Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan E. Gadsden
Age:  21
1st Combat Engineers Battalion
1st Marine Division
I Marine Expeditionary Force
Died 22 October, 2004
Tampa, FL from injuries sustained in Anbar Province, Iraq

Monday, October 20, 2014

So Close, Yet So Far

Yesterday we drove home after 4 days in Charleston, SC.  Under ideal conditions it is a 10 hour drive.  We had ideal conditions.  Sunny, cool day.  Traffic through SC was light, turning a little heavier for some reason in North Carolina, but still moving at a good clip.  We breezed through Tennessee and were making excellent time through Kentucky, even with stops for gas, lunch and to let Mrs. Grumpy pee.  You thought I was going to say "to let the dog pee."  No, the dog is happy to wait for hours; Mrs. Grumpy has never seen a Rest Stop she doesn't like.

Anyway, it looks like we're going to be home between 5:30-6:00.  Just after we pass the Dry Ridge, KY exit, about 32 miles from home, BOOM, nothing but a sea of brake lights.  As far as the eye can see.  In the next hour we moved exactly two tenths of a mile.  When we started moving again there was no sign of what the cause of the backup may have been.  No tow trucks, no cops, no mangled metal, no debris on the side of the road.  Nothing.  Plus, the glut of cars that had been backed up caused slow traffic all the way to the Ohio River.  For awhile we might be moving at 45 mph and then it would suddenly drop to 20.  It remained that way all the way home.

For some reason we were listening to the Sirrius radio Top 40 countdown from 1981.  They had just started as we approached Dry Ridge.  After we got stuck in the mess I jokingly said to Mrs. Grumpy that we'll hear the entire Top 40 before we get home.  I wasn't even close; we heard all of the Top 40 from '81 plus another half hour of the following show.  It took us 2 hours to travel the last 32 miles.

And that's why I like to stay home.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Welcome To South Carolina

Musings of the Season

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

Well, it’s a few days after Columbus Day (and just to dwell on Mr. Columbus a few seconds longer, do you know anyone who isn’t a mailman or the occasional teacher that has the day off?) and you know what that means: time to start listening to that very special song of the season. No, I do not mean “Monster Mash.” I mean, “It’s beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” of course.

The first announcement regarding the sport of Extreme Shopping came from our pals at Macy’s. Just a few days ago they let us know that they will be opening up their stores for your shopping pleasure on Thanksgiving evening at 6PM. Clearly, Black Friday falls on a Thursday this year and probably every year from here on. I am certain that announcements from Kohl’s, Walmart, Target and all the others will be out soon. The only way they could open up earlier would be to encourage shoppers to show up at their stores with a drumstick in one hand and the mashed potatoes and gravy in their pocket or purse. Someday we’ll regard the term Black Friday as something quaint.

I’m trying to back off the position I’ve held for so long, foolishly believing that Thanksgiving is a holiday for the family to celebrate together, whenever possible, with generations gathered together around the same table, to feel the warmth of being with those who love you. Apparently, as the last of the dessert dishes and the coffee cups are cleared, the opportunity arises for discussion of those items that, shall we say push the buttons of those closest to you, leading to the opportunity for mayhem. So perhaps having the chance to turn to everyone in the room and say, “I’d love to stay and chat all night but I’ve got to get to work behind the fragrance counter,” might be just the thing to avoid some bruised egos or worse. Maybe this is Macy’s way of saving the human race.

Actually, I think the myth of the Black Friday “Sale” has been explored a great deal in the last few years. It’s been pretty well proven that, while there are always those few incredibly cheap items of which each store has a limited number to sell, most things on sale over the Thanksgiving weekend are usually no greater bargain than they are when on sale during September or October. Most autumn and winter clothing hits the racks days after Independence Day (the new official end of summer) so there’s no reason you couldn’t get a great price on a pair of gloves or a scarf at the Labor Day Sale that you know is conducted at each and every store I’ve mentioned, as well as the online alternatives.

So go to Macy’s or anyone else who’s open Thanksgiving evening for some holiday shopping if that’s your idea of fun. I’d just suggest you put the mashed potatoes and gravy in a Baggie before you drop them into your pocket or purse.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Sgt. Michael G. Owen
Age:  31
9th Psychological Operations Battalion
4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)
Died 15 October, 2004
Karabilah, Iraq

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This Is Just Cool

This is just too cool.  Sneaky, but cool.  Seems like something G$ would do if he were the coach.





Monday, October 13, 2014

My Head Is Still Spinning

Last Wednesday afternoon I was just settling in to watch the Sons of Anarchy tape from the night before when Mrs. Grumpy appears in the doorway.  She says "You busy?".  That usually means that whatever I was about to do isn't going to happen because she has other plans for my time.  This time she had a whooper.

I should preface all of this by saying that Mrs. Grumpy's car is nearing 100,000 miles and for about 6 months has had nagging little repairs every month.  Rear brake job, leaking intake hose, pesky oil leak, not to mention new tires.  All a lot cheaper than a new car, but still it seems like we're shelling out $250-$400 every few weeks.  It's adding up and doesn't help the driver's peace of mind. 

Last Tuesday she came home from working reporting a "clicking" noise on acceleration.  She called our mechanic Wednesday morning and made an appointment for Thursday to have it checked.  That brings us to early Wednesday afternoon and the dreaded "You busy?".  When I paused SOA she suggested it would be a good day to go new car shopping.  She had already done some research and wanted to look first at an SUV at a nearby dealer.  We checked on the value of our trade-in and looked at the dealer's online inventory of her chosen model.  They had a couple that after discounts and rebates were listed at $23, 080.  I figured with a little haggling and our trade-in we could get a brand new SUV of her choice for well under $20K.  I'm down with that.

So we hit the dealer and as soon as the salesman takes us to the selected vehicle and opens the door I know I'm in trouble.  No leather, no sunroof, no heated seats, all creature comforts she has gotten used to over the last 9 years.  She test drove it and liked everything about it except what it didn't have.  So she asked to see a model with those features.  That moved us from the mid-priced model to the top of the line, cream of the crop model.  All of the above plus a panoramic moon roof, touch screen display that does everything but give you a blow job and little buttons on the steering wheel that control everything.  Did I mention that everything can be controlled with voice commands?  Change the temperature, change the radio, get directions, get sports scores, make a phone call, receive a phone call, send a text, answer a text and a million other things we'll never use.  The section in the owner's manual for the touch screen command center is longer than the info about the rest of the vehicle.  We were even able to upload a picture of our dog as wallpaper.

Before I knew it we were driving off in our new car, we had looked at nothing else and spent about $10K more than I had planned.  But this winter Mrs. Grumpy's butt will be warm and that's what really matters.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I Really Don't Need It

Yes, I have a smartphone.  Had it for 1 1/2 years now and like The Big Guy said, it's like having a miniature iPad.  But here's the thing.  I don't need it.  For starters, nobody calls me.  Well, Mrs. Grumpy once in a while.  If anybody in the family has anything to say to us they call her.  I make very few calls.  I hardly get any texts either.   Again, everybody texts Mrs. Grumpy.  Sometimes we can sit in the living room and her phone will whistle non-stop for a half hour; I might get a text every couple days.

I also have become one of those people I abhor.  Because my phone has email, sports scores, news and stock reports, I find myself looking at it every few minutes.  There is absolutely nothing I have to read right then, it just becomes habit, one that I find annoying in other people.  I especially hate those who have their phone right next to them at dinner and are constantly looking at it, even during conversation.

I would be ahead financially and emotionally if I just went to WalMart and bought a flip phone with pay-as-you go minutes.  Besides, it's more compact, which I also view as a plus because I know my next upgrade will be to a phone that no longer will fit in a shirt pocket.  What did we do when we weren't wired in 24 hours a day?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Waiting Rooms

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

These days the doctorin’ business has certainly changed. What with the swamp of paperwork they are required to complete, doctors are seldom in individual private practice. At the very least doctors are in a group with two or three or four doctors at a single location. Frequently doctors are part of a much larger practice at a clinic. One thing that never changes is the waiting room.

It seems that the larger the practice the more important the job of the waiting room. On the other side of that reception desk are a number of rooms where you will actually spend your time with the doctor. But before you get to the Promised Land you’re going to share your time and space with a whole bunch of strangers, mostly sick strangers, in the waiting room.

Who are those other people? Most of them are patients but many of them are spouses or other relatives, drivers or caretakers. The relatives are probably thinking why couldn’t they have been related to someone healthier. The drivers are just thinking about what’s for dinner and the caretakers are wondering if they’ve chosen the right profession.

Proper waiting room etiquette is that you really don’t want to be making eye contact with anyone else in the waiting room. The problem is that so few waiting rooms have windows where you could direct your gaze. The windows seem to be reserved for the examination rooms, which are really the last place you need a window. So most people spend their time looking at their cell phones (like every other place on the planet), or staring at the stupid pictures on the wall wondering who would actually paint a picture of a cobblestone street between two brick buildings, or performing the ever popular count of the ceiling tiles (no fair multiplying). By the way, tell me the last time you saw anyone reading a paperback book in a waiting room, something that was once number one on the “Popular Things To Do in a Waiting Room” list. Anyone reading a book is doing it on their phone, which has the added advantage of allowing guys to read romance novels without having to reveal a book cover containing a picture of a fellow with incredibly long hair on a horse.

There are a few other things I find interesting about waiting rooms. First is the little stand near the door usually containing a box of Kleenex, a dispenser of surgical masks and a pump bottle of Purell, the better to protect you and those around you. This is a relatively new addition to the waiting room because I guess up until now it was perfectly acceptable to infect your fellow patients with abandon. The other thing is the ubiquitous Wi-Fi provided as a convenience, probably because of the amount of time you’re going to be waiting to see a doctor. If there’s a guy in the room with a laptop I would strongly urge you not to use it, so whatever you’re texting about on your phone doesn’t get sucked out of the air and posted on someone else’s facebook page.

Come to think of it, it seems like the waiting has actually been moved out of the waiting room and into those examination rooms where you wait in private until the doctor deems to stop by, do his exam and leave you in a flourish with the assurance that in all likelihood you’re not going to die today. What a relief.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Staff Sgt. Michael S. Voss
Age:  35
1st Battalion
120th Infantry Regiment
North Carolina Army National Guard
Died 8 October, 2004
Tikrit, Iraq

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Worry About Something You Can Control

Despite Elizabeth Hasselbeck wanting to close the borders and the rest of the clowns at Fox News preaching certain doom, you are not going to die from Ebola.  Not a single person has contracted Ebola on American soil.  Anyone who does will be quickly isolated and their contacts monitored.

Have you been to West Africa?  Has anyone in your family been to West Africa?  Has anyone in your circle of friends been to West Africa?  Even if you answered yes to all of the above, it is still highly unlikely you are going to get Ebola.  You contract Ebola from coming in direct contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person.  Anything else the media tells you is a lie.

You want something to worry about?  Influenza.  That's right, the flu.  Over 53,000 people a year in the U.S. die from flu complications.  Why aren't we talking about that fact?  Where is the media hysteria about the flu?  Not sexy enough, I guess.  Well, it's here every year and it kills a lot of people, mostly the very young or the elderly.

Every day you drive by multiple pharmacies with big signs urging you to get a flu shot.  You're not going to get Ebola and neither is anyone you know.  People you know will get the flu; probably none of them will die.  Why take the chance?  Get a flu shot.

Monday, October 6, 2014

You Can't Be Too Aware

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It's hard to imagine that anybody could be unaware at this point.  Pink reminders are everywhere.  On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, cars, trucks, planes, trains, automobiles and every player in the NFL.  Pink t-shirts, necklaces, bracelets, scarves, hats, towels, almost anything that can be emblazoned with a pink ribbon or pink trim has been decorated.

Ok, so we're all aware.  Now what?  If you're a woman, get regular yearly mammograms.  If you have a grandmother, mother, wife, sister, sister-in-law, aunt or niece,  remind them to get a regular mammogram.  Tell your friends, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers.

Mammograms save lives.  Early detection saves lives.  Don't just be aware in October; be aware all year.  Lives depend on awareness and action.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Attention To Detail

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

Some suggestions to bring order to the chaos:

So you’ve decided to do what the networks begged you to do all through late August and most of September and try out some of those “great” new shows. Perhaps you’ve discovered that their definition of “great” is not the same as yours. So before you are stuck with a knock off of The Big Bang Theory or a knock off of Scandal or a knock off of The Good Wife, know that any new show needs a maximum of three episodes to evaluate. The first episode, which is the pilot that the network executives saw and decided to buy has to do a lot of work. It has to establish all the characters, explain how they will interact and give you an idea of what to expect in the future. There’s not a lot of time for an actual story line with plot development. Even if you’re disappointed, to be fair you should watch the second episode. This will give you your first true opportunity to see the type of story that will be told each week, whether the characters help move that story along and most importantly whether it’s worth your time to invest thirty or sixty minutes each week in exchange for what you hope will be entertainment. If after watching the second episode you still can’t decide what to do then you should watch episode three which will be similar in nature to the previous episode. By now you either have enough information to decide whether you want to hang around or you have no life and spend way too much time in front of the TV. By the way, those network executives do exactly the same thing. The first of the new show cancellations should be announced any day now.  

It’s election season. You should not be watching any television show as it is broadcast. You should DVR everything including the news — especially the news. This will allow you to skip all the commercials, most of which are political ads. None of them for either side is true and the percentage of commercials that are political ads will only increase between now and November 4. Remember that this gives you the added benefit of being able to watch Hawaii Five-O in just forty minutes, which is plenty.

It’s time to get rid of all that junk e-mail in your life and no I am not talking about the stuff from your former spouse or gal/guy pal. If you have to delete thirty junk e-mails each day that’s almost a thousand e-mails a month. Just because you ordered a couple pillows from Pier 1 Imports last Christmas doesn’t mean you have to endure an email from them every other day of the year. Believe me, when you want to buy something from them they’ll be there whether you’re on their e-mail list or not. Look for the “Unsubscribe” in the infinitesimally small type at the bottom of all those e-mails from the merchants at the mall and give ‘em a click. You’ll feel ten pounds lighter.

Do yourself a favor. Put your camera, real or phone, on a table by the front door and when you have a chance, get out and take some pictures of autumn. Nothing to it. With a camera almost anyone can be an artist. Try just standing in the middle of a thicket of trees on the edge of a nearby park and then point your camera right into the middle of them and push the button. You’ll be surprised at how frame worthy it will be.

Enjoy the season.