Friday, July 31, 2015

Flashback Friday - My Cars

In the final entry of my cars growing up, we end with my best (read: fun) driver, a 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix.  After the disaster of the AMC Pacer, it was nice to get ahold of a big barge again.  Where the Pacer was a nice idea without the execution, the Grand Prix was a pedigree of excellence that was evident in every aspect. 

Pontiac had ridden the style and performance of the Grand Prix/Bonneville/Catalina stable since a major remake in 1965.  The style had remained virtually the same since that time with minor adjustments along the way.  

Plush, luxury-oriented, my new gorgeous car even had a T-Top.  Plush interior, bucket seats, push-button trunk, electric windows, this was a sporty, large luxury car.   And was a car that was a pure joy to just hop in on a day off and cruise.  Not since my first VW and the Fury after that have I simply driven a car with enjoyment instead of as a means to get from here to there.   

The picture above was taken by someone to show a dashing kid leaning on my Prix.  It was probably taken by the Wombie for some unknown reason or perhaps I used a timer shot.  I was never "cool" but looking at me behind the wheel with the tops off one might think I was.  And why not?  It was a cool car.  It wouldn't be a stretch to assume the driver was too.  

I did find another picture of my Prix, here in an unposed head-scratcher where someone else is driving?  Doesn't look I'm heading to the grocery store in this picture and words and memory fail me.  But then we aren't concerned with the what was happening as much as the wheels.  I loved this car, and perhaps I was marrying it on this day.  For those who may be wondering where this was taken, it is at the Seaton Presbyterian church and that is the water tower in the background.  And, as luck would have it, a much newer Pontiac Grand Prix or Bonneville is in the background, with the updated square headlights and a less stylish updating.  

It was a bridge car:  it spanned my last bachelor days to the next stage of life of marriage and kids.  It spanned carefree to responsible.  It spanned fun to practical.  It spanned kid to man.   

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Quiet Zone

I don't do editorials very often and strictly speaking this isn't one either.  But I ran across the old Peanuts cartoon above and remembered how much I enjoyed its homespun philosophy when it was alive and kicking in newspapers. Frankly I was taken by how much that cartoon applies to my personal way of thinking, perhaps not so much by choice, but by the fact that silence often keeps trouble at bay.  

There are some notable historical exceptions, of course, namely Sir Thomas Moore, whose silence in the matter of his King proved to be his undoing.  But I actually refer to those of us who are card-carrying members of Club Dread, introverts all.  I happen to be one its long-term members at this stage being reminded by the Wombie about a pitifully introverted situation when I was buying school clothes way back when.  I said "It doesn't make any difference" when when the poor clerk tried to assist in my search.  

And I'm getting worse.  I probably don't have enough years left to become a wacko-style recluse, but I find the avoidance of social situations increasingly relieving.  But I digress.  I see all over the news these headlines:

"Waylon Jennings son apologizes..."
"Ben Carson apologizes over Prison remarks..."
"Rep. Alday publicly apologizes..."
"Fox News apologizes..."
"Louis Tomlinson apologizes..."
"Steele to Rush: I'm sorry..."
"Matt Barnes personally apologized..."
"Amy Pascal apologized..."
"Judge apologized over remarks..."
"Alan Grayson apologizes..."
"Golf channel analyst apologizes for lynch remark...
"George Takei apologizes..."
"Boomer Esaiason apologizes..."
"Ariana Grande apologizes..."

Type in 'apologizes' in your browser and be astounded at the page after page after page of recent and more recent apologies over stupid remarks people have made.   A lot of these are Tweets or Twitters, or whatever term is used.  I know nothing of these forms of media.  I don't Tweet, Instagram, Snapchat and rarely do the Facebook thing. I blog.  Facebook seems a lot like the old adage we heard in the AIDS days, "When you have sex, you have sex with everyone that person had sex with."  On Facebook I post something then I find out it went to all manor of person place and thing.  It scares me. But I digress again.  

Seems like people use these social media platforms to keep their legion of fans interested in them (mistake number one) then have to apologize to everyone when they say something stupid (mistake number two).  Mark Twain's adage, "Better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt" holds as true today as it did a hundred years ago.  None of the social media platforms are leaving very soon (mistake number 3) so we'll be living with all of these individuals who must keep their names in the headlines in order to keep themselves or their brand relevant (think Caitlyn).  

For me, I shall remain the silent guy in the corner of the room, either too afraid to reveal my foolishness, or too scared of making social mistakes, which seem to linger with me more than they should.  I have often said that extroverts provide the savory spices that make a stew (the world) a memorable feast.   Introverts, meanwhile, make sure the kitchen is well stocked and that there is an audience.   Introverts may not be the loudest, or funniest, or most popular at the party, but then, we seldom have anything to apologize for the next morning.     

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More Beauty From A Cloud- Part 3

Our third entry on the storm cloud that passed over Keithsburg while I was on the levee taking pictures.  And as usual I best keep my mouth shut - commentary would be superfluous. 

I have more from that early morning and will post soon.  Thanks for your patience. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  Silly me.  I was expecting a good report from Dr. Dunlevy and all I got was a bad one instead.  The polyps have started to reform and I have an infection, to boot.  Well, goody.  Not only that but I have to undergo some kind of allergy testing:  one shot per week for 6 months.  Uh, if they charge a co-pay that comes to almost a $1000 just to get in the door, excluding the shots and any ancillary office and lab costs.  

I may just decide to forgo this expense since the polyps are not life threatening.  May be tough to breathe but I'd rather save the money for when something really serious comes along.  I have had to dig into my Wheels-in-Floriduh fund for the expenses so far so no vehicle down here until we recoup surgery costs.  

I am on a new prescription, some kind of steroidal nasal flush, and hopefully this will prove fruitful.  If nothing else I'll stick straws up by nose.  


2.  Ayla Morgan Shepherd was born on July 21, 8 lbs. 11 ounces, 19 inches long.  She was due on the 11th, induced on the 21st and quickly after the medication was administered, banged her way into her mother's arms.  

So begins the slow evolution from the Blob stage into something resembling a human.  


3.  On Sunday we moved Kenzie, Drew, Norah and Ayla into their new apartment at Bedlam on the Bay.  Their house had become increasing small for a 4-person family.  They will decide their next move in the coming months.   


TCM is playing a Tarzan movie as I write this and its a rainy morning here at Bedlam.  From what I can gather the quintessential single-word language Tarzan has with his animal friends is "Ungawa."  Whenever he utters this command, usually to an elephant,  the elephant will do whatever Tarzan wants, but seems to be all-encompassing like "up", "down", "run" "stampede", "crush Nazi", "push poacher over cliff".  Smart telepathic elephant.  


Monday, July 27, 2015

A Cancelled Fourth - Part 1

If there is anything resembling a family tradition in Floriduh it would be both 1) me verbally knocking the cat around and Florida, not necessarily in that order, and) gathering at the Vinoy Park to watch the 4th of July fireworks.  I hate the cat because I am allergic to the beasts and now that it is 14 or so years old I can almost taste the non-allergenic air upon its timely demise.  The meet at Vinoy is because short of watching them in North Henderson, the St. Pete show is about as good as you can find in these parts. 

And I don't think a 4th has ever been free of the rain or the chance of them.  However, we have been lucky and the rain has usually dissipated by the time the show starts.  Until this year.  But before we get to that, the pre-show is watching the people, the planes, the dolphins and the boats in the Bay.   

This plane was buzzing around for awhile until the weather started to look really nasty.  As the dark clouds rolled in and the wind started picking up, the old restored plane decided to call it a night and landed just a ways down the road at the Albert Whitted airport.

As usual, boat owners lowered anchor just off the sea wall and this side of the now-abandoned Pier.  

Kayakers get great seats by doing a little paddling where the boats are.  This craft had a couple of redheads ready for the show.

The St. Pete show always attracts a large crowd.  The lights int he background is the old Al Lang Field that is now home to the local pro soccer team the Rowdies.  Al Lang field used to be the spring training site of the New Your Mets.

A game of chess is a perfect way to while the time until sunset.  

But Mother nature would have other plans on this day.  Stay tuned for the more of the cancelled 4th at Vinoy. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Flashback Friday

It's hard to imagine Seaton ever having had parades if you drive through it today.  A major removal of old brick building on main street years ago left only the post office.  Since then a restaurant was built but torn down from my days as a kid there was the gas station, Chism's heating and plumbing business.  The big old restaurant on the west corner that the Blackman's had, then the Wheelers is gone, too.  The old newspaper building is gone and whichever building used to have a billiards and barber shop is gone, too. 

It was a different time and small towns still had a place in America.  Not so much anymore.  The following pictures were taken during the summer of 1966.  I don't know what the occasion was but I do vaguely remember go carts one time when they brought in some rides and stuff.  Unfortunately I won't be able to provide much information on these pictures but I'll do what I can.   The film has become almost entirely saturated with red and also they have had sustained some damage to areas.    

This picture and the one below are populated by people I don't know.  It is titled Protectors of Freedom and the army guy look like Keith someone.  As for the others its anyone's guess.  The big building int he background is the State Bank of Seaton which exists today, although by a different name.  I suspect when all the other buildings/businesses and residential homes are gone, they'll still open their doors, if for no other reason than sheer stubbornness.  That little Ford tractor was much like the one I mowed with out at Uncle Ed's farm.

I get the WAC, and the sailor and army guys, but what I don't get is what the two lead characters represent.  What's he got on his head?  A sombrero?  A pasta strainer?   

A great 4-H project float - caged kids.  

Miss Wool Illinois,  Terry Lee Johnson.  Miss Johnson represented Illinois and Indiana for 1966-1967 and just happened to be from Seaton, so she must have been quite the local celebrity.   By the way, that's a nice '65 Ford Galaxie and similar to one I had for a few years in G-Burg. 

Want some candy?  I'll give you two handfuls.  Sitting down at the rear is Squire Greer, one of those guys when you are young are always old.  I probably never said more than a sentence or two to the guy but I had more of a history with his wife.  Some older guys we hung out with put me up to ringing their back doorbell then running into the cornfield.  She wasn't too happy with me when I forgot the part about running into the corn.  She gave me a pretty good verbal blistering.   

That white building in the background is the fire station and its still there, too.  Seaton has Power Days when collectors bring their restored tractors to town and they open up the station for pancake breakfast.  They also had a Homecoming of sorts a few years ago and I went.  They had a parade then, too.  Other than that, Seaton is slowly fading away.  A lot like the pictures - age has changed its tint.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

An Early Morning Walk on the Beach

An early morning walk at Pass-A-Grille.  

Pass-A-Grille is at the very bottom of this peninsula that holds Clearwater, St. Pete, Gulfport, Pinellas Park and probably other little towns sprinkled in.  There is a very good beach area and, although its a bit of a hassle getting here, is a great place for sunrise pictures.  

In one of my designed lazy posts that seem to have increased lately,  I offer no explanation because none is needed.  I walked along the beach and took these pictures.  Senseless commentary would add nothing.    

More of these at a later date.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Beauty From A Cloud - Part 2

Continuing a series of pictures I took in early-morning Keithsburg a while back.  Check these out - it was just dumb luck I was down there as this cloud rolled by.  

There will be more through the next few weeks. It was fun watching this light show roll by.  It never rained and seemed to be just this one big cloud.  Like someone said once, "Most of your luck comes from just showing up."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tidbit Tuesday

1.  Today is the 2nd of three post-op appointments with my ENT doctor.  I expect a good report.  


2.  Kenzie and Drew have sold their home in St. Pete and will reside at Bedlam for a year.  This will give them time to contemplate their next move.  And Miss Norah will only be a short walk away.


Speaking of Miss Norah, I had these videos hanging around and now you get to see them, too.  


As I add this I am preparing to go into St. Petersburg's Bayfront Baby Place, yup that's the name of the place, and sit vigil for the next half Blythe kid to enter the world.  Mackenzie's due date was the 11th and it is now the 20th.  They will induce.  Frankly I can't imagine childbirth, but inducing seems a lot like what paint stores do to your newly bought gallon of Azure Sky.  Hopefully it will be over soon, but I am prepared for a long wait, as half Blythes are often contrary, stubborn and do what they damn well please, when they damn well please to do it.       


 Bug that found me the other day.  Pretty iridescent color.  Not all entries are gems, guys. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

What I Just Finished Reading

You can see the writing on the wall.  Books are a dying relic of centuries past.  Things change.  Newspapers are hanging on against all logic - today we fire up our tablets and Kindles and do the modern thing.  

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a small book, or at least I read it fast, I don't know, because I read it on my Kindle.  It is the engrossing tale of a man, Mr. Fikry of the title, who owns Island Books, a quaint store on a fictional east coast island.  The plot is quiet but compelling, and points to a reformation of a grumpy, narrowly myopic man, to something more.  That's usually worth a good read right there - in the tradition of Scrooge and many others, those life events that transform and make us grow.  

I am fully aware that in this next statement I will open myself to eye-rolling disdain from some readers.  But here goes, anyway:   female authors write differently than male counterparts.  They bring an added element of emotion, or insight.  Sometimes that can slow things, sometimes it helps a story.  It's why a woman couldn't write the Guns of Navarone  but could pen The Guns of August.   I haven't fully fleshed this opinion out,  and probably won't but there it is.  In Fikry, I think the woman's perspective and characters are richer for having come from the mind of Zevin.  

Maybe its not what we do in life, but what we leave behind that creates our eternal image.  I don't know, but what Mr. Fikry leaves behind is very much worth the title of greatness.  But then again, its not all that special,  its very much what makes all of us human.  From Maya, to Police Chief Lambiase, to Amelie, all are part of a rich world within a bookstore where knowledge, reading and involvement in the printed page is no only a daily ritual but an exercise in magic.

The novel is a kind of throwback to a TCM movie of the 40's when people actually spent time in bookstores.  I read it on my Kindle and haven't bought a real book with paper in years.  I don't have the love of the smell of a new book, or the tensile sensation of paper on fingers that is the hallmark of a true book lover.  To me, book are cumbersome, and usually fill boxes that will never be emptied.  To me the soul of a book resides not in the spine, but in the words.

In The Storied Life of A.J. Fiery there is sadness, mystery, happiness, death and oh so much life.   I liked it a great deal.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Flashback Friday - My Cars Part 5

This is a Pacer.  An AMC Pacer.  A good idea for a car,  but poor execution.  I fell victim to the press, and purchased this baby after the demise of the Purdy-Mobile.  I was now working at the Mary and still single.  It was designed as a wide-bodied car with a short car chassis.  American motors was starting its death spiral and its attempt to create something meaningful for the marketplace resulted in this putrid hash.  A big car feel on an economic sized drivetrain resulted in an underpowered driving experience.  Another faulty feature was the oversized glass.  All this did was to create a blazing hot interior in the summer months.  The poor little air conditioner was never able to keep up with the prism heat the windows created.  

The interior was cheap, formed plastic, and AMC even tried themed packages like Indian art work and denim blues.  I remember that I had a major steering problem that had to get fixed.   The bill was something like $700 or $800 and you can imagine what that was like to my poor little county paycheck.  I don't recall anything other than that except that it was a cheap little thing and drove like it, too.  

It's end came swiftly and mercifully one summer night, oddly enough, just a few miles outside Seaton.  In those early days at the Mary, I would often, on my two days off, travel back to the area either to go to Keithsburg to Blackies, or home to Seaton to find food and a washing machine, or work at Uncle Ed's.  

I had motored back to Seaton on this night and after chatting with the folks went down to Blackie's for a cold beer in Keithsburg.  I planned to return to G-Burg afterwards - I never stayed with the folks once I had a place of my own.  Having had my fill and perhaps more of my favorite adult beverage, I went through Seaton toward home.  Once past McClellan's Seed corn business you come to a "T" and taking a right will get you to Alexis.  At about 4 miles down that road and chugging along,  I reckon, at a steady 60 almost-inebriated miles an hour but what did I spy through my large Pacer windshield?  A cow.  A goddamn cow. In the middle of the road.  We were in for a showdown.  Too late to stop, too fast to swerve.  I had just hit a cow on 1st Avenue between routes 94 and 67.  

In those days there were no cell phones so I walked to the nearest house and in my stirred, not shaken condition called the folks and they came to pick me up.  The car was taken to the side of the road and the poor beast was dragged off the road as well.  Two lumbering giants, graceless in life and death victims of an untimely and unexpected calamity.  

My car was totaled as was the cow.  Its never easy saying goodbye to one's wheels, but in this case I, it would prove to be OK.  My next set of wheels was a beaut.  And daily driving rarely gets as fun as this.  Stay tuned to my next car.    

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Trip Through America's Medical System

Besides a cyst removal 35 years ago and a couple vasectomies I have deftly and luckily avoided any real interaction with hospitals and doctors.  Within the last year, however, I have developed a common nasal problem of sinus polyps.  They create an annoying problem of feeling like you always have a stuffed up nose, and it can create breathing problems was well as difficulty sleeping.  

After a referral from my primary doctor I met with a specialist who diagnosed the problem.  He subscribed Prednisone to see if they might go away, otherwise surgery would be necessary.  They didn't go away so the machinery to get my polyps removed started to grind.  

  • EKG and worthless visit with primary doctor
  • Lab work 
  • Pre-op with ENT doctor as well as a charge of $200 to give to hospital
All visits, of course requiring co-pays of $40.00 with my United Health Care Insurance card in hand. 

This is Cindy, nurse extraordinaire.  She was great from start to finish and her calm, casual manner allayed almost all of my fears.  They bumped my surgery up from 7:30 am to 5:30 am which was good, too.  Get the damn thing going and get me home.  

What was fascinating, too, was at each stop through the process: Cindy's pre-op station, then the move to the operation green room, then the anesthesiologists entry, to the operation room itself,  I was asked at each place what I was there for.  Guess that is a system by which mistaken operations are foiled.   

Sinus polyps are non-cancerous growths that line the septum and can inhibit breathing.  Doctor Dunlevy, who also replaces my ear tube when it falls out, said that my polyps were pretty good size and he also flushed out some sinus cavities that looked to have been full for a long time.  All in all a good flushing out.  

Dr. Dunlevy is a fastidious little man with a Navy background.  I can't imagine what kind of scope and instruments you need to get up in the sinuses to cut out stuff.  That and he vacuumed some cavities up in my forehead - yuck, I also can't imagine what that must have looked like.

Almost instantaneously after the anesthesiologist said I'd feel a burning sensation, I was out.  When I awoke, with nose still intact, I was able to become more alert, and then wheeled to the waiting car.  At home I dozed off and on the rest of the day.  I had minimal problems, no bleeding, and the amount of oxygen I was taking in was incredible.  

All in all it was a fascinating look at how things work.  Polyps can grow back,  but hopefully I'll avoid any surgery in that area again.  From admitting to the wheelchair ride to the car when everything was over, it was a peek behind the curtain, and I hope its a long time before I get another look.  



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Another Blogging Theft

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Readers of Existing In BFE:

In another case of wanton and unapologetic theft I am printing an essay by my good friend and fellow blogger, Jeff Sutor from his excellent Bodine-DILLIGAF website.  Jeff reflects my views on guns and gun control.  I would urge all readers of Existing in BFE to read his site before mine.  It will make your brain stronger.  Thanks Jeff.


And Again

I have from time to time stood on my soapbox and called for sensible gun control. We have had another mass shooting. Charleston, South Carolina at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church with 9 killed during an evening Bible study on Wednesday. I have no hope left that any meaningful action on gun control will happen due to this latest mass murder by firearm. Folks in a church studying the Bible just doesn't reach as deep in our hearts as 20 school children at Newtown. If those kids couldn't get us any action on gun control I would be a fool to suppose that Wednesday's mass murder would spur us to move. So all I have this time is sadness and anger. You could throw in a healthy dose of frustration. A sprinkling of disappointment. What will it take for us to act? How may more Charlestons, or Newtowns, or Auroras? Another Columbine or perhaps Jonesboro, Arkansas? Maybe you had forgotten that one. If you have the time watch President Obama when he spoke to the nation on Thursday. He is clearly effected. It was the 14th time during his presidency he has had to make this kind of address to the nation following a mass shooting. Fourteen times. Fourteen. If the trend continues he has at least 4 more to go before he leaves office.

So, what is the answer? According to a representative of the National Rifle Association the answer is more guns. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the shooting victims, was pastor of the church, a state senator, and did not allow guns in his church. Some have blamed him for the deaths. If he would have allowed guns in the church someone could have returned fire and maybe fewer lives would have been lost. Maybe the shooter could have been stopped. So, there is the answer from one side. More guns. The way they talk it sounds like we should all be armed all the time. Never know when something might go down. Some nut with a gun. We all should be packing heat. More guns. It is always their answer. We don't need any reasonable measures to control access to firearms. No need for crazy racist bastards to have mental health treatment. Although in this case I don't think he was legally insane. His actions were crazy but not insane. He was full of hate but not full of nuts. I thought Chuck Norris took it to a whole new level with this comment. "If Obama really wants to reduce firearm power, he should consider stepping out of office, because his presidency has increased gun sales more than any other." How do you respond to something like that? I don't dispute that gun sales have increased during President Obama's time in office. Idiots continue to buy guns because they believe that his administration is going to confiscate guns. There has been no legislation introduced to do so. There have been no actions by the administration to confiscate any legally held firearms from anyone. The fact is that you cannot convince stupid people with facts. They believe it will happen before President Obama leaves office. If it doesn't and another Democrat is elected they will believe that person wants to take their guns. Stupid assholes.

So, there you have it. No hope for change. Grab your gun whenever you go out. More guns is the only answer just ask Chuck Norris. So when I go out and I get to the front door of my house I will be carrying. I will be loaded down with frustration, sadness, hopelessness but no gun. Sorry Chuck, I'm with Susie Jackson. If that is the United States I have to live in I would rather be shot. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

This little girl is thinking thoughts that just may land her in trouble.  Ornery, you can see it in the eyes.  Oh, Norah, better be careful!


Found a few of these gross looking guys crawling the walls here at Bedlam.  Thought first that I might be under the influence of the "DT's" but then discovered they are really Casemaking Clothes moth larvae.   They are little caterpillars that feed on cotton nd wool.  Weird, huh?


Had my first post-op check up.  Doc said all is good and that I can now resume walking and light activities.  He flushed me out a little and this morning as I type this, I am very happy I had the procedure done.  Of course I haven't got the bill yet, either.  Go back in another 2 weeks.  


Like a young Egyptian princess, Norah models some hats.


The Newsroom (Season 3, episode 5) spoiler: Learning that Will never had a cellmate, and that Charley died, all while Sissell sings Oh Shenandoah, was the best one, two, three punches I've seen in a long time.  And then I find out HBO has cancelled it. Another quality show bites the dust. 


This doesn't want to come out.


McFarland USA, a movie with Kevin Costner is very good.  Speaking of movies, why is it they are so filled with vomit scenes?  Seems like everyone I see has a vomit scene.  Kind of tiresome.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pretty Failures

I had to pack the camera and lens and send back to Florida the next day, so I went out and tried some night shots for one last time.  I had planned on the North Lagoon, but then found this spot north of Emerald City but really, too close to town.  I had my 11-14mm lens which I find kind of difficult to use and wanted to work on it some.  

These are all horrid shots, but offer a kind of surreal look that seemed too good to just trash.  Think modern art, or some fancy photo salon selling terribly overpriced copies to nouveau art guppies.  

On my next trip back North I am going to head out at night and conquer this lens.  Everything I read about it garners rave reviews so that is one of my upcoming projects.

I plan on much night picture taking when I return so, grab a hoodie, a cup of coffee, and join me out in the spooky dark north or south lagoons of Emerald City.   Good unmolested night sky, a comrade to keep the zombies away whilst I work on my shutter speed and apertures,  and some quiet conversation sounds like a real memory making adventure.  Are you up for it?