Friday, December 25, 2009
Sorry for the delay in posting but waay to much has been going on. I will attempt to hit the high points.
Last Saturday Craig and I accompanied his Boy Scout troop to the Van Nuys ARNG armory to participate in a Christmas push for Operation Gratitude http://www.opgratitude.com/ The 500,000 package was prepared at 1130 on Saturday and we were there for it. The Scouts and adults carried boxes through the assembly line where various goodies were put in. Keys for two customized motor cycles were also placed in two boxes. Those soldiers were going to be very happy!
Sunday we picked up Chee Chee for church in North Hollywood and afterwards she treated us to brunch at a grown up restaurant. It was nice!
All this past week has been a whirlwind of preparation for Christmas. Claire and Laura arrived on Tuesday and will stay until the 29th. Christmas eve mass and present opening today. I assembled the new HP desktop yesterday and got it working with Kurt's very skilled help. This blog is being typed on the new PC. Man it is nice!
I'm taking all next week off something I have not done ever (at least as far as I can remember). Ah, the bliss.
The only other thing to mention is that I almost with an inch to spare, almost ran flat into a little old lady who stepped out between two parked cars. I was on my bike but it still would not have done either of us any good. All I saw was the tiny lady clad in a fur coat step into my path; I shouted "watch out!" and swerved just missing her. That would have ruined both of our holidays!
Tomorrow I will install two great gifts in the Jeep: A GPS so I will no longer be lost and a protective plate over the muffler so it won't be flattened like a taco on one of my off road trips.
Hope anyone reading this had a good Christmas too.
The not-so-Citizen Grouch.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Mrs. Not a Grouch came home the other day and told me that something she has always, always wanted is on sale at her favorite Ladies nick-knack shop. It is a very, very expensive Lladro, marked down to being only very expensive. It is expensive enough that it gave us pause to think about whether obtaining her heart's desire is something that we can afford, especially in these days of uncertainties. But being a good Citizen Grouch I went to the little shop to see what I could see and to perhaps 'negotiate' on the price.
Walking into this store that is filled with delicate girly stuff and smells of various secret perfumy flowery fragrances undoubtedly sets off an alarm that a man has walked into the place. Conversation seemed to pause for a half-minute and then pick up again as the ladies kicked back into high level trinket and bauble shopping. I felt like, well probably like Mrs. Not a Grouch feels when she goes into say a gun shop or off road store. I remember her telling me once that she didn't like going into a particular gun shop somewhere in the past because of the way the men looked at her. She was (and is) major babe material so I can understand the looks but on the other hand I can identify with the discomfort with the looks but in my case the looks from the women were not 'you are hot material' but rather 'you do not belong in here unaccompanied by a woman. So leave.' But I didn't. Anyway I checked out the item, and asked the help that considering the pretty significant price of the item (and knowing that these figurines like jewelry have quite a mark up on them) if there was anything to be done on the price to make the sale. Well. Let me just say that the owner told me a thing or two. She informed me that not only is the price what is posted, but she would leave the item unsold and take it home with her before she would take a single penny less for it. So there stupid man. I wasn't feeling the love on this exchange. If she had been nice or said that she'd give me another $50 off, or $25, or give me a candle...something. But no. And there was no hint of thinking about it and coming back to talk again. Well, it is her store and it is her's to sell or not but I feel that she was sleeping during the Selling 101 class where the lesson on how empathy is established with the customer was taught. I left without buying it.
Mrs. Not a Grouch now thinks that the figurine may not be her heart's desire after all. I guess we will see but I'd rather spend the money at a place where I get the whole experience; where they actually sell the item and help me understand why I should spend amazing amounts of money on something and I leave with a smile on my face and excitement in my heart. Not at that place for sure.
Friday, December 4, 2009
(click on the pics for a large view)
Sunday, November 29, 2009
(click on the pictures for a larger view)
We drove on further up into the hills and into snow. We passed by Tehachapi and on to Caliente and the Caliente railroad curve. This is everything that the horseshoe curve in PA isn't; the main thing being that you can actually see the trains here! This looks for all the world like a Christmas time model train. The track curves around in a counter clockwise spiral so that the almost mile long train crosses over itself and is in two tunnels almost a mile apart!
The train headed for a tunnel where we were parked. The rest of the train is still spiraling up! The engineer tooted the air horn for us as he passed. My camera batteries died at this point so no more pictures from my trusty camera! After here we drove up further into the hills and into rain, snow and cold. We headed for Bodfish and Lake Isabella. After a tasty lunch in a small cafe in Bodfish we turned up into the mountains and even more snow. More in part 2!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I briefly toyed with the thought of replacing the water heater myself. It is not a complicated task at all but being there by myself I didn't know if I would be able to get the new water heater up onto the 3ft high cubbyhole that it sits in without help. So I started calling the plumbers.
Guess what? We happen to live in an area zoned for only super low energy consumption water heaters! Hurray! that added about $300 to the price of the water heater. When the plumber who gave the lowest WH price showed up, I got more bad news: the house was not up to current codes. Hurray! I got to pay to have a pressure release line run outside the house and a few other issues resolved. Total tab was $1,600. For a stupid water heater. The good news is, is that the gas company will give us a $30 rebate for installing the energy efficient WH that we had no choice but to install. Hurray! It really made my day, let me tell you. The water heater is really efficient looking and modern appearing too. I go out into the garage a couple times a day now to look at it and bask in the glory of owning an energy efficient water heater in a house that is completely up to code.
While all that was going on I got a call from Best Buy to pick up Mary's laptop. It was fixed in only one week. Now that was good news! I saved $300 on the repair by having bought the extended warranty when I purchased the laptop. Two points for the Grouch.
A completely unrelated topic:
Listening to my iPod today I heard two songs from the"One On One" soundtrack: "John Wayne" and "Love Conquers All" both by Seals and Croft. This movie is a guilty pleasure for Mary and I; has anyone else seen this? Robbie Benson is in it before he made it big in "Beauty and the Beast".
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We traveled on, only to be beset by buzzing swarms of dirt bikes all traveling at high speed and kicking up clouds of dust. It was extremely annoying! They harried and harassed us for miles until I just couldn't take it and pulled over to cool off. After that things started to turn for the better.
(Click on the photos for a full size image)
We drove on, getting out of the worst of the dirt bike groups (did I mention that they traveled in packs of 5 to 10 or more like Indians on the warpath except on motorcycles instead of ponies?). We found a nice spot to pull off the dirt/sand road for lunch and some plinking.
Ms. Not a Grouchette decided to try the Communist SKS carbine. She is going to impale the target with the bayonet if she misses.
The Grouch looking for a target to feel the wrath of his shootin' iron
The Grouch and Pie - look at the size of the tongue on that dog!
After we shot off most of our ammo and destroyed the Halloween pumpkin that we brought as a target we drove on. The further from the RV park that we got the fewer dirt bikes until finally there were no more. We stopped at the site of an abandoned mining operation. The debris of the buildings, old vehicles and even the remnants of a bike were scattered everywhere. Marla found the vertical mine shaft and we decided that it wasn't deep enough to kill us if we fell in but we'd probably be pretty well hurt so we stayed away from the edge of it.
The sun was starting to go down at it was getting cool.
On the way back out of the area we encountered some cattle grazing near the road. Ms. NaG was sure they were going to charge us but they looked pretty peaceful to me. They probably
are used to Jeep traffic through their dining area.
When we got home that evening poor old Blossom wasn't looking too well. Ms. NaG said that he has not been doing well for the last couple of weeks. We learned today that Blossom past away over night. Blossom was a rescue from a county animal shelter. Although he did not live with Ms. NaG very long, he was much loved by her and had a good life with her. He was a gentle dog and his only need was to be with her. Blossom was a nice old dog and will be missed by us all.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Weather report: It has been cold and blustery here this week. Tuesday and Wednesday we had sustained winds at 60 mph and gusts to 75 mph (hurricane strength) and it was Cold! Tuesday Mary met me at the train station to give me a ride home because it was blowing so hard I may not have been able to stay seated on my bicycle. I don't know what motorcyclists were doing - maybe walking. By tomorrow it is going to be in the high 80s. Crazy!
Craig is having a Halloween party tomorrow and girls will be coming! However these girls play shoot-em-up video games with the guys so I don't think there is any worry of hanky panky - especially with Mary chaperoning! My job will be to fetch the pizzas and then hang out at a friend's house for a couple hours until the party is over. Stay tuned for more on this event.
Hope you all have a not too scary Halloween!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
It has been awhile since I last wrote but life has kept me busy yet not with anything that is worth commenting on except for Craig's 16th birthday! Craig turned 16 on the 20th of this month. This is a milestone in his life and as the dad it is fascinating to reflect on Craig and how he has matured into the amazing teenager on the cusp of being a young man. Craig is a musician and loves to listen to his music on his iPod, happily singing off-key to the song and not caring who hears him! He is kind to animals, generous to his family, (usually) works hard at school and is still plugging away in Boy Scouts and is in sight of earning his eagle rank. Who knew where the happy little toddler would go with his life? So much is still ahead for Craig and I hope that he keeps his sunny outlook on life.
Craig at a Boy Scout camp at Lake Isabella in 2005
Craig's birthday cake - rainbow sherbet, yum!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
(click on the pictures for a larger view)
It is impossible to take a bad picture of this cute little girl! We were waiting for aunt Marla to catch up with us. This is at the zoo entrance and Laura has her gorilla that she received for visiting the zoo.
Laura was captivated by some tiny gazelles in this pen that were standing on their back legs to reach branches in the tree in the enclosure. Believe it or not but one of the gazelles is crouched down behind the bush by Laura. Every time I tried to get it in the picture with Laura the gazelle would duck back down behind the bush. I guess it was shy!
If I remember correctly Laura and aunt Marla are looking at an alligator.
Marla took this picture and it proves that I was indeed at the zoo with both of them.
The zoo was a bit short on some of the traditional animals such as lions, elephants and the like. Laura wanted to see a camel but when we got to the camel's enclosure an alpaca seemed to have displaced it! No camel to be found. The zoo does seem to have a surplus of wallabies because they were to be found in several different places in the zoo. Good thing they are so cute!
By 3 p.m. I was done even if Laura and Marla weren't and we went home. Laura watched a movie (Hercules) and I took a nap.
Even though this doesn't have anything to do with the zoo I am including this picture of Mary looking sophisticated for a fund raising dinner at St. Nicholas which is the church that the school she teaches at is affiliated with. Who could imagine a lug like me being married to a lady like her?
Sunday, October 11, 2009
On Saturday Daniel's parents had a birthday party for Laura (5 years old now) but I could only stay for an hour because Craig's high school marching band was performing in a band competition nearby. When the time for his performance approached I raced over to the school, had to park about a quarter mile away, raced-walked to the stands and made it just in time! The band was great, and Craig looked good doing all of the intricate steps and marching backwards while playing his trombone. Now that is talent! After the performance I started back to the Jeep. As I walked through the parking lot I heard a woman yelling for help! I looked over and saw a woman and a man facing each other between the parked cars. She kept yelling for help and the man was visibly agitated so I went over. She repeated that she needed help and he kept yelling at her to shut up. He was highly agitated and I thought maybe he was drunk because the woman kept saying 'give them to me' and finally demanded his car keys. He looked like he wanted to hit her so I told him to back off and that I was going to call law enforcement. She said 'yes, please call them immediately!' He moaned and pleaded not to do that and practically tore his hair. She kept saying 'give them to me' and he kept yelling at her to shut up. The other woman was saying something to me but only mouthing the words. I told him again to move away from the two women or I was going to force him away. Just then a medic showed up and said an ambulance had been called. That really set the guy off! I asked just what the heck was going on and the medic said that the man had had a stroke! He looked pretty good to me but what do I know? If the woman had said this to begin with my approach would have been 180 degrees opposite. Since the medic was there I left them and went to the Jeep. As I was driving off the fire department was arriving. I hope the guy didn't have another stroke at that sight!
Ok something different now. I took the replica light machine gun that isn't a machine gun to the range yesterday. To shoot it you must lay down behind it and place the buttstock shoulder rest over your shoulder. After about 8 times of laying down and getting up again in about half an hour I had gotten my daily exercise! A young boy about 12 or so was watching the proceedings and kept looking at the gun when it was not being used so I asked him if he wanted to have a go at it. I think it made his day. With his Dad's ok He got down, braced himself and fired off 10 rounds. He had a big smile when he was done. Another gun enthusiast in the making!
Marla's dog Blossom is here while she is at a dog event with the rest of the pack. He seems very sad that she isn't here and is wandering the house looking for her and whining. Periodically he stops by me for a head pat and then wanders off again.
Tomorrow is the zoo with Laura and I. Hope to get some good pictures to share!
Monday, October 5, 2009
All that morning the motor pool across the street from my building had all of the vehicles parked there undergoing motor stables (a term left over from the horse cavalry) and the multitude of diesel engines were clattering away for hours until the sound faded into background noise. Around lunchtime I started hearing a weird turbine type whine that rose and fell in intensity. It was kind of science fictiony sounding and reminded me of the space ships in 'Earth v. Flying Saucers' (you must see this movie - what a grand '50s version of the struggle of the free world i.e. the West vs. the evil empire i.e. the U.S.S. R.). This sound went on for about 15 minutes and I finally had to look out the window to see what the heck was making this noise. What I saw towering over the top of the buildings between me and the airfield was the top of the fuselage and tail of a C5 Galaxy cargo plane, the 2nd largest aircraft in the world, sitting on our dinky Army airfield, running up its engines! As I was taking in this amazing sight, it throttled up its engines and literally in a humongous cloud of blowing dust went down the runway and up into the air. The dust cloud would have put the dust bowl to shame. It was an amazing sight seeing the huge plane slowly flying off to wherever it was off to. I got a hop in a C5 from Dover DE to Germany once. The plane has two levels, cargo below and up a ladder to the rear facing passenger seats above. There are no windows upstairs and with the size of the plane it was kind of hard to tell the transition from taxiing to flying to landing.
Sunday was our first mass in the new church. We have been paying for this place since about 1990 and it is finally open. It is a very beautiful church, the 2nd largest in the Los Angeles diocese. My concern is that the 2/3rds of the parish that didn't contribute to build the church certainly won't contribute towards the upkeep of the place. Time will tell.
Claire, Daniel, and Laura arrive Friday for a week's visit in Santa Clarita! Yay!! I will be the lucky Grandad to take Laura to the L.A. zoo on the following Monday. I hope I can keep up with her!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I have always been space crazy ever since I was old enough to watch our black and white TV as a kid. I was convinced that the British were going to be the first in space only because of the 1950s SF movies that showed on T.V. were frequently made in England; the Hollywood movies cost too much for the local T.V. stations to show them! I was brought up on 'Science Fiction Theater' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Fiction_Theatre 'Men into Space'http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_Into_Space 'Rocky Jones Space Ranger' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Jones and loads of 50s vintage SF movies. Later on there was Twilight Zone (not usually SF) and the superb 'The Outer Limits' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Outer_Limits_(1963_TV_series). I went ga-ga over 'Lost in Space' and then dropped it for 'Star Trek'. During all of that I followed the space program intently. I remember Alan Shepard's flight and my father's disdain for the history making event. "They just shot him a couple hundred miles downrange" he said with derision while reading the evening paper. Later on I stood on the front porch and waited to see Echo go by in the night sky, a giant balloon orbiting the earth. I was delivering papers when I saw the headlines about the three astronauts who died in the fire while testing Apollo 1. I recorded the launch of Apollo 11 and the landing on the moon on my little tape recorder at my grandparents house in sweltering Ft. Lauderdale in July. I still have the newspaper from that day. I was at my office in Chicago when someone told me that the Challenger blew up on launch - I didn't believe what I heard and I was on the way to the shooting range when I heard the news about Columbia. A while ago I read that the space station and the shuttle were coming over Santa Clarita at a certain time at night so we went to the backyard to see them. What a sight! A very bright light, not the usual moving dot that satellites display, appeared and moved swiftly overhead and then faded away. Just to think that people are up there, orbiting the earth! It is the stuff of movies and the TV shows of my youth. I just hope I live to see man (and woman) on Mars!
Now for something completely different...I recently acquired a replica WW2 Browning 1919 that will fire but once for each pull of the trigger and yes it is legal so don't be calling the Feds to snitch on me! This thing weighs about 35 lbs and is a amazing machine with levers, cams, springs, accelerators, springs, pins, pawls, and 35 lbs of massive machined steel. I am amazed at how heavy it is (the M60 that I used in the Army weighs about 23 lbs) and that GIs in WW2 and Korea carried this thing for days and weeks at a time especially considering that the average WW2 soldier was 5'7" and weighed a bit under 150 lbs. The greatest generation was also the toughest generation! Why did I get it? Why does someone get a Corvette or a speedboat or a high speed sewing machine? (ok the last one is not a good comparison). For the experience, the thrill and in my case to have a physical connection with my dad's generation of soldiers. Plus it is wicked cool looking.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I miss him.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
5:50 a.m I depart my home on my bike. Flashing LED lights fore and aft on the bike. Goofy neon green reflective vest draped over my body. Humming an Abba song to myself I set off for work.
5:51 a.m. Joe Smith is drinking his morning coffee when he sees a horrible sight: his pet baby bunny 'Bun-Bun' has managed to get his tiny paw caught in the Nordstrom automatic cheese grater and the result is not pleasant. Grabbing Bun-Bun Joe dashes to his Ford Expedition and peels out of his driveway at high speed headed for the 24 hour vet office.
5:52 a.m. "Waterloo - I was defeated you won the war" I hum to myself.
5:55 a.m. Joe rockets down Frisca drive and yanks the wheel to the right, cornering on two wheels. The startled face of a bicyclist who is wearing a highly visible neon green vest with flashing lights fore and aft on the bike is illuminated in the headlights as he swings onto Las Mananitas and accelerates to at least 40 MPH before executing a hard left around the next corner. "Got to save Bun-Bun!" he thinks.
5:56 a.m. "That was a close one! Now then where was I...'Waterloo - promise to love you forever more...'
6:00 a.m. I'm riding along in front of Burger King. A trash truck lurks in the parking lot. I see its dark menacing bulk. It starts to move on a collision course with me. Surely the driver sees me...he doesn't see me! I lock up the brakes and skid sideways. The truck drives on without a pause..
"Oh no, my friend Joe has twittered that Bun-Bun is injured! Driving a trash truck and texting is pretty difficult...did I just see a bike?"
6:50 a.m. Burbank Train station. I unload from the train and mount up the bike. I head out of the parking lot. What's this? A city of Burbank work truck is in front of me going slower and slower. He's actually stopping in the intersection! He's answering his cell phone and just sitting there! What the..?
"Mack, it's Joe calling! Bun-Bun's hurt, he's hurt bad! I don't know if he's going to pull through. Mack, you've got to call Jose and tell him. And Call Sue too!" The Burbank city worker can't move with the awful news. He realizes that he is sitting in the intersection in his truck with a cyclist behind him who is wearing a goofy reflective green vest. Doesn't the dope know this call is important?!
6:55 a.m. Pedaling down Flower Street. I spy a large truck pulling slowly out of a side street. the driver doesn't see me. He's talking on a cell phone. He'll see me, he sees me...he doesn't see me! I swerve out of the way. The driver continues to talk on the phone.
"Jose, it's Mack! Joe's Bun-Bun is dying! The cheese grater got him!" "Ay caramba!" exclaims Jose, noticing a cyclist out of the corner of his eye. Oh well he didn't get hit.
7:05 a.m. Shaken from three near collisions and a truck blocking an intersection I am thinking 'what next?' when it happens. From yet another side street a Toyota van launches at high speed directly at me. I brake abruptly and the Toyota turns in front of me, a middle aged woman looking grimly ahead, not a glance in my direction.
"Bun-Bun mangled by a cheese grater!" thinks Sue as she heads out to the freeway and eventually the animal hospital in Valencia. "Good thing Joe called me before I left for work. What was that neon green thing I saw as I was pulling out?"
Four near collisions in the space of about an hour. Since I am not a judgemental person I know it couldn't be because the drivers were incompetent, homicidal, or just plain stupid...so it must have been because of Bun-Bun the injured baby bunny. Or not.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Mary stopped by to visit Chee-Chee at her place about a month or so ago. For the last couple of years Chee-Chee hasn't been in the best of health but recently she has beaten the illness that had been getting the best of her and she is in fine health and spirits. The dog in the picture is a new one but the name escapes me. Mary said that it seems very nice.
This past Sunday Mary, Craig, and I went to Marla's air base for family day. Marla organized a dog agility demonstration with her dogs and the dogs of her agility competition friends. She was the MC and did a great job. There was a very large crowd for the show and many people stayed afterwards to talk to her about dog agility and to pet the dogs. It was great!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
is known. Yet, the majority of the people go on with their lives, planting a garden, going to school and work, having babies. The story centers around an American Navy submarine that makes its way to Australia and the captain of the sub; a young Australian woman who before the American shows up is slowly drinking herself into oblivion; an Australian naval officer and his wife and infant daughter; and a scientist who knows that all will be dead in less than a year.
The book was almost unbearably sad to read but very thought provoking. We know we will die but blessed not knowing when; would the knowledge of an end date for one and all change our behavior for the better or worse or not at all? It made me think and wonder how brave I could be in the face of this situation.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Later at work I heard on the news that Lance Armstrong was leading an impromptu bike ride through Griffith Park and had traffic snarled throughout the area. According to Kurt, Lance twittered that he was going for a ride at the park and hundreds showed up. And to think I was one of them and didn't even know it!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Be that as it may my grand weekend out started on Friday with a trip to Portland for my older sister Cathy's wedding (when I say older I am of course stating only in a chronological sense and and not in an outlook on life). Since many who read this blog (or at least profess to!) were present, I will not give a blow-by-blow account of the ceremony and the wonderful dinner and visiting afterwards except to say that it was fun, wonderful to see all, and Charlie has a great family. I arrived way too early before the ceremony at Charlie's house and was installed on the screened porch to stay out of the way while the preparations continued. While silently praying that other guests would soon come I was able to visit with Charlie's mom and two sisters and had an enjoyable time talking with them. Here is a link to some pictures of the ceremony: http://festiveheart.com/ You will need to scroll down to see the event. The older I get the more I feel the need to stay connected with siblings and the nieces and nephews. My great nieces Eden and Estelle were there and cute as lady bugs!
Saturday a.m. I left Portland in the pouring rain and jetted back to hot and sunny Burbank to get my lawn work done, go to church and get ready for the next grand day out.
Sunday the missus and I and the local kids attended the wedding of Chris, the older son of our friends Janell and Ted. The wedding was a bit unconventional but then I am a grouch and a conservative grouch at that but for all that I thought it was nice and everyone had a great time. The bride was radiant and the groom looked relieved that he didn't pass out when his time came to recite his vows. Many of the guests were 20 somethings who had a raucous time at the reception and really enjoyed the music and dancing. I even did the chicken dance - who could imagine??
But wait, there's more! Today we went to Marla's estate in Moorpark. A beautiful house with a huge yard and 20 acres behind it, a massive shade tree in the back yard and oodles of room for her dog agility training ground. She hosted a Labor Day cookout for her family and her dog agility friends. Janell and Ted came too even though they aren't dog people or family but very much friends. Kurt applied his considerable talents to cooking the food to perfection. The food was great and the visiting was even better. And there is a grapefruit tree in the yard laden with huge grapefruits - and I love grapefruits! I took two home to give them a try.
All of this visiting and conversing and socializing is putting my grouch rating in danger of being revoked!
And that ends my grand several days out.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The meeting was tonight at a grade school. I went and so did Craig as an observer for a boy scout merit badge 'communications'. There was a lot of communications going on at that meeting! I have to hand it to the City manager; it was a decidedly unfriendly crowd but by the end of the meeting most were smiling. The journey from beginning to end was a bit rocky but no folding chairs were thrown and no one's ancestry was called into question. I even stood up and spoke as a commuting cyclist (good credibility) who could do without the bike lane. The reporter from the Signal got my name and phone number so either I will be mentioned in the paper or they will call me to extend my subscription. In the end the city compromised by restoring the 4 lanes and adding a narrower bike lane. Democracy in action!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
My two managers that I recently hired for Wilmington DE and Atlanta GA are arriving tomorrow for 2.5 days of training at my office. The smoke, ash, and flames will be an interesting introduction to Los Angeles. Every day here is like living in an Irwin Allen disaster movie. Who was Irwin Allen? He's the guy responsible for the Towering Inferno and the original Poseidon Adventure.
Craig received his Life scout rank today. The next step is Eagle. Go Craig!
Speaking of Craig, he asked me recently where he could get sheet music for the theme 'Army Strong" that plays in the recruiting commercials. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSbCnWe6e1o&mode=related&search= (I dare you to watch this without getting a lump in your throat) and I said 'the Army band, of course!' I emailed them and much to my surprise and glee a nice SFC emailed me all the sheet music for the song including each section's portion (tuba, trombone, etc.). Now Craig needs to practice it for his upcoming band competition.
That's all for now!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Craig and his friends are having movie night at our place tonight. Non stop movies until midnight or so which is fun for them but Craig has banned the Grouch and the Missus from being anywhere near where they are. I guess us just being present is too embarrasing to bear!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
These type of movies inevitably have a secret base where all sorts of mayhem is planned and attacks are launched from. This movie had two secret bases, one in the Egyptian desert and one under the Artic ice. These places were as big as a suburban shopping mall. They had aircraft, water craft, subs, trucks, guns, ammo, people, training pools big enough to drive subs around in them, people coming and going...there was a lot of activity. I've been in the logistics field for some time when I see things like this I don't think "Wow, look at all that cool action gear!" No, I think "How the heck to they keep this place supplied?" The volume of consumables, repair parts, folks going on leave and returning, replacements, headquarters weenies... the sheer scale of keeping a secret base running like this would call for 24 hour convoys running 7 days a week. Besides the supply convoys the secret bases need a manufacturing support network to construct all of the gee-whiz aircraft, guns, uniforms, subs, etc. With all of that comes parts, manuals, upgrades, factory tech reps - the works. Now, all of that stuff is coming and going, contracts being let, meetings held - It's pretty hard to have a secret organization with a secret base the size of the Mall of America with all of this hullabaloo. And of course this stream is converging on the Egyptian desert and the Artic. Kind of conspicuous? I've thought that the best place to have your secret base would be in downtown Chicago or New York. Say a couple city blocks wide and 10 levels down. There is always construction going on anyway so no one would blink at a secret base being constructed there . You can have multiple entrances and exits so your super commandos could leave the facility, jump on a cross town bus and be out of the area in a jiffy. Your supplies can be delivered by a network of little Isuzu trucks with various company logos on them - no one would suspect a thing. Say...maybe this is why the downtown areas are always being torn up and rebuilt!
One other thing I noticed in this movie - the G.I. Joe uniform regulations seem to specify that the female soldier's uniforms are made without the top three buttons on the shirt, and hair must be worn longer than shoulder length and loose, whether or not it gets in the way of fighting the enemy Ninjas. Strangely enough the bad guy army had the same regs for their female soldiers too! How about that?
Friday, August 21, 2009
Only in L.A.!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I read today that Reader's Digest corporation is filing for chapter 11. The article stated that in this day of the Internet the compilation of articles of interest for readers is being usurped by search engines and the Drudge report. Ultimately I image that the Reader's Digest will pass into history along with their condensed books and the world will be a slightly sadder place for that.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
We got the ID card renewed in jig time. In the old days the process involved picking out individual letters and numbers to spell out your name, rank and SSN which were mounted on a board that you held under your chin while getting a picture taken ala the booking photo at the county jail. The picture had all the quality of the quarter a shot photo booth and Kennywood park. Today everything is computerized including the camera. However the picture still has the quality of the photo booth at Kennywood. Now Mary has a valid ID card and can enter any commissary she wishes around the world. It was a fun way to spend a day off from work.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I can't add much to what she wrote. According to Mary this was our 6th time at PoM but the first time we spent the weekend there. The previous 5 times was as guests of Allison Transmisisons (a little corporate graft and corruption?). The very nice guy who organized the event each year for his best customers passed away and although Allison did one more event after his passing I have the feeling that the annual boondoggle fell victim to corporate cost cutting. Mary asked for tickets to PoM for her birthday which I was very happy to oblige.
Laguna Beach is an interesting place, very artsy and very expensive. How expensive you ask? So much that there are no fast food outlets in town. The most reasonable place we could locate to eat was a pizza parlor which wasn't bad at all. Laguna Beach is so ritzy that we stopped counting Ferraris when we reached 5; it just wasn't worth the effort. We also saw 4 Lamborghinis, 2 Aston Martins, a Morgan plus 2, and and several other exotic cars. Walking from our hotel to the downtown area we came across a small art gallery that had both Asian artifacts and Andy Warhol posters - I didn't see the connection but who am I to judge this? We went in and saw Ming vases and Japanese horse statues that sold for $300,000 each!! It made me ill just to be in the room with them. The stuff was just sitting on pedestals begging to be knocked off and broken. The owner hustled into the gallery to check us out; I can only guess we set off some sort of rube alarm when we came in. I had to wait outside until everyone emerged with nothing broken.
The show was great, the art was fantastic and Craig almost talked me into spending close to a grand for two aircraft paintings. You may note that I said almost. Mary and I would like to go back again and spend two nights in town this time. I would even like to go to the beach at Laguna Beach!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday night was the BIG PARTY at Vogeley estates. This was Craig's high school marching band and color guard end of band camp pool party and it was held at our house! The stakes were enormous for Craig's standing in the band and the school. If it was a flop, he was a ruined man. If it was a success, well let's just say that his stock would be listed as a buy on the school stock exchange. Kurt being the most excellent brother and bonvivant realized that the plans needed to be juiced up and raced out to purchase tiki torches, super soakers, nerf balls, floating toys for the pool and appropriate dips for the chips. Kurt's touches were just what was needed to make the party a success. Over 60 kids showed up. They are all reasonably well behaved, polite, and kept the damage to a minimum. The noise level was high, the food was consumed in massive quantities, and I had to add water to the spa and pool twice to compensate for the water splashed out. The band director and his wife spent most of the party on-site and complimented us on: 1. Craig; 2. our other children; 3. our dogs; 4. our pool, house and back yard; 5. our parenting skills. After all of that we were ready to agree to pool parties once a month. Pretty much at the scheduled end time of 10 p.m. the kids started heading home, thanking us for the party and telling Craig that he has a cool pool and it was a good party. At 10:30 Craig had to go in the back yard and ask the last couple who found that the swing for two and the tiki lights provided just the romantic atmosphere if they were going home or what? Way to go Craig!
The next morning we left for Laguna Beach and the Pagent of the Masters...more on that later.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
And since we are talking about Kurt in Australia, here is another picture of a resolute soldier:
One Grouch to another: I was at the range today and noticed a guy about my age two spots over. I thought I'd comment on his rifle (in a nice way) but frankly he looked pretty...grouchy. so I didn't say anything. But, later we happened to both be walking to the targets at the same time and I thought 'what the heck, why not' and spoke to him. His face lit up and we chatted all the way out to the target, all the way back and then he gave me a friendly good by as he drove off. Just goes to show that you can't tell a grouch by the cover, or something like that.
Me, a cool Dad? Craig told Mary that one of his friends thought I was funny (I hope not funny looking) and nice to boot. That is tacking pretty close to being 'cool'. I knew cool parents when I was younger but I never thought I'd be getting close to that esteemed rank. Getting promoted to 'cool' would mean twice as much as being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
I had drill yesterday and it was a pretty busy day to the point that after 10 hours of that, 2.5 hours of commuting, evening mass and then dinner I was flat worn out. I collapsed in my snoozing chair and fell asleep until about 12:30 a.m. when Molly, concerned with my well being, started poking me with her cold, wet nose. I managed to wake up and saw her bright little eyes gazing intently at me to see if I was still alive or not. Who knew dogs cared so much?
I am off to Wilmington DE tomorrow for 4 days. This is the same trip that I was supposed to do the Monday after Father's day but got horribly sick and didn't make it. This time I am going no matter what happens. Anyway, this means no Grouch updates until the end of the week.
Upcoming events: The Saugus High School band and Color Guard will be having their pool party this Friday in our pool! The significance of this for Craig is beyond measure. We can only hope all goes well. Saturday and Sunday we will be attending the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. This is not a golf tournament. Stay tuned for more information on this.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Anyway we couldn't stay away from the wild wilderness and on Friday we went for another hike to see The Champion Lodgepole Pine and Castle Rock. All in all the hike turned into an 8 mile walk. The CLP is the tallest lodgepole pine in the area or the west or both. I'm not sure at this point but it was a very tall tree. As always, click on the picture for a larger view.
Mary and Marla at the CLP trailhead
Monday, July 27, 2009
(click on photos for a larger view)
Mary has been walking at least 5 miles a day for the past year or so and is in great shape. She shrugged this hike off as a walk in the park.
Yes, the tower is perched high on the mountain!
The tower is complete with an outhouse, propane tank and radios.
Before you can climb the steep metal stairs to the tower you must negotiate a rocky path to the base of the tower.
Marla enjoying the view (which was straight down on a couple sides of the tower!).