Monday, September 29, 2014

Good Deed Goes Bad

I've had a few of these for years, and one half of a pair has been lost. Today I passed a bicyclist riding the shoulder who blended in with the background. He was wearing grey and black on a black bike against cottonwood trees lining the river.

After taking care of business in the next town South, dropped into the Kum and Go convenience store to make a deposit in my IRA (bought a lottery ticket). The bicyclist was there, taking a break. I offered him the one orphan triangle, explaining he was hard to see. He was pleased, and said he had plastic ties to secure it.

After the restroom (us old guys never pass one) and the IRA deposit, went back to my truck. The bicyclist was bleeding heavily from his hand. Seems when he cut off the excess tie, the knife was dull and the force of cutting caused him to cut himself.  I donated a fairly clean rag. He came up with some gauze and tape, so I did the first aid thing. Wish my youngest, the medic, was there.

Very pleasant young man, probably mid thirties, and, based on some impressive tats, a soldier/sailor/marine/airman at some time. The organization of small stuff sacks and small packs on his bike was impressive.

Brief conversation brought out he was from Nebraska and heading to Portland, OR via Phoenix. Bet he wishes he never met me! However, he now has a bright safety triangle on his bike.

Wyoming Pictures

From a Facebook posting.

Worth visiting, especially that final picture.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Said Farewell to a Good Tool Today

Sold today my 1996 Escort Station Wagon. It was not an easy decision. I bought it with 114,000 miles on it, and sold it with 202,000.

This car has taken me, summer and winter, to points as far away as Aberdeen, SD, Marfa, TX, Albuquerque, NM, Dugway, UT, Omaha, NE, much of Western Kansas, and much of Wyoming and Colorado. It has pulled trailers, been used as a light truck, and allowed me to earn money.

As with any high mileage vehicle, I’ve spent some money on it. I needed to fix a few, to me, minor issues, while living with bad syncros in the tranny. Then it developed a peculiar engine problem. The oil wasn’t returning to the oil pan, wasn’t in the coolant, wasn’t in the valve train, and wasn’t leaking. WTF? This, coupled with the list of minor issues, made me question the value of spending up to $1,000 to make everything right. I might add, it doesn’t have a body panel without a dent (none put there by me). The syncros are the deal breaker. At some point the tranny is going to let go. Rebuild kit is around $180 plus labor, and as long as the tranny is out, might as well do a new clutch – more money.

At my age, and with my recent health issues, I didn't want to try to fix it myself.

Put it for sale on Craigslist and sold it in two days for $400. Filled an 18 gallon tote cleaning it out. Also, found a new pair of prescription glasses I’d forgotten was in the car. As my sister pointed out, that is like finding a $100 bill.

I’m not sentimental about my vehicles, don’t name them, and regard them as tools more than anything. That said I’m missing this reliable and useful tool.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


From a comment on a post.

I truly love your website.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this web site yourself?
Please reply back as I'm hoping to create my own site and would like to learn where you got this from or what 
the theme is named. Many thanks!

Dear Anonymous,

How many bloggers did you send that identical message to?

Your comment is utter bullshit. I'm a Latter Day Luddite with only the computer skills needed to do what I want (most of the time). Without the help of patient friends, I couldn't even turn on a computer. My greatest accomplishment was coping with the changes in Craigslist.

I do commend your use of the English language; much better than the usual Anonymous commenter.

In closing, Anonymous, if you won't put your name to your comment, piss off.

Have a nice day.


Sloppy Reporting,

Picture on the side bar. Don't think the F-22 is  carrier capable, nor is the aircraft in the picture an F-22.

While some Air Force pilots have probably qualified for carrier landings, and many would with training, that is not routine.

Sloppy reporting is, however, routine.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Not So Wise Government

Interesting post by CenTexTim at Bergheim Follies

At one point he states,

 “Incompetent government run by people that have no clue about how the real world works.

Being the contrary grumpy old man I am, I can come up with an alternative explanation.

West Seattle for decades had suffered access to the rest of Seattle because of a draw bridge across the Duwamish waterway. Many studies had been done, but no action taken, until 1978 when the draw bridge was struck by a freighter and put out of order for months.

An acquaintance was a back room political operative. He had been the “bag man” (his words) for a Seattle mayor until that mayor lost an election for Governor, and left politics.  He was close to the past leadership of a major union. I knew him because I was a precinct committeeman, and my then wife was an unpaid, but effective, lobbyist, and a founder of the State Autistic Association.

One night over a few drinks he said something that stuck with me.

“You know”, he said, “Now we are actually building a West Seattle bridge, it hardly pays to be in politics”.

I think that as long as there have been governments, there has been an underclass that make their livelihood off the process, and that explains many of the apparently stupid things that happen in government. This is not an original thought, by the way.

In CenTexTim’s third example,

“Hmmm ... isn't there a name for increasing access to mortgage loans for people with bad credit? Oh yeah - it's called subprime lending. That's what got us into the 2007/2008 financial crisis and recession.

Perhaps they should head the words of that great philosopher, W.C. Fields.

“If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it.

Nah, not likely to happen.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Another fifty year old soldier story. Skip if you wish. A story of two immature soldiers almost guaranteed to make career military grit their teeth.

When I joined the Army in Denver in 1963, our group was sent by train to Waynesville, MO via Kansas City, MO. One of the group was a Boston Irishman who had run out of money and luck in Denver, and joined the Army. Though he wouldn’t admit it, the law was probably looking for him. We became friends, and ended up serving together all through our enlistments. Since our names were close together in the alphabet, we often ended up  in the same platoons. Tom was wiry, about 5’6” and 140 lbs. Played and partied way, way above his weight. I was 6’1’’, around 190 lbs. We made a Mutt and Jeff pair. Neither of us was keen on discipline and the Army way of doing things, but smart enough to fake it when we needed to blend in.

We arrived in Bremerhaven, Germany, one cold January morning. The ever efficient Army left us standing on a concrete platform for several hours. Tom and I noticed a small building across the tracks. For those old enough to remember, it was about the size of a Fotomat booth. Letters spelled out, “Trinkhalle”.

“Hey Tom” says I, “Does that took like a liquor store”?

“Yeah, it does”, he replied. “I wonder if they take American money”?

In short order we conducted a reconnaissance across the tracks and found affirmative answers to our questions.  Being first, we recovered the station platform before the staff got off their asses and caught some of the slower types who followed our lead.

During the nine hour train ride to Hanau, we managed to consume all of our purchases, and arrived drunk as boiled owls. Somehow we climbed into a deuce and a half, and arrived at Pioneer Kaserne where we made the acquaintance of one SFC James J. McGarty Jr., who was not pleased to find us intoxicated (we didn’t keep enough to share with him). He immediately called over the First Sergeant.

“Hey Top”, he said. “Look at these two walking Article 15s. We have two slots for the demo school. Let’s send these two fuck ups. Maybe they will blow themselves up, and we won’t have to deal with them”.

“Good idea”, said the First Sergeant. He went on to explain, “You two look more fucked up than a Tech 5 at a Chinese reveille“, and other pleasant words of welcome.

A few hours later we were at the Hanau train station with orders, vouchers, two duffel bags apiece, steel pot, and M-14s. We were told to go to Munich, then catch a train to Oberammergau, where our school was located. Neither of us spoke a word of German. Of course, we got on the wrong train, one to Prague, but the conductors got us off before the border. With the assistance of the station master and the local police, we boarded a yellow bus operated by the German Postal Service which  also provided the local “Greyhound” service. Somehow we arrived in Oberammergau, broke, hungry, and hung over. We did discover many Germans were friendly if you acted respectful,  were willing to share what food and drink you had,  and had friendly Irish faces.

Much to the disappointment of SFC McGarty and 1st Sgt Nelson, we completed demo school without any injuries,  or running afoul of the Uniform Code of Military justice. In truth, it was as much fun as I remember from being in the service.

The area around Oberammergau is in the heart of the Bavarian Alps. You will be hard pressed to find a more stunningly scenic area in the world.  Although we were officially stationed in the State of Hesse, we spent a lot of time at Bad Toltz doing donkey work for the blanket heads. Later, when we had achieved enough rank, we were able to travel there in our personal vehicle. Off duty, we explored the area, and the entertainment venues exhaustively.

Special Forces, aka blanket heads. I have the greatest respect for what they do, the level of commitment needed to be in Special Forces, and their hard training. That said, a bigger bunch of assholes I’ve seldom met. We were always happy to show our backs to them.

Perhaps they might have found our attitudes annoying.  Oh well. can’t imagine why.

“Hey leg”.

“Fuck you”.

Since they were all E-5 or above, that always brought on the drama.

Good thing Tom and I were engineers. Their core value was, one, hard work and, two, you could be relied on to do an assigned job. The rest just wasn’t that important,  except to new 2nd Lts.