Surgery tomorrow

It may be minor, but it’s still surgery.  Men with knives will be attacking my left elbow in an effort to bring relief to my tingling fingers.  Seems that I have managed to damage the nerve that wraps around the point of my elbow and it needs to be re-routed somewhere else.  It is straightforward surgery – but I will refrain from calling it ‘no-brainer’ for obvious reasons.

I have to stay overnight in the hospital, which isn’t a real hardship because it is for my own good to make sure there isn’t any post-op infection.  The hospital in question, by the way, the the base hospital at Wright Patterson AFB.  I live very close.  In fact, if there weren’t any trees I could see it.  When the wind is right, we can hear the music at Reveille and Retreat.

When I get back on Friday evening, I won’t be of much use here at the keyboard since I have to type with one hand.  I am very fast even with this handicap, but I think I just won’t feel like it so bear with me.


Not in a good mood…

I have no idea how long this post will be today.  It all started (the day, that is) at the horrible hour of 0600.  The wife could only get an appointment to see her Doc. at 0710 so we had to get up and ready for that.  At this time of the morning, I am bleary-eyed and definitely not bushy-tailed.  We joined the throng headed for Wright-Patt AFB and headed for the hospital.  They tell you to arrive 15 minutes early, but what they don’t tell you is that the clinic opens at 0700, so being there at 0655 is counterproductive.  We stood until five after for it to open.

Then the receptionist opened the door, wafting out a cloud of toxic stuff she had dipped herself in.  This immediately slapped my sinus openings closed.  In seconds, the noxious cloud had spread to the entire waiting room.  Fortunately, we weren’t there very long before we had to leave for the lab, then her PT session for her shoulder.

For those who don’t remember, she had shoulder surgery to re-attach a tendon she tore while out in Colorado trying to corral a feisty grandkid.  She is wearing what I can only describe a sling on steroids.  It consists of many straps, clips, Velcro fastenings, and a huge foam pad under her entire forearm.  I don’t know how comfortable it is, but I do know I wouldn’t like to wear it.

. . .

My truck (1996 Nissan Frontier) is rapidly converting available iron/steel into rust.  The latest thing is for the tires to very slowly lose air.  I might not notice it until I have to fight the steering wheel as I drift towards the right side of the road on a semi-flat tire.  My only means of pumping it back up (save changing a $10 bill into quarters to feed the greedy “free air” machines at filling stations) is to try and use my old 12v pump.  I’ve had it for a while and, at first, it used to work rather well.  Over the years, however, it has slowed down considerably.  Now, I can attach the clip, start the compressor, and go read “War and Peace” while the pathetic thing puts a few pounds per hour into the tire.  My regular service guy(s) tell(s) me that older wheels will develop what they call ‘rusty rims’ and start gradually losing air through them.  This is what is happening.  So, the next time I have to buy tires, I’m going to have to spring for a wheel cleaning and refit.  Bleh!

. . .

It is apparent now that I bought some really cruddy suet blocks for my feathered friends.  I found some at a place called “Ollie’s” that were marked down to $0.75 each.  I don’t know what they were made of, but none of my usual birds or squirrels will touch them.  The same suet block has been out there, hanging on the tree, for a week now and had just a few peck holes in it.  I tossed it on the ground and it’s still there a day later.  Even the squirrels won’t eat it – and it’s supposed to be a tough winter this year.  That’s the main reason I don’t have any animal antics pictures lately.

. . .

I have also been beating my head against the wall trying to figure out what is wrong with one of my computers.  At first, I just thought is was some playfulness of Vista, but that was not the trouble.  What happens is that it will suddenly, for no reason at all, freeze.  The mouse stops moving, the keyboard stops responding, and it just sits there looking stupid.  I have to power down to recover.  Then, during power-up and re-boot, it may or may not stop responding yet again.  At first I thought it might be memory but overnight tests say no.  Then I tried power supplywent from a 250W to a 475W unit.  Still does it.  Then I bought a new video card for the PCI-X slot – no change.  Then I tried a new 500G hard drive – no change.  Finally I threw caution to the winds and yanked all the connections and pulled the motherboard.  I examined every square inch of it by magnifying glass.  Couldn’t find a thing except one of the hundreds of pins on a RAM-stick slot was bent.  As a test, I pulled the stick out and firet the computer up.  It ran for two days and I thought I’d ficed it.  BOOM!  Still halts again.

Now enter the big guns.  I fired a salvo of Ubuntu LINUX at it.  This ran nicely for three days, then started halting again.  So, unless I can come up with the cosmic force that has inhabited my computer and making it fail, this one is headed for the old graveyard in the closet along with my 8″ floppy drive and my tape backup units.



Why draft the young?

I received this email from a friend and thought it might make a good blog post.  I do not know the original creator, but I can identify with him very much:

I am over 60 and the Armed Forces thinks I’m too old to track down terrorists.  You can’t be older than 42 to join the military.  They’ve got the whole thing ass-backwards.  Instead of sending 18-year olds off to fight, they ought to take us old guys.  You shouldn’t be able to join a military unit until you’re at least 35.

For starters: Researchers say 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds.  Old guys only think about sex a couple of times a day, leaving us more than 28,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.

Young guys haven’t lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier.  ‘My back hurts! I can’t sleep, I’m tired and hungry!’  We are impatient, and maybe letting us kill some dude that desperately deserves it will make us feel better and shut us up for a while.

An 18-year-old doesn’t even like to get up before 10 a.m.  Old guys always get up early to pee so what the hell.  Besides, like I said, ‘I’m tired and can’t sleep and since I’m already up, I may as well be up killing some fanatical terrorist.

If captured, we couldn’t spill the beans because we’d forget where we put them; in fact, name, rank, and serial number would be a real brainteaser.

Boot camp would be easier for old guys.  We’re used to getting screamed and yelled at and we’re used to soft food.  We’ve also developed an appreciation for guns.  We’ve been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house, away from the screaming and yelling.

They could lighten up on the obstacle course, however.  I’ve been in combat and didn’t see a single 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do any pushups after completing basic training.

Actually, the running part is kind of a waste of energy, too.  I’ve never seen anyone outrun a bullet.

An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him.  He’s still learning to shave and start up a conversation with a pretty girl.  He still hasn’t figured out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes, not the back of his head.

These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm’s way.

Let us old guys track down those dirty rotten coward terrorists.  The last thing an enemy would want to see is a couple of million pissed off old farts with attitudes and automatic weapons; who know that their best years are already behind them.

How about recruiting Women over 50 … in menopause!  You think Men have attitudes!  Ohhhhhh my God!  If nothing else, put them on border patrol.  They’ll have it secured the first night!

48 Short Years

Today, August 1st, is the 48th Anniversary of our marriage.  Over the years, we have been a lot of places, seen a lot of things, and done a great many others.  Throughout this 48 years, through lean and rich times, good and bad times, and even war times, we’ve remained on an pretty even keel.

As I’ve remarked to a few close friends, I absolutely cannot remember ever having an argument longer than perhaps ten minutes.  This is the truth because we decided way back when that we would never go to bed mad at each other.  This meant some late night conversations, but we never broke the rule.

Contrary to male stereotypes, I can vividly remember our wedding and who wore what.  It was a military wedding actually.  My best man was a close friend who had flown back to the States with me from the Azores.  We were in uniform.  My dad, a Colonel in the Air Force, wore his.  My four ushers were from three services: Army, Marine, Air Force.  Enlisted men don’t have sword arches, but when we left the ceremony we ran between a file of rice-throwers.

After the reception, we headed out in our trusty little Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible for our honeymoon to the West Coast.  Trust me, you really get to know someone when you are in the confines of a small car for thousands of miles.  It was a wonderful trip.  We even managed to win a little money in Las Vegas.  Neither one of us was old enough to go into a casino, but some of the slots were accessible.  We did a lot of camping since it was August.

We had a couple of large bumps in our relationship when I went overseas unaccompanied, but when we got together in both the Philippines and Japan we managed to have our two girls.  They were seven years apart, but that is a good thing I think because we tended to enjoy them more.

Over the years since I retired from the navy, we bounced around the country and finally settled down here in Ohio.  We’ve been here now twenty years and don’t plan to move further.  We grow old, but only in years, not in any other way.  I still look upon my wife with pleasure when I see her walking towards me.  We still jibe at each other playfully, finish each other’s sentences, and drive our kids and grandkids nuts with our offbeat sense of humor.

It’s been a grand tour and here’s hoping it goes on for a lot longer than just 48 years.  We’d like to take a good cruise on our 50th, so we have to get ready for that in 2013.  If someone back in 1963 had told me that I’d still be married to the same person in 2011 I would have looked askance at them.  And, now, here I am.

I love you, Babe.

My Birthday

Well, here it is again; another birthday.  This one is a milestone though.  It isn’t a decade gone by, but an end to a decade – my 60’s.  Today I am 69.

I will have to cram a load of stuff into this year because once I trun 70 it’s supposed to be all downhill.  I thought of starting a bucket list, but couldn’t think of anything I’d really like to do that I already haven’t done.  Normal stuff seems a bit mundane and some of the more exotic things are now memories.

Like, for instance, driving a steam locomotive; I’ve done it.  Not one of those amusement park rides, but a real, honest-to-goodness, smoke spewing, steam hissing, black-painted locomotive coupled to a string of three passenger cars, a diner, a generator car, and a kitchen galley car.  This was while I was on vacation up in Connecticut, on the scenic rail line known as The Essex Steam Train (Or, the Valley Railroad).  Their web site is found here:

If anyone else is interested in doing something like this, check out the part of the web site called “Your Hand on the Throttle”.  It is an awesome experience.

Here is a shot of me in the hot seat:

For years I wanted to do some flying.  Not in an airliner (although I’ve done a whole lot of that) but doing it myself.  One of my past birthdays my daughter and a couple of friends set me up at a local airport for a series of sailplane lessons.  The introductory package consisted of three launchings (and, hopefully, an equal amount of landings).  The first, from 4,000 feet was handled completely by the instructor who sat behind me.  He guided the plane upwards behind the Cessna towing us and yanked the T-handle to disconnect the tow rope.

Then he showed me some basic plane-handling maneuvers.  I followed him with my hands and feet lightly on the rudder pedals and the stick.  We turned for the home field and landed.

The next launching went up to 4,000 feet and I got to pull the disconnect handle.  The instructor then showed me how to use the wind indicators to find thermals to keep us aloft.  I had to “unlearn” some things from powered flight in order to learn about gliding.  For instance: when you feel a wing lift in a powered plane, you try to stabilize the plane.  But, in a glider, you turn INTO the rising wing and gain lift.  It’s not quite that simple, but that’s the general idea.  You look down and try to overfly light-colored fields and roads as thermals will rise off them and take you upwards.

The third, and best, launch took us to almost 6,000 feet.  We couldn’t go higher because of the runway patterns from Greater Cincinnati Airport (in Kentucky) or CVG for short.  On this flight, I did pretty much all of it from release to even attempting a few mild aerobatics.  I was too chicken to try a full loop, so the instructor took me through a series of three of them in a row.  It was grand.  I turned for home and lined up for the landing and then he took over.  I even have the logbook to prove it.

Here are some other things I’ve done (and some of them I don’t want to do again).

I spent five, almost-year-long tours in a war zone (Vietman &Thailand)

Gone through a major typhoon in an old Liberty ship (USS Oxford – detailed in this blog).

Been in two larger-than-normal earthquakes (in Japan – also in the blog)

The wife and I have taken 4 wonderful cruises (East & West Caribbean, Panama Canal, and Mexican Riviera) for a total of over 30 days.

Lived in Alaska back long before it was a state (1946-1950).  While I was there I learned how to drive a four-dog sledding team at age 7.

I’ve milked many a cow.

Been present at the birth (finally) of a relative.  My granddaughter, 21 years ago.  Holding that pale, squirmy little girl was indescribable.

Watching that self-same granddaughter pass her driving test for a license 20 years after her birth.  The grin was ear-to-ear (hers, too).

Watching a huge thundershower cross the Continental Divide when I was higer than it at almost 14,000 feet.

After hunting in Colorado for over ten years, bringing down my first Elk.

And, finally, the most awesome one of all:  being married to the same wonderful person for just under 50 years.  We will celebrate that in 2013.