29 October 2014

"Fender Stratocaster"

The title of my post is the title of a program I recorded that was on "Palladia" channel, thinking my friend and guitar nut Phil would enjoy watching with me if he stopped by to spend the night last week. I had no idea what to expect from it, except that it initially aired in 2005 and was recorded in London.
Phil didn't make it through to visit, so I fired the sucker up yesterday just to see what I had recorded.
It turned out to be something different than I had hoped. I hoped it would be Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton, or some other guitar genius talking about their talent and how "Fender" had motivated them to excellence. Instead, it's just three hours of folks on stage doing various Rock hits, most of which include someone doin' something with a guitar at some point.

"The Crickets". Hank Marvin. Some  unidentified guy with fingers moving across the strings faster than should be allowed by law. Neat stuff.
I turned on the Bose sound system, cranked it up, and went upstairs to do a few chores while listening.

Who's that?
She sounds familiar.
Singing a jazz number, I don't really care for the tune, but she's got a good voice...
Wonder what she looks like?
I go to the railing and look down to check.
Brunette. Voluptuous. Eyes like Sophia Loren. Meat in the right places on her bones.

Amy Winehouse.

27 October 2014

Buggy Whips

If the title of my post confuses you, let me explain.
Until the early 1900's, when you wanted to deliver milk, move across country, or simply take your sleigh "over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house", you probably used a vehicle powered by oats and hay. Some of those powerplants did their jobs without an octane booster. Some needed a little extra help. That little bit of help might have been supplied by a device that looked like a stick with a length of leather shoelace attached to it.
When engines of one sort or another replaced horses as powerplants, many workers toiling in factories designed to produce Buggy Whips suddenly found themselves unemployed.

I still have the Buggy Whip's cousin in my home. It's called a "landline" or "hard wired" telephone.
If you know my name, you can still look me up... I'm "in the book".
And that's the reason I've continued paying the bill to keep the landline. For years, while I had my own little helicopter business, it was a valuable tool:
"Hey, let's call Greybeard and sign little Jimmy up for helicopter flight lessons."
And they did.
To this landline we added an answering machine and a copier/printer/fax machine.

Over the last two weeks that phone has rung approximately four times a day.
We screen ALL our calls on that line through the answering machine. Here's the way these calls have sounded:
First, there's dead silence for three seconds. Then we hear, "Hello!  We're calling all conservative republicans to action to defeat 'Blah blah politician or policy' in the upcoming election."
Here's what's irritating-
Those are the ONLY calls we get for the money we're throwing at that "Buggy Whip".

We're getting ready to spend several months away from the Great White North.
Funds we spend on that device could take me and my bride out to a nice dinner a couple times a month.
Much as I hate to no longer be listed in "The Book", I think it's time to de-Luddite, don't you?


24 October 2014

"I Wish..."

More and more I realize how fortunate I was.
Though my Father and me weren't really close during my formative years, he was THERE.
And by "There", I mean he came home from work, read the Indianapolis Times and Indianapolis News, and waited for Mom to put dinner on the table. At that time he, Mom, my sister and me all sat around that table, ate the meal, and TALKED.
The meal? It was never fancy. Sometimes it was cornmeal mush and beans.
But in all my growing-up years I was NEVER hungry.
Dad was there.
Way too many kids these days cannot make that statement.

Conversation around that table was what you'd expect...
Dad's job as a lineman for the Indianapolis Power and Light Company was not without risk. Sometimes we'd hear stories about someone being hurt. Once it was about how difficult it was to lower an acquaintance's body from the utility pole.
We may not have been close, but Dad was THERE, and I knew, because of his WWII experience, and the fact his coworkers had died doing the same job he did, he was a willing to take risks others would not take... a hero.
He was someone who deserved my attention.

Dad was THERE putting beans and biscuits on that table, and I listened not only to what he said but what he didn't say.

I heard him say, "If I had stayed in the ARMY I'd be retiring now."
And from that I inferred, "I wish I had looked farther into the future and had taken a smarter course."
How many kids today could benefit from that lesson?
How many adults today would have better lives if their Fathers had been sitting across from them at the dinner table?

Dad was there. Mom was there.
And their relationship, though FAR from perfect, reminds me of the Foster Parent ads we're seeing and hearing on our media today...
"You don't need to be perfect to be a perfect parent."

We didn't have much, but we had MORE than enough.
How long before we realize kids need PARENTS...(that's PLURAL folks), to be THERE for kids?
Our train is off the track.
Let's get back to the basics and get back on the right course.

23 October 2014

Car and Driver

I'm what "Car and Driver" magazine would call an "Enthusiast"...
I pretty much love all cars. I LUST after cars I'd like to own, and at least tolerate and try to understand vehicles like drastically lowered pickup trucks that make me scratch my head in wonder why anyone would do that.
I cherish the memory of my '68 Oldsmobile 442 and the good times I had in it, driving in such ways that I have no right to still be among the living.

That 442, a "muscle car",  heavily influenced my thoughts toward our latest new car purchase-
A Ford Taurus SHO.
Seven-hundred horsepower Dodge Challengers and 500+ horsepower Camaros tempted me, but they eat premium fuel by the boxcar load and their rear seats are pretty much useless for entertaining guests you'd like to keep as friends.
We needed a new car. We needed something practical. But I wanted something with cojones.
The SHO fills that bill nicely.

There are 353 horses lurking beneath that hood.
It prefers premium but will run just fine on 87-Octane... just expect lower performance when the engine control computer realizes you've put it on a low-carb diet.
It gets 25-or-so miles per gallon.
And it has a back seat that can't be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
We're still trying to figure out how to use many of the gadgets this car has that can do "stuff" for us. One of the first things we sorted out was the SHO's ability to parallel park itself-
Push the button designated for this purpose. Turn on the turn signal to signify where the car should be searching for a parking spot, right or left side. When the car finds a spot it likes it will signal you to STOP on the center Nav/Phone/Climate/Entertainment display. It will then tell you to engage reverse and slowly depress the accelerator. Keep your hands OFF the steering wheel so you don't cause the system to cancel the parking process. Sit back and watch as the car's sensors back the car perfectly into the available space.
It's freaky to experience.

Now, as an "enthusiast" I'm thinking of the future...
Google already has self-driving cars operating in California, I've heard. Watching our car park itself has made me realize we're just a few steps from that technology (and more) being used widely around the world.
What happens to those of us that enjoy driving our cars?
How long before human mistakes cause accidents that will legally be considered negligence on our part?

I miss my old Olds 442.
But more and more, I'm the old FART that pines for the "Good Old Days".

22 October 2014

Hillary in '16

So, what's goin' on?
We've got the accelerator on the floor and we're headed for a crash, THAT'S what's goin' on!

Like you, (I hope), I watch a lot of stuff on TV to educate myself.
Unlike so many of my fellow citizens, I DON'T think Jon Stewart is a good source for current events.

The other day I watched an interview of Peter Thiel, who was instrumental in creating Facebook and actually founded PayPal.
Peter is obviously a brilliant dude. I like it when I find that geniuses agree with my thoughts.
Peter thinks we're headed for BIG trouble.

In the interview, Peter also made a comment that I've been thinking about for some time now...
Basically, he wants democrats to sleep in their own feces.
For those not so quick on the uptake, here's what that means:
The economy WILL collapse. Progressives are the reason the economy WILL collapse. Virtually all democrats are progressives.
It WILL happen.
Let's try to insure that a progressive is in office when the world goes to Hell, so the history books, (written mostly by progressives), will have to do the wildest tap-dance we've ever seen in order to put lipstick on this pig.

It took a "Village" to get us into this mess.
Let's make Hillary the Mayor of the village so she can try to fix it when the chaos starts.
Vote HILLARY in '16!

22 August 2014

In The Toilet

"You've not updated your Blog in quite a while",  my friend said.
Yeah. Obviously.

In many ways it's been a tough year+ for the Old Man.
I retired January of 2013.
My business partner of 26 years died Spring of 2013. His wife had no interest at all in picking up his work, so we sold the business.
My Mother died a couple months later.
I was Trustee of her Estate and had to fight a battle with an insurance company to get what we deserved. Then I had to fight with my own family about spending money that belonged to others
When a parent dies and there's suddenly "found money", families that have never been really close can be destroyed. 'Nuf said about that.
This Spring we sold the Condo we've owned in Destin since 2000.
So, there have been MAJOR changes in our life.

I LOVED my work.
I HATED what was happening in my industry.
Government regs intended to make things safer/better... WON'T do any such thing.
Lawyers are making it tougher to do the job well while covering their own asses.
It was time to quit.

We've been traveling.
We bought a new car. I may Blog about that soon. (Ever own a car that can park itself? We now have one.)

Oddly, the biggest reason I haven't written here is because I'm dismayed at my fellow citizens.
I rant and rave about what is going on politically, but I'm finding many of my neighbors are Marxist/Socialists/Communists and are happy with this "Fundamental Transformation".

I'm watching as many of those I respect in the military are "Getting their fill" of the B.S. and are getting out. At the same time, the Obama administration seems to be purging the ranks of military leaders who don't agree with his "Fundamental Transformations".
If you want to destroy this Nation, how would you do it?
How does that differ from what this leadership is doing?

I'm feeling beaten right now my friends.
And frustrated. And dismayed.

I love this country.
I love my like-minded friends and will defend them to the death.
But more and more, it looks like I may have to do just that.
"No Justice! No Peace!"

God be with us.
I hope I'm WRONG.

24 May 2014

Ignorance, Or The Presence of Evil?

Long-term readers are aware of my frequently-updated post "The List".
There, I ask WHY entertainers are willing to alienate fully HALF the folks that might be interested in buying their produce by openly expressing their political views.
Do they have the right to do it? Certainly.
I, and millions before and after me have put our lives on the line for these misguided souls' right to openly illustrate their views (which, if allowed to come to fruition, would quickly put a stop to their ability to openly express political views).

The post immediately before this one is an example.
On "AXS TV" I watched a show called "The Big Interview", hosted by Dan Rather. The evil Mr. Rather was interviewing members of the band "Crosby, Stills, and Nash" individually and as a group.
During the individual David Crosby interview, Mr. Crosby profusely thanked Rather for his courage (HA!), in continuing to promote the truth. (!!!!)
Rather nodded and tried to act humble.

One of the very first things I did when I got home from Viet Nam was buy CS&N's first album. I played it on my new (bought while I was in Viet Nam) stereo system as loud as I could without incurring the wrath of neighbors.

But they'll not get another dime of my hard-earned cash.
How did we get here?

18 May 2014

"Low T"

We men are told beyond a certain age we lose some percentage of our "Man Juice" yearly.
I have no doubt that's true, because I see both physical, and emotional evidence of it almost on a daily basis.
I'm not physically as strong as I once was.
I don't have the stamina I once had.
My physical attributes are changing. (We won't dwelve into that anytime soon.)
And the thing I, and those closest to me, see most readily is the change in my emotions.
I cry at some of the most ordinary, beautiful things in life.
Present me with something MORE than mundane, and I may be impacted to the point of speechlessness. (Giving up my POW/MIA bracelet bein' a prime example.)

I just watched Crosby, Stills, and Nash on "The Big Interview" with Dan Rather (Gag!) on AXS Tv.
Rather asked Nash about how he was motivated to write songs and he told THIS STORY in his own words.

I'm glad you weren't near.

I'd have been embarrassed.

16 May 2014

"But It's A Dry Heat"

We're now in a Phoenix suburb called Gilbert, Arizona.
We're indoors in air-conditioned comfort, watching "The Five" on television.
Ambient temperature outside is 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
People familiar with this area will try to convince you this heat is bearable because the humidity is so low...
"But it's a DRY heat."

Yeah, it is. Humidity is 8%!
But an oven is also dry.

If you are outside in this "dry" heat, you literally feel like you are cooking.
How did anyone ever live here before the invention of Air Conditioning?

11 May 2014

May 2014- On The Road Again.

We loaded the truck.
Now that our son is FULLY settled in his own home, (which also happens to be newer, bigger, and nicer than ours), we decided to make room for more STUFF at our house by taking all his STUFF to him. Where will he put it all? That's HIS problem, not ours!

Old Tonka toys. A container of "transformer" toys that probably cost as much as a month's groceries.
Books. Videotapes. The bed of the truck contains 20 years of memories. It'll be interesting to see what ends up for sale on eBay.

"Preflight" the truck for the trip:
Changed the oil- It takes 10 quarts and two containers of STP!
Check the tires- Air pressure and general condition. The rears are only a few months old. The fronts are gonna be a concern... they still have good tread on 'em, but the previous owner lived in Palm Desert, California and the heat there has taken its toll on the sidewalls;
Weather cracked, I hope they give me the same amount of warning the rears did before I changed 'em. I'm bettin' they'll make this trip and last through the summer so I can buy new in the Fall.
Coolant level is good.
Windshield washer reservoir is full.
Headlights, wipers, turn signals and brake lights all okay.
GPS and Sirius XM on board.
Let's light this fire and get on the road!

Headed West at 0930, that's actually early for us. We always have good intentions but ALWAYS seem to find last minute things we forgot that MUST be attended to before departing.
We checked the weather and it looks like smooth sailing all the way.
A full tank of diesel, a cup of hot coffee in each cupholder and Lucy navigating, (that's a joke! She sleeps ALL the way...) we're on our way.

Two hours into our journey, Sara Jean asks, "Is that a siren I hear?"
"I don't think so", I respond. "I think that's alternator noise in the radio."
And it was. A few minutes later the "GEN" warning light came on.
Battery voltage still reading 13 volts, I shut down all the unnecessary power users and took the next exit off the Interstate.

At these times your mind races...
"What's the best way to handle this?"
I considered my options-
If the alternator is shot, I could do what I've done in the past- stop at an auto parts store like "AutoZone", and buy an alternator. Purchase the parts there and they'll loan the tools to do the job.

We're on a busy arterial street, there SHOULD be an AutoZone here somewhere.

Instead, a Guardian Angel intervened-
Just ahead on the right I see a big sign indicating there's a "Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep" dealership, and their Service Center is in the rear. We pull up and I go inside. This is a BIG, BUSY place...
There are FOUR service writers!

I approach the closest one and he asks, "How can I help you sir?"
"We have a minor emergency. We have motel reservations in Amarillo, Texas for tonight and we have an electrical problem in our truck."
He says, "Wow. Well, we'll get to you as soon as we can, but that may be an hour and a half or so."
"Beggars can't be choosy", I respond.

I go back out to the truck and try to start it, thinking if it'll start I may still act on my "AutoZone" option. Nothing.
And I mean when I try to start the truck I get NOTHING...
No click. Nothing.
It's only then I notice when I open the door the dome light doesn't come on. This truck has two batteries... can they both be THAT dead? I pop the hood, start poking around, and find a loose cable to the primary battery. I have Sara Jean hold that cable tight to the terminal and open the door...
The dome light works! I turn the key and the Cummins roars to life.

After 30 minutes the "technician" comes out and I show him what I have discovered, and ask him if he can also hook up a multi-meter to the system to insure the alternator is still working.
He drives our truck into the service bay and raises the hood. In twenty minutes he's finished.
Ninety minutes and $89.96 later, we're back on the road.
When I review how this unfolded I realize, IF we had first encountered an AutoZone, I'd almost certainly have bought a new alternator- $$$$$$$, and that would not have solved our problem.
We arrived at the Amarillo "La Quinta Inn" at 0030 hours, tired, but happy to have more than half our trip behind us.

Do you believe in Guardian Angels?
When I review my life experiences believe me...
I have ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT they exist, and mine sometimes works overtime!