Friday, March 31, 2006
I was at my daughters house, having supper, the other night, and we were listening to her son Sam go on about a Yu-Gi-Oh dual he had just had with the boy next door. The dual came out to be a draw and Sam was really pleased with that. He was explaining to us how he won: who played what card; what those cards were worth; where he had gotten the cards he won with and so forth. Ellen left and did dishes so my son-in-law and I took the brunt of the attack. When Sam finally left, Mike and I just looked at each other and shrugged out shoulders. “Mike do you even have a clue about what he is talking about” I inquired? “Not a clue” Mike responded. I told Mike that I am way to old to learn about another fad like this one. My plan was to basically ignore Sam when he got all carried away with his explanations, nod where applicable and try and change the subject. Perhaps I would have to throw some money his way so he could buy a card or two. Basically I would ignore the problem, waiting for Sam to outgrow this Yu-Gi-Oh thing and then I could continue on with my life, not knowing a thing about Yu-Gi-Oh and all the better for it. Michael had the same sort of plan in mind.
Sam stayed overnight with us last night and I had a change of heart, it appears. All I wanted to do was take a picture of him with his dueling, launcher thing. He is wearing Yu-Gi-Oh shirt, Yu-Gi-Oh pants, Yu-Gi-Oh Dueling Disk [blue thing on his left wrist] and the Yu-Gi-Oh Dueling Disk is pre-loaded with a pack of Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Off-hand I would say he is really into this Yu-Gi-Oh thing.
I asked him to explain a few things to me before he was off to school and the following is what I heard: Yamiyugi is a pharoh and he is a spirit in the millennium puzzle; Setta Kiba, Joey Wheeler, Mie Valentine are some of the duelists; Yu-Gi has the millennium puzzle; Pegasus Maxamillion has the Millenium eye. Time for school so I went online.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game is a collectible card game based on Duel Monsters (Magic and Wizards or M&W in the original Japanese manga), a game which appears in the popular Japanese manga Yu-Gi-Oh!, and the two Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series, which are Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! series and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (internationally known as Yu-Gi-Oh!), where it serves as a main plot device. The card game is known as Yu-Gi-Oh! ... according to Wikipedia
I searched e-bay and I found this following entry among 85,161 other Yu-Gi-Oh items for sale. The present bid on this item was $900.
This is the real English (SJC-EN002) DES VOLSTGALPH. This is a highly sought after Yu-Gi-Oh card! This card was first prize at the Shonen Jump Championship in Durham, North Carolina. It was won by Christopher Flores. This card has never been taken out of it's cases. This card is valued at over $3,000.00.The only way to get this card is by coming in first place at a Shonen Jump Championship tournament...NOW IT CAN BE YOURS!This card is mint, never played with, and less than 15 made in the entire world. It's the most valuable card in the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game. Any collector would be proud to have this show piece.
This might not be the “Flash-in-the-pan fad I thought it was.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Once again we got to enjoy another practice session for the newly named T&T Construction team. Most of the practice today there were at least 3 separate practice things happening on the field all at once and danger was at its highest and sometimes there were 5 things happening. To our right were ball players being pitched to from the side by an unused father and hitting into the back of the backstop about 6 feet away; A hit-a-way was set up on an unoccupied soccer backstop and was being used by one boy at a time; 6 or 7 boys were in the outfield catching pop-ups from another father; All of the bases were occupied by different fielders who were shagging balls from the hitters who were hitting away as they were pitched to by another unused father; Coach Tony was catching would-be-pitchers as they tried their best to impress him. Always balls were coming in from the outfielders as they over threw the father hitting pop-ups; Balls were going every direction from being hit by the batters; practice, from behind the backstop, was also causing balls to seek unauthorized flight paths; and Coach Tony would occasionally miss a pitch from a pitcher. It required super-quick reflexes from us in our nifty new grandparents chairs at the center of it all.
At some point Coach Tony moved to the catchers position behind home plate as he instructed each boy on nuances in his home run swing. Tony did have a catchers mask on which allowed him to go home recognized by his wife and kids. What coach Tony did not have was a supporter and cup nor did he have a chest protector. He took 2 hard hits to the center of where his chest protector should have been and one hard hit to the exact location of where his cup should have been. Tony’s wife just gave birth to their 7th child. Tony felt that after today he probably would limit the size of their family.
What baseball practice is complete without a dog running around so my daughter brought Boo [the name comes from To Kill a Mockingbird] to practice because the other dog, Randy, didn't work out very well. Boo escaped at one time, and it took the entire team to catch him. He paid them back for the capture by eating a baseball. My wife and I ended up our evening at Dick’s sporting Goods where I purchased a new glove for a mere $39.95. I noticed that Sam needs a lot of work and I have him for about one and one half hours before school and a little bit of time after school. Red Sox here we come!!!
MORNING UPDATE on practice between Sam and his Grandfather. Ist warmup pitch I threw him bounced out of his glove and hit him in the ear because he was trying to use a catchers mit. Really got made at me as it must be all my fault. Settled down and we had a good practice until the Old Muser jumped for an errant ball and pulled a muscle in his back. More Ibprophine. Note to self: Do warmup stretching exercises in AM.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
As the winter sun disappears, being replaced by a sun that stays with us for more hours a day, it provides a harbinger to our coming weather and I easily get transported back to summers a long time ago, when life was much simpler. We played our hearts out during the day, getting into as much trouble as we possible could and driving our parents to the brink of a major breakdown but twilight was something different. We would hurry up and eat, begging to get away from the table so that we could join our friends outside in the evening games.
All of our games were safe and sensible and handed down from big brother to little brother with no allowances for gender or race or personality. They had names like Oley, Oley Oxen free or Red Rover, Red Rover [never just red rover but always red rover, red rover]. Our players were all of the neighborhood children, younger and older alike. The playing fields changed somewhat, depending on the game and who was out of supper 1st. I distinctively remember Red Rover, Red Rover where all of the kids lined up, two captains were elected and they chose up sides. Each side got in a line and held hands. The starting captain would holler out to the other side Red Rover, Red Rover, sent Teddy right over. I would lower my head and charge the opponents line, as hard as I could, changing my attack direction as I chose a weak spot to smash in to. The object was to hit the line hard enough to break their hands apart. If I was successful then I would get to keep one of the handholding pair, I had just broken through, and take them over to our side. If I couldn’t break through they got to keep me. Eventually one side would prevail and have all of the players. Then the game was over and the girls would all jump up and down and scream or something and we would select two new captains and start over.
Our other game, of choice was Oley, Oley Oxen Free or Hide-n-Seek. One person, being designated as “It” would lean on their arm against a tree, or other object, which was intended to keep them from looking and then slowly count to 25 or 50. One Mississippi, two Mississippi…..and then holler out “Here I come, ready or not.” The search was then on for the others who had secreted themselves within the boundaries of the game. If a hidee was spotted by “It” then the chase was on to base and if “It” won then the person beaten would be “It” for the next time. When a hideee reached base safely, then they would yell out “Oley, Oley, Oxen Free” for some reason or other. Everyone I have ever talked to about this game had slightly different rules and slightly different words to say but basically it was always the same game coast-to-coast. Maybe one of you readers, out there, has a clue about the words or the variations used. If you don’t, ask your spouse.
The thing I do know about these games is that they are not played very much anymore. I know my grandson doesn’t know anything about these games. We can blame all of that on “Stranger Danger” or generally a less trusting society or write it off as a “Sign of the times” and that is sad. I always remember the neighborhood parents being around on the fringes and being the referees if things went wrong. It was a visitation time for the parents so “stranger Danger” was not an issue. I had always figured that the parents were the ones that started and kept the games going because they were all high energy games and what better way to make sure that little Johnny or Susie would crash as soon as they got inside. I think some parents along the way, dropped the ball on this one. Maybe it was us as my generation was the next one up? Simon Sez “take two giant steps forward.”
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Overhead, two Red-tailed Hawks gracefully circled the sky above us, slowly scanning the ground below as they interrogate it for one of our black squirrels or even a stray rabbit. Their grace was an amazing show as we watched them catching up drafts and rising and then slowly diving but all of the time, circling and watching. The sun was high and neatly backlit their seemingly transparent feathers, giving them a soft, red, glow. They rule the skies. When spotted the crows gave off the first warning cries and then others join in almost saying “Take Cover, take cover.” Quickly the low level skies become very busy as dozens of birds circle their nests pretending that this effort will ward off the speed blinding dive of one of these fearsome predators, waiting above. Soon the circling moves far off into the distance and the mind numbing chatter of the crows disappears as well. They are all safe again, for the time being. The show is one of the benefits of having 57 acres for your back yard, your own forest and being next door to the Berkshire Hills. The Red-tails are our favorites but we also have Bald Eagles and Peregrine Flacons circling on occasion.
This has been one of our driest Marches on record as we have received zero precipitation. We need the moisture as it is one of the ingredients for growing grass with success. We haven’t planted anything since October and we have a lot to do. “Come on Rain”. The winter months are our resting period. A time to relax and rest weary muscles and brains. A time to catch up on the broken tools and equipment, correcting deficient maps and records and a time to dream up new projects. It isn’t a time of complete relaxation as the winter snows must be removed off of miles of roads and thousands of feet of sidewalks so the children can get to school and the joggers and dog walkers have a place to travel. Making burials in three feet of snow and below zero weather isn’t exactly a “Walk in the Park”. We stay warm with our pot bellied stove and it lets us fix the equipment and paint in relative comfort. Our muscles tend to grow soft over the winter and the spring is the time to return them to tone and strength for the coming months. My God how they ache and only after one hard day. My back feels just like it is 63 years old and my arms scream out for some type of medication to take the hurt away. Thank God for Ibuprofen.
In case you didn't notice IT'S BASEBALL TIME AGAIN!! Not just any baseball but little league, instructional league baseball time. Last night was the 2nd practice session for my Grandson Sam's new team [we don't know the team name yet] and the coach is a friend of ours. Matter of fact, Tony is the Son-In-Law of my wife's 1st boyfriend so we are really tight? Tony has 5 kids of his own and really loves coaching and my favorite saying is, "God Bless the Coaches."
This is Sam's 2nd and last,instructional little league season,as next year he steps into big time, little league where parents get serious about their childrens future, as up and coming Johnny Damons and millions of dollars in salary. They start yelling at the umpires and each other. I just won't be as fun. I missed the 1st practice session last week and Sam managed to get hit in the mouth with an errant ball [no serious damage but some tears and a bit of a trophy as he shows you where his teeth went into his gum]. He is already into spitting again. Last year it took 6 months to break him from spitting, after the season was over. My wife and I arrived last night, as the boys were warming up, and the danger level was at its highest. There had to be 200 boys and coaches all over, all warming up at the same time. Trying to get to Sam's practice area, we had to go past another team that a father was hitting flyballs to. He had a glove in one hand, throwing the ball up and hitting it with the other hand, so you can imagine what his accuracy rate was. As we approached the back stop area for Sam's team, we had to walk in amongst the boys throwing balls to each other and even as we approached the safety of the backstop we now had to watch out for teams behind us practicing. A little nerve racking to say the least but we took our rightful, grandparents spots, unfolded our chairs and watched the circus appear in front of us. When we walked in we met our daughter walking out with the Golden Doodle on full restraint. He is still just a puppy [20 months] and all of these kids playing with all of these balls and no one playing with him. He was absolutely wild! In order to let you fully understand all of this and bring you up to date, I have included a posting from last year in April.
It's Baseball Season!! April 26th 2005
I had an interesting week when my wife and daughter headed for Ashville NC to the Billy Graham evangelical conference. We are Methodists but our church sent them as they figure it is something our church can use more of. They left Monday and came back Friday leaving me with my Grandson Sam for that amount of time also. Sam didn't have school this past week and I had to work. My wife is the Superintendent of the cemetery and I work for her so when she is gone, I also take over Superintendent duties. Needless to say, for an old man I was way over my head and there was nothing amusing about it. Sam is 8 and baseball little Leagues are in full swing so every chance we had we practiced in addition to the organized practiced sessions. Playing catch with him has taught me how to jump again. In normal life I don't have much occasion to jump except in such situations as jumping out of the way to saves my life from some wild, woman driver trying to multi-task by smoking a cigarette, talking on a cell phone and trying to negotiate the parking lot and position in the drive-up line, all at the same time. Happened twice this past week at McDonalds. The jumps with Sam are straight up in the air or madly to the side to keep the ball from rolling under a vehicle. He lacks a little in his ball throwing control. On our first practice day, I figured I could catch him bare handed because I'm good and he doesn't throw very hard. After 15 minutes I was looking for a glove. Dumb! This has been the first I have put on a glove in about 45 years and I have not forgot very much except the value of a good jock strap. 20 minutes into the third day and he threw me a hard grounder. The rest is history. No more kids for me. On our first practice session that I went to, with the team, the coach sent home a letter of regulations, rules and expectations. They were all to remember to bring a hat and gloves to each practice session and especially games. At the last session, 4 kids forgot to bring their gloves. They are not allowed to say "you suck" or they are sent home. One of the earlier practices, one of Sam's teammates repeatedly kicked a mother, from another team, in the shin and didn't even apologize. I'm not making this stuff up as it is verbatim from the coaches letter. He said jock straps are required and cups are recommended so we went out and bought Sam a jockstrap with a cup mounted into it. The thought of turning around in the seat and seeing him with the jockstrap around his head and the cup over his nose throws me into hysterics. Sam's 1st time at bat, that I saw, he hit it and ran to first after some difficulty locating the base. [I have since found out that the reason for that is that the boys all tend to kick dirt wherever they are and they dig such a deep hole that they have to move the bases out in the tall grass to keep the runners from breaking their legs and no one can find them. Yup, kicking dirt and spitting are big. Sam has now taken up chewing bubble gum] The next batter got a little hit and as it was rolling out to right field, Sam, who is now running from 1st to 2nd stops, picks up the ball and fires it to 2nd for an out.? Some of them can catch but not throw, some can throw and not catch and some can do neither. In their simulated practice games the pitcher pitches the ball and the catcher misses the ball and runs back to the back stop to get it and fires it back to the pitcher who doesn't catch it and being the 2nd and short stop are busy kicking dirt the ball rolls by them to the outfielder who picks it up and fires it back but once again 2nd and SS are kicking dirt so no one can catch it. It makes for long practices. I've noticed that, now one of the coaches is behind the catcher, with a glove on, calling balls and strikes and another one is out by centerfield to catch the balls that roll by everyone else. God bless the coaches. I can't wait for the 1st game. In our spare time we laid around watching the Red Sox kick butt on TV. After any type of practice Sam and I go to McDonalds for supper. Sam is in another growing streak and has moved passed the Kids Meals only so far as I have to buy the kids meal for the stupid toy and supplement this with extra hamburger or chicken. Meals tend to be quite expensive. Hopefully his new baseball spikes will last the season before he grows out of them. We managed to eat all of our meals out, for the week. This made for less dishes to wash on Friday but didn't help with the laundry and the overall dirt that had managed to accumulate in the week they were gone. Friday was a little bit tough as the plane landed at 11:00am. Oh and by the way we had to paint the master bedroom, lay new carpet and have a new bed installed [one of those numbers things]. It was a busy, hectic,week but Sam and I, two dogs and the guinea pig all managed to survive and be stronger for it. Overall it was a really cool guy's week.
Just in case you missed it, that picture is my grandson standing with the World's Champion Trophy, which the Red Sox won and Yes, it is the real trophy! Go Sox!
Sunday, March 26, 2006
As you may have noticed, blogging has been a little light for the last couple of days, and for good reason. Since I am still cursed by having to work for a living, blogging time is sometimes limited by workload. [Sorry Mr Completely ]
I'm coming off a major bout of the flu [1st time in 20 years]. Stay tuned as I will be right back.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
22 years ago I was working a Maintenance Supervisor in a Tandy computer drive facility in Odessa Texas. Great company and the best job I ever had. My biggest problem was that I did not speak Mexican or Mex-tex so I always needed one of my Mechanics to interpret for me. All of my mechanics spoke English as well as most of the line supervisors. There were 400 Mexican women that worked in the facility but the language barrier was not as big a problem as one might imagine. Any type of event where women’s menstrual problem were spoken about was a source of major embarrassment for me. If my wife and I went to the store and she bought Kotex I would walk a different directions because that item was in the cart. Little did I know that all was going to change.
I had three women’s bathrooms and two men’s bathrooms under my charge and I had two really good Mexican girls that took care of the women’s bathrooms. We had just fished remodeling all of the bathrooms and the large women’s bathroom came out especially nice. It was a 20 staller. My first problem came just after I came to work in Maintenance when one of the Mexican girls came to me in a panic telling me, in broken English, that the Kotex machine was empty! What to do, what to do, and I didn’t even know that I was in charge of the Kotex machine. She said to me “You take money, put packages in”. I finally figured out that I was in charge of the machine. She took me out to the shop and pointed to a rather large cabinet and then pointed to the lock and said “Open”. I pulled out my very large key chain and kept trying keys until one of them worked. When I opened the cabinet doors there were more packages of Kotex than I had ever seen or thought even existed in Texas. She went over and got a basket and filled it up and then handed me a money bag to carry. We proceeded into the women’s bathroom and she went in first shouting in Spanish a phrase that I figured meant that a man was coming in. I waited but no one left and my cleaning gal came and opened the door and took my arm and pulled me into the bathroom. My body was now sweating profusely and I was about to have some type of panic attack or something. Inside there were about 30 women standing around the kotex dispensing machine and speaking all at once and I detected a air of anger among them and I was the recipient of their misplaced anger. Finally my cleaning girl took my keys out of my hand and opened up the box. Yup it was empty. She then took the bag out of my hand and filled it up with quarters and gave it back to me and then filled the machine with the packages of Kotex, shut the door and stood back. The women rushed the machine and after they had their Kotex packages in their hands some of them came over to me and shook their packages at me, pointed at them and acted like they wanted money from me because they kept pointing at the bag of quarters. I was mortified. My helper came to my rescue, at about the time I was fearing for my life as things were starting to turn ugly She would argue with the women and then reach in the bag and give them 2 quarters. The machine had cheated them, when it was empty, and they wanted their money back. They were going to get it from me regardless. Some of them were even bigger than me. We left the bathroom and I quickly grabbed one of my bi-lingual mechanics to tell me what had happened. He, then interpreted with my Mexican cleaning lady explaining everything as she went on. She finished up by telling him that when it was time to do the machines again, she should come and get me because “the stupid gringo would never be able to figure it out on his own.”
You would think this story would be over by now but its not. The next problem we had was some of the toilet seats were breaking and we just kept replacing them, finally going to an industrial, heavy duty, seat. My girls came and explained that some of the women were climbing up and squatting on the toilet seat. They were straight from Mexico and probably had never used a regular toiled seat before. The problem was solved with the heavy-duty toilet seats. I
was getting better at this problem solving stuff and these Mexican women.
The next problem was a lot tougher to handle. My girls that cleaned the women’s bathrooms came to me and were quitting because they wouldn’t work under the conditions of what was happening. With an interpreter in hand they told me that the women were now putting soiled toilet paper into the Kotex receptacles on the back of each stall door and they were not cleaning the mess. With a lot of begging and pleading and a raise, I convinced the girls that we would figure out the problem and then solve it. They agreed to stay a little bit longer. The last thing I needed was for those two girls to leave me. I had come to the conclusion that it was because of poor hygiene education that the problem was happening. The only thing that was going to save the day was to start giving mandatory hygiene lectures to the ladies. I went to the General Manager and he agreed with my assessment and that was the problem but there was no way he would talk about it to those women. It was my problem to solve. I was so mad about the problem that I agreed to do the talking and our personnel director agreed to be my interpreter as she was Spanish and would set the program up.
After work my head mechanic and I went into the women’s restroom to reconnoiter the territory and try to solve the problem. My Mechanic was Mex-tex, having lived here all his life, and we went to work on the problem by 1st inspecting the stalls and to try and start at the beginning. First we read the instructions on the back of the door which were on a plaque I had made up. He said, “do you realize these instructions tell them not to put kotex and tissue into toilet but to use the kotex disposal container instead.” I almost fell over and said “Jose are you sure that’s what it says?” “Where did you get these signs” he questioned and I informed him that “our Personnel Director had translated the Spanish part for me”. Jose told me “She is not from Mexico but is Spanish and that is exactly what she did, translated in Spanish.” The sign was suppose to say do not put paper towels and kotex in toilet but put them in kotex disposal container instead. He went on to explain that the pure Spanish words are tissue for paper towel. They were doing what we told them to do and I was the dummy. Changing the sign solve the problem and helped us to get to the bottom of things.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I think all of us have some type of coincident that has happened to us in our lives. I can think of three that happened to me but there were probably more. My problem is that I am old and tend to forget things. See, I have already forgotten 2 of the 3.
My Boat, USS Snook ss(n) 592, was at the end of our drydock period in Bremerton, Washington when Dale and I got married. After our honeymoon we got an
apartment in Bremerton but it wasn’t really to our liking so we started looking and found a little cottage on Lower Oyster Bay Road which we rented from State Senator Morgan. It was super as Lower Oyster Bay and a decent beach area were only about 150 feet from our back porch. I think it was only one bedroom, bath, living room and kitchen with a front and back porch. Had a kerosene heater with a 55 gallon barrel on the back porch.
Soon I was getting out of the service and she would be moving back to South Dakota to live with my parents until I got out. We had a small Volkswagen Bug and we loaded everything up or had it shipped and on moving day we were headed for Idaho to stay with old friends for a while. I wanted to get on the road as it was a long haul but she insisted on staying longer as she wasn’t through cleaning and I kept saying let’s go, let’s go. So she won and we stayed a couple of hours longer and cleaned. That was the first of many major arguments we were to have over the years, about these type of things, and she won most of those arguments. Maybe she won all of them but back to my story.
24 years ago I was in the construction business with my brother Bill down in Odessa, Texas. This was about 12 years after leaving Bremerton. On a Saturday we were doing a window replacement job for an insurance agent that had his office in the same office suet’s building that we worked out of. After the job his wife fixed supper for us and we ate and sat around having a few beers and visiting. It came up that he and I were both nuke boat sailors at about the same time and he was on the Scamp. I said “John, didn’t you guys follow us into drydock in Bremerton. He said he did and their Corpsman for their last West Pac tour, before drydock, was from our boat. His name was Roger and was also my Best Man at our wedding. What a coincidence! I asked “John where did you guys live when you were in Bremerton?” “Oh” John replied, “a really neat little cottage on Oyster Bay that we rented from a State Senator, Mrs. Morgan’ and she said some sailor from you boat had lived there before us”, “Isn’t that nice” I replied. I instantly flashed back to the problems we had trying to get on the road from that house because of my “neat freak” wife. I asked John’s wife, ”so was the place clean when you moved in?”. She said “matter of fact it was spotless, why do you ask?” “We lived there before you did,” I ventured. That night I called my wife in South Dakota and relayed the story. She just said “See”!
And that was that!
Friday, March 10, 2006
Thursday, March 09, 2006
I was a Police Officer for about 6 months and suddenly I found myself Chief of Police. I was all of 28. I had just recently completed the SD Police Officer training program that was taught by the SD Division of Criminal Investigation and had 6 whole months as a rookie under my belt. From that I got a pretty good idea of what I was suppose to do, how to complete an investigation, etc. A local DCI agent held my hand and walked me through everything. We carried only 6 officers plus an animal control officer and 6 reserves. I had 4 full time dispatchers and four cars; all used state police cars and all big bore Chevy's and Dodges. It turned out to be an interesting ride. It started with my first burglary investigation after only a couple of days on the job as I was also the department's only investigator.
The call came on at 8am, a burglary at a local business. I showed up with my fingerprint kit [it even had a magnifying glass with it], my camera, my notebook and about as nervous as a whore in church. I dusted the whole place for prints and did about a dozen lifts. Took photographs of everything and wrote copious notes, interviewing everyone that worked there and came away with a couple of good leads. My new best friend, DCI Special Agent Tom helped me with my evidence and suggested things like "The next time you find a fingerprint to lift, photograph it and the location before you lift it or you can't use it in court". I even managed to lift my own print. I at least dazzled everyone that was around with my great show. I even got a confession out of one of the leads and we sent him off to probation. My next challenge was a burglary of a city building, stealing, what appeared to be, only burglary tools. Agent Tom gave me a great lead and I got right on it developing enough probable cause to get a quick search warrant of his house. If I could find those tools, all marked property of the city, it would send him back to prison. The only problem was, the Sheriff and the State's Attorney were using this guy as a snitch on something else. The easy thing to do was to tell me and I would back off. Instead they put me through hoops to get the warrant and in the mean time told the guy we were on to him and ditch the tools. Big lesson #1 never ever trust an attorney again or an official who gets his job by the election process.
Sturgis has a large Motorcycle Rally, the 2nd week in August, every year and it was coming soon. We had word that it was going to be very well attended but there is not too much preparation you can do with a 6 man department. I went to the City Council to try and get funds to hire a few more officers for the 100,000 or so people that were expected but they turned me down. About four weeks before the races I got a call from a Chief of Police in Colorado giving me a heads up that his local gang with national affiliations was holding a national convention and that they had leased local land in the Black Hills for their convention. What this meant was they were safe, on their own property, from law enforcement interference. Traditionally the bad gangs were tracked across the country by State Police Departments and when they entered our county, they were met at the line by the Sheriff and a large posse and were turned around at the barrel of a .357 magnum. They always chose to leave. Not this year! I was told to expect 250 to 300 members. Later I received a call from the Motorcycle Gang Division of the LAPD informing me that they had murder warrants for several Hells Angels who had been part of the security detail for The Rolling Stones Concert at Altamont Raceway Park in Calif. The concert had gotten a little bit out of hand killing Meredith Hunter. They heard that they would be in Sturgis, for the Motor Classics, but traveling with the Gang from Colorado. They would send me information on these people, photographs etc. [Oh Goody]. I talked to the FBI and they gave me no help on intelligence. My friend Tom, with the DCI, provided me with much more intelligence on a daily basis, and we got additional help from the State Police as they would beef up their local patrols and move other officers closer to our town to be available if necessary. Back I went to the City Council with this new information. The only help they would give me was to authorize me to put our reserves on and pay them. This would amount to 6 additional officers who weren't trained except to work the races every year but that was pretty good training, now that I think about. It is called Trial by fire. One of my friends worked as an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special Agent nearby and promised that he and his partner would be available for the festivities. Our force was growing. I was too young and lacked any sense of my own mortality and nothing really bothered me. I was going to be Super Cop and save the town. [We always had some gang activity problems at our races and when I was 12 my brother Bill saved the town. We had a motorcycle gang from the other end of the state come and do terrorizingrrorising of out local citizens. My brother was a pretty tough dude at this time. Well the occasion came when my brother and some of his buddies were walking down the street and the Sioux Falls MC gang was walking towards them. Their trick had been to force everyone to walk into the gutters as they came down the street. Brother Bill and his group were having nothing to do with thconfrontationroccurredn occured. My brother put the leader of the gang in the gutter with many bruises and invited anyone that would like to join him to speak up. Since no one spoke up he suggested they might get on their bikes and ride away. They did. My mother told that story a thousand times and it always started out "Do you remember when my son Bill kicked the motorcycle gang out of town?" I was planning on following in his footsteps] We all put our heads together for some planning sessions. What came out of these sessions was: 1] Local, regular patrol officers would work using their cars on a 16 hours plus basis; 2] Reserve officers would work the downtown area on a 12 hour basis; 3] "No Drinking in Public" law would be enforced religiously and was the responsibility of the reserve officers. All violators would be immediately taken to a JP for resolution; [The advantage of this was that power of the JP's were huge as they could immediately set fines up to $500 and send people to jail for 30 days] 4] No overreaction to any incident and dispatchers would attempt to call for responses on a measured basis only. 5] Any eluding attempts by motorcycles would be handled by one car only, to conclusion with the notification of the State Police for assistance when chase left city limits. [Our vehicles would reach 130 to 140 mph and our knowledge of the chase areas would be fully to our advantage]. These were all great plans. Normally the second full week in August when the bikers all showed up for the races and the problems started the Police would get excited and put on the local reserves. This year they showed up one week earlier to attend the Days of 76 celebrations in Deadwood, only 10 miles away and the overflow reached us and our duties started 1 week earlier than expected. I got all excited and put the reserves on also. We were a little town of 5000 but our Fire Department supplied services [ambulance and fire] hundreds of miles away and they were stretched with 3 ambulances on the road almost all of the time, mostly picking bikers up that had crashed. We had an arsonist hard at work setting grass fires all over the county to the tune of 1 to 4 a day so the FD [all volunteers] were stretched about as far as they could be. The Sheriff informed me they wouldn't have any deputies available for us as another town in the county, 120 miles away, was having their yearly celebration and they would be up there. Things looked like they were starting to fall apart! We were about as busy as we could possible be and our celebration was still a week away.
The sheriff and I headed for Deadwood, during the week along with two others who were members of our Fire Dept, just to see how things were going over in Lawrence County and the town of Deadwood. We parked at the S.O., told the dispatcher we were going over to where the action was. The Lawrence County Sheriff spotted us and we talked for a few minutes. He said it was way worse than what they had expected because of all the early arrivals of so many bikers. Deadwood billed itself as a Wild West Town and had always been fairly wild open. When I was in High School, I remembered lots of prostitution with 4 or 5 houses of ill- repute located in the bar areas. Lots and lots of bars and lots of illegal gambling activities. The Days of 76 celebration was always a good place to go for a truly wild weekend and a good place to go and get your butt kicked. We told the Sheriff we were going over to the Main Street area and check it out and he said he didn't have any deputies left to bail us out if we got in trouble. The Main Street celebration was way wilder than any of us remembered and probably a good indicator of what our week was going to be. On the way back to the SO a group of high school kids were sitting on a knoll drinking beer and as we went by one of them hollered out "Pigs, Suey hey Suey". We turned and walked up to the group of youth who were laughing very boisterously until our Sheriff reached down and extracted the shouter-outer by his hair [long hair was in at the time], spun him around, and cuffed him. It was about one block to the Sheriffs Office and Sheriff John kicked him in the butt all the way. Pig was a term of the Viet-Nam War protesters and we didn't take kindly to it. He was thrown in the lockup to spend the remainder of his celebration and to contemplate the probability of $100 fine for disorderly conduct and telling his parents what had happened, in the morning. The only other time anyone ever called me a Pig was a lawyers son who I had just arrested for sale of LSD, which was about 2 weeks after this first Pig calling. He spent the night in the slammer and the next day he plead guilty to sale of an adulterated food substance, and was fined $50. The operative words here were lawyers son.
The office was in a bit of a turmoil because they had an automobile accident about 3 miles past the next town in the county. The problem was they had an ambulance available but no EMTÂs. Their ambulances were as stretched as ours. Two of the guys with us were ambulance people and took their ambulance to handle the accident with two people injured. I had been called back to Sturgis but on the way down the canyon the Sheriff and I came across an accident. Seems that a biker had been riding down the canyon, at a high rate of speed, with his girl friend on back, and lost his lights. No street lights and no guardrail and they ended up at the bottom of a dry creek bed. His head was crushed against a large boulder but she survived. It was in our county and was our 1st of seven motorcycle fatalities for the races. [watch for part II, "The Sturgis Motor Classics" coming as soon as I can write it]
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Don’t you think I felt pretty smart. Well I carried this further and took a look at Columbia’s web site http://www.columbiamfginc.com/ and what do you know; they had displayed 5 different models they make as well as a 125th Anniversary model special.Quoting from their website; “Today, when trendy mountain bikes and high tech bikes (some with 24 gears) are the norm, Columbia Manufacturing, Inc. of Westfield, Massachusetts is celebrating their 125th Anniversary with a special edition "Custom Deluxe" Cruiser. The Columbia Custom Deluxe has no fancy gears, but it does have a speedometer, clock, coaster brakes, white-walled tires, headlight, up-turned handlebars and a horn. Available in both men’s and ladies models, these classic cruisers are painted a deep rich opalescent blue and ivory and is accented with authentic frame decals.”
I did Columbia and The Blog Brothers a real disservice by speaking without checking my facts. I am truly sorry for that.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Dolphins are what we worked for in the qualification process. They are the award we wore that set us apart from the rest of the Navy. Many a 'skirmish' took place 'on the beach' because someone messed with or disrespected the Dolphins. I might have been in a few of those skirmishes, but I'm not sure as sometimes I forget things.
Enlisted Dolphins are silver, officers are gold
The qualification process on the smoke boats was trying at the very least and actually was very mind boggling and overwhelming. The COB and the rest of the crew played mind games with us to make the process even tougher. It was required that everyone know everything there was to know about every compartment, every system, every component, every wire, every valve, every operation. I don't mean to sound redundant but that's qualifications and it took a long time. We all had our specialties and we trained on them as well and we all stood regular watches, 4 hours at a time every eight hours. Our specialties included enginman, machinist mates, electrician mates, internal communication electrician, electronic technicians, radioman, quartermaster, torpedoman and a few bosin mates for good luck. We also had stewards, yoemen, cooks, quartermasters, sonar men and one cranky gunnersmate. Each had gone to special class A schools to learn their respective trades and then on to submarine school, on their way to the fleet. When schedules allowed all were sent off to more specialists schools to learn things like welding, operating lathes, special torpedo schools. None of us were dummies when we arrived and we were all capable of becoming qualified on submarines so long as we could put up with being beat up, taunted and harassed by the qualified crewmembers [officers included] and tolerate the endless string of practical jokes that always left the crew rolling in the aisles. Sending the hapless non-qualified puke searching the ship for a "sky hook", "Sorry, but I don't have any of them 'sky hooks' in my kitchen", the cook replies. "Maybe you should try tubes forward", a member of the crew sitting at the table suggests, and as the young sailor departs through the hatch to tubes forward, the entire compliment of crew on the mess decks at the time, suddenly burst into riotous , uncontrolled laughter, all to the bewilderment of the searching sailor.
It was a fairly simple system as everything was awarded points. You had practical factors that were worth 1,2 or 3 points each. Systems were worth more such as the High Pressure Blow system might be worth 10 points. You had to be signed off by an enlisted instructor and also an officer exam on your knowledge. The same was true for each compartment on the ship. If you didn't have 50 points at the end of each week you were considered deliquent in quals., and guess what? No liberty. You needed to stay on the boat and dedicate more time to qualifications plus you had incurred the special wrath of the COB and he was on your back until you were back on track. It was best to be ahead in order to keep your liberty card and keep the COB off your back. Way ahead.
Final qualifications was a walk thru with the Executive Officer [XO] and it was a tough exam. The XO didn't care what your rank or rating was as he expected everyone to know everything there was to know about the boat. The qualifications officer and the COB accompanied the XO as they conspired to trip me up. I was blindfolded in the Forward Torpedo room and told to head aft. As I stumbled through the Control Room the XO shouted there is a fire in the Conning Tower. Blindfolded I spun around and deftly reached out and grabbed the ships collision and fire alarm at the same time as the qualification officer grabbed my hand and said "Dickson, that's OK you don't need to actually sound the alarm." My other hand was already pulling the 1MC [ships general communication loudspeaker system] from its holder to shout "Fire in the conning tower, Fire in the conning tower". The Qal. Officer gently removed my finger from the talk button before I could shout and said "Well done Dickson." [The sounding of the fire/collision alarm would have every sailor following procedures and the sub would have been sealed up in a matter of seconds, systems shutdown, special breathing apparatus would be put on, and there would be no stopping it] The Cob headed me down the passage way to continue my test. It was constant questions and requests "find the shutoff valve to ...., where is the switch for......, flooding in the after engine room" and so it went. Two hours later I was completely soaked in sweat and the XO extended his hand and said "Well done sailor".
Every morning, when we were inport, at 8am we held quarters topside in order to account for everyone and get all of the news and things to do. The next day, after my walk-thru, at quarters, the Skipper walked up to me, shook my hand and pinned my dolphins on me. He then said "Crew dismissed, turn to and throw Dickson overboard." After a brief struggle, 4 of my shipmates managed to get ahold of arms and legs and counted 1,2 and on 3 gave me a mighty heave into the waters around Key West Florida. Hooray, I was qualified!
The next week we went out on a two week operation and along the way we pulled liberty in Ft. Lauderdale and I had to undergo one more ritual. When liberty went down we all headed for the nearest pub for a few libations. The first order of the day was "Dickson drink your dolphins". One of the Engineman walked over and removed my dolphins and placed them in the bottom of a very large glass. They gave it to the bartender who filled it with all sorts of cheap Rum, Vodka, Wine and anything else they wanted to get rid off. The glass was handed to me and I was told to drink my dolphins. I chugged the glass and finished up with my dolphins in my mouth and everyone cheered and ordered another drink. As soon as no one was watching I slipped off to the head and barfed my guts out as all that liquor was the last thing I wanted in my stomach as we were in Ft. Lauderdale and there were all sorts of women to catch. Now I was really, finally qualified.
Smith & Wesson is on the move
Steven B Skrubis, long gun product manager at S & W,
fires a few rounds with M&P 15
I live in the center of US gun manufacturing as Savage Arms is here in my hometown, Smith & Wesson is 16 miles away in Springfield MA and Colt Defense is 32 miles away in Hartford CT. Today’s Sunday Republican had a very interesting article by William Freebairn [firstname.lastname@example.org] about Smith & Wesson. His article addressed S&W’s new release the M&P 15 which is a tactical rifle which has been available since January. The M&P 15T which is its top-of-the-line model with high-end accessory rail and battle sights sells for $1500, according to Freebairn. Firearms distributor, Camforur inc., which is located here in Westfield said it cannot keep the rifle in stock. The Sunday Republican article quotes Camfour president Michael Brown “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response”. Brown go’s on to say “The rifle is especially popular among gun dealers who specialize in carbines and lighter military-style rifles. Its main competitors will be products from Colt Manufacturing and Bushmaster”.
Joe Bergeron, handgun product manager at S&W, holds new M&P pistol
S&W has also taken a run at Glock with its plastic-frame pistol, the M&P 40 which features adjustable grips, an optional internal trigger lock, several ambidextrous features and retails for $675 according to Freebairn. This gun has been available for 6 months.
If you refer back to an earlier posting of mine concerning my “Bear Protector” while I was in Montana, you will agree that the S&W .50 caliber would be a big improvement for me.
My thanks to William Freebairn for his article and Mieke Zuiderweg for his photo’s both are of The Sunday Republican
Thursday, March 02, 2006
It started today. We get to doggie set 3 dogs because we don’t have anything else to do with our lives outside of the fact that we both work full time. Our office is 100 feet in back of our house along with the maintenance garages. My wife is superintendent but spends most of her time in the office or at meetings around town. I work in the office and in the Cemetery across the street. This morning our daughter dropped off two dogs for us to dog sit. Boo a black lab pup, Randy a 2 year old Golden Doodle, and of course we have Simon the Shih tzu who is 12 and lives with us full time even though it is our daughters dog. This is Boo’s 1st time staying with us and all he wants to do is play. Randy is still a puppy but he is much to big to let him play with Boo unsupervised. Simon would love to play with them but Randy is too big and hurts him and all Boo does is bite him so most of the time they all need to be kept apart. We don’t have cages or anything to keep them in so we keep them in different parts of the house. Boo has the kitchen because he is almost trained, Randy has the Parlor/office, and Simon has the living Room.
I get to watch the dogs because I am doing map work and my computer is in the Parlor/Office and is networked to our office computers. I got the dogs to stop fighting and into their respective corners this morning and they all took a nap. Randy then woke up and threw up on my Parlor carpet. Being that I am liberated and figure it is about my turn to relieve my wife of always having to clean up, I clean it up. [good Ted…. pat, pat] I’ve noticed that one of the advantages of being old and fat is that when I bend over to clean these things up, I can’t breathe so I can’t smell anything. Put Randy out for a while and then Boo started crying, which is his signal that he wants to go out and pee, so I put him out but have to stay with him or he runs away. Randy wants in because it is only 20 degrees this morning. I get back to work and Randy is whining and walking around in circles. Don’t know what that means but I put him out again. Just in time as he throws up again. [good call Ted]. Boo Pee’s on the floor which I clean up. Everyone is down again and now Simon wants out so I oblige him and go back to work. Now it is 12:30 and time for lunch and for Simon to have a haircut and so my wife Dale goes with me. Had to go back because I forgot Simon’s special, anti-bacterial lotion. Tiny Paws is on the other side of town during the noon rush. Just make it on time [this is important because I have either been late or totally missed 3 of the last 6 appointments and this lady is good] and I have to pick him up at 3pm. Still in her office, with all the blowers running, and my cell phone goes off. “Who can that be” I wonder, as the only one that ever calls me is my wife? Ah yes, the School Nurse from Grandson Sam’s school. “Sam is sick and needs to be picked up, OK?” “Sure why not, we’ll be right there but were on the other side of town, OK”.
Picked up Sam and headed for the restaurant for lunch. At the restaurant we run into people we know from another restaurant that closed and we haven’t seen for a long time. He is in his 80’s, use to live on one of the historic streets in town and started telling great stories. Meanwhile an older couple [80’s] from our church spotted us as they were leaving and came over to talk [she use to live in our house when she was a little girl and her grandfather was cemetery superintendent. More stories]. A friend of my wife’s, from Kiwanis, stopped to talk about their meeting tonight and their upcoming auction on Sunday, urging me to make sure I bid [in the past I have purchased hot air balloon rides, truck loads of gravel and bark mulch for the cemetery, a day at the Spa for Dale, etc]. Had American Chop Suey for lunch and it was great, except it got cold? Now we are back at the office sans Simon but with Sam. Have to remember to pick Simon up at 3pm and …Oh Damn I still have his shampoo in my coat pocket and I can’t remember who’s food is who’s. Oh ya, Simon at 3 and pick up Tim at school at 3; there seems to be a problem here. “DALE!!!” I gave up working and wrote this posting instead.
I thought I was done with this posting but there is more. It is now 2:30 and I have to get a parking space to pickup Tim. Dropped Tim off with wife and picked up checkbook to pay hairdresser. Only 15 minutes late picking up the dog. The Dog Do was $28 so I wrote the check for $58 and as I was headed out the door our hair dresser said "Mr. Dickson, thank you but I think $30 is too much for a tip!" Rewrote the check for $33. Made it home and Daughter was there analyasing the contents of Randy's stomach as he has thrown up once more since I left. Results were that it was some type of green chew that is good for the dogs teeth, that she had given him on Saturday. On Sunday her ex-sister-in-law had told her to beware of them because dogs can't digest them and she threw them away. She just forgot to tell us about it. She felt sorry for me and invited me for supper because my wife has a meeting tonight and I remembered to accept the invitation before I asked what we were having [good Ted...pat, pat]. After supper I think I will go have a Scotch and water with my wife. Maybe it will just be a Scotch.
Did I ever tell you that we are empty nesters? .
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
There were a lot of “cultural shock” things that I was introduced to in the next few weeks. That first night I had a very nice supper and met another 15 or so shipmates (I could use that term now) who were all very nice but about five of them insisted on calling me Puke. My next shock item was the term “Hot Bunk”. That term came into my lexicon when I asked where I could stow my sea bag and where my rack was. The COB gave me a brand new, small bag that I could use to hold some of my personal things, whenever I got my own bunk but until I got qualified, I would probably not have my own bunk. In silence I screamed “WHAT NO BED OF MY OWN!!! What kind of place is this? In sub school I got my own Bunk. In Machinist Mate School I got my own bunk. Even in Boot Camp I had my own bunk and now they are telling me I don’t have a bunk to call my own. This sub thing is small and cramped. I’ve already knocked my head half a dozen times and the place literally stinks. Everything, including the people, smells like diesel fuel. I wonder if my Congressman knows about this?”
What would take place, according to the COB “you are now eligible for “Hot Bunking”. It is a ritual that all new submarine sailors looked forward to and participated in”. “Being a “Smoke boat sailor means being the best the Navy has to offer and it means having to give up a few things, now and then, to be a proud member of ‘The Silent Service’. He stuck out his hand and said “Welcome sailor.” He also added, as he was leaving the crews mess, “you’ve got your qualification card there, you have nothing to do, so what better time to start on those quals!” The half dozen or so sailors still in the crew’s mess laughed heartily and shook their heads as the Chief exited. Apparently it was at my expense but I wasn’t sure yet, just why.
When the boat is in port, there is always an enlisted man on watch, topside and one on watch below decks. The below decks watch had been sitting in the hatch between the forward torpedo room and the mess decks and had enjoyed the COB’s welcoming speech. Still laughing he walked over to me stuck out his hand and said, “Welcome aboard Dick, that was a speech I had not heard yet.” “Grab a cup of coffee and follow me; I’ll show you your new home.” We started in the forward torpedo room, talking about torpedoes’ and headed aft. I don’t think Larry stopped talking for the next two hours until we finished up in the after torpedo room and he was done showing me how to flush the toilet. The most disturbing part of my walk through was the explanation of the term Hot Bunking.
This is a picture of the interior of the Cavalla ss 244. note flash covers on bunks.Door leads into after battery head. Hatchway [oblong] leads to forward engine room
It meant that when I wanted to sleep I would go look for an empty rack (which was usually someone’s bunk that had just got up to go on watch and the bed was still warm, hence the term “Hot Bunk”) and use that bunk for the next four hours. It seems that all of this was caused because there were more sailors than bunks. The bunks were mattresses enclosed in a Naugahyde “flash cover” which was meant to keep the bunk clean when not in use or to keep us non-qual Pukes off the bedding. Before crawling in you were to pull the flash cover closed and sleep on top of it. This would mean that we would wake up in a pool of sweat, which resulted in lots of pimples. My mother never would have approved.
The scariest part of the tour was in the after torpedo room head. The toilet flushing routine was very complicated. You had to open the flapper at the bottom of the toilet to drop everything into a holding tank under the toilet. So far so good but if someone had messed up the procedure, before you, and there was still a pressure in the tank, then when you opened up the flapper the contents of the toilet would be in your face. Next you had to open and close a bunch of confusing valves in a special order. You even had to call someone to get permission to blow the tank. There were lots of ways you could blow shit on you or on a shipmate that followed you. What if that shipmate was the COB??? If it was wartime and the enemy was hunting you and you blew the tank without permission then the enemy would kill you with a torpedo. The whole thing was way to confusing for me. I just never used that head again.
I spent the rest of the evening sitting at a table in the mess decks getting use to diesel tasting, coffee. About 10 sailors joined me, off and on, welcoming me and offering advice. Some were qualified and others weren’t. I found out that the COB really was my Mom and would hold all sorts of things over my head such as liberty. We were allowed “Cinderella Liberty”, which meant that we would get to go “ashore”, “on the beach” but we had to be back on base by Midnight. The catch to all of this was that the COB held all of the Liberty Cards and you couldn’t get off the base without one. Marine Guards were at the gates and they would shoot you if you tried to get off base without a card or were late coming back. It was simple, if you were not up to date on your qualification schedule, no card, no women to chase. When you got qualified you got a permanent liberty card, which let you stay out after midnight drinking, carousing, chasing women and your own bunk verses “I would be kicked off the ship, a disgrace to the Navy”. What an incentive to get qualified. I headed for the berthing area and looked for a “Hot Bunk” to rest my confused bones. This wasn’t going to be easy.
Next up: Qualifications --coming soon