Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Black Bear is an interesting animal and we certainly have our share of them here in Westfield, MA. We are on the edge of The Berkshires which are part of The Appalachians which become The Green and White Mountains North of us. I’m no expert but I know our Bear population has really increased in the past few years and I think that a lot of it has to do with less hunting pressure on the Bear population. Dogs were outlawed, several years ago, and this lessens the pressure on the bear population from hunters. Housing movement into rural areas has also put pressure on bears to move and their food source is probably screwed up. More bears, less space equals less food. They have gone after the honey growers first and the bird feeders second. I have not noticed anyone raising honey for several years now. Not only do they steal the honey but they destroy the hives in the process. Birds feeders are one of their favorite alternatives. They just bend or break off the poles and eat the seed, then they go looking for the bags. If you set the feeders back up. Like most people do, they come back. They have excellent memories and can remember food sources for several years.

Last year we had a Mama Bear and three Cubs in our cemetery. She brought them in, through our forest, to the very end of the forest. She found an appropriate tree and ran the yearling cub and the two babies up the tree for safe keeping. When the babies were safely settled, way up on big limbs, she headed out to find some food. She headed up the bank to a road, which was about 30 feet away. The problem was that an older man [older than myself] was tending his wife’s grave, along with his daughter. She went and sat in the car and he stepped over the bank to go to the bathroom. He never saw the bear and the bear never saw him. All 200 pounds of Mama bear passed, on a dead run and within 5 feet, as she scrambled by him to the road. When I talked to the man afterwards he said “I’m not ashamed to tell you, I wet myself”.

She returned about 1 hour later after an apparently successful hunting excursion. For one thing she did not attract the usual police cars and bystanders. Momma plopped herself at the bottom of the tree and took a nap even though I was in my pickup only 50 feet away. Every time I moved, she turned her head and watched me until I settled down. After about 20 minutes she groaned and headed back through our forest and within 25’ she had her entire family following her. She hasn’t come back yet but I’m sure she will. We are all waiting as it was such a fun thing to watch.

The following information is gleaned from The National Geographic News for 4/24/06 A hunter was attacked and seriously injured by a black bear Saturday on a road just outside Olympic National Park in Washington State. The incident follows a black bear attack nine days earlier that killed a six-year -old girl in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. Some experts say the bear attacks may be a sign of a growing clash between humans and the wild. "I think it is probably just a matter of there being more bears and more people in bear range than ever before," Joe Clark, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the Associated Press. That fatality is among only 12 cases of black bears killing humans in the contiguous United States in the last century, according to the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. Director Lynn Rogers, adds that people are more than a hundred times more likely to be killed by bees in the United States than by a black bear. My Dad use to always add that line when he was telling snake stories except he would say snakes instead of bears.Maybe I should tell a snake story next. I could tell you the story about the Hoop snake. Naw, I’ve got a good Coyote post lined up but then maybe the snake story.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Batting .1000

Full count, the score was tied in the bottom of the last inning and the mighty Sam, number 12, swung smoothly, with control and the high fastball lifted into right field just out of reach for the right fielder. Sam roared down the baseline towards first and hit the base with his foot just microseconds ahead of the first baseman’s foot. “Safe at first” was the call. What really happened here was that Sam hit a nice little single to the right fielder and he hustled off to first base but when he got to the bag there were really two bags there, Sam didn’t know which one to step on so he jumped them. [I have absolutely no idea why two bags] the first basemen caught that Sam hadn’t touched any bag so he hollered for the ball but it was a bad throw and he had to run out a bit to catch it and Sam, at the panicked urging of the coach, hustled back and touched the bag. [It sounded better the way I told it first doesn’t it?] Sam would soon cross home plate and his run would push the TNT Construction “Dynamites” into the win column over the Liptak Dentistry team. He was 2 for 2 in the hitting category for the game. You can sure tell that I’m just a little bit proud of my grandson’s first game of the season in his second year in instructional Little League.

He caught for the first inning for his first time ever. He caught the pitcher, during warm-up, just perfect. When the batter stepped up, that threw a different mix into the equation, and Sam froze. Worried about the batters bat I think. He hung in there just perfect as the photo shows but he didn’t catch anything except a couple of perfect pitches into his glove because he didn’t move his glove the entire inning. His glove didn’t move even once. I heard the umpire say “At least knock them down Sam, you are killing me back here”. Everything didn’t go good for the Mighty Sam that day but he is batting .1000. During the next practice the coach was having Sam work out as a pitcher. We’ll see.
Just like last year; the pitcher would throw the ball; the catcher would miss the ball and it would roll to the backstop; the catcher would fire the ball back over the pitchers head; the second baseman would not even see the ball because he would be busy kicking dirt; the outfielder would come in and fire the ball to the pitcher, right past the second basemen’s head because he is still kicking dirt, who may or may not catch the ball. Makes for long games but they are a laugh a minute as they all try so hard. Tomorrow is the next game.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Blog Book

Here it is, My first blog book. I copied all of my postings from the blog and my daughter made a book out of them. 200 pages and counting. I will say that it sure requires a lot of time. You have to be dedicated enough to post at least every day. Some of you post 2 to 4 times a day and I don’t know how you do it.

My hit meter says that 4,491 times you have bothered to read me. 24 have hit this morning already. I appreciate all of those hits as that is why I write this blog.I’ll keep writing so long as I have readers. I have all sorts of things to write about that I have been suppressing for 62 years and this medium gives me the power to write what I want. Thank you Goggle for not making me pay for that power. I have a good posting about “The Weather on TV”, another on Bears, one on coyotes, A shotgun blog, another submarine blog is in the works and A great one about “My Grandsons first game of the season” which is probably next. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cancer News!

I don't know whether I published this before but a couple of weeks ago my wife underwent breast surgery for cancer. It was a lymphocytes and it has been her third surgery in two years. Yesterday she met with her surgeon for the results of the biopsy and future treatment. The Dr. thought she had gotten it all and no chemotherapy or radiation this time. My wife was elated, to say the least, as she had really been sweating this one out. She wouldn't let anyone go with her this time, to see the Dr. It was a nail-bitter for me so it was probably good I had the concrete pour from hell to take my mind off of things. We had a nice quiet supper so that we could have some wine and just talk, the two of us. God was good to us today.

Concrete pour from hell

Yesterday was the day to pour concrete for my daughters house for her patio. It wasn’t going to be a big pour but about 3-1/2 yards. It is 31 feet long and 9-1/2 feet wide. The poor was 1st scheduled for Friday but they [concrete company] called Friday morning and cancelled because of equipment breakdowns and rescheduled for Tuesday morning but I cancelled because we were having two days of rain and rescheduled for Wednesday morning. Tuesday night I got up from my desk, after leaving one of my drawers open, and tripped over the drawer, went stumbling across the room and hit the floor right next to my sleeping dog. I missed the dog but landed on my shoulder. My wife said I hit the floor so hard I shook the entire house. Hurt my shoulder but I’m tough so I just took 4 hits of Ibuprofen [200mg] and went to bed. Well, don’t you know, I awoke with an extremely sore shoulder but in case you missed it, I’m tough and just took more Ibuprofen and went and set up for the pour. Concrete isn’t a stranger to me as I have poured 1,000’s and 1,000’s of yards in my career as a general contractor. Problem is that I have not poured any in the past 10 years and that was about 100#’s ago. There was only 2 of us and in the past I would have had 4 guys on the job but I figured we could handle it. We did but not without pain. The driver was a jerk and made a lot of extra work out of it. It put me to the point of total exhaustion about three times. The last time I noticed my sight had gone blurry and I thought I was having a stroke. Then I realized that I had just been looking at the sky, checking for clouds and possible rain, and had looked right at the sun which was probably the cause of my blurred vision, so I called off the stroke and we finished the pour. We started at 7 and didn’t finish until 4:30 and it really came out looking good [only by the grace of God]. Here I am 63 years old, one hundred pounds overweight, hurting shoulder and ribs [ibuprofen wore off], totally exhausted and now putting tools away. Something jumped out at me, in the shop, and down I went and then as I was putting a large chain away, I dropped a section of it and it rapped my knee hard enough I almost cried. Took a shower and as I was drying my foot off, it slipped inside the tub and I went face first into the sink. Somehow I managed to bring up an arm and kept from smashing my teeth onto the faucet handles. I then went downstairs and smashed my good knee into the coffee table. My wife and I were headed out to eat and she just looked down at me wreathing in pain on the floor and said, “I’ll drive!”

Monday, April 24, 2006

Knotty Pine Basements

My daughter and her husband recently purchased a house and moved out of our home and made us real empty-nesters. It is a nice cape with a garage, 3 bedrooms up and a Florida room attached to the living room. Really nice, older neighborhood. Behind them is a home built in the early 1700’s. Their house was built in the late 1940’s. I did the inspection on the house before purchase and when I went down stairs I almost fell over. The basement was finished off and all done with Knotty Pine Boards. I immediately harked back to 1958 and a sock hop one of my girl classmates held in the basement of her house. It looked just like this basement. I must have been in a hundred of those type of basements and all looked identical. Some were finished in paneling and some with Knotty Pine boards. My father finished ours with blue stained Knotty Pine. Back then, no one built family rooms but finished off their basements instead and we all had some type of party in them. It was great as the parents were upstairs and we were downstairs. Occasionally mom and dad would come down bringing more snacks but usually they stayed upstairs and yelled down, ever so often, to turn the record player down. They were record players then, spinning out 45RPM’s. If a girl hosted the party they were called Sock Hops and if a guy hosted the event it was called a Make-out Party. Sock Hops were in the same era as clothing with buckles on the back. First it was mainly pants from the Ivy league colleges and then everything followed. There were socks, shirts, shoes, caps, you name it and they put a buckle on the back. A closed buckle meant you going steady with someone and an open buckle meant you were available
We never had any parties at my house because I thought my Mom and Dad were to straight-laced to let me have one. In my Junior year Mom wanted to know why I never had one? In typical teenage fashion I just shrugged my shoulders, looked at the floor and said “Golly Jeeze, I don’t know”. She insisted and I had a pretty good one. Don’t remember who brought the bottles but it sure made an interesting party. Mine was pretty lame compared to my little brother Gary’s party, when he was my age. Mom and Dad were gone, out of town, and he lost control of the party. I knew it was a good party when he called me the next day wanting to know what electrician [to fix the light] to call and what plumber to get to unplug the toilet. He cleaned up and hauled out all of the beer bottles to the alley for pickup. He thought they would never know about the party. They knew because all of the neighbors ratted him out, because the plumber and electrician both gave the folks a bill, because the folks had reason to go to the alley with trash of their own and saw all of the bottles and the finishing touch was finding that their bed had been “Slept In AIYEEEE”! As I said “My party was pretty tame compared to his”. Gary should have kept his party down in the basement like I did. Big brothers know best.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Red Fox Family

This is a photo of our first red fox in the cemetery, that I took about 5 years ago. Early morning I had spotted the fox walking across some grave tiers so I jumped out of my truck , with my camera, trying to get a shot of him or her. We will call it him for simplicity. This shot of him is the sum total results of my stalking Mr. Fox for about 20 minutes. In this photo I thought I was going to get close enough for a good photo with my Pentax with a 200mm telephoto lens. I had isolated him between the road and a series of stones and proceeded to sneak up. This is the result as he came around the stone and that is his head, in the middle of the picture, watching me. This photo is the result of the telephoto and my enlarging the photo and cropping it down. 100 feet is as close as he would let me get. I just gave up at this time as it seems that I had been out foxed. About 3 weeks later I got a photograph of part of his family. They had taken up residence, under an old tree stump in the middle of our cemetery. The terrain is fairly steep so they were safe. There were actually 7 kits but three died over the summer. Usually when we approached from the road below, everyone would scatter off to mom who was often in the den' all except the little guy on the right. He wasn’t scared of us at all.

They all grew up, over the course of the summer with the little guy taking the lead and leaving with dad for hunting lessons. The other three stayed in the den. One evening I had the opportunity to watch Mom, Dad and the little guy all come back from a hunting trip. The others had stayed back in the den. Mom was on one little mound of dirt and about 50’ away Dad was on another. The little guy was spending his time trying to climb the mound that Dad was on and as he got to the top and attacked, Dad knocked him off again. They did this 5 or 6 times, then they came off their mounds and continued on to their den. The little guy would run a few feet ahead, fall down and paw at them with his front paws, trying to get some action going but there were no takers as it was getting dark and time to get the little guy home.

We all watched this group for the rest of the summer and finally in late August they started to break apart and go in different directions, which is the way fox families work. Two came back, in a couple of weeks and hung with us for a while. Fox talk to each other by a high- pitched howl that sounds a bit like a small child wailing and it is a bit unnerving at night. Our cemetery neighbors don’t like the night sounds as in August they all have windows open getting any breeze that is out there. I know they don’t like it because they tell me so and sometimes they call the Police. It seems that the sounds are two fox calling each other or at least locating the others general direction. These two were a little bit insecure as they talked to each other even during the day. It was a hot summer day and one had decided to take a nap in a open temporary storage vault while the other one patrolled outside sleeping in the nearby Hosta plants. Two of us came upon the scene and just sat down and watched the drama. We were about 25 feet away and that was way to close, for the security guard outside, as he got up to challenge us but we didn’t move so he started howling. After about 5 minutes we heard a return from the fox inside and shortly after that fox emerged and the two headed off in a safer direction to sleep or hunt. Sometime, not long after, they disappeared for good. Fox need a bigger forest, than we have to offer, to operate in and The Berkshires were only a mile or so away.
A Red Fox is back in our cemetery. I talked about him in another posting this past week and we are all sure hoping that he is out hunting for a den full around here somewhere.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Black Squirrels

This is a close-up of one of our black squirrels here at Pine Hill Cemetery. Apparently we are one of the few areas in the country that have Black Squirrels so I will give you the opportunity to learn a little bit about this characters. Stanley Park is a major part of our community and it is about a mile up the road from our cemetery. Stanley Beveridge is the namesake for the park as he is the one that created it and as a matter of interest, his family is interred in our cemetery.

A Westfield phenomenon since the late 1940's, the black squirrels now populate most areas of the city and have moved into surrounding communities. Because they are not indigenous to Western Massachusetts, the presence of the squirrels has led to a rather large collection of stories and tall tales as to how they got here, when, and perhaps most important, why? They were a gift to Frank Stanley Beveridge, the founder of The Stanley Park of Westfield, Inc. and Stanhome Inc., from former Stanhome Inc., sales manager's, Hubert L. Worell and Alvah (Al) Elzerman. In 1948, Worell and Elserman brought the squirrels from Michigan to Westfield, Massachusetts when they were to attend a conference here at Stanhome Inc., or known at that time as Stanley Home Products. The first arrivals were kept in cages and did not adapt well to their new environment; they failed to reproduce and eventually died. Undaunted, Worell and Elserman tried again, this time bringing six squirrels, allowing them to roam free in the confines of the park. The squirrels found their new surroundings and their freedom to their liking, and were soon an established tenant of Westfield. Now black squirrels are to be found all over the Pioneer Valley and are numerous especially in the park.

Stanley Park is a valuable part of our city and people travel here from all over the world to view their gardens. The black squirrel does not go completely unnoticed here in the city because our local office supply, Conners, sells everything Black Squirrel including hard to find, right hand and matching left hand coffee cups. Check their website out and become the first in your block to have a Black Squirrel T shirt.

Squirrels are not real high on the list of some people other than for target practice. There are some squirrel haters out there that have already seen more squirrel pictures than they ever care to see again and have printed up this posting to use as target practice. Squirrels can be somewhat troublesome characters as they tend to eat everything and are capable of getting into anything in that pursuit. Why there are even one or two of them folk living right here in Westfield. In order to get them to leave their birdfeeders alone these poor little rodents are trapped unmercifully and often with Have-a-Heart type of traps. The contents of these traps are very often brought to our cemetery and released probably at the urging of “The little Woman”. We have enough squirrels on our property and often urge trappers to clean their traps at Stanley Park, just up the road a piece, as this is from whence they came. It will make some of you very happy to know that this large increase in our rodent population makes us a prime hangout for Eagles, Red-tailed Falcons and the like, as well as the Wiley Fox and other fleet of foot predetators which keeps natures balance in the proper order. The squirrel Haters amongst my faithful readers could probably even buy a Black Squirrel T shirt from Conners, paint a red target on it, and wear it to all of your shoots.

As this is a “squirrel” posting I will leave you another photo but of the other color, gray. Cute little guy! On occasion we have a brown squirrel but they tend to be a bit smaller and don’t compete very well

Friday, April 21, 2006

Squirrel Mass in Mass

Last spring, my wife, daughter and I were spending an early spring morning on our back porch watching the birds and the squirrels. We had two large maple trees next to the house. One of the trees had a bad spot in the crotch of the tree that had partially rotted out but made a nice home for a family of squirrels. Lately we had seen momma squirrel and two or three babies but they would quickly leave the tree for the neighbors back yard for daily lessons on how to become an adult squirrel. This morning we watched as both black babies and gray babies started coming out of the crotch of the tree. I happened to have my camera with a telephoto lens and quickly started clicking off pictures. My daughter started counting, I clicked and then asked her how many she counted and she replied "10"! I couldn't believe it and looked for myself and sure enough their were babies all over the place. I took the photo on the left of the 1st ones to emerge. [This 1st group has 5 babies and starting at the bottom we have gray one, 2 black ones, gray one and gray one].Next I swung down to collect the second group that had just came out. By now we thought we had 11 babies but when we looked at the pictures we could see that there were actually 12 baby squirrels on the tree that day. [The group on the right is gray and black on left tree branch and on right tree branch there is black, 2 gray, black, gray and a black on top for 7 which is a total of 12???]Up until this morning, there had only been 3 or 4 babies and they were all gray. It is as if momma squirrel was taking on boarders or something and it didn't make much sense. We knew her and she certainly was not capable of feeding this many babies. She was the only adult we saw this morning. There is absolutely no trickery in the picture taking but it was sure fun watching all of these babies squirrels climbing all over this tree, all playing and chasing each other. The squirrels climbed down the tree and disappeared with the mother, when she appeared and they never came back.

Black squirrels you say, Hogwash! Come on back for more on Black squirrels in Westfield MA, tomorrow.

$13,700 PER HOUR

The New York Times recently reported that--for the first time--a full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in America at market rates. That means more and more people like Michelle Kennedy--a former Senate page and author of Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America--are finding themselves homeless and living out of their cars.
At a town hall meeting in Ohio on April 2, Representative Sherrod Brown, a staunch advocate for social and economic rights (he and Bernie Sanders are the two best candidates running for Senate in 2006) railed against the economic hardship brought on by stagnant wages: "It is unacceptable that someone can work full-time--and work hard--and not be able to lift their family out of poverty." He blasted a system where a full-time minimum-wage worker earns $10,500 a year, while "last year the CEO of Wal-Mart earned $3,500 an hour. The CEO of Halliburton earned about $8,300 an hour. And the CEO of ExxonMobil earned about $13,700 an hour."
Katrina vanden Heuvel
The Nation for the entire story click here

$13,700 PER HOUR? HOW DO I GET THAT JOB? I didn't even know there were those kind of job's out there. I've got a pretty good resume and I have experience. I have been a CEO twice. Admittedly, both times I was the sole holder of all stock but that shouldn't make any difference. To any head hunters that read this or any of you personnel directors that are part of my fan base, Hell, I would be willing to settle for the $3,500 job and as a prereq. let it be known that "I have tried Sam's Club Soda and it is not bad". Would someone please tell me where I need to send my resume.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It is a great day to be alive!

5:00 AM is a wonderful time to start your day. At 5 there is hardly any traffic to contend with and all of the stop lights are just blinking yellow or red. Every morning I start my day at this time. Today the temperature was 50 degrees following a 700 day yesterday. It couldn’t be nicer for the middle of April, here in New England. A large storm has been traveling to our North but it has missed us again. The negative to this kind of weather is that another Red Flag Day [high fire danger] is also with us. As I swing by the Cemetery, on my way to get the morning paper, I notice that the grass is much greener than yesterday. All of the trees have nice buds and almost all are showing green. The Forsythia has been in full bloom for several weeks now and it is always nice to view as it is a true harbinger.

It is still dark as I head out, for the ½ mile trip to the store, but the sun will be rising by the time I come back. I have a bit of a tendency to dawdle as I gather my coffee and paper all depending on who is in the store this morning. Kim is making fresh coffee in all of the pots as I come in and so I need to wait a few minutes as the coffee finishes brewing. Fresh coffee is always worth the wait and besides the room is full of that sweet smell of coffee as the steam pours out of 4 different carafes all dripping their best Gulliver’s coffee in the brewing process. It smells so good that I will jump start my day with real instead of decaffeinated this day. The carafes with the orange handles have been my choice ever since I got diagnosed with high blood pressure a few years ago. I think if I loose my weight I can give up the decaffeinated for good.

I pull into the cemetery and unlock the main gate so those heading to work this morning can spend some time with deceased relatives or friends before they continue on their journey. Everyone seems to appreciate the effort, as before I get turned around. three cars have followed me through the entrance gate and all wave. The sun is just now starting to poke its head above the horizon and I have to watch for a few minutes. Two more cars go by and one flashes their headlights. The birds are all chirping their fool heads off in some type of symphony that requires each to go through their entire repertoire of tunes and as a loudly as possible. It sounds as if we have a thousand more birds than we usually have. A gray squirrel is chasing a black squirrel across the graves, up and down the trees. The black squirrel is probably a food thief and now another squirrel has joined the chase but it is a black squirrel so that there are now two, a black and a gray, chasing a black one. They are hilarious to watch. The joggers are out this morning as the YMCA [jogger home base] is only three blocks away. One turns and enters the cemetery and two others go on by.

I decide to travel on into the cemetery as sometimes it is worth this early morning trip. We have a funeral scheduled this morning and I need to check out the grave site and grave this morning anyway. As I pull up and stop, a red fox comes out of his hiding or napping place in a bunch of untrimmed shrubbery surrounding a nearby gravestone. He is only 10’ away and he stops, as he comes out, and glares at me. I have interrupted something and his is upset. A good sleep, a meal of squirrel, waiting to spring a trap but I don’t know for sure what it is. He walks another 15 feet, turns again to glare and then is off looking for another stone to lie by. I hope this fox is the male of a pair and the female is delivering a litter of 9 or 10 kits. When this does happen it usually provides us with entertainment for the entire summer.
The show is over and I start my truck and head for home, across the street, where I will read my paper and fix breakfast. It is a great warm-up to breakfast. It’s a good day to be alive!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Escape Tower Training

The water was warm and blue and I just lay back and relaxed. Looking up I could see a small white circle of white light. The instructor released his grip on my life jacket and I started ascending through the water heading for the small circle of light, which with each passing second was getting bigger and bigger. I was slowly revolving as I rose through the pristine waters. I could feel the rapid expansion of air in my, lungs as I headed upward, but I was shouting HO, HO, HO, over and over again as I expelled the air, keeping it from rupturing my lungs and possible killing me. I wasn't worried as I turned and turned, as everything was happening just as promised by our instructors. Suddenly I was being jerked around and found myself face to facemask with an instructor as he held me and watched as I expelled the air. Apparently I was doing OK because he quickly released me and I started back on my rapid ascent to the now rapidly expanding, circle of light above me. As I rotated I could see the inside tank walls were painted blue and then the beautiful shape of a mermaid appeared. Above me I could see more instructors and more paintings on the tower walls all lending a surreal appearance to an out-of-this-world experience. Moments later I crashed through the surface and two instructors grabbed my lifejacket and continued the upward motion the lifejacket had given my body and plopped me on the deck. I think I was almost in a hypnotic trance from the experience and relived it again and again as I stood watching other classmates being plucked out of the tank.

This was the escape training tower at Submarine School and it was a critical point in out training. If you didn't make it thought the tower training you didn't advance any further in Submarine School.

The Submarine Escape Tower was really a test for everyone that wanted to be a submariner. For me it was major as I had claustrophobia. Remembrancence of the event was that we entered a tank at the 100' level, I believe. The hatch was closed and we were all standing as tight as we possible could because of the size of the group. The tank was flooded and as the water rushed in the pressure increased and we were constantly closing our mouths, pinching our noses and blowing hard to equalize pressure. The downside to all of this was, if you didn't equalize, your eardrumbs would rupture. I was way to busy with this task to worry about claustrophobia. Three shipmates in my group either ruptured eardrumbs or were shouting out with pain and had to be removed. The water flooded in up to my chin and then to finalize the pressure with that on the inside of the tower, pressurized air was used. I remember it got very cold inside our now shrinking tank. The hatch into the tank swung open and one by one we moved up to the instructor at the hatch. We had life jackets on and they were inflated and then I ducked into the hatch to the inside of the tank holding on to the top of the hatch. We were required to constantly shout ho, ho, ho, to expel the air in our lungs that was now rapidly expanding as we rose in the tanks. If you didn't shout ho, ho, ho, a diver instructor inside the tank, watching your progress, would reach out and grab you. Holding you until you were properly shouting. If you didn't blow out, your lungs would rupture. If you didn't equalize then you were placed inside an umbrella shaped device where you would be able to breath normally as you slowly rose with an instructor to the surface.
As I stood on the deck above, excitedly recalling my trip I realized that I had been through the whole event without even a hint of claustrophobia. The object of this training was to be able to escape from a suken submarine if necessary. This was called "Blow and Go"

Years later, in Pearl Harbor I would again make a trip in the escape training tower but this time from 100' without a lifejacket as it was a free ascent and this time I had a lot more time to view the sights inside the tower as I went up. I would slowly blow out air as my lungs expanded and I never once sucked in. Another beautiful experience courtesy of the USN.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Died: Saturday, April 15, 2006, in Midland, Texas
William D. "Bill" Dickson, 68, passed away on Saturday, April 15, 2006 in Midland, Texas. He was born on June 3, 1937, in Hot Springs, South Dakota to James and Ruby (Larson) Dickson. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Douglas. Survivors include his loving wife, Joyce, of Midland; a son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Collene Dickson of Lakewood, Colorado; a daughter and son-in-law, Kari and Rick Blake of Des Moines, Iowa; a daughter and son-in-law, Shelly and Val Varley of Clarksville, Texas; three brothers, James Dickson of St. Paul, Minnesota, Tedd Dickson of Westfield, Massachusetts and Gary Dickson of Sioux Falls, Iowa. He was a loving and proud grandfather of nine grandchildren; Christine, Billy, Jesse, Nikki, Zack, Samantha, Alysha, Jordan and Breanna. He also had two great grandchildren, Kyle and Isabella. Bill graduated from high school in Sturgis, South Dakota in 1955. He attended Iowa State University, majoring in architecture. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta. He became a supervisor with Brown & Root, working on minutemen missiles in North Dakota. He was then self employed in the construction business in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1982 he moved to Odessa and worked with the HUD program. He later went into the property rental business in Midland. Those left behind will dearly miss Bill and remember him for his kindness and sense of humor. A memorial service to honor his life will be held at 3:00 PM Wednesday, April 19, 2006 at the Nalley-Pickle & Welch Chapel in Midland. Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home & Crematory of Midland. Online condolences can be made at:

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Westfield Ma 4/15/05 Donald Trump, of The Apprentice was knocked off his feet today, in the local Ace Hardware store by an apparently upset patron. A vicious but well placed left hook was landed squarely on Donald's glass jaw. Apparently the attacker escaped, in all of the confusion, as store clerks stood dumfounded while others helped Donald back to his feet. He was crippled by the blow as he was unable to stand erect for some time. Store personnel said they were able to strategically place tape so that he could stand and endure the pain. Donald and his first "Apprentice" Bill Rancic were on a promotional tour for Ace Hardware at the time of the attack. Mr Trump stated that he would not let this little incident stop them as they had lots more promotional stops yet to make. Strangely Bill Rancic stood by silently during the attack and had nothing to add after. Donald refused to let store officials notify police and stated that his organization was capable of handling these matters. Donald seemed to be shouting "I'll get you for this" [see photograph at left] as they carried on with the promotion mission and Bill just smiled.

In an interview with store clerk and witness Mary Ann Davis she stated, "Man it was really crazy as this guy just came walking in the door and as he went by Donald 'Bamb' and the Donald was down. Wasn't no blood or nothin, just 'Bamb' and The Donalds was out." She said they used Scotch brand tape to put the Donald back together again.

Friday, April 14, 2006


This is a periscope view of a torpedoed Japanese destroyer by an American Submarine in 1943, in the South Pacific.

The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Browns played four consecutive extra-inning games (May 31 and June 2) totaling forty-five innings. Both leagues combined to set a Major League record for overtime activity with ninety-one extra-innings in the American League and eighty in the National.

New York Yankees outfielder Roy Weatherly caught ten separate fly balls in a single game on April 28th and then went on to repeat the performance on June 12th. In doing so, he became the first outfielder in Major League history to record ten putouts in a game — twice in one season. Major League Baseball approved a new "official" ball that was comprised of reclaimed cork and balata, which were two suitable materials that were not needed in the war effort. Officials insisted that the ball would have the resiliency of the old version, but players later complained of an inability to drive the "overripe grapefruits" and pointed out the lack of home runs as a result. Oh Ya the Yankees won the series over St. Louis. Go Boston!

Silly Putty - 1943 James Wright working for the General Electric laboratories had produced a synthetic, pliable rubber that was cheap and useful for a lot of small jobs as a caulking and molding medium. Note: it wasn't called silly putty until later on. In 1956 I went to the Boy Scout National Jamboree at Valley Forge and I remember being in Grand Central Station waiting for a bus and a bunch of us bought Silly Putty. We made balls of it and were bouncing them off the walls and ceiling of the biggest building I had ever been in. And you thought Boy Scouts was just about rubbing sticks together. Ha

Colossus, an electronic digital computer, cracks German wartime codes – 1943. At this point in time, the war in the pacific was not really going our way. In July the war in Europe was starting to change as the Allies invade Sicily. 13 United State Submarines went on Eternal Patrol in this year.

June 10th FDR signs withholding tax bill into law (this is W-2 Day!). This reminds me that I have not sent my W-2's in yet. Right after the posting is finished. Otto Stern won the Nobel Prize in physics for this year., 1943 - Frank Sinatra appears at The Paramount causing a mob scene of hysterical bobby-soxers to flood Times Square and blocking midtown New York City traffic for hours. He also became a regular featured artist on the Radio show Your Hit Parade.

It was a dubious time, at best, to be born. I remember seeing a baby photo of me, in my crib, with an American flag tacked over the crib. I was a patriotic baby then and I still am. A lot has happened since 1943 and a lot of young people have died to keep us free in the meantime. Let us not forget them. God Bless America

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Toothache has fallen the Big Guy!

Today I had the privilege of going to the Dentist and having an extraction. OUCH! I had lots of nice advice before I went and I thought I should pass it on in case you have a thought that you want to do something other than go to the dentist. I have not heard of a lot of these and I kinda wonder who thinks them up. Maybe it is a bunch of old wives visiting over the backyard fence. Most of this and the picture are stolen from the hyperlink above and I thank them for the advice: Acupressure Press gently but firmly on the sides of either index finger opposite the base of the fingernail; Cloves Place two drops of clove essential oil on a sterile cotton ball and place the cotton ball against the aching tooth between the tooth and the cheek until the pain subsides; Salt Combine two tablespoons of salt with one cup of boiling water; take a mouthful of water as hot as possible and slosh it around your mouth near the tooth; repeat as necessary; Tea Suck on a teabag. Place it as close to the aching tooth as possible.
More Remedies I thought you might enjoy perusing: Ginger Root Buy some Ginger Root at your grocery store. Cut off a piece of it and remove the skin. Put the piece in your mouth right on the painful tooth & bite down on it. The pain will go away immediately!! You may have to replace the Ginger in your mouth periodically with a fresh piece -- but just keep the rest of the root you purchased in a container in your fridge, and you will always have it when you need it; Oil of oregano apply directly to tooth or gum, tastes bad and burns a little but has natural anti-biotic properties.

Remember, I do not indorse any of these remedies but have included them for their humor. I never had a clue that our spice rack had so much potential besides making tasty dishes possible. The only remedy I recommend is go to your dentist! I have managed to overcome the ordeal I have been through today and I am sitting up and taking nourishment again, thank you.
ps My wife will probably tell you I whinned a lot today but don't listen to her.

Monday, April 10, 2006


DRIFTWOOD HORSES Something a little different. Take a look

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Foster House an inn place since 1842

The Foster House is located at 50 North Elm St. in Westfield MA. Micajak Taylor built it in 1843. In the 1850’s it was and in called the Pontoosic House but was named The Foster House in the 1890’s. It was thought to be the oldest continuously operated tavern in western Massachusetts. It was built within 100 yards of the Railroad Depots; The Boston & Albany; and the New York New Haven and Hartford. The Foster House became a place for railroad workers and train passengers to stay. In those days it was a great place to take your wife or girlfriend for a 25 cent sandwich and glass of beer.

We moved to Westfield about 1984 and about 1 block from the Foster House and it was a really going place at that time. Mike Phillips owned the business and John Merphiditis had the restaurant as Mike didn’t want anything to do with the food. He just wanted to sell booze. My wife and I have moved a lot, back and forth across the country and we have sampled a lot of Prime Rib. At the time of our arrival, we found that John had the best Prime Rib we had ever eaten, period. People flocked, in droves, to his restaurant from the surrounding 4 states. On the weekend we would go over and the bar would be about 4 deep. The trick was to figure out who was going in to eat next and go stand up behind them so you could grab their stools. It would take about 1 ½ to 2 hours to get seated in the restaurant but if you could get a bar seat, who cared. The Foster House had a great reputation as a place that didn’t tolerate fighting and a woman could go in alone and feel safe. If I was meeting my wife and was late I didn’t worry about it because part of the bartenders job was watching after the women. Mike, an old bachelor, did not tolerate any swearing and if you tried to hustle a woman sitting alone, you could expect to receive the full wrath of Mike. If you were 86’d your truly were 86’d and you would never get back in.

The important thing, to us, was it offered a social life that we didn’t have, as our daughter left home and went off to college. We met lots of new friends, our age, at the bar and unlike just a bar, these were friends we did other things with. They were working friends; breakfast friends; friends to invite over to the house or go to their house; friends to go on a diet with; friends to vacation with and the list went on and on. We never went and drank to excess or got mean and had fights but we were all good friends. A lot like the Navy friends we had after we got married. Some friends we went to church with. Wedding and baby showers were held there as well as my 40th surprise birthday party. We went to Christenings, funerals and graduations.The bartenders were personal friends as two of them were my fishing partners. Dick tied flies and I was the lucky recipient of hundreds of them and they worked great. Al moved to Vermont to pursue other interests and we kept going up to visit he and his mom and he keeps coming back to see us. Two of the owners have now passed on and one of them, Harry and I were very close. As I write this it brings tears to my eyes to remember the fun times we had. A Halloween party where I dressed as a fat woman is one that comes to mind. Then one day, Michael the present owner, locked the doors for good. He owns a business next door and could use the space for his own parking of trucks and for business expansion. The Foster House had become a financial drain on him as well as a drain on his time. It was time to stop the bleeding and he did. By the time he closed the doors, the long lines for food were gone, the menu had changed, the people from out of state had stopped coming, Times had changed and so must we.

There was nowhere for us to go. The places we tried had a different crowd and they were all younger. We still had a few friends left that we keep in contact with but most have disappeared. We run into people that we haven’t seen in a couple of years now and we ask the same questions, “have you seen ….?”, “where do you guys go now?” All have the same answers and do the same thing we do. There is nowhere to go and they occasionally run in to someone who also says the same things the others say. It is basically a group of 50 or 60 of us and some retired and moved on. Others started taking long trips to visit new grandbabies or are rebuilding the house for the kids. A lot of the ones we run in to have some type of health issues and some have died. For my wife and I, we became very active in our church and our grandson and she is active in Kiwanis. I build birdhouses and write a Blog. Most of us are in our 50’s and 60’s and I guess we just plain “Grew Up”, for the last time.

Friday, April 07, 2006

New York and New London

This is a photo of my Submarine School class July 1963. I’m in the front row, third from the right end. I was a Machinist Mate Apprentice fresh out of Machinist Mate school at the Great Lakes. I have a picture of that class also but I will spare you. And I promise I will not show you my graduation picture from Boot Camp.

When first I arrived in the Great North East, I had a few extra days of leave left and decided I should explore New York City. I got off the plane at LaGuardia airport and headed for the USO for help. They got me a room at the YMCA where I immediately went and ditched my sea bag. My first meal was a “Hero” at Hero’s and I found it and whole bunch of other things to do and see and eat, in a book entitled New York On$5 a day. The first night I found a nifty bar close to the Y and settled in for the evening watching Color TV. It was the 1st time I had ever watched Johnny Carson in color. It was a great three days and I never got into trouble once. Then I caught the train to New London and my first exposure to New England in the spring. What a trip.

This was a fun school because we learned all about the inner workings of a submarine and even went to sea on School Boats for a few days. The best thing about sub school was New York City. Dennis and I hung together in high school, joined the Navy together and we met up again at Sub School. Every chance we had we jumped on the train and headed for the big apple to party and chase women. New York had an 18 year old drinking law, Yahoo. He and I traveled together in NY and found lots of sights to see and lots of new adventures. Together we got tossed from “The Metropole Club”, “Birdland” and the “Copacabana “. A record of dubious distinction, I’m sure. We always purchased round trip tickets at the New London station, just in case we were to run out of funds in New York City. We ALWAYS ran out of funds but we always got back.

Another friend, Jerry, and I were headed into town, on the bus one Saturday when he managed to get us both in trouble. The bus stopped at the gate and two marine guards came on the bus and looked around, got off and motioned the bus to proceed. We almost got through the gate when I heard the shrill report from a whistle which caused the driver to stop suddenly. Back on the bus came the two guards and they marched down the aisle to where Jerry and I were sitting and stopped. One guard pointed to Jerry and said “he did it” and then turned and pointed to me and added “or he did”. We were immediately placed under arrest, cuffed and marched to the officer of the watch. Right away I noticed something different about the guy as he had one blue eye and another color for the other eye but the blue eye stood out. I felt sorry for the guy They made their accusations in the strictest of military protocol. The Lieutenant went over to his chair, sat down at his desk and pulled out a pad of forms and started filling them out from our military ID’s which had been confiscated at the start of this action on the bus. He would glance up from his paperwork every so often and scowl at us and shake his almost bald head, slowly from side to side. At this point I had absolutely no idea of what Jerry and I had done. I really didn’t understand military protocol for these situation except for what little I learned from boot camp and watching movies back home. Finally I mustered up the gumption to blurt out “Permission to speak, Sir”? The young lieutenant dropped his eyes and his pen like he was really irritated and then slowly looked up at me and after several poignant moments replied “permission denied, scum bag!” Well right then and there I decided I didn’t like this situation but I felt that my best plan would be to go along with this game, whatever it was. There was an alternate plan but I noticed that all of them were wearing guns. Finally Lt. Blue Eye was finished, stood up, rotated the papers he had been working on, 180 degrees, and told us to read them and sign them and the yellow copy was ours. We were placed on house arrest which would mean being confined to our barracks and being given a “Captains Mast”. We were accused of being disrespectful to the Marine Corps. To wit: one of these sailors gave an obscene jester to the marine guards as they were performing their jobs by stopping the bus and looking for unauthorized personnel trying to leave the base. We had a hearing date set for the next morning at 08:00 hours with the Marine Commandant.

At precisely 0800 hours the next morning Jerry and I were in our best starched whites, standing at quarters with the grunts as roll call was made. The orders of the day were passed out and everyone dismissed except us. We stood at attention for some time as our case was being discussed with the CO by Lt. Blue eye. As we waited patiently, every grunt in the barracks walked by us with some type of disparaging remark. The language those people used was downright filthy. Oh the shame of it. Jerry and I just nodded and smiled. Finally Lt. Blue eye came out and told us to report to the Commandant’s office for the hearing. Once again we were required to stand at attention for a rather long wait while the Captain in front of us shuffled papers on his desk. Finally the Captain looked up at us and stared for a few moments before speaking. He cleared his voice, stood up, then turned and walked over to the window and looked out. After several more pregnant moments he finally turned to us and started to speak “Gentlemen, I am deeply saddened by this incident before me as you have seriously insulted the United States Marine Corps and all of the men and women that have served its proud traditions.” He went on but I tuned him out as all of these dramatics were taking their toll on me. When he came to the words “and so gentlemen hear is your sentence”, I started paying attention again. “In exactly one week you will appear at quarters and each read your reports on “The Glory and Tradition of the Marine Corps”. He added, “It must be at least 500 words.” “Dismissed”. You will notice that nowhere in this entire incident did anyone ask Jerry or I if we did it or even our take on the charges.

I stewed about this all weekend and on Monday I reported the incident to our Chief. He was furious and told us to just forget about it as he would deal with it for us. He explained that our Commanding Officer was an Admiral and the only job the Marines had was to report to the same CO that we did, not hold kangaroo court at the expense of some sub sailors. A few days later the Chief informed me that we had not been written up, there were no charges against us, and the CO did not consider giving a marine the finger anything that should be reported but it was suggested we refrain from all future incidents such as these.

The next Saturday, instead of standing at quarters with the Grunts, Jerry and I headed for New York City and watched the Rocketts at Rockefeller Center.

Coming next The Dreaded Escape Tower

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Know your Neighbors

I spotted this posting on my friend T.F.Sterns Blog T F Stern's Rantings and I tried it out. I found it really works and works well and wanted it on my Blog. Thanks TF.

Know Your Neighbors - Knowledge is a key to survivalHere’s an excellent tool to make parents and grandparents aware. Please share this website with others!!!!It is

When you visit this site you can enter your address and a map will pop up with your house as the small icon of a house and red, blue, green, dots surrounding your entire neighborhood. When you click on these dots a picture of a person will appear with an address and the description of the crime he or she had committed.I was really shocked at how many of these people were in my neighborhood. Site allows you to get amber alerts and sexual offender updates via email.

This site was developed by John Walsh from Americas Most Wanted; another tool to help us keep our kids safe.Please pass on to anyone who has families.

The Sturgis Motor Classics Part II

The Sturgis Motor Classics Part I, "Top Cop" in case you want to start from the beginning.

The City of Sturgis Parks and Recreation and DPW were as unprepared for the number to exceed 100,000 as we were. They had planned, as usual, to house all of the attendees in the City Park as they always did [Housing means providing a place to put a tent or lie upon the earth]. There was some advantage to that in the fact we had most of them housed in one area but the closeness sure caused some problems. At least a dozen times I had to mediate problems between bikers who wanted to stay up, drink and raise hell all night and those that wanted to turn in at a decent time so that they could get up in the morning, have breakfast and head out to the morning festivities. It was a no win situation but somehow we all managed to work things out. By far the majority of bikers that attended these rallies were here for a good time, see things and do things but they all certainly respected each others rights. That’s what made the thing work, not us. Our main job was with the 1 or 2 % who insisted on causing problems. We had to keep them in tow.
Photo is of the 2005 Rally. Click here for more photos and the official website

Early the 1st night we received a call from a State Trooper following two bikers into town and he could see guns in the back of their pants so we met them on the edge of town. I had a couple of officers and there was a Trooper or two but we were a little bit a head of everyone else so we stopped at the Truck Stop on the edge of town. Good thing because I was riding in the backseat and when I jumped in, my chest hit the back of the front seat and caused a small mace can I carried in my shirt pocket [looked like a pen] to discharge and nailed me straight in the face. I was still hanging out under a faucet when someone shouted here they come. After a bit of fighting and wrestling we managed to corral the two Colorado bikers and headed for the SO where a Justice of the Peace was waiting for us. For having concealed weapons and for fighting us, the boys got a$150 or 30 days sentence each. Owing to the fact they had no money they got to start the 30 day in jail part, instead of the $150 part. The next morning the club president and several others were at the SO bright and early to pay the boy’s Fines. He said that we were not going to have any more problems from their members as “this kangaroo court system will bleed us dry” as he put it. As he was saying that, I could see, out in the parking lot, the boys being beaten to within an inch of their lives and then ungraciously being tossed into the back of a van while their bikes were loaded in on top of them. I really don’t remember having any more problems from this group outside of a couple of bar fights that were over by the time we arrived.

Two separate tours of the Black Hills sponsored by the Jackpine Gypsies MC club were a standard at the Classics. One for the Northern Hills and one for the Southern Hills and on different days. The first tour left from our downtown area with the South Dakota Highway Patrol leading the group with their own Harleys. I was at the main intersection directing traffic and CBS News was there to record the event as thousands and thousands of motorcycle riders made the turn, 2 X 2 to start the tour. I ended up on the national news that night and friends of mine, from the Snook [ssn592] saw the news from their hotel room. He had just got out of the Navy and he and his wife were touring the country and they said “Why don’t we go visit Dale and Ted in Sturgis, SD as it is right on our way. They showed up on our doorstep and we put them up. Problem was, I didn’t have time to spend with them because I was working about 24 hours a day. That was OK because they didn’t like our town anyway, too many motorcycles. Jim said ”Is it always like this here?” and they left promising to come back when things settled down but they never did.

We had way less problems than anticipated and I was happy with that. Removing a motorcycle chain away from some drunken biker in a bar was a heck of a lot less challenging than one would imagine. Being on the receiving end of a Colt Python, .357 magnum, loaded with hollow point rounds is a fairly sobering experience, when some overly tired cop is on the operating end and he has just pointed out the amount of extreme body damage you are about to receive when that hollow point explodes inside your body. Especially when that cop explains to you that you are holding a dangerous weapon in your hand and the law says that he has a perfectly good right to blow your head off. We had three of four of those incidents and two bank hold up alarms. The hold up alarms were false but we sure responded and fast. Most of the bad activities took place around the edge of town, at our motels, as they were the prime target for a group of Harley Davidson thieves. They got us for about 8 bikes and along with those we had two burglaries of local business’s [about one week after the races, the Chief Deputy from a neighboring SO called and informed me that they had found our missing bikes on an out of way trail in the Black Hills. We went and retrieved them but all that there was were seats, saddle bags, fenders and windshields as they had been stripped and turned into choppers which were driven out of the area with new plates ].

Our Volunteer Fire Dept was certainly busy with a rash of arson fires, all grass except one unoccupied structure fire where we didn’t even save the basement. [I got to solve those arson’s later after making friends with a chief from the other end of the state and we compared notes. A gal it was and he got to put her in the state prison] Our FD was stretched pretty thin during the day but about ½ of the firefighters on the structure fire were pro’s and volunteers from out of state. Out-of-state bikers could see we needed some help and it was really appreciated.

Our final big day was going to be Saturday and we expected Saturday night would really be wild. Saturday lived up to its expectations but mainly drunks at the races causing problems. Usually when we showed up the fans were tickled to death to see them go and so we rarely got problems but it sure was busy. That evening I went home for supper to see if I still had a family and I got to spend some time playing with my 6 month old daughter. At one point she was on my lap, I was bouncing her, and talking to my wife when she reached up with her little hand and hit me in the face. That would have been OK but it was actually my eye she hit and one of those cute, little, sharp, fingernails punctured my eye. I then headed for the hospital got salve and an eye patch and told to go home…... Riiiight. That little girl sure took the fight out of me and I monitored the activities from my office all night. It about killed me off staying out of all of the action.

My Mother always went downtown to look at all of the beautiful bikes at least once during the Classics. This year she took my wife and off they went. As you can tell by the picture, there are always a lot of bikes to chose from. My Mother was a bit of straight laced but truly appreciated the work, designs, painting and efforts that went into these wonderful ‘works of art’ and if a character was standing there to talk about the bike, so much the better. What she didn’t approve of was the women and displays of too much skin. As my wife tells the story, they were looking at the bikes and down the street comes a chopper with a scantily clad female on back, who was holding up her top so everyone could admire her assets as they slowly went by. My Mom looked up at the display and said to my wife “Isn’t that a beautiful bike?” and went on admiring the other bikes parked at the curb. Kinda summed up the display.

Sunday was really quiet as everyone was leaving town. It was over and we were all alive. We had managed to keep the town relatively safe and a local girl was burning down the town not the bikers. They were a good group, all 100,000 of them or whatever there were that showed up. How do you count them? How can such a large group of people get together for a week and get along so well. I know I had a really good bunch of officers, all 12 of them, regular and reserves, that did all of the work. This was all 36 years ago and since that time hundreds of young and not so young people have asked me about the races. I’ve told each of them the same thing. Go!!! You’ll have the time of your life.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Monkey Business

A wealthy old lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa, taking her faithful, aged, poodle, named Cuddles along for the company. One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that she’s lost. Wandering about, she notices a leopard heading rapidly in her direction with the intention of having lunch.

The old poodle thinks, “ Oh, Oh! I’m in deep shit now!” Noticing some bones on the ground close by, she immediately settles down to chew on the bones with her back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old poodle exclaims loudly, “boy that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?” Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. “Whew!” says the leopard. “That was close!” “That old poodle nearly had me.””

Meanwhile, a monkey, who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says “here monkey, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to the conniving canine.” Now, the old poodles sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, “ what am I going to do now?” but instead of running, the dog sits down with her back to her attacker, pretending she hasn’t seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says “Where’s the damned monkey? I sent him off and hour ago to bring me another leopard!”

Sunday, April 02, 2006

An Ansel Adams in the Making!

A lot of things happened in my basement and this was one of them. How I got the photo equipment, I do not know but this was the contact printer and it started me on my way. Along with the printer I had three trays, a red one, a gray one and a blue one, all for holding chemicals. Also included was a plastic drum for developing film. I built my first darkroom underneath the basement stairs and it was fairly light proof. The film had to be loaded into the plastic drum for developing the film and it all had to be done in absolute darkness or the film would be ruined. Developed film is called negatives and making contact prints from those negatives was the next step.

Mating the negative with a piece of paper, under the glow of a red light bulb, was as exciting as exciting can get. As I unlocked the cover of the contact printer, I had all of the instructions and expectations running through my head at once, all running together so that I couldn’t remember any of it. I inserted the negative and paper. The cover was locked and with much trepidation I flipped the switch turning on a brilliant blast of white light from within the box itself. “One thousand one, one thousand two, how many seconds was it suppose to be”? “3 seconds I think, I don’t know, I’ve lost track of the count.” “Turn it off, turn it off before it is too late.” “It’s off but I don’t remember what to do next!” “Oh ya, the developer”. In it went and lo and behold a ghost image started forming on the paper and it slowly but quickly got darker and darker and then I remembered to stop the developing by putting it in the “Stop” bath. “Wow”. Into the fixer it went and then I could turn on the regular light. I was just amazed at the results of my little hands. No one taught me or showed me, as I had just done it by reading the instructions. Imagine that!

The next day I was at the library getting every book I could on photography and they even had magazines on photography. I read and read everything that I could and I couldn’t understand very much of it because I didn’t know anything about photography but the more I read the more I started to understand. I learned about enlargers and what they did, which brands were best, what everything cost and what I could actually afford. I also learned that my Brownie camera was not going to get it and I needed a serious upgrade. Camera’s were expensive and somehow I convinced my folks to foot the bill for my new camera. I went to our local Rexall Drug Store and Mr. Urton helped me select the camera. I was now a pro and I thought the whole world was looking for a good photographer.
Just like with my chemistry set, I experimented with everything. I ruined a ton of film in those days. Soon I had an enlarger and I was doing infrared photo’s, blowing bottles apart with my .22 rifle and freezing the action with a high speed flash. If my camera wouldn’t do it I would figure a way to get better equipment. Later I became High School yearbook photographer just to get access to the photo lab, a 4x5 graflex camera and other camera’s as well. I had plans to go to college in Southern Calif. to a very good photography school but my Dad applied the breaks. “Son I want you to go to the University of Montana at Missoula and be a Forest Ranger”???? It only took me one year to go, party, flunk out and then join the Navy. So there!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

By The Book

Just for you Bubbleheads who, on occasion, stumble upon this blog I have included a page from MY Blue Jackets Manual just because you probably forgot how to fold your own clothes. I'll bet you didn't remember that the Navy had a sense of humor, either. Look at the lower right corner and notice the little cartoon. Your Welcome.