Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Video?

Tuesday AM
So, I had this video post I wanted to inflict on share with you today.

What's that? You don't see the video post?

Yeah. About that.

Technology and I had a bit of a spat yesterday.

My cell phone did some things I didn't like.

I said some things I shouldn't have said.

Feelings were hurt, videos did not get posted.

My cell phone will talk to my computer only when it feels like it. Sometimes it wants to be a "device", sometimes the "camera" setting gets the job done.

Last night it wanted to be a "device," eventually it connected and claimed that I had no videos.

Bear in mind this is after I had cut the grass, had a couple of beers and devoured a lovely steak which The Missus Herself had prepared. I was in no mood for extensive troubleshooting. I get to do that at work.

I get paid to do it at work. Not so much at home.

So rather than proceed further, I decided to watch a couple of episodes of Boardwalk Empire.

I feel much better now.

Of course, you don't get to see the video.

Then again, how exciting is watching a 61-year old guy, sweaty and unshaven, sitting in his backyard pontificating about various and sundry topics? While drinking beer.

I watched the video. I found it amusing.

However, I ain't the most photogenic chap on the planet.

So perhaps you should be thankful that technology was not my friend last night.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Raising Cabernet and Merlot in Texas

So, There I was…..* Retired from the Air Force and returned to the State of Texas, making my way as a civilian for the first time in my life.  The wife and my vision for the future was to buy some land and grow grapes as Texas at the time was a nascent wine growing region.  It has since exploded in growth, but that’s another story.  We had been working at the process, taking classes, working with our good friends who are grape growers and wine makers and bought 31 acres of very nice property in the Texas Hill Country.
The Flying Gazebo Ranch (story to follow) Jan 14. Lower right stockpond makes a nice pistol range and not much else. House, Carport, Man Cave and Tractor left lower center. Barn Far Lower Left

I learned a lot in those years.  One, the technical term for growing grapes is farming.  Two, growing grapes does not involve beautiful nubile women in gossamer negligees running through the vineyard fanning the grapes.  Three, God gets a big vote in the success or failure of a farmer.  Finally, four, a fighter pilot imbued with a need to be in control was not suited to be a farmer.  We opted out of the grape growing industry.  Whenever I begin to doubt the wisdom of that, I volunteer at our friend’s vineyard during harvest, which is typically August here in Texas.  That tends to dampen the enthusiasm.

But, we really love our property, it’s quiet and secluded.  It also happens to be very near a military low level route, one that I had flown while at Del Rio.  So, I still get serenaded by the sound of jets on a regular basis. Additionally, the local Airport hosts formation school roughly quarterly.  Formation school is where air show pilots come and comply with FAA requirements for academics and practice in formation flying which allows them to participate in airshows.   Evidently, my fields and those of my neighbors look good enough from the air to act as emergency landing strips.  They probably are, although I have my doubts about a quick fix with the wrench and flying out.

So, we are staying on our property.  What to do with it though?  We've decided to grow hay.  Basically, we fertilize the field, God provides the water (some years more than others).  Then cut and bail the hay when long enough.  Doesn't make us a fortune, but it does qualify us for an Agricultural Exemption on our property taxes. 

We’re having dinner one evening and the wife looks at me, batting her baby blues (they’re actually hazel, but that doesn't work here) and asks “Honey, are we ever going to plant grapes.”  I respond “No, I don’t think so.”  She responds “Well, I want Cabernet and Merlot on this property!” and hands me a brochure.  On the cover are two beautiful Paint Horses in full gallop.  I give her a quizzical look and she says “Read it.”  Well, the brochure is from an animal rescue agency in East Texas and they had rescued these two horses along with ~30 others from a breeding farm that had gone belly up.  The clincher was these two horses were named Cabernet and Merlot.  My fate was sealed.

They have arrived!

My sole experiences with horses being watching TV has led to expectations of them talking to me (in English) when we’re alone, being able to jump on them and yell “Hi, Ho, Silver!” and gallop off into the sunset and finally, whistle and have them come running.  Of the three, the last is the most unrealistic.  Although, I have made inroads on it, by promising them repeatedly that my intention is to NEVER attempt the second.  I notice they look somewhat relieved when I mention that.

They were about 18 months old when we first got them, coming up on 3 years ago.  We put them up at a trainer for the first few months.  One to get them some basic horse training, and two to get us some time to get a barn and corral put up.

One night, while all this is going on, I happen to be reading the want ads in the paper.  I very rarely do this, but an ad happens to catch my eye.  "Free to a good home, Golden Palomino Mare".  Hmmm.  One of the things we've noticed about Cab and Merlot are they don’t seem to have a lot of “Horse Sense”.  Not having much myself, I wonder if having an older, more experienced horse might help the situation.  I talk it over with my horse whisperer, a teacher at the school where I work. She agrees that this could be a good idea.  So we give the folks a call.

Drive over to the stables the next day and are looking forward to meeting Grace.  Grace is a retired 27 year old show horse and looks and acts every bit of it. She has a beautiful long mane and tail and when she looks at you, her eyes look like they're got gold flecks in them. She’s very graceful, moving almost like a stage model, which I guess she was in the Equine world.  I walk up to her holding my hand out and she gives it a few sniffs then puts her head on my shoulder and sighs. I have been deemed "acceptable".

He owners are a pair of Doctors on a mission trip in Africa, who decided it didn't make much sense to be doing that and scraping by while paying x dollars a month paying room and board for a horse.  Works out for the benefit of both sides.  

Grace has shown the Paints (en masse we refer to them as “the Girls”), that it’s OK to go in the barn during a rain storm and when it’s cold.  She’s also demonstrated that when Juvat whistles, it usually means chow time.  The Paints have shown Grace that it’s OK to run full blast on the property and that Juvat and Mrs Juvat really enjoy watching that.

They've needed quite a bit of work, and quite a bit of hay and feed to overcome the problems caused from their breeding farm days. They have gained their weight back and now are, like most of us, watching their diet. 

"What do I gotta do, bite the lid off a can of dog food?

A Little Grain and no one get's hurt

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for some Grain today
AND...They come when called.

 Mrs Juvat has been up on all three.  She reports that Cab is a bit of a rough ride, but Merlot and Grace are smooth as glass.  I have fulfilled my word in that I haven’t been up on any, also having been advised by my physician that a fall from a horse could exacerbate my neck injury in a “catastrophic” way.  I’m OK with following that advice. The Girls have also taught me that when a 2000 LB animal does not want her hooves cleaned, it’s ok to leave it for another day. I expect the bruises to fade in another week or so.

*What's the difference between a fairy tale and a war story? A fairy tale starts out "Once upon a time" and a war story starts out "So, There I was".

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day... Meh

Old-Time Labor Day parade in New York (Public Domain)
Will I enjoy the day off?

Of course I will.

Will I get excited as to the meaning of the day?

Here's what the Wiki has to say -
The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations", followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the Labor movement.
"Trade and labor organizations" just about says it all as far as I'm concerned.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against unions, I was once upon a time a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

A long, long time ago. And it's not like I had a choice in the matter.

But it all smacks too much of this -

(Public Domain)
The concept feels, I dunno, Soviet or Commie. So I don't get all excited about "Labor Day."

Call it a personal problem.

Doesn't faze me.


But I will enjoy the day away from work.

Happy "Don't Have to Labor Day."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

For Moose

Lt. Col. Morris 'Moose' Fontenot Jr.
United States Air Force (Read this link!)
We lost one of America's best this past week...

This is for you Sir.

Rest in peace. Vaya con Dios.

Prayers for his family and friends at this difficult time...

High Flight*
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds -
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of -
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I've chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God

Moose's old command, the 67th Fighter Squadron...

H/T to DKE

* Composed by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr. RCAF, died in his Spitfire in December 1941.

The Mug

Other Bullet: "So LUSH, why are you ordering a VFA-2 mug for CAG?"

LUSH: "I'm not."

Other Bullet: "That is a VFA-2 mug, right?"

LUSH: "Yup."

Other Bullet: "And that does say 'CAG' on the order form, does it not?"

LUSH: "Yup."

Other Bullet: "So, why are you ordering a VFA-2 mug for CAG?"

LUSH: "I'm not, it's for my Dad?"

Other Bullet [Eyebrows shooting skywards]: "You're Dad's a CAG!!??"

LUSH: "Nope."

Other Bullet [Looking very confused]: "..."

LUSH: "Those are my Dad's initials, C. A. G."

Other Bullet: "Oh, okay. I get it. I think..."

And so during the recent visit of two of my offspring and the senior granddaughter I was presented with that mug in the opening photo. I do believe The WSO (aka LUSH) had the idea after reading an old post of mine. This one.

Knowing my love of things that fly (and go fast) she thought I would like the mug to add to my growing collection of Naval paraphernalia. Said paraphernalia consisting of any number of ball caps, t-shirts, cigarette lighters, patches, coins and what-have you.

She was right, absolutely correct. I can't wait to try it out.

Road Rage, Stupidity and Inattention (Not necessarily in that order...)

This photo is what you might call "foreshadowing."
From Google Maps Street View
Prior to heading on up to New England for a visit with her parental units, her sister and her niece, The Nuke had called me with some ideas for activities to partake of whilst she was visiting.

Well, to be precise, one activity.

The Nuke: "Dad, we should go to Maine."

Yours' Truly: "Maine."

The Nuke: "Yes Dad. Maine."

Yours' Truly: "Why Maine?"

The Nuke: "Lord's."

WARNING: Digression Ahead!

Now Lord's used to be a mighty fine dining establishment. Note the use of the past tense there, "used to be," not that the quality has gone down mind you. It's just that Lord's has closed. Here's what I got from Trip Advisor:

Yup, they've closed.

FWIW, my Mom and Dad were in there one day when George and Barbara Bush came in for lunch. Good thing Waylon Jennings and his party were just finishing up. Heh. (No, seriously. Waylon Jennings was having lunch at Lord's that day too.)

End Digression...

Now at the time of my conversation with The Nuke, I was not privy to this information. I only became aware of this fact just now (well, as I was writing this post, when it's your "now", the "now" of my discovery of the fact of Lord's closing will be in the past).

So, The Nuke wanted to head up to Maine (all of us being oblivious to the fact that where she wanted to go no longer existed) which is a 300+ mile round trip for us here in Little Rhody.

Now I've done this before, twice as a matter of fact. Drove 300+ miles to have lunch in Maine with my parents. Who used to have a place in Maine.

While that is a long way to go for lunch, Lord's was that good.

But all of that aside, the planning (such as it was) for the trip to Maine and the circumstances surrounding same was simply the prelude to the main topic of this post, alluded to in the title. (Up there, near the top!) But we're getting there, slowly and with the odd digression or two. But (yes) I digress.

Therefore, it was decreed by Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed by The Nuke and The Missus Herself that on Friday, the 22nd of August, we would all pile into The Missus-mobile and head to Maine. Come Hell or high water.

On the Thursday eve preceding that date, The Missus Herself said that we would be arising at 0800 and proceeding upon our journey once everyone was showered, dressed and fully kitted out for a journey of such magnitude.

All the while I'm thinking, "Maine, 300+ miles, 8 o'clock in the frigging morning. Woe is me!"

I should have realized that the progeny (Dad - I asked you to stop calling us that...) were even less likely to awaken at such a beastly hour than was I. So there was no gnashing of teeth, wailing nor rending of garments by me (though I was sorely tempted) upon retiring for the evening.

And 'lo, it came to pass that no one got up before 10:00 AM. Not even Little Bit, who is normally an early riser. Upon my arising from my slumbers I discovered that a decision had been reached vis à vis the trek to Maine.

The WSO: "No Dad, we're not going to Maine. It's too far. We're going over to Mystic to see the aquarium."

Yours' Truly: "Mystic."

The WSO: "Yes Dad. Mystic."

So into The Missus-mobile we piled (after showering, dressing and fully kitting ourselves out for a journey of lesser magnitude) and headed to Mystic.

Now shortly after getting onto one of the two main roads through our rustic and lovely seacoast town, I noted a driver in a white van whose skill at driving seemed to be less than desirable. His control of his commercial vehicle seemed tenuous at best. Don't ask me how I know these things. It's a talent which has helped me avoid many an accident.

I pointed out this driver to The WSO who was our pilot on this mission (I like to style myself as "Mission Commander" but The Nuke said, "Yeah, right Dad. Even the cats outrank you." I swear their promotions did not go through proper channels and...

Oops, digressing, aren't I?)

So the suspect van operator was pointed out to 
The WSO and she backed off accordingly, giving this fellow a wide berth. So to speak as we were following in his wake.

It was on this stretch of road that things got interesting...

The Scene of the Crime
From Google Maps Street View
I watched (with some detachment and some horror) as a few cars to our front, there was a vehicle stopped in the street. No doubt stopped for someone ahead who no doubt wished to make a left turn near that sign in the photo. A common occurrence on this stretch of pavement. Note that I said "stopped," said state of relative motion being critical to our story.

Just behind that car was a white BMW, late model, also stopped. Just behind that car and immediately to our front was that white commercial van being operated by that fellow I suspected of being less than a great driver. And that fellow was completely oblivious to the traffic stopped ahead of him.

Van meet BMW. BMW meet van. Oh, sorry! Was that your rear bumper that just came off? Is that the tinkling of tail light parts I hear gently floating onto the pavement?

Yup, Mr. Van smacked right into Ms. BMW. Then proceeded to "go around" to the Beemer's right (which as you'll note, there is no place to "go around" without climbing the curb and going off-roading).

The WSO stopped a good eight feet short of the van and we all sat there having a "WTF" moment.

The Situation
From Google Maps Street View
(a) is the position of the vehicle to the front of the Beemer,

(b) is the position of the Beemer,

(c) is the position of the white van after impacting the Beemer and

(d) is the path the white van took after the collision.

Now The Missus Herself wanted to pull around this mess and continue on to Mystic. Well, with two officers in the Naval Service and a retired Master Sergeant of the Air Force on board, this was not going to happen. After all, we were witnesses, doncha know?

While awaiting the arrival of the local constabulary, The Nuke and I dismounted the vehicle, she proceeded forward to assist the young lady driving the Beemer, who had a very pronounced bloody lip and was sobbing most piteously. I held myself in reserve, in an over-watch position where I could render assistance if needed yet still maintain situational awareness of the surroundings. After all, there was rather a lot of traffic on the road. Most of which was proceeding slowly as many of the local maroons slowed down to gawk and point.


Now van guy was sort of stumbling about, mumbling imprecations against his fate, knowing that he was clearly in the wrong. Asking if the young lady was alright, The Nuke told him (in her command voice) to go over by his van and await the arrival of the Paladins of Law Enforcement. (We could hear them coming as their station is nobbut a mile or so to the south of where the accident took place.)

Now at this point, things got interesting. See that blue arrow labeled "e?" That's the path of "enraged boyfriend" (whom I shall refer to henceforth as "Asshole") coming from the vicinity of the liquor store (out of frame to the left) and screaming imprecations and such at van guy.

The Asshattery Begins...
From Google Maps Street View
Now Asshole (who later filled out the accident report for his girlfriend, while sitting IN the Beemer as if to indicate he'd been there all along) was yelling at van guy, "You were obviously going too fast and following too closely! I'm gonna get a lawyer..." And various and sundry other things that assholes do when showing off for their girlfriends. She was just upset and bleeding like a stuck pig (facial wounds do that ya know, I've had a few).

I went forward to assist The Nuke in dealing with 
Asshole and give the young lady a wad of Dunkin' Donuts napkins (clean ones mind you) so that she could apply pressure to her bleeding lip.

My arrival in close proximity to The Nuke
Asshole, the bleeding lady and van guy was just in time to hear The Nuke :
  1. tell van guy (again) to go wait by his vehicle,
  2. tell Asshole to shut up and wait for the police to arrive and "why don't you help your girlfriend?" and
  3. let the lady know that the police and medical assistance were on the way.
Now apparently Asshole's Dad was in the vicinity and Asshole was yelling at Dad to "call a lawyer, people are going to pay!" (At this point I wondered, did Asshole's entire family live in this vicinity? Was there a herd of assholes grazing nearby? Where are all these assholes coming from?)

First non-involved party on the scene was the Fire Chief, he proclaimed himself to be said lofty personage when he asked The WSO and I to go stand on the curb, rather than on the curb side of our stopped vehicle (where we were safer I might add). The WSO and I of course ignored his instructions and I suggested somewhat sardonically that perhaps he could make himself useful directing traffic until the police arrived.

"After all Chief, though I'm no expert, I see nothing on fire or otherwise requiring the intervention of the Fire Chief. But I can see that traffic is backing up and people are slowing down to gawk."

Chiefy promptly stepped into the roadway and began directing traffic. Sometimes it's good to be authoritative in one's dealings with the local minions of town government. FWIW, the Fire Chief is a nice guy. But give a guy a badge...

The constabulary arrived on scene, they were briefed by The Nuke and they had The WSO fill out a written report (in my day the cops did that, they were good at asking all the right questions and such, now-a-days, I guess not - another sign of the Apocalypse).

The police did give Asshole a rather stern warning and suggested that if he didn't calm down they would be more than willing to put him up for the night. If you catch my drift. He did manage to shut up and control himself. Van guy fessed up to his lack of paying attention, bleeding lady received proper medical attention (the damage was mostly due to the multiple piercings she had in the lip/nose region according to The Nuke. Another good reason to avoid piercings around the mouth. Though some peoples' mileage might vary.)

Excitement over, we piled back into our vehicle and departed the scene. Eventually we did get to Mystic. Where we had a great time.

The Vicinity of the Aquarium
From Google Maps
Went to the Aquarium (on the right above), ate at the restaurant labelled "Go Fish" (near the lower middle) where my meal was absolutely superb. The WSO was heard to ask:

"How do you mess up lobster ravioli?"

Someone found a way. After the weekend that was, I doubt she'll ever order lobster again!

Behind the restaurant you can see there's an area with the label "Olde Mistick Village" (quaint, neh?) Interesting shopping and things to see. Little Bit was fascinated by the duck pond. As was I.

'Twas an interesting day.

Would have been more interesting had we driven all the way to Maine only to discover that the reason for the trip was no longer in business.

But I'm betting they would not have screwed up any lobster dishes.

It being Maine and all.

Ya never know.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcome, Bienvenue, Willkomen, Come on In

Not too long ago I re-arranged the sidebar (over there to your right) to align with Juvat's suggestion that he likes using it to jump to other blogs for his reading pleasure and that I had (perhaps) too much non-functional stuff at the top.

"Slide that other stuff down," he said, "keep the links to other blogs at the top."

His suggestion having much merit, I instituted that change. However, I have not been keeping any eye on that "other stuff" which is there, after all, for a reason.

What "other stuff" you may be asking yourself by now. Well this thing for one...

I happened to be down there last night (checking what I do not remember) and noticed that the number of members had gone to "44". Wonder of wonders, a brand new FNG!

Aaron has been reading my scribbling for a while and I've been reading his, he's the main man and sole proprietor over at The Shekel, a wondrous place of commentary, snark and (be still my beating heart...) AIRPLANES!

Aaron's photo, which I borrowed.

That particular photo was taken at Thunder Over Michigan, which I had hoped to attend this year. There to see thrilling aerial displays, wondrous aircraft on static display and perhaps have the chance to share a brew (or two) with Aaron and Murphy.

Alas, it was not to be. A couple of bouts with diverticulitis earlier in the year had made a large dent in my vacation time, that which remained having to be saved for family gatherings and such. Perhaps next year. (Aaron lives fairly close to where Big Time hails from. So I know at some point we'll have a face-to-face meeting.)

So, welcome aboard Aaron. Here's your FNG patch and yeah, you're buying.

And Chris Johnson, you're not the FNG anymore. I know you'll appreciate that.

For those of you wondering where the rant went, I just didn't have it in me last night.

Believe me, I tried to get all outraged and cynical but it just didn't work. I am far too ebullient a guy to stay worked up for long.

Yes, there are things which piss me off. But I'm not going to go off on that particular tangent right now.

Perhaps later I'll tell you of the fender-bender we all got to witness on the way to Mystic last week. An exciting event, much ass-hattery was involved, parts flew off cars, people with bloodied visages were seen and the police and fire departments responded. (No armored vehicles though, which I was much disappointed about.) Traffic was snarled, tempers were lost. I so need to write all that down.

Later then.