Thursday, December 23, 2010

I love this time of year

This is the best time of year to work customer service.  People are nice to you more often than not.  I even receive the occasional "Merry Christmas".  This is frowned upon.  Because freedom of religion only applies to non-Christians.  At least that is what it seems like.

I know that the good will and pleasantries will go out the window on January 3rd.  Most everyone will be back to their rude and terrible selves.  So, Merry Christmas and if you aren't Christian and/or that offends you, don't read it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I work the overnight shift. That means I work alone from 9pm to 7am. Our area requires a badge to get into and the only other person I’m likely to see is the security guard. He will walk by once or twice in an evening and we rarely speak.

I had just finished using the bathroom. They are located near the elevators and outside of the secure area. I was just about to use my badge to get back into the office when the door opened up. There was the security guard. The surprise was total. I was only slightly startled, but he was doing his best heart attack routine (true Sanford and Son style). I kept him from falling down, but the laughter made it difficult.

It has been a little over a week since the incident. We still can’t look at each other without laughing. Nightshift changes your sense of humor.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

For laughs

It’s been cold here for the last week or so. It even snowed over the weekend. Not enough to shut us down, but a nice covering of the grass and trees. The temperature has stayed below freezing.

Last Friday we were supposed to take our friend’s daughter to dance class. I yell upstairs to our son that we were leaving and would be back shortly. Deb yells up to him “He’s making me go with him!” I had no idea that I was doing anything of the sort. She volunteered to do it and I just assumed she was going to ride along.

“You don’t have to go. I can drive her all by myself.” I said this just outside the front door.

It’s cold.


Bam! The door shut with her on the warm inside and me on the “not so warm” outside.

I guess I set myself up for that one.

A few days later we stopped for lunch at a pizza shop and we overheard a phone conversation. “Ma’am if you refuse to give us your address how do expect us to deliver the pizza?” We both busted up laughing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fond/Painful Memories

A few of us were sharing stories a while back and this one always makes me laugh. I'll admit that, at the time, there was nothing funny about it.

It was the summer of 1987. I was in Fort Sill Oklahoma doing my advanced training for field artillery. I was in the Army Reserves.

The Kevlar helmets were still very new and only active duty units had them. We wore the old World War II style helmets that consisted of a "steel pot" that sat over a helmet liner.

Being in the Army Reserves allowed me to split my training (at the time I was still in high school). During the summer of 1986 I did my basic training and went to drill with my unit until the following year. My unit consisted of a battery of four M110 eight inch self propelled howitzers.

That big spade, in the back, is actually dug in when they are set to fire. When it does fire the whole front end of the vehicle comes off of the ground. It launches a 200 pound projectile a very long ways.

During the advanced training the Army showed us the M110, but all of our hands on training was on the smaller M109 howitzer.

This one fires a much smaller projectile (about 90 pounds) and does not require the spade in the back. The barrel of the cannon can be lowered quite a bit closer to the ground as well.

When a cannon crew sets up to fire each member has an assigned task. My responsibility for this particular day was run the communication wire from the back left side of the vehicle to the front right. During my short trip I ran in front of the howitzer to secure the wire. At this same moment the gunner is preparing the gun for a fire mission. One of his first tasks is to lower the cannon to remove the dust cover. He will also open the breach to make sure nothing is in the barrel.

Speed is everything. You have to be able to set up and be ready for a mission in X amount of time. When the mission is over you need to be able to pick up and go even faster. This is what we were working on.

I had the comm wire secure in the back and I was beating feet to the front right. The wire comes on a handy-dandy spool and I was watching so I did not get too close to the track. I zipped around the front of the vehicle making excellent time. That is when the barrel of the howitzer came down on to the top of my head with crushing force.

My knees buckled as my chin slammed into my chest. My feet sank 2 inches into the mossy ground (that I had the good fortune to be standing in) and then fell to my knees. The spool of wire rolled under the vehicle forgotten. My calf was bruised as the business end of my M16 (slung upside down on my back) jabbed into it as I landed. My helmet was squashed, Beetle Bailey like, on top of my head. Minus the smile.

I flipped the steel pot off of the liner. I then took both hands and, with much effort, managed to pry the liner off of my head. It did not pop when it came off, but it sure felt like it did. I looked around to make sure no one had witnessed the accident. No one had. I collected everything and carried on like nothing happened. I only suffered a stiff neck and a bruised calf for my carelessness.

One year later I decided to go Active Duty Army, but the recruiter told me that I was not allowed to change career fields. I thanked him and walked across the hall to speak with the Air Force recruiter. I joined the United States Air Force became an aircraft mechanic for the next 8 years.

Nearly 20 years passed before I told that story to anyone. I guess it took me that long to see any humor in it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's snowing!

Not really. There are snow flakes, but it is not sticking. I'm ok with that. In fact, if I never have to shovel snow again it will be too soon.

My son would rather see a foot of snow. That means no school for at least two or three days. I would still have to go to work. My boss would not buy the "too much snow to drive to work" excuse. He grew up in the same general area of New York (state) that I did. Ten inches of snow over night did not even slow us down. What I need is a boss who grew up in Virginia. I could play on that person's idea of "lots of snow".

We get so little snow here that I do not even own a snow shovel. A broom works for any snow removal needs.

Life is good.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and stop walking on the pies

I made four pumpkin pies a few days ago. A few for the house and a few for Thanksgiving dinner at our friend’s home. They cooled and I set them on our freezer with towels over them. I had some leftover filling so I lined cupcake pans with pie dough and made about a dozen personal pumpkin pies. They were very popular with the boys. I have to remember to do that next year. This is the first time I didn’t have to cut into any of the regular pies before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately it didn’t save my pies in the end. I uncovered them, for a look, Thanksgiving morning and they had been walked on. It appeared that Joe jumped up onto the freezer and stepped on all of them. I’m pretty sure he sat on one. Thank God they were covered.

Thanksgiving was a blast. We had lunch around 2pm with friends we took some chocolate pumpkin cupcakes (with cream cheese frosting) and a chocolate mousse layer cake. At 6pm we went to another friend’s house and had dinner. We brought a few slightly walked on pies and a turkey. Everything was delicious, even the footprints.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


We are traveling through some of the seedier parts of town and Deb says, pointing at the GPS, "They need to make a new filter for these."

"What's that?"

"They need to add a filter to allow you to avoid the ghetto areas."

I say "Yeah, it really isn't a shortcut if you get killed on the way through."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I R Ninja.

I had to go to the courthouse today. I was witnessing for a friend going through a divorce.

"Empty your pockets please."

"Step through here please."



"Hold your arms out sir."

The elderly security guard waves the scanner up ones side and then jabs me in the ribs as he tries to go to the other side.

"Sorry about that."

I shrug.

I retrieve my keys and go in. I worked the evening before. 9pm to 7am. The hearing is at 9:30am. I have not slept.

Three hours later I go outside for some fresh air. My part is done, but I am waiting for my friend to finish up.

After a short wait I decide to go back in. I was nodding off in front of the magnolia tree and did not want to fall over.

There is a new guard. This one is female and more observant than the first.

"Empty your pockets please."

"Hold on."

"Excuse me?"

"Wait. You can't take that in with you."

"I can't take what in? My keys?"

She points. My keys have opened up and a military issue can opener was displayed for all to see. I added a picture of one below so you have an idea of the size.

I look at the security guard.


I'm tired.

There are at least ten Sheriffs within twenty paces of us. Every one of them has a baton and a pistol. None of them had a can or even resembles a can (the only thing it could possibly harm).

Could this thing really be that dangerous?

I know. She must think I'm a ninja, because I would have to be one to cause any serious damage with a can opener held with thumb and forefinger.

I roll my eyes, pick up my keys and return them to my pocket. "I'll just wait outside."

I exit stage right doing my best Chuck Norris walk (looking more like Chris Farley).

I am ninja.

Who knew?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jamestown Settlement

My sister-in-law and niece visited for a long weekend and we went to the Jamestown Settlement. It was a beautiful day. The temperature was only in the mid 80s (around 29C) and low humidity.

There were a lot of actors wandering around in historical garb. They had a lot of interesting information about the settlement and the Powhatan Indians.

Here are some shots of the Powhatan village. You can see one of the actors above. She was making tools out of deer bone.

The inside of the huts were all furnished and had a lot of animal pelts. Mostly deer, but we also saw bear, wolf and skunk pelts. Outside of the huts were large mortar and pestles. They had corn in them and everyone had a go at pounding the corn.

Near the water there were replicas of the ships that the settlers used to cross the Atlantic. They were a tad small for my liking.

It was an exhausting day. My niece can sum it up with one picture.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Catching up

It's a trap!

Have you ever been startled awake with the feeling that you were being watched? That happened to me a few weeks ago.

When I woke up Athena (the long haired cat) was looking at me. She leans forward and head butts me right in the eye socket. This doesn't really hurt. In fact, it is a little like getting hit with a very small pillow. It does startle me and I stretch out. When I do this my right foot lands on the belly of Topaz. She was sleeping at my feet. Her response is immediate. She holds on with the front paws, rakes the bottom of my foot with her back claws and noms my big toe with her teeth. AAAAAHHHH!!

Thank God it wasn't Jo.


Deb loves peaches, but she can not touch them. She hates the feel of them. So, if we buy them, I have to peel them for her.

We stop at a local farmer's market. They have fresh peaches for sale.

Deb: "Ooooh peaches. Will you touch the peaches for me?
Me: "Did you just ask me to touch your peaches?"
Deb: "Yes I did."

That offer will never get old. I don't care how old I am. :)

Hot Hot Hot

It's been hot here in Southern Virginia.

For the last 3 or 4 weeks the heat index has been over 100F (around 38C for my European friends). The humidity has been over 70%. Stepping into the warm air is like getting a big sweaty hug from a very large friend. We have had very little rain
and when it does rain it is only for a few minutes and just makes it hotter. In a few months we'll all be complaining because it isn't warm enough. Go figure.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Debra had a hysterectomy last Wednesday. They made an eight inch incision across her abdomen and removed her uterus and cervix. The next day she was up and walking. She made it 1.5 times around the ward before she tired out and had to go back to bed. Major surgery the day before and angry because she isn't running a marathon.

Her tolerance for pain is amazing. I stub my toe and want bed rest for at least a day.

The pain medication made her very sleepy. Watching her eat meals was funny. She would take a bite of food, nod off to sleep for 5 minutes, wake up and do it again. I took her about an hour for an entire meal.

The Doc said no driving or lifting anything heavier than 5 pounds for at least two weeks. If looks could kill the poor guy would have been a mangled mess on the floor.

I've decided that the next time she falls asleep I'm going to hide her superman shirt. I doubt this will slow her down, but it will give her something to preoccupy her mind while being bored.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To my love

I have been married to the same lovely woman for 20 years now. She is my foundation. Without her I am lost.

Debra is the mother of my child, my partner in life and my lighthouse in the storm of life. The world would be a very frightening place if she were not at my side.

Sometimes I forget to say I love you and I do not always tell her how much she means to me. She knows this, but it should still be said.

Debra I love you and you mean the world to me.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Java Jo

My hands and forearms are a mess. We have a new cat and he plays rough. He’s a young male and completely different from Athena and Topaz. He has been in the house for a few months and he has turned the place upside down.

Sometimes you find a pet. Sometimes the pet finds you. Jo laid siege to our back door for 3 nights before we gave in and let him in. He causes so much trouble that no and Jo are almost always spoken together. At the same time he is very loveable (probably why he is still alive).

Java Jo earned his name within the first 30 minutes of making his way into the house. He jumped up on the couch, walked across my lap and put his face in my coffee cup. I thought he was going to give it a smell and walk away (like the other two cats). It took me a few seconds before I realized that he was drinking my coffee.

We took him to the vet for his shots and to get him neutered. The vet said he lounged around like he owned the place. He was loving on everyone. Then they picked him up and cut his balls off. This slowed him down for exactly one day. Two days later he managed to knock a clock off of the wall and shred a newspaper (because he likes the sound).

Poor Topaz has gained about 5 pounds. She is a stress eater and Jo just loves to pounce her. He has only tried to pounce Athena once. She schooled him. Not only does she have a full set of very sharp claws she also has armor (long hair). He treads lightly around Athena and she pounces him on occasion just so he remembers who rules the house.

We have added a cat pole to the living room and stocked up on toys. This has made the chaos a little more manageable. A busy Jo is a good Jo. Well maybe a Jo that is not into as much trouble.

Friday, April 23, 2010



Is this thing on?

Oh good. It’s still working.

I was worried there for a minute.

Friday, January 29, 2010


It's jean day at work, but I couldn't find any jeans (that fit). So I went into my son's closet and found a pair four sizes smaller than the ones in my closet.

They are a perfect fit. Alright, they are a tad long, but I'm ok with that.