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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Contributing To The Delinquency Of A “Minor”

Even though not too much has been going on here while we’re awaiting medical appointments in South Carolina, every once in a while something surfaces that’s a little fun.

My Dad stopped by again on his way back from Florida, enroute to his home in New Jersey.  Seems he was tired of driving around in an “old man’s” convertible and wanted something more appropriate for his age (91).


So he talked me into visiting the local Mazda Dealer.  After a few rounds of negotiations and a test drive, we came home with this:


A 2013 Mazda Miata hard top convertible sports car.  

He’s happy as a clam with his new ride and only a little disappointed that the weather is not cooperating, he likes to drive topless!

It’s quite amazing to see your father going through his teenage years all over again.  Sometimes I think I’m the grown up and he’s the kid.  ;c)

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Thursday, February 21, 2013


In my past life, working as a Coast Guard special agent, it wasn't always a sexy job.  Sure, there were times living on the edge, chasing smugglers, working undercover to dismantle drug rings, gathering intelligence and traveling the world to put bad guys away.  Nice, satisfying work, and plenty of it.

Then there were the heartbreaking times, conducting internal affairs investigations on Coasties that stepped over the line.  The one percent of any organization that gets involved in criminal activities.

As much as it pained me to do the internal affairs job, it had to be done.  Sort of a kidney to filter the organizations "blood".

It was a massive investigation that took several months to complete.  By the time it was done, I had enlisted the help of over a dozen fellow special agents to dismantle a drug ring within a large unit.  Over 20 young Coasties had been caught up using drugs in their off duty hours, it was a peer pressure thing that led many of them to use illegal substances in their off duty hours.  It was a career ender for all of them. 

The ringleader, the main supplier of the drugs, was facing more than just an administrative discharge, he was going to a Courts-Martial where, if he was found guilty, he would face hard time in the brig.

As the supervising agent for the investigation, I was scheduled to testify at the Courts-Martial.  Not my favorite part of the job, especially since the ringleader had not one, but two defense attorneys to represent him.

When testifying in court, there is a certain amount of things I would do to not only appear calm and professional, but to present to the panel of officers that made up the jury, an honest and believable testimony.

I had a whole course of actions I would take.  First off was a good, fresh haircut.  Next was my very special, expensive suit that I kept for formal occasions, never wearing it in the day to day life.  A crisp, sharply starched and pressed white shirt with a power tie.  Dark socks and the important spit shined shoes to complete the "look".

The Courts-Martial was to be held at a large base several hours drive from my home.  I could have left home the night before but being away from home many other times, I chose to pack my clothes and spend one more night at home.  I decided to leave in the wee hours of the morning and arrive several hours ahead of the start of the trial.

I got up around 3 am and threw on some jeans and a shirt to wear for the drive.  I didn't want to wake Marti who was sleeping soundly, so I didn't turn on the light.  I hefted my suitcase and my suit bag and realized I had everything but my shoes.  I reached into the closet, felt around on the floor in the dark and grabbed my shoes which I stuck in the bottom of my suit bag.

Off I went, driving in the dark morning hours reviewing the case in my mind to mentally prepare for the grilling I knew was coming.  I watched the sun rise up as I drove.

Upon arriving, I checked into my room at the hotel near the base.  I met up with my fellow agents for breakfast and we had a nice, but all too short visit before it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready.

I showered and started getting dressed.  The fresh, starched shirt, the power tie, the dark socks and the suit went on.  Then I reached into my bag and pulled out one spit shined shoe and...

...a black sneaker!  Huh??

When I reached into my closet in the dark that morning, I grabbed the sneaker instead of the other shoe by mistake.  Fortune did shine on me a little, at least the spit shined shoe was a left and the sneaker was a right.

What to do?  There was no time to run out and buy new shoes, I couldn't wear my well worn, sloppy brown boat shoes that I drove down in.  The only choice was to wear one shoe and one sneaker and hope nobody noticed.

As I sat in a nearby sequester room, waiting to be called to testify in the Courts-Martial, I kept my sneaker tucked behind my shoe hoping that nobody would see it.

When I was called into the courtroom, I walked in as straight and calmly as I could and kept my fingers crossed that people would concentrate on my power tie and miss my sneaker.

I did just fine, answered questions carefully and succinctly.  I wasn't intimidated by the two defense attorneys as much as they tried.  In the end, the ringleader was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to a well deserved stay in the brig.

The Courts-Martial was adjourned and we hung around a bit and did some post trial talking with the prosecutor, some of my fellow agents and even the defense attorneys.  The judge came over to congratulate us on our case and my testimony.  He talked with me and before excusing himself he said to me, "By the way, nice shoes", winked and left.

I testified in many trials over my career, but that is the one that I'll never forget.  A shoe and a sneaker that had me more on edge than two defense attorneys.  Who'd a thunk it?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yep, Another Museum

While being stuck in one place for an extended time, I took a look around to see if there are any museums to check out.  I found one close by, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia, South Carolina.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)


It is a small museum with only a $5 admission fee, but it was well worth it.  The collection is geared toward items that were related to use by South Carolinians in the Civil War.

The museum is located in an old building that was interesting by itself.  The rounded ceiling construction, built with large flat bricks was fascinating.  You don’t see craftsmanship like this anymore.



There were many guns in the collection, including this LeMat  revolver, that shot a regular ball from the top barrel and a shotgun shell from the bottom barrel.


A single shot Derringer just like this was used by John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Lincoln.


There was a nice collection of battle flags used by South Carolina regiments.  Flags like these are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars today.


The Confederate States issued their own currency.  Even though the bills were printed, each individual bill had to be hand signed by a treasury official.



Medical treatment of the wounded was primitive at best.  Surgeons carried a collection of instruments in boxes like this.


There was a display on Union soldiers who were former slaves.  There was a battle flag on display that was carried by one of these regiments that fought in battles in South Carolina.  It is in pieces because it was cut up end of the war and pieces were given to regiment members as souvenirs of their service.



Some nice displays of an everyday Confederate soldier in early Civil War garb.  The blanket draped around the soldier was typical of homemade equipment that was often carried as the South didn’t have a big manufacturing base to equip its men.


One thing I was glad to see (oops, no picture) was the throngs of students that were in the museum to round out their history classes on the Civil War.  They really seemed to enjoy their visit, almost as much as I did mine. 

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Sunday, February 17, 2013


Generations that is.  My dad stopped in to visit with us at our South Carolina “home” for a couple of days before continuing on his trip from his house in New Jersey to visit his brother in Florida.  We got a nice picture of our four generations together.


It was about the half way point in his drive to Florida.  A nice breaking point.  We had a great time with him.  Andrew and Owen taught him some new games.


Here we are playing Candy Land.  Guess who won?


It was me, for a change.  After regularly getting smoked by Andrew in chess and Owie in checkers,


it was nice to taste victory for once.  Maybe Candy Land is a game on my level?

Dad was introduced to the game that has become a family addiction: Bananagrams. He liked it so much, he went out and bought the game for himself. 


Dad is a linguist and taught Greek and Hebrew in college for many years.  The boys latched on to him and learned to speak and write a little Hebrew from their great grandfather.


We’ll see him when he drives back through in a week or two.  He has a new car on order.  Yes, he is replacing his red Pontiac convertible with another car, a Mazda Miata convertible.  He is 91 and we are all wondering when he is going to grow up and act his age… ;c)

Andrew and I got to spend some time working on his birthday present from us, the Visible V-8 engine model.  He is fascinated by how things work and proud of the progress he’s made so far, almost finished with the engine block.


I’m still waiting on that eye appointment from the VA.  We’re seriously considering to ditch their “help” and having me get the surgery on the outside civilian world.  We’ve already been sitting for almost three months, we’ll be here for sure another month.

It’s not good for an RV to sit in one place too long.


Plus, I’m afraid I’ll lose my PDD touch if we stay in one place too much longer!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Circus Update

Just a final note on the previous post about the circus.  Many folks asked both in comments and emails if our grandsons enjoyed the circus.  Somehow I neglected that information.

I asked them yesterday when they dropped by for a brief visit if the liked the circus.  They answered a resounding "YES!".  Would they want to go again next year?  Double "YES!"

So there you have it, out of the mouths of babes.  I don't think the popcorn, peanuts, corn dogs, cotton candy, flashing light souvenirs and stuffed animals they got while at the circus had any influence on their answers...  ;c)

In the meantime, not much has been going on here.  Still waiting on my VA eye appointment.  Marti has been working on more dresses for the granddaughters, she's sewing like it's going out of style.  We've got some more granddaughter's birthdays coming up.

The weather here in South Carolina has been mild, not like up in New Jersey where Anabelle had her first chance to play in the snow,

or over in Pennsylvania where Rebekah watched her big sisters Kierra and Taylor enjoying the snow.
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Elephants, Tigers And Bears…Oh My!

Another day, not wanting to sit still, we found that the local Shriners were holding a circus to raise funds to support the wonderful Shriners Hospitals.  How could we not go and help support such a worthy cause?

We gathered up Andrew and Owie and set off to take them to see their very first circus.  It was not a Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey sized event, but it was really a good time for everybody but one poor guy.  Keep reading.

There were these clowns walking around before the start of the show.




Marti was giving them a serious eyeballing.  I hope she’s not thinking of trading me in for a real clown…

There were some amazing tigers doing some cool feats.  They even had a rare, white tiger.


I never saw a tiger tight rope walk before, but I did tonight.


Even a jump through a flaming hoop.


How do they train tigers to do these tricks?  I couldn’t even train my dog to “sit”.

How about being launched from a swing?  I did this as a kid, this feat was a little higher than what I did.


They had some really cute, trained poodles.  Conga line, anyone?


I had to look closely to see if that was Rick riding the scooter…I’m not really sure.


Bears were there doing some great tricks, too.  Unfortunately, they were too far away to get good action shots. :c(


Then the real stars of the show came out.  They saved the best for last…the elephants!



Here is the one guy that didn’t really enjoy the show.  One of the elephants started to…poop!  The poor guy had to run out with a big bucket and catch the elephant’s business.  At every drop (and there were quite a few), the crowd went “Eeewww!”  How’d you like to have that job?


The show lasted about two hours.  It was worth it all, for kids young and old.


And of course…

        THE END!


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Friday, February 8, 2013

The Eyes Have It

Between the two of us, we have one pair of good eyes.  And between the two of us, we have one pair of bad eyes.  Unfortunately, as we just found out yesterday, the both of us have one of each.

I've been diagnosed with a cataract in my right eye and we're sitting here at our South Carolina "home" waiting for an appointment for me to see an ophthalmologist at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital to determine when I can have the surgery to correct it.

Marti has had some blurry vision in her right eye also, so we got an appointment at a civilian ophthalmologist and low and behold, she too has a cataract, probably as a result of the laser surgery she had in October 2011.  She now has an appointment for the surgery scheduled on March 18th.

Me?  I have been trying to get in touch with the VA hospital to see when I have an appointment.  The VA medical staff has been nothing short of terrific in my other appointments so far, but the huge problem I've been having is I have no control over when an appointment is scheduled for me and I only get notified just about a week in advance.  There is a social worker assigned to me that I've been leaving messages on her voice mail to see about appointments, she has access to that information.  Now if she'd just call me back...

So it looks like we'll be staying here much longer than we planned, back to the "Semper Gumby"(Always Flexible)  routine.  We seeing our plans to visit Florida this winter slowly slipping away.

It's not the end of the world, health has to come first.  Besides, I want to see everything out there clearly.  After all, those Florida gators have big teeth and I wouldn't want to run across one that I didn't see. 

So we'll continue to find things to get into trouble with enjoy while we're here.  :c)

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