Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Who Wants To...

...fly to Hawaii in style with me?

Video of United Airlines Stratoliner - 1950 

...back when flying was fun and waaaaay before airlines started treating paying customers as self-loading cargo...or worse, criminals...("hands up against the wall, feet back and spread 'em...")

Of course it was an 11 hour flight back then as you cruised along at 215 mph for 2,400 miles over the ocean...but what a luxurious way to spend 11 hours, complete with sleeping berths and cocktail lounge.

The one I really wish I could have experienced, however, is the Hawaiian Clipper...a 1935 Martin M-130...a huge 4 engine flying boat that cruised at 130 mph, making yours an 18 hour trip from California to Honolulu.

...and of course it, too, had sleeping berths and actual food (not just bags of peanuts)  they served you to you in a formal dining setting.

But the granddaddies of them all in terms of comfort and style...
...were the Boeing 314s "Clippers" that replaced the Martin M130's...visually very similar, but larger, faster, and even more luxurious.

Cruising along at 180 mph gave you 13 glorious hours in the sky, surrounded by comfort and class that rivaled first rate ocean liners of the day.

Sadly, their reign was shortlived...just a couple of years after they were built in 1938 and put in service, WWII broke out and they ended up being used for the war effort.

By the time the war ended in 1945 their technology was already obsolete and Pan Am abandoned  them in favor of faster, less expensive (and less luxurious) airplanes.

So...about that trip to Hawaii...back before all the condos and crowds...

In Ecclesiastes chapter 7 we read..."Say not thou, “Why were the former days better than these?” For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this..."

I've got to believe one of the reasons we shouldn't dwell on that is because it will make you crazy when you think of what's been lost to our so-called "forward march of progress..."

Turning to happy fare, we have Love United...
...in Holy Matrimony...Marcellus and Rileigh Hare, June 23, 2018.

It truly was a beautiful ceremony and Marcellus and Rileigh are such lovely people I wish them all the best life has to offer as they continue their journey together.

Their wedding was one of the  few times my 5 sons and I have all been in the same place at the same time in quite a few years...
Left to right that's Chris, Benjamin, an unidentified old man who wandered uninvited into the picture, Evan, Micah (father of the groom) and Ryan.

Karen organized the quick pic and did a nice job of getting everyone to look the same direction at the same time.

Evan just got out of the hospital a few weeks ago after back surgery when he had two vertebrae fused after a serious bone infection in his spine...
...amazing to see all 6'6" of him standing on two feet unassisted.  The above was taken at Craig's Cruisers the night before...fun after the rehearsal dinner...
My grandson Damien with his Uncle Benjamin...

After the wedding Karen and I scooted back to Holland and decided to stop in to Curragh's, the Irish pub there...
...where we enjoyed some Guinness, a Blue Moon, and some actual food...fish and chips and a chicken sandwich with basil pesto and swiss cheese...very yum...

Some recent sightings...
Rocky Raccoon putzing around the deer feeder...

...Bambi wondering why Rocky would hang around his feeder...

...a friend's (Larry...MORA pit crew/driver) newly re-installed deck and his pontoon boat at the family camp near TC...

...and the rare mulier splendidis seen here relaxing in her natural habitat (Starbucks at the mall)...

do NOT tell her I said that...

later, mcm fans...

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Fodders Day...

...to all you guys who feel like "coarse food for cattle, horses or sheep; inferior material used to supply a heavy demand."

And Happy Father's Day as well if appropriate to your current situation.

Karen made the above, delicious dessert for today...and Sarah gave me this truly excellent card:

She nailed my love of vintage things...kickin' it old school...thank you, Sarah...love you, too.

Was happy to see a couple of my guys later in the day...Micah and Ryan, along with Micah's son Isaiah...they stopped by in the afternoon...very enjoyable visit with them...Karen was kind enough to grill a batch of burgers and hot dogs for all of us...very much appreciated.

Karen commented after how hilarious it is to listen to all of us together...similar senses of humor working in concert I guess.

Micah got me this card:

I challenged him on the historicity of Teddy Roosevelt saying we should ride a dinosaur but he assures me it's true.  You don't think he'd lie to me, do  you?

Karen continues to whip our place (and me) into shape with all kinds of projects she dreams up while she's doing projects she's dreamed up.

The woman is merciless...however I did manage to sneak in a project of my own during one of those rare moments I was able to fool her into thinking I was obediently doing her bidding...
has he lost weight recently?
...when in fact I was summoning from the terrible depths of the arboreal nether regions...
...this tree creature guy...yes, I know, pure genius.

Here's Karen when she discovered the awful result of my nefarious subterfuge...
as Bugs Bunny used to opine, terrifyin', ain't it?
Mostly I think Karen just shakes her head and wonders what she was thinking when she married me.

I've got a friend from work who's been pit crew for MORA (Mini-Outlaw) class race cars for years, but this weekend he got behind the wheel and terrorized his fellow racers:

Great pics and I guess he had a blast doing it...so Larry, are you switching sides now?  Let someone else turn wrench and handle pit stops while you tear up the dirt tracks?

Interesting round of golf  yesterday due to the changeable weather...from some sunshine to some sprinkles with occasional thunder and lightning just to keep things exciting...
I love rainbows because of the promise they represent from Genesis 9...it's amazing to think God remembers us insignificant ants swarming around down here on planet earth, but He promises that the bow He sets in the sky is a visual reminder of His care and concern for us...and yesterday I saw one while walking the links...very beautiful indeed.

And it was a typical round for me...

...had a legitimate par on the par 3 #5...hit my tee shot with my cleek a little past the pin, about 175 yards or so, but off to the left of the green...then used my niblick to chip within about 3 feet of the hole and drilled the putt for a par.

Also had a "mulligan par" on the par 4 #8.

"Mulligan par" is my name for one do-over any where on the hole that results in a par.

In this case it was my 3rd shot...my first attempt I hit fat so I dropped another, recited the appropriate incantation to make the mulligan come true ("o demigods of the golfing netherworld, have mercy on me a hopeless duffer...ignore my previous failed attempt and accept this, my replacement shot in its stead...may it fly straight and true and may we never speak of this again") and this time my niblick shot landed within a couple of feet of the pin.  A 1 putt and voila, a mulligan par!

I like that name a lot better than the more common and perhaps more accurate "cheater's par".

But on the par 5 #4 I was reminded of Wendy's recently trolling Tiger Woods on twitter about his triple bogey at the U.S. Open.  By the time I finally had the little white ball in the hole I would have gladly taken Tiger's triple bogey.

Here you can see the ripples in the puddles from the sprinkles, but when it's 80 degrees at 8 in the morning, a few sprinkles are just fine.

In the writing department, I actually finished A Stillwater Christmas today...
..."finished" being a relative term as now begins the editing / rewriting process...we'll see what we end up with in another week or two.

later, mcm fans...

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 6th, 1944...

 ...D-Day...also known as Operation Overlord, the decisive start of the liberation of German held Europe during World War II via the beaches of Normandy, France.

There were five targeted beaches for landing points that morning: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

None of them were easy of course...enemy forces were poised to kill the liberators from superior vantage points as the vulnerable soldiers disembarked their landing boats.

But Omaha beach was the meat grinder.  Overall kill rate at Omaha was 8% of all landing forces...that's 2,811 men killed out of a little more than 34,000.

But those are summary numbers taken days after the victory had been won.

What was the kill rate on Omaha when the first companies - Able, Baker, Charlie - made the initial attempt to storm the beach at 6:30 in the morning?

Upwards of 90%

Think of that for a moment:  You're a 20 year old kid weighed down with 50 lbs of equipment on  your back when they drop the door of your landing craft...

...that is still in 8 feet of seawater and 20 yards from shore.

You obediently race off the relative safety of the landing craft and into the frigid waters where  you discover with a shock you can't touch bottom.

Panicked, you realize you're in over your head and rapidly sinking to the ocean's floor.

If you're quick witted enough you struggle to shed your 50 pound pack of gear that's supposed to help you survive this mission and bob to the surface to catch a gulp of life giving air.

As you do the water is strafed by machine gun fire from the bluffs high above  you, and instead of catching  your breath you take a bullet in the throat.

It took less than 30 seconds for you to die and you didn't even reach the beach.

I'm sorry, but it's not possible for most of us, sitting in the comfort of our homes, leading our sedentary lives of peace and safety, to grasp the terror of that morning on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

That any of that first wave of the liberation force was able to traverse the deadly stretch of sand from the shoreline to the bluffs is - well, depending on your spiritual view of the universe, either a miracle or some unexplainable quirk of fate.

But in spite of the overwhelming odds against them and the mounting evidence of tragic failure all around them, those soldiers kept coming, kept disembarking, kept dying there in the blood red surf with only 1 out of 10 being able to inch their way to safety.

It staggers the imagination to try and conceive of the deadly reality of that morning, but they experienced it.

In spite of the impossible odds against them, they established a beach head and the objective that was supposed to be achieved that morning was finally realized over the course of several days.

Those men who paid in blood, who forfeited their lives, who gave up their families, their hopes, their futures so the evil of Hitler's Nazi Germany could be defeated...

Those men deserve our undying thanks, respect and reverence.

So on this early summer day, 74 years removed from the unspeakable horror of that awful time of unmatched bravery and ultimate sacrifice, take a moment to give thanks to God in heaven for heroes such as them.

We - and much of the world - are free because of what they did on that terrible, glorious day.