Friday, May 26, 2017
What can we do about a Middle Eastern country that invades its neighbors, promotes radical Islam, and suppresses woman's rights? What should we do about another country that just sold that Middle Eastern nation hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advanced weapons?
The Middle Eastern country in question is Saudi Arabia, of course. It's committing war crimes in Yemen and suppressed democracy in Bahrain. Women are basically their husband's property and aren't even allowed to drive. The royal family supports Wahhabism, a very strict form of Islam in where all non-believers are considered enemies. This is the country that the United States just made a major arms deal with.
Do they sound like our friends? To me they are using us to further their aims and that's all. If any Muslims should be banned, it should be members of the Saudi Royal family and their government officials. Obviously, they exercise undue influence on American politicians.
Something should be done.
Should we do something about that Middle Eastern nation with a secretive advanced nuclear weapon program? You know, Israel?
My point is that the Middle East is a complicated place. Should the United States be involved there at all? How many American lives are any of those places worth? Darn few in my opinion. Any of our efforts there do long range good? Isn't it about time we figure out if there is anything at all in that part of the world worth our trouble?
Thursday, May 25, 2017
It took weeks to get in to see the oral surgeon about my broken tooth. The local dentist didn't want to try to pull it. He was afraid due to my “massive jaw.”
The closest oral surgeon was over an hour away. They scheduled me for a consultation and were very clear that it would cost $150 just to be examined. I drove over and the surgeon thought he could pull the tooth without too much trouble. After weeks of dealing with a tender tooth, I was more than willing to let him try.
Before anything else happened, I had to pay an additional $205 on top of the consultation fee. Only then would he pull the tooth. Seemed a bit cold hearted to me, but I've no dental insurance so it didn't surprise me.
Fortunately, the guy did a great job with the tooth and got it all in one go. Smoothest bit of dentistry I've ever had done. He wasn't cheap, but he knew his stuff. Usually my roots break and I'm spitting out bits of tooth for weeks. That's one reason the local guy didn't want to touch it.
My grandfather was both tough and cheap. He pulled all his own teeth with a pair of pliers. When too few were left, he pulled the rest. Back then you could cross the border into Canada and get good quality dentures at a steep discount, so that's what he did.
Bad teeth run in the family. My dad had dentures at age of fourteen. At least his dad paid for them to be pulled. My father was determined I'd get decent dental care as a kid. I hated it, but I've still got most of my teeth. The loss of one back molar won't bother me much.
I'm glad that's over with, even though it cost a pretty penny.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The day started cold, but by the afternoon is was nice enough for outdoor projects. A friend had a half dozen of pallets to get rid of. The veggie van was set up for camping. It took about 20 minutes to roll up the mattress and to remove the tables. That gave me room to haul things. All the pallets fit in perfectly.
Re-configuring the van gave me a chance to see just what was left in there. Since the van had not been used all winter there was plenty of time to forget. I like to keep some emergency supplies in the van at all times. It has two camp stoves, cookware, chairs, a folding table, sleeping bags, a spare tent, saws, water and 60 freeze dried meals. There's everything needed for bugging out, including books and playing cards for entertainment.
Then I finally climbed inside the Oday 19 sailboat. Since my leg is still a bit gimpy I made sure to use a really good heavy duty stepladder to climb in. The new registration was swapped out with the old. The emergency gear is all there, and the flares are still good for another year. No cabin leakage was detected, only a small bit of normal condensation.
After that I installed the new battery and hooked it up to the solar panel. It's a great feeling when the charge controller lights came on all green, showing everything is working normally. There is only one thing left to do before launching it in the lake. The tiller spent the winter exposed to the elements and could use sanding and fresh varnish.
That can wait until tomorrow. Then maybe I can get back to my long neglected motorcycle project. That is, unless my wife asks me to do less fun projects like mowing the lawn.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Okay, it's no secret that I've never been a fan of Trump. His poor treatment of everyone from women to contractors is well documented. Personally, I'm not fond of rich, loud-mouthed louts from New York.
In spite of that, I really hoped he'd be good for the country. After all, we elect human beings to office, not saints.
So for those of you who supported Trump, any regrets? Any problems with heath care getting worse and more expensive for the average person? Are you fine with an Education Secretary who's only qualification is being a big money donor? How about the Russia scandals? What if there really is something there? Any problem with there being almost daily scandals?
Now if all your news comes from Fox, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. If you listen to news from just about any other news organization from anywhere in the world, you'd be exposed to a different viewpoint.
It is possible that Fox is right and everybody else in the whole world is “fake news,” but that's not the way to bet.
You get no points for claiming what Obama did or Clinton would have done is worse. That's just trying to change the focus.
Now some people I've talked to forgive Trump for all those things because they really hate Liberals, Mexicans, and Muslims. Since Trump is attacking those people, he's fine in their book. Fear and hate are powerful forces.
I'm old enough to remember Nixon. For months I thought he was being attacked unfairly. About the time he fired Archibald Cox I realized he really was a bad character after all. It was tough to admit I was wrong about him.
Do I want Trump to be impeached? Not particularly. Just being a nasty character isn't enough. He has to be found doing real crimes of a serious nature. That, and a Republican Congress has to decide to impeach him. Even if he was guilty, most lack the stones to do it. If he was removed from office, would the country be better off or worse off? The turmoil would be intense and any replacement could be even worse.
I don't even know what to wish for.
Monday, May 22, 2017
One of my granddaughters had a gymnastics performance. Of course, she had her own cheering section of assorted relatives.
After the event we all decided to go out together for a late lunch. A new burger place opened up nearby, one of those high quality specialty places. They charge more than I'd normally pay for a burger, but the food really was great. Since the weather was pleasant, we decided to take advantage of their outdoor seating.
Most of us were done our meals and had reached that point where we were nibbling at “just one more hand cut herb encrusted fry.” At that point there was a popping noise. The automatic lawn sprinklers sprang out of the ground and turned on. At first they pointed away from the tables, but soon they rotated to where we were sitting.
There was a hilarious scramble as we grabbed the remains of our meals and hot footed it out of the spray. The owner of the burger place ran out and tried to shut down the sprinklers, only succeeding in getting soaked in the process. He never did figure out the shut down procedure.
He was hugely apologetic and obviously worried we'd be upset. I'm proud to say my people could only see the humor in the situation. We all had a good laugh, pleased to have a new story to tell. I'm sure at some point we'll be at another family gathering and someone will say, “Remember the time when . . .”
Then we will have another good chuckle.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
As a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s, I didn't even know what a tick looked like. They just weren't a thing here in northern New Hampshire. I thought our vast array of biting insects were bad, but I didn't know what bad really was.
Lyme disease is pretty nasty. In the early days of the disease a coworker got infected. He picked up the disease while training with the National Guard in Massachusetts. Back then nobody knew what the disease was or how to treat it. It almost killed him. He missed months of work and it was years before he received a proper diagnosis and treatment.
In all our travels, my lovely wife and I have not had to deal with Lyme,but our dog had to be treated for it. One time my lovely wife and I were on a camping trip. We picked up so many ticks that we spent a long long night searching for them with headlamps and tweezers. Not only did we have to pick them off our bodies, we had to go through our clothes and everything in the tent. We never camped there ever again.
This year they are particularly bad once more. It seems all we have to do is to walk outside and they find us. Of course, the dog excels at bringing them into the house. I just refreshed her flea and tick medication so hopefully that will be less of a problem. At least most of the ticks we've found are the common wood tick, not the deer ticks that carry Lyme.
Lyme is the big concern here in New England, but we travel all around the country. Ticks carry some other nasty diseases in other regions. To me one of the weirder tick born diseases is Alpha-gal allergy. I know someone who came down this disease. He is now allergic to meat from mammals and is basically a vegetarian because of it.
Yes, ticks are just plain evil.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Last fall I got sick before I could finish all the outside jobs that had to be done before the snow fell. One of the things that didn't happen was removal of the heavy duty marine battery from the boat. It was still hooked up to the solar panel so I had some hope the solar charger would preserve the battery.
What I had not counted on was the battery locker getting flooded. The charge controller was also mounted in that locker. They both spent the winter in a block of ice. Not a good way to treat electrical stuff. I replaced the charge controller with a spare. The battery would not take a charge. My tester showed an internal short.
Last year I bought the battery during one heck of a sale. This year I see the same battery going for over $150. Yikes! Figuring I had nothing to lose, I took the old battery in to see if there was any warranty left on it. Turns out when I bought the original battery, they never ticked off the little circles that indicate when it was purchased. The guys decided to assume it was under the one year replacement and gave me a new one for free.
It was nice of them, but I am a regular there. I always joke around with them a bit when doing business. Does not hurt to be friendly. Sometimes it helps a whole lot.
After that I sorted out the sailboat's new running lights. It's just about ready for the water -as am I.
Friday, May 19, 2017
The free sailboat we were looking into. Someone beat us to the punch. The boat is supposed to be hauled away this weekend. However, if for some reason those people flake on the deal, the owners are saving our number.
It would have been neat to have a good 30 foot boat but it's not the best of timing for us. Coastal Massachusetts is one of the more expensive places to keep a boat, even on a mooring. Don't get me wrong, we'd make it work. It would be close to one of my daughter's and her family, so that would be good. However, we'd have to leave earlier than planned in the fall to beat the cold weather. Still, it's all workable. If for some reason we get another opportunity to take the boat, we most likely would do it.
Our fallback plan is to do a mixture of camping and sailing. We'd hook up our Oday 19 sailboat behind our ambulance/motorhome conversion. The van's fixed and running well. The sailboat basically just needs a new battery. Before heading to southern salt water I'd give it a new coat of bottom paint, but that can wait until the last minute. The big advantage of this arrangement is the fact that we already own everything.
My lovely wife won't let me take the little Oday across the Gulf Stream,so the Bahamas would be out for next winter. However, the shallow draft opens up a lot of Florida waters that other boats cannot get into. When we get tired of the tight quarters on the boat, we can easily haul it out and stay in the van a while. One big advantages of our trailer sailor arrangement is being able to stick around until after Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.
Of course, anything could happen. We are flexible and ready to make changes at a moment's notice.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
So I went to my doctor's appointment. He took one look at my leg and got very excited. He said: Amazing! Fantastic! Apparently, it was a lot better than he expected -a lot better. The previous visit he was making noises of sending me to a wound clinic. Today he sent me on my way with just a few minor instructions on how to take care of myself. At the end of the appointment, the doctor said he had one request for me. I thought he wanted me to lose weight.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I want you go and have a good time.”
“Okay,” I said. “I can do that.”
A few days back my lovely wife was reflecting on how we've refused two free sailboats. The first one was a 42 foot ketch, based in Maine. The problem with that boat was its wooden hull. The hull was sound, but we wanted to sail warm southern waters. There are critters in tropical waters that eat wooden boats. It would have become a maintenance nightmare. My lovely wife pointed out to me that we don't want to fix boats; we want to sail them.
The second boat we refused was a catamaran. I was salvaging what I could from the wreck of our Ranger sailboat. The tow boat guy said he felt really bad they couldn't save my boat. He knew a guy who was losing his boat storage and was looking for someone to take a catamaran off his hands. I know that my lovely wife was not ready yet. Had I know it would have taken her only a few weeks to get back on the horse, I might have taken the guy up on it. Anyway, at the time she wasn't ready.
So my lovely wife says we better take the next free sailboat that's offered us. Less than two days later we find out from my oldest daughter about someone who's giving away a 30 foot sailboat. They sold their house and are moving away from the ocean. As part of the deal they have until the end of the month to remove the boat from the property. I would have gladly paid to have the boat trucked to the marina and tied to a mooring ball. I've been putting together a sailboat fund and that would have more than covered the expenses.
Unfortunately, it looks like we may have missed our chance on this one. The owner was supposed to get back to us but did not. While I have not totally given up hope, it doesn't looks promising. Of course, someone in the middle of selling their house has a lot of balls in the air, so maybe they just got too busy. We shall see.
Even if that deal falls apart, I'm not too worried. The universe will provide. In the mean time I've been fixing up the Oday 19. The mast light's replaced and new bow lights wired in. All I need is some sealant to finish that job. The old charge controller for the solar panel failed, but I had a replacement that's better than the one that died. The battery itself seems to have developed an internal short, but might still be under warranty. After that it will be ready for sailing.
There's been a huge change in the weather. Sunday we had snow. Wednesday it got into the mid 80s. Thursday it'll be around 90, and records may be broken across the state. How weird is that?
I'm glad my leg looks good enough that I can wear shorts again. Before the ugly zombie flesh could have frightened small children.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
What do you do when life doesn't work for you anymore? We are supposed to go to school, graduate, then go to school some more. By the time we are in our mid-20s we are supposed to find a good job. Then we get married, and have 2.1 children. After that we work until we are near death then retire. Sounds bleak when laid out that way, but for many people it wasn't that bad. People got to eat on a regular basis. They had a roof over their heads to keep the weather off and a place to raise a family. If your job was a grind, at least you had the weekends.
That model, while it wasn't great, had a certain predictability and comfort to it. It never was all that simple, but it was considered what was normal. Normal was good. In the '60s and '70s many young people attempted to break out of that mold. They tried everything from communes, to mind expanding drugs, to free love, to alternative religions. Eventually, most of them cut their hair, got a job, and dropped back in. Not all, but enough for it to look like a failed experiment.
Now we find ourselves at a new societal crisis. Young people with master's degrees are waiting tables. Not just Liberal Arts majors either. Many young working age adults have completely dropped out of the job market. Low skill jobs have been exported, automated or both. Even high skill jobs have gone that route. In their despair, many have turned to drugs and alcohol to get through their days.
Housing? For all too many that means living with mom and dad. Kinda hard to raise a family under those conditions. Social Security and retirement is seen as a scam. If you are a Millennial it may well be.
So how do people for whom the old models not longer work, yet have not given into despair, live?
Well, if can't earn much money, you can learn to live with a lot less. Minimalism has become quite popular. People give up things for freedom and experiences.
I've met people with part time minimum wage jobs who live on old sailboats out on anchor. Some don't even have any sort of real job at all. They live as street musicians, making jewelry, arts and crafts, and as writers.
People who live in recreational vehicles follow the beet harvest or work seasonally at an Amazon warehouse. A few months of work provides all they need to live the rest of the year.
There are digital nomads. It's hard to make enough to live a “normal” life working remotely on-line. The hours can be long and income is uneven. That makes it hard to scrape up cash for car payments, the mortgage, and groceries. However, it's not all that hard to scrape up a few hundred dollars on-line. The trick to living as a digital nomad is to find a place like a third world country with decent Internet. Thailand is very popular. Living is inexpensive, the country is beautiful, and there are many other digital nomads allowing for co-working and a sense of community.
Some folks just grab a backpack, stick their thumb out, and go full vagabond.
People are searching for adventure and meaning in life. Many find it in my previous examples. Others are searching and testing out different ways of living.
One thing they all have in common is that none of those lifestyles provide the excess taxable income the elite have come to depend on. No wonder alternative lifestyles are frowned on by the powers that be. If enough people find ways to live free and easy, they starve the beast.
I'm not sure where it will shake out, but it certainly looks interesting.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
There was fresh snow just to the north of us, to the west, and at slightly higher elevations. Outside of a little tiny bit of mixed precipitation it was all good. As you can imagine it wasn't all that warm. Cloudy wet weather continue, but there's no sense worrying about stuff I can't change.
The bears are back, and they are hungry. They mistook my sand barrel for a garbage can and tipped it over. They did the same thing last fall. Actually, I'm starting to think that the bear knows it is just sand. He's feeling mean.
Really really really miss living the life of a nomad. Spending the winter in the North Country was hard on me. Between being sick or injured most of the time didn't help at all. I've had some seriously itchy feet. I ran into a friend of mine at the coffee shop the other day. He's looking for a second driver to make a road trip ending at his sister's in Florida. That might be just the thing I need.
I've been a bit frustrated with my motorcycle project. It's not nearly as far along as I wanted it to be by now. Of course, being injured set everything back. There have been a few good riding days and I just plain missed them. No doubt I'll miss a lot more before it's done. As much as I'm in a hurry to get on the road, making sure the old KZ 900 is safe is a priority. Might even break down and have the local motorcycle mechanic double check a few things for me.
I've done the math and even if everything that might need to be fixed gets fixed, it will still be cheaper than buying a second hand bike in good condition. At least I know where the problems are on this one. That doesn't mean I'm not tempted when I find a good bike way below book value. It turns out my lovely wife rather do things like fix the deck and pay down debt rather than go riding. Then there's the sailboat fund to consider. Slowly building that up.
Well, at least I'm no longer bored.
Monday, May 8, 2017
My leg continues to improve. Every day my leg looks a lot more human and less like zombie flesh. Slowly, I've been getting back to projects that have long been on the back burner. Feels good to get even a few smaller things done.
The rains continue. There's even a chance of frozen mix on Tuesday. My cousin has people over to shoot pool on Tuesdays. Ever since the fall, the worse weather has tended to hit us on Tuesday nights. In spite of the nasty weather, I've missed few pool nights. I'm not even that great at pool. However, it's wonderful to get together with friends and family.
My once daily blog has become a lot more hit and miss. Part of the reason is that I came to the conclusion that I'd have to work on some projects that might bring in some more money. While I'm not raking it in, there is extra money for things like dinner and movie with my lovely wife. The income stream is either passive income, or income than can be earned remotely on-line. The idea is that I'll be able to live a mobile lifestyle before next winter sets in.
One of the ways I've saved a bundle of money lately is by not buying any more heating oil or fireblocks. (compressed sawdust bricks for use in the woodstove) I keep expecting the oil tank to run dry sooner or later. Because of my gimpy leg I haven't been down to the basement to check on the fuel level in the tank. The weather hasn't been great of late, but it's warm enough that I don't have to worry about pipes freezing.
The last pallet of fireblocks is getting low. That doesn't worry me. Right now I can get around well enough to pick up dead branches from the winter storms and burn them. Heck, I could always cut up and burn the pallets that the fireblocks came on.
Most of my medical bills have not come in yet. I suppose if they are in no hurry to bill me, I'm in no hurry to pay them. I was able to pay one lab bill in full, so it feels good to be done with that part of it. When bills do come in, they will get paid at a rate that does not break the bank. I'm supposed to have a follow up visit with my doctor in about 9 days, but if the leg is healed up I'll just cancel. My main concern was the leg infection and that's cleared. Unless there is a new problem he probably can't tell me anything I don't know.
I'm looking forward to getting more exercise and working off a few winter pounds. The winter sand has been swept off the roads so it's probably safe to take the bicycle out -if the rains ever stop.
So all in all, things are slowly improving. Life ain't perfect, but it's good enough.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
It's flooding in the North Country of New Hampshire, worse than snow melt time. We've had few days without rain. In fact, rain is predicted for the next 10 days. It might rain after that, but the forecast only goes out 10 days. Noah was lied to.
Personally, it's not much of problem for me. My swamp might get wetter, but it is a swamp after all. We might have to start picking our roads to get into town. Flooding and washouts will most likely become a travel issue.
I see the the Republicans in the House passed a “Healthcare” bill. For me, it promises to be worse than the programs I already can't afford. It's not all bad news. The wealthy get some nice tax breaks. I guess it's my own darn fault for not being wealthy. Okay, it looks like the unpopular insurance mandate will also be dropped, so I guess that's something.
Of course, now we have to wait to see what the Senate does with it. By the time they are finished, the proposed law could be completely different. The political pundits have serious doubts that a majority will be able to agree on a final package.
Personally, I'm still waiting for the rest of my totally out of pocket medical bills to come in. So far it's been an ER visit, a doctor's visit, two sets of lab tests, three types of medication and at least one more doctor's visit scheduled. Thank goodness I'm actually seeing progress. No doubt it will be weeks yet before I'm all better, but the trend is in the right direction.
I can prepare for natural disasters like flooding. Risks can be mitigated. The disaster known as Congress is much harder to prepare for.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Our poor dog has been sounding miserable. She's been hacking and coughing. Her eyes were red and bleary. We were concerned. The vet took samples. Tests were run and microscopes employed. Turns out it's just allergies. Spring allergies have been terrible for dogs this year. All we have to do is to giver her some Benadryl. If that doesn't take care of it there is the option of taking her back to the vet to give her something stronger. All in all the visit only cost $42. Money well spent.
In other good news my leg is visibly improving, almost by the hour. I've been able to stop taking acetaminophen for the pain. My liver will thank me. A topical anti-itch cream is enough right now. My doctor had floated the idea of sending me to a wound clinic. That doesn't look like it's going to be necessary. If this rate of improvement continues, it should be totally healed before my next doctor's visit.
The vet doesn't have public restrooms so I scooted over to a nearby McDonalds to use theirs. This young woman called my name and hugged me. So, I thought, who is this person? Then I recognized her. We went to college together. She lost a lot of weight and was looking great.
Over the years we've occasionally gotten together with her and her husband. Now you've got to understand I met her at college. At the time she was dating one of these metro-sexual theater types. After college she married a great big jolly redneck. He was no dummy, but he went went to school for diesel mechanics, not Liberal Arts.
So we are at this party full of theater people and writers, that sort of folk. My college friend's husband looked totally out of place. Feeling a bit bad for the guy I went over and struck up a conversation. As luck would have it the vehicle we drove over to the party that day was an old Mercedes diesel that I'd converted to run on veggie oil. Before you know it we had the hood up and were poking around its innards. I became his best buddy after that. It was good to run into he wife and find out that things are going well for them. She lost the weight because of health issues so it's wonderful to see that worked for her.
It's been a good day. The dog's going to be fine. My leg is finally on the mend, and I even got to connect with an old friend.
Monday, May 1, 2017
Picture this: it's 38 degrees out and raining. I'm sitting in my kitchen, coffee in hand, the woodstove going. Looking out at the lake, I see there's a fishing boat on the water. Someone is a lot more into fishing than I am. Maybe his home life is such that fishing in a cold rain is more fun?
I hope the guy just loves fishing that much.
Although, I see so many people who's home life is such that fishing in the cold rain is better than spending the day with their spouse. When I see people who've spent decades in loveless marriages, I just shake my head.
It's not just bad marriages that people put up with. They work at jobs they hate, live in places they don't like, socialize with people they don't like, and even dress in clothes that makes them uncomfortable. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes people fall into a rut, and while they don't love it, it's comfortable. Change always comes with a certain amount of discomfort, even good change.
There are people who put up with bad stuff for a long time, but do it because it's what they have to do to advance some greater goal. That's a noble pursuit. Sometimes you just have to do the work. A guitarist does not become good without working until his fingers are calloused. A successful professional does not just fall into his profession. It takes schooling, work, and dedication. There are no guarantee of success either.
What I have difficulty with are those who do all that suffering for things they don't really want. They may even become proficient at the life they hate. Often they don't see a way out, or even realize there could be a way out.
How many people have to take medication to deal with their jobs? Frankly, I was surprised to learn of the number of people who need anti-anxiety or anti-depressants to go to work each day. Maybe they should take a long hard look at their situation and figure out the real problem.
A buddy of mine was very unhappy with his life. He hated his marriage, the responsibility of raising children, his house, his job and just about everything else. Often when someone reaches that point in their lives, all they can see is that they need a complete break from everything. In his case I suggested he start with the divorce and then see how the rest of his life looked before giving up on everything.
Ending the unhappy marriage got rid of a lot of stress in his life right off the bat. They sold the money pit of a house in the settlement. After that, the rest of his life started to look pretty good. His relationship with his kids improved immensely. His job was no longer a problem and he began to enjoy that too. It took a few years, but he met a wonderful woman and remarried, bought a nice new house, and even his relationship with is ex-wife became civil.
The thing with holding onto a bad life is that it leaves no room for a better one to come in. Your hand has to drop the burning coal before it can grasp the pretty flower.
Looking out on the lake, I hope that guy just really really loves fishing.