30 October 2022


On a quiet road in the Van delivering "meals on wheels", from half a mile away I can see the big bird squarely in the road's middle feasting on something dead there. There are a LOT of Turkey Vultures in our area and this bird is the right size for that.
But as I get closer... "Is that an Eagle?"
I hope so. We're seeing more and more of 'em in our area. But sightings are still infrequent enough that seeing one is a minor thrill.
Sure enough... White head and tail, he/she is pecking at some unidentifiable red mass. Buzzards will spook and fly away from their dinner temporarily here when you approach within about 1/8th mile. This bird persisted eating until I was MUCH closer, making me fear for other traffic that might pass by.
On my return trip across the same path, both bird and its meal were nowhere to be seen.
He/she apparently took her meal "To Go"!

When they swoop down on the fly and catch a fish, they are majestic.
But I think Ben Franklin was correct-
Eating dead possum in the middle of the road?
Not so much.

22 October 2022

Oil and Filter Changes-

EXTREMELY poor prior planning on my part-
I delayed preventative maintenance on all my vehicles until my oil change schedule was slightly overdue on all.
For various reasons I have always taken the SHO to the Ford dealer to have this job done. For $60 they change oil and filter, top off all fluids, check tires, brakes and various other systems on the car. First time I had considered doing the oil change on this car myself I took one look beneath the car and saw- what IS THAT... A heat shield?.., covering the complete underside of the engine compartment. That, coupled with the fact this car sits VERY low to the ground, made the $60 charge from my dealer seem quite reasonable.

"When can you do 'The Works' on my SHO?"
"I can get you in on November 14th."
Needing it done yesterday, that's obviously unacceptable.

The oil change on the Ram/Cummins Diesel is not complicated but the doggone thing takes a LOT of oil-
Ten quarts of specific diesel oil. People "in the know" also recommend adding two containers of STP. So the job is kinda expensive.

I've had the filter for an oil and filter change on the Piaggio MP3 Scooter on hand for some time. It takes only a couple quarts of oil so that job is easy-peasy with the correct tools on hand.

So I attacked the big Cummins first. On it I change the oil every 5,000 miles and the filter every 10K. This time was the intermediate service, so all I had to do was pull the plug and drain the old oil out, then add the new oil and the two containers of STP.
All this was done in half an hour or so.

Now let's attack the Ford-
How the heck do I lift this thing up high enough to work under it?
I searched for several minutes and finally found what I felt were the safest points to apply my floor jack.
But doing that job will require removing that infernal heat shield. It's held on by four attaching points that are actually easier to detach than I thought, but required a long reach under this very low car to get to 'em. Done... and the shield is pulled out from under.
I then lifted the car high enough to get underneath and applied my jack stands for safety's sake.
The rest of the job ain't hard. Oil drain plug and filter are right there pretty much in your face. I removed the drain plug and the old oil flowed into my catch container. I removed the filter and allowed the oil inside it to drain into the same container, then filled the new filter and slickened the rubber gasket with oil and put it in its place.

The SHO owner's manual recommends Full Synthetic oil. This stuff is not cheap. I open the five quart container and poured it into the hole marked "Engine Oil", and I'm feeling pretty proud of myself-
I've changed the oil in the Diesel truck AND the Taurus in less than two hours!
What's that?
I notice LOTS of new oil creeping across the floor behind the right front tire.
I failed to re-install the drain plug. WHAT A MESS! What an idiot!

Another trip to Wally World.
Another BIG container of 10W-40 Fully Synthetic oil.
Oil installed and heat shield reattached.

Dismayed with my boneheadedness I put off doing the Scooter oil and filter change until tomorrow.
While doing the job I promise I'll check and DOUBLE CHECK my work.

21 October 2022

Christmas In October

Our "Security System", Chico the Chihuahua-mix that adopted us, starts barking like crazy. Investigating the cause for his noisy outburst we find the FedEx truck parked in our driveway. The driver delivers his package and returns to his truck.
Before he can pull out of our drive Chico again throws a fit. The UPS truck is paused on the street, waiting for the Fedex driver to vacate our drive.
I'm expecting a delivery. Both these packages are for Sara Jean.
Our cheap security system is primed and ready for their return.

20 October 2022

" Your comment didn't meet community standards."

Found out I was in Facebook jail for my comment about Hitler and his "Big Lie" philosophy.
Farcebook didn't like the fact I educated folks there.
I also found out I had been in FB jail once before and didn't even notice.
I'm crushed.

16 October 2022

Cruise Recipe-

Backward plan what's necessary to get the job done.
Load the car.
Drive to the train, hoping traffic behaves. (It didn't, but we had allowed for that eventuality.)
Take the train to the airport, hoping that system functions as advertised.
Fly to the departure city after a connecting flight in Chicago.
Uber/Lyft to the Port and board the ship.

All these puzzle pieces (thankfully) fell into place.
Our view of the inland passage was, for the most part, restricted by fog. It was interesting hearing the ship's foghorn sound every two minutes when our visibility was seriously restricted.
We missed our Port of Call to Ketchikan due to high winds. (Read the Wikipedia reports [Norwegian Escape!] of some of the disasters these big ships have experienced.)
The food on this "Norwegian Bliss" was BY FAR the best of the 7 cruises we've now experienced.
The shows we saw were top drawer... Broadway quality.

Now it's time to get back into making our own bed and cleaning up after ourselves.

15 October 2022

"Time to spare? Go by AIR!"

On my FaceBook page I commented we'd be home by about midnight, barring any "Glitches".
We arrived at the airport 90 minutes prior to time to board.
Have you ever been to Disneyland?
The labyrinth at Sea-Tac would make Disney blush as pikers!
Two hours after our arrival our flight departed while we were still waiting for TSA to insure we weren't dangerous. Thankfully a quick call to our airlines found another flight that had had a couple cancellations.
We departed two hours after our originally scheduled flight; still in time (thank God!) to make our Salt Lake City connection to St. Louis and catch up with our luggage.

My advice for people I care about:
Avoid the Seattle airport as if it had a virulent case of Covid-19.

13 October 2022


"The Beatles Experience" is a band from Argentina, (believe it or don't!)  playing on "The Norwegian Bliss"  this cruise. We've seen three of their shows so far this week. The first show was from the Beatles' early years- "I wanta hold your hand". In their second show they played the complete "Sgt. Pepper" album. Last night's show was mostly "Abbey Road". These guys are really, REALLY good. Close your eyes and you'd have difficulty telling you're not hearing Paul, George, Ringo and John.
Earlier this week we saw "Jersey Boys". My family all commented that in some ways we thought this group might even be better than Frankie, Tommy, Bob, and Nickie.
Tonight we hope to attend a concert put on by "American Idol" contestant Ashlie Amber as she performs a tribute to Whitney Houston. I'm betting we'll be impressed.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right?

It occurred to me, in the past we have attended tribute concerts by groups doing the repertoires of:
The Beach Boys.
The Beatles.
The BeeGees.
The Eagles.
And I'm forgetting some, certainly.
Our 39 year-old son has attended many of these events with us and, knowing all the words, sings right along with us during the performances.

Solid Gold Oldies-
At the risk of sounding like my parents- I prefer them to the "junk" I hear being produced today.

And how many gainfully employed musicians around the world would agree wholeheartedly?

09 October 2022

The "Bliss" of Cruising

As I write this we are "at sea" between Seattle and Juneau, Alaska aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line's "Bliss". We've previously cruised with Princess, Azamara, Carnival, and Celebrity Lines, and have had mixed feelings about those experiences. (The food on ALL of 'em has been plentiful, but a BIG disappointment.) Catering to an obese customer base most of the line's food has been VERY mildly seasoned, low sodium, low fat, low sugar, and in the words of a friend, "fills a hole"...
Not exciting.
Food on the Bliss has been surprisingly good so far. Sara Jean and Big Bubba have eaten well. To the extent possible I'm staying close to Keto. The salad bar on the Bliss is also the best we've experienced while cruising.

This machine is BY FAR the biggest ship we've sailed on-
Four thousand guests and 1700 crew. She is 1094 feet long, and walking from one point of interest on the ship to another might involve getting lost. There's little need to worry about exercise on this cruise-
We'll get enough of that just seeing what we want to see onboard.

I'm continually amazed at how efficiently these companies handle the numbers of people that get aboard. We showed up at the port at 1300 hours and were aboard and in our Stateroom by 1400. Our luggage was outside our door. Our room attendant, "Angel" from Indonesia soon came by to introduce herself and committed our names to memory. She has since addressed us by name every time we encounter her.... nothing short of amazing considering she's responsible for 14 Staterooms and their occupants.

Last night in the theater we saw "The Beatles Experience"; four guys from Argentina that sound EXACTLY like George, Paul, John, and Ringo, and even look somewhat like them, gestures included.
(The "Paul" guy unfortunately did not play his bass left handed. Listening to him, we forgave him.)

Right now this big liners is making 20.2 knots Northbound. That's about 25 miles per hour. Quietly. Smooth and comfortably.
Food. Accommodations. Entertainment. Wait staff catering to make our experience wonderful.

Life is tough.
We are blessed, and aware of that fact.

06 October 2022

Helicopter Gunship Evolution

Take a "B" or "C" Model UH-1 helicopter. Add rocket pods and mini-guns to the hard points on the side of the bird. Give your Crewchief and Gunner an M-60 machine gun with 1500 rounds of ammunition and seat them where they can provide protective cover to the side and rear of the helicopter. Load that machine with enough fuel to complete the mission, knowing that it will be so overloaded it probably won't hover and you'll be forced to do a "running takeoff"... slide the skids on the ground until the rotors can reach out into undisturbed air to gain enough lift for the old bird to fly.
These first gunships were proof of the value of arming the helicopter, and were the first machines I flew in Viet Nam. Big, slow, and underpowered. So how do we improve the concept?

Use LOTS of existing, proven reliable components but make it smaller, faster, more accurate, and more powerful so it can carry heavier loads.
The "HueyCobra" or just "Cobra". "Snake" to those of us that flew them. This is the machine I transitioned into when we replaced our Huey Gunships. An improved platform in many ways, it had its initial teething problems. The tail rotor and gearbox were stress fatigued and would break off, resulting in a serious center-of-gravity situation. A personal acquaintance had this happen while he was on short final to landing. The resulting crash broke his back resulting in him being paralyzed below the waist. First machines in country had no air conditioning, and sitting beneath that greenhouse was... uncomfortable. They DID have a system that blew hot air down your spine, but on the really HOT days that system just made you feel like a roast in the oven.
When the ARMY started flying "Nap-of-the-earth"...flying the machine just above tree tops at slow, (sometimes walking speeds) to avoid the danger of shoulder-fired enemy missiles, that rounded plexiglass canopy was replaced with flat panes because the curved surface reflected the sun from every angle and flat panes would only reflect it like a mirror from certain angles.
So it wasn't perfect. How do we improve it?

Let's try this thing:

The "Apache".
Tank killer extraordinaire.
The evolution came too late in my career for me to fly one.
But I'm proud to have been part of the process that got us "from here to there"!

03 October 2022

Canary in the Coal Mine

Some random thoughts, mostly to get a post published 'cause it's been awhile since my last-

January 6.

I would NOT have participated in those festivities, but...
Do the "Powers that be" not see that that "riot" was an indicator of trouble and the next time it could be MUCH, MUCH worse?
If coming elections are bungled as badly as 2020 was, the January 6th D.C. stuff could look like child's play.

A Vermont High School has banned a girl's Volleyball team from their locker room because the biological XX's don't want to undress in front of an "XY" teammate? (This IS a GIRL'S team!)
What a mess. I think this "confusion" is soon coming to a head. Biological females are beginning to see the writing on the wall-
Their sports will be destroyed by "I identify as female" athletes. There's an easy way to resolve this but the politically correct don't want to do it-
Have sports for Male, Female, and "Other" athletes. That's fair. But we're not quite there yet.

Russia threatens to go Nuclear. Will they do it? (I suspect NO ONE thought any country could kill 6 million people back when, so I sigh and just hope sanity prevails here.)
IF the Russkies go Nuclear, Russia (and maybe the world, but certainly Russia as it exists today) will change in ways we cannot imagine.

Hurricane Ian will dramatically change the insurance industry. Storms in the past forced companies to insure ONLY ONE PROPERTY in Florida some time back. I suspect Floridians are gonna see even more radical changes coming down the pike, hiked premiums being the least of it.

We watched Season One of "Night Sky" with J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek this week.
That's nine hours of our time I wish we had spent in a more enjoyable fashion.

We leave to board the "Norwegian Bliss" the end of the week. This is our second Alaska cruise. We enjoyed our first, and our son motivated us to do it again, this time with him coming along.
I lost two pounds on last month's Western Caribbean cruise with mostly "Keto" eating.
Let's see if I can do as well this time.