Sunday, October 16, 2016

Citizen Grouch book review: "Alone Orphaned on the Ocean"

The other day I saw a reference on the internet to a drama at sea that occurred in 1961 in which an 11 year old girl was found floating in a float in the ocean and was rescued by a Greek freighter.  The picture of the girl in the tiny cork float intrigued me and I needed to find out about the whole story.

The story of Terry Joe Duperrault and the murder of her family while on a sailing vacation around the Bahamas is told in "Alone: orphaned on the ocean" by Richard Logan and Tere (Terry Joe) Duperrault Fassbender.

The book is a slim publication and can be read in a couple of hours.  I was able to find it at the city library.

The book tells the story of a sailing vacation that turned into a murderous nightmare when the captain of the hired sailing schooner killed his wife who was also on the schooner, the parents of Terry Joe, and her two siblings leaving Terry Joe to go down with the ship when the captain scuttled it to hide the evidence of his crime.  She survived (as did he) and floated alone for 4 days on a cork life float meant to act the same as a life ring and not as a raft before being rescued by a passing cargo ship.  Terry Jo was near death and even another hour may have been the end of her.  Only her survival kept the murder from getting away with his crime.

The book isn't especially well written but the story it tells of the captain Julian Harvey, WW2 pilot and decorated hero and the Duperarrault family is engrossing no matter the skill of the author.  The trauma that Terry Jo suffered after her rescue and the number of failed marriages that she went through as an adult are sad to read of.

An amazing connection for me when reading the book was to learn that Harvey, during his WW2 service was the pilot of a B-24 bomber that was intentionally ditched in a river to determine the bomber's ability to withstand a water landing, something very common during the war, particularly in the Pacific theater.  The image of the bomber ditching test is rather famous and I had recently viewed it in a book about the B-24 that the Missus gave me.

That the pilot of this aircraft went on to murder at 7 people in his lifetime is unfathomable.

Another interesting bit of information that came from the book is that because of the Terry Jo going unnoticed by search aircraft who cris-crossed over her as she drifted on a white float that blended with the ocean's whitecaps, all personal floatation devices have since then been rescue orange in color.  Prior to that they could be any color that the manufacturer decided.

I recommend this book as an amazing tale of a young girl's determination to survive and her struggle and ultimate success to find peace and lasting love in her life.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison"

The Missus is doing her annual Fright Night weekend job at the local amusement park which gives me a chance to watch old movies on TV.

Tonight I watched "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison"  starring the original bad boy Robert Mitchum and radiantly beautiful Deborah Kerr in a WW2 tale of a shipwrecked Marine who washes up on a south Pacific island inhabited by one Irish nun.

It is a great two person movie and well worth watching.  I first saw it with my parents on prime time TV when movies were frequently shown - keeping in mind that there was no DVD player or HBO to access movies away from the theater.

I caught it on Netflixs and if you find some time on your hands, it is worth seeing.  Another two persons trapped on a south seas WW2 island movie worth seeing but firmly in the comedy camp is "Father Goose" with Cary Grant (his last appearance in the movies) and Leslie Caron.

Treat yourself and see them both!

Customer Service Hell

One of my regular doctors (this is how I know that I am getting old:  I have more than one doctor and they are all regular i.e. repeat visits) gave me a referral to see yet another doctor which meant I had to call for an appointment.

In the good old days one would call the doctor's office and speak to the nurse/receptionist and make an appointment but not anymore.  These days we are all so modern that we call a 'call center' that is full of people in front of computer screens who we are required to interact with.

So, I called the number, worked my way through the much hated automated phone options until I got to a real person who professed to be ready and able to help me.  Just three problems:  (1) her Spanish accent was so heavy I could barely understand her (she was probably thinking, this guy's Anglo accent is so heavy I can barely understand him - wait, that was a real problem too!), (2) she could not understand that I was not in fact Young Son who had visited their office sometime in the past, and (3) the background roar of other customer service reps talking to all of their callers so so loud and the first two problems were trivial in comparison.

Why oh why would a call center be designed to allow so much noise to exist to the extent that nether the CSR (customer service rep - don't you love it when I write jargon?) or the customer (me) could really hear each other.  The whole thing  quickly dissolved  into a modern Abbott and Costello farce of 'who, what, and when' misunderstandings and requests to repeat by both of us that the routine would have done Saturday Night Live proud.

In the end we managed to make an appointment for me...unless it is actually for Young Son.  I'll just answer in the affirmative to whatever name they expect me to answer to.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"The Pacific"

I just finished episode 10 and the last episode of the series "The Pacific" originally seen on HBO.  I watched it via Amazon Prime.

"The Pacific"  does for the Marines in the south Pacific what "Band of Brothers" did for the Army in Europe.  Based on the true stories of individual Marines who fought in the horrendous campaigns of island hopping during WW2, it followes the lives of a group of men and women who went through the war from Guadalcanal to VJ day to adjusting to life at home after the war.

The battle scenes are about as gruesome as has been seen on TV ever but they show what these men went through.  The final episode shows the wrenching adjustment that the Marines went through, killing one day and six months later back at home in the same bedroom that they had left as teen-agers at the beginning of the war.  If someone can watch this episode without a handkerchief in hand then they have a heart of stone.

As a kid growing up, men like these were the dads of my friends, the scout master, the little league coach.  It is a miracle and a testament to them that they were able to go on with life with no outward effect on them.  I remember a man in the neighborhood who couldn't work or hold a job and who sat outside of his house most of the day smoking cigarettes.  I wonder now if he was suffering from crippling PTSD from the war as he was of that age.   I know now how lucky my family was that my father was pulled from the levy that was shipping replacements to Europe in the summer of '44 and was allowed to stay in the U.S.  Who know how he would have fared?

Not an easy show to watch but the story that it tells of a vanishing generation is one that deserves to be seen.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lemons for some, lemonade for someone else

So, awhile ago I was suddently courious to learn what the silver coins were worth that are stuffed in our safety deposit box.  I got them out of the box and took them to the local coin shop to learn that most weren't worth a whole lot but some were worth more than I expected.

I took the coins back to the bank, put them back in the box and went on my merry way to do errands all over town.

By the time I got home the safety deposit box keys were gone.  They fell out of my pocket at one of my stops.

I retraced my steps, no sign of the keys.  I spoke to each merchant, no one had turned over the keys to them.  I check back again a week later and checked the local sheriff's office, no keys.

Drilling out the key slots would cost us $150 but fortunately for me (if there can be a fortunately) I had recently sold some of my hobby excess stuff and had the funds.

The Missus made the appointment and on the set day showed up to have the box drilled open.   She felt that something wasn't right but the bank assured her that the box they were opening was her's.  It wasn't.

When the Missus opened the box and saw strange jewelry and a birth certificate from Cambodia she instantly knew one of two things was happening:  her husband's affair with another woman had just been revealed (the stuff of a chick-flick!) or this wasn't our box.  Fortunately it was the latter.

The bank proceeded to drill open the correct box and hand the Missus the new set of keys.

She saw the bank manager the other day and asked what the reaction was from the people whose box was accidentally drilled open.   The manage told her that they were ecstatic because they too had lost their keys awhile ago and couldn't get into their box and suddenly the bank gave them new keys for free!

Lemons for us, lemonade for them! 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Off Road Trip on Bundu Trek

Please visit Bundu Trek for the latest off road trip.

Visiting "Planes of Fame" museum

Older Son visited us starting over the Labor Day weekend, along with his GF.  He was able to set aside some father-son time so we took a day to drive out to Chino to visit the Planes of Fame museum.

We had visited this museum sometime in the early 90s along with my father.  I didn't remember much of the museum from that trip except that I remember that I was impressed with it then.

The museum is especially interesting, not only because of the rare aircraft in the collection but also because many of them are flown, something almost unheard of these days.

The museum was well worth the 1.5 hour drive from Grouch estates and Older Son professed to find it very interesting.

The museum has one of only two remaining inter-war P-26 'Peashooter' Boeing fighters left in the world.  A revolutionary aircraft when it was developed, it was outmoded in only 5 years or so.  It went on to see combat (briefly) in the opening days of WW2 where it only served to run up the kill scores of some Japanese fighter pilots.

And here is the other, at the Air and Space museum.  We saw it when we visited in 2014

A Vietnam war era O-1 'Bird Dog ' forward air controller (left) and a P-35 fighter from the late 30's that also was meat on the table for the Japanese.  The P-35 is probably the only one left in existence.  The drip pans on the floor are a sign that the planes are flown as engines all leak oil.

One of my favorite WW2 fighters, the Bell P-39 Airacobra.  A cannon armed bomber interceptor that never lived up to its hype but did hold the line against the Japanese in 42-43 and helped stop them at Guadalcanal and New Guinea.
Love the name on this P-51!

A Lockheed Constellation and used by Douglas MacArthur.  It is sitting in a no-go area but they made the mistake of leaving the gate open and when I expressed disappointment that we couldn't go see it, Older Son lead the way.  He gets his rule-breaking from his mother.

The aircraft name, alluding to MacArthur's early wartime service in WW2.

Another very rare WW2 aircraft, a P-51A Mustang as used by the UK in Europe and by the U.S. in the CBI theater by the 'Air Commandos'.  This must be one of very few still in existence.  It is being restored for flight.

A technology demonstrator for the YB-35 Flying wing, to prove that the concept would actually work.  This one was restored by the museum and is flown.

A Korean war era F-86 being restored to flight.

Nose art on a B-25 used for movie filming after WW2

Now this is what speaks to me!  An M4 WW2 tank

A Cold War era M114 recon track and a WW2 M3 halftrack

The aircraft sitting outside are unfortunately deteriorating in the blistering desert sun.  A Grumman F7F Tigercat.

A WW2 German BF109 that was shot down over Russia during WW2 and recently recovered.  It will be eventually restored.

Older Son contemplates the strength of the F100 that could take this damage and return to base.  This type of plane was heavily used during VN as a ground attack aircraft and recon plane.

One of my BiLs flew F100s in VN so hopefully he'll enjoy this picture.