Sunday, May 28, 2017


Stuff and people that are forged over years become hardened in the ways.  Like an old dependable tool that has been maintained, stored properly and comes out to play when needed or wanted. The tool never ever lets down on its function and often out performs the new shiny tool hanging on the shelf at the local hardware store. It bears the time to keep clean, well-oiled and stored like art on a wall. Stories told visually of times past through moments of simple observation.

I told my son the other day that a friend of his, whom he introduced us to a few years back, is the "salt of the earth." He agreed. Old-fashion backbone work ethic, honesty and trust-worthiness.  These are people you want to walk with you down dark alleys or stand next to you when the line in the sand is drawn. Them for you and you for them.

We have hired this young man to work for us from time to time this season. Hard to find good help. Maybe even impossible. Through a horde of black flies a few days ago, we worked with him thatching our lawns, raking and tossing the debris. And if the work was not unpleasant enough, the black flies added that unnecessary annoyance through out the day. We waved them off, tried to spray them off and killed the little buggers left and right as they landed on us. The young man explained to us that black flies are a sign of lots of near by fresh water. Unlike mosquitoes that spawn in stagnant water, black flies need fresh clean water as part of their life cycle. No black flies during these 40 days of their life cycle is a sign of a lack of clean water. There is order in the universe and all God's creatures play a part.

Yesterday, he worked pulling, cutting and hauling out a large pine tree he fell this past winter. He has the logging tractor, tools and skill sets to make this look easy. He also bounds through the woods like a bobcat. I have never ever had the physical presences to bound through the woods. Three ten-foot lengths, near the trunk of the tree, were hauled to a near by sawyer for becoming 1 x 6's.

 Fresh cut 1 x 6 x 10' pine @ $1.50 each. 

The young sawyer is a friend of his and I enjoyed watching them talk of life they live around the work they do. I joked with the sawyer that I will be in the next day at 08:00 to pick up the lumber. He shot back that he would be up at 06:00 to make sure he has it done. I think he was serious and I would not be surprised to get a call here in the next half hour saying the boards are ready for pick up. He knew I was teasing, but the look in his eye was one of a friendly challenge. 

On our final drive to dump the remain logs and brush, our young friend stopped his truck and pointed to a fork on the one lane dirt road. He said that when he was 12 years old, his father would drop him off early in the morning there. He had is .22 rifle and plenty of ammunition. Sandwiches and snacks were packed as he would spent the day in the back woods hunting squirrels and hiking the  hills and valleys. At sunset, his dad would return to pick him up. 

The story was too short for me. I wanted more. I could see him standing there as his father dropped him off. Adjusting his rifle, pack and turning to the trails for the days adventure. A day in a New England youngster's life, 25 years ago. 

Today he lives off-grid and is about as happy as a person can be. Works his own schedule, manages his own life and has more work to do that he can get done. He is wanting to expand by hiring another worker. Said he is a week behind his work schedule already. We have offered up his name, number and work ethic to others seeking someone who can get a job done around a house and property. On his first job, the party he was working for quadrupled their order after just the first day he was on the job. Now he has landed another large job about an hour away. Being around this young man is a treat.



A plaque my wife and I left at the Wall a few years back over Memorial Day Weekend in Memory of Arnold Nakkerud. 

Arnie is in the top row, second for the left. I am in the bottom row left.

I met Arnie in Fort Walters Texas upon arriving for flight training in 1966. He and I were room mates through that portion of flight training and again in the last half of training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. Memories and too many stories surface this morning honoring his friendship, times we spent together and in memory of him giving his life flying helicopters in Vietnam, 1967.

Arnie was the very first person I ever met who lived life to the fullest every minute of every day. I often put his friendship into a frame work of the "first real person I ever met." Not a day went by during the months of flight school where he did have me shaking my head or laughing at his living. He was a mixture of James Dean, Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando on any given day. 

I'll not forget him riding with me on a student cross-country flight, unhooking his seat belt and standing on the skid, peeing as we were flying the first leg of our flight together. He was laughing and I was worrying how I would be explain how he fell out of the helicopter. All-night poker games and pool playing were as normal with him and a few others as a good night's sleep was for me. Chasing a beer tossed from my MG midget to him following behind on his motorcycle. Yes, he could catch them in mid-flight. Our weekend trips in my Corvette to Panama City during the last months of our training. Throwing a lit bag of fire crackers into our bunkroom and then closing the door on me at 4 AM. I doubt I ever laughed so hard and was so pissed off at the same moment in my life as I was that morning. But we were the best of friends and shared good life and living during 1966.

God Bless Arnie, 50 years seems like the blink of an eye, but you are not and never will be forgotten.


Her mentioned that friends' sons and daughters were graduating last weekend. Some from high school, most from college. Master's degree in Chemical Engineering and so forth.  Actually impressive some of the young people we have come to know who have recently graduated.  They are amongst the few graduates whose college degrees are worth more than what was spent on college. That is not the case though with many of the liberal arts or general majors earning degrees this year. Stories abound around the nation of the realities of life in college and educations vs debt acquired vs good paying job opportunities.

I laughed when she finished mentioning the graduates. She asked what I was laughing at and I said that just this morning, son left show up on the end of a 100' sling dangling from a helicopter. He and his linemen crew have been taken to work and back for the past 14 days straight as their work site is not accessible by vehicles. He checks in several times a week and there is always excitement in his voice at the work they are doing. At days end, I can hear the exhaustion from a full day of this kind of work building and maintaining the power structures across northern New England. He is a member of an elite crew in this neck of the woods and I am a proud father.

He stopped by late yesterday afternoon to sit and visit. Showed us a few photos of him and the crew leaving the yard on the end of the sling line. Sixty-pound backpack and on his way to work. I have done a few fun things in life but never ever hung from a sling line from a helicopter. After awhile, he gets up from the lawn chair and says it is time to go. Dinner, time to love the dog and cat and get ready for tomorrow. He throws out his arms to give me a hug and I get lost in this long, tall drink of water holding me. Not an ounce of fat on the boy and words cannot tell how well the world is in his arms. He has, since day one, always lived life according to his perspectives and has always did it his way. Always! 

He says "I love ya, dad" and disappears down the driveway.



The bombing in Manchester this past week is old news now. The running of the same cell phone videos has worn out our TV screens and the underbelly steams with diversity and a serious worry for how Ms. Grande is feeling. Twenty-two dead on her watch. No it is not her fault in any way shape or form. But her name is forever linked in stone with this moment. I am hopeful she will  stand tall and woman up in her responses. But all this looks different through my eyes and being worth millions of dollars and having millions of followers has to shape young perspectives differently. I wish her the best of luck in navigating these waters in the months and years ahead.

Other celebrities want to be in front of stories like this with some quintessential statement healing the world. Heart hands in he mirrors. I wonder how being right there in the middle of this bombing and wearing the carnage would evoke heart hands. Maybe it does? But I doubt the folks touched directly by this tragedy were singing songs of love, peace and coming together this past week.

My father had a way of teaching me. I do not have memories of him telling me not to do this, nor to do that nor preaching right and wrong. I remember dinners together, parents coming home dead dog tired from work and weekends with a family drive down the coast with a cooler full of homemade potato salad and fried chicken.  Most all memories were of being together and doing. Father taught me life and living through different doors and view points. He was so wise as to understand that if I learned "it" myself it would be a life-long lesson and become a part of me. If I earned "it", I would appreciate it over having it handed to me.

The older folks who often came and went through out home also taught using similar techniques.  Lessons learned the hard way set more deeply than lessons learned the easy way. My adult teachers always seemed to know the answers to the questions. They laid paths in my way but the decisions were mine to make. 

Manchester is another lesson for the world. Hard lesson; an "in your face lesson" for sure.

 Old Remus 479  teaches about this the way dad might have taught.  

"Ah those irrepressible muzzies and their madcap hijinx. Oh sure, mass death of innocents is annoying, but other people's lives are a small price to pay for the wonders of diversity. No sense in getting all wrapped 'round the axle, it's nothing that can't be fixed with mops and buckets."


This past week, DHS Secretary Kelly says we would all stay home if we knew what he knows about terrorism. Well, we are not going to stay home and we know about terrorism. 

Heads up, live your life and for goodness sake, seek some old fashion humor and laughing in the process. Do not back peddle and thanks for visiting this week.


Sunday, May 21, 2017


"...and some of those Fokkers were flying Messerschmidt's!"  POP used to love saying this. Made him laugh. Today her and I find ourselves saying this, only faster. We make each other laugh.


I sit here this morning just shaking my head. 



Her went to the big town last week to run a few errands. She always asks if there is anything we need or that if there is something she can pick up for me. I said yes, "A Fidget." The major shopping center just said they have a shipment in now. She gives me the look. I explain that it is for my few BLOG followers. I want to write about it. I told to get me two if she can do that for under $20. 

Her asked what a Fidget is. I said it is what you do at the computer when you write. "You fidget." I continued; "You move the mouse in a circular motion causing the arrow on the screen to paint circles, or squiggles or define some hap hazard pattern. You are bouncing your leg when we sit and visit over morning coffee at the kitchen table." Someone has built a device called a Fidget for fiddling with. That being the scientific description here. 

I came across this toy several weeks ago. It was interwoven with the idea of needing something to fidget with while working at a desk. Keeping hands and mind occupied together while working, whatever working was looking like. 

The toy spins, has bearings and hooked me. For some reason I found I wanted/needed one and put that on the weeks shopping list. Come to find out all the big chains in middle New England were sold out. Cannot keep them on the shelves and in fact, the toy never gets to the shelves and are kept behind one of the counters in Wally World for example. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? 

Her noticed the chain store just got in a shipment and I tasked her with getting me one or two while shopping there that day. She had to ask several folks, found the secret counter only to find only 3 left in the store. She purchased two and received two "atta girls" and home made chili dogs for lunch. 

Some research has revealed that these spinning toys have been around quite awhile but for some reason have taken off only recently in the toy world. Could be a half billion dollar business when all said and done. 

So why? Well, why not? Hard to play with here typing though. They do spin quite awhile once spun up. Fun to handle, flip, spin but have run into a wall of boredom after just a couple days. Right now, these two toys are sitting next to my key board waiting, like the dog, for attention. All I need to do is just put one in motion, and then back to work. It makes the lowest of humming sound as it winds down and then again needs attention.  But it has bearings, spins, creates motion and comes alive. I am indeed in need of help. Indeed!! 

A little tongue in cheek when I first wrote about Fidgets. Given the crazy world we live in how could a blog like this be anything more than an old man giving way to an earlier stage of development. Whhheeelllllllll! 

Daughter swallows part of a Fidget.

Disrupting Children's Learning

I am reminded of Cracker Jacks.

This was a wonderful snack in the growing up days. Carmel popcorn, mixed with peanuts and a prize. Maybe a spinning top, a special decoder ring, whistles, jacks, and the like. Never in my youth did it occur to me to eat the toy. We would eat around it, dump the candy on a surface or in the palm of our hands and sort out the toy. We played with the toys and ate the Cracker Jacks. 

Cracker Jacks today are not the Cracker Jacks of yesteryear. No prizes any more and no wonder. But there was a time.


I broke my New Year's resolution by going to the yellow restaurants and order their famous fries along with a Frork. The fries used to be famous with all the salt and flavor. Not so much any more. Fries are ok, but no longer a one of a kind food snack. Regardless, I failed at my resolution but I did it for you. Yep, you are to blame. That what we do now you know, we always blame others for our problems or poor decision making.

Her and I received our small order of fries, but no Frork. Apparently the Frork has not yet arrived here in Middle New England. What a let down. I had big plans with over salted french fries, three of them stuck in the Frork and then slathered in too much ketchup. All of this happening w/o the need for a half dozen napkins to clean off red finger tips.  It was to be a test and I was going to let you in on all of my insights. Maybe next blog.

Will we see stories of kids eating the french fries, ketchup AND the Frork?



I read last week of "Avocado Hand" sending folks to the hospital. Bing or Goggle that for stories. Apparently, a bigger problem than one might think.

I watched Jaques Pepin do this awhile back. If memory serves me right, he ran a small sharp knife around the avocado cutting down to the seed. Then gave a simple turn of the two half's leaving one with the seed inside. Holding this one in the palm of this hand, he used a larger knife to wack down once hitting the center of the seed, sticking the sharp knife in the seed. A simple turn of the knife removed the seed. Somewhere within that procedure, folks are "screwing the pooch." 

I have cut myself over the course of this life a few times. Mostly small cuts where a little soap, water and bandaid sufficed. There were also a few instances where I had to wrap the hand and go to the emergency room. I have cut my fingers/hands seriously, a few times, to learn that the worse was still yet to come. That being the Novocaine needle inserted into the soft tissue between the fingers. 

Watching Jacques Pepin do the avocado seed removal procedure alerted me not to do that. Learning from past experiences thinking that what ever it was, it was not necessarily always as easy as the other guy demonstrated it be. Both her and I remove avocado seeds the messy way. Very safe, but messy. Half the avacado looks good enough to publish, the other half not so much.


1.75 of Ground Chuck (no substitutes- ground chuck will say ground chuck on the label)--break apart in a large bowl with a fork
Add coarse sea salt and ground black pepper.
Add one egg.
Add 3/4 sleeve of hand-crushed Ritz Crackers
One turn around the bowl of light ream, about a 1/4 cup
Add 1/2 finely chopped white onion
NO!!---do not add anything else.

Mix by hand, turning, smushing, turning and when it appears mixed, plop it in a large glass meat loaf pan. Do not over mix. Push down the edges a half inch or so. Bake at 375, in the middle of oven for 90 minutes. Of course, you did grease the meat loaf pan, right? I use finger and soft butter method. 

Draining out all the liquid will dry out the meat loaf. I usually use a spatula to cut slices and then let the slices drain some before plating. Drain most all the grease out when putting away leftover meat loaf.

Results is excellent meat loaf. Adding Ritz Crackers is one of the secrets. (Use them next time in your meatballs) The other is good ground chuck. I am a fan of coarse ground sea salt and always turns of ground black pepper.

Make these potatoes. I used 4 Yukon Gold potatoes and finger/soft butter for greasing the muffin pans. Followed the video and recipe. The potatoes went in with the meat loaf when an hour was left on the cook. This potato recipe will go great with many meals.

A great easy weekend meal with leftovers. 


Practice safety this week. Seek smiles and some laughter. Look forward to tomorrow and plant something.

Sunday, May 14, 2017



Woodpile #477 hits this out of the park for me this week. An excellent introduction with some great other sites and comments along the same lines. Cannot say it better. See Other Places listed at the left. 

This being said, my daily comings and goings are at times distracted by concerns and the nonchalant talking of War III. My senses tell me something is close around the corner and it is not going to be pleasant. Domino effects, too, with so many houses of cards.

Is it coming to my door when the gates open? Is it coming further down the road in other forms? Will the events eat themselves in place and leave us as spectators to figure it out as time passes survivors? More questions here could fill this weeks blog. Hell, I do not know. Probably at best, any Plan A, B  will be pushed out early and we will find ourselves living a whole new world with reminiscing of yesteryear and the good old days being story time connection to times gone by. The after may be fraught with much uncertainty. 

I want to chuckle at the the missiles failing from NK and when they do get off the pad, they head towards Russia necessitating NK pushing the destruct button. America is their enemy in every way, shape and form, but KJ-u seems smart enough not to piss off the Russians.   I must remind myself as I smirk, that who knows what the real truth is and not to be so quick to jump to conclusions or leap through windows at false flags. (I see this morning news that NK did have a successful launch that impacted close to Russia).

We baby boomers were well-schooled in Duck and Cover. (Dress Rehearsal for Armageddon) has a great gif. of what D&C looked like then). I remember in grade school, along with my classmates, getting under our desks from time to time doing this drill. It made everyone feel better, but to no end. We would return to our little art projects afterwards, snacking on the white glue paste we were using to make our Mother's Day cards. 

In fact, all these nuclear war threats are now a part of our old people DNA and have become mostly a no never mind. I have no memory of teachers or adults going crazy/hysterical during discussions or school drills. I remember it all just being matter of fact. We were as prepared then as we are today. We, being da peoples. A current warning example.    Anonymous Warns 5-6-17 

There a lot of other warnings, on various sites, that are not quite the video production, but worthy of time reading when we come across them.


Virtues of a Gun Free Society.

A quick important lesson. Park in permanent memory the understanding that it is not "their" guns that are the problem.

Be-careful going by yourself. Maybe a very good time in our history to room with a half dozen folks (like minded) instead of alone.

Ya gotta give the enemy some credit on this one though. Very creative, with little to no risk to them and coming through your local shopping site soon.


Three minutes of capabilities of this airplane. That it flies at low altitudes and little to no airspeed is a testament to technological advances in aviation.

Wait long enough and there will a study proving that you are really just fine. 

What about talking to the dog, cat, birds and budding vegetables? 

Measuring Time

Honestly, I got lost measuring my giraffe and you measuring yours. 

One thing for sure, time goes faster as you get older. Explain that to me w/o using giraffes though.


Three minutes of wonderful space travel and photography. Turn up the sound a little.


I was privy to a private conversation between old people; my peeps, a few days ago. I was walking the isles at our local grocery store and two old couples had picked a corner of an isle, blocking access and oblivious to their surroundings. One older gal was telling the other that "they want us to all check in now using e-mail and on line.....I do not know how to check in on line.....I do not do email.....What ever happened to having meetings like we use to?" She was absolutely dumbfounded that meetings no longer were a way to gather for information sharing.

Bingo. There it was as plain as day; the old gal was living in the new world, not adapting and holding on tighter than I am to days gone by. The husbands were both standing there waiting for marching orders. I wedged my through to the Zesty Italian Dressing.  Times gone by.



Big rains coming Sunday, Mother's Day. Maybe a couple inches. Grandpa would have given the forecast as "gonna piss like a cow on a flat rock."  We would act in accordance with Grandpa's forecast and tidy up places, tools and animals to weather the "storm." And so it was here yesterday, getting the last garden ready in the raised bed that has finally rotted to the point where this is its last season. Garlic going strong and soon to be joined by onions and bush beans. Six beets can be seen in the lower right corner and doing quite well so far.

Her has her flower plan and she was doting over species and locations.  At days end we were sore, dirty and happy with our efforts.


The Road to Year Million      Homo Sapien 2.0     National Geographic 

Series premiers on May 15th.

Going to finish here with this week's blog. If you follow me you know that AI intrigues me to the "nth" degree. I cannot help but enjoy sharing stuff like this.

Maybe because I believe this is one of the paths humanity is already on and it is way too late to turn back. If we do not destroy ourselves in the process, stretching the human experience into immortality and eventually replicating into machine is not that much of stretch of the imagination. What any of this will actually look like is anyone's guess, but the technology will exist. And yep, it ought to scare the hell out of human kind.

Regardless, consider this series, record it and give it a go. If you enjoy Science Fiction, this could be right up your street.


Stay safe and have a wonderful week.

Sunday, May 7, 2017


Happened across the above article (great .gif intro) and thought it a great subject for a good blog post this week. I cannot imagine what the folks standing behind "non-penetrable" rock/stone walls of past must have been thinking when several of these massive trebuchets of war were being constructed in the near distance outside their walls. 

During the last few years of my teaching career, I was fortunate to teach Project Lead The Way courses here in New England.  This was an up and coming engineering program(s) with strong computer-aided curriculum support. The courses were canned in large part, but during my years, there was still freedom and latitude for the individual instructor to input problem solving and use his/hers teaching experience to enhance the curriculum. Today, I do not think instructors have as much curriculum leeway we had 10-12 years ago. The courses were academically challenging and brought to them the brightest and highly motivated students. And yes, the courses were open to all students.

One of the courses I taught was Introduction to Engineering Design. This course was largely driven using a high-end computer drafting program through which students were introduced to real world computer drafting programs but were also tasked with engaging thinking skills in the design process. Problems were given to grow their computer drafting skills and push their problem solving skill through design.  On any given day I was never ever one step ahead of these kids. They pushed my teaching skills to the limit daily, kept me on my toes and chewed up the curriculum faster than we teachers could dish it out. It was a most wonderful way to wrap up my final teaching years.

In all my 30 plus years of teaching, I never found anything more enjoyable than kids who pushed the outside of the course envelope. Asking questions and my enjoyment at pushing back with another question to see the look in their eyes of a brain at work. And if I ever had a solution to any problem, they had so many more. They came to solutions through different doors in multi dimensional world. So often, I would just sit back and laugh at the what they would bring to the table in personalities and problem solving technique. If they left a day's class befuddled, they came early the next day with solutions.  Wonderful years with exceptional kids. 

I think it was my second year teaching PLTW when I was planning their end-of-the-course final exam. I was a strong proponent, through out my teaching career, to put proof-of-learning into a project demanding course curriculum and thinking/building skills. Designing and turning in a set of drawings is one thing, but can you build / prototype it? I quickly learned how the friendly concept of competition fed the learning environment.

So to those classes that year and the next, they were given the trebuchet design problem. Design and build a trebuchet that would fit inside a 2'x2'x2' cube. They would compete for the highest grades through distance and placement of a tossed golf ball. Sounded simple, as most things do at the onset. And it was, till the first student team tested their trebuchet outside the school building. I will get back to this.

Once I decided on this final project and thought it would test the overall curriculum, I set forth working in my shop at night, building one. I would never give such a final project without first building one myself. In doing so, I will make all the mistakes they will and with hopes of being one step ahead of them in the full process. And in all honesty, I was, like they would be, a kid with a new toy. 

I had time before the final project was to be given and those week nights and weekends were spent with Trebuchet Prototype 1. All that I learned and the fun I had was much more than I could cover here. And if all of this was not challenging and fun enough of in itself, kicking off that first trebuchet final exam with those kids exceeded all of my expectations. All that I learned in the building of my trebuchet was tested the day I gave out the problem. If they had one question, they had a hundred. I must have been drooling in front of the class as they took flight on this problem to solve. 

I unveiled the trebuchet I built. We took it outside and shot it. It worked just fine. I was not worried about students copying my idea or work as they had to work for longest distance and also have the ability to hit a given target area. I just built a trebuchet that threw a golf ball. 

The deluge of questions were all answered with:

#1.  It has to fit within a 2'x2'x2' cube.
#2.  It must have a safety pin to prevent accidental firing.

And of course, their project was to be turned in with a full set of working drawings and a technical write-up of how they incorporated the complete design process.  

Materials and hand tools were provided in the classroom. They could bring materials from home. And I did have to fine tune the things I did not see coming. Always, always, always. Their final course grade was an accumulation of everything they accomplished that semester, plus their performance on the final exam. The classroom was made available after school each week also. 


The next weeks were spent helping with building problems, solving safety issues, their development of working drawings and working the design process. They ran me ragged. Those who were over zealous to test fire often found a broken trebuchet as a result of poor design and rushing. They were back at ground zero and the whole class learned from their mistakes. Several had very good initial success and that, too, was teachable. 

The final exam week arrived, all of their work was due to be turned in and the trebuchets were set to perform and be graded. 

We went outside one by one and the tests began. Distance first. 

They each had as many attempts as we could get in. They had to make a decision if the distance they threw was a keeper or to be disregarded. They could get three keepers only from which the average was their grade. Their choice as to how they wanted to work that option. 

The first throw that first day threw the gold ball across the road, across the sport practice lawn and into the teachers paved parking lot, FULL of cars. Had to be 100' if it was an inch. I held my breath as I knew this final exam could cost me some money now. The golf ball bounced and bounced and completed it journey in the grass lawn on the other side of the parking lot, missing every hood and windshield.  The class held its breath as the golf ball completed its journey and they let out a collective cheer. That was the first and last golf ball we tested that semester.

I asked several of the student to go to the gym and find us some plastic whiffle golf balls. They did and we continued.

There was success and failures. The bell curve was well represented. It was fair and an exceptional learning exercise. Success, failure or problems with their prototypes slightly impacted final course grades. It was designed to be that way. The learning was more important as it always has been. And, the learning was fun and ground that could be built upon.


Another Day at The Office

Son in the foreground, waiting for the new cross arm to be lowered in place while he and the other fellow can bolt it to the poles. 

Next they wait for the helicopter to raise the slacked line into place for them to secure to the glass bell insulators. 

Yep, a father bragging here a little bit. I do get a kick out of the kid getting a kick out of this kind of work. These lineman have their S*** together, along with a talented helicopter pilot, to make all of this seem so easy.  


Have a wonderful week.