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Three score and ten or more

Monday, May 31, 2010


My wife will be having her cataract removed tomorrow morning and I will be at the Medical College of Georgia till Wednesday.  We will then travel to Columbia, SC where we will stay till Sunday to have a visit with her, and with our son, who, in his reserve office will be coming out here from Washington for a change of Command Ceremony.  Don’t expect much from here for a week since we don’t expect to have internet access.


I am an old man.  When I was gradually going through the aging process, many things were different than they are now.  Some of the changes are physical, and we are all familiar with them. Twenty five or thirty years ago when my sons were all but camping out in the University computer center accessing news groups, learning basic and other languages, I sat in my office and using my IBM typewriter and never dreamed that I would have a computer or two,,,,,or three, as I do now.  (I still miss the Commodore 64 that was my first computer with no discernable hard drive, but with disk drives and ultimately a zip drive.) but Things Change.

I really want to talk about social things rather than tech things.  When we had our first son back in 1957 (or 8, my memory is another of those things that change) It was still in the era when pregnant women advertised their pregnancy with smocks, muu muus, slacks and skirts with elastic expansion joints in the front   I thought that my bride, with or without those clothes  was twice as sexy as she had been before (and She was sexy).  I supported her through six pregnancies, and my admiration (and sympathy, when, as is normal, sometime she was so miserable) never ceased.  But still, the world of smocks and maternity clothing was just the way things were.

I have gradually become used to the new style of  tight t shirts and the elimination of “maternity clothing” but for an old conservative duck it wasn’t always easy.  Young women eight months pregnant with bikinis  took a little more getting used to, but I have trained myself not to stare.  I have gotten “with it” I thought, but last week in Panama City, Janet and I got on the elevator at the sixth floor a young lady who looked like a fourteen year old (I’m sure she was older, but—) got on the elevator.  She was wearing a bikini that was functionally invisible.  At best it could have been the model for the old song Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini.  She protruded for what seemed to be yards out in front.  She smiled and said “Hello”. which I answered with a mumble and a spectacular blush, which she noticed and giggled.  I don’t know where Janet was looking, but I counted the bolt heads in the ceiling of the elevator, carefully examined my shoes, my finger nails, and whatever else was handy in my determination not to stare. (Which I probably did, at least a little).  No matter how much things change, I don’t think I have time (Having already used up my biblical three score and ten years) to ever get used to eight or nine months pregnant ladies who look like pre-teens and who ride down in the elevator with me wearing bikinis that are invisible at the bottom and miniscule at the top.

I am trying to be “modern” but “that modern”  is a hopeless cause.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Out of town again

I know that this is an annoying habit, but someone has to do it.  I am vacationing again, back in a time share.  I have spent the last several days (since last Friday, and I probably won’t get this sent till tomorrow (next Friday) at Panama City Beach in Florida.  We had been a little concerned that the beach would get oily while we were here, but the weather has been beautiful, the water is so clear  you could read a newspaper through it  (if you could figure a way to get the newspaper under water without it melting). 

Janet’s health has been a bit iffy.  If we go to the pool and do our water aerobics (we have to go first thing in the mornings or we don’t have space to play)  her leg hurts all day, and if we don’t , she feels “poorly”  otherwise.  We have compromised by sitting on our sixth floor balcony  and watching the waves come in, shopping (Janet is almost never too tired to shop) and finding new restaurants. 

The last time we were here (about three years ago) They were building bunches of high rise condominiums(both time share and residential) all along the beach.  I understand that they are mostly empty now.  I heard that one ten story building with two pools and beach access has six residents.  (I don’t even want to think what their condo-maintenance fees must be) but most of those buildings are now owned by the banks.  I passes a sign on Front Beach Road yesterday that advertised a three bedroom luxury  beach front year round condominium, fully furnished, for 99000 dollars. (obviously not counting the maintenance.) Three years ago, that would have been a good price for a three month time share.

Panama City Beach is a wonderful  place to stay for a week or two though.  the white sand beaches and warm ocean water are remarkable (I almost said unique but that be a misuse of the word). 

The businesses here are very frustrated because, lacking a hurricane, the currents etc. are such that they will not be touched by the oil, but many people have cancelled reservations and gone elsewhere.   For those of us here it makes for one of those rare times in Panama City Beach where it is not crowded

We have to pack today, we have to check out by 19:00 tomorrow morning (and I will be able to post this sometime tomorrow  evening.  (This place has internet available down in the lobby, and I have just been two lazy to hike down there to log in.  They have promised it in every room next year)

I just listened to President Obama’s Press Conference, so I will sign off or I will start blithering about politics.

I Hate Dish Network Part two

I have done this before, but I keep having reminders.  When I mutter about the Dish Network, friends ask me why I haven’t changed back to cable or signed up with Direct TV or Hughes network or whatever.  Actually the only thing that keeps me sending money to Dish every month is one particular channel from the mountain west that is not available from those sources (I’m actually not sure of Hughesnet, because I haven seen a listing.)

Otherwise Dish has been a pain forever.  The last time I complained about Dish, some Dish representative came onto my comment page to repeat a couple of times that if I would just turn the receiver off  (or unplug it) for a couple of minutes the receiver would reset and all would be well, and that works for some things but my system has problems you never heard of. 

Probably the most irritating is losing the satellite (at least an hour a day), but, I have only one receiver for two TVs .  Explain to me if you can, how I can be watching a program in one room, walk to the other room and the program is unavailable because it has lost the satellite.  Only one receiver and it loses “half” a satellite.Mark Twain once said that there are lies, damn lies , and statistics.   My version of this is that there are lies, damn lies and Dish commercials. 

I shudder a bit at Direct TV commercials as well.   I  tend to doubt any commercial that advertises over ninety percent contact with the satellite.  My GPS doesn’t make that kind of a record.  I think I’ll quit whining, and either quit Dish or quit complaining.  The other post seemed both accurate and entertaining.  This one just seems like whining.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When I was just a little bitty—Well maybe not SO little.

I grew up loving the out of doors.  By my 12th birthday, I was a good dry-fly fisherman, and by the time I was in high school, I was pretty good at duck hunting, and along about that same time I had killed a couple of geese. 

I had developed – or been taught by someone—a pretty good way of hunting waterfowl that had nothing to do with water.  On two sides of Pocatello, Idaho, where I lived, there were, at the sides of the mountains that surrounded the town, what we called  benches, high flat lands above the town but below the actual mountain sides.  By the time I was in high school, the “west bench” was pretty well being developed for housing, but the “east bench” except for that part close to the college, was mostly farm land or sage brush semi desert.  That which was farm land was pretty much occupied by “dry farm” wheat.

The benches weren’t flat, but sloped downward from the mountain side toward the city.  My waterfowl hunting ground extended above Pocatello creek toward, what is now, Highland High School and a lot of luxury homes.  It was grain fields where the wheat was harvested fairly late in the fall, and when the first snow fell, usually in October or early November, the ducks and geese would land to feed on the grain fields.  My hunting technique was to go up to the mountain edge dressed all in white parka and pants (like you see in movies about military ski patrols).  Cradling my shotgun (actually my dad’s shotgun) I would just squat down a push off over the snow on my skis drifting slowly down though the point where the birds were feeding.  I one didn’t make any noise and were moving slowly, it didn’t seem to bother the birds much, they were busy scarfing down the leftover grain in the field. 

It was regarded as bad sportsmanship to shoot a “sitting” duck or goose, so, when you were in their “midst” you would just stand up quickly scaring them into flight.  If you were ready at that time you could get off two or three shots while they were flying very close to you.  The disadvantage of this process is that when a bunch of ducks or geese take off suddenly in flight, it can make enough noise or confusion that it will scare the “peewaddin” right out of you but after one or two flights you get used to it.  I didn’t diminish the  bird population a lot, but I got four or five ducks and a goose or two about every year for two or three years.

Of course the experienced duck hunters with retrievers etc. would build blinds either at the edge of the grain fields or down on the flatlands at the edge of the Portneuf river or the American Falls reservoir, but that required sitting in the quietly in the cold for awhile waiting for the bird flights to come in.

It was okay to hunt ducks on a natural grain field, but one didn’t want to be caught “baiting” them by scattering grain near your blind.  The game wardens were strict about that.

I didn’t hunt much deer, partly because I didn’t know much about how to do it and didn’t have a rifle.  After I started working full time at the railroad or the concrete plant in the summer I saved up my pennies to buy a real rifle.   I bought one called a 300 Savage, and it was one of the pretties things I had ever seen.  One of my friends taught me to “sight it in” and sometime (I am not exactly sure which year it was, my junior or senior year, I think) thereafter I went deer hunting (by myself, which was stupid) up near an area called “Cherry Springs”.

Now, if you think the  game wardens were fussy about “baiting: birds, they were almost fanatic about “baiting” deer.  (scattering ears of dry corn in an area etc.) and the “word” was that they would take away your rifle and actually throw you in jail for awhile if you were caught doing that..   It didn’t even occur to me.  All I knew was that if you could find a deer trail (they seemed to travel like people, using much the same routes) and you could get the high ground around it, you could, if patient, wait for a deer to come along, or, if you were good, and downwind, you could follow the trail to water or a place where deer rested.  (This was the propaganda I heard.  I didn’t actually do enough deer hunting to try these processes out.)

I went up to Cherry Springs road, parked my car and walked till I was about a mile above it, and was following a small stream and looking for “sign”.  I had a tall row of choke-cherry bushes on my left and a rise on my right when I turned a corner, and there, really near to me was a young buck (Don’t you be shooting no does in Idaho back then).  I stopped breathing and turned slowly toward the deer, (who seemed to be ignoring me) and, just as I got my new rifle to my shoulder, I heard (or sensed) two shots behind me and the choke cherry bush at my side or back seemed to explode.  I was suddenly aware that someone behind me could see the deer’s head above the bushes and was shooting through the bushes for a body shot on the deer.  I was also aware that I was covered in blood down my front, and though I hadn’t felt a shot, I was sure I had been hit.   I dropped to the ground, turned a let loose two or three shots  back in the way where the previous shots had come.  Suddenly, I became aware also that if I hit anyone with those shots, I would probably spend the next several years in prison so I stopped shooting, and hugged the ground for awhile.  I then began to shout (and I have a good shouting voice) and walked around the bushes to see if I had killed anyone.  There was no sign of anyone around so I walked back to see if the deer had been hit.  There was now sign of blood up where he had been standing, and then I began to examine myself to see where all the blood  was coming from.  I found a two inch piece of choke cherry branch sticking through my earlobe, and a little bit into my neck.  It was something like a major sloppy  job of ear piercing.  I removed the stick, applied pressure to my ear with a part of my jacket, walked back to my car and drove home.  The next morning, I put an ad in the paper and sold my rifle (actually at a small profit) and never even thought of going deer hunting for several years (actually until after I was married when I went hunting with some of my wife’s relatives—which is a story in itself that I will have to tell you folks sometime)

The strange thing is, that in Georgia, at this time, their are so many deer, that they recommend doe hunting, and you are allowed several does a year, but only one buck.  They hunt with dogs, and a good deer hound fetches a pretty price, and you can buy bait, (called deer corn, in 100 pound bags) and equipment  for baiting (pictures follow) and with all this, I think more deer are killed by cars than by hunters.)

Piles of "deer corn" for baiting, at Wal Mart 

Bags of deer corn for Baiting at Wal Mart

Deer corn feeders at Lowes

Barrel feeders for baiting at Lowes.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mini Rants

I lot of my fellow bloggers dislike Wal Mart, and I have friends who consider Wal Mart a sort of devils spawn.  I don’t have a case of
Wal Mart itis.  I rather like Wally World Most of the time.  I have learned to dislike some things about WM.  When they first came in, they had a massive supply of Hardware at prices far below the local ACE Hardware (which happened to be my favorite) and within two years Ace had gone out of business.  I moaned a little, but most of the hardware which I bought was theatre supplies which were purchased out of my very limited budget of state and student dollars.  When I really began to complain about WM was, when the local hardware store went out of business Wally World cut their supply of hardware by about half, and suddenly I was driving to Savannah for hardware.  Other stored opened up, including a couple of major building supply companies and everything evened out.

I hear a lot of complaints about the way WM treats employees, but I have friends who have worked for WM for years, retired with a good retirement plan, etc. etc,.  When my daughter was in High School she worked part time for WM and they quickly promoted her to a customer service manager, and when she decided to go away for college, they checked to see where she was going, contacted the Wal Mart in that area and arranged a job for her.  She never took it, choosing to work for the University instead, but their actions seemed to me to be anything but the predatory fiends  they were represented as by the (primary liberal, but not JUST liberal) press.

Does this sound like a rant?? NNOOOO.  But it is coming.

Anyone who has been in a Wal Mart almost anywhere in the country in the past two months is aware that Wally World has entered  a major physical reorganization.  Whole  blocks of “check outs” have been torn out to make room for what appears to be a chicken coop out of which the Pharmacy has been functioning..  NOTHING is anywhere near where it was before.  IN some parts of the store, they moved major blocks of merchandise to one area, then moved them again, sometimes two or three times.  If you need a particular product, and you are sure what it is, you can count on the likelihood that someone in a Wal Mart jacket is running around the store HIDING IT FROM YOU.

I am a thingmaker, and supplies of fabrics and craft materials are some of my favorite products.  I would think that my purchases alone would almost keep the place running.    Now, NO FABRICS and the craft supplies are limited to materials for elementary teachers and students.

One small advantage is that, anywhere in the US at this time, Coca Cola and Pepsi products  are on sale for 5.00 per 24 can pack.  this is anywhere from a dollar to two dollars below the price anywhere else.  They have been on sale at that rate almost since the remodellling started.  Friday I was loading up another four cases when the guy next to me (also loading multiple cases) when the guy next to me turned and said “When they started moving everything around, I swore I would never come back again.  Then the cut the price on coke and I have started coming again, but I have  over a months supply for myself and two weeks supply for graduation parties, and if they want me back after today, they are going to have to cut the H## out some other prices.” 

“I feel the same way,” I said, only to hear the comment “They know that, no matter what they want, everyone in the store is pissed off, and they know that as you are leaving you’re gonna pass this enormous pile of cheap Coke and Pepsi and it takes some of the burn away.”  His wife interjected with “Look they have their rotisserie cooked chickens for only $4.45 a piece, I have to get a couple of those for dinner tonight.”

It appeared that Wally World had found a new product to showily discount (the chickens were at the fast lane check outs).  We’ll see if they keep it up for awhile.

Rant # 2.

Not as lengthy but I pulled into the Post Office to mail some cards for my wife and realized that she hadn’t stamped the cards.  It was just after five, so the doors were closed.  I felt in my pocket and had five bucks which was enough for stamps, but the only stamp machine in the Post Office required a credit card, and I didn’t have one with me.  They had a sign noting that several supermarkets had stamps to sell so off I went to the supermarket, only to discover that it had a stamp machine that required a credit card.  Do you realize that once the Post Office closes its counters, there is no place in town where  one can buy stamps for cash money.  BLEAAAATH.

I have some other things that I planned to rant about (some of them political) but we just finished our “Mother’s Day Dinner” and my son cooked a couple of small pork loins so that they were just perfect and we had enormous dished of strawberry shortcake, and the rest of my vitriol just died out for the night.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Coot Meditations

Sitting here at Hilton Head on vacation (what is retirement but vacation, lawn mowing, house repair, and so forth) meditation of some of things that define coots.  

For the past three days, I have been more and more aware that when one becomes and old coot, (around seventy or so) an inner switch is triggered in the body that enforces a rule that whenever you stand up after sitting for more than fifteen minutes, you had better have already identified the nearest restroom because you have a maximum of twenty five seconds to get to that restroom because your body is going to start using it, even if you aren’t there yet.  Fortunately this use is usually limited to dribbles that are not visible to the general public, but are sufficiently identifiable to you that you feel an immediate kinship to most of the two and three year olds in the room.

Other coot identifying markers:  1.  All the servers with which you come into contact in a restaurant who are women, identify the specials of the house in a soprano voice that is no longer heard unless is is a operatic aria levels.  When you ask the female server to repeat, she looks at you as if you were a two year old (see the identifying marker in paragraph one) and repeats it slowly, and loudly, but still in that darn soprano register that your ears no longer register.  Everyone in the restaurant now smiles and looks at you with pity (or sometimes irritation).

2.  (This is less universal, but common) When you walk through a store or other business establishment there is a point where a certain area in your lower back speaks to you in a language that you immediately understand, and says to you “SIT DOWN!!”  This usually happens in a part of the business establishment where there is nowhere to sit except on a merchandise display or other place where the merchant would rather not have you sit.    If you do not sit down, you immediately shift from homo erectus to homo bent-overus. You also shift from  “step lively” to “shuffle” in you general demeanor.  It is true, that carrying and using a cane (a strong one with a good rubber tip) can sometime prevent this state until you can make it to a bench or other appropriate seating place.

I will discuss some other symptoms of coothood a bit later, because sometimes that switch discusses in the first paragraph doesn’t wait for you to stand up.