Friday, September 30, 2011

A great survival story not too far from here!

I've driven this road many times over the years.  Not very far from Grouch estates.  I can testify that the road is indeed twisting with some very sharp drop offs.  It is a canyon road through some rugged country.  The Grouch daughters spent a weekend at a camp along this road and were delivered in the old Samurai.  Lucky we didn't fly off the road!

TODAY staff and wire
updated 9/30/2011 7:16:23 AM ET2011-09-30T11:16:23
A 67-year-old man found alive days after his car plunged 200 feet off a mountain road built a makeshift camp, ate leaves and drank water from a nearby creek to survive, his daughter said.
After several days of radio silence from their dad, David Lavau's kids reported him missing to police. As rescue workers conducted an official search for the missing man, the Lavaus set out on their own.
The family members were the ones who located David Lavau at the bottom of a ravine in the Angeles National Forest in California Thursday.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Doing my civic duty

I reported for jury duty on Thursday.  I was on standby since Monday and thought I would make it through the week without being called but I was nabbed Thursday.   I won't discuss the case or anything of value.  Instead I will complain and grouch about my fellow citizens who were caught in the dragnet with me. 

 Grouch #1:   6 people got themselves excused from the trial because they could not comprehend English well enough to participate.  1 was a store owner and 2 worked in retail businesses that had customer contact with English speakers.   Most have been in the country over 20 years.  All are citizens which requires a command of the English language.  All could communicate very well with the judge.  But, they couldn't understand well enough to serve.  Give me a break!

 Grouch #2:  The judge told the group when we were released for lunch to be present for duty by 1:30.  If anyone was late then we wouldn't start and the proceedings would be delayed and we would all be stuck in the process that much longer.  At 1:30 three people were missing.  At 1:40 they strolled in from lunch, laughing and carrying on about being late.  They couldn't have cared any less about the whole thing.   So the judge told everyone at the end of the day to be present the next day at 10:30 to start.   Well, you guessed it:  2 were no-shows at 10:30.  One arrived at 10:35.  The second showed up at 10:40.  Myself and the rest of the chumps were there by 10:15.   

The judge was very nice and very well spoken.  I enjoyed listening to him.  I was dismayed at the disrespect that the people who were late were showing to him.  I imagine after the final selection he put his foot down about being on time.  At first I didn't want to serve on the jury but as the process rolled along I began to get interested in it and was starting to look forward to being on the jury.  But no, I was dismissed by the defence.  Was I too smart to serve?  Too dumb?   Should I be insulted?   Anyway I am now 5 for 5 called for jury service and not selected.  This is as close as I have gotten.  Maybe the next time!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What to do with obsolete business cards?

When I left my last place of employment I had recently gotten another box of business cards.  Being the frugal type that I am I took them with me figuring that I would find some use for them.  I didn't want to leave the cards behind and have what happened to me in Michigan when I worked for Pepsi happen again.  I got a call from a woman at work one day asking about the job I promised her.  I told her that I didn't know what she was talking about.  She insisted that I had promised her a job and gave her my card in a bar in downtown Grand Rapids.  I asked her what I looked like and she described the beverage warehouse manager.    That rascal had lifted one of my cards and handed it out in the bar!  I told her what happened and she either believed me or figured she wasn't going to get anywhere with me anyway and hung up.  I let the warehouse guy know what I thought of his trick.  He thought it was funny and after awhile I did too.

So, now I have this whole box of business cards sitting in the garage on my workbench.  When I left for the range this morning an idea occurred to me and I grabbed a handful of them.  I stapled 10 cards to my rifle target and set the target out at 50 yards.  They make great targets for a .22 rifle!  I had the triple satisfaction of getting free targets, getting good fun, and putting bullet holes through the logo of that blankety blank company that I used to work for!   What could be better?

I ran into one of my employees at the range.  We were both surprised to see the other there.  He and his group had a cool lifesize (deadsize?) zombie head and torso target that is filled with a gel.  When it is shot the gel oozes out.  Now that is cool!   They dressed it in a shirt and hat for added realism.  I've got to get one!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wisdom from Bob Hope


Yesterday I went for a haircut to get ready for drill with the California State Military Reserve.   The TV at the shop was showing the news.  The young man said he hoped that there wouldn't be any mention about 9/11.  "I'm tired of it" he said, "they should just stop talking about it."   He went on "it was just a bunch of sand n------s anyway who got a lucky hit on us.  Enough about it.   Besides, no one remembers the Maine or Pearl Harbor anymore now anyway."   I sould have walked out but he was halfway through the haircut so I said that 9/11 is our generation's Pearl Harbor.   I let the conversation stop.  I didn't want to talk to him anymore.

Several days before 9/11 I saw young daughter off at the airport as she left for basic training for the Air Force.  I stood at the window at the gate and waved goodbye to her, thinking about the big adventure that awaited her.   The morning of 9/11 I rode by bike to the commuter train station as usual.  It was dark at 6 a.m. and as I pushed my bike along the train platform I heard a couple men talking about a small plane that had crashed into the World Trade center in NYC.  They were laughing about the stupid pilot that could do something so dumb.    I had read a book about a B-25 bomber that crashed into the Empire State building in 1945 so I knew it could happen.  I also knew that this couldn't be a good thing.  When I got off the train in Burbank I plugged my little radio into the earbuds and set off for the 8 mile commute to work.  The oldies station I usually listened to had pre-empted their music line up and were instead co-broadcasting the coverage from the AM all news station in L.A.   As I listened to the live coverage and realized what had happened I started to cry.  Yes I admit it, I was bicycling along with tears streaming down my cheeks.  I cursed out loud whoever had done this and said that nothing, absolutely nothing would be the same again.  I thought about my daughter who was just starting basic training.  I thought about my son who was still in high school and my family and friends who were serving in the military and those who lived scattered all across the country.  Could any of them be on an airplane?

The Missus and I went to Texas to see young daughter graduate from Air Force basic training several months later.   The air base was on a war footing and security was tight.  We were proud to see her graduated and be an airman in the Air National Guard.  I volunteered to serve on active duty immediately after 9/11.  The military was ramping up for a response and for war.  But apparently the Army didn't feel they needed a guy who was out of the Army for 5 years after 20 years of intermittent service.   I got a nice certificate of appreciation from the Army for volunteering as a consolation.  Older son joined the CAARNG and went off to basic training in South Carolina.  Young son, the Missus and I went to his basic training graduation.  The training battalion did a ceremony to commemorate the deaths of seven Army rangers who had recently been killed in Afghanistan.  The combat deaths in that zone were so low that the deaths of seven soldiers was remarkable.  Little did we know what was coming.   I joined the California State Military Reserve, a state defense force, after my request for active duty with the National Guard was also turned down.  I faced facts and acknowledged that there is no fool like an old fool and accepted that the best I could do to help in the war was to serve where I could.  

Older son went on to serve on three activations, one in Iraq.  Young daughter still serves with the CANG.  Life has changed significantly for all of us and for the world.  Who is winning and who has lost?  Others will write about that at great length.  I will say that in one area that really matters, supporting our servicemen and servicewomen, this country has come together.  Young son's Eagle scout project of constructing and shipping 200 comfort kits for a Marine battalion in Afghanistan is a great success due to the very, very generous support from the community.  Compare this to Vietnam and post Vietnam when to be in the service was frequently treated with contempt by the non serving population.  I joined post Vietnam and was harassed when in uniform and even got harassing phone calls at home when I was in the National Guard from someone who knew I was in.  Now people recognize the sacrifice that the military is making for the country.

So, here we are, 10 years after 9/11/01.   Life has changed permanently for all of us.  We are at war and probably will be for a long, long time.  Will there be other 9/11s?   All we can do is love our family and our friends and make life matter each day.  

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Young Son's Eagle project Part 2

I mentioned in the previous blog that Young Son's Eagle project has been approved and it is time for him to shift into soliciting mode.  He estimates that he will need the equivalent of $4,000 in cash and donation of goods to create, pack, and ship a minimum of 200 comfort packages to a Marine battalion in Afghanistan.  As he was struggling to get the project approved the Scout advisor told him that is project lacked the 'wow' factor.  The advisor should have seen Young Son in action this weekend to see that the public sees the 'wow' factor in this project!

On Saturday he set up a table outside a grocery store and he and a friend greeted the customers as they went into the store to shop.  He asked them if they would buy just one item on his list for the comfort kits and donate them to his project.  By the end of the day he had about $300 in goods and close to $100 in cash!  People stopped to talk to him about it, folks promised to meet him at the next store that he will be at the following Saturday with more goods and shoppers gave him encouragement and praise for his project.  How's that for 'wow'!   Only a couple of grumpy people snarled at him as they went by and for this day and age that is a pretty good showing!
Today Young Son and I drove to one of the VFW posts in town so he could talk at their meeting and tell about his project.  The group of vets were a gruff group but put him at ease and encouraged him as he spoke.  When he was done one of the vets called on the rest to get their wallets out and kick in some money for the project.  Young Son left with $300!  Other folks have donated goods and cash.  Some of the business in town donated small amounts of money, Trader Joe's being an exception, this store gave him $50. Way to go TJ's!    He is half-way to his goal of $4,000 and thanks to the generosity of family, friends, neighbors, and total strangers his project will undoubtedly be a success.  200 Marines will each get a package with useful items to alleviate the misery of weeks in the field away from base.  Even though I am an old Army dog I can acknowledge the outstanding job our Marines are doing in Afghanistan.  Young Son's project is a noble undertaking and I'm proud of him for doing it!

Eagle Scout comfort kit:

1 zip-lock gallon bag containing:
1 pr crew socks
1 paperback book
1 pack beef jerky
1 tube chapstick
1 dental floss
1 tube toothpaste
1 pack sunflower seeds
1 pack tic-tacs
2 pack chewing gum
1 pack wet wipes
4 AA or AAA batteries
1 letter of appreciation from a grade school student
1 letter from Young Son

Friday, September 2, 2011

The world's most useless machine

I thought the most useless machine was the Black and Decker electric grass trimmer I bought last month that lasted exactly one use before jamming beyond recovery but no, this is the world's most useless machine:

Not only is it useless but it has a bad temper!