now must depend on is NOT my dominant leg, and it is weak from a week of inactivity.
The first time I attempted the trip to the patio my 

Physical Therapy friends suggested it. They knew how hard this short journey would be for me. To accomplish the task 
I hobble over to, and open the sliding door. Now comes the hard part... coordinating what really amounts to a "hop" while putting almost no weight on my damaged ankle. The sill is about four inches wide. I'm advised to put my damaged right foot on the sill, then, supporting my weight on my crutches, use the damaged foot as a stabilizer while I use my arms/crutches to lift my left foot onto the sill and balance there. (Shaky!)
From there I place my aching right foot out onto the balcony and repeat the process to finish the trip. It's amazing how hard and scary it was.
But I did it. And each day it got easier and my confidence level improved.

Pain is a funny thing. Different folks experience it differently. When asked, I describe my pain as "more of an irritation" than real pain. At this point I'm still at about a 3 on a scale of ten. The liquid Tylenol continues to control my pain level well, but, trying to sleep, the irritation, coupled with the bulk of my new almost to the knee cast, keeps me from sleeping comfortably.

We had made reservations to fly out of Rome where we would have disembarked the ship had we completed our cruise. The Ortho Surgeon came in to discuss how I'm doing. He speaks nearly perfect English and wants to know where we're from. He brags about coming to the States to attend Ortho refresher courses every two years... San Antonio. Chicago. San Diego.
We like the guy. He's a little loud; confident.
My care in Greece has been wonderful, and I'm hopeful this guy has been good with his hands. He's concerned about me flying. "When do you need to leave?

Oooooh." (Lifts hand to chin and displays a worried look.) He's worried about my still-open wound throwing an embolism as possible gases there expand during our flight. "We'll talk about this later", he says.
We've been planning to fly to Rome at our scheduled time, reunite with Big Bubba, spend the evening, then fly home the next day.
Now we're worried that things might get complicated.

14 July 2018

Help! Part VI

"Painkiller", she announced as she approached the IV pole on my left. Four seconds after the fluid started dripping I could feel the coolness of it as it entered my bloodstream.
I was being fed, hydrated, sedated, through this line. My pain had been minimal. I wondered what medicine they were giving me for pain and the answer was "Paracetamol".
"Huh?" Whazzat?
Later when I could use my laptop I found out it was liquid acetaminophen... Tylenol.
When they asked I would rate my pain at "about a two or three" from a scale of ten. The Tylenol was working just fine.

My first night in the ICU after surgery I actually turned onto my right side comfortably. Pressing my head solidly against the bed I heard the whirring sound of an electric motor.
What the heck is that?
A day later I figured it out on my own... I was lying on an air mattress that automatically inflated and deflated different chambers to prevent bed sores. I was hearing the compressor whirring, doing its job, and doing it VERY well.

After two full days in the ICU I was moved upstairs to a private room. It had a regular hospital bed with IV pole alongside, and a mobile dinner platform from which I could eat regular solid food!
My room was on the sixth floor. The TV mounted to the far wall had about 15 channels, two of which were English, so we could understand what was being said. Local Greek TV carried LOTS of game shows like "Wheel of Fortune". It was fun to watch contestants get excited in Greek. Local news was interesting, but indecipherable. Later at night, a couple American action shows were broadcast in English... with Greek subtitles!
My adjacent bathroom had a toilet, sink, and shower, and against the wall had a desk and chair. Since I was forbidden to walk unassisted, this room went unused except for my sponge baths. Outside a sliding glass door from my bed was a great view of the Acropolis from about a half mile or so. At night those ruins were well lit... absolutely gorgeous!

Breakfast was toast with real butter, a boiled egg, juice, and tea or coffee. Simply being able to finally chew my food seemed wonderful. Lunch was normally soup, some sort of meat or chicken, more toast, and a couple slices of some sort of white cheese.
AND... a glass of wine. The first day Sara Jean watched me eat lunch, to my server she feigned regret that she too wasn't served wine. My attendant went immediately and got her a glass!

Every morning my foot felt better by a tiny fraction.
The third day a guy and gal came in and said, "We're from therapy. We teach you to use these..." and showed me the crutches that come halfway up your arms, ending around the elbow.
They assisted me in walking about ten feet, then turned me around. I wobbled.
Getting back into bed, I felt tired.
This is gonna be a long journey.

21 June 2018

Help! Part V

"Mr. David! Mr. David!"
A hand on my left shoulder gently shakes me.
I wake and through bleery eyes look at the big clock on the wall. It is 0530 hours. I've been asleep four and a half hours.
"We must clean you for surgery."

Off go the bedclothes. Off go my shirt, cargo shorts, and underwear.
Administering my "cleaning" are a man and woman that were working around the ICU when I first arrived.
I'm a modest guy. This is the first time I have been naked in the presence of a female involuntarily.
I am embarrassed. (I'll soon learn to get over it.)

They apparently have NO washcloths in all of Europe. They use a damp sponge with mild soap to cleanse my body, then wipe me down with a clean towel. I'm embarrassed to be nude, but being clean is still quite pleasant. When I am King of the world, I'll have nubile young women to bathe me all the time!

They bring in a gurney and I struggle to shift my body over onto it. I am wheeled to the O.R..
There are eight or so technicians bustling, (and I DO mean bustling. All were working efficiently, and obviously had specific jobs they were intent on doing.)
One of them produces a magic marker and, on my right leg, scribes an arrow point toward my ankle, the total length of my right thigh. I know WHY they do this, but still wonder about the intelligence of a professional that needs this kind of guidance to properly do this surgery.

A technician appears over my head with an oxygen mask. He informs me, "This is only oxygen", and puts the mask over my mouth and nose. Another technician on my right side, puts a syringe in my IV port. From previous colonoscopies I assume it is Propofol.
The next thing I hear is, "Mr. David! Mr. David! Wake up. It's over."

I feel no pain.
I am back in the ICU.
The big clock on the wall says it is 1100 hours.

Yes, I am relieved.

06 June 2018

Help! Part IV

My leg is throbbing, but I'm grateful I feel almost no pain... just discomfort.
I can see the "Azamara Journey" at anchor in the distance, but I'm not going there.
I'm awaiting some sort of boat to take me to another landing on the Island where an ambulance will meet me and take me to get the medical care I need.

One of the Tinders shows up and I am assisted aboard, Sara Jean at my side.
We motor close to shore for about 15 minutes, then I'm again assisted off the boat by the boat and ambulance crew. The ambulance crew seats me in a chair and literally lifts me into the ambulance, then secures the chair to the ambulance floor.

We start the uphill climb in the ambulance.
Similar to the stairs at Fira, only on a scale large enough for cars and trucks, the roadway zigzags back and forth up the cliff. From the landing to the top of the hill seems to take forever, although the total time lapsed was probably five minutes or so.
We arrive at the Clinic in Thira, Santorini, and I'm lifted out of the ambulance and wheeled in for a pretty thorough lookover after they have cleaned the wound...
X-rays of my leg from several angles. Blood samples. Chest X-ray.
Two Doctors here both speak decent English, thank God. 

This is just the beginning of what we can only call WONDERFUL medical care we received in Greece.

Big Bubba shows up at the Clinic with our luggage. When he went back to the ship they told him to pack all our bags and disembark. Our cabin attendant assisted him in this task. How he handled four fairly LARGE bags is beyond me!

The Clinic shows me the X-rays and tells me what I already know... I am seriously injured and will need surgery. Surgery is scheduled for 0700 hours the next morning.
They make reservations on Aegean Airlines on the next flight out for the three of us.
We get hugs and "Good Luck" wishes in English with heavy Greek accent from Doctors and technicians as we leave for the airport.

At the airport I am transferred into a regular wheelchair. My entire family gets priority treatment through security. A "High Lift" truck arrives and I am loaded aboard. The size of a small room, it lifts me and my wheelchair to the back door of the Airbus 320. The three of us are the last people to board the airplane and we occupy the last row of seats on the starboard side.

The flight to Athens takes 45 minutes. Another High Lift truck awaits us there. We are the last to disembark the airplane, and are once again given priority handling to pick up our bags.
I'm beginning to realize I might want to break a leg before I ever fly in another airliner...
Other than the "looks" I get from other passengers as we go "to the head of the line", this priority handling business is pretty neat!

I'm again lifted and secured in an ambulance and we motor half an hour to the "Central Clinic of Athens". The hospital is clean and bright. I'm taken to the ICU where they transfer me to a bed and establish an IV port on the backside of my hand through which to administer drugs.
Sara Jean and Big Bubba are allowed to come in individually to hug me, then depart for a hotel nearby.

They administer painkiller and, I'm certain, something to help me sleep.
It is 0100 hours.
And... I sleep better than I would have imagined.

To be continued.

24 May 2018

Help! Part III

"Are you okay?"
Some of these questions are asked by passersby who obviously don't speak English as a primary language.
I'm holding a napkin one of them offered against the wound. That napkin, and my right tennis shoe are rapidly filling with dark, burgundy-wine colored blood.
"No... I have no doubt I have broken my ankle."

One of the donkey teams passes by; the leader of the pack shouting at the animals to motivate them further down the cliff.
"Are you okay sir?", in heavily Greek accented English. I reply that I'm hurt.
"We will send someone to help", he says.

Another team of donkeys passes. A couple in that team stops, dismounts, and insists Sara Jean and I mount their animals. I'm worried about this...
One good leg. Probably, (almost certainly), in a mild state of shock. How safe can I be on this animal? How ironic would it be to mount up trying to head to safety, only to fall off the donkey's back and crash to the hard walkway below and further hurt myself?

We have sent Big Bubba ahead for help. I make the decision to mount up, and hope to meet litter carriers on their way up to fetch me. At least this donkey ride may help cut the rescue time somewhat.
The guy and his wife that originally rented the donkeys help Sara Jean and I climb aboard. I'm pleasantly surprised I can get on the animal's back. SJ has never ridden a horse, or a donkey, and she's no doubt more worried than me about this downhill trek.
My newfound rescuer stays alongside me, continually asking, "Do you feel faint? If you get light-headed you LET ME KNOW!" He's smart enough to know what a risk we're taking.
Sara Jean continues to make sounds like she's not at all happy to be aboard an animal that is just as unhappy to be headed downhill, away from its stable, food, and water.

We go downhill, turn, go downhill, turn, go downhill, turn...
I'm hanging on for dear life to a saddle that has no horn like I'm accustomed to on a horse. On this saddle there is a hole big enough to put both hands into to hold on. My strength is suspect.
I'm doin' the best I can.

Downhill, turn. Downhill, turn.
Finally we reach the water's edge. Thank Goodness there's a wall wide enough for me to dismount the animal. An argument ensues between the donkey leader and the folks that originally rented the animals... he wants to be paid again for his trouble. They refuse, telling him they already paid for the ride and they are NOT gonna pay again. Much shouting goes on for awhile, but my new American friends stand fast.
With help from two strong guys, I hop to a chair and sit down, just glad to be off the cliff.
A man introduces himself as "An agent of the boat". He says he'll help us to get the help we need.
Our luggage is still on the ship. We assume our son is headed back from the boat, having informed them of our situation. The "boat agent" informs us we are NOT going back to the ship; we are to be transported to a clinic in Santorini, then airlifted to a hospital in Athens.
Our wonderful cruise is over. They're throwing us off the ship.
(To be continued.)

22 May 2018

Help! Part Two-

(If you have not read part 1, scroll down and read the post below first.)

We had been sitting in the small, poorly ventilated cable car about half an hour. We'd hear a warning buzzer and the door would close, then almost immediately reopen. It was obvious something was wrong with the apparatus... not a confidence inspiring situation when your life depends on man-made stuff to work exactly as advertised.
Finally, an attendant came and said, "The lift is broken. You can wait for it to be fixed, or you can get a refund and choose another way down."
A special buffet dinner was set up for the evening on the ship and we had an hour to get back for it. The walk downhill on the steps would take 30 minutes. It was time to get going. So we got going.

The steps are wide. They consist of softball-sized stones embedded in concrete and are worn and slick in some places, but I felt no danger walking them. The view? Incredible. Our destination, the "Azamara Journey", lay peacefully anchored in the water  before us, looking like a toy ship from our perspective.
With the lift inoperable, lots of people were doing the same thing we were... hiking down. So there were lots of individuals on the steps combined with the up and down traffic of the donkey teams also carrying folks back to the tenders. It was busy, but still not worrisome. I couldn't keep my eyes off the view below. THIS experience was the entire reason we had scheduled this $$$$$ cruise!

There are places in the steps where repairs have been made and the edges of the steps have been rounded into slopes, rather than 90-degree edge steps.
I was an idiot. I was gawking at the beautiful sight below. I was NOT paying close attention to where my feet fell. I stepped on one of the "repairs" and felt my leg slip. My dominant (right) leg immediately got deployed to break my fall. What happened then seemed to unfold in slow motion-
I looked down at my right ankle just in time to see it turn to an angle no ankle should ever reach. At that point the skin separated enough I could see the ball exposed on the inside of the ankle, and a jagged piece of bone tearing the skin. Absolutely NO question... it was broken.
Still, you don't want to believe this is happening to you.
I tried to get to my feet. The right foot wobbled like a mechanic's universal joint.

I'm halfway down the long, long steps at Santorini with pedestrian and donkey traffic moving all around me. I cannot get down on my own. What happens now?
Will the ship or someone at the landing send a stretcher up to fetch me?
Will they send a donkey for me to ride down... with a bum foot and probably in a state of shock?
I'm angry about putting myself and my family in this situation.
I HATE being out of control.

But here I am... out of control.
(To be continued.)

Help! I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up!

Just getting to the Mediterranean is difficult. We spent the better part of a full day in airplanes and airports just to get to Athens, Greece. We arrived feeling like Zombies, and taxi'ed to our hotel.

Athens is a puzzle. It is OLD, but it has modern facilities. Traffic is horrible... lots of small cars and a nearly equal number of motorcycles and motorscooters, ridden by helmetless riders zipping in and out between cars and buses and lane-splitting. I feared for their lives more than they did!

At the hotel o
ur room had single beds for the three of us, a TV with six or so channels... all in Greek with the exception of CNN and MSNBS. Ugh.
It had ONE power outlet... marked 240V. Luckily, this ain't Big Bubba's first European rodeo, and he brought along an adapter/converter.

Following morning we ate a (free with room) breakfast buffet, then departed for the Acropolis on foot... 8-tenths of a mile... uphill, through very narrow streets lined with shops and streetside cafes.
The Acropolis was PACKED with people. Most of these people were consumed by stopping in the middle of walkways in order to take "selfies". Trying to navigate the grounds was irritating, to say the least. I wondered... "Is there a season to come with fewer self-absorbed people here?"

Walking back to the hotel we depended on Big Bubba's GPS to direct there safely. We stopped at a cafe we had passed on the way up and had a very nice lunch, with people, dogs and cats literally walking through the narrow street that ran through the middle of the restaurant. There are lots and lots of cats around. I assume they are tolerated by residents to keep the rodent population under control.

We boarded the cruise ship, the "Azamara Journey" Sunday. It's amazing to watch how these cruise businesses efficiently handle people and baggage to get them aboard. The whole process took less than half an hour.

Our Stateroom was small, but adequate, with a queen-size bed and a chair that made into a single for BB. Our TV had many channels to choose from, including Fox News! Hooray!
This is a small ship, with only 700 passengers. The other cruises we have taken had ships containing 3000 guests. We've decided we MUCH prefer the smaller ships.

We woke Monday anchored in the harbor at Mykonos. After breakfast we tendered to the Island and walked around. It is clean, bright, (whitewashed structures, like many of the islands), and safe feeling.

Tuesday morning found us at the pier in Kusadasi, Turkey. Again, after breakfast, we made our way to buses for the 30-minute ride to Ephesus. It is impossible to describe what is happening there.
It was a city of 240,000 people until earthquakes and the adjacent river showed us that Mother Nature is ALWAYS in charge. We took a two-hour walking tour and were surrounded by ancient relics the entire time. Ephesus, (and virtually ALL the Mediterranean), makes us reflect how "shiny and new" our country still is.

Wednesday morning we woke in Rhodes, Greece. Old, old, old fortifications on the pier and in sight just off the bow of the ship indicate this was an important place that needed to be protected. Although we stayed in town, relatively close to the ship, there were available tours to be taken to many ancient, beautiful sites. One day, we intend to return and see them when we can do it more leisurely.

Thursday we opened our curtain to a breathtaking sight.
We were anchored in the harbor at Santorini, really the reason for booking the entire cruise. The whitewashed town at the top of the hill was Fira, accessible by cable lift cars, up 500 steps via walking, or by donkey. The cruise director warned we should ONLY take the cable cars... the steps are slippery and treacherous! We went up via the lift... about $7.
From there we walked to a scooter rental place and rented ATV's to ride to another town on the island... Oia. The views along the way were simply SPECTACULAR. It's unfair really for the driver, because you must concentrate on the road and not the great views. Run off the road in certain places and it'll be a long time before you say "oof" and are injured or killed.

We arrived in Oia, parked the 4-wheelers, and started walking the walkways. For my FaceBook friends, many photos and videos will be posted there to show how magnificent this place is... I'm guessing almost 2000 feet above the water.
We stopped at a restaurant for refreshments and a bite to eat, then returned to the ATV's for the ride back to Fira.

We returned the machines and made our way back to the lift, bought our tickets to ride back down the hill, and entered our little car.
And sat. And sat. And sat.
We sat for 30 minutes in 90-degree heat before someone finally came to tell us the lift was out of service. We could either wait to see if it was fixed, or they would refund our money and we could walk or ride donkeys down.

And that, dear friends, begins the REST of the story, (to be continued).

05 May 2018

Bank of (Part of) America-

Yesterday I closed two accounts with Bank of America... one of which had been active for over 35 years.
"Can I ask why you are closing these accounts?"
"Certainly. I'm a retired ARMY Viet Nam Veteran and I still support and defend the Constitution."
... Puzzled look on her face...
"I don't understand."
So I educated her.

Our country is in more trouble than I imagined.
And even reasonably intelligent people have NO idea.

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


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...

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?

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


Yes, it's been over a month since I've put fingers to keyboard here.
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...

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.