Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New York World's Fair memories

So way back in 1964 (or maybe 1965) Citizen Grouch who was all of 10 (or 11) traveled with his parents and his siblings to see the World's Fair in New York.  We drove to Connecticut and stayed with his niece and family. I knew her as Aunt Jean and at that age I had no idea that she wasn't my aunt but actually my cousin.  Aunt Jean and my Dad were close in age and had a fun relationship which surprised me to see.  My Dad could be somewhat stern sometimes but he obviously had a great time when with his niece.  She was funny and had a loud laugh, she told great stories of her adventures and once accidentally put her cigarette out on my hand when we were riding in the back of the family '57 Plymouth sedan.  I jumped and knocked the cigarette out of her hand where it fell to the plastic seat cover and burned a hole right through it and I was forever more reminded of that incident by the bullet size hole through the clear plastic cover.

Her son took me sailing in their small sail boat on Long Island sound and we ate at an ice cream parlor called 'Friendlies'.  At some point we visited Mystic seaport to see antique whaling ships. 

I thought their house and their lives was the most exotic thing I had encountered, besides my grandparent's house in Ft. Lauderdale that is.

My memories of the fair are actually pretty sketchy.  I remember the GM pavilion and riding in cars through the diorama.  I remember the Disney 'Small World' ride and the animatronic Abe Lincoln that showed up later on in Disney World.  I remember some of the other commercial pavilions, one of them putting on a magician's type show that made stuff by mixing chemicals.  The food was great for a kid of my age and I found the people in national costume fascinating.  I remember seeing a group of French sea scouts with their pom-pom hats go running by us to get in line for a show.

I think there was a trip to Niagara Falls involved in the whole expedition.  I have a memory of my Dad asking the hotel clerk on the Canadian side 'what's the deal with exchanging money?' which one of my sisters found to be terribly funny.

  Probably if I saw some photos of the trip much more would come back to me. 

It was an adventure of a life time for this small boy.  I hope I wasn't too much of a pain for my suffering parents on this extended journey.  I probably wasn't appreciative of the trip at the time but it is something that I have thought of many times since then.

Thanks Mom!  Thanks Dad!

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me!  Last Friday was the big Six Oh for me and my loving family made sure that it was the best birthday ever.  Unfortunately time and distance made it impossible for all of us to gather to celebrate but the Grouch clan made up for it with phone calls, cards, a letter, dinners (yes, plural!) out, and several wonderful presents. 
The children led by eldest daughter put together this wonderful combination birthday tribute and updated photos of each one of them plus little ladybug!  I loved each of the pictures, eldest son standing in front of T.R. is great!  The picture has place of honor in my office.
The Missus decreed that a 60th birthday plus attaining my Master's degree, and finally retiring from all things military called for another memorable present.  She set the budget and this is what I purchased in her name.  The king of all handguns, Colt's automatic pistol model of 1911 series 80 caliber .45.  It is an arm that will be passed from generation to generation.  I carried a 1911A1 .45 off and on during my military service over the years.  No shots were ever fired in anger by me with the .45 pistol that I was issued but its weight and bulk in the black leather holster on my GI web belt was a comforting feeling during field duty during the Cold war.

Thanks to my wife, my children and grand daughter, my siblings and friends who made my 60th birthday a memorable one!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Calico Desert Trip

Last Saturday the gang scouted future legal and safe shooting areas in the desert around the Calico area.  Senior Grouch (that's me) called the local BLM office prior to our recon to find out where we should look for a good shootin' spot.  The nice lady gave us a good lead so off we went to check the area out.
We started close to the Calico ghost town and proceeded up one of the designated trails.  During our all-day trip we came across several abandoned mining operations. Some of the tunnels and pits were sealed but some were open and ready to maim or kill weekend desert rats foolish enough to go into the mines.  We came across on pit that was deep enough that stones tossed in seemed to fall forever before striking something to create a noise of the stone's impact. 
It was a great day to be in the desert, sunny, warm, and later in the day very windy!  By the evening it was blowing so hard that I had to steady myself with a hand on the gas pump while pumping gas into the Jeep for the ride home.  I'm guessing 70+ mph winds!

Where we like to start and end our trips to Calico. Great food and shakes!
There is something about being in the desert that brings out the wonderful weirdness in people!  Giant iron beasts can be found in Peggy Sue's back yard!
Starting up the canyon to scout for long distance shooting spots
The colors in the rocks throughout the trip were amazing
Love the vista
I saw these openings in this rock outcropping from the shooting area we decided will work just right for us so I had to hike up to see what I could see.
Looking back at the gang from the rocks!
Part of a very large abandoned mining operation.  We declined to go into this shaft.  To give a sense of scale, that opening was probably 200 feet at least from the floor.
A closed off vertical mine shaft
Remains of the mining operation.  It was quite windy here!
How windy?  Molly isn't that puffy unless it is blowing 50+
What did they mine here?
Another mine and evidence of living rough.  When all you have are rocks, that is what you build with.
This looks interesting!
A vertical shaft was back here that was at least 50  feet deep.  We didn't go down or even too close to the edge.
Reminds me of the original 'Planet of the Apes' movie.
Miners were too busy digging to worry about their trash

Friday, April 11, 2014

The logistics of 'Captain America'

So, once again the Grouch family was invited to view the latest Disney release at the Disney studios in beautiful downtown Burbank.  Somehow through good fortune or error (or both) my name ended up on list of folks who get invited to view new Disney movies at their studio theater.  I never asked why because if I did they may realize that they meant to invite someone else with a similar name but got me instead.  Be that as it may, the Missus, Young Son, Young Daughter, and yours truly got to see the latest release at the Disney studios theater.  It is always very exciting for us star-struck types to go to the studio lot and see the history on display all around us as  we walk from the parking structure to the theater.  The Disney folks are so very nice and not officious at all.  We just enjoy the heck out of it.
This time we got to see "Captain America- The Winter Soldier".  I thought by the title the Cap was fighting the bad guys in the Arctic, but no, he was fighting a foe who was called 'The Winter Soldier'.  Why he had that moniker was never explained as far as I could discern.
It was a great movie, loads of earnest fun, full of explosions and fights to the death.  And it had Scarlet Johansson as the co-star, need there be more said? I enjoyed it a lot and the Missus applauded vigorously at the end so that means it was a great movie.

The anxious movie attendees waiting for the show to start


So what's this about the logistics of Captain America?  I don't think I will be betraying too much of the movie to mention that right in the middle of D.C SHIELD has  the equivalent of a shipyard which is constructing the equivalent of three WW2 Jeep carriers underground.  Did I mention this is smack in the middle of D.C.?   So can you imagine the amount of raw materials that would flow into an underground ship yard?  the plate steel, the aluminum, the copper?  How about the finished sub assemblies, the light bulbs, the toilet paper, the time cards, the Hostess Twinkies for the employee snack shop, all flowing via truck or rail (or as the Missus postulated, by sling load under heavy lift helos) and all right through the middle of D.C.?   Let's add in the thousands of workers coming and going all day and night.  How about the electrical service, water, gas and sewer lines for the underground shipyard?  I don't think that the facility was secret per-se but I don't think there was a sign on the beltway pointing to it on the off-ramp to it either.  Didn't anyone wonder what the heck was going on there?
I did learn one thing from the movie:  now I know why traffic is so messed up around D.C; its because of Captain America and SHIELD's shipyard!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Three car ads to start your morning

I stole these ads from a Yahoo article this morning about the 10 greatest TV car ads.  I've picked out three of the best (in my opinion).  You can read the whole article here:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Left's intolarance

So, those on the Left frequently scold the rest of us for being 'intolerant' in thought and deed.  Of course, their idea of tolerance is actually conforming to their mores and values.  Opposite view points are not welcomed, not tolerated, only scorned and are censured when possible.

Case in point:  Recently the CEO of Mozilla was forced out when it was revealed that he had the gall to contribute to a political cause that the Left finds to be repugnant to their worldview.  Mr. Eich emphasized that his private political views did not enter into the operation of the company that we worked for but in this Topsy-turvey world of intolerance that masquerades as tolerance, the Left gathered their forces and sent him packing.

I was listening to NPR yesterday where this issue was being discussed.  The majority of the callers stated that he got exactly what he deserved because his views were 'not in mainstream'; were 'out of step with society'; showed that he is 'intolerant' and much more.  The discussion host challenged the callers by serving up a scenario where a CEO holds personal views that mirror those of the callers but due to the conservative nature of the state that the example company is located in, the CEO is forced to resign.  Would that be fair, wondered the radio host?  All but one of the leftist callers said, without any sense of awareness of their double standard,  that it would be completely unfair and 'intolerant' to dismiss a company CEO whose views matched theirs.  Only one young woman admitted to the host that she was being hypocritical in her stance but then emphasized that her stance was the only allowable one. 

To a person they demanded censorship and retaliation against anyone in a position of authority who held views contrary to theirs. 

It is a few short steps from this stance to thought control for the masses. 

1984 anyone?

Who does it better, the Duke or the Big Labowski?

'True Grit' the movie and the book are one of my all-time favorites.  I saw the original at the theater with my Dad and loved it.  I loved the scenery and the story.  I already had major respect for Duke Wayne but this movie upped it another 100%  Anybody who could make fun of his image like he did but still be deadly serious and a sure shot when the time came was a real man.
So like everything in Hollywood, it got remade recently.  Young Son and I went to see it and we liked it but still, for me, the original is the best.  Most current critics disagree.
Spend five minutes and watch the same scene done by different Rooster Cogburns and you tell me who does it better!
Big John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn and a very young Robert Duvall and lucky Ned Pepper
Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn

What you should never say to your car

So the other day I told my faithful Dodge Stratus that it is a good 'ole car.  I bought it used and in a couple years put about 10k miles on it.  Really haven't had to do anything to it except four new tires.  I'm pretty happy with it and I told it so.

Big mistake.

Soon after telling it this, I decided to check the engine oil.  The dipstick handle broke off in the tube and the stick wedged in the tube to the point that it just wasn't going to come out. 

Just like most Americans, it cannot just accept a compliment and move on.  Nope, it had to show that it really wasn't worthy of the nice words I gave it.

I bought a new dipstick and tube and changed it out this morning.  The set up took longer than doing the job itself.  The Dodge parts counter guy told me that they sell a lot of Stratus dipsticks but they never get stuck in the tube when they break.  Lucky me!

Remember, if you are pleased with your car, never tell it.  It'll break something just to show you up.