Monday, June 29, 2009

Smile, you're on candid camera!

The other day I was driving home from work in the Jeep, moving along at about 10 mph because of the heavy traffic on the freeway. I realized that there was a big gap in the traffic next to me. I looked in the rear view mirror and a guy in a Porsche convertible was checking out the Jeep. He was at my 7 o'clock position and he was taking a picture of me with his cell phone! Then he pulled alongside, took another picture, then moved up to the 11 o'clock spot, one more pic over the shoulder and then he zoomed off. I didn't know if I should feel flattered or...I guess I'll stick with the flattered. When I told Mary about this she related about the guy who pulled alongside her in his car while she was walking the dogs and took a picture of Roscoe with his cell phone camera. At least this guy made small talk while he did it. It seems that many people have cell phone camera stories. One of the ladies at work told me that men at parties surreptitiously take cell phone pictures of her and her friends which makes them feel pretty uneasy. The next thing we know the Jeep or Roscoe is going to show up in an ad campaign in Hungary like a family's Christmas Card photo did recently.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Walking Dead

Another co-worker bit the dust sometime in the last week. I don't know when it happened, but she dropped out of contact one day. No return email, no return phone call. Uh-oh. I got a call today from another worker-bee. 'Sue isn't with the company any longer. You'll need to call Joe to get done what she had been doing.' The week before that it was John. Silently gone. No comment, no fuss. Kind of like the lost patrol in the Sahara being picked off one by one by the will-o-wisp Berber riflemen. The most curious part of this process is the reaction of my fellow surviving workers - there is no reaction. Everyone ignores it like it didn't happen. Perhaps they all fear calling attention to themselves. If they show no emotion and keep their head down the angel of death will pass them by. Is this how a herd of zebras react to a pride of lions selecting one zebra at a time? Keep up appearences like nothing is happening and chances are someone else will get picked? Keeping with the zebra herd analogy it seems to be the old zebras that are being picked off in my corporate herd. No one under 50 has been chosen. Times are hard now and for the herd to survive some of us old and sickly types are going to get culled.
Now I know how that zebra feels that I saw on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdon just before the lion nailed him. I hate being a zebra.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Grouch gets sick

I guess it had to happen. I pretty much made it through the flu season unscathed. I woke up this past Saturday feeling tired but I was excited about Father's Day weekend so I shook it off. Saturday night I was even more tired. Sunday a.m. I was really dragging. We went to dinner and I was feeling a bit funny in the tummy but my credo has always been 'it will either cure you or kill you' so I ate big and enjoyed every minute of it. We came home and I washed the Jeep but honestly didn't think I was going to finish it. About 7 or so I couldn't go on and collapsed in bed for a rest. The complicating factor was that I had a trip to the east coast the next day for the entire week to break in a new manager. I set my alarm for 4:20 a.m. figuring that would give me enough time to get up and pack and hit the road at 5 for the airport. (Cue the ominous music...if he only knew what was in store for him..that very hour!) I fell asleep and then it started. The dreaded stomach flu. But this also came with some friends called fever and chills and head pounding pain and body pain and delirium. Not to offend sensibilities of my readers who are prone to the vapors but the throwing up was the worst in my life, not that I keep records from one bout to the next or anything. The delirium was the most curious part of the whole miserable experience. I had endless dreams involving scenarios worthy of a Twilight Zone episode that had me talking in my sleep. Besides carrying on one side of a conversation I also spoke people's names and even mentioned Roscoe once. This of course in between dashes to the bathroom. Part of the night was spent laying on the floor outside the said room while I decided if I was going to actually die that night and be found there or if this was just another test of the Grouch's mettle. "You can bend but not break me..." I got to examine the underside of the vanity while laying there and I have to agree with Mary that it does need replaced. At 4:20 a.m. the alarm went off but this race horse wasn't leaving the starting gate. Instead I lay there carrying on my conversations with the mysterious people in my dreams. Did I mention that answering them would wake me up? That was a relief at least, the dreams were very tedious. If I had to work as hard as I was in the dreams I might as well be awake and at work. Some time during the night I had asked Mary to call the travel agency emergency number and cancel the flight and hotel and also leave a message at my operation in Delaware telling them I wasn't coming.
Since these things usually start in the evening and end in the morning I thought I would be done Monday morning but alas this was not the case. So around 11 a.m. Mary drove me to the walk in clinic to see what they could do. I wondered riding over to the clinic what would have been my fate 100 years ago or more when medical science wasn't able to treat all of our usual illnesses. Mary wondered what would have happened to a soldier about to hit the beach at Normandy who came down with this. I figured in both cases death was a possible outcome. After about a two hour wait we were seen by a PA who just so happens to be one of Mary's fellow thespians from the local playhouse. He was appropriately sympathetic, gave me the magic shot to stop the vomiting (sorry but I had to write that), gave me an EKG for good measure and drew blood to boot. Dang, I forgot to call them today to see if anything was interesting in my blood. The high point of Mary's day was when the lab tech called her Miss, not once but twice.

So thus was the saga of the sick Grouch. I was too sick to be Grouchy but now that I have eaten a chocolate chip cookie and had a diet Pepsi I am feeling better and ready to be a Grouch again!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's day weekend fun for the Grouch

Continuing with the annual Father's Day weekend shooting trip, Kurt and Craig accompanied Citizen Grouch and some of the co-workers of mine to Frazier Park to plink at pop cans, balloons, and water bottles at an outdoor shooting gallery. The weather was perfect. The Grouch family met up with the rest of the shooters at a nearby truck stop that is also a meet point for off roaders who will be traveling on the trails in the nearby mountains. A group of Jeepers looked hopefully at us as we arrived in our Jeep but we were not going join their party - at least this time. There was also a large Land Rover group gathering for a trail drive. I wondered how many of these examples of British craftsmanship were going to be out of action by day's end. Buy a Jeep next time! We than convoyed to the shooting area in the nearby hills located fortuitously close to the fire station with paramedics available 24 hours. Fortunately we didn't need their services this time.

We shot handguns, rifles, and shotguns. I took my Dad's .22 magnum rifle and his M1 rifle to shoot which was especially appropriate considering the significance of the weekend. Kurt demonstrated his prowess with the M1, Craig looked covetously at the FN carbine, and he also did very well with the clay pigeons. If the Earth is ever invaded by tiny flying saucers Craig will make short work of them.
It was very nice having my sons with me on this outing and without planning in advance we managed to continue on with the tradition.

(click on the pictures for a full size image!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Traveling Grouch

I have been remiss in keeping up the blog. I would like to say it is because of the many amazing things happening in my life recently but actually things have been pretty darn ordinary around here. I had my last for sure for real forever visit to the knee doctor on Friday. First he got my self esteem pumped up by commenting on my Arnold-like crushing grip when we shook hands. "Wow! What do you do for a living? That is some grip!" I modestly commented that I am just a paper pushin' manager and perhaps it is all of the computer mouse manipulation that has built up the grip. Moving on from there his next question was "So, retiring soon?" which deflated my self esteem like an inner tube rolled over thumbtacks. I guess the gray hair does add 10 years to my looks. He told me that the tendinitis is gone, my left leg is smaller in diameter than the right so work that leg! and quit going to physical therapy. I was going to stop going anyway but I feel guilty about not going back to them. They asked in a plaintive tone when I was there last if I thought I would keep coming to see them. Things are slow you know and customers aren't coming like before. Great, now I have more people to worry about!

I did a quick trip to Atlanta on Monday. There and back the same day to interview a person for an open job in my department. When I got to LAX the security line looked like the queue for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. It was at least an hour long. People were starting to get frantic because they were going to miss their flight. I was thinking the same thing. Then, someone from the airport pointed out that at the far end of the terminal was another entrance to security that had no line and no wait. Me and about 10 other people bolted out of line and headed there. The amazing thing to me was that no one else moved! Despite the fact that their line was at a standstill they could not give up the security of the line to try something else even when there was little hope where they stood. I have read about this behavior in survival situations such as sinking ships and burning buildings but this was the first time I have seen it in person.

The Atlanta airport was chock full of service members in their field uniforms coming and going from overseas. Most appeared to be just north of high school. It was humbling to see these soldiers with their combat patches indicating a tour in-theater. Kurt was one of these guys a year ago. Just to show me that life goes on a young Joe with a smile of his face was walking in step with a (cute) female marine lance-corporal giving her his full attention. They were having a one hour romance before both went to their separate flights.

I remember during the Vietnam war the hordes of service members on leave who swarmed the toll booth areas on the PA turnpike bumming rides home or back to their duty stations. People would pick them up and get them further along the way to their destination. My friends and I picked up a sailor complete with duffel bag. We were in a VW bug. Believe me 3 teenagers, a large sailor and a duffel bag do not fit well in a VW bug. His eyes got a little big when one of my buddies opened the glove box and a revolver fell out. We told him it wasn't loaded.

Cell phone conversation overheard on the plane while waiting to get off: "Oh wow! Oh man I bet that hurt! My dad used a drill bit on me once. That really hurt! How are you now?" I had visions of the scene from Marathon Man where the crazed Nazi uses the dental drill of Dustin Hoffman....Yikes! What kind of father uses drill bits on his children?

Lastly, I heard the results of the Gallup poll I participated in last week. 40% of people in the U.S. describe themselves as conservative. That was me!

That's all folks!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hurray for SSG Marla!

For those Citizen Grouch fans who may not be following Marla's blog 3 Dog Days (shame on you!) I have a link for her entry about her promotion in the California Air National Guard:
We are all very proud of her! Yea Marla!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Living the Good Life

The phone rang tonight and for some reason I answered it. Fortunately visi-phones are not in wide use yet because if they were the calling party would have seen me holding a Winchester 97 riot shotgun in one hand and a couple dummy shells in the other (don't ask). The caller was from the Gallup poll and wanted my opinion! You better believe I was ready to give my opinion.
First question, an easy pitch 'Do you approve of President Obama's performance?' No! (that'll show those democrats!)
Follow up question, another easy lob over the plate 'Is the country going in the right or wrong direction?' Wrong, definitely!
Then the questions came fast and furious:
Are you satisfied with your life? Is your health good? Do you have enough to eat? Do you have a safe place to sleep? Is your neighborhood safe? If you were to be seriously ill or destitute do you have family or friends who will watch over you and help? do you have cancer, high blood pressure, depression? Thinking of your day yesterday, did you have the company of friends or family? Did you eat well, enjoy your day, suffer debilitating pain...? If you lost a wallet with $200 in it in your neighborhood, would a neighbor return it to you?

All right all ready! I admit it, my life is good! The thought that people answered no to some or all of the questions made me realize that my life is easy and satisfying and good. I don't know that it is President Obama's doing though.

But I still don't think the country is going in the right direction. So there Nancy Pelosi.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Grouch-y updates

I know, all of my loyal followers have been waiting to hear the wrap up on some of the exciting situations I have mentioned recently, so here goes:

The insinkerator arrived yesterday and I installed it today after dinner. It took all of 10 minutes, and that was longer than it needed to be. However, in my 'older but wiser' persona I actually read the instructions - after I installed the new disposal and learned that I needed to knock out a plug in the side of the device where the outlet installs from the dishwasher and that if I hadn't would have caused the dishwasher to flood. I was able to do so even though the gizmo was already hanging under the sink. Thank goodness for being ObW now.

We attended 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum' last night with Craig and his friend Rachel. This was the it's not a date but taking a friend to a show with the parents and the friend just happens to be a girl event. The show was extremely funny and a bit risque - I had seen the movie with Zero Mostel and didn't remember the whole story line so hopefully Rachel wasn't scandalized and told her parents that we took her to an inappropriate show (which it wasn't). Rachel turns out to be a fan of 1950s horror and science fiction movies so we had some things to chat about.

I have been going to physical therapy for my operated-on knee. This therapy is more to my liking compared to the previous time (right after the knee operation). Since this time I supposedly have tendinitis I simply lay on the table with a comfy pillow for my head while the bogus laser light is rubbed over the sore spot, then my knee is massaged, and lastly ice is applied. The only effort required on my part is the effort not to fall asleep during all of this. And it is actually starting to feel better.

Lastly today was my military duty day and also the 65th anniversary of D-Day 1944. It seemed appropriate to be wearing the uniform on such a significant day. Our retired Command Sergeant Major and his wife were taken to lunch by the officers and senior NCOs and then a retirement award was presented (the California Legion of Merit - I wrote the justification and citation and I think I did a pretty good job). We followed up with a cake, a soldier statue with an appropriate inscription and several speeches. The CSM got teary eyed and didn't want to leave. Frankly I think his wife was glad to see the end of the military after 24 years of involvement.

And really lastly...the spa is heating up and soon we'll be soaking our aching bodies in the 103F bubbling water while looking at the misty night sky (its been raining). Life can be good here in Southern California. Time to say goodbye!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mystery Emails

I get emails from people I don't know. I don't mean spam type emails, I mean chatty emails, emails with forwarded videos and political discussions. Today I got an email from John and Carol showing off John's newest cowboy type rifle. I was quite taken with the Cimmeron model 1873 cowboy competition lever action rifle and I appreciate that John sent it to me but I don't have a clue as to who John and Carol are. Or any of the other folks who send me these emails. In the interests of full disclosure I must point out that the emails are not sent to just me. I am but one of many that the emails are sent out to. Somehow like a tuna in the wide and deep ocean of the Internet the drift nets of email have scooped me up along with all the others. I can only assume that at some time in the past someone sent an email to me and others and some of those people for reasons unknown now send out emails to group of recipients including, well me for instance. It is all very interesting. I wonder how long I will keep receiving these before the senders ask themselves who is this Vogeley guy?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The dreaded jury duty and other events of the week

I was tapped for L.A. County jury duty in March and directed to report the first week in May. Since this was when the memorial service for my father was scheduled I asked to reschedule for 1 June. This is the call in the night before system to see if you need to report the next day. I called and was directed to report Monday at 8:15. A day off from work! I foolishly reported half an hour early. We finally got started an hour late. By 10:00 a.m. we took a break from the endless instructions for snack time (my favorite time of the day). At 11:00 a.m. I was dozing in my chair when the jury room lady told us that we were done, not only for the day but for the week! Even she looked happy. I'm off the hook for another 12 months.

I can't believe it. Craig is going on a date this Friday although Mary says that it is actually that he is taking a friend with us to see a play at the Theater Guild and the friend just happens to be a girl. Be that as it may I can see that young Craig is quite popular with the ladies. I will have to be on my best behavior and stand up straight and chew with my mouth closed when his friend is around since the mere acknowledgement that parents exist is embarrassing enough for teenagers let alone having the old dad acting uncouth. It will be an interesting experience for all.

I have a meeting with my boss first thing tomorrow. This is always a fun thing to look forward to when coming to work.

Lastly the knee is still bothering me. The doc says it is tendinitis and has me going to yet another physical therapist where they treat me with a laser light. For all I know it is an LED flashlight and they are ripping off me and the insurance company. Be that as it may the laser light so far has not cured what ails me. A guy I know says that it is just the way it is and will be after the operation. His knee still aches several years after his operation. Oh joy.

Hopefully more interesting life stories from the grouch in future blogs.