Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Trip!

Young son and I went with my buddy to find the snow today. Our usual close spot was only wet (did I mention it was raining?) and 42F so no snow there. We had to get higher. We drove up to Frazier Park and towards Mt. Pinos recreation area. At about 6,000ft slushy snow started showing on the ground. At the top we were above 8,000ft, the temperature was 28F and the snow was waist deep! Unfortunately I forgot to bring my snow shoes so after trying and failing to walk in the snow young son set to sledding. We stayed for about an hour then headed lower to eat our lunch in the Jeeps (my friend had his also) and then back home. I'm going back, maybe this weekend to go snow shoeing!

The Forest Service building at the Mt. Pinos parking lot

Young son preparing for the cold

Citizen Grouch wishing he had his long handled underwear on
Young son on the slopes

Young son almost wipes out some other sledders!

Lunch time before heading home to warmth and more rain!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Christmas hike

The weather was sunny and warm today and perfect for a ramble in the mountains. The dogs and I headed to the nearby national forest for a quick walk. The area we went to used to be a real magnet for campers, hikers, and dirt bikers but after the Northridge earthquake damaged the access road the state and the forest service took the opportunity to limit vehicle access to only official vehicles. There was a trail that climbed a couple thousand feet and stretched 20 some miles to another forest service road but it fell into disuse and is now overgrown. It was my favorite hiking trail but it is gone now.
We hiked on a dirt forest service road that crossed a creek 6 times between where we started and an abandoned campground about 3 or 4 miles up the road. The campground used to be a very popular place but yet another place shut down and closed off by the forest service. On the way back I encountered three women who worked for the state testing the creek water. They admired the dogs and confirmed to me once again that dogs are chick magnets.

On the trail/road with the pups. It was warm in the sun but as soon as we got into the shade the temperature felt like it went down 10 degrees.

At the first water crossing I carefully removed my shoes and socks and waded through the cold, cold water. Same for the second one. By the third one I just rolled up my jeans and waded across. At about 2/3 of the way to the campground the stream and the road share the same space.

You used to be able to drive through here but no longer. On the way in I waded through with my boots on. On the way back I went barefoot. Man that water was cold!

Almost to the campground, another stream crossing point on the road.

The former campground, now pretty much empty except for two vandalized outhouses.
The hike was great but if I had known about the water crossings I would have carried some soccer sandals to wear while wading. In some places the water was rushing over the road deep enough and fast enough to pull a hiker over into the creek if I had slipped on the slimy algae, so anyone reading this (you know who!) better be careful or you may get hurt and wet!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas day

Merry Christmas from most of the Grouch family! As I promised I will give my review of "True Grit" which we saw this afternoon. It was the only movie with a huge crowd waiting to see it. For the first half hour or so while watching it I kept seeing the cast from the original movie in the scenes being played out on the screen but after awhile I let go and went with the action. This movie stands on its own and is completely true to the book. The first movie had much of the book in it but they softened the ending but not in this one. This movie is more period 'correct' in the clothes, the town, the firearms...something that young son says only I would notice. I recommend this movie, go see it!
Everyone had a great Christmas morning and many successful gifts were exchanged. I hope everyone also had a great Christmas! We will be sitting down for our Christmas turkey in a few minutes. Here are some pics of the Grouch family enjoying Christmas so far and remember to click on the pics for a larger view.

Making Christmas cookies

Christmas morning opening gifts!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all the grouches and grouchettes around the country! We survived the heavy rain over this week with no damage although other places in SoCal were not so lucky. our favorite getaway place - Laguna Beach - was swamped with high water from the ocean and mudslides from the hills. What a mess!

Christmas eve we did the usual Grouch family tradition of dinner at Pizza Hut (how this got started I have no idea but it has been going on for years!) followed by midnight mass at 10 p.m. I guess the midnight part is that we got home before midnight. Both sons and younger daughter were present and everyone looked handsome and beautiful depending on the gender. The missus was particularly radiant which makes this grouch proud. We watched "Meet me in St. Louis" with Judy Garland when we came home which the Missus doesn't like but younger daughter did so that made it worth while. Tomorrow is of course opening presents, I will make scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast (another tradition) and then we're off to see "True Grit" in the afternoon. The original movie is my all time favorite flick. My dad took me to see it at the theater, one of three movies that I remember him taking me to see (the other two were "The Longest Day and Von Ryan's Express) and I was captivated with the scenery in the movie which was filmed in Colorado. At the age of 15 I became determined to go to the Rockies which I finally accomplished in 1976 and then again when we moved there in 1981 for a year. I got to return a couple times on business with my previous employer in later years. I loved everything about the movie. I hope the remake measures up! We'll see, report to follow.

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rain and more rain!

It is raining which of course everyone in SoCal ( except maybe the guy in my neighborhood with the "Proud Atheist" bumper sticker) have been praying for. Apparently the prayers got put into a backlog which were just listened to and because so many prayers were logged in, we're receiving 6 month's worth of rain in about a week! Whoa, too much! The city that I work for is now on storm watch for mud slides in the hills that burned in the Station fire a couple years ago. So far no mud slides but when I went on mudslide patrol this afternoon I saw some houses that I am glad I don't live in because if the hillsides let go there isn't anything going to stop that mud, not even the houses in the path.

Clear weather is predicted for Thursday. Yea! Unfortunately Tuesday is to be the heaviest rain so far. Stay tuned....

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Grouch and the Missus step out!

So, the Grouch and the Missus went to the Military Ball this past Saturday. I had drill that same day, so I was up at 4:45, drove 60 miles to the post, had drill, was released at 1 p.m., drove home in traffic, collapsed on the bed for a nap, got up, struggled into the dress uniform first purchased in 1986 which still fits reasonably well, admired the Missus in her new dress and
hairdo, and set off to go to Anaheim, about 80 miles back the way I had just come from. We were running a bit late but then these things never start on time anyway. It looked like we were going to be half an hour late. Well I hadn't counted on L.A. traffic. After a promising start we hit heavy traffic and crawled along for the next hour and a half. We were about an hour and a half late and by the time we got there just about everyone was seated and the speeches were just about finished. Fortunately we found a table to sit at where the Missus became fast friends with the lady sitting next to her, a retired school principal. They were instant best buddies. We had a great dinner, the Missus won a book in a drawing "Winning" by Jack Welch (how appropriate, she won a book about winning!), a piper played his bagpipes, and the band was even good! The Grouch got up to dance not once but three times! The only problem for the evening was that the Grouch's clip on bow tie kept falling off at inopportune times! Guess it had been to one too many parties.
Here are the much requested pictures. Click on the picture for a larger view!

The happy couple departs Grouch estates. The temperature was in the 70s. Take that, Midwest!

The piper, an SMR soldier. The Missus absolutely cannot resist a man in a kilt.

The Missus looking beautiful and grown up.

Here we are again looking pale. It was the lighting.

A fun time was had by both of us and we were home before midnight (just) so we didn't turn into pumpkins.

The Grouch Goes East

The Grouch traveled to North Carolina on the 3rd to visit oldest daughter and only granddaughter. It has been almost a year since they were last seen by me and I was very anxious to see them and the best dog in North Carolina, Moxie. Unfortunately the airline delayed my luggage (we were reunited the next morning) but that meant nothing since I was met by little ladybug in her PJs (it was 9 p.m. after all!). The weather was cold and it got windy but the sunniness of daughter and granddaughter kept me warm. We went on an eating tour of Hope Mills and ate at Andy's and Five Guys, and the Grouch's favorite fast food joint Long John Silver's. We visited the Airborne Museum in Fayetteville and then went to Ft Bragg and the next door airbase to view some vintage cargo planes on display. The young soldiers at Ft. Bragg (well, at this point most people are younger than me) kept calling me ' sir ' when they encountered me. It was either my stern countenance or my commanding presence, or maybe they were just being respectful of their elder.

I had a great time visiting and walking Moxie from one end of the neighborhood to the other. A couple pictures, one with the Grouch and one of my hosts:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Grouch and Son, Clock Repairs

So, the Grouch family has a grandfather clock purchased at the PX in Wurzburg Germany many years ago. The poor clock suffered badly at the hands of the movers when it journeyed from Germany to Aberdeen MD (my next duty station). When we opened the box the clock was packed in we saw that the glass in the door over the clock part was smashed and the metal plate that the hands were mounted to was actually bent into a wavy pattern. I figured it was a write-off but the Army insisted on having it repaired and luckily enough we found a guy who managed to fix the thing and get it running. Since then the clock has journeyed to Colorado, Michigan, Chicago, and has been sitting in our living room here in the wilds of Grouchland in Southern California for 22 years. It survived the great Northridge earthquake of 1994 with only some frantic bonging - I thought it fell over when I heard it but it was still standing when we rushed by it and out the door.
About a week ago I was pulling the weights up to the top to keep the thing ticking and chiming the time when there was a mighty crash and the chain I was pulling suddenly flew through the gears with no resistance on it until it jammed in the mechanism. One of the weights had come apart and crashed to the bottom of the clock in a manner reminiscent of my 401k. I recovered the weight and saw that the infernal device had come unscrewed. Further inspection showed the chain jammed in the gear. I fiddled with it but couldn't get it out. Later I called a clock repairman. He wanted $285 to come out, take the clock away, unjam it and give it a tune up. I realize the man has to make a living but $285 was not what I expected!
With encouragement from the Missus I decided to give it one more attempt to unjam the mechanism. After all if I can unjam a Browning 1919A4, surely I could deal with this! With the help of older son and a dental pick liberated from my gun cleaning supplies I managed to carefully lift the chain off of the gear, feed it back through the gear the proper way and get the clock ticking. Unfortunately the clock wasn't bonging the quarter hour. Something was still jammed.
Thinking of the Beach Master on Sword beach, D Day 1944 who told the lads in a recalcitrant Bren gun carrier "My old granny told me to just give a machine a bash when it won't work" (which he did with his walking stick, and the carrier promptly started) I decided a little force was in order for what ailed the clock.
I gave the gears a shove and with a whirr and a click the clock started bonging the quarter hour. Success! And it is keeping even better time than before the falling weight incident. I also loctited the threads on the weights so they wouldn't come apart again.
$285 indeed!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all Grouches and Grouchettes around the country. I hope all are with family or friends today and all cares and worries can be laid aside for a few hours at least.

Next week the Grouch journeys to Fayetteville NC to visit older daughter and little ladybug the sweetest granddaughter in the world. Can't wait!

Today the sun is shining, the temperature is in the 50s, we walked 6 miles with the pooches, and the turkey is cooking nicely. Three of the four offspring are gathered for dinner and all is ok in the world, at least for the next 24 hours.

Enjoy your thanksgiving dinner!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where's the Grouch?

Just like Waldo, the Grouch and the missus show up just about everywhere. Here we are ogling the svelt lines of a Ferret armored scout car circa 1965 complete with the Browning 1919A4 in the turret. You never know where we'll pop up!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Living History

Young son and I went to a small store front synagogue this week to listen to a talk by Philip Bialowitz, a survivor of the Nazi extermination camp called Sobibor located in Poland. Mr. Bialowitz was a teenager when he and his family were sent to Sobibor. Only he and his older brother survived the initial culling of the transportees. His brother told the Nazis that he was a pharmacist and his brother Philip was his assistant. His Mother had been killed earlier by the Germans. His Father, sisters, and niece died that same day in the camp. 100 of his family perished in the war at the hands of the Germans.

Sobibor was a factory designed to kill humans efficiently and quickly before those to die realized what was their fate. The SS appeared so reasonable and apologetic for the situation that the Jews found themselves in that the victims applauded the welcoming speech that the SS officer gave each group of victims. Mr. Bialwitz stated that within an hour or two of arrival each group was dead and only those who had a skill that benefited the staff that ran the camp were allowed to live for awhile. At any one time up to 650 prisoners staffed the camp, living on borrowed time. Although the prisoners wanted to rise up, kill the guards and escape they felt that they were too weak and sick to do so. The situation changed when Soviet POWs arrived in 1943. These prisoners were Jewish and thus sent to the camp to die. A Red Army Lieutenant organized the uprising and the prisoners overpowered and killed many of the guards and escaped. About 600 escaped but only 42 survived the war including Philip and his brother.

Philip came to the U.S. and his brother went to Israel where he lives today at 99.

The talk was matter of fact and direct. He did not sugar-coat anything. The incredible barbarity of the Germans to the Jews is unimaginable to us, something that we cannot fathom. Young son was there as part of his A.P. history class as were many of his classmates. Hopefully the talk had a positive impact on the young in the audience. It was an honor to be in the presence of someone who has experienced so much in his long life.

He wrote a book about his experience which is available on

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"All Clear" Connie Willis

I mentioned earlier that I had the latest Connie Willis book. At first I was disappointed, it seemed the first third of the book was simply the characters rushing back and forth looking for others so they could return to the future (it is a time travel book after all). But then it got going and I could not put the book down. I had to read the last two pages three times to make sure I understood what happened. In fact I may still not understand what happened! But what a great book. It made this old grouch a bit teary-eyed but then I find that happening more these days. I must be getting soft.

If you are a Connie Willis fan, get the book, stick with it, and tell me what you think happened on the last two pages and who Colin is!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Movie: Skyline....Do not waste your money!

So, young son and I went to see the alien invaders beat up L.A. movie today. We were hoping for a good aliens with their foot on humanity's throat until the hero finds their one weakness movie. What we got was a two hour flick that moved in fits and starts and had the worst, the absolute worst ending I have seen in a movie forever. I wanted action, and I got action for about half of the movie. The rest was a cast of beautiful young people who emoted and anguished about themselves...blah. There was nothing good about the movie. Ok there was one good thing about the movie, the special effects were good. Ok, there was one more good thing about the movie, the military could actually do damage to some of the alien creatures and machines. But other than that it was a waste of time. Even the popcorn at the theater was stale, burned and so hard I almost broke a tooth eating it. Young son agreed with me.

El stinkeroo.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

A salute to all in the extended Grouch family on both sides on Veteran's day 2010:

Great Uncle Thomas 74th PA. Volunteer Infantry Gettysburg 1863

Great Uncle Paul Army, WW1

Grandfather Edward Army, WW1

Uncle Jacob Howard Army, WW1

Father Edward Army Air Force, WW2

Father in law Regis ANG, Desert Storm

Brother Edward Air Force, Vietnam era

Brother in law Regis, Army Cold War

Brother in law Christopher, ANG

Brother in law Bill, Air Force, ANG, Vietnam +

Brother in law Steve, Air Force

Sister in law Anne, ANG

Sister in law Kathleen, ANG/AF Reserve

Sister in law Elizabeth, Air Force

Sister in law Monica, ANG, serving

Sister in law Helen, ANG, Desert Storm

Daughter Marla, ANG, serving

Son Kurt, ARNG, serving, Noble Eagle, Operation Iraq Freedom

Nephew Michael, Army, serving, OEF
Thank you all past and present for your sacrifices and thanks to God that all have come home safe and alive despite many opportunties for tragedy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"The Passage"

So, the missus read this book over the summer "The Passage" by Justin Cronin. She told me a bit about it and it seemed silly and implausible. She told me I should read it but I declined. Just recently she brought it home from the library and implored me to read it. "We need to discuss it!" she told me. So, I reluctantly started to read it. The first chapter....meh...the second chapter, hmm, interesting....the third chapter, whoa! I could not put this book down. What a tale! During the whole book I kept telling the missus, "this book better not have a dumb ending." Well, it didn't, but only because it is part of a trilogy, and the next book isn't due for two years! Give me a break!!

I will be thinking about this book for a long time. The book is ultimately an epic quest and the vision and sweep of the book is amazing. This one gets a Grouch thumbs up and an A+!

p.s. DO NOT read the forum at the book website unless you want the whole book spoiled for you. Many of the posts reveal the ending.

p.p.s. Read the book! The missus was in tears at the end and even this grouch was a bit misty-eyed.

The Blind Side

We watched "The Blind Side" last night. A good movie and gets a Citizen Grouch thumbs up. Sandra Bullock was appealing as always in it and I loved her attitude in the movie. She reminded me just a bit of someone I know.

Rent this one without hesitation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010

The Grouch household hosted two interesting personalities at Halloween this year:

(click on the pictures for a larger view)

Carl Fredrickson from the hit movie "Up"

Queen Elizabeth I taking time from directing the destruction of the Spanish armada:

Costumes provided by a teenage friend of young son who is managing her mother's theatrical costume business. I particularly enjoyed having her majesty in residence at Grouch estates.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Attention Connie Willis fans!

You know who you are! Have you read "Blackout" and "All Clear" yet? I am on the waiting list for "All Clear" at my library and I can't wait to get it.

Time for some grouchiness

I don't know which grouchy complaint to write about: the friend who got the layoff with a large serving of no dignity allowed, or the incredibly poor 'we could care less' customer service incident. So, I will write about both.

A husband of the missus' friend and his co-workers were called to the conference room several weeks ago to receive the bad news: layoffs. Bummer, but then we are all vulnerable these days. However, it is bad enough to get this news, but it gets even worse: they were told to grab their jackets and purses and clear the building immediately. Talk about a kick in the rear after you've already been knocked down! No dignity allowed, no time to get the mind around the sudden, wrenching change in direction. They were permitted to return at a later date to retrieve their possessions. What has happened to treating people with dignity?

Here's my second grouch: I went to the type of store that requires the purchaser to supply two types of ID to buy certain things that start with g and end with n unless there are more than one such item being bought in which case it begins with g and ends with s. So, I handed over my ID and did the deed. At the end of the transaction the clerk said I was done and being as I had an hour drive ahead of me, I hurriedly exited the store for home. Five days later I went to retrieve something from my wallet and realized that I had left both my driver's license and military ID at the store. My fault, but the store not only had the ID, they also had my phone number. Couldn't they have called me? So, I called them. They said they'd look around and call me back. Three hours later and no call. I decided to drive to the store since it is only 20 minutes from where I work. Got to the store, asked the girl at the register about the ID. She knows nothing. She directs me to the guy behind the counter. He says go talk to the girl, she has the lost and found. She knows nothing. The guy says he knows nothing but they'll look around and call me. I say how long can it take to look in this small store? They say come back later. I say I will have to file a police report for the missing military ID. They call the manager. He won't come out but says to look in the lost and found box that the girl at the register has. She looks and pulls out my DL. I ask about the military ID. She pulls that out too. I leave before I say anything I will regret. A week later I stop at the store on the way home from drill to pick up the thing that begins with G and ends with N. I've already paid for everything. They tell me I owe another $40 before I can take it. I say no way. I say their policy is that everything is paid in full when the transaction is complete. They say that is true but I owe another $40. I don't have my receipt with me. They tell me to pay up or too bad. I spy the guy who waited on me and drag him into the conversation. He says that he remembers what happened and reminds the manager that the information was entered into the computer wrong and he had to redo it which is why it shows me owing another $40. The manager looks really steamed. He gives me the thing and walks off. I thank him, the guy who spoke up, and the guy who is standing there watching the whole thing and leave. I vow never, ever, ever to go back.

Now I no longer feel grouchy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Time marches on

I took oldest son to the airport today for his first business trip. He'll be in D.C. for a week and a half getting training at the State department and visiting various government agencies that he will interact with. It is his first trip of this type (discounting his various military adventures overseas) and undoubtedly the first of many. We talked about the trip and about how I traveled on business for 28 years until I got my latest job which has no travel involved. I don't miss the traveling now at all but over the years it greatly expanded my horizons. I missed my family greatly while traveling but the plus side was that I visited many interesting places and met some memorable people.

So now my son is grown up, with a real job and career and talking about buying a condo or a loft. Time marches on. I am very happy for him but a bit melancholy for me as I enter the home stretch for my working career.

I can't wait to hear his tales of the road, the places he will visit and the people he will meet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rant Interlude #2

Early Saturday morning we had a thunderstorm with booming thunder, lightning illuminating the room through the closed window blinds and finally driving rain. The thunder moved off and grew more muted as the storm passed. Thunderstorms are rare in this part of the country and especially this time of year. It was nice to have the sound, and the light, and the rain and to be able to lay in bed and know that it was no matter that I was awake because it was Saturday after all and nothing, absolutely nothing had to be done that I didn't want to do. I thought about the lyrics from the Bob Seeger song:

I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
When you just don't seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in...

So true in many ways

Rant #2

We now return to our regularly scheduled rants:
I ride the train each day and bring my bike on board. This isn't an unusual occurrence and a number of us do this day in and day out. There are designated spots on each car with a neat-o sign that has a picture of a bike and says (in English) bike storage area. Pretty plain and matter of fact.
The other day I got on the train to go home. I was getting on at the second stop as the train originated at Union station in downtown L.A. I'm used to a bit of crowding and riders shifting around to accommodate everyone but I wasn't ready for this sight:
Five middle aged ladies apparently had done their month's shopping at downtown L.A. (for cryin' out loud!) and were taking their booty home with them. It was piled in the bike area and across from the bike area, and on two seats so that these five women had effectively occupied the space of seven people and four bikes. I had no place to go so I stood and held the bike. The conductor (the coward) took one look at me and left the car, not to return for the rest of the time that I was on the train. As we moved down the line three more bikes got on the same car, each one snared as I had been: from outside the car the mound of groceries, flowers, bananas, tote carts, and the like could not be seen from outside and when the door opens a rider has about 20 seconds to get on. Very little time to decide to try another car and the next train is 45 minutes behind. So we squeezed in. The ladies were nonchalant and really could've cared less until a young Hispanic man got on with his bike. suddenly they cared that he had no place for his bike and one of the women tugged ineffectively at the pile 'o produce to make room for his bike while the other pointed at the isle and presumably asked (in Spanish) if he would put his bike there. He answered firmy (in English) 'that would be a hazard' and stayed with the rest of us in the bike mash.
While we were all dealing with this, at one of the stops a phalanx of deputies pushed onto the car, went up the stairs to the second level and came down with a young woman between two of them and hustled her off the car. She had a little smile on her face like 'this happens all the time, no worries'. Just something else to add to the drama of the trip.
Do you wish to know what was the worst of this little encounter? I'll tell you. About half way through the ordeal, as we clutched our bikes and tried not to fall over as the train lurched and jerked and people squeezed through us and gave us dirty looks, the ladies proceeded to open up bags of fresh bakery bread which they proceeded to eat without even offering any to us! All would have been OK if we had gotten a bite of that bread. It smelled great.
Afterword: The next day the same group was inspected for train tickets by the deputies. They tried the 'no comprende' routine and the 'no English' routine but eventually dug out their tickets. The deputy wasn't amused.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rant interlude: The moons of Jupiter

Jupiter is the closest approach to Earth it has been since 1963 and won't again be until 2022. I read 'Farmer in the Sky' by Robert Heinlein as a teen about the terraforming and colonization of Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system and by default the largest moon of Jupiter. Tonight I unlimbered the spotting scope and trained in on Jupiter. At 45x I could see some color on Jupiter and three of the moons in a line, one being Ganymede. Maybe someday people will colonize a terraformed Ganymede and be farmers in the sky. I hope for our survival as a species something of that nature comes to pass.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three Rants

Time for some rants. I'm going to spread them out so as not to overwhelm the readers of this blog.

Rant #1 (not much of a rant; I will start off easy). So there I was on the crowded afternoon train. The conductor had just got done announcing that no one should take up more than one seat per butt. I spied a seat with stuff piled high; a sleeping man, a middle aged woman; a young female deputy (no, this isn't the beginning of a tasteless joke). I say to the three "anyone sitting there?" The man sleeps on. The woman says "it's not my stuff'" and say 'Sir' to the guy to wake him up to move his junk. He sleeps on (or at least keeps his eyes closed). The female deputy stands up and says "here sir, have my seat." I don't want her seat, I want the seat that has the guy's junk on it. I thank her but decline. She says she will not sit in that seat and I should put my aging behind on the seat cushion and rest my greying head (she didn't really say that but I knew that is what she meant). I told her that I would not sit in the seat and she should sit back down. She refused to sit in the seat and said that I might as well take it because she would stand all the way home before she would sit in that seat. While we were discussing it a young guy squeezed behind us and sat in the seat. The deputy walked over and sat next to a woman on a bench seat and the sleeping guy slept on with his stuff still piled up on the seat so no one could sit there. I ended up standing the whole way home. Everyone including me was too polite to give the guy's foot a good kick and tell him "get your crap off that seat before I take it off and throw it out the door at the next station." I swear I'm getting closer and closer to being Michael Douglas' character in 'Falling Down'.

Stay tuned for:

Rant #2: the produce train or Chiquita Banana and her sisters go shopping and come home on the train.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

He's in!

So, older son got the call on Friday; he's hired! He will be working for the Federal Government in an agency that is not the CIA but is something that he says we shouldn't discuss so I won't. We may be able to ride the train together as he goes downtown if our schedules correspond. That will be nice. Hopefully he is on his way to an interesting and ultimately rewarding career. it is an entry level job so he won't be rushing out to buy a house next week. He'll be occupying the front room at Grouch acres for several more months at least.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fair update

We went, we saw, we ate....we didn't have any of the chocolate covered bacon much to the Missus' sadness. We rode some rides, looked at pregnant farm animals, walked through the buildings with the cheezy stuff for sale, ate snacks, and left with our wallets empty and our tummies full.
Some of the things we saw and did (click on the picture for a larger view!):

The Budweiser Clydesdale team was there. See 'em while you can because the new European owners of Anheuser-Busch says they got to go. The Belgians have no interest in anything American except the money. What do you expect from imitation frogs?

The Missus liked the dog topiaries. She also liked the grey merle Sheltie that was up for adoption at the fair along with other dogs and could have been talked into bringing it home except someone had already got there first and claimed it. The dog was pretty cute and calm.

The Grouch and young son got to drive bumper cars which is a lot like everyday driving in L.A. except that the cars here are generally smaller than what is encountered on the streets.

The fairgrounds is home to several steam engines including a Big Boy locomotive (it is huge, hence the name)
along with a Pullman car, a special horse car (used in the movie Sea Biscuit) and a caboose which young son looks out of like a '30s knight of the road. The Pullman sleeper car tour was very interesting.

Young son paid a dollar to see the world's smallest horse.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Older son has been applying for jobs since before he graduated from College in June. It's a tough job market out there as everyone knows but being the Grouch's son he is a resourceful and clever person and he did not give up. This week he got good news that has excellent possibilities of morphing into a position doing something interesting with good career possibilities. Stay tuned and I will report back in about a month. That's all I'm saying now.

We're off to the L.A. County fair today, the home of the fried everything. They literally fry just about any type of food to sell such as Twinkies and Klondike bars. We are of course going for the chance to look at the 4-H displays and the like and not the deadly food. We're sticking with that story. A double bonus is that two of us get in for a buck apiece with my retired military I.D. The Grouch is also cheap, I mean frugal, so this gladdens my heart.

And, since it is 9-11 and Patriot Day.....never forget

Friday, September 3, 2010

Finders, Keepers

So the missus found a watch on one of her marathon walks about a week ago. Somewhere there is a very sad nerd because we found his watch. It is a Casio G-shock digital watch, alarm, stop watch and probably time travel device. It is big, black, and plastic. In fact it is huge. It was laying on the sidewalk so she scooped it up and brought it home. Being a good citizen and all around nice person she placed signs in the area giving our phone number to any nerd who may have lost a watch. No one called. Perhaps someone's wife or girl friend snatched it off the wrist of their nerd0-inclined significant other and threw it out the window of a moving car because they couldn't stand its beeping and multiple displays and looming presence and that is how it ended up on the sidewalk. But I digress. Today I stepped up the tempo on our shared good-citizenishness and took said nerd watch to the local p0lice station to turn it in so it may be reunited with its grieving owner. The nice person on duty took all of my information and the watch. As he was turning away I called after him to ask just what the procedure is to claim the watch if Mr. Nerd does not come forward to claim it? I was told that there is no 'claiming it'. If no one comes for it then it is destroyed. End of story. It seemed to be to be a real disincentive to turn in found property and I felt compelled to say so. Another deputy chimed in (we have deputies because we have a Sheriff because this once was indeed the wild west) and said that no one turns in stuff and no one comes to the station to look for stuff - unless it is a wallet. Silly me. So, I took the watch, left my name and phone number in case someone realizes that their giant G-Shock watch is missing and foolishly shows up looking for it.

It's on my wrist now. It is growing on me, actually.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Movie Recommendations

We saw two movies recently that I will feel confident in recommending. No 'Gods Must Be Crazy' in this group (although I still think that movie is hilarious!).

"500 Days of Summer"

"Orson Welles and Me"

Both have much to like in them. I liked that the theater people in "Orson Welles" didn't constantly hug each other. It was a more reserved time in 1937 I guess. I also didn't see any fist bumps (thank goodness).

Check them out and let me know if you like them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Found Money

Some posts ago I mentioned the variety of items I found when riding my bike to and from work. I used to find a fair amount of money including a $20 bill and some singles. Since we entered the Great Depression #2 I've noticed the amount of dropped money has decreased significantly. My bike mileage is also shorter these days so my money spotting opportunities have also decreased. The missus and I decided about a year ago to keep all of the money found outside the home in a candy dish on the kitchen counter to see just how much we can accumulate.

So far we've gleaned:

60 pennies
17 nickels
6 dimes
3 quarters

This doesn't count the pennies we've seen mashed down into the road surface but are not retrievable. I wonder if more pennies are found because those who drop them can't be bothered to pick them up and the found denominations decrease in reverse proportion to their value because of that value? I do know as I mentioned that found money is much less than before. I guess tough times makes folks value their pocket change!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

*****News Flash****

Stop the presses! Young son passed his driving exam on Monday and is now licensed for the streets and byways of California. You have been warned.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Missus' Grand Day Out-Big Bear part III

Mrs. Grouch being a good sport agreed to go on a off road trip while at Big Bear so we headed off to find the mighty Santa Ana river flowing in a valley near Big Bear Lake.

(click on the pictures for a larger view)

As promised we located the mighty Santa Ana river. The Grouch and Roscoe are standing in it. Back where the Grouch comes from this body of water would be called a crick. Out west any year round flowing body of water is automatically a river. The water was shockingly cold!

Molly loved the water as always. The Grouch could only stand in it for a couple minutes before the cold was almost painful. The air temperature was in the high '80s so it was an interesting contrast.

After enjoying the shade and the running water we set off to climb up the Clark grade trail. This started out pretty mild and not too steep. But, the higher we went the rougher the road got and the further the drop on one side became. Near the top the trail was only as wide as the trusty Jeep and the drop looked high enough to successfully parachute off of. I believe the trail was more than what the Missus had signed up for.

When we reached the top we found evidence that others had difficulties on the trail. The Grouch holds a broken tow strap and some vehicle trim that was shed by a vehicle in trouble.

The Missus spied the trail marker at the top of the trail. She said that if she had seen that before we started on it, we wouldn't have started!

The Grouch, The Jeep and the faithful dogs.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Interlude - Point Magu Air Show

Air Show! Young daughter emailed us a couple days ago to mention that the Navy base next to her ANG wing she serves with (they share a common runway complex) was having an air show this weekend. Mentioned this to young son and the Missus and both said they wanted to go! And, it was going to be free admission! Who could pass this up? Not this old grouch for sure.
So, not too early today we loaded up into the trusty Aztek and set off for the coast. Young daughter has drill this weekend so she could not attend with us but she did get to see and hear some of the activities during the day capped by a ring side seat atop one of the base buildings as the Thunderbirds streaked over her part of the base during the finale of the airshow. Can't beat that!
So, now for some pictures. Click on the pics for a larger view.

The first interesting item we encountered was in the apron outside of the gianormous hangers. A bronze plaque inset into the concrete commemorating a visit by President Kennedy in 1963. Who knew?

An ironic display was the Predator remotely controlled aircraft.
The future probably lies with this type of aircraft and manned military airplanes will someday be a thing of the past and with it airshows and the romance that goes with the aircraft and their pilots.

This B25 is seen frequently at area airshows. Young son was going to tour it but the crowd was too heavy around it. However, he did tour it, but years ago! See the next picture.

Same plane, different airshow and with young son, much younger, peering out of the pilot's seat!

The mighty C17 built in Southern California by Boeing at the old Douglas factory in Long Beach was on display. Young son looks nonchalantly at the impressive cargo plane.

The same plane going through its paces later. A very impressive short take off and landing cargo plane that can carry 170,000 lbs of cargo!

Young son and the Missus next to a Humvee which coincidentally was brought by some NCOs from my state reserve unit!

The Grouch's dad flew in a plane much like this while working as a Norden bombsight tech in WW2. His was an AT11 but the planes are essentially the same.

Not something seen at many airshows - a WW2 Japanese Zero fighter! Its arch-enemy was also at the airshow - a Grumman Hellcat fighter. I think it was there to keep an eye on it.

The infantryman's friend: the A10 'Warthog'. This plane is incredibly maneuverable and did many aerobatic stunts that I had no idea it was capable of doing. It made several low passes over the field and explosions were set off on the ground to simulate bombs being dropped. The flame effect was pretty spectacular. The explosions made the ground jump and rattled the windows at the ANG base according to young daughter. Too bad they also set the grass on fire next to the runway and delayed the start of the Thunderbirds by an hour!

The A10 taxing by the smoke from its ground strike.

The amazing finale: the Thunderbirds (go Air Force!). The formation flying, the low passes, the incredible precision...simply has to be seen to be appreciated! According to their schedule they will be in Pittsburgh later this year so all Grouch groupies in the 'burgh best go see them at Greater Pitt!
After the airshow we met young daughter for pizza. A great end to a great day!