Monday, June 26, 2006

Tip the old white hat!

I have got to really thank Cookie over at the Cook Shack. I had big problems with my Blog and I posted for some help. Another Bulbblehead, Cookie jumped right in and was giving me help all day. It seemed like there was not going to be an answer to my quandry and good old cookie still had one more up his sleeve. In the process of solving the problem I lost the comments cookie posted on my last post but it was great -
Thanks again Cookie

Milk and Manure

BRIDPORT, Vt. - The cows at the Audet family's Blue Spruce Farm make nearly 9,000 gallons of milk a day - and about 35,000 gallons of manure.

It's long been the milk that pays, in the form of the checks farmers receive from dairy wholesalers who bottle it or turn it into cheese and other products. But now the Audets - brothers Eugene, Ernie and Earl and their wives - have figured out a way to make the manure pay as well. They're using it to generate electricity.

Mixed in with the smelly gasses released by a pile of manure is a main ingredient that is odor-free: methane. With the help of their power company, Central Vermont Public Service Corp., the Audets have devised a way to extract the methane from the manure and pipe it to a generator.

They make enough electricity to power 300 to 400 average Vermont homes. It's renewable energy - the cows just keep on giving. The engine that powers the Audets' generator is shut down occasionally for oil changes, but in 2005, it ran 97 percent of the time, said Dave Dunn, a senior energy consultant with CVPS.

Electricity has created an important new income stream for the Audets' farm at a time when low wholesale milk prices have squeezed their margin. The utility pays 95 percent of the going New England wholesale power price for electricity from the Audets' generator.

In addition, the utility charges customers willing to pay it a 4-cents-per-kilowatt-hour premium for renewable energy and then turns the money over to the Audets. So far, more than 3,000 CVPS customers have signed up to pay the premium.

The bottom line, given recent wholesale power prices, is more than $120,000 a year from electricity sales. When they add in other energy savings enabled by the project, the Audets expect their $1.2 million investment in project equipment to pay for itself in about seven years.

In their stalls, cows munch contentedly on a mix of hay and silage while, from their other ends, they make an occasional contribution of fuel. The animals placidly lift one hind leg and then the other as an "alley scraper" comes by to push their manure down the row and through an occasional grate to a conveyor belt below. From there the manure goes to an anaerobic- meaning oxygen-free-digester, a structure similar to a covered swimming pool. The manure spends 20 or 21 days in the digester.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Associated Press

King Lobster

When you live in New England and you want to have a party----Have a Lobster Party! That is exactly what my wife and I did yesterday on the occasion of our 39th anniversary. We invited our close, local, family over for a lobster dinner. All you need is a telephone. We called up our local grocery story and said we need 6 – 2# lobsters for 6 PM and cook them please. Bought a couple bottles of veno, some Bud, baked a few potatoes, some veggies and the party was on. The lobster was superb but a little bit of work because the shells are tough this time of year. As you will notice from the photo below that it was a very informal affair and no one wore tails, only bibs but a blast none the less.

The table really looks bad as it is littered with shells, spilled juice, butter cup drippings and lobster bibs along with a roll of our finest dinner table linen. No respectable New Englander would eat lobster without a lobster bib.

Grandson Sam has always refused to eat lobster so he got pizza but curiosity was getting the best of him. I think he figured that since everyone was making such a big deal out of the lobsters, maybe something to look into. He started trying some little pieces with butter and then started working on some legs. Cousin Clara was the resident expert on Lobsters and took him under her wing to learn the fine art.

Cousin Clara said “That’s all I can show you Sam as the rest is up to you. The cracker, probe, fork and bib have passed to another generation as it has in so many New England families. Here’s to a great harvest this year!!![and lower prices] and Long Live the King Lobster!”

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gravel piles and washing machine

The town roads Department was doing some major work on the street next to my house, Sherman St. Those were the days when the only paved road in town was state highway US14 and everything else was gravel. I guess that they were putting new gravel down as there were a bunch of gravel piles down the middle of the street. They weren’t gravel pile to us but they were obstacles to be conquered. We were all piloting Schwin, or Huffys or a mix thereof. LeRoy, my best friend was handling, with amazing dexterity, his sister Dorothy’s 26” girls bike but when he drove it he could never set himself on the seat so he tired real fast. LeRoy was just a little guy. He also had a boy’s 26” available but to drive it he had to ride it with one leg under the center bar, which was hazardous at best. My Schwin was a blue hand-me-down from my brother Jim but he didn’t need it anymore as he had a car and was away at college. Our challenge was to get a really good run, go up the mountain and fly down the other side hoping to make the next mountain. Somewhere along the way we would get pooped and crash. For some reason the city workers didn’t like us riding on their piles so we waited until they went home. When they went home they left all sorts of kerosene lanterns around to keep people from hitting the piles, I guess or at least to keep the cars from running over the little kids falling off the mountains of gravel. [These lanterns were a round 8” ball with a wick on top. It was a very low intensity flame but it was used for traffic control. I haven’t seen one in years.] Talk about exercise. We would ride those mountains until we couldn’t peddle anymore, so we would quit and ride off to someone’s house on the other side of town for another adventure. We all had single speed bikes with great big tires.

I remember the day one of our associates came cruising on by, on the street, making a horrible racket, on his gasoline-powered bike. To the person we were dumb struck as we had never seen anything like it. We caught up with him at the grocery store down the block. Our mouths hung in amazement as we walked around and around the bike and he picked up a loaf of bread for his mom. Mike said his Dad made it from an old wash machine motor. Mike was so proud of his bike, his father and the fact that all of us were drooling over the bike that the buttons on his overalls were about to burst. [Those of you that are inclined to remember back that far, will recall that wash machines were run by small gas motors and kept outside or on the back porch.] All of us immediately rushed home and asked our fathers for one. My Dad said if I could come up with a motor he would have his shop mechanic weld it on. I searched for weeks but any of them that still worked were costing a fortune. I told him I had found one but he had to pay for it. Not good enough so no motorized bike. It was back to riding up and down the gravel mountains for us for our excitement and that wasn’t half bad besides, Mike had forgotten to watch the oil and ruined the engine. He was now in the same boat I was, looking for a used washing machine motor.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Purrsey gets his!

15 minutes ago we heard this terrible racket of things falling. I searched the house up and down and found nothing, including the cat. My wife said the noise had came from the basement and after calling, the cat came to the edge of the stairs but would not come up. Then I saw the opened 1/2 case of Diet Coke and putting 2 and 2 together I figured out that the stupid cat had been batting the 12 pack of Coke at the top of the stairs until he knocked it loose. There were 8 cans left and they came out and chased him down the steps. Must have thought the sky was falling. He is still down there and refuses to walk by the empty case or the cans. Love it when a plan goes together!

Navy floor buffers

In case you might have forgot, I have included this photo to refresh your memory about Navy Buffers.

Reading Bothernook this morning gave me an idea for a post. It should be brief and too the point but it tells a horrible story of life in the US Navy. In his post he said “i went from A school in Great Lakes (Machinist Mate A school) straight to Mare Island, and nuclear power school. not to go to school though. i spent 7 weeks learning how to run the navy's finest floor buffers and how to properly scrub shitters in the various barracks used by the nuke school.” This was fairly typical of what the Navy did with us when we had a few spare moments. In boot camp in San Diego I was screwing around and chose to toss a bucket of ice cold water on a friend of mine taking a hot shower [ha, ha, ha,]. He instantly retaliated by trying to hit me with a scrub brush as I headed for safety. Well the floor was Terazo, you know those little 1” square tiles, and they had soap and water on them and I had shower shoes on. The inevitable happened, my feet went out from under me, went into the air and my head tried to break up some of those Terazos. I left the shower that evening in the custody of Navy Corpsmen who were on duty that night to keep a few thousand, stupid, boot camp scum, from dying because of “Lollygagging” [Interesting term, to us sailors it meant screwing around, playing grabass when we should have been reading the Blue Jackets Manual or something]. I was removed to the hospital via ambulance to have my head sewed up. I remember very little of that evening except lying on my stomach while a couple of corpsmen cleaned and sutured my head and they were a little concerned because I was bleeding out my ears and nose. The other thing I remember is running a buffer to polish the floor in the waiting room while I ‘waited’ for the Dr. to read my x-rays. This incident occurred during the week the rest of the company had fire fighting school and A range. I had gotten light duty and so they found things for me to do during that week. Ya you guessed it – I spent the week running a floor buffer and polishing my cleaning skills working on toilets and urinals. After a week I went in to have my stitches and big head bandage removed and while I waited to see the Doc I buffed the floor of sickbay. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the U.S. Navy for teaching me how to properly clean a urinal with a toothbrush [usually my personal one because I had gotten a demerit at an inspection or something], helping me to learn the fine art of polishing; copper, brass and porcelain, but also teaching me the intricacies of the common floor polisher or buffer. All of these skills have proven invaluable to me in civilian life.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mumbly Pegs

So what did you do as a kid for games? I started thinking about it and got overwhelmed with the memory flood. Please remember that I am to old to even be a Boomer so some of these games will be foreign to you but I will try and explain as I go. I would like some email or comments on this one and I will post them. Please explain a bit about the game. I’m finding that there really isn’t much regionalization in some of these as I checked a few web sites and the games seem to be coast-to-coast. This started out because my wife [she is from Mass. And I am from South Dakota] and I were discussing childhood games and I said mumble pegs and explained the rules. She said that only warped little boys from South Dakota would play a game like that so I looked it up. This is from a knife forum with the subject line being “How to play mumbly pegs with a jackknife?” This is getting interesting. The one I heard today from an old guy who grew up in coal camps said you started with a single flip, then fingertip, then back of hand moving to your elbow then shoulder and even off the top of your head then going back down the other arm ending in a single flip. First person to go "round the world" wins. If your knife didn’t stick you had to start over. He also mentioned the 2 finger rule for a knife with a bad lean. Said they played for chewing tobacco or snuff. He said it was played while they had lines in the water or while at lunchtime at school! Amazing how times have changed.
Along the knife theme here is another one we played a lot called Chicken. It was the REAL game to play .! One would stand with his feet about shoulder length apart (good golf stance). The other would throw and stick his knife about half way between his opponent's feet. The opponent would then move one foot to the knife thereby halving his stance, then he would get to throw his knife at his opponent. Keep going until the feet were together, and the first to refuse to take his shoes off was the chicken! The only other knife game I can remember was stretch. Stretch was the opposite of chicken. You started with feet together. You tried to make your opponent lose his balance by not being able to make the stretch to where the knife stuck. You could throw to the left or the right. If the knife didn't stick, then your opponent got to start over with feet together. You couldn’t throw the knives, we used, because they were so out of balance that at 40 feet they would hit the target sideways. Worked good into the ground though. I had a special throwing knife that was balanced and good for throwing at a door down in my basement. Think I bought it out of the back page of a comic book along with a pair of x-ray vision glasses.

Sounds like we were a little bit obsessed with knifes and we were. Everyone I knew had one and damn few were sharp. Ever so often some “old guy” would suggest that we all ought to be whittling with our knives and would offer to teach us. We would find some wood to carve, listen to him for a while and try to do some basic carving of our own but the knives we had were always to dull. We couldn’t even use them for fishing as they wouldn’t begin to gut a Trout. Just dent it a little bit. Most of us had special knives we used for fishing and these special knives were sharp as a razor courtesy of a couple of parents who took us fishing. Our other knives, as best as I can figure, were only used for digging in the ground. I think we used them for worm digging, so we didn’t ruin our good fishing knives. Digging in the ground and Mumbly Pegs was about it and now and again as a fork when eating over a campfire. We played these knife games whenever we were waiting for something and I don’t remember anyone who really got hurt.

Before school we had a perpetual softball game that was going on every morning and noon. The rules were simple. If you hit a fly ball and someone caught it they got to come up and bat. Three strikes and you were out. You could also advance the bases and the base runners got to advance positions when there was an out. Pitcher stayed put as there were only one or two people capable of pitching strikes with any regularity. The ultimate goal was to take out the picture window of the house across the street from deep left field as the picture window was stained glass. I’m sure if you hit that window the punishment would be death. No one ever hit it that I knew of so we couldn’t really test that theory. It would have taken a mighty, mighty hit to reach the window. Several times we all stood frozen in our tracks as a mighty ball was on its way. You could tell by the sound of the ball being struck by the bat, krack and a home run ball was headed for the stained glass window. The worn and torn softball would slowly arc skyward, even the seams on the ball would stop moving and you could see the threads coming out of those seams as the ball was on its way. We would all slowly pivot in unison, our mouths agape and unable to make a sound as we knew the picture window was at risk. We would all issue a silent prayer hoping to guide the ball to its final destination but at the same time trying to formulate an escape plan in our minds as the death penalty loomed large in our tiny little 8th grade brains. By the end of the school year the stained glass had survived one more year of 7th and 8th graders trying to end its existence and the hitter would become a martyr for ever. That next year the school system changed with the construction of a new High School and everyone moved to different buildings. The stained glass window was now safe as the highest grade was 5th and the softball game was gone forever.

I was going into marbles next but this knife thing and softball game got out of hand. I’ll save marbles for my next post.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Summer is here

Two more days until the Summer Solstice and the 1st day of summer. Fathers Day has come and gone, Little League Baseball season is over and this week my wife and I celebrate 39 years of wedded bliss.

Sam’s last game was yesterday and he was the starting catcher. 98 degree temperatures and super high humidity soon took its toll on him in his catchers equipment, adding to that, the pitcher was wild and every pitch was a past ball with Sam having to run back to the backstop on every pitch. Sam called time and went to the coach and told him he didn’t feel very well. We soon had him in my truck headed for home with heat exhaustion. Clammy skin, very little sweating, slight temperature, dizzy and nauseous, flushed and a headache. Soon we were at my house, in front of the AC with a bottle of Gatorade and an aspirin in him. 30 minutes later he wanted to go back to the game but I wouldn’t take him back. His season was over.

I barbecued beef-ka-bobs for supper and a good time was had by all. The only problem was that we didn’t eat until 9, I made a pig of myself, along with a couple of beers so I didn’t sleep very well. I find that in old age I am much better eating early, like 5 or 6, and then I get a good nights sleep. At midnight I found myself downstairs watching HGTV on the tele.

The highlight of the evening was when Boo, the Black Lab, got into the house and took after Purrsey. At first Purrsey won as he attacked Boo lying on the sofa but then it was advantage Boo as they crashed through the house, around and around with everyone trying to catch them and then out onto the porch as Purrsey flew through Venetian blind and ended up clinging to the screen. Afterwards I found bits of white hair and a new tear on the screen but Purssey was OK.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Submarines and the Cold War

We were operating off the Florida coast, Ft Lauderdale area where I would soon be required to drink my Dolphins as a new Qualified submarine sailor.  The boat was the USS Picuda, SS 382 and she was an aging, Guppy IIa, Balao class, built in 1943, her keel was laid down before I was born and she had 6 war Patrols under her belt by the time I was 3. The Picuda was a “Smoke Boat” which referred to the fact her power plant was 3, large, Fairbanks Morse Diesel engines. Diesel was the operative word here, as those engines all belched Black or Gray smoke when they were running.  The distinction came as a comparison to the new Nuclear Navy that was just coming to age and their power came from Reduction gears, powered by steam turbines which were driven by a nuclear reactor and no smoke.  The Navy was building these boats as fast as possible but that wasn’t fast enough given the war that we were fighting, The Cold War.  It was imperative to get these boats built, staffed with a highly skilled and trained group of sailors and into the North Atlantic as soon as possible because that was where the war was being fought. The smoke boat navy was fighting that war first but their limitations of total time at sea,  time submerged, speed, operating depths and quietness were outdone by the new Nuclear Submarine Navy.  Part of that new Submarine Navy were the now emerging Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines, floating, submerged weapons platforms capable of delivering 16 nuclear warheads deep into enemy territory on a moments notice. The other part of the new submarine Navy were the Hunter/killer subs whose job it was to keep track of the enemy’s submarine Navy and in the event of war to sink all of the enemy’s submarines so they couldn’t fire their missiles or sink our FBM’s. These Hunter/killers were also nuclear armed with some torpedoes carrying nuclear warheads that were capable of sinking a battle group with one torpedo. Part of this war was also taking place right off our own coasts. With Admiral Rickovers plan for providing the highly skilled group of sailors to operate these submarines the first part was to first train them on the submarines of the smoke boat Navy. He figured that if they could qualify on these boats he had the right people for the next phase which was the formalized training in classrooms; teaching these submariners advanced mathematics, physics, chemistry, metallurgy, heat transfer and fluid flow, thermal dynamics, and reactor design theory. It was tough on the diesel Navy to keep providing enough qualified sub sailors to keep the smoke boat Navy satisfied and operating and also to meet the needs of the trainees of the new nuclear fleet.  When I arrived on Picuda in 1963 I had already been to Boot Camp in San Diego, then off to the Great Lakes for Machinist Mate Class A school where I was taught everything I ever wanted to know about: steam, oil and waste plumbing; steam plant operations and damage control; theory on how it all works including how to lap in the scratched seat of a ¾” water valve [good knowledge for your outside water faucet].  From there I advanced to submarine school in New London Ct and then to the Picuda in Key West Florida.

My head was already filled with too muck knowledge and was ready to split but that was before I started the qualification process and my shipboard duties. I remember lying in the bilges of Engines Aft, under the #2 Diesel engine with oil all over me and cranking on a very large wrench trying to move the lower crankshaft around so it would be back in time with the upper crankshaft. It was out of time because, as we surfaced from operations that day and the Engineman went to light off that diesel engine a problem arose that kept the diesel exhaust discharge valve from properly opening. A large backpressure was created which shut the engine down and caused the two cranks to operate at different degrees of rotation via the vertical drive which caused the loss of synchronization and later me to be in the bilge, covered with oil wondering “What the Hell am I doing here? I don’t even like diesel engines as they really stink!”

Once we were through the 6 month qualification process and had our Dolphins, we soon received orders to one of the various Nuclear Power Schools around the country.  This process was probably very discouraging for the regular crew of the various “Pig” boats for they also worked very hard to get us qualified and once we were they shipped us off.  My hats off to them for they get a “Well done sailor” from me and the rest of the non-qualified nukie-pos that crossed their paths. We went off to the rest of our journey very well trained and qualified indeed and very proud to be “Pig” boat sailors, if for only a little while.

I went to Bainbridge Maryland for Nuclear Power School. One of our courses was basic mathematics and I remember well the 1st day of class.  The instructor introduced himself and explained that  we were going to start at the beginning as there were some students with GED’s and some with a few years of college.  He turned and wrote on the black board “1 + 1 = 2”.And I thought “boy is this going to be a boring class”.  Three months later we were all doing integral and differential calculus.  When we hit nuclear physics and reactor design I figured I was doomed.  Not only could I tell you the complete mechanical makeup and all of the metallurgical decisions of the plant but I could give you a complete discourse on what was happening to heat transfer and fluid flow inside and outside of the reactor system.  I could map all of the chemical and nuclear reactions taking place and I could chase those little neutrons all throughout the system telling you where they went and what they did while they were there.  We used slide rules to make a lot of our math, physics and chemical equations and I thought I would never be caught dead with one of those in my hand. This all took place within a time frame of 6 months. We next headed out to land based, operating reactors for more book learning but a lot of time spent watch standing and operating that nuclear reactor.  My reactor was located in Windsor Locks Ct and was built and operated by Combustion Engineers. There was no base there and so they had us find rents in the surrounding towns.  We chose Southwick, MA, got a rental on the lake and partied.  They gave us all sorts of extra money because we had to pay for our rents and food, plus we were submarine qualified so we still received hazardous duty pay and by now we were mostly E-5’s [Non-commissioned Officers] and got good base pay. We had too much money and so we had a great time but that’s another story or at least a couple of stories and I met my future wife there. Single-handedly this was the greatest educational process I have ever been around bar none. I now hold three degrees and I have not ever seen anything like it since.  We were all around 20 years old and they managed to open up our heads and pour in all that knowledge that somehow we understood.  If we didn’t understand it completely, we would never have made those boats go. Being on that ship, in the North Atlantic, knowing the ET’s were locking the control rods so that there could not be an automatic SCRAM [shutdown] of the reactor [A battle condition that made it so the reactor could only be shut down manually, from the Reactor Plant Control Panel] it made me feel better about the situation knowing that everyone knew what they were doing. Beats ME how Rickover and the boys put it all together and made it work!!!!

MY next duty station was the USS Snook SS(N) 592, a hunter/killer operating out of San Diego, California but that too is another story.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Purrsey made it.

Now in case you don’t go around Googling my name I will let you know that if you did Google my name you would see that it hits on my blog and the posting that comes up is the one about the stupid cat we just got. Percy, rather Purrsey, made it to #4 if you use Theodore, #7 if you use Ted. This is the 1st time I have ever made it to a 1st page Google, or any other search for that matter, and it would have to be for my posting on a cat. It’s not that I don’t like cats [my God, I could not handle that kind of email] but they are just not my favorite pet. This one has now had all of his shots, been neutered and has recovered nicely which has caused him to stop spraying [YEA]. This picture contains a dirty sock and my wife would like you to know that it comes from our Grandson coming home from school, kicking his shoes off when he enters the house but then going back outside to play, sans shoes. If this sock is left at our house, then the next time he wears that sock it will be so white it will look ultra brand new.

The alert reader may notice a spelling change in the name of the cat from Percy to Purrsey. My wife and I just had a mini argument over that spelling when I asked her for the proper spelling and then accidentally misspelled it when I repeated it. She acted like everyone would know that P-u-r-r-s-e-y would be the proper spelling for Percy. I give you the simple fact that Purrsey shows up as a misspelling on my Microsoft Spell Check and Percy does not. I think I will leave this one alone now, just in case she reads my blog.

The picture now represents a mere $80, or so, of expenses we incurred on one of the early post Purrsey days. Turns out the Red things was money well spent as it ha eliminatined most of the cat odors except the spraying but a $125 vet’s visit stopped that with a surgical knife. Those readers who are not mathematically challenged may realize that we have exceeded $200, plus charges from the pound where the cat was rescued from. This may serve as a warning to those, like myself, who………[there is no way I can finish this sentence without getting into trouble].

Going forward with the “Pet” theme, I will ask you to recall my previous posting about Randy and his problem with wheels. My wife purchased a couple of episodes of “The Dog Whisperer” and one of those was about the wheel phobia thing. She gave these to my daughter and husband and they are reading up about how to do it. Should be interesting and I’ll keep you posted. A new blogger, to my blog, advanced an excellent way to train a new dog that was marking on everything in sight. He suggested training that dog with an old dog. Please read his post as it was funny and amazing.

As you may be aware, I have had a terrible time of trying to post photo's Then, today I received this email from my friend Cookie "Hey Mate....had some big time prob's myself a week or two ago...its Blogger. One of the things that did help was that I downloaded Mozilla Firefox...its fast, safe and good...." For the past week I have tried everything I could to load a photograph, including downloading "Picacs2" and "Hello". Nothing worked and then I followed Cookie's advice and Wallah. Thank you Cookie, I owe you one. Thanks to Cookie I am back. I have another quick Purrsey Post following.

I think I'm in trouble, now!

Clever cat knocked Spider Plant and pot off the top of the rolltop desk. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. My wife was not very happy about it. Foolishly I suggested "perhaps we should give the cat back to the shelter", I will not repeat what was said after that, to me, by the cat's Master. I don't think some of those words are allowed on Blogs.

This is what a spider plant looks like after it has fallen on the floor and has broken it's shell. Plant probably pushed itself off the desk as it looks to me like it was "ROOTBOUND" and was looking for a new home.

This is what a spider plant looks like after 1st Aid has been applied and the plant is awaiting a new unbreakable home. Those are wet paper towels surrounding the plant.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I'm trying to post

I have been trying to post for two days now but I am unable to load any pictures. I am trying to trouble shoot this problem but I am not having much luck. I'll be back
Thanks for your patience-Ted

Friday, June 09, 2006

Randy has "Issues"!

Randy has issues! Randy has issues with wheels and no one knows what to do about it. It doesn’t make any difference what type of wheels, just any wheels. Skateboard wheels, bicycle wheels, car wheels and even stroller wheels. He reacts badly when he is confronted by wheels as he attacks the wheels. When the wheels stop he stops, just like nothing happened but he keeps the wheels in sight out of the corner of his eye, just in case. No one knows what to do to correct the problem. The head trainer at obedience class says it is due to imprinting but just shrugs her shoulders when she is asked for a solution. When I was but a wee lad growing up on the streets of Sturgis there were lots of “imprinted” dogs around because they manifested their disorder by chasing cars, including one of our dogs. The popular solution, at the time, was to have someone ride in the back seat of your car with a squirt gun loaded with a solution of water and ammonia. You then slowly drove by the dogs house and when the dog came out and tried to bite the wheels off, your passenger would shoot the dog in the eyes with the squirt gun and the dog would hurry off to the nearest sprinkler to wash his eyes out. End of problem. The dogs are probably cured of their “imprinting” because they could no longer see wheels. Who knows. The dogs owners, Sam, Michael and Ellen have refused to let me try this particular solution as a cure for Randy’s “imprinting” problem. I know that once I had claustrophobia so for my own “ammonia-in-the-eye” trick I joined the Navy and volunteered for submarine duty. I have claustrophobia about twice as bad now. Maybe one of the faithful readers out there in “blogger Land” has a cure for this “Wheels Syndrome” and would pass it along.

Picture to right is Randy checking me out his garage door window as I drove up.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Happy B Day to ME, Happy B day to ME! 63 years old and I am still up about it today. Of course it is only 7am and I have been up a whole 2 hours. Even went out this morning and treated myself to breakfast and it is raining so I might just take the whole day OFF. Whew! I don’t think I have ever taken the whole day off for my Birthday. I think it is about time!

This morning, as I was enjoying breakfast out, I got to thinking about something to blog about and then it hit me. Bee’s were the answer. It has rained off and on all last month here and there really aren’t any Bee’s to speak off. That’s a good thing unless you think of the poor flowers that need pollinating. On with the story.

Years ago, when I was first a building contractor, I had built a house for us and had a couple of others under construction. As a fill in project, my crew was building a playhouse in my backyard that was for my daughter and her new friends. Needless to day, as fill in projects go, this one also got out of hand and a very elaborate home was being constructed and it was costing me a fortune. My daughter was in the 2nd grade and every afternoon her and her friends were in the house enjoying it. The house sat on a high part of the yard and was surrounded by large rocks to give it even more height. My wife had planted flowers throughout the rocks and the crew had and I had built a really neat slide that weaved among the rocks and started up at the playhouse and went on down to the yard. When we finished, I tested the slide out and as I was flying down, my left arm hit one of the rocks and I split my elbow open. We decided no more adults on the slide. What an undertaking this was. Anything for my little girl. Well, the playhouse did not have air conditioning so the windows had to be opened to keep it cool. My daughter was inside and a Bee flew in. She was deathly afraid of Bee’s and as a result she never entered the playhouse again!

About 20 years later I was building a mansion, for a customer up in the Berkshires, with a rather involved landscaping requirement of 300,000 shrubs, trees and plants. After we were done with all of the initial planting it required crew of 7 or 8 just to maintain the plantings. My daughter was on the crew. I watched 3 them deadhead one day and as I looked I noticed my daughter was pulling the heads off of expired plants and crawling all over her hands and arms were dozens of bees all looking for nectar. I said I couldn’t believe that this was the same girl that was afraid of the bee in her playhouse. She said she has never been stung, as you just had to work without sudden, quick motions. About a week later, as we were cleaning our back yard pool, a bee came to bother us and I swatted it with my baseball cap but I swatted it into her and it stung her and she said "Thats not so bad". Her first bee sting. I thought back to the playhouse and wondered if I had knocked a bee into her back then maybe she would have played in it????

It is now 11 am and I didn’t get the day off.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Harking back to a previous hark!

Here we go again ! This is the photo I wanted to add to yesterdays posting but I couldn't no matter what I did. I even tried to add it this morning but to no avail so I started a new post using blogger dashboard and guess what? It loaded. I create most of my posts in Microsoft word and just download the post from there as Blogger provided the program to do that. Must be a krumpt [submarine term] program. Just thought you'd like to know as you enjoy your photo of a Piper Cub that works a little bit better in the previous post. Go back and just add it with your mind wherever you think it might fit. My first intention was that you could picture this with little leaflets coming out of the window. Just picture those little tickets flipping over in the breeze, yellow/white, yellow/white. Maybe, if you really try, you can even see the pilot waving at you. Wave back. That might be a bit of a stretch but see what you can do as it makes the first story a little bit more nostalgic.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Early Air Pollution

We were having an interesting discussion on the subject of advertising, today at work and I suddenly started harking back to my youth to obtain stories that would enthrall my listeners who were all much younger than I. ”Well I remember when planes used to fly over and drop advertising leaflets to the general population!” “Go on”, “Yea right”, ”this is just another of your tall tales that we can’t verify, right?”. “No way, because OSHO, or the Police, or even the EPA inspectors would get you,” was another. Back in the early 50’s, to where I am harking back too, there were no OSHA or EPA inspectors and the Police could care less. No one really cared as they couldn’t see anything bad about it because it was just paper and it would eventually rot back to dirt.

My visual image of those events always was a yellow airplane dropping the leaflets and sometimes they even dumped candy along with the flyers. A big user of this service was an upcoming circus and they usually had candy with the droppings. For the circus the dropping was usually some type of flyer, a few free tickets, and candy. For us, it was a bigger occasion than the circus would be as we fought and climbed over each other to get to the candy and the free tickets. I can still see the tickets falling as they flipped end over end showing yellow-white, yellow-white, and these were the ones we wanted. Sometimes the wind would be blowing and we would be racing for blocks trying to recover the flipping tickets, through neighbors yards and over fences.The airplanes were used to advertise coming events like a rodeo or motorcycle race and usually it was advertising a politician and then there was never any candy involved. It was good we couldn’t read because when I would race home with some type of political flyer my Mom wouldn’t even read it to me but just call it garbage and throw it in the waste basket. Somewhere along the line, someone said “hey, this isn’t a real good thing as all were doing is polluting things” and it stopped. I also remember planes pulling banners and skywriting and those two things are still with us today. Must have worked.

Way back then, there were cars that were equipped with big horn shaped speakers on the roof and they would drive around town advertising a big event, a store opening and, as always, politicians. I remember a pickup with speakers on the roof and a chair with a desk in the back and a local political hack would sit at the desk, with a microphone and espouse his views on some subject or the other. I don’t think it ever got anyone elected but we sure had fun running after the slow moving vehicles and climbing on the bumper trying to out shout the noise coming out of the speakers. People probably got tired of the noise pollution and an ordinance was passed banning the speakers. These speakers were then replaced by ones, in the back of today’s cars, belting out base notes that shake the windows in our houses as they pass. Same problem and it should be the same solution.

Sorry no photos with this one. I tried everything I could but I couldn't get it to upload my photo. Looked normal but when I clicked on Done nothing was there. Anyone got a clue??

Sunday, June 04, 2006

We Did NOT make it!

We Did not make it!Too Much work, too little time, I guess. We just couldn’t get everything done this year. We even had two members of our Board of Directors trying to help out but it wasn’t enough. Normally we would have had four people on staff and another two or three temporaries to help out until Memorial Day is over. When we started here, 10 years ago, there were 7 full time employees involved with the maintenance. Today there is two of us. Money is the operative word here and the Cemetery does not have it anymore. A new state Veterans Cemetery, a few miles away, has really causes us to have a shortfall of cash. They have taken about 25% of our burials, which is our operating capital, and another 25% of our preened sales. All of the cemeteries in the area are feeling the pinch. Our board has chosen to react to the shortfall by cutting staff. Two of us manage to get the grass cut, the burials completed and the maintenance but we can’t handle the extras. My wife helps us out as she can but she is still recuperating from cancer surgery and really shouldn’t be doing it. She has always been our fastest and best weed trimmer operator but she has been mowing, part time, instead. It is a double edged sword because when she mows the office ceases to function and all of the record keeping just piles up, plus there is no one to do the genealogies, show people where their family graves are and sell the lots. Our biggest shortfall this year is our planting areas at our four gates and special area within the cemetery didn’t happen plus about 50%, or 28.5 acres, didn’t get weed whacked.It takes two mowers three days to do the cemetery. It takes two men 4 days to weed whack the cemetery. There in lies the problem. Weed whacking! It is almost impossible to keep a person full time weed whacking. We have had two really good employees, hired at different times, to run a string trimmer and they have managed to keep up. Both of them quit, after a while, and both had long-term problems with their hands. Seems the hands go numb after a while. Took months for both of them to get the feeling back. Some cemeteries solve the problem by applying a weed poison around the stones so weed trimming isn’t necessary. Some cemeteries have a formalized program and very structured, hiring only college summer help. Some cemeteries have a high wage scale for the job. Who knows but I think it will be a summer of trial and effort.Anyway, we have to rethink this whole Memorial Day thing. We need to scale back, start earlier in the year, or find a way to hire a third person. It is over for another year and we survived though somewhat tattered and battered for the experience. Time to get back to some serious blogging.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cowboy Lines

Top Ten Old West Phrases That Will Never Sound The Same After That Damned Gay Cowboy Movie
1. "I'm gonna pump you fulla lead!"
2. "Give me a stiff one, barkeep!"
3. "Don't fret---I've been in tight spots before."
4. "Howdy, pardner."
5. You stay here while I sneak around from behind."
6. Two words: "Saddle Sore."
7. "Hold it right there! Now, move your hand, reeeal slow-like."
8. "Let's mount up!"
9. "Nice spread ya got there!"
10. "Ride'em cowboy! "
11. "I reckon this might hurt a little"