Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm melll-tinggggg....

Oh no! Heck no. Talk to the hand sister. I wish to register utter disbelief, if I may.

My icon is not there today. I hope the disapperance is temporary. Unfortunately, I have a sneaky suspiscion that the website with my photo on it poofed out of existence today.

Shame. I really, really liked that icon. It was perfect for me, in an Aqualung kind of way. "Aqualung my friend/don't you fade away I'm easy/you poor old sod/you see it's only me".

Will give it a little time to return and, if not, if I'm stymied, if I meet resistance at every turn, if any of these things happen, I'll go find a new one. I will reinvent myself. I'll reinvent myself as a lovable looser (which is how a loser spells loser).

Travelin' Ed

Payday, Yay day!

I know it's stupid. But I say it twice a month anyway. Furthermore, Hola peeps! (I'd use that upside down exclamation point, but I'd have to figure out what character map it's on and it's wa-a-a-ay too early for that kind of thing.)

Today is my next to last payday here. So this morning I had to stop an allotment and also redirect my salary down to Florida. That means next month, if all went well, my money will go to Florida. Of course, I will be here. I have worked it out with the bank manager that I can cash a $500 check each day, even if there's no money in my account here. So, I'll have to cash a check on July 15, 18, 19, 20 and 21. What a pain. But I had to do it now to verify it worked. If my salary does still come up here, at least I will have another chance to get it changed. Nevermind. This all makes sense to me.

All my affairs in Florida (house, car, phone, internet, cable, electricity, etc.) are more in order than here. Dad's doing Florida stuff and I'm doing Yoko stuff. Of course, here, I still have to use everything almost up to the day I leave. I still have to have my household goods packed, my place inspected, kill the phone, kill the cell phones, junk the car, close the bank account, get copies of medical/dental records, and more stuff I got written down at work. Dang, I don't look forward to this.

They gave us today, Friday, off. Just a phone in muster. Cool. A four day weekend. Likely the last one of my life. So I intend to put it to good use blogging and watching TV. Unless it quits raining in which case I', who am I fooling? It wouldn't alter my plans a bit.

Jn and sk are back from the jungles. (Vn, too, but as far as I know he is not really a part of this here blogsphere.) A lot of you may not know this, but I like to travel, too. Sure do. I'm not sure how me and Jn are getting along these days, though, since I keep bothering her for a piece of bass. She has told me pretty much, "No bass for you". But she paid a guy to take a picture holding what I believe will be a giant fish. I just don't think it's a bass.

One nice thing about living here, as opposed to Pearl Harbor, HI is that here we don't have any meth labs in navy housing. Yes, it's the small things that you apprieciate the most.

OK. Wife is headed up to Chinatown in Yokohama today. That should free up some blogging time later on. Call me at 011-81-468-06-7901 from your touchtone or rotary phone if you just want to chat. E-mail me a phone number if you want me to call you. However, no calls will be accepted nor placed during The Late Show with David Letterman. No, seriously.

Travelin' Ed

Remember the Ala-blow

It was Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, living in New York, that provided the chicle for the first gum. Before that, kids chewed paraffin wax.

That's right, a little more informative than usual, huh?

Travelin' Ed

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Driving during rainy season

So I'm driving home. It's very warm and raining. I can't keep the windshield from fogging with the windows up and me and the electric windows take a drenching with them down even a little. It's hard enough to see as it is. Traffic is backed up for no other reason than because it is.

I got scooters and bikes zipping along on my far left (where, by law, they are allowed to drive and to pass me) on these narrow, narrow roads. And also, I got scooters zipping in and out on my right, where they ain't supposed to be, and where most of my car is occupying because of the scooters to my left.

I have already had one smack my rearview a couple months ago and keep going. The mirrors are connected together for some reason, so it took both of them out. What a pain.

I refer to these scooters as "Traffic gnats". It fits perfectly.

Travelin' Ed's the other me

I was reading one of AI's posts and he had some really good points. I was making a comment and it just kept getting longer and longer and for each point I made, 2 more popped into my head. So I brought the comment over here and turned it into this morning's post. It's kind of out of character for me, so you've been tode.

This next is not meant to be disrespectful nor unpatriotic. It's just something I think about. A LOT:

I don't think that it was wrong that we went into Iraq. Not really. And I fear the result if we pulled out now. So I am solidly behing the President on this.

But I do not feel the guys are fighting for my freedom. I am no more free with Sadaam and the Taliban and whatever nefarious dudes we've killed gone than I was when they were still running around. The Iraqis and Afghans are more free. Women in those countries are more free. The region as a whole is getting a bit of a shake up, hopefully for the better.

No, I think I am more comfortable believing that our boys are out fighting for their freedom and for my security. And we need security. The attacks are viscious and I am glad we took the fight to them.

Also, I don't believe a lot of Americans even understand what the true concept of freedom is. They think it means that they can dress how they want, be rude if they want, blah, blah, blah. A lot seem to start each example of freedom with a personal pronoun. And to me, that is but a small part of it. There seems, to me at least, to be little understanding by a lot of folks that freedoms do not come without critical thought and responsibilities.

The larger, probably more important freedoms are being eroded or taken away out right. That scares me. And what scares me more is that the general population thanks the government for it. Says "Thanks for keeping me free". I think they mean, "Thanks for keeping me safe."

You cannot travel freely now without being tracked. TSA continues to compile profiles that they've promised not to compile and have been forbidden to compile. There is commentary about it, but no outrage.

The law enforcement agencies continue to seek ways to monitor all of our electronic communications so they can look for "threat words". Of course they, too, promise it isn't something they'd abuse. Yet the sentence "The movie was about THE PRESIDENT and it BOMBED" in an e-mail to your sister would bring you under federal scrutiny. And it might even get ugly for you if you happened be of middle eastern descent.

We have vigilantes at our borders. Think about it. Armed farmers and residents at the border. Whether you call it this or not, that seems to be a localized foreign policy. When has that ever been condoned before? But now it's for keeping out terrorists, so it's A-OK. ('Cause you know farmer Joe knows a terrorist when he sees one.)

National ID cards. 'Nuff said.

The line of BS that a butane lighter might bring down an airliner, I mean really. They blow off a whole lot more bombs with cell phones than with fuses, but guess which one is forbidden on a plane? Somehow, TSA came to believe that inconvienence was the same thing as security and moved forward with great dispatch.

I am not anti-government. I don't want to move to a ranch in Montana and plot against it. I laugh at conspiracy theories and believe that, by and large, the government attempts to do right by us. I have no problem paying my taxes, voting, supporting the decisions of my elected officials.

But I do fear that following blindly and without discussion or debate because they included the words HOMELAND SECURITY in the wording. I think we should be skeptical of the government and make them spell out each decision that has been made and why, and then we should examine the merits of what they have said. In fact, I believe that is our responsibility.

I think we should abolish political parties and vote for Congressmen, Senators and Presidents. I don't want a Republican in the White House. And I don't want a Democrat in the White House. I want an educated, principled individual in the White House. I want a President. And I want him surrounded by people who follow and debate issues...not polls.

Some of us freaked out when the Supreme Court said we could post the 10 Commandments in some places. The rest of us freaked when we found we could not post them in some places. Seems it always has to be all or nothing. Why?

The Supreme Court also said Brandon, Florida can take my house and land away from me to give to somebody else. But only if they'll build something nicer and pay more taxes. That completely freaks me out. And that only four justices thought it was a terrible idea has freaked me out even more! I had complete trust in those nine and now I don't know what to think about them. Flip-flopping on the 10 Commandments and redistributing wealth....I'm sorry but that sounds pretty political to me.

Last thing, and I apologize mightily for ranting like this. The worst thing we have done in this country is split into blue and red, cease dialog on important issues, and give away the farm in the name of "security".

Travelin' Ed

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hear it from me

The Drive By Truckers live in a dark and dangerous South. I was listening to them a lot yesterday. The more you listen to them, the more you get sucked in. Here's one from me, loosely influenced by their sentiment "We ain't ever gonna change".

Hear it from me

Now you’re pointing fingers and everybody knows
that means there’s fingers pointing right back at you.
You know we’ve come a long ways, but the problem is
We didn’t have a long way to go.

You get it when you’re thinking it over
But you lose it when you want it to hold
I never meant to say you were a bad Hello Kitty
But ain’t Hello Kitty out in the cold?

So you can hear it from me
It’s gonna be what it be

Your daddy called you darling. Daddy called you princess.
But your daddy he took off on the run
Had him cornered when the troopers up in South Carolina
Found him chewing on the end of his gun

He wasn’t going back with ‘em peaceful
And there really wasn’t nothing to say
So it ended right there up in Richland County
His mind, it was all over the place

So you can hear it from me
It’s gonna be what it be

Powdered and perfumed, all painted and fake
Dresses that got nothing to hide.
Miss Victoria’s Secret ain’t no secret any longer
You just really ain’t that pretty inside

You want yourself a monogrammed silver spoon and platter
They don’t got them on this side of the tracks.
‘Bout the only thing you’re taking from this Alabama trailer
is the knowledge there ain’t no looking back.

So you can hear it from me
It’s gonna be what it be

Hear it from me
You gotta be what you be.

Travelin' Ed

Monday, June 27, 2005

Riegelwood, NC (Part 4 of ??)

First I gotta tell you this. I was waiting for the home to work bus this morning at 0515 and saw something I'd never seen before. There was a little sparrow, who I nicknamed "Little Sparrow", and he was kinda half hopping, half flying after a moth. The moth was taking evasive actions (that's what I had never seen before) and was terrible at it. I don't know if it was this particular moth's day to die or that moths as a species are unskilled at evasive maneuvers, but it wasn't pretty and it wasn't very long before he was breakfast.

I was playing in or near the street with my friends in front of our house on Church Street. I don't remember the street number, but the house was white and right there as the curve started. You really can't miss it. And anyway, we got our mail at the PO Box, which I want to say was Box 186, but heck if I'm sure about that either. The street number is fairly unimportant.

I know. If you remember where Ricky Deffendorf lived, well we were right across the street.

Well, were were playing in or near the street when an old Ford pickup truck comes creeping down the street. An old man in coveralls and a work shirt was driving it. He stopped when he got to us and leaned out the window. "You boys want a job?" Now we were not too old, maybe 13. I'm not sure. (I didn't keep notes on these things. I never knew I'd be writing down all this crap when I got old.) "A job doing what?" "Making movies in my motel near the beach. No need to tell your folks. Just hop in."

OK, I'm messing with you. Start over.

"A job doing what?" "I need some boys to help me crop tobacco for a few days. Pays $20 a day or $2 an hour if we work long." I thought about it and said hang on. We all split up and asked our folks and while I don't really remember that conversation at home, I came out and we all hopped in the bed of his truck. So we must have got permission. (Not that I'm keeping score, but it seems swimming in creek: Bad. Driving off in the back of a stranger's truck: OK.)

He tells me, "I need about four more boys. Know anybody else might want to work?" And I did, and they did and we all headed out to his farm to crop tobacco, which we didn't understand what that meant a lot. But we understood $20. Soon we'd understand why Donna Summer sang "She works hard for her money" and the (paraphrased) line "Breakin' my back in the hot sun/ I cropped tobacco and the tobacco won".

Now this guy kept going on and on how he had had some [a word that predates today's usage of the accepted term African-American] working before, but they were not trainable and they didn't listen and they dang near ruint everything and anyway, if you want work done right you just have a white man (or, I suppose in our case, boys) do the job in the first place. Mumble. Mumble. Cuss and grumble. I took that to mean he was glad we could come.

He took us straight out to the first row, first plant, and showed us how to cup our hand, move down and around grabbing leaves, and push the leaves up under our arm, all in one smooth motion. He showed us what a ready leaf looked like and what one that needed another few days looked like. It only took a couple of minutes to learn. It was pretty easy.

We got started and in about 20 minutes I realized, "Man! These rows are long. I can't even see the end of it." I was sweating and sticky, my hands were already getting a bit raw, and the leaves oozed this sap or something that just made a mess of my underarm where I was holding the leaves until I had enough to tote over to the sled and deposit. It was a couple of hours before we got to the end of that first row and took a break.

It is at this point, our first break, that an adult worker gave me a Pall Mall filterless, showed me how to inhale it, and pretty much started me on a crappy habit that was a bear to kick. If you count puffing cigars (I don't inhale, so I don't *), I still haven't. But that encounter is another story in itself, and so I move on.

Once the sled was full, we'd all hop on the edges of it and the tractor would pull us back to the tobacco barn. There were a lot of women sitting there. We'd unload our load of leaves and then head back out. They would sit there and string the leaves up on curing sticks. In the SHADE, mind you. With a radio that was tuned to WHSL, the country station. Dang women.

After about 5 hours we stopped working and all headed up to the farmhouse, where the Mrs. had laid out fried chicken, biscuits, corn, green beans, butter, honey and sweet tea on a big table outside under a tree. It was, of course, complimentary and we had a nice, unhurried meal of it. I remember those meals very fondly. It was just a nice thing in my life. Peaceful and friendly. Like me.

Then we headed back out to the field. You know how the work goes already. At the end of the day, or rather, what we THOUGHT was the end of the day, we loaded onto the skid and headed back to the barn. There we found pile after pile of strung curing sticks. It was our job to monkey on up to the top of the curing barn and hang the sticks, working our way down til the barn was full. That took a while but was much, much easier than cropping it in the first place. Then we were done. He took us home after a day of honest work.

And it was hard work. I did it about 6 days before we had got the whole field finished. But I went every day. The money was good and I didn't mind working. Plus, I liked the lunches and climbing around in the barn.

In fact, really, the worst of it was the last day. And that's not saying that the last day was unbearable, just that it was worse than the days before it. Last day we picked what he called "the sand lots". Those were the big, bottom leaves that got sand all over them. You had to spend all day stooped, because bottom leaves typically grow near the bottom of the plant, and the sand just added extra irritation to an underarm that already was convinced it was being punished for something. But we survived, collected our cash, and as the farmer would attest, were better white men for it.

These are the things that make us who we are, I think. And this is one of the things that made me who I am. I know.

* My doctor, just this year, told me that, while not having any "bad habits" was ultimately the best thing for you (so you can leave behind a dour, skinny corpse, I suppose), that enjoying cigars was not such a bad thing. His exact words to me were, "As a doctor I'm supposed to tell you that you really ought to quit. But realistically, there's a lot worse habits. Don't worry too much about it." I think from now he's the doctor I want when I need a medical opinion about things that are fun.

Handless, out
Travelin' Ed

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Good eating. And profitable, too.

Mepps Squirrel Tail Recycling Program

Mepps asks all squirrel hunters to please recycle their squirrel tails. We have been buying the tails of fox, black and gray squirrels for more than three decades; they are used to dress the hooks of our spinners. Hundreds of other materials, both natural and synthetic, have been tested, and nothing else works as well. We will pay up to 26 cents each for tails, depending on quantity and quality. If you would like to exchange the tails for Mepps lures, their cash value is doubled.

Most folks that send us squirrel tails double their value by trading them for Mepps lures. All-in-all, not a bad deal. They get a great day afield and get to enjoy the stew, too. Then they take the part they used to throw away, offer it to us to recycle and we send them Mepps spinners in return. What a deal! (Seriously, that's a really good deal. - Ed.)

Please Note: It's illegal to sell squirrel tails in the states of CA, ID, OR and TX (But lucky for us, we don't live in those places. - Ed.)

Curtal, out
Travelin' Ed

Born fre-e-e-e, as free as the wind blows......

I don't want to say I'm stupid, though the theory certianly has it's proponents.

The Gunner got me to thinking about comma usage and that has me all paranoid now. I played it off in a comment on his blog, but I use the heck out of commas and now I'm all self-conscious every time I hit the key. I'm trying to cut down and maybe appeal to the lowest comma denominator.

The car broke down 3 times this week forcing a dilema. Put money into a car I will junk in 3 1/2 weeks or go carless for 3 1/2 weeks. I could really care less at this point but the wife is scared to death she may have to walk or take a train somewhere. Of course, each time it broke down I was somewhere else, across town doing something when she'd need help. I walked and rode a lot of trains this weekend. Pooped me out. Worst time is described below:

Went to brunch at the Officer's Club and it was pretty doggone high falutin'. Before any of you say anything, they discontinued the brunch at the Chief's club and merged it with the one at the O'club, starting yesterday. Anyway, since I didn't have a car me and Tata (the girl in the pic I posted) and Haru walked to the O'club, then down to the exchange and then back to the train station. All in all a pretty far trek in the heat. I was sweating good. So I ride the train back with them and get off at Higashi-Zushi station. Now there is a train station right outside the base, but it's a different train company. I would normally take it but wanted to ride with them and figured to splurge and take a taxi home. This train company let me off about 2 km from home, which is still an initial fare cab ride. But, I waited 20 minutes AND NOT A TAXI TO BE HAD. ANYWHERE. That's unheard of over here. So I had to walk home all the way from town in shoes designed to look good but not hike well. My dogs were dead, my shirt soaked through and I was so tired. I just wanted to hit the A/C and sit. 3 messages on the machine, "Car broke...come now...hurry!" Guess what? I still don't have a car. Luckily, by not finding a taxi, I at least have train fare for an unexpected return trip. So I grab a big couple gulps of Gatorade (the thirst it in me? Yes, it is now.), change into some less fashionable but more forgiving shoes, and start walking back to a train station. Basically the whole weekend went a lot like that. Kinda sucked if you don't mind me saying.

Now the Appalachian Intellectual is finally home from the Emerald City and I can look forward to him posting again. I always call him a mountian troll, just 'cause he lives in TRANSYLVANIA County, NC, but really he's pretty cool. He posts pictures from the mountians that take me back to growing up in NC. He was gone 3 weeks, seemed like 8.

I'm just killing time right now. After some first minute dealing with the mechanics at the AutoPort, which is our ONLY source of auto mechanics for hire so you know the prices are fair and the service comes completely attitude free (yeah...right) I'll post from work. I'm leaning towards another Riegelwood story, but we'll see. Those are pretty labor intensive even if I do make it look easy.

Travelin' Ed

I like the flowers on this clover. They're soothing.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Hey, wanna ride the train home?

Yeah, sure. But first let's pose while we have a stranger take our picture.

Tally-ho, chap, mind snapping a photo for us? Thanks.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Scooters and bikes. It is like this at all stations. The bigger the station, the bigger the bike lot.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Inside the train. All nice and orderly, just the way Travelin' Ed likes it !!
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

The deal here was that while a business could not put up park benches on the sidewalk, they could put up some artwork. Or something like that. A Japanese guy told me a long time ago and I don't remember clearly.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Starts with F and ends with CK

Just because I wanted to use that title.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Best I can tell this means there's a valve or something under here. At first I just thought it was a goofy picture on a manhole cover. Then I noticed the gremlin was driving a firetruck and there appears to be a key hole in the cover. Or maybe it is just a goofy picture.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean.....

This is supposed to be fan mail ?? And from my own mother, we'll call her Mama X since I don't post real names here.

Want to leave you with 2 thoughts: 1) Get a life! 2) You don't seem to view your childhood quite like I do, but then you're my first effort, and I DID try two more times for improvement, but didn't see much so I quit. Dad and I have come to the conclusion that your imagination is better than your memory, but after all, you ARE his middle-aged son!

Travelin' Ed

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Some of the local wildlife.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Pipedragger's weekly navy story

You asked for it, you got it. This week, anyway. And since I'm hooking you up, which is so unlike me, I may as well tell one you were in. You will be one of those who are referred to as "my Techs".

There is the huge possibility that if you never worked on naval electronics on a ship at sea, somehow operating and repairing complex equipment DESPITE the guidance you get from the officers appointed over you, that you are going to find this exceedingly boring. My suggestion is that if you're not a squid...or used to be a squid.....just skip this post today. OK, you've been tode.

A modulator deck on a Final Power Amplifier died. It was no big deal, we had 31 more backing it up, plus amps in other cabinets and other radar rooms, and in the Fault Impact Table, loss of up to four modulator decks was listed as NO IMPACT. Look up routine fault in the dictionary and this would be the example. So I told my techs to fix it and they assured me they were already on it.

I mention it to the Combat Systems Officer (CSO) and tell him the guys are on it. "What's the tactical impact?", he asks. "None". "It can't be none, Senior Chief." Tactically, sir, there's no impact. It's even listed that way in the book. There's a negligible loss of power, but it will be completely transparent to all watch standers." "But, it can't be none. I need it quantified. The CO won't accept that there's no impact." "Well, sir, there IS an impact, but since we are talking about one of over 70 total high power amplifiers, the amount of loss is so negligible that they didn't bother to quantify. Even the manual is saying, it's broke but you'll never notice it."

Although that neither satisfied him nor was the end of it, I told him I had to go check the progress. When it comes to hardware and naval officers, 8 out of 10 times you'll get hung up debating semantics because, while they are well educated, they are not trained as technicians. That's why "it's broke but there's no impact" just melts 'em down.

So my boys call me a very short time later. They know the problem. It's a fried resistor. Those are easy to find because normally as you're getting ready to start troubleshooting you actually see the burned up resistor, charred in half. It's pretty obvious. And the resistors I'm talking about are ceramic and about the size of two rolls of quarters laid end to end. Very easy to spot, even if you're not looking too closely, because they are located right on top out in the open. Kinda the first thing you see.

And they have already checked before they called me. Yes, there's one onboard in supply and they have the storekeeper's breaking it out as we speak. Very routine stuff. Two screws takes the broke one out, same two screws will put the new one in. Assuming that's not masking another casualty that is causing the resistor to fry, and we'll know that soon enough, we'll have it back up in 15 minutes. Hardly worth the conversation I had to endure with the CSO.

I go to find the goober, er, I mean CSO, to tell him we'll be back up shortly. I find him in the maintenance office, going from watch stander to watch stander trying to find someone who could quantify something that I have already told him is not quantified. So I gave my best "You're a friggin' idiot" sigh, grabbed a calculator and punched in 07734. Then I hit minus, typed in 07734 again. Hit equal and found a big, fat zero displayed. I used that number because a) when you turn the calculator upside down it'll say "hello", and b) because it was all for show anyway. Then I announced to the CSO, "it's roughly 1dB power loss....or do you need the decimal points, too?". No, he don't need decimal points. He's just happy he has a number to give the CO, regardless of whether it's made up or not.

Then I tell him, "but that's moot (notice I did not use the more common, yet incorrect term "mute" here) because the guys found the problem and I figure it'll be back up in 15 minutes, maybe less." Boys and girls, it was not gonna be that easy.

"So what was the problem, Senior?"
"It was a fried resistor, sir"
"Which resistor"
"Which resistor was it?"
"What does that matter to you? Do you know the components in the amplifier enough for that to be useful to you? It's better you keep it simple."
"Because I want to know."
"OK, sir. It was the R3 resistor."
"Thank you"
"Sir? Now that you know it was R3, do you really have a better understanding than before?"
"Stay in your paygrade, chief"
"With pleasure, sir. You just don't know."

Travelin' Ed

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Riegelwood, NC (Part 3 of ??)

I have one memory of the place that sticks with me. Literally. And that would be sand spurs. Most people only encounter them at the beach, but I guess we were close enough to the coast that they wandered on out our way, found things to their liking and stayed.

Dead off in the middle of town, that whopping, 2 block long town remember, was our shopping area. The shopping area was one small, strip mall type place. There was a 76 Station, and moving left to right, Waccamaw State Bank, Western Auto, Post Office, Beauty shop, Barber Shop, Creekmore's Rexall Drugs, a mom and pop style grocery whose name escapes me, and an Esso (then eventually, Exxon) station. That, my friends was town. It closed down Saturday afternoon and opened again on Monday. Too bad that doesn't really have anything to do with my story. I guess I was trying to give you a scale of the smallness of my enviorns.

Across the highway was the community center, and dead opposite the 76 station (the one with the map on the Coke machine), was a football field. I don't really recall it being used for football, though. Mostly we used it for pick up softball games, kite flying, bottle rocket launching, and games of Smear The Queer (aka, Kill The Man With The Ball).

You could take a path from my house up to the community center, where we frequently used the tennis and basketball courts, watched Little League games, or, in the summer, went to the pool.

Little League games were cool. Everybody showed up on game nights. And if that sounds kinda boring to you then go live in a rural NC papermill town for a little while and see if Little League games, like terrapins trying to cross the highway, don't move up a couple of notches on your Excite-o-Meter, too. So, if you could get custody a fouled ball you could trade it in at the concession stand for a coke, which everybody did. Guess we never felt we needed the baseball.

And we speculated endlessly on the umpire, a guy called "Cooter". Cooter being a slang term for them big old turtles that lived in our lake and in the swamp. Folks ate them guys. The story went that Cooter was a hermit like guy that lived in the swamp. No one was sure where, exactly. Just "in the swamp". And he trapped and ate cooters a lot. And he only left the swamp to come out and referee Little League games. Yeah, it don't really hold much water now, but back in the day we believed every word of it.

Ooops, off track again. Sometimes as we headed to the community center we'd decide to go to the 76 station for a coke. The community center's machine only sold those 6 1/2 oz bottles for the longest time. We didn't really see them as being a good value. So as we got alongside the football field we'd hang a quick left and go tear-assing (as you are learning, our main form of locomotion back then was tear-assing) across it, down into the drainage ditch and back up the other side, across the highway and in to the station. Well...that was the plan. Unfortunately, afflicted with the short attention span of redneck youth, our plan nearly always went astray, and nearly always in the same way.

We'd be up about full tilt and just about to head down the ditch when we would get a shooting pain in whichever foot was in contact with the planet earth at that particular moment. In the time it took for us to process where the pain was coming from, which was of course, the patch of sand spurs that grew EVERY year in the SAME spot, our other foot would have come down squarely inside the patch too, and was now bleating out in pain and displeasure also. Now, with both feet full of sand spurs, it would still take just a second to bring our hurtling bodies to a full stop, in which time the first foot would have landed in the patch a second time. All you can really say is, "DAMN!" Sad thing is, this would happen several times throughout the summer.

Now I know that you know the worst part of this sad, sad story. Yep, it's Moe. Moe-mentum. When you finally came to a stop momentum had carried you all the way out smack dab into the middle of the sand spur patch. So you would have to pull out all the spurs from one foot, take a big step forward with it and place it back down in the patch for a fresh batch of spurs, clear the other foot of spurs, take another big step, fill other foot with spurs again, and keep repeating this process as necessary to extract yourself. You would then vow to remember for the rest of you life that the patch is there, and then, a few weeks later, repeat the whole boneheaded affair again. Whoever you were with would never laugh at you, however. Mainly 'cause they were stuck right there beside you, pulling out spurs and cussing up a storm, too.

Last point about the patch. It kinda sucked that you had to hop on one foot while you cleared the other foot, becuse that just drove the spurs in deeper. But what the heck were you gonna do....sit down to do it?

Then we'd get our "coke", which was always a Mountian Dew (the old bottles, with Appalachian Intellectual's feuding hillbilly brethren on them), CAREFULLY cross back over to the football field, and continue on our merry way.

To be continued................

Typology, out
Travelin' Ed

I wonder if this was a real product? Sometimes I can't tell.
Travelin' Ed cares!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hip Hip Hooray !! !! !!

Today was the day I have waited for. Stars & Stripes sent a man over with my newspaper and to tell me they fired the paperboy today. A new person starts day after tomorrow. The guy had my name on a piece of paper, so they must have told him to make sure he told me.

If to you this sounds unusually cruel on my part, then you have not been following this blog.

Travelin' Ed

Tragically, I was born uncooperative.

It's a better title than it seems at first. I mean it could say, Tragically, I was born. That's depressing, though.

The Tampa Tribune did a whole bunch of Haiku's to...(drum roll, please)...Love Bugs. Most of you are probably saying, "What?" right about now. It's a Florida thing. I first learned about them as I commuted by Kawasaki motorcycle between Seffner and Mulberry to my gate guard job at the phosphate plant. I sat in a little glass building, logging the side number and time of each truck entering or leaving the plant. It was mind numbingly exciting work and paid close to $2.80 an hour. It did, however, give me some time to sit, ponder things, and absently pick the love bugs out of my teeth and hair...and eyes, and nose and anything else that had been exposed. Thank goodness I never, ever wore shorts.

Love bugs are larger than gnats and smaller than flies and fly in pairs. They fly in pairs because they are physically connected to each other. I always thought they were joined at the abdomen, the Tribune picture showed them joined more or less at the lips. I think I'm right (because I usually am) but for the sake of compromise I'll just say that they're joined at the end and let you pick whichever end you prefer. Anyway, the bugs are flying in pairs are flying in swarms. You can see a black cloud hanging over the highway and when you get there it's millions and millions of love bugs, consummating their bug love all over the front of your car. It is true. And, it sucks. Here's a brief article to give you a clearer picture: The Kudzu Monthly.

Here's an eye-dear I had. My idea was to have each of you, my faithful fellow travelers, find one person a week to show my blog to. You know, turn them on to it. Tell them it's the coolest blog this side of the next coolest blog. Charge them $2 to show it to them. But build it up like it's something special beforehand, 'cause they'll be harder to fool once they seen it. You and me will split the $2 fifty/fifty. A buck for me and a buck for you. Easy work. Perfectly legal and, except for the lying involved, honest work, too. I bet I can make close to $3 a week if you all pitch in. (Then I'll get that pyramid thing going. I hope.)

My second great eye-dear today involved waffles. If I can figure it out, I'll be a famous some beach. My idea is to lay a thin layer of some waffle batter, get it starting to cook, just enough so's it is becoming crusted over**, then add omelet-like ingredients to it. You know, onions, cheese, scrambled eggs, bacon, etc. Not too much, but enough that you will be able to really taste the flavors. Then pour some more waffle batter on it and close the waffle iron lid. I don't think it will quite work like that (though I haven't actually tried it 'cause I don't have a waffle iron), but it gives you a good idea of what I want to do. Then you have a waffle, but it's like an omelet. A Wamlette, if you will. Toasted, golden waffle outside and breakfast inside. Hmmmm? Great idea, no? Well, that's me. I'm an idea man.

Tomorrow, we re-visit Riegelwood , NC in Part 3 of the never ending snoozefest I called my adolescence.

** But not, I repeat NOT, encrusted. As I have discussed at length with the Coal Miner's Daughter, there are no good encrusted foods.

Samara, out
Travelin' Ed

Tragically, I was born un-hip.

Words I gotta engrave on the better half's MasterCard. "If you can eat it, drink it or wear it, it's not an emergency."

I know what you're thinking, "You, Travelin' Ed, un-hip? Not possible." Well, it is possible. I'm bleeding cool points. I'm the guy I always thought it was OK to laught at. Read closely, it does not say to laugh with. You need an example? Every morning I use Williams 'Lectric Shave. How many of you even know what that is? (And if anyone, anywhere refers to you as Grandpa or Grandma you're not eligible to play. Sorry) Not so bad, you say. But wait, like an offer for ginsu knives, there's more! Vitalis. Yes, Vitalis....I don't think I really need to say anything more.

Apparently, and completely subconsciously, I look for the same thing in my female companions as I do in my computers. No, not the Toshiba nameplate, though that is a thought. Nope, it's more subtle than that. I was noticing this morning that there are buttons for TURN OFF, STANDBY, and SLEEP. They are well marked, accessible via multiple actions (but not always intentional actions), and frequently used. But there is no well marked, easily accessible button marked TURN ON. Nope, it's POWER that turns 'em on.

My dentist, Dr. Cheung, is great. He's conversational, enjoys trading jokes with me, is very thorough, gentle as all get out, and is very conscientious about his work. To this point in my life, he's the best I've ever had, dentist wise. I guess it's too bad most dentist's eventually commit suicide. But that's not why we're here. As we were bantering away yesterday, sample lines: "I didn't hurt you did I? That answer was kind of weird sounding." "Doc, you had your hand in my mouth when you asked me that." "Oh yeah." (OK, that was a lot better live, I'll give you that.) Anyhow, what I thought about this morning is this. I've been in the navy the whole time he's been alive. He's never known a world in which I wasn't a squid. Well, hold on, Doc, just hold on. 'Cuz in 99 & a WU (Whoo hooo...a two digit midget!!!) you will.

Last point. There's a Shaver song, Blood is Thicker Than Water, which I intend to transcribe into this very blog one day, perhaps today. It was one of the last things Billy Joe and Eddie Shaver did together, and it's a darn good song, to boot. It has some great raw lines in it, and is about their less than perfect family life while Eddie was growing up and Billy Joe was running wild. Fascinating stuff. So anyway, Billy Joe has a line about Eddie's girlfriend that goes something like, "I seen her coming down the road with a sack of quarters". I think that is an absoloutely awesome line, and is about as backhanded an insult as I've heard in a long time. Very slick. If I interpret it correctly, that is. See, there's an old, old joke, which I won't retell here, but the punchline is: (Bank teller) "How long you been hoarding these quarters?" (Girl) "Oh, about 3 weeks. But my sister whored half of 'em." And I suppose I should leave you with that.

Buteo, out
Travelin' Ed

Konichiwa. Welcome to Japan.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

A great shot. She was so majestic and I asked myself, WWSKD, which is "What Would sk Do?" And it came to me, gentle, yet insistent, "To be truly sk-like, you must do an up-nose shot." Here you go. Ommmmmm...
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

I don't know, I love this photo. The kids are kinda cool and mom's just standing there stone faced.
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

This is Japan, too. Looks a little different than you expected, right? This is a place for the Japanese to go when they want to go to Europe, but they'd really prefer to ride a bus there. It's not an amusement park but it's still a pretty elaborate place. AND THEY SELL GREAT CHEESES!!!!
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

At Huis Ten Bosch near Sasebo, Japan. Looks cool, huh?
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Found this gem at Cruel dot com and figgered to share the link. I know you guys like this kind of thing. Click it. Enjoy. Thank me later.

Be vewy quiet, I'm huntin' weftist.

Berseem, out
Travelin' Ed

Time for another... story. Been a while since I told one of them. So, the set up. I'm a navy senior chief (E-8) which is not that big a deal really. I include that info so when we get to the part about me bossing youngins' around you'll understand that I am supposed to. Trust me, I do not define myself by things like military rank.

So there I was, up in the Radar Room #2, with the new kid petty officer. I was walking through, scoping things out, looking at cleanliness and keeping an eye out for any red lights on the equipment. Red lights on radar equipment are seldom good. Yellow lights ain't too good either, actually. You just wanna see bunches of green. As Kevin Costner (that poser) would say, you want a FIELD OF GREENS. But I meander.

New guy petty officer (now to be called NGPO) was playing RISK with some of my other maintenance men. For you civilians in the bunch, shipboard sailors live and work onboard, so it is not uncommon for guys to play cards or watch DVDs or something in the workspace after hours. It's kinda encouraged, actually, because malfunctions tend to get noticed and repaired more quickly with the extra bodies around at night.

But NGPO was so new he wasn't qualified to do anything yet. So as I passed through, I looked over at him and said, "you may want to go down to combat and stand some under instruction watch. It'll get you started on quals and we're going to need you in the rotation soon." And I continued on my way through the other radar rooms, computer room, display workshop and back down to the goat locker to play some cards.

Fast forward through a game or two of spades and everybody is wandering out for a smoke break. I tell them to deal me into the next game but I want to make a quick tour of my spaces to make sure things are still OK. (When it's mostly headstrong boys working for you, you tend to put your own eyeballs on things as often as possible. Less suprises that way.) When I get to RR#2, there's NGPO still playing RISK.

So I say to him, in a stern but calm voice, "I thought I told you to go stand some watch." "No, Senior," he said, without a bit of smart aleckness, "you said I might want to. But I didn't really." Well, he actually had me there. So I smiled and said in a very fatherly type voice, "NGPO, I like to be polite. I want you to enjoy working for me. But you need to understand that when I give you a "suggestion", it doesn't really mean there's any element of free will in it for you. It's still an order, it just doesn't sound so harsh. Understand?"

Me and him got along fine after that. He was a good, hardworking kid. Especially after he undrstood the rules.

I have been a Chief since 1988. I tend to expect that when I say something, people get started on it. It's a simple system really, but it has served me and the navy well. And yes, I am slowly coming to grips with the idea that it won't work the same at my new civilian job. As they say, I HAVE A GREAT FUTURE BEHIND ME.

Well, there was the story of sweepers (a tale that includes foxtails and dustpans, NGPO, ladderbacks and a Commanding Officer) and one about the burn bag in the dumpster. But I must traipse off to dental (in the rain) so it will have to wait.

Can you believe that until fairly recently, sailors in uniform were not allowed to carry umbrellas? True. I always wondered how the powers that be came to the conclusion that it looked more professional to be all soaking wet. I always figured it was merely making us look too dumb to come in out of the rain. I guess that's why I wear an anchor, not an Eagle. Or more likely it was some Admiral's wife that said one day, "Vern, those boys look like idiots standing in the rain. Why ain't they got umbrellas?" To which the Admiral replied, "They don't? Huh, wonder why that is?" And with a two minute memo, regs got modified, ignorance (at least in this small matter) lay mortally wounded, and enlisted lives everywhere took a turn for the better. Well, it COULD have happened like that.

Elongation, out
Travelin' Ed

Monday, June 20, 2005

One (of two) intentions fulfilled

I drove home yesterday and in this morning listening to old Conway Twitty (and alas, we all know there won't be any new Twitty anymore) and I had forgotten how good his songs were: Fifteen Years Ago, Georgia's Pulling on my Ring, Suspicious Minds, Hello Darlin', and, while Tight Fittin' Jeans is in no way, shape or form of the same caliber as those other still sing along, don't you? Heck yeah, I know you do. I do too. Loud and tunelessly but with a whole lot of white bread soul!

I have always liked this poem. I especially like the tag line I used. It's appropriate for me.

Behind the Curtain

The sun came up without me
and silently it danced into my room.
This woman laying here's my new best friend,
But Lord, I hope she's leaving soon.
I'm just left here holding nothing but my breath
And it comes ragged as the truth.
I drank whiskey hard to chase you off
But I can't seem to get away from you.

I chased the lights like summer nights
beyond the ocean, down the dusty highways.
I've lost my heart so many times
That I've seen love up, down, acrossed and sideways.
I never gave a damn for your two cents
Or anything you thought I might be.
And I laughed at you as I walked off. . .
And that's my story that I'm sticking to.

Said if you're good you'll end up lonely.
Well I went crazy just the same.
And all these friends that brung me nothing
But different potions, different pains.
There ain't a whole lot worth remembering
Not too much I carry 'round
I'm the voice behind the curtain
So you can't see me falling down.

A cheap hotel off Sukhumvit 19
Is just as good a place as any.
To let your mind hang out a while
'cause people here don't try to mind your business.
I write so many letters to explain myself
But I ain't sent you any.
Like you care. . .like you remember. . .
Like I do like it was only yesterday.

And if you're good you'll end up lonely.
That ain't me but I'm still blue.
And all these friends who brung me nothing.
So I followed them from you.
There ain't a whole lot worth remembering
Not too much I carry 'round
I'm the voice behind the curtain
So you can't see me falling down.


** This was the slogan for a bar called THE BACK PORCH down in the US Virgin Islands. I forget which island, or what the name of the city was, but if dropped off in the harbor I could walk straight back to it. Most of the Caribbean was unimpressive and I tend to forget a lot of the particulars...other than it was more expensive than it was worth. (Except Aruba)

T-t-t-that's all for now, folks

Byplay, out

Travelin' Ed

Quick thoughts

I have 15 min before heading to work, so some quick thoughts from a not so quick mind.

Every day before work I play 1 game of Scrabble and 3 games of Yahtzee or 2 games of Scrabble. I set the computer Scrabble players (I play against 2) to the expert setting. I think it keeps my mind a little sharper than if I didn't.

I prefer to feed my fish tubifex worms, but I don't float 'em, I soak them and then break them up between my fingers. I always fret that the catfish on the bottom won't get any, even though they were pretty fat already before I started that. However, when I'm pressed for time they get goldfish flakes and don't seem too put out over it. Look, I'm the same guy that made his own dog food and then nuked it a little so it wouldn't be cold when I fed Ramblin' Wreck and Rikki.

You know, sk, even as I wrote "goat in the kitchen" I was thinking to myself, "or was it a sheep?" I guess sheep would have been closer.

I am going to try to get a poem down today, another Riegelwood story down today, or if possible, both. The dental appointments start up again tomorrow, so....

I talked to DRE on the phone Saturday. Him and his wife are practicing UNO, and me and the wife are practicing PHASE 10 and SKIPBO. CRIBBAGE and EUCHRE are under discussion, of course. Me and him play, neither wife does, yet. None of us needs to practice SPADES, 'cause that's like falling off a bicycle, you just do it. So it looks like evening card games are back on tap. That's cool, we'll do it under the comforting glow of the bug zapper. Unfortunately, I have given up hope of ever finding enough players to start my regular PINOCHLE games back up. Unless I take an ad out in the Tampa's crazy but

After I started calling Stars & Stripes and leaving this same message each time, "As usual my paperboy has not brought a paper, and since you seem content to pay him for not doing his job instead of firing him, please bring a paper to me as quickly as possible. I'm at 22 Kamakura, Ikego." He has been better. Don't miss as many papers as I used to, but it's still early. They really must not have a replacement for him, because I've found out that the whole building is complaining about delivery. I'm just more regular about it. It's a gift.

OK, gotta go. Wish me luck on a real post later this morning.

Travelin' Ed

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sssssssss...SMACK!! (Ummm...I meant to do that)

Please stand up and be counted if you have ever had a bird fly into your sliding glass door or a window. I've had it happen 3 times that I'm sure of but another buddy says neither him nor any of his friends have. I cannot possibly be the only one that has had this happen.

Spiracle, out
Travelin' Ed

No one suspected a thing

OK, I took the following excerpt off of CNN dot COM. I don't link 'cause the stories go away and you end up with a dead link. I hate that. There was also a photo I tried to include, but apparently the Associated Press frowns on that kind of thing, so I blew it off. But I can say this, if you were going to take a picture that would make people know at a glance that someone was a predatory pervert, that would have been the picture to do it.

So anyway, how the heck can we adults not be better at spotting perverts? I say look for adults who are around kids a lot and investigate them all. Many will be on the up and up and you let them go back to work or coaching or whatever because we need those people. The rest, the ones who have done something before, you just throw into jail. No excuses, no caveats, just, "Sir, please step into the truck. We're going for a little ride." It is my understanding that their perversion is hardwired and unlikely to change, or even be kept under control. Since you can't make kids less trusting, make the pervs less, shall we say, mobile. Give 'em a serial number and three squares a day (Unless in Arizona where, God help 'em, the sherriff is crazy mean) courtesy of the state.

I am incredulous that after the stop in the desert this guy wasn't fired "just in case" and investigated thoroughly. How could any sane parent, check that, any sane adult not see the danger and just plain oddness of the situation. Alarm bells should have been going off all over the place. Seeing it in retrospect don't even know how to adequately express the idiocy and derelection demonstrated. Read for yourself.

'No one suspected a thing'

When they first met, Schwartzmiller was coaching a youth football team. "I helped him coach," Kevan said. "The parents all thought he was great. No one suspected a thing."

In retrospect, there were signs something was wrong -- like the time he took the team to a game in Boise, and they "stopped in the desert to do a jock strap check." Kevan said he was not on the bus at the time, and only later realized that Schwartzmiller may have been picking out potential victims.

Apoplectic, out
Travelin' Ed

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My brother and my wife, Grand Tower Hotel, 1 year ago today
Travelin' Ed cares about YOU

Riegelwood, NC (Part 2 of??)

If you haven't already, Part one is just below this and should probably be read first. If you have, then by all means, continue.

There was a guy down the road named Nathan Pitts. I think. I remember him well, but am not certian I remember his name right. I'm 80% sure about Nathan and 60% sure about Pitts. I just remember I felt a little sorry for him because his dad was a little, shall we say, rough around the edges. He was blue collar, not a touchy-feely kind of dad, had pornography laying about and drank. I don't know that he was a drunk and I'm not trying to say that he was. I was too young to know that. But I did know he always had beer at the house.

How do I know? Because that is where I drank my first one. Well, drank is not correct. I took a swig and spewed it right back out. It was the nastiest thing I had ever tasted. But having seen all the Tastes Great/Less Filling commercials, I decided that I may have just done it wrong and took another, albiet more tentative, swig. Well, nope!, that wasn't the problem. The stuff was just plain vile. And It would be a long, long, long time til I tried another.

I think as you grow older your taste buds realize that if they keep working so hard your going to starve and/or dehydrate and so they back off their zealousness a tad. How else could we ever have learned to keep down, much less enjoy, a draft beer, black coffee and cayenne peppers? Just a thought.

So anyway, Columbus County was a dry county which made it very easy to get beer, wine and whiskey. If you're breaking the law just to sell it, then there's really no need to worry about what time it is, what day of the week it is or how old your customer is. And trust me, everybody knew where the botlegger lived.

If your idea of a bootlegger is a mountian man in a souped up Chevy tearing through the hills and hollows one step ahead of the revenooers, this may be a bit disappointing to you. Because the bootlegger I knew was really no more than a reseller. Don't know where he went or how often he went, but he always had something. You just went down HWY 76 a ways to the house with the circular driveway in the back. You drove up outside the back door and honked once. The old dude would come out and say, "What d'ya want?" and we'd say "Miller High Life" and he'd step inside and come back with a six pack for us. And it was pretty expensive, but we were kids and therefore were extremely limited in our purchasing options, so it all came out in the wash.

Before I go much farther I have to make an admission. I did not drink very much at all. Didn't like it. Tasted nasty, made me dizzy, and if the folks didn't know I'd done it, I was always freaked out that they did anyway. So a lot of what I know was because we were out and my friends would want some beer and I'd go with them.

The old bootlegger came back to help me out a few years later in Brandon, FL. Not literally came back, but still, his memory helped me. See I was working at a gas station but I was only 17. I was supposed to be 18 but when I asked why he said because if I was under 18 and stole money they couldn't prosecute me. Cool. Since I wasn't planning on stealing their money I lied about my age. A little later on they put in beer coolers.

Even though the "manager" of the station (I won't say he was white trash, but I went to Dade City with him one day and his people were sitting around drinking sterno. Honest. They told me, "It'll really get you high. If you can keep it down.") was ripping me off a few dollars a day I stayed on. The reason? Because I was selling $2.25 six packs of beer on Sundays for $5 each and had 'em lined up to pay it.

I was raking it in, and at 17 years old I figured if I got caught that if anybody was going to jail over it, it would be the guy who hired me. Nobody went to jail though. So I would write down the number of six packs I sold on a piece of paper. The manager, not wanting me to get in trouble for Sunday sales because he had my best interest at heart, would put them on his Monday sales report as if he'd sold them. Again, so I wouldn't get in trouble. He always thought I wasn't snapping off that he was also keeping the 10% commission we got on each item we sold. He was so proud of how he was making close to $15 off of me every Monday, and I never bothered to tell the dumb peckerwood that he was thinking small.

So, there you have it. Small town Saturday nights. There's more later. I really want to tell these stories

Travelin' Ed

Friday, June 17, 2005

Riegelwood, NC (Part 1 of ??)

(I'm listening to a group called 16 Horsepower, album Secret South, Razor & Tie records and it's got me all introspective).

Do you ever wonder what made you into you? There's 2 things I really, really want to do before too much longer. Finish a poem about my Papaw I've been working on for 3 years (it has to be perfect) and tell some stories about growing up. I have so many things to say about growing up. I went to bed last night thinking about it and my mind was all over the place. I imagine this series of posts will be the same. Marginally interesting, true stories that careen back and forth between many, many good memories, each trying to get told next. Climb in, buckle up and let's get this road trip started.

Riegelwood, Columbus County, NC is in my mind home. Or where I formed my opinions. Or where I grew up...became aware...whatever. I think it is a big part of who I am and why. A papermill town smack in the middle of The Green Swamp. I loved it there. 20 or 30 miles east was Wilmington, west was a bunch of nothing. Farms and small towns. Bolton, Lake Waccamaw, Whiteville. You get the picture.

You walked 15 minutes in any direction from my back door and you found yourself in one of 3 places: a cornfield, the woods, or swamp. Town was just enough houses to get a post office built and you could walk from end to end in 10 minutes, probably less.

Snakes, good gracious we had snakes! With a small lake in our back yard we didn't have to go far to find a cottonmouth. And since we lived to be barefoot, stayed outside constantly and seined for minnows (why the heck would someone PAY for fish bait??) we learned to keep an eye out for them without actually slowing down the velocity at which we lived our life.

At the end of town, behind the far row of houses was a creek. Across the fell down tree bridge was an tall embankment. At the top was a railroad track. I already told you about this track. Take a left and go a mile or so and there was the spot where we would catch pulpwood chip cars and where the big blackberry patch was. But we ain't going left, we're going straight across and down the other side. That's where the green swamp started and a place we loved to go.

We'd get to the top of the embankment and go tear assing down the other side, full speed and dive into the swamp to swim. There were ropes for swinging, trees for jumping from and scrub brush that provided for some privacy. We would hang out there for hours, wrestling, swimming, fishing and telling tall, tall tales.

One day, running down the path I stepped on a rattlesnake. But I was running so fast I was on him and back off him before either me or the snake realized what had happened. I went ahead and gave a good scream anyway, even though the danger was passed. He just stayed there, I guess figuring I was gone already and likely to be more careful on the return trip, which as it turns out, was an austute observation on the part of that venomous reptile. I was very careful on the way back out.

Also, same place different day, we were headed out carrying sticks, machetes, bowie knives and hatchets. We played with stuff like that back then. We were boys and that's what boys did.

Anyway, we were mightily discussing bobcats, bears and snakes as we walked. In the swamp, you gotta be prepared to dispatch wild predators at a monents notice, so you plan in advance. For example, if it was a bear, me and Walter were to jump on his back while Ceaser (the German Shepard) had him distracted. Then Bro Dave was to hack his head off with the machete. And he had to do it quickly because we were pretty sure me and Walter couldn't hold him very long. Though he never said so, Ceaser seemed to understand his part. We had similarly well thought out plans for the other dangerous animals we might encounter in our traipsing.

One day, headed down to the water, we come into a spot of sunlight and face to face with the largest snake we had ever seen. We looked at him and he looked at us. And we turned and high tailed it faster than we had ever run before. Still carrying our machetes, knives and hatchets. We laughed about it later. And we swore that if we saw him again, we'd be more prepared to go over and lop off his head. Not caught off guard like this time. As you may have noticed, wild animals are best conquered by taking off their heads. Works on all of them and was alway an integral part of any plan.

OK, I will soon tell you about bootleggers, semi-trucks, Wilmington, first girlfriends, etc. All posts in these semi-regular posts about Riegelwood will be 100% true. Trust me, there's no need to embellish these stories. I should hit a stride with it very soon. I always start out slow like this.

(Now playing Uncle Tupelo's Life Worth Living (from No Depression) which is still more introspection inducing tuneage.)

Travelin' Ed

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Other things that suck. Or don't.

I thought of some more. You decide which is which. Answer key below. If you and I disagree on an answer, you're wrong (I learned that watching the talking heads on FOX News).

  • The dentist calling Friday morning and telling you he needs to reschedule this afternoon's appointment to next week.
  • Having to share your planet with others.
  • Dogs can't talk.
  • Cats can't talk.
  • Children can talk.
  • Spellcheck.
  • The wife getting invited to go south and stay with a friend for a week.
  • The wife bringing her friend back with her to stay for a month.
  • Driving around in your spiffy US Navy uniform in a car with stuffed animals and throw pillows.
  • Having the time to write endless "Things That Suck" posts.

The CORRECT answers are:

Don't suck / Sucks / Sucks / Sucks / Sucks / Don't suck / Don't suck / Sucks / Sucks / Don't suck

Meteors killed the meat eaters

Lifes simple pleasures include:

  • Bart's blackboard scribblings in the opening sequence of THE SIMPSONS
  • AccuRadio's TWANG channel on the internet for us "far offers"
  • Getting a snail mail letter
  • Popeye's spicy chicken
  • Waking up feeling "damn good"
  • Fresh, hot morning coffee
  • Getting a smile returned from a stranger
  • A warm, sunny day, a curvy road and no other traffic
  • Same day, same road with a sun roof and Neil Young & Crazy Horse* cranked up
  • Growing things from seed
  • Hard Luck Story by Whiskeytown (Ryan Adam's band before going solo) ["I swore to your daddy that I'd love you, but I changed my mind"....who else could write that?]
Things that suck include:

  • Trying to get through the security tape on a new DVD
  • The item costs 45 cents. You have 40 cents change or a 20 dollar bill
  • Both traffic lanes are moving approx. the same speed and it turns out to be slower than you'd like to go.
  • 13 hour time difference between you and all of your friends
  • Rain for a month, aka, rainy season
  • The price of paperback books
  • Amateur political pundits
  • Unopened minds. Whether we agree or not is unimportant. Thinking is.
  • Public parking (or rather, the pronounced lack thereof) in Japanese cities.
  • The way we are treating Reserve and National Guard troops
  • The best TV shows competing against each other so you have to choose.
  • Realizing halfway through that you have put in one of those 3 hour movies
  • 3 hour (or more) movies. If you got that much to say, do a mini-series.

There's more, but I can't think of it right now.

* Has to be with Crazy Horse, that's when he really kicks it in

Travelin' Ed

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sailor stuff: Tattoos

The tattoo I really wanted. This is a classic.
Travelin' Ed cares!

The local weather

I wanted to post this on the 8th when I was telling you about rainy season. But was I able to post it when I wanted? Noooooo!
Travelin' Ed cares!

OK, so I'm a twidget

Yes, I'm a twidget. Can't help it, it's what I do. That is probably why I found the following news item interesting. Because gadgets, like bright shiny objects, make me go, "Ooooohhh... can I touch it?"

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Drivers lacking coins now may use cell phones to feed parking meters in Coral Gables, purportedly the first city in the country to offer such a service.

The automated system allows drivers who subscribe to simply dial in from their cell phone, punch in the number assigned to their parking spot, and the required costs — plus a 25-cent usage fee — will be billed to their credit card. When leaving, subscribers call back and end the billing cycle.

I wonder how the meter maids know that your phone is picking up the parking and you're not freeloading? Maybe the meter is digital and they can send a signal to somehow flag that particular meter. I don't know. I sure hope this question doesn't keep me from sleeping tonight......Segue into...

Last night The Simple Life was outstanding. Nichole Ritchey was cute and kept her potty mouth in check. Paris Hilton was fetching, as always. But the peice of resistance* was that they had twin baby monkeys on the show with them. Cute girls and monkeys. That's what TV was invented for. It just don't get any better!

Question. What's the difference between Michael Jackson and a trash bag? One's white, made of plastic and harmful to children. And the other is a trash bag.

* I wasn't even gonna try to get this French correct. You knew what I meant.

Scumble, out
Travelin' Ed

BONUS ROUND. For 250 additional points, who would you rather be stranded on a desert island with, Betty Rubble or Wilma Flintstone? And since I know that sometimes I have female readers, same question, but with Marge Simpson or Kitty (The mom on That '70s Show).

Household Rock

This a lot like Schoolhouse Rock, but a lot shorter and with more important life lessons to get across. The ideas come from real life. That's why they're so important.**

Boy and girls, we tend to get dirty
so learn this smart lesson for sure
keep the curtian inside of the shower
or you'll flood out the doggone floor

I use the term "Junior Power Ranger" a lot when I'm talking to people. For example, "Well, Junior Power Ranger, do you about have that lesson guide prepared?" Am I the only one using that phrase? Maybe. All I know is nobody really cared for what I used to say, "Beeyatch".

I only got two girls that read this blog. I almost said three girls, but AI is off on drill and can't defend hisself. My question, should you a) deign to answer and, b) have seen the movie, is this: Was Hitch a good movie or not? All the guys I talked to yesterday really liked it, but the few girls present thought it wasn't any good at all. This is an informal poll. This is in no way, however, any type of pole. Just want to be clear.

**We were unable to do this to the tune of "Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function" because I couldn't remember how it goes.

Travelin' Ed

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Puttin' the WHY back in country

Red Headed Girl

I went down where the land meets the water.
Sun was crazy in that summertime sky.
I was chasing that red headed woman.
See, I followed her down here and I don't know why.

Heat was dancing on them oyster shell driveways.
Smell the bayou's laying just past the trees.
She bailed on Mobile with me right behind her.
Like a shot through Biloxi, and over to New Orleans.

She was restless like a cat gets at midnight.
She was moaning like a mean woman do.
I turned my back, she slipped into the moonlight.
Got the heart of a gambler. The soul of a gypsy too.

She don't have any stake in the future.
She don't got any ties to the past.
Didn't want nothin' that I had to give her.
The worst time she gave me's the best time that I ever had.

I went down where the land meets the water.
Smell of crawfish as they're hitting a boil.
Smokey night, 'bout the color of whiskey.
The buzz can't replace what she don't do for me anymore.

Cold, blue steel of my .38 pistol.
My silent friend riding right by my side.
She can run to the streets of New Orleans.
She can run if she wants, but that red headed girl cannot hide.

Townsville, Australia headed to Guam