Tuesday, December 17, 2013

No Fun Rooting For A Losing Sports Team

I love the Washington Redskins, my last link with the state of Virginia where I lived for 7 years a long time ago. But it has been really hard on me and other 'Skins fans for many years now. The last time we won the Superbowl was 1991!! We have a good quarterback in RGIII but I think the Snyder-Shanahan combination is toxic. Shanahan has to go, no question about it. But Snyder is part of the problem. He butts in too much. What I wouldn't give for a reincarnation of Jack Kent Cooke. But 3-11? C'mon the team is more talented than that.

I'm not giving up on them for sure. My only salvation is that living in New York, I talk to a lot of suffering Giant's fans as well. my old friend Jorge from my old job is beside himself as a loyal Giants fan. The NFC East as a whole is pretty bad this year.

Well there is always next year!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Volunteering at Rockland County Historical Society

Now that I'm officially retired and not looking for a job (government should be happy), I've decided to get back to my first love occupation-wise. I have an appointment on Wednesday to talk to the Historical Society of Rockland County to see if any of my history related skills can be used as a volunteer. I really love to do historical research combing through old documents, letters, diaries, etc. I've had two volunteer stints with them in the past when my work schedule was light, so now I should be able to give them one day a week.

I'm really looking forward to it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a nice Thanksgiving Dinner at the 76 House last night. Our small extended family was there, my wife, youngest son, cousin and sister. Food and service was excellent.

The 76 House for those who may be curious is the house where Major Andre was held prisoner during the Revolution prior to his hanging for being a British spy.

The only thing that I didn't care for was the loud contemporary music. I would have preferred unamplified  period music, but never-the-less it was a pleasant experience.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Day of Reflection!! 11/11/13

Yesterday was Veterans Day. Our family has represented the Armed forces through several generations. I'm proud of them all. My Grandfather Erbe was in the West Virginia National Guard, my Father and my Uncle both served in the Navy in World War Two, I served in the Coast Guard during the Cold War Era and my older son served in the Navy and is still in the reserves. 

Funny thing is that it would have been an unbroken Navy line, except for the fact that when I enlisted, the Navy recruiter said his allotment  had been filled. So I enlisted in the Coast Guard, which to this day I don't regret. My sea time was spent on the Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa. An ex Navy salvage tug that rode like a cork in the Atlantic.

This was the Christmas Card photo of her in 1967, when I was aboard.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Constitutional Right to Vote for Losers Performed Yesterday!!

I performed my Constitutional right to vote yesterday November 5th and they all lost, which was expected. After all this is ultra liberal me-me-me entitlement New York State. I voted across the board for every Conservative candidate and will continue to do so until the day I die. I never used to be like that. I would actually vote for the person/issues.

However, with the horrible direction our country is going and the complete and utter disrespect of the Constitution, I have no choice but to try and put people in who respect our founding fathers and the principles upon which this nation was formed. Initially, I voted only in Presidential elections. Then about 20 years ago, I started voting in the midterm elections. Now I vote annually. All politics is local is a phrase I have heard often but can't remember where it came from.  So I'll do what I can at my level. Hopefully others will see we are headed down the wrong road as well.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Home Again!

Well the economy has claimed another victim!! My youngest son needs to come home and take a rent breather to catch up on his bills. I told him that I would require him to pay utilities and that is it. Since we are a row house with homes on both sides, our  energy bill is quite manageable. That should give him a break. Quite frankly, it will be nice to have him around the house for some discussion, my wife is a liberal and I am conservative, we don't talk much about politics as it usually escalates into arguments. My son is willing to listen and I listen to him. Though lately, I believe my arch conservatism is beginning to erode a bit in my old age.

The other good reason for him being around is that it has given me a good reason to attack our front rooms with an almost violent capacity. I have thrown out stuff, I thought I never would and have been shredding an unbelievable amount of paper to help make way for him in one of the storerooms which used to be his bedroom.

After all this work, I hope he hangs out for a while :-)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Getting old is a Pain in the.....................!!

I never thought getting old would be so complicated. I thought I could work til I wanted to stop then get a paycheck from social security once a month. Here is a rough chronology of the last year or so!
November 15, 2012  called into a conference room, informed I was to be part of a reduction in force. Laid off THAT day and sent home.
Medical benefits were to stop November 30th. I enrolled in Cobra for one month because my wife's plan started in January.  That was successful
Applied for unemployment insurance. Successful but I have to keep going to seminars and keep proof I'm looking for jobs.
Went to Social Security Administration office and asked several questions about  Social Security and Medicare. They said as long as I was a dependent on my wife's plan, I didn't need to enroll in medicare, ok, score 1.

January and February Fought Blue Cross Blue Shield/Cobra because they continued to bill me even though I wanted only one month. Finally my Ex-employer stepped in and straightened out the mess.
June rolls around and stuff starts to happen. I'm told I have to enroll in medicare by my 65th birthday. I call the SSA. They confirmed that I don't need to enroll yet as long as I'm a dependent on another plan.
July starting to think about putting in for my Union  Local 94 pension. Checking into it and its a pain. They want me to send them my original birth certificate. Yeah, like that's going to happen. I asked what If I gets lost. Well you can always apply for another one they say. I'm looking at alternate means of proof now.
Another seminar with unemployment. Training on what to do with social media. I join LinkedIn.
August rolls around and I go to Social Security again. It turns out that it would not be that advantageous to wait another year for my benefits. I apply for them.
The advent of Obamacare now has my stomach turning. What will it do to us. I start looking at alternate insurance. I get a letter from the VA stating that I am enrolled in the VA healthcare system and that it conforms to the Affordable Health Care Act. My wife's insurance company is being cute, they won't tell us if I'm covered as a dependent until their enrollment period begins next month.
I call the VA and ask a few questions. I need to take a means (financial) test to see what priority I'm in now. I made a lot of money my last year on the job, but on unemployment for almost ten months now. The results will determine my copays for clinic visits and prescriptions.
More questions about my Union pension. I can take it in one large monthly payment but it ends when I expire, or I can take half of it and assign the benefits to Regina so she will have a little something afterwords.
When I applied for my SS benefits I said I didn't want Medicare because I was on Regina's plan. Yesterday I got a Medicare card in the mail!!!! What the Heck!!! So I call Social Security this morning and they tell me, no worries, it is for part A only.Its free.
I emailed the Rockland County Office of the Aging. They are supposed to have a rating of all the medicare supplement plans so I can pick when its time to do so. My current doctor has given me some hope. He likes the VA clinic in the county and works well with them. I have a feeling they will fit somewhere in my plans. But a lot is still up in the air until Regina gets her 2014 enrollment plan.
Sometimes, I wish this was the 19th century where I could father 10 kids they could all take turns caring for their old folks.

Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Official!!! I'm Related to a Union Civil War Veteran!!!

Actually two of them. My Great grandmothers brothers on my father's side enlisted in the Union army. One is Timothy Kiley and the other is Jeremiah Kiley. I've done some preliminary research and Timothy was in the 11th New York Infantry, while Jeremiah was in the 11th New York and later on in the 102nd New York Infantry.

I've sent away for their records and will know more when I get them. In fact when I do get them, I can apply for membership in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War since I am related by blood to a Civil war soldier. I would have preferred a bona fide Rebel, but I'll take what I can get. Can't wait to read their records.

Thanks to Cousin Irene for putting me on their scent. Now I will have a nice project to do in my retirement.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blogging About A Blog...

I am putting together another blog for the Rockland Civil War Round Table. So far the format I believe is pretty decent, color scheme is ok. I need more articles and photos from the members though. it is at Rockland Civil War Round Table I like the tools to use setting up the blog. But in this one case, I'm a little annoyed. One has the ability to format the blogs individually to a certain extent. However, they do not offer what I think is a suitable background for a Civil War oriented  blog, so I went with something that made more sense color wise then anything else.

Hope the folks like it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862 Can be Consuming!!

151 years ago today, the Battle of Sharpsburg was fought in Maryland. It is also known as the Battle of Antietam if you are a Northerner. It was a very bloody battle in our bloody Civil War with about 23,000 casualties on both sides. That is more Americans killed and wounded in one day then any other day in U.S. History.

If you are like me, you are a True Civil War Nut and think about it daily. Well September 17th, 19 years ago today proved to be an occasion that demonstrated to my then bosses how all consuming that hobby was to me. I wrote an owner's approval letter to get permission to spend money on a project. So I typed it on my computer, printed it on company letterhead, signed it and walked it down to the owner's rep. A few minutes later, he called me up on the phone and said "where is your head, today?" Confused, I said "What do you mean?" Gerry then said the OA I submitted was dated September 17, 1862. "Your kidding" I replied, then explained to him the significance of the day.

The battle while Tactically a draw, at least stalled Lee and allowed Lincoln to claim a moral victory after which he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. It also revealed to my bosses, how deep i was into the subject  :-)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rockland Civil War Round Table kicks off another Season

This Wednesday, the Rockland County Civil War Round Table started its meetings again after Summer Recess. Our guest lecturer, Jay Jorgensen, discussed the role of the 5th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry at the Battle of Shiloh. It was interesting; but, what made it doubly so, was that I visited the battlefield about 15 years ago. Most of it is preserved and in pristine condition, so it was easy to identify with the presenter's commentary.

On a related note, I was presented with a plaque from the Round Table for my efforts within the Civil War community in 1998. It had hung on the wall by my desk. However, I lost track of it when I was RIFFED. Just recently, I tore through the boxes that had been mailed to me and found it wrapped up in the third box I opened, whew! I would have been annoyed if it had disappeared because it was a nice gesture on the part of my fellow Civil War peers.

I'm glad the Round Table season has started up again, it is nice to be amongst those who "still hear the guns". If anyone is local to Rockland County New York, our meetings are at the American Legion Hall in Pearl River on the first Wednesday of each month. The meeting starts at 7:30 PM and is ably hosted by our President Paul R. Martin.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I can't take it anymore!!! I'm sick of the current idiotic controversy that people who have nothing better to do then stir up a hornet's nest over nothing!!! I have been a fan of the Washington Redskins since 1968. I love the team win, lose or draw. There is nothing wrong with the team's name, not a darn thing. But then again I'm a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Male so in this politically correct world, my opinion means nothing.  I'm going to voice it anyway.

I am a large person, I wear 5XL shirts.I am big, therefore the name NY Giant's offends me, change it! I like animals, the name Miami Dolphins offends me, change it! As a history majory, I've studied enough U.S. History to understand our motives for separating from England were not as virtuous as we were taught as kids. Therefore the Name New England Patriots offends me, change it. I admired Benedict Arnold but I don't shove it down anyone's throat unless I am asked about it in a discussion. Also if I was an  American Indian, excuse me, I mean a North American Indigenous Person of the Red Race prior to 1607, I really should be upset at the San Francisco 49's. after all  they are named after a group of people that savaged the landscape and pushed everyone out of the way to satisfy their greed and avarice.

I am sure the name San Diego Padres offends someone out there so change it. How about the Cleveland Indians or Atlanta Braves. Change it, Change it, Change it. In fact why don't we go really stupid and change ALL the sports teams names to numbers, City names are not allowed. How would you like the 2's to play the 13's on Monday night Football.??????  What kind of rivalry will that inspire? Knock off all this garbage and play the game!!! Maybe someone will get assigned 666 then what!!!

Why isn't anyone complaining about the Dallas Cowboys??? Cowboys and Indians, remember when we were kids we played the game with cap guns. What was the object, get the bad guys, right? Well who are the bad guy? If the Cowboys were the bad guys how can you name a team after a group of people that assisted in stealing land from the Indians. If the Indians are the Bad guys, well now what, can you do...............??

And last but not least, the Saint John's University in NYC fell victim to Political Correctness some years ago. They changed their name from the Red Men to  The Red Storm. Red Storm are you kidding me, it sounds like they are worshiping communism now, right? So change it again. I say they should be the first in the new numbering system and they should change their name to Saint John's 01. But wait, someone will look at that and say that's a series of zeros and ones, oh no, we can't have that, that would offend people who don't like the binary  system and on and on and on..............

But my final note on this subject is simple. It is that most of the complainers are one note people. They have no concept of the world around them. Want an example. 1868 Washita Creek, Oklahoma, Custer's troops formed up to attack a largely defensive Indian village. What song did they use as a signal for attack? Gary Owen! In the 70's Gary Owen was adopted by today's 7th Cavalry as their song.   Now if I was an Indian, that would really be offensive; but who takes the time to learn these things.


My 9/11 Memories

Smoke plume from the Twin Towers courtesy of NASA, International Space Station.

 The figures quoted herein are inaccurate, these memories are taken from a site now defunct, I posted on each night during that fateful week primarily to let my friends know that I was OK and what was going on. All numbers outside my own personal experience were taken from local radio broadcasts.

Day 1, Seven weeks ago, I worked on Liberty street, just a couple of blocks from the Twin Towers. I was transferred uptown to 299 Park avenue. Worried about my former colleagues I called them for a status. My old building was evacuated since they could not run any syustems due to the dust and debris. Visibility was about three feet and several bodies were lying in the plaza. Uptown we went into our highest alert and pretty much shut the building down only allowing those essential to run the building to stay

The entire episode is surreal. In the morning, crossing the Hudson on a ferry, the twin towers were in full view. On the way home 14 hours later, there were no twin towers & a huge plume of black smoke. I walked all the way across Manhattan to the 54rd street piers stopping at Madison Avenue where I looked south and got a good view of the huge smoke plume. I turned and plodded on. We got to the ferry terminal and I hopped on board a Circle Line boat headed to Weehawken where I had parked my car. On the way home, I experienced something that seemed like it came straight out of a horror movie. There was a huge illuminated sign on the Turnpike that said.”All bridges and tunnels into Manhattan closed until further notice due to terrorist activity.” This morning on the way in smoke was still billowing from the site. Last night a third building 7 World Trade collapsed. Bottom line casualties are 200 fire fighters, 35 cops, about 8 to 10,000 people in the trade center. Population was estimated to be 20,000 at the time of the attack.

We should strike quick & hard, teach those b@stard$ that they can't take us down. Yesterday I had to rally the troops & keep them going. They wanted to go home. Kept them working, & show those terrorists that your routine will go on inspite of their attacks.

Coast Guard did a great job. They commandeered all boats, tugs, barges & fireboats. Turned them into ferries to get people out of Manhattan. It was literally a second Dunkirk, except for the Outbound upper level of the GW bridge, all other bridges & tunnels were closed.

Day 2 has come & gone. The last piece of the twin towers collapsed about 5:30 today. Earlier in the day, about 1 O'clock the wind shifted. It had been blowing out to sea. Smoke is now coming out of the south covering Manhattan with a brownish haze & awful stench. We had to close our outside air dampers the smell was so bad.The city is  quiet, some bridges & tunnels will reopen tomorrow. Last night it was so quiet we heard a cricket on Park Avenue. I am in because I am considered essential to run the business. If you are not essential they don't want you here. Parked the car in Weehawken & took the ferry across. The city is like a ghost town; a lot of people are traumatized by what happened. I continue to push the staff. I don't want them to think about it. Cut back on the  radios or TV. Dwelling on the matter won't help them.

The city is closed down on the East side from 34th street to the battery & on the west side from 42nd Street to the battery. 7th avenue is reserved for ambulances. I see NYC police cars, State Troopers, the Army National Guard & even Coasties all around me. We have left over free food & juice from lunch. The cafeteria gave meals to those of us who are staying in the city, seeing it through these terrible hours. We called the police & asked them if they wanted the food. They came with a van bringing the food downtown for the rescuers/searchers.

  Day 3 As I crossed the Hudson this morning, I looked at where the twin towers once were, smoke still billowing upwards from fires still burning. It was an odd feeling but as the smoke rose & was penetrated by the sunlight, it turned into a beautiful rose-colored layer underneath a sky blue as can be with no clouds.

The GW Bridge & the Lincoln tunnel are now open. The NY Waterway Ferries are running, but the Staten Island Ferry is still being used to carry supplies & rescuers to the site. People are coming back into the city in an attempt to show the terrorists that life will go on. Walking down the street toward my building I was struck by the silence & watched people for a moment. Everyone had a grim look on their face, no smiles, & no chatter, just set jaws. 

I queued up at the steps to get in the building showing my ID card & presenting my brief case for a search. After that the day went all to hell. A friend told me that a mutual friend of ours was missing. He had just been promoted to Chief Engineer in the Twin towers. His office was on the 86th floor. Nothing was heard of him. 

I went to my office dumbstruck. Shortly thereafter  the 29th floor was evacuating! A strobe light from the Class E (Fire Alarm) had turned on. They all panicked & self evacuated. We got them back in the building. Later, I received another call that the entire building was evacuating. No announcements had been made, we received no bomb threats. Everyone was so on edge. A rumor was started  that in a building south of us there was  a bomb. Before you knew it there were thousands of people in the streets from 4 buildings all evacuated by rumor & fear.We called up corp. hdqrtrs & asked for direction. The reply was let everybody go home. Then we found out that we have to have a vacant floor ready by Monday for a firm that lost all of its office space in the Trade Center. 

The people in this country are really generous. There were fire engines here from Chicago & Flint Michigan; these guys were here on their own time to help with the rescue efforts. There are over 300 police, firemen & EMS techs missing. People are already donating to widows & orphan's funds for each group. So many people are donating blood that they are being turned away. They have enough for now. It is going to be this kind of spirit & teamwork that will eventually bring those murdering cowards down on their knees. All day I was too busy to think about my dead friend. I went home and spent a sleepless night thinking about Charlie.

Day 4 Once more I cross the Hudson River. Today is different, It is raining hard, the sky line has been erased by low lying fog, but you can still see that unmistakable plume of white smoke rising from the ashes of the World Trade Center. The sky is gray the river choppy. Somehow I feel like I'm crossing the River Styx into a land of death & destruction, not knowing what will happen today.

We will be working all weekend to have a space ready for folks who were in the WTC. Havoc reigns, we don't let any vendor in the building unless previously approved by the tenant. We canceled some preventive maintenance on electrical switches over the weekend, again because all resources are directed toward providing a new home for these homeless firms.

As of today, the official count of missing is 4,717. The city has ordered 30,000 body bags for anticipated 10,000 deaths, the remaining bags being for body parts. The search is hampered by the wet weather. Incredibly two of the searchers are building engineers that survived the collapse & have now gone back to search for their colleagues. People in this city just will not give up. New Yorkers are an incredibly resilient group of people as are the hundreds of rescuers that have come from out of state. We will not surrender to terrorist activity, that much is certain.

As I waited for the Ferry, I noted three Coast Guard Cutters in the river. The river is closed because the President was at Jacob Javits Center. The dispatcher finally made an announcement “There will be no ferries, buses or traffic until further notice, what else can I say.” As aggravated as everyone was, we all had a good laugh. Then everyone sobered up because the biggest hospital ship I ever saw slowly guided by, the Comfort was a majestic sight, pure white with three red crosses painted on her immense hull. Of course everyone knew what she was here for & we all fell silent watching her glide past us to her berth further up river.  Every so often a group of rescue workers would show up to take the Ferry home. As we were stuck there so were they. It gave us a chance to show our appreciation & whenever a group of them passed through, we stood up & just clapped. What else could you do? Then finally the President left & we caught the ferry to Lincoln Harbor to be on our way home.

Day 5  We are all set to move in one of the survivor companies tomorrow & the other two on Tuesday. We have to keep pushing on but it’s hard. The Fire Department gave battlefield promotions to 168 men to insure that things keep going. Con Edison has had 1900 men going around the clock to make sure everyone's work place is habitable tomorrow. They tested the stock market systems & they all worked.

Right now the missing total keeps rising. At last count it was 5,097. No one has been found alive since Wednesday. I had to turn off the radio after awhile. How many memorial services, funerals & updates do you have to absorb before you go nuts.

It’s been a couple of days since I had a chance to jot down anything. We have been very busy setting up a couple of floors for former tenants of the trade center. I have made frequent trips to the floors handing out my business cards telling them to call facilities if they need the slightest thing etc. They are supposed to finish moving in next week after which we will conduct fire safety drills, bomb scare lectures, evacuation drills, etc.
The mood of the city is somber but determined. People are  subdued. Not much honking of horns or cursing at wayward cabdrivers is happening. People seem to be extraordinarily polite to one another. I went to my refrigerant reclamation class last Tuesday at the Union hall. The week prior to the tragedy, jocularity abounded. Everyone came in this past Tuesday, not a word was spoken. Local 94 set up a widows & orphans fund for the 4 engineers killed; one was my friend that I told you about earlier. Our instructor had to go to a memorial service for his brother in law killed on the 104th floor. 

As of now 6,333 are missing, the total is still climbing. The other day, rescuers opened up a void & found several people arms linked in a circle, all dead. They say they are removing 4,000 body parts daily. They have two refrigerated tractor-trailers hauling them from the sites to morgues for ID purposes. 
A smoky haze hanging over lower Manhattan has replaced the billowing smoke plume. Every day, we manage to trudge back & forth to work. The stock exchange is up & running. Kudos to Con Edison for that. That in it was a victory, forget market performance. Heroics of all kinds happen daily here just to keep the city going. Those terrorists think they are tough? They have not felt the wrath of a pissed off New Yorker.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Facebook or Not!!, well maybe limited????

A few years ago while immersed in the effort to help save my old ship (USCGC TAMAROA) from the wreckers, I joined Facebook to help spread the word. It kind of backfired on me. Being an unsophisticated social media person, I wound up with hundreds of friends, most of whom I did not know and I got deluged with all kinds of requests to play games, give gifts, etc. Long story short I gave up on it.

Then with the advent of my daughter heading out west to seek her fortunes on the left coast, I decided to get back on. Facebook, It would be an easy way for her and me to communicate. Its working out much better this time because not only do I have access to her but also Cousin's Sara and Wallie as well. I have pretty much privatized the account and accept no friends unless I personally know them. I blocked all games and apps, etc. Right now I only have 13 friends and that's fine by me. It will increase overtime as people I know accept invitations. But it appears to be a much more useful tool now than what it was in the past.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Strange Dream Last Night

 Normally, I do not dream or if I do, I do not remember them. But, I had a weird dream last night. I dreamed that the creek behind the house overflowed and flooded the area and while the house didn't go under, hordes of mice ran for the house. Regina and I are home as is Scooter our  Schnauzer. Must have been a time warp because he had passed about 12 years ago. At any rate, in the dream, Scooter was running all over the first floor grabbing the mice and flinging them out into the back yard. with me watching from the stairs. There was no resolution Since Regina woke me up from the dream :-)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mystery Tree Limb!

I spent a good deal of yesterday cleaning up the back yard. I don't know where it came from but a huge tree limb wound up in my back yard a few days ago.  Must have been ripped off a tree when one of those micro-storms came through here. We are lucky it didn't hit the side of the house. We heard no noise or crack. Just woke up in the morning and there it was! I'm letting it dry out a bit before I cut it up with my hand saw. Swept up a bunch of debris and started nipping the branches off with shears.

Oh, the joys of homeownership!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tam's Fate Decided, She will be a Reef!

After 16 years of blood, sweat and tears, we finally threw in the towel. The former USCGC Tamaroa / USS ZUNI is being prepared to be sunk as a reef off the east coast near Delaware/New Jersey. We gave it our best shot but in this economy could not convince people she was worth saving. This old salvage tug fought in the Pacific in World War Two (She is the last vessel currently afloat that fought at Iwo Jima, and participated in countless Search and Rescue missions including the famed Perfect Storm  mission where she saved the lives of four Air National Guardsmen. Hundreds of boys turned into men on her slippery rolling decks, this post is for them.

I found the below poem on the internet which sums up her end:

Author Unknown...........

' My end is nigh. Do not morn me. I served a noble service well and am proud for all who were with me through the years. It is now time to let go. I look forward to my rest. I have been loved and at times pampered in a way that will not be diminished by time or my passing. I remember you as though it were just yesterday. With memories of times we shared you do not need my carcass, my ribs, my hull. All things come and all things go. Know this and just remember the good and the bad as we take our place in time and fade into the past'

Here are some photos of her 5 decades of  yeoman service to this great nation:

1940's  USS ZUNI






1990's Decommissioned and neglected


Bringing her Back

1967 Walter Jones and me on the fantail with Long Island behind us

Waxing Philosophic!

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, is a phrase I've often heard. Having been laid off for nigh on nine months now, I've had some time to reflect between my periodic search for a job. Looking back on my 65 years, I've had a pretty good run. I know that in many cases, my work ethic impressed people. Personally, I think it's just a stubborn streak, but I'll take any compliment that comes my way :-)

It of course started at home being well raised by my parents; but, I need to credit Admiral Farragut Academy with a lot of how I approached life down the road. I went there as a youngster in 9th grade. Totally unprepared for the shock that was to come. My first year was absolutely horrible. My mother begged me to drop out and come home. But I refused.  I felt that I started the journey, I needed to finish it and I did 4 years later and with a  class that originally started out with 75 cadets, only 16 of us made through to graduation.

In fact my first real "life test" happened at Farragut. I was a squad leader my junior year and we were in June Week Competition with the other companies performing close order drill. We were being judged by a Marine General if memory serves. We had to go from 2 platoons of 3 squads each to one single file with no breaks. I knew what I was supposed to do, but at the last minute the 1st Class Petty Officer was absent and the company commander told me to take his place. Immediately, I became terrified not having practiced the other guy's steps. I had seen him do it  out of the corner of my eye, so I resigned myself to an attempt. Well, it worked out and I was the link between the two platoons, the line was perfectly straight and we won the drill competition.

Ever since then, after I was graduated, when things got tough, I'd look at my AFA Class ring and would muse, "I survived AFA, I can do anything". The ring is in my jewelry box sitting old and mangled and no longer fits, but the sentiment is still the same.

Life has presented it share of challenges along the way, I overcame each one and went on to the next hurdle so to speak. Then after 30 years with my company, changes were announced and I was no longer in their plans. I called up my wife from work, told her I had just been let go and was quite angry.......for about an hour and a half. :-) I got in the car at the ferry terminal, drove to a McDonalds and ate a Big Mac, my version of comfort food.  Everything was now OK.

What I didn't realize was the fact that this was an opportunity to do things that I did not have the time for before. I started reading a lot more and I spent a bunch of time trying to find some family members I'd lost touch with. It's great, we are finding each other and reconnecting.......so once again, I hit a wall, jumped over it and made some lemonade. Besides I have a good family, a wife,three  kids and three grandchildren so as nice as those paychecks twice a week were, This is OK, too!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Misc. Musings

First of all, I'm too old for tumbling. Klutzy me opened the front door Tuesday and bent down to pick up a couple of packages. The screen door swung and caught on the back of my sandal pulling it off my foot and sending me tumbling down the steps. Fortunately, I barreled into a hurricane fence which broke my fall. so today, I'm very sore and have a scraped knee and elbow.  Yesterday I was really stiff, now I feel a little looser; but' can't bend my right knee enough to get into the car comfortably.

Also I received more emails from cousin Sara. This reconnection of family ties is encouraging. Regina has a million relatives on her side. All I have is a sister and two first cousins. Just reconnected with another one so I'm starting to feel like I have a family again since Mom and Dad have both passed on.  Sara told me that I have no Civil war ancestor on the Knott side which really annoys me because I'd like somehow to link to that period of American history which is my favorite........

Attached is a photo of my grandson Liam who is enjoying a Hogwart's Lego kit  that we sent him for his birthday

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More Family Connections!

Today, I linked up with my long lost cousin Sara whom I haven't seen in oh 40 or so years!  I gave her the email addresses of other cousins with which to communicate. Yesterday, Judi and I went to Fairmount Cemetery in Newark, NJ where we found our grandmother Sara's grave. It was nearly completely covered so we dug it out and placed flowers nearby.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Going on a Reading Frenzy!!

I don't know what possessed me, but right now I'm reading 3 books at once. One because I believe we have a civic duty to understand how our constitution is being effected so I'm readiing Mark Levin's "Liberty Amendments". I'm also reading James Pattersons "Zoo" and Nelson Demille's "Gold Coast". I switch back and forth between fiction and non fiction to keep the mind at rest I suppose. Levin's book is scary but very educational. The other two take my mind off of what we are becoming, a Nation of Entitlement.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Yardwork, etc. Yippee!!!

Spent a good deal of yesterday clearing the back yard of weeds, now we can see the gravel again :-)  Me and the wife woke up today sore as heck from yesterday's labors; and we tried to mitigate pain by resting our 60 year old plus bodies by resting every few minutes. Guess what, it didn't work!  Its been a busy week, also shredded another 5 bags worth of old outdated documents. I hate homes. If I'm ever reincarnated I'm going to be a renter again. Let someone else worry about  the grounds, the roof, plumbing, etc. Today I am going to saw up a tree limb that fell in our yard from one of those darn windstorms we've been experiencing lately.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Catskills - - Bavarian Manor Inn

Just came back from a few days in the Catskills breathing in that fresh mountain air; which of course is very exhausting when you are used to the thermal inversion problems in the Hudson Valley just above New York City. We went to the Bavarian Manor Inn -again- a neat little place recommended by a friend a few years back. Been there at least three or four times now. Reasonable prices and a great Bavarian Restaurant. They have the best porch in the world there. My wife does a lot of stitching on the porch and I get a lot of reading done.

We also visited an Irish Feche in East Durham and a Riverside fair in Coxackie. Did some antiquing- Regina found stuff she liked, me not so much. But; I bought a cap that had Roscommon embroidered on it along with the county shield where my Grandmother was born in Ireland. Weather was pretty good as well. Only

 a couple of passing showers as we were whiling away the hours on the porch. Looking forward to another visit in six months or so.

Below is a photo of our favorite funky restaurant in Tannersville, the Last Chance Cheese Antiques Cafe. They have a Spinach Quiche there that Regina loves and a Bison Burger that I like. There is also a great assortment of goodies and their iced tea is delicious.Here is their cap which I thought was quirky and deserving a place in my collection.

Friday, July 26, 2013


So far I've gotten rid of most of our older records meaning about seventeen 30 gallon trash bags of shredded material. I've also donated several wallets, etc. to my sister for her fundraising project regarding feral cats. Now we are in a challenging phase. It is a choice of need versus want. I have a few cartons of debris that I have collected from various jobs and personal items that I have either forgotten about or don't use anymore. I'm giving myself the weekend off; then on Monday will tackle the need vs. want phase.  For example, I have a filing cabinet full of Civil War soldier's personnel records. I wrote several papers a few years back and needed them for reference. I don't really need them anymore, but I want the space they take up. I am debating on whether or not I should donate them to the local historical society because they are all Rockland County men. I don't want to just shred them because the projects were near to my heart and they also cost quite a bit of money over the years. We are also giving a lot of our paper backs to the library as free loaners to make more room.

There are also a lot of trinkets from my offices where I've worked over the last 3 decades. Most involve nice memories, but again, they take up space and will not mean anything to anyone after I'm gone. I've already shredded a lot of my certificates for Safety Manager, Fire Safety Director, OSHA Seminars and the like. The only thing that I haven't destroyed is my NYFD Certificate for Refrigeration Machine Operator. I've had that since 1980. That piece of paper was a real stepping stone to my career in the Building Operations field. 

I'll be doing some pondering over this weekend on what to dump. I've already made the decision that I want no more presents for Christmas, birthdays, etc. That will just clutter the house. I think I'll just ask people to donate money to the Friends of the Hunley in my name for future gifts. At least it will do some good. www.hunley.org