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Posted (crates) in Personal Stuff on May-4-2012

My 1975 Ford Van that I bought new so long ago.

Recently I said farewell to a dear old friend, my 1975 Ford Van that I bought new back in August, 1975.  I bought it in Eugene, Oregon after getting a teaching job in Baltimore, MD, because I needed something larger than my ’64 VW bug to carry my possessions in.  I drove it to Texas via the Grand Canyon and then to Maryland across the deep south and spent a while in the outskirts of Baltimore, before returning to Texas and then back to Oregon.  After a while in Oregon I drove it back to Texas where I spent a few years before driving it to the Puget Sound area where I drove it almost every day for the next 25 years.  I never spent a night in a hotel during all the traveling, but spent many nights in the bed that I had built in the back of the van.

Over the years I was amazed at the reliability of this old Ford truck despite my lack of upkeep.  If I remembered I would change the oil once a year, but otherwise did little maintenance.  Despite this abuse I drove it as my only source of transportation until 2004 and 350,000 miles later when I bought another car (a Ford Escape which drives like a dream).  I experienced very few problems with the truck and developed a warm affection for it over the years.

AAfter getting the new car I would alternate driving it with the van every few days. After almost a year of this, I found myself driving the new car more and more and the truck less and less.  I would makesure that I would go out and start the truck up occasionally just to keep the battery charged.  Finally I went too long once, and found that the old truck wouldn’t start.  This was back in 2005.  I then let the truck sit beside the house ever since.  Over the years, the old friend gradually began to return to the elements from which it came.  The driver’s side had rusted out, and a little Bewick’s Wren built a nest in the gaping hole.  Thick growths of moss covered the truck and a licorice fern germinated and began to grow from a crack.

The top vent leaked and over the years mold and spider webs covered the interior, although the metal along the inner walls still looked bright and new.  The bed collapsed and the interior paneling sagged and gave way.  The door locks would barely work and the ignition froze up.  It was a prime illustration of the old saying “Use it or Lose It.”

I knew that I would never drive it again, but I kept putting off the inevitable, hating the thought of having it hauled off and out of my life forever.  Finally, my son told me that he knew somebody who would haul it away and pay $280 f.or it.  Here are some of the last views that I had of my old buddy.  I am also enclosing below a photo of my new friend who I hope will be as faithful as the last.  No, it isn’t a Ford!  I am crossing my fingers.

Posted (crates) in Miscellaneous, People, Personal Stuff on May-31-2010

     I’ve written before about my father’s best friend when he was growing up.  They both lived in the little dusty west Texas town of Truscott, but since their school burned down, they were bused to the nearby town of Crowell.  It was there at the Crowell high school that my father met my mother.

     The options were limited in that small town if you wished to take your girl on a date. Fortunately,  C. J.’s  father had a car and let his son use it, and he would drive my father and mother all about.  I have seen photos of all of them on the bridge over the North Wichita River, laughing and having fun. My father with his football letter jacket and a white scarf about his neck, standing besides my smiling mother, my father and C.J. standing with their arms about each other’s shoulders. There also photos of my dad and C.J. in their football uniforms. Dad played quarterback his senior year and C.J. fulback.  My mother was a cheerleader.

      Both my father and C.J. graduated from High School on a Friday, and on Monday, both left for their military training, my father into the army and eventually the army/airforce, and C.J. into the marines. My father survived the war, whereas C.J. died a hero’s death on the black sands of Iwo Jima (Fifth Marine Division), winning the Navy Cross, and leaving a hole in both of my parent’s lives.  My father is 86 and has lived a long, loving life, whereas C.J. died  (KIA Kelton, C.J. Pfc 5th Tank 5th Feb 22, 1945, Iwo Jima) at the age of 20 and his bones have lain in those dark volcanic sands of Iwo Jima for 65 years.

     And why do I write about C.J. Kelton now?  It is Memorial Day, and when I thought of whom I should hold in my memory for this day, I thought of C.J.  Fortunately, I have had no recent member of my family who has died while serving their country.

      I remember hearing about C.J. when I was about four years old, about how my father’s best friend died in “the war.”  I never thought much about him again until a few years ago when putting together comments by my mother and father, I learned more about him and wanted to know more about this young man who was so well liked by both of my parents.  My mother always talked about how sweet and good he was.  Also I was struck by the contrast between him and my father.  Both were from similar backgrounds and had similar lives, but C.J.’s life and future were cut so cruelly short.  I often wondered what would have happened if he had lived and had come back from that cruel war and had a family.  I have wondered about his mother and father and siblings that he left behind.  What has become of them?  Perhaps I shall never know.  I have searched online for any mention of his death, and today I found this:

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to C.J. Kelton (870869), Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with the Fifth Tank Battalion, Division Service Troops, FIFTH Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 22 February 1945. With his platoon command tank struck and set afire by hostile shellfire during a perilous advance northward against a fanatic, determined enemy, Private First Class Kelton promptly dismounted from his own vehicle and braved the enemy’s shattering 47-mm. antitank, mortar and small-arms fire in a valiant attempt to rescue the entrapped crew. Boldly pressing forward under the withering barrage, he crossed the 25-yard open area and unhesitatingly entered the blazing tank and then, working tirelessly and with superb courage, personally extricated two of the three wounded men from the tank and carried them back to his own vehicle despite the incessant shellfire. By his daring initiative, outstanding fortitude and grave concern for the safety of others at great risk to his own life, Private First Class Kelton contributed to the saving of three fellow Marines who otherwise might have perished and his self-sacrificing efforts throughout upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Commander in Chief, Pacific Forces: Serial 32446 (July 12, 1945)
Born: at Kanima, Oklahoma
Home Town: Truscott, Texas http://www.homeofheroes.com/members/02_NX/citations/03_wwii-nc/nc_06wwii_usmcH.html

Posted (crates) in Personal Stuff on March-6-2010

     I’ve never been on a tour before.  I’ve always looked down on them for some reason.  However,  I’ll be leaving tomorrow night to meet my father in Houston where we will fly down and tour Costa Rica.  Not like the Panama trip a few years ago when we made up our own itinerary and travel plans, but a conducted tour which provides all the meals, lodging and travel arrangments.  It looks like it will be lots of fun and I am looking forward to it.  I have always had a hankering to go to Costa Rica ever since I turned down a chance to spend a year in that country studying lizards–and getting paid doing it.

    I hope to be reporting on the trip, if not as I go, at least when I get back.

Posted (crates) in nature, People, Personal Stuff on January-24-2010

     Last Thursday (Jan 21)  my father had some chest pain after returning from the store.  It wouldn’t go away,  and soon my father realized that this wasn’t the normal discomfort that he sometimes felt from the acid reflux which he sometimes has.  Then he did something out of character–he asked his next door neighbor to call an ambulance.

    I understand how out of character this was for him, because I am just like my father in many ways.  We both would tend to ignore pain until it became overwhelming, and for him to ask for an ambulance shows that it was something out of the ordinary.   I am still surprised that he did this and didn’t try to drive to the emergency room by himself.  It just goes to show that he was experiencing something out of the ordinary and that he is much smarter than I am.

     The next morning he had an angiogram and instead of a stent which they thought he might need, they found he had two coronary arteries which showed some blockage.  He would need double bypass surgery.  The interesting thing is that they found that his EKG was normal.  A slight elevation of heart enzymes showed that he had a mild heart attack also.

    My father will be 86 in March and has always been extremely healthy.  The doctor, one of the best in the Dallas area, said that he doesn’t consider the patient’s age in considerating this procedure, but their health, and that my father was otherwise in excellent health.

     The operation will take place at 7:15 am CST tomorrow.  I’d appreciate any kind thoughts or prayers sent my father’s way.

Posted (crates) in Miscellaneous, Personal Stuff on January-1-2010

     Recently I was going through my chest-of-drawers in a long-delayed effort to clean them out.   As I sorted through some of the clothes I realized that my entire way of thinking about clothes has changed over the years.  I have always kept any clothes that I had until they literally fell apart or were outgrown.  After I reached adulthood, I would go for years without a size change, so I ended up with some very old clothes.

   I found to my chagrin and horror that there were clothes here that I acquired back in another era of my life.   Here was a t-shirt that I bought for a dollar in a street fair on Massachusetts street in Lawrence, Kansas back in 1972!  And here was a t-shirt that I had bought at about the same time that had the “ecology flag” emblazoned on the front.  I remember wearing that shirt on a Mammalogy field trip to Dodge City, Kansas in ’71.  In the back of the drawer I pulled out more relics of bygone times.

        One was a white undershirt with a picture of a duck riding a football and with the inscription “The Ducks Take to the Air” printed on it.  I remember somebody I knew who was leaving the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon in the summer of 1977 and was about to throw the shirt away and offered it to me.  I took it of course.   Here was a peculiar fuzzy sweater that I had received as a gift for Christmas in 1972.  And there in the back corner of the drawer was a t-shirt, stained with the smoke from an apartment fire that I had in ’81 which I remember buying in the summer of 1965!

    I gathered all these past mementos up preparatory to throwing them away or giving them to Good Will.  I put them into a gym bag which my grandparents had given me in 1962.  To this I added an old pillow which I had never liked which I had acquired for green stamps in the fall of 1967.  I sat there looking at the pitiful pile of stuff that I would never use again.  I busied myself with newer clothes that I never wore.  Afterwards I came back to the pile of old stuff.

    I put these all away again, telling myself that perhaps I would throw them out during the next cleaning.  For some reason the longer I possess something, the harder it is to get rid of it.  My New Years resolution is to get rid of new clothes— less than fifteen years old or so.

Posted (crates) in People, Personal Stuff on September-6-2009

     It has been a dry summer here in the Pacific Northwest.  On my walks the voice of the small brook has gradually gotten quieter and quieter as the summer progressed.  I love to listen to it as I have written before, but it has recently become a dim ghost of itself.  First it became a trickle, then a whisper, and then I had to strain to hear anything at all.  Finally there came the day when it was silent.  For the first time in my memory the little stream became mute.  I was surprised at how much I missed its cheerful voice which has always lifted my spirits on my walks.

        Today there came a long soaking rain.  I watched the rain come down as I drank hot black coffee at my favorite coffee shop.   At times the rain came down very hard and I even saw a flash of lightning which is always a cause for comment in this weird part of the world.  The drops of rain made little bubbles in the puddles that swirled, and I watched as the bubbles floated along the pavement and down the drain.

   I was immediately transported back to a time when I was about four years old.  We were living in this house at 501 N. 10th St. in Waco, Texas, and I was on the back steps watching a heavy rain as it ran off the roof.  As the runoff hit the ground it made  large puddles with bubbles foating about.  The bubbles moved about in a mad sort of swirl which fascinated me.

     My young mother came out and watched the bubbles with me. “Men and women dancing!” she laughed.  For some reason this memory has stayed with me almost buried, but resurrected today after so many years, as I watched the first heavy rain of the Autumn here in the Northwest.

Posted (crates) in Miscellaneous, Personal Stuff on August-18-2009

       I had an unusually uplifting experience yesterday–I was able to repair a defective coffee maker!   I purchased the Mr. Coffee back in June, and it has proved to be an excellent coffee brewer.  I have always had a favorable impression with this brand.  We have used it where I work for many years and have never had a single malfunction despite heavy use.  I also knew one person who always bought a Mr. Coffee brewer at Sears and who purchased the service contract at the same time.  He was a heavy coffee drinker and had the pot on just about every day all day.   With this heavy usage the heating element usually gave out after about a year or two, but he was always able to get a new coffee brewer from Sears for free because of the agreement.  He did this for many years.

     I just recently returned from my Texas hadj and tried brewing coffee last Friday for the first time.  I left the room and came back later to find that none of the coffee had gone into the pot!  Fortunately the coffee maker was in a wide tray and all the coffee had run out and collected in the tray.  Since I didn’t want to waste the coffee, and since I knew that I would spill the coffee if I attempted to lift the flexible plastic tray and pour it into the carafe, I got a straw and sucked the coffee up one straw full at a time and transferred it to the coffee pot until the level in the tray had gone down far enough so I could safely lift it without spilling it.

     Upon examination I found that there was a lever which was pushed back when the coffee pot was put onto the hot plate.  When pushed back, the lever pressed up against this valve which opened and allowed the coffee in the basket which contained the grounds to flow through.  The coffee flowed straight down which unfortunately caused it to flow down on the outside of the coffee pot instead of into it.

     After much experimentation I found that there was no way that the coffee could flow down into the pot.  It invariably flowed on the outside of the pot and then onto the countertop.    I found that coffee leaking out onto the counter top  seemed to be a common complaint with coffee brewers.  It was very frustrating since the coffee brewer had worked like a charm until it suddenly began to malfunction.

     Then I found this little plastic dohickey in the dish washer.  I couldn’t figure out where it had come from, until I finally figured out that it snapped up under the basket and the release valve.  It was a little plastic “chute” that directed the coffee into the center of the coffee pot as it was released from the basket holding the coffee grounds.  This was the reason that the coffee was running straight down along the side of the coffee pot; there was no chute that directed the coffee to the proper position!

     I snapped the chute into position and the Mr. Coffee brewer worked perfectly!  For some reason I felt unusually elated at this little triumph.  I had gone online the night before searching for a solution to no avail.  I had even dreamed about it, and almost dreaded getting up yesterday morning because I knew that I had to work on the danged thing and didn’t have a clue where to begin.

    I began to think of how small this little victory was compared to more significant achievements that might have been performed by my ancestors in the past:  “Hey look I made fire with a stick!”  “I scared the saber tooth away from the campfire last night!”  “I finished plowing the back forty with the old mule!”  “I skinned 14 buffalo yesterday!”   All this compared to: “I found the plastic dohickey that fixed the coffee maker!” 

    I don’t care…I still feel good about it!

P.S.  If you don’t understand what I said above perhaps this excerpt from Mr. Coffee, Inc. will clarify things: (http://www.patents.com/Mr-Coffee-Inc/Bedford-Heights/OH/1307733/company/).

“An electric coffee maker comprised of a housing, having structure defining a carafe receiving position and support means disposed above the carafe receiving position. A filter/brew funnel dimensioned to be supported by the support means above the carafe receiving position is provided to receive brewing particulate and brewing water. The filter/brew funnel includes an outlet port and valve means operable to pen and close the outlet port. The valve means include a valve, a valve lever supporting the valve, which lever is movable between a first position wherein the valve closes the outlet port and a second position wherein the valve is disposed away from the outlet port, and biasing means for biasing the valve lever toward the first position. An elongated actuator is pivotally mounted about a generally horizontal axis to the housing. The actuator includes an upper arm dimensioned to engage the valve lever when the brew funnel is supported by the support means and a lower end dimensioned to engage the side of a carafe position within the carafe receiving position. The actuator is biased by the biasing means of the valve means toward a first position wherein the lower end of the actuator is disposed within the space normally occupied by a carafe in the carafe receiving position.”

Posted (crates) in Books, Personal Stuff on May-7-2009

I have a bad habit of buying books.  Really it is the only bad habit that of mine that I can think of –unless it is overweening modesty (cough).  The reason this is a problem is that I have no more room for books.  All my bookshelves are full, and I have boxes of books in the garage and under the bed.  My house in Texas has bookshelves full of books, rooms full of books.  Why have I kept them all these years?  I admit it…it is a vice.   I have never been able to rid myself of books…except once when I thought that I was going to move I gave away 19 boxes of books to Goodwill.  I have regretted this rash act ever since.

So I have tried to buy fewer books and check out more from the library.  This has worked somewhat.  Below is a list of books checked out from the library this year.  Looking at the list and how small it is reminds me that this is just a small number of the books that I am reading.  The rest I  have bought or reread from my personal library.  It is embarrassing to look at the list.  Obviously I am no highbrow.  I lean to science fiction and action books.  I have been reading more mysteries also.  The problem with the library is that sometimes I am forced to read a particular book.  They often don’t have the books that I am looking for, so out of a sense of desperation, I pick out something that normally I would never buy or read otherwise.  It’s hard, this habit of mine.  I know it is useless to complain though since I have always been this way, and I really don’t think that I can change.

Daemon a novel Suarez, Daniel, 1964- 4/27/2009
The blood of Caesar : a second case from the notebooks of Pliny the younger Bell, Albert A., 1945- 4/22/2009
On, off McCullough, Colleen, 1937- 4/22/2009
The Bellini card : a novel Goodwin, Jason, 1964- 4/22/2009
Starship– mercenary : book three Resnick, Michael D. 4/22/2009
Why we make mistakes Hallinan, Joseph T. 4/22/2009
Postsingular Rucker, Rudy v. B. (Rudy von Bitter), 1946- 4/9/2009
Transhuman 4/9/2009
The art of war the Denma translation Sunzi, 6th cent. B.C. 3/13/2009
God’s demon Barlowe, Wayne Douglas. 3/13/2009
Ender in exile Card, Orson Scott. 3/13/2009
The Meq Cash, Steve, 1946- 3/5/2009
Jesus a story of enlightenment Chopra, Deepak. 3/5/2009
A dark traveling Zelazny, Roger 3/2/2009
The godfather Puzo, Mario, 1920- 3/2/2009
The Father hunt Stout, Rex, 1886-1975. 2/25/2009
Jesus in the mist : stories Ruffin, Paul. 2/25/2009
The beekeeper’s apprentice King, Laurie R. 2/12/2009
Magician’s ward Wrede, Patricia C., 1953- 2/12/2009
Become a better you [7 keys to improving your life every day] Osteen, Joel. 2/4/2009
The sword-edged blonde Bledsoe, Alex. 2/4/2009
The janissary tree : a novel Goodwin, Jason, 1964- 1/23/2009

Posted (crates) in Miscellaneous, Personal Stuff on May-4-2009

      I just call it the City.  It is a place that I have dreamed about for many years.   Recently the dreams have increased in frequency.

     It is huge, and the central area is old and decaying with crumbling red brick buildings and dark alleys.  It is always night when I visit the decaying inner area, and the street lights, when present, are dim and yellow, except for some areas which have brilliant green halogen lamps.  I wander the dim streets and pass through the maze of hallways in the buildings, climbing down steep stairways with no rails, past stained walls dripping with moisture.  

    The people in the decaying area are furtive with shadowed faces.  They wander the passageways also on missions of their own.  They rarely speak.  Sometimes I pass dim rooms which are filled with their quiet presences.   I look in but can’t make out exactly what they are doing.  There is always a hint of forboding and danger mixed with a strange expectation.

   There are other more normal areas of the city.  The buildings are well kept and the people appear normal going about their business.  In my dreams I only visit these areas in the daytime.  Last night in my dream,  I was in an expensive looking area with upscale buildings and thick, milling crowds.  There was an amusement area and the crowds seemed in a light mood.  I heard two ladies talking, however, about something so bizarre that it changed the entire atmosphere in my dream…from light to very strange.

    Over the many years that I have been dreaming of this strange city, I have lived in several places, each in different neighborhoods.  I have also had several jobs, and I have attended different universities in the city. 

    I have only recently realized that all these dreams over the years have been about the same place…the same city.  I realized this as the frequency of these dreams increased.  That’s when I began just calling it the City.

Posted (crates) in Birds, Consciousness, nature, Personal Stuff on April-23-2009

We are sentient beings. As conscious entities we often look for meaning in what at first appears to be an uncaring universe.  This seems to be the way we are, constantly seeking for meaning that relates to our own lives.

Religion and philosophy are attempts to render meaning to our lives.  People of long ago, living in constant contact with the natural world, often looked to nature for meaning, searching for meaning in the behavior of animals, in the weather, and in other natural phenomena.

We have a rational, logical side to our nature, and we have the great body of information given to us by science, and by that great tool, the scientific method which can give us demonstrable truth, truth that can be demonstrated to others.

But our soul cries out for other truths, truths that are more subtle than that learned by the blunt tool of science, truths that do not lend themselves easily to demonstration.

There have been times of great emotional storms in my life in which I searched for meaning in the small things about me…times in which I tried to quell the storm within and tried to listen to that “still, small voice” that speaks to us all, but often goes unheard in the turmoil of modern society.

At such times I often go for walks and look for insight in the world about me.  And if I am able to still the waters within,  I often hear things.   This morning I heard the small brook speaking to me.  The rains had lessened recently, and the voice of the little stream had changed, become more melodious and fuller as its flow diminished.  It’s gurgle and burble sounded like an ancient voice that spoke a language that hovered on the edge of comprehensibility.

An eagle sounded as I ambled along, a sound that I have heard so often, that it threatens to become commonplace.  I stopped to listen and to appreciate more fully the wild character of the call.

Then I remembered that two nights ago when I stepped from my car about two hours after midnight, I paused for a second and looked up at a rare, clear, night sky at the Big Dipper.  I remembered how long ago my father pointed out to a small boy how the Big Dipper is always pointing to Polaris, the North Star, and showed me where it points.  I checked, and sure enough, it is still pointing to this guide star.

As I paused there in the darkness, I heard the oh-so-soft hooting of the Great Horned Owl.  It was immediately answered by another.  I had often wondered why I seldom heard owls even though my house is surrounded by forest.   The calls were so faint and soft that I know that I could have easily missed them as I rushed from the car into the house.

So I stood there longer in the darkness, wondering if further mysteries were to be hinted at.  Then far off over the Sound, I heard a growing sound that increased until it sounded like the yapping of hounds in the sky.  For a second I thought of the hunting dogs of Diana, or Artemis, coursing through the night sky in pursuit of some unknown prey.  I shook my head, but the sound remained the same.  I told myself that it was Canada Geese on their northern migration, but I have heard these geese many times, and this did not sound the same.  Whatever it was, it gradually faded, growing fainter until I was left standing in the dark listening to the soft hooting.

Perhaps I should pause more often and slow my pace and open my eyes…and ears…and mind.

I loved the way that this writer found meaning in the birds of a walk that he took.  In fact I admire his entire blog.

Posted (crates) in Creative, Personal Stuff on April-14-2009

I admit it.  I’m musically illiterateBeethoven (also I’m not a big he-man :cough:).  It is not that I do not like music, I do, it is just that I tend to be unconscious of it.  I almost never listen to music on the radio or disc players.  I have two really nice stereo systems and several smaller players.  I have a nice radio in my car with a dvd  player that holds 6 discs.  I have the means to listen to music, but I tend to be indifferent to it.  When I think of my preferences in music, I tend to like classical, jazz, new age, blue grass, folk music from all over the world, and what I call unusual music,  but as I said, I rarely am aware of it.

I currently am going through one of my spells of trying to listen to more music.  I bought a cheap mp3 player for example.  Right now I am listening to some mp3 files on my laptop (Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, 1959), so it’s not as if I am against music!  It’s just that I don’t think of it that much, and I rarely am affected emotionally by it–with two notable exceptions both by Beethoven.  I can’t really remember exactly when these amazing pieces of music came to my attention, but it had to be late in my life.  I can’t really explain my reactions to them.   Something about them reaches down into my soul and elicits tears, almost every time.  It’s plumb embarrassing, that’s what it is.

Moonlight Sonata is the first of the two,  notably the first movement (although the second and third are wonderful).   Beethoven composed this music in 1801, dedicating it to a pupil (Countess Giulietta Guiciardi).   Apparently he proposed to her right after dedicating the music to her.  Her parents, however, prevented the willing Countess from accepting.  The first movements starts  out in a low,  melancholy sort of lament that affects me deeply every time that  I listen closely to it.  Listen to the movements here on Wikipedia and read this: “The movement has made a powerful impression on many listeners; for instance, Berlioz wrote that it “is one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify.” The work was very popular in Beethoven’s day, to the point of exasperating the composer, who remarked to Czerny, “Surely I’ve written better things.”

I tried to find out something about Fur Elise, and found that it affects many other people the same way!  There seems to be some commonality of spirit in people that reacts similarly to this music.  I also found that there is also some controversy over the name.

Fur Elise (For Elise) was written around 1810 when Beethoven was about 40 years old.  A researcher finding the manuscript claimed that the dedication read Fur Elise.  However, the dedication has been lost and most researchers believe that the researcher must have misread Beethoven’s atrocious hand writing, and that the inscription probably was dedicated to Therese, referring to Therese Malfatti who was studying under him at this time and was known to have turned down his marriage proposal.  Most reject this speculation however.

More speculation was fueled by the discovery of a letter after his death addressed to “My Immortal Beloved.”  No connection with an Elise or Therese was found however.  Another hypothesis says that Elise was a type of generic name for sweetheart at that time, and that the piece was written for all sweethearts.  This also is unknown.  This seems to me to totally specious.

Whoever it was dedicated to, it seems more likely to me to have been a woman that was loved by Beethoven.  Just listen to it.  How can it not be? (I hope to put in a small file of this music, but in the meantime you can listen and download  it here.)

Posted (crates) in People, Personal Stuff on April-2-2009

In some ways this has been a very frustrating day.  I had to hang around the house today waiting for the delivery of some kitchen appliances (stove, overhead microwave, dishwasher).  I had told the company, Home Depot, that they may have some problems negotiating the very steep, twisting driveway.  I was right, the truck had to park on the street below.  As I watched them open the back of the delivery truck, one fellow grabbed this huge box and began to gallop up the driveway to the house.  I stared in wonder, I can hardly gallop up the driveway with empty hands much less carrying this huge box containing a microwave.

This was just the beginning.  These guys acted as if they were running a race.  With incredible efficiency and speed, they set about the process of unpacking, installing and taking away the old appliances.  Here I have to interject something which may seem quite racist on my part, but I mean it in the best sort of way.  These two guys were Hispanic with thick accents.  I have to add their performance to a list that exists in my head from past observations of Hispanics with which I have observed and worked.  Practically without exception Hispanics have been absolutely the hardest working people that I have ever seen.  I mean these people work!

Stereotypic?  Yes.  Accurate?  I certainly believe so.  I had to caution them repeatedly to be careful of their backs as they whisked these heavy stoves and dishwashers about.  Because the driveway was not only steep and slick with rain, I volunteered my  mini-suv to haul up the stove from the street and the old stove back down to the truck, which I was more than happy to do.

There was only one fly in the  ointment…a great big ole horsefly too!  The dishwasher was too far from the sink and the source of hot water for them to install, so I had to do it myself.  “No big deal,” I thought after having the process explained to me by one of the delivery men.  I can save $99 and get a little experience.  Well, I don’t know what it is about easy jobs, but almost every time, there is a small, unforseen glitch that sabotages such projects–without exception.   I hooked up the electrical wiring…no problem.  I attached the drainage hose…easy.  I tried to attach the hot water inflow tubing…just a simple process of screwing it to the input on the dishwasher…no dice.   I spent over an hour wallowing about on my belly on the kitchen floor trying to screw this little attachment on the copper input tubing to the input with absolutely no success.  I couldn’t even get the  nut-like thingie to start turning on the threads.   This was such a simple thing…much more simple than the wiring (which was laughably easy).  Think of screwing a nut onto a bolt…easy right?  After an hour I had an incredible crick in my neck and a pounding headache.  I had to push the dishwasher into its cubbyhole since the copper tubing barely reached  and then try to attach this tube by reaching up under the bottom of the dishwasher into this very cramped spot.    Once I had to check to see what it was that was beneath me that was giving me so much pain, I found it was simply the lower edge of my rib cage where it attached to my sternum.  It was terribly sore after lying on it so long.

     I had to stop in defeat.   I thought of all sorts of solutions to my plight, but the worst scenario always involved me calling a plumbing company and asking them to screw this thing-a-majiggy on for me.  No…absolutely not, I could not humiliate myself in such a manner (not to mention the cost of a home visit)!  So, I set about cleaning up the kitchen.  Have you every wondered what the area behind a stove and dishwasher looks like after a couple of decades with no cleaning? 

    Yes, it’s true I have never unhooked my dishwasher or stove to pull them out in order to clean, so shoot me.  Such things are best left to the imagination, people.  After a couple hours of cleaning, vaccuming, etc.  I thought that I would just lie down on the floor, reach up under the dishwasher and attempt one more time to screw the thing on.

     It worked.  Not only did it work, but it went on as if there had been no problem in the first place.  I felt as if a cosmic joke had just been played on me.  Once I got the threads started, it was simply a matter of half an hours work using a wrench in the cramped quarters to tighten it…piece of cake compared to what went before.  I was barely able to stagger off for a nap, wondering why I was so tired.  Perhaps it was from watching the delivery men.

Posted (crates) in Personal Stuff on March-29-2009

I have noticed for a long time that whenever I go to look up a meaning of a term or phrase,  I often do not understand the definition or explanation that is given.   Often the definition involves jargon or words with which I am unfamiliar.  Take the following examples.

I was looking up information on Word Press, a blogging program, and was reading the following introductory  sentence in Wikipedia:

“WordPress has a templating system, which includes widgets that can be rearranged without editing PHP or HTML code, as well as themes that can be installed and switched between.”  Already I am confused by the terms.  What is a templating system?  What is a widget?  I am fairly familiar with the terms PHP and HTML, but I could see how somebody who knew even less than I do might be confused by this sentence which was supposedly written to convey information to uninformed people. Now some of these terms are linked to other sites which can be followed to determine the meaning.  But then one can find oneself in an endless link quest.

Not knowing what a template processor was,  I looked that term up–also on Wikipedia, and found the following:  “A template processor (also known as a template engine or a template parser) is software or a software component that is designed to combine one or more templates with a data model to produce one or more result documents.”    Ok, the template processor is a program(?) designed to combine templates (now what is a template?) with a “data model” (?) to produce a “result document.”

I follow the link to template since I’m not what exactly the mean by the term and find the following: “

The term template, when used in the context of software engineering has various technical specifications, but is generally identified as any processing element that can be combined with a data model and processed by a template engine to produce a result documentI got the feeling that I was going in circles and really not understanding much.  How did I get here?  Oh yes, I was looking up information on Word Press, trying to understand more about it.

Is it just me?  Am I stupid or what?  I find this problem almost every where that I look.  It seems, in my humble opinion, to be a real need for people, when writing to an ignorant audience, as opposed to one who is already knowledgeable about the subject, to write in clear concise terms.  One shouldn’t have to follow endless links to more obfuscatory articles which offer more links to unknown terms, etc.  Actually the more I think about it, the more I think that even IF the article is aimed at a jargon-savy audience, it should STILL be written in a clear, concise manner!

This is just one example.  I could list numerous such writings that I run across every day.  When I do run across a clear explanation of a subject in which I am interested, it is like a breath of fresh air.

Posted (crates) in Miscellaneous, People, Personal Stuff on November-13-2008

I was watching two small children with their father at the coffee shop this morning.  The tiny little girl reminded me of my daughter when she was small.  When the father left he had the little girl on his arm and led the little boy by the hand.

I began remembering when my daughter was that small and how I carried her the same way for so long it seemed.  She eventually became too heavy and I led her by the hand everywhere we went.  Her little hand would always automatically steal into mine when we began to walk somewhere.

There eventually came a time when she stopped holding my hand.  I can’t tell you when that happened.   As with many things in  our lives, it happened very slowly with no discernable point where one could say that this ended and that began.  Just as with my habit of carrying her on my arm, I could not say when it was the last time I carried her.  I certainly did not know at the time that when I set her down, it would be for the last time. So it was with when she stopped holding my hand.  There just came a day when it no longer happened, and she henceforth walked by my side until even that ceased…and then I walked alone.

As I was saying, this all flashed through my mind when I saw the father with his two small children.  And then I began to muse about how all things are in flux; things and people come and go, often with no fanfare, no place where one can say, “This has ended,” or “This has begun.”  It is often just a sliding away, like a distant train as it fades into the distance, its sound becoming fainter and fainter until it is gone.

Posted (crates) in People, Personal Stuff on September-13-2008

At times it is almost overwhelming watching my father hold my mother’s hand and tell her that he has loved her since she was fifteen years old. This December they will have been married sixty-six years. My father will be 84 and my mother 83. She still will kiss you when you bend over to kiss her, and when you say that you love her, she will answer with “I love you.” And at times that wonderful sweet smile of hers will break through the darkness that clouds her mind, and you know that somehow, somewhere there is an essence of her lingering on.
I tend to think of the human brain as being composed of trillions of little lighted rooms, one for each of the cells that it contains. In a well functioning brain, I imagine it filled with pulsing, racing light. My mother’s brain I think of as a flickering dimming system, the lights slowly going out as the ravages of Alzheimers turns off the lights one…by one.

If there was a beginning, then let it begin here. It was 1940 and it was between classes at Crowell High School. The handsome young man was going up the stairs to his class. He had recently transfered to this high school because his own school in the nearby small town of Truscott had closed, and all the students were being bused to Crowell. This was in West Texas near the point where the eastern edge of the panhandle meets the Red River–in that part of Texas where the soil is red and sandy and the imagination is inspired by the views which stretch out to forever.

As he climbed the stairs, he passed this beautiful girl whose dark hair fell down past her shoulders, and whose lovely face, slim figure and hazel eyes immediately attracted his attention. He walked a few more steps and then paused to look back at her. Much to his surprise, he saw that she had also paused and was looking back at him in admiration. This is the way that my father and mother met.My mother

The options were limited in that small town if you wished to take your girl on a date. Fortunately, my father’s best friend, C. J. Kelton’s father had a car and let his son use it, and he would drive my father and mother all about. I have seen photos of all of them on the bridge over the North Wichita River, laughing and having fun. My father with his football letter jacket and a white scarf about his neck, standing besides my smiling mother, my father and C.J. standing with their arms about each other’s shoulders. There also photos of my dad and C.J. in their football uniforms. Dad played quarterback his senior year and C.J. fulback.  My mother was a cheerleader.

As their love grew and as all the young men were being drafted into the military to spend their lives in the war machine of World War II, they knew that they didn’t have much time until my father also would have to serve and would be swept up into the dark maelstrom of war. They decided to marry in their last year of high school in December, 1942. They spent their honeymoon in the hotel in the nearby “big” town of Vernon on the town square with the courthouse in the center. In later years they would both delightedly point out to me the upper story corner room where they stayed, as we passed by on visits to my grandparents.

Both my father and C.J. graduated from High School on a Friday, and on Monday, both left for their military training, my father into the army and eventually the army/airforce, and C.J. into the marines. My father survived the war, whereas C.J. died a hero’s death on the black sands of Iwo Jima (Fifth Marine Division), winning the Navy Cross, and leaving a hole in both of my parent’s lives. My father is 84 and has lived a long, loving life, whereas C.J. died  (KIA Kelton, C.J. Pfc 5th Tank 5th Feb 22, 1945, Iwo Jima) at the age of 19 and his bones have lain in those dark volcanic sands of Iwo Jima for 63 years.

My mother’s beauty was matched only by her personality.  I have known lots of people over the years, and I know that I am prejudiced, but she has the sweetest, most endearing personality of anybody that I ever have known unless it was her own mother, who if anything was even more sweeter.

My FatherAnd it is upon the love of my parents for each other and upon the love that they gave without reservation to me and my siblings which has been my steadfast rock throughout my life.  It has been upon this assurance that formed the foundation of my life and has allowed me to weather the sorrows that life can hand out.

The love and tenderness of my mother towards not only the people around her, but also toward all of God’s little animals filled me with a reverance and love for all living things.  Her appreciation of the beauty about her, and her communication of this to me has remained with me all my life, allowing me to live and appreciate the now of my existence.

My father’s quiet gentleness and strength, and tolerance and forebearance has also helped to form what I am.  Over the years my admiration for my father has grown greater and greater.  I have come to realize that I have unconsciously tried to imitate him throughout my life, trying to become the man that he is.  This is something that I have only recently come to realize.  I have also come to realize that this amazing man is not only my father but my very best friend whom I love with all my heart.

I received a call from my father this morning letting me know that my beloved mother has been admitted to the hospital.  The prognosis was not good according to the doctor.  My brother and sister and father were all there keeping vigil.  I called back a few hours ago and the situation had improved slightly.

All stories must end.  And this particular love story has entered its final chapter…in once sense, and in another sense,  the love generated by these remarkable people will go on and on…like ripples from a stone dropped into calm water, radiating outward and touching shores undreamed of.