Thursday, May 28, 2009

Off We Go, Into the Wild Blue Yonder

This last week of May is the 50th anniversary of a very memorable time of my life. On May the 24th, 1959, at the ripe old age of seventeen, I caught a train from Stanley, North Dakota to the Armed Forces Induction Center in Fargo. After a day of poking and prodding with fingers, tongue depressors, needles and various strange instruments, the Army doctor declared me fit for service…barely. I had to plead with him to ignore my flat feet, but at last he reluctantly acquiesced to my groveling. He told me my feet were bad enough to avoid service, but that was the last thing I wanted. After the many months of waiting for high school to end so I could enlist, it would have been an emotional tragedy to return home to face my friends as a seventeen-year-old nonstarter.

When it came time for all of us Air Force enlistees to leave Fargo for Lackland AFB, the NCO preparing our processing paperwork pulled what I considered at the time to be an evil trick. I was the youngest, the skinniest, and the shyest kid in our group of six, so he decided to put me in charge. I had to wear an arm band that signified that I was a temporary Staff Sgt, but I didn’t have a clue what a Staff Sgt was supposed to do. The NCO told me it was a simple job, and that all I had to do was carry all the paper work in a sealed packet, and to make sure that everyone stayed together, and that nobody got lost…simple. Sure!

When we arrived in Kansas City via Northwest Airlines, we had about a three hour layover before we were scheduled to catch an Air Force charter flight to Texas. Somehow, I let the older guys talk me into taking a cab into KC. It was around midnight, so the downtown nightlife was in full swing. Besides me, there were two other guys under 21, so we couldn’t enter the bars, but the guys that were of legal age wanted to grab a beer. I desperately tried to talk them out of it, but naturally, I lost, so there we were…three kids…one wearing a dumb armband…standing outside a bar waiting for the older guys to drink their beer. One drink turned into three or four and I began to panic over the idea that they would get drunk and I couldn’t get them back in time to catch the plane. I just knew I’d be facing a court martial on my very first day in the Air Force!

Fortunately, common sense prevailed and we all made it back in plenty of time to board our flight to San Antonio. Then things got interesting. Welcome to the Air Force, Rainbows!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When the "itis" Boys Arrive

Getting old is only fun when you consider the alternative.

I'm not complaining, as I've been fortunate to have avoided doctors for most of my life. However as age creeps up...well, things begin falling apart.

Four years ago it was my 2nd bout with kidney stones. That problem was resolved with a slick machine that uses sonic waves to blast kidney stones into small pieces that pass without a problem. After I woke up from that procedure, I felt perfectly normal and except for some bruising, I wouldn't have known I had been in severe pain only an hour earlier. Science can be wonderful!

Since then, save for some uncomfortable arthritis in my hands, I've been feeling pretty good. However, a couple of weeks ago I developed a case of bursitis in my elbow. Though the elbow wasn't sore, it looked like someone had inserted a golf ball under the skin. Apparently my body was telling me I shouldn't have shoveled nearly thirty yards of dirt and bark this spring. Who would have thought that could be a problem?

Anyway, I finally had to visit the doctor to have the dang thing drained, but the morning after the treatment, it was swollen almost to the original size. Today, it was a second visit to drain it again and this time he injected a steroid.I hope it works, because he said that sometimes surgery is required to resolve the issue. With all the work I have to do this summer, I'd hate to be nursing a bum arm for several weeks.

I'd been bragging that Medicare couldn't complain because I had only hit them up for two flu shots since I reached 65, but I suppose the doctor will submit a couple of inflated bills for these visits. I hope they haven't run out of money yet...but I guess they can just print some more.

Monday, May 25, 2009

D***** Computers!

As I mentioned before, I had a hard drive crash a while back and finally got the new parts installed. It's been a real headache trying to recover everything, especially those applications I downloaded from the Internet. They didn't have a CD, so I had to prove that I purchased them by providing the code sent to me in an e-mail so I could download them again. Well, like a dummy, I didn't back up my e-mail, so now I have no way to prove I paid for the software. I had written a couple of the codes down and kept the info in my file cabinet, but I lost some others, including the 2008version of MS Money.

As the hard drive was failing, I quickly backed up my files to a thumb drive, so I thought I was in great shape to have saved almost everything. Wrong! Apparently you have to indicate what types of files to save, and I didn't tell it to back up my photos. I lost hundreds of dog, house and car photos. I have a few backed up to a CD, but not even a fraction of what I lost. I also lost a lot of music, but at least I can re-record it from the CD's.

Not to be burned again, I visited Best Buy yesterday and bought an external hard drive with enough capacity to back up both of our computers, but I'm having trouble getting it to work right. Very frustrating!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Back Yard

Here are a few pictures of the patio and back yard. We haven't really decided what type of landscaping we want in the back yard, so it's still mostly natural. Trying to decide what looks nice, but is easy to maintain, is not always easy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Here are a few pictures of the house and yard. Even though the flowers aren’t impressive yet, the grass is as green as it’s going to get. As the spring rains begin to slack off, I have to start watering and the price of water went up a substantial amount last year, so I’ll only be watering enough to keep everything alive.

The mounds that I planted flowers on are actually symbols of my laziness. I raked all the rocks and branches into piles and covered them with dirt. We tell visitors that they are Caddo Indian burial mounds and we couldn’t bring ourselves to destroy them.

I’ll be cutting back on my yard work for a while. I had to visit the doctor today so he could drain a half-cup of fluid from my elbow. He said it was bursitis caused by shoveling too much. It won’t hurt my feelings to have a legitimate reason to stay out of the yard for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Block Party

Our second annual block party took place last evening. Two families grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and everyone else brought a dish to share. It was a cool, cloudy evening, but we had a pleasant time visiting and meeting the three new families that moved in since our last party. We're fortunate to have a bunch of nice people living in our little development and the new folks fit right in.

Just as we were cleaning up, a few drops of rain arrived, but the forecast had been for thundershowers, so we lucked out.

I mowed the lawn again today and it looks nice and green after the rain...probably as nice as it will look all year. The day lilies and irises are beginning to bloom, so Judy took pictures of the house and yard. I'll download them from her camera and post some in the next few days.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goodbye Nancy?

I found this lovely photo of the Speaker

I think Nancy Pelosi has finally crossed the line between political rhetoric and outright fabrication, and I believe there’s a chance the scandal will require her removal from the House Speaker’s chair. As long as the slavish media were ignoring her lies and protecting her, there was no way she would be called to task for any of her numerous lies. However, this time it looks as if the story is just too juicy for the media to ignore. Her news conference had her sweating bullets and stammering like a kid with a hand in the cookie jar. Unlike the usual Democrat/media love fest, the questions came fast and furious, and they weren’t worded to give her cover.

I might be wrong, but I believe the media smells blood in the water, which puts her future beyond their control, and they are now willing to accept her political sacrifice in order to protect their president. If questioned why they don’t attack Obama for his multitude of transgressions, they can always claim that destroying Democrat Pelosi proves they are unbiased.

The next few days should be interesting

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Message to the GOP

The more I see of the Republican Party’s responses to the Obama putsch, the less faith I have that they will get their act together before the mid-term elections.

Even the fair-haired youngsters like Governors Jindal and Crist, are about as thrilling as a case of dyspepsia. Their handlers are touting them as fresh faces from the conservative wing of the party, but their performance shows little more than conservative rhetoric and tepid accomplishments. Think John McCain without the Geritol.

The party need eagles and all they can seem to find is parrots. They need party leadership with the passion of B-1 Bob Dornan, but they elect caricatures of Don Knots. They need a General Patton and they offer Gomer Pyle. Instead of mimicking Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, they act as if they were tutored by the horse whisperer. Is there no one in the party that can beat Chuck Schumer in a footrace to a TV camera? Isn’t there anyone in the Republican Party with even a spark of fire in his or her belly?

Where are the statesmen with the daring to spit in the eye of the socialist hordes that are trying to ravage our Constitution? Where are the leaders who can explain to the base that there is more to running a country than mouthing platitudes and taking the “right” stand on abortion? Who will stand up and convince the party that to win, they need to put righteousness in the platform, but leave God in church? Fundamental Christianity in your heart and in your deeds is admirable, but on your sleeve and from the podium, it’s mostly a pain in the ass to Jews, Mormons, Catholics, Agnostics, Pagans and even Atheists, many of whom share the conservative values of the born-again, but refuse to put up with proselytizing.

Who in the Republican Party will lead by example, instead of political expediency? As Glenn Beck pleads..."Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Elected politicians of the GOP…it’s time to lead, follow, or get out of the way!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Komodo Dragons Battle on the Patio

We had a battle royal on the patio today and I learned something about lizards . Two male Green Anoles were locked in a life or death battle. Both had turned on their bright green fighting colors and their red fans were on display. One had the other by the throat and the victim was thrashing about as he was caught in a death grip. I wrestled with the idea of breaking them up, but decided that they would eventually decide who was king of the hill and that my intervention would only delay the inevitable.

After a few minutes, the victim began to turn color and soon faded to a dark brown. I was sure he was dying, but somehow he managed to escape the jaws of the smaller animal. He quickly scurried out of range and the winner sat atop the hose reel puffing and strutting. I checked him over and found his only injuries appeared to be some scales missing from his nose. The loser remained out of sight, but a half-hour later, he was back sitting beside the one who had just kicked his butt. He wasn’t strutting, so I guess he was being submissive to the new champion of the patio.

Besides the obvious lesson that not every animal battle is life threatening, I also learned that I had mistaken these little critters for chameleons. I didn’t know that any other lizard could change color so even at my know-it-all age I learned something new.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tired and Retired

You’d think that being retired means you have all the time in the world to do the things you want, but that never seems to be the case. I’ve been wanting to fix a few things on the convertible before the show season arrives, but something else always has priority. I’d feel guilty playing with the car when there is so much to do and not enough time or energy to do everything.

Flowerbeds have to be finished and flowers planted before it gets hot, and my building project list is as long as my arm. Among the first things I should do is get my workshop enclosed and air-conditioned so I can work there in the heat of summer. I can’t make up my mind what type of overhead door to buy, nor can I decide on an A/C unit. I had better decide soon, or I’ll be doing that job in 100-degree heat too.

On the nature front, both Bluebird pairs are refurbishing their nests in preparation of raising another brood, but I don’t think the Titmouse family was as lucky. I saw only one baby bird outside the hollow tree and he looked as if he left the nest too soon. He couldn’t fly and the parent birds were no place to be seen. I put the youngster in a heavy shrub so he could hide, but the next day I found him dead a few feet away. He probably died from not having food or water. At that age, they need food constantly.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"All The News That's Fit To Print"

One of the signs at the rally...thanks to:

I believe the New York Times still claims that motto, but you'd never know it.

When several hundred gays marched in Philadelphia last weekend, it made national news via the Associated Press. When a similar number of people hold a post-tea party rally in Tyler, TX, the only place it’s reported is in the Tyler newspaper. I'm sure the Tyler story and photos were offered to the AP, but a google search failied to pick up anything about it from any of the news sources on the Internet.

According to media predictions, thousands were expected in Philadelphia, but only a few hundred turned out. Pre-rally expectations for the Tyler event were in the 500 range, but nearly twice that made an appearance.

Which event was the most newsworthy? Media bias? Draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Week in Review

It’s been a busy week and weekend. Between rainstorms, I dug a large flowerbed, enlarged another, mowed the lawn, pulled weeds, spread mulch, transplanted mums, replaced a failed hard drive in my computer and began transferring data from my backup. I also attended the Grassroots America-We the People rally in Tyler on Saturday.

The rally gave me hope that the tea parties were not a flash in the pan. I estimated about 1,000 people attended to listen to several patriotic speeches, and learn plans to educate and train people how to organize. The group is also planning future events to take place in June and July.