Sunday, January 10, 2021

Just another day...

I'm a young Airman in the at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Its 1981.

I got up bright and early as always, threw on the uniform, and went next door to feed the neighbor's cats. He was away on business and I promised to take care of them. I went in the house and immediately smelled gas. I went back out and turned the gas off at the main, called the base civil engineers/fire department from the neighbor's house, +and went back in to check on the cats. They weren't their ravenous selves. As a matter of fact they didn't get up to greet me. Weren't ever gonna get up again either. I think I feel a pulse on one. I haul it outside and try mouth to mouth on that pussy, but all's I get is fish breath. But he wakes up. Ooops, Ken really loved those cats.

Oh, well, nothing that I can do about it. Went to work and get a letter of counseling for being late. The fire chief had called my shop chief and went ballistic because I risked my life to try to save 3 cats. Get sent out to do the dirty work for the day. At about 10:30, I'm out behind the missile shop, stripping the paint off of
some white phosphorus warheads, when I hear the sound of three aircraft taking off in formation (hang around aircraft long enough, you can ID the type and number of aircraft by the sound). This is rare. Its the Royal Thai Air Force flying their A-4 Sky Raiders. My shop, with 88,000 lbs of live munitions is at the end of the runway. 

Right at transition, the lead bird (they take off in a triangle formation) has a major malfunction of the right main gear. It roles up and takes out the right wingman. Wingman ejects. +The guy on the left makes it into the air, but barely.

We are at the bottom of a hill at the end of the runway, uuhh, hmmm. We're on the right if you're taking off. I now have two high performance (work with me now) jet fighters, full of fuel, doing cartwheels at full takeoff
speed heading directly down the hill at me. Okay, time for a break. I casually step inside the missile maintenance bay and close the door. Hey, it could help. Couldn't hurt. Neither can a primal scream or the fetal position, which I proceed to employ. I set off car alarms in a 30 kilometer radius.+ I hear thumps against the two foot thick cement walls of the shop. 

When the noise stops, I peak outside. There are airplane parts all over the place and the warheads, each filled with 85 pounds of white phosphorous, still in the very flammable paint stripper, are five feet from some flaming JP-4 jet fuel. Okay, an extinguisher will put this out. I role the giant flightline cart over and empty it on the flames. 

The rest of the shop comes out to help. I get pulled aside as the fire department shows up for the second time in my day. My boss asks me if I'm alright. He's the one that sent me out there to work (and wrote me up for being late). I guess I'm kinda white and purple. My pasty color may have something to do with it, but I get sent home to rest. After he tears up the letter of counselling. The rest of the shop has to do guard duty, as the double fence surrounding the shop has been bowled over by a jet engine and two right wings from two A-4s.

I wash off the toxic "Purple K" extinguisher powder and the soot. The uniform (and my underwear) is ruined. Time to go fishing. Not many free afternoons off. I grab my "new" Orvis graphite rod and head over to the
river where Mr. Aquino, the local barrio chief, had shown me where the fish were (he has an Orvis too, stored in his nipa hut, or grass and bamboo shack). There is a fish in this putrid river that is a cross between a big tilapia and a pirana. Gold and black, but nasty as hell. Have no idea what they're called, but they are a blast on a fly rod and will take a white woolly bugger.

The water is up, but there is a laydown out a ways that always holds some fish behind it. I can normally reach it from shore, but the water has increased the distance to about a 75 foot cast. Not within my skills at the time. I talk to a group of about 6 guys with shotguns and rifles. They tell me thats where I should cast to.

Oh what the hell, I can wet wade. I go out and wham, I'm into a catfish. They're fun to catch. Another. And another. I must have hit the mother load. I bring in one that's about 10 pounds. He put up a tremendous fight. 

As I'm removing the hook, he flips and spines me. Not in the hand, but in the abdomen. I go down in the muddy water. This really hurts. Really, really hurts. I literally have to pull him off my stomach. Well, the water isn't the cleanest, time to get out and get this seen too.

I get out of the water and try to rinse off on shore. There's a lot of black junk hanging off my legs. Hmmm, its not rotting vegetation, its leeches. Probably 30 or more. Never even felt them. I burn them off with a cigarette. 

I head back to the car and start back towards base, roadblock. The local constabulary and Army is looking for New Peoples Army (NPA) terrorists. Those guys with the shotguns and rifles. No one can leave the barrio. I walk up to the Lt in charge, with my US ID in hand. He initially waves me off. Then looks at me again. I'm in a muddy white t-shirt and shorts with blood coming out of what looks like a gun shot wound in my belly. There are multiple bleeding sores on my legs, and still a couple of leeches. I have a certain "don't mess with me" look on my face. He accepts my 50 peso donation and lets me through.

I get to the base hospital. They clean me up, shoot me full of antibiotics that end up killing all of my intestinal flora and fauna, and send me home after 72 hours of IV, in a hospital gown (the recommendation is to burn my clothing).

I get home and my fly rod is not in the tube. I've left it next to the river (about 50% of a months pay). Shit. I can't even drink a beer. The docs say that it will interfere with the antibiotics. Time for bed at 8 pm.
Well, tomorrow is Saturday and at least I don't have to get up and feed the cats.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

TENS Unit Fun - Electroshock Therapy

This is a repost of something that happened to me a few years back. 
Okay, bent over on Friday afternoon to pick up the cat....

SPROINGGGG!! Out goes the low back. Hurt all weekend, then yesterday a.m. I can't move. Go in to the doc and he does some manipulation (osteopath is a cross between a doc and a chiropractor), gives me drugs and sends me home for bed rest. Tells me I can use my TENS unit to help the pain. No problems, I've been here before.

For those that have never seen one, a TENS unit is something about the size of an old, fashioned pager with two leads coming out of it. Powered by a 9 volt battery with about 500 milliamps of power, it delivers white noise into your nerves via those two leads. The thing can be set to rise and fall with different frequencies. Each lead has two pads at the end to complete the circuit. Really works, but you have to be careful about how high you set it, it can make you dance a jig. 

This a.m., I'm feeling a bit better so I decide to head into work. My bride helps me put the TENS unit pads on my back, hook up the wires and turn the thing on. Instant relief. I get in the car (slowly) and start it up. Oh oh! Got heated seats in the car and they're turned on.

I remember something from my electronics class, its called induction. Can you say induction? I know you can. What happens is the wires from the heated seats induce an additional current into the wires from my TENS unit. This additional current then goes through the path of least resistance, namely the muscles and nerves of my mid back. Since the TENS is set on pulse, I now have enough current to heat an 80 pound car seat to 90 degrees pulsing through my low back. 500 cold cranking amps from the car battery coursing through my spine. For those keeping track, there are 1000 milliamps in an amp, so this is now 100,000 times stronger than normal. 

At the turn of the car key (heated seat switch was on), I start to do an impression of a mackerel on the deck of a party boat. I'm kicking the crap out of the underside of my dashboard and trying to reach either the key or the switch for the seats. My car is in neutral and the brake is off. Its rolling down the driveway. I'm holding onto the steering wheel and my movements are translating to the car. I roll out across the lawn with said flopping mackerel behind the wheel. Not good.

I am seriously flopping around, arms flailing like an octopus on amphetimines, trying to override the signals going through my body. Imagine driving whilst being tazed. Doesn't work too well. 

I crank the wheel hard over before I hit my neighbors mailbox, slide through the wet grass and finally pull myself forward in the seat and turn the key off. I think that's what happened. I really wasn't paying much attention. I may have just dumped the clutch. I don't know. I don't care. I was microwaving the hair in my armpits. My fillings were blaring a local FM station. My toes were trying to break through the wingtips. Then, it stopped. 

Okay, I'm alive. Like someone in a burning building, I know I have to get the hell out of the car. I don't know why. I just know there is intense evil associated with it. 

I roll out of the car, face down into the wet grass. Finally, gingerly, I  pick myself up, and look up. My bride is standing in the doorway with a worried look on her face. She screams "Are you alright?" In a shaky voice, I tell her what happened and she collapses on the porch... Now I think she's fainted with fear and stress, but then she comes around sobbing. Hold on, she not sobbing. She's laughing.... hysterically. 

I get to my feet. My legs are doing a drunken Jerry Lewis impression. My left arm keeps shooting straight out. My right butt cheek is doing the flamenco. I stagger back up to the porch, step over the insane, cackling lady who's holding out her hand doing a flopping fish impression, go inside and change (of course, we've had thunderstorms all night and I'm covered in muck), return to the car WITH THE TENS UNIT UNPLUGGED AND SITTING IN THE BACK SEAT, start the car and drive to work.

You know, sometimes it doesn't pay to go to work in the morning.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The “Big” Tree

Okay, traveling around the world in the military, we were not always able to get a really nice Christmas tree. Some, like the ones we got in the Philippines, looked up to the Charlie Brown tree as the rich, fat dude. They had to be flown in by the military on C-5 cargo aircraft, so were seriously restricted in size, i.e. needles and limbs took up weight and space.
Others were small because of the space we lived in. In England, because I was a Master Sergeant, we lived in Mayors' quarters. This meant we got 800 square feet of living space, vs the standard 750 for a family of four. Who cares that that 800 square feet was under a four foot ceiling, we had 50 more square feet than the rest of the folks. The trees there were from the Knights Who Say Ni Shrubbery Farm.
Well, all good things must come to an end. I retired from the Air Force, took my fabulous 18,000 a year retirement checks and invested in VHS tape and Blockbuster Video futures. Luckily, along the way as a fall back, I got edumakated just in case my investments didn't pay off.
So, I take the rest of my money from my retirement job and build a house. Not just any house, but one large enough to house my bride's quilt fabric collection (almost). This house comes with a 14 foot ceiling in the living room. Wow! Not only can I not touch the ceiling to change a light bulb, I can't even change the light bulb after balancing a kitchen chair on top of my 6 foot step ladder.
In the second year of living in this house, my bride and daughter decide that the five foot tall, cornstalk-thin tree we had the year before did not adequately fill the space in the living room. We're gonna get a “big” tree. A tree that you can be proud of. One that would fill the space in both height and width. One that can hold all the ornaments from 23 years of traveling around the world. One that would empty the space in the wallet.
The search began. Lot to lot, tree farm to tree farm. We had to find the right tree for that space. I put out calls on social media, used Google Earth, followed around the neighbors' yellow labs, to no avail. I was never gonna find “that tree.”
And then it happened. As I was driving to physical therapy (a common drive for me), I drove by the illegal Christmas tree lot by the gas station. The city had instituted new licensing rules on the Christmas tree lots and the SWAT team was closing the place down by proving that you can indeed cut a tree in half with a minigun.
I waited for the smoke to clear and the EPA to come in and ticket the cops for spewing so much brass on the ground and made my move. The woman who had run the place was rumored to grow huge trees hydroponically in Colorado. Don't know why they would use hydroponics in Colorado, but they did. I low crawled across the lot and took cover behind a giant, netted bale of trimmings and looked around. As I prepared to move out, I noticed a trunk sticking out of the bale. It wasn't a trimmings bale, it was a tree. A big tree. The fulsomeness of which could be foretold by the girth of the trunk. The wrapping was stretched out like fishnets on Rosie O'Donnel. I had found “that tree.” Sniff, sniff. Its a balsam fir. Yes. “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.”
I drag the tree over to the tree lady who's doing fire sale business because the noise had drawn in a ton of customers. She sits on the steps of her trailer with a coin changer on her hip and wads of cash stuffed in every pocket of her woodworkers apron. She draws in a huge lungful of smoke from her hand-rolled “cigarette,” looks at what I've brought and smiles. She lifts her chin slightly to point out something behind her on the door of the trailer. The sign behind her says “Cash Only.” Crap.
I look at the gas station, its got an ATM. Go through my wallet, look at my cards, do a mental calculation of how much I can get on each one, and do what I have to do. I tell the EPA guys that the tree lady dumped a quart of oil out behind her trailer into the storm drain.
As the EPA agents try valiantly but futilely to take her into custody, I drag the tree to my station wagon. I'm prepared. I get the log chains out of the back, slide them under the tree, one forward, one rear, hook them into the luggage rack on top of the car on one end, flop them over the tree and the car and hook the other end to the back bumper of the fire truck that's there to put out the flames from the minigun.
I tell the volunteer fire captain that that Walmart has a sale on brass fire poles and the engine takes off. The tree rolls up on top of the wagon, the fire trucks tires spin on all the minigun brass on the ground, giving me time to cut the links of the chain with my portable welder. Locked and loaded, I have my tree.
I pull out onto the highway and head home. The tree acts as a keel in the wind. I unintentionally change lanes repeatedly and do some cross country when a gust blows me off the road onto the golf course. Its amazing how fast old, white guys in plaid pants and parkas can move when pursued by a whole national forest. I quickly get back up on the highway when I remember that this is Nebraska where a chainsaw is mandatory equipment in any vehicle and those golf carts were quickly approaching.
I pull into my driveway right as my tires finally blow under the weight. Need a machete to get out to the car. The neighbors gather round my Pine Parade float and ask when the bowl game starts. I mention that I need some help getting this son of an Ent into the house. They start to drift away. I whisper beer and pizza. That does the trick. The Egyptians hauled in the blocks for the pyramids on the promise of beer and pizza.
First, its getting the tree off the car. Okay, with the blown tires, the car is just a tad bit lower. We just unhook the chains that hooked through the roof rack on one side, reverse the process of getting it up there by pulling on the top ones and Bob's your uncle. Its on the ground. Unfortunately, its now on top of the neighbor's labs. We extricate the hounds and, because they're labs, they decide that was fun and try to get us to throw the tree.
We now need to get it in the house. Lifting ain't gonna cut it, but we've got a couple of engineers in the group so we know how to get it done using all of our engineering skill. Yeah, we've got an HVAC engineer, an electrical engineer and a computer engineer, but we're engineers.
We all remember those old commercials when we were kids where the guys are pulling the tree out of the woods behind the two-horse team. We've got a 260 horse team in my bud's Bobcat tractor. We roll the tree to line it up with the front door, run the rope through the house and out the back and hook it up to the Bobcat. The Bobcat takes off down the back hill and the tree moves... fast. CRAP. Some idiot, uh... engineer.. tied the strap onto the tip of the tree.
The tree opens wide like a cat being thrown into the the tub for a bath. The trunk grabs some snow and swings sideways, taking out a row of light-up candy canes in its own mutiny. It shoots up the steps and we realize we have no way of contacting the Bobcat driver to tell him to stop. It goes through the door without slowing down, taking out the side windows in the process. The labs chase after thinking someone is stealing their stick.
The tree is in the living room when the Bobcat stops. The tip of the tree catches the sofa and the trunk swings around into the dining room with the momentum and ends up lodged under the china hutch. It has formed itself into a giant C-shape, bowed by its anchors under sofa and great grandma's china. We've lost the cat. The three engineers assess the situation. The labs pee on the tree.... so do the engineers.
We measure the tree as it lays there curled into the fetal position. Roughly 23 feet. Okay, we can cut off seven feet at the bottom and use the left over to make pine garlands. Pine garlands large enough that hopefully my bride won't notice the now wider front door. Chainsaw comes out just as the Bobcat driver comes in. The guy who's taken down many trees screams NOOOOOOOO!!!!! Unfortunately, he could not be heard over the sound of the cheap chainsaw.
None of the engineers, not the HVAC, not the electrical, nor even the computer engineer have to deal with kinetic energy on a day-to-day basis. The tree had formed a 23 foot long longbow and we had just cut the cord. The new bottom of the tree swings back towards the entryway. The cat, we discover, had been hiding in the tree. It flies out of there, well, like it was shot from a bow. The labs hare off to catch what they think is a weird black, hairy frisbee. That did not end well for any of the players.
The tree continues around like break dancer on bad burritos, spewing bits in its wake. The HVAC guy had been on the chainsaw and on top of the tree. He does the Jean Claude Van Damme Volvo truck commercial without the nice music and pretty ending... a lot faster... with a running chainsaw.
The electrical engineer tried to grab the tree at it flew past him. He offered no real resistance and came up short. The tree slams into the umbrella tree, takes down the plant stand and continues around, coming to rest in the corner where it was supposed to be set up. I, the computer engineer, had planned that. I opened a beer.
After getting a replacement for the HVAC guy (who has a new career as an NHL goalie) and pulling the electrician out from under the curio cabinet, we moved onto standing up the tree. First, we set the artistic neighbor kid to painting white Corelware plates to look like the remaining piece of the wife's delftware set. As you might guess, the china hutch didn't quite make it. It has taken “distressed antique” to a new level.
Getting the now much shorter tree upright was a piece of cake. It stood up straight quite quickly. Still, there was an issue. It would not fit in any tree stand. We finally nailed some 2X4's to a 5 gallon bucket, filled it with sand and stuck the tree in. We then lifted the tree out, dumped out the sand, put the tree in and put the sand back in. Goes in much farther when the sand isn't in there.
Wow, tree is up, now we just have to get the lights on. Electrical engineer is in charge. He comes up with a brilliant device. A nail sticking out the side of a 10' 1X1. Lights are up. Brilliant. Plug them in... none of them work. Didn't think an educated electrical engineer knew those kind of words. He storms off. I lure him back with another beer. Hmm, large quantities of beer and 110. What could possibly go wrong? I leave him to his own devices and have another beer.
Now its time for the ornaments. However, after a few tries, I find that the nail on a stick is rubbish for the ornaments. Time for the ladder. We set up the ladder at the base of the tree. I climb up with the first box of small ornaments and reach over... and realize that I can't reach the top of the tree. Granted, we've knocked seven feet off the bottom of this thing but its still about nine foot across at the bottom and only ½ inch at the top. I try to reach out and get a serious lean from the ladder. This is not gonna be fun.
Okay, engineering skills and late night ESPN come in. I remember the guys on the Americas' cup having the same problem. One guy can knock back a magnum of champagne.. oops, wrong replay. No, they have to counter balance a huge boat without going into the drink. Personally, I'm already into the drink, so this should be fun.
We rig up harnesses for the three of us. The new guy, who qualified for the job based upon his inability to fit into an XXL hoodie and the electrical engineer hook themselves onto the outside of the ladder, I climb up and hook in to the top. I grab up a delicate, Hungarian glass ornament and lean out.... and it works brilliantly! I hook in the ornament and lean back in, ending upright. Wow! This is gonna be perfect.
We get into a rhythm. Swing out, hook up, swing back, swig beer, rinse and repeat. The Philippine capiz shell star and choir boy, the German hempleman, the English crystal star all up. Swing out, hook up, swing back, swig beer, swing out, hook up, swing back, swig beer, swing out, hook up, swig beer, AHYYYEEEEEE! Thump.

Yeah, timing just a bit off from the new guy. I am now impaled on the top of the tree. New guy runs out. Two yellow labs run in carrying a very pissed off cat gently between them. They drop the cat and pee on the tree. The electrical engineer hands me wings and a halo made out of 10 gauge wire and locks the door on the way out. Think I'm gonna be up here a while. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chumming - The Hard Way

I was down in Louisiana at Barksdale Air Force Base for schoolin'.  The Air Force really believed in edumakin' us, 'cause they could say "Its not our fault he did that, we trained him to these exacting standards." 
   I had gone out on our daily run. Nothing stressful, just a couple of miles when I felt my back going south. Old war wound, dontcha know.  Knew it was gonna be a bad one and it was. Got hauled to the base hospital by one of my classmates. When I finally was able to claw my way to the reception desk, the NCO behind the counter bypassed the request for a wheelchair and called for a gurney. Evidently, the muscles in my back had spasmed so bad, there was a waterfall effect, i.e. every muscle from my forehead to my ankles had spasmed. I'm told I kinda looked like some weird death camp survivor with a great tan. 
   Once I'm done with docs, I learn I get to have physical therapy every afternoon. This takes me out of class, but I'm able to make up the lessons with recorded material. What happens is I go to my 45 minutes of PT and then I have a boat rented on the base lake on a weekly basis (grand total of 27 dollars a week, gas included). I fly fish till dark then go back and study. I get to know the lake pretty well and catch a crap load of fish.
   One Saturday, one of my classmates asks to come along. He's a bait chucker, but we all have our faults (well, except me. I'm practically perfect in every way). Lake was huge, full of cypress trees and alligators.  We needed to unwind and relax and that big chunk of water was a good place to do it.   We did some fishing, catching loads of bass and bluegill.  Even got an alligator to chase my lure.  This was August in Louisiana, so it was hotter than the exhaust of a Missouri bootlegger's Chevy.  We had just a little liquid refreshment with us, for medicinal purposes don'cha know.   
   One of the sights on the water was the hornets nests hanging from every other cypress tree.  These things were as big as basketballs.  If you didn't see them, you could always hear them.  The buzz went right to your bone like the whine of a dentist's drill.   
   As I said, we'd had just a bit of liquid refreshment and my partner convinces me of the hilariously funny idea of knocking one of these things into the water with an oar.  The concept was that I would run the motor and he would smack the nest.   
   Well, the malted beverage thought long and hard on that one. Did I ever tell you that malted beverage decision making is primarily based on the easiest sound a human can make? That is "shure." The little "good" angel on my shoulder had long since passed out and fallen down the back of my pants.  
   So, after much cogitation, I idled the boat in towards one nicely placed nest.  My partner stands up in the boat, oar in hand and I'm on the throttle. He's got a swing like a juiced-up ex-San Francisco Giant. He goes into the windup, I twist the throttle hard, the boat jumps forward, my buddy falls back into the boat mid-swing, misses the nest and... the engine stalls. Hmm, the boat drifts under the nest and bumps into the tree, stopping.  I guess my driving skills had deteriorated in the heat. The engine is flooded and the nest is two feet over our heads. 
  We quietly used the oar to push against the tree to drift away from the nest. This is rather hard to do when you're flatting yourself in the bottom of the boat and moving at the speed of a three-toed sloth on Quaalude  We did NOT wanna do anything that would piss off the wasps with a dead engine on the boat.
    So, on the second pass, I decide to change tactics. We're going in at speed and I'll gun it after the hit. I head in doing about 3 knots (that was "at speed" in this boat), my partner swings the oar and hits a home run (a six pointer for the cricket fans).  I gun the motor for all its got and, ..and .... it stalled again.    So, there we were, calmly assessing the situation.  The nest had exploded like a Martin automatic reel fighting a 150lb tarpon.  The hornets,to say the least, were perturbed.  The fish, on the other hand, were having a blast.  All this food hitting the water at one time caused a feeding frenzy.  I thought about casting a line in the middle of the fray (for about 13 nanoseconds) and started pulling on the motor cord.  It wasn't working.    Just as the hornets had formed into squadrons and made one of those big,black cartoon arrows in the air, the motor coughed to life.  My partner was expressing (most vociferously) his desire to find another place to fish,namely in Alaska.  I GENTLY raised the rpm's and put the engine in forward.
   We casually vacated the area and had a wonderful discourse on whether we should further deplete our medicinal supply or revert back to our shared Christian Scientist and Mormon roots.  Modern medicine won out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Oklahoma Kid's first Bow and Arrow set

Don’t know who wrote this but the writer has a way with words that makes one visualize being right there beside him. It's a good, quick read.

Life as a child growing up in Oklahoma ....

Around age 10 my dad got me one of those little badass compound bow beginner kits. Of course, the first month I went around our land  sticking arrows in anything that could get stuck by an arrow.
Did you know that a 1955 40 horse Farmall tractor tire will take six rounds before it goes down? Tough “sumbich”. 

That got boring, so being the 10 yr. old Dukes of Hazard fan that I was, I quickly advanced to taking strips of cut up T-shirt doused in chainsaw gas tied around the end and was sending flaming arrows all over the place. 

One summer afternoon, I was shooting flaming arrows into a large rotten oak stump in our backyard. I looked over under the carport and saw a shiny brand new can of starting fluid (Ether). 

A light bulb went off in my head. I grabbed the can and set it on the stump. I thought that it would probably just spray out in a disappointing manner. Lets face it, to a 10 yr old mouth-breather like myself, "Ether" really doesn't "sound" flammable. 

So, I went back into the house and got a 1 pound can of pyrodex (black powder used for muzzle loader rifles). 

At this point, I set the can of ether on the stump and opened up the can of black powder. 

My intentions were to sprinkle a little bit around the (Ether) can but it all sorta dumped out on me. No biggie, a 1 lb. pyrodex and 16 oz can of (Ether) should make a loud pop, kinda like a firecracker, you know? 

You know what? Screw that!  I'm going back in the house for the other can, so I got a second can of pyrodex and dumped it too. Now we're cookin'. 

I stepped back about 15 ft and lit the 2 stroke arrow. I drew the nock to my cheek and took aim. As I released I heard a clunk as the arrow launched from my bow. In a slow motion time frame, I turned to see my dad getting out of the truck... OH SHOOT! He just got home from work. 

So help me God it took 10 minutes for that arrow to go from my bow to the can. My dad was walking towards me in slow motion with a WTF look in his eyes. 

I turned back towards my target just in time to see the arrow pierce the starting fluid can right at the bottom. Right through the main pile of pyrodex and into the can. Oh shoot!
When the shock wave hit it knocked me off my feet. I don't know if it was the actual compression wave that threw me back or just reflex jerk-back from 235 fricking decibels of sound.

I caught a half a millisecond glimpse of the violence during the initial explosion and I will tell you there was dust, grass, and bugs all hovering about one foot above the ground for as far as I could see. It was like a little low-to-the-ground layer of dust fog full of grasshoppers, spiders, and a worm or two. 

The daylight turned purple. Let me repeat this... THE COTTON PICKING DAYLIGHT TURNED PURPLE. 

There was a big sweet gum tree out by the gate going into the pasture. Notice I said "was". That sucker got up and ran off. 

So here I am, on the ground blown completely out of my shoes with my thundercats T-Shirt shredded, my dad is on the other side of the carport, having what I can only assume is, a Vietnam flashback: ECHO BRAVO CHARLIE YOU'RE BRINGIN' EM IN TOO CLOSE!!

His hat has blown off and is 30 ft behind him in the driveway. All windows on the north side of the house are blown out and there is a slow rolling mushroom cloud about 2000 ft. over our backyard. 

There is a Honda 185 three-wheeler parked on the other side of the yard and the fenders are drooped down and are now touching the tires. 

I wish I knew what I said to my dad at this moment. I don't know - I know I said something. I couldn't hear. I couldn't hear inside my own head. 

I don't think he heard me either... not that it would really matter. I don't remember much from this point on. 

I said something, felt a sharp pain, and then woke up later, felt a sharp pain, blacked out, woke later....repeat this process for an hour or so and you get the idea. 

I remember at one point my mom had to give me CPR and Dad screaming "Bring him back to life so I can kill him again!" Thanks Mom. 

One thing is for sure... I never had to mow around that stump again. Mom had been bitching about that thing for years and dad never did anything about it. I stepped up to the plate and handled business. 

Dad sold his muzzle loader a week or so later. I still have some sort of bone growth abnormality, either from the blast or the beating, or both. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, get your kids into archery. It's good discipline and will teach them skills they can use later on in life. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New business opportunities

Hmm, there it is, right in front of me on Google news. "Spider Silk That Conducts Heat as Well as Metals" Wow! This is an organic material. Most don't conduct heat. Who woulda thunk it? Is there a buck to be made? Yes sir re Daddy!
So, here's the gist of the story. Researchers in Iowa have found that spider silk, specifically the "drag line," (sounds like a Vegas variety show) which is the main line that a spider uses to attach his web to trees and things, conducts heat. It conducts heat so well that it beats out copper. The only two things that do better are silver and diamond. Cool!
Even better, when the silk is under stress (stretched to its max 20% increased limit), it conducts up to 19% better. This is just one more thing that adds to the list of spider silk's amazing properties. So, how can we commercialize this?
Well, companies that want to produce spider silk use transgenic goats (hmm, wonder what the GOP's position on that is?). They splice the gene for making spider silk into the goat then milk it. The chemical for the spider silk is in the milk and they squirt it through tiny nozzles to make silk. Really!
They started off with hamsters but that wasn't commercially viable. It wasn't that they didn't get enough material from the hamsters, it was a supply and demand issue. See, the people with hands small enough to milk the hamsters unionized and the price went through the ceiling. So, they went to goats. Bigger handles.
Now, just thinking about these goats scares the crap out of me. Goats are good climbers anyway. Now they're going to be swinging around like Spiderman? Venomous bites? 8 legs, 120 lbs and hairy? (I think I dated her in high school).
Where was I? Oh, yeah, business. Okay, here's the idea. Put this gene into those fainting goats and sell them at Whole Foods. This is what happens:
You buy a goat and take it home. When you want dinner, you set out a bed of coals in your BBQ pit. Feed the goat a load of your favorite herbs, onions and garlic. When done, go over to the goat and hollar "Boo!" The goat faints, rolls over on its back, and squirts its load of milk into the air. The milk lands back on the goat and encases it in heat-conducting spider web stuff. Pick up the whole and place this spider web dutch oven into the coals. Cook for three hours.. Bob's your uncle.
This is the ultimate in cook-at-home takeout. You can dye your brand into the side of the goat (kinda like those Easter chicks that are dyed blue or pink). Ingredient list is easy... Goat. Stays fresh without refridgeration. Awesome. I'm getting hungry.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Note to Republican Party Candidates and their policy advisors:

Okay, its election season and you're trying to differentiate your campaign from those other, so called “candidates.” Here's a suggestion/policy that you can use to get yourself elected. It is so revolutionary that it will cure the nations ills and make you look like a genius (I know, if you're the policy advisor, this is off times a very difficult job).
What is my suggestion? Easy, tell the great unwashed.. uh, the great people of our nation that on your first day in office, you are going to invade North Korea! Wow! Cool!
What's that? You don't think this is a good idea? Of course it is. Think about it. Here are some reasons that its is the one idea that can save the nation, cure many of the ills in our American society, and put the nation back on the track to greatness.
1) Popularity: In time of war, especially in the first few weeks, a president's approval numbers skyrocket. Your “honeymoon” period will be marked by patriotic fervor and you can get about anything passed through Congress, ANYTHING! It doesn't matter if it may be slightly “unconstitutional,” it will take years to make it to the Supreme Court and, in the interim, you can have a blast! Don't like the federal reserve? Abolish it. Department of Education... fugetaboutit!
And to add to this, you're popularity with the North Koreans will be sky high. They have to love you. Its mandatory (how great is that?).
2) Outsourcing: You have a whole new labor pool for outsourcing. You own an extra country with out all those pesky EPA and labor laws. And it has labor unions YOU TOTALLY CONTROL! Wow. Work them 16 hours a day for a bowl of rice and they don't dare backtalk. If those pesky American union leaders give you grief, ship them over to NK and show them how their life is gonna be under your administration. They'll fall into line in a heartbeat. If they don't, hmm, no heartbeat.
You can even outsource the liberal left! What? You can't do that! Well, sure you can. Tell the ACLU and the Sierra Club that they're out of a job, they've been outsourced. You reconstitute them over in North Korea where they can learn how other countries do freedom of speech. Neeto!
3) Close Down Gitmo: All these liberals want you to close down Gitmo. Go for it. Turn Gitmo into a premo fly fishing resort run by some of your closest buddies. No laws on limits, gambling, prostitution... Its Cuba for heaven's sake. Hey, why are we coddling these terrorists anyway? “Ooooh, you've captured me and now I have to spend the rest of my life on a Caribbean vacation.” You just ship their assess off to North Korea. Now those North Korean bubbas know how to run prison camp and they don't have white sand beaches.
4) Obesity: The percentage of obese Americans has skyrocketed. You invade North Korea and guess what? You include the North Koreans in you obesity numbers. Instant drop! Talk about your biggest looser! Those folks are surviving on grass clippings and bark. It will be years before their consumption of Big Macs (supersized) and Happy Meals makes a dent in their waistlines. And now for the bonus round, you can ship Michael Moore over there! Let's see how much weight he can lose on a diet of IKEA factory scraps.
5) Missile basing: The Europeans and Russkies are giving us crap over where we want to put our missiles. Screw 'em. We can put them in North Korea, pointed right at the Chicoms and Russkies. We're on their border! We can then have our buds in the defense industry make a whole new series of missiles, charge the government the same price as the big ones, but the damn rocket motors only need to be 1/3rd the size! Hell, that's bigger than the Cornhusker Kickback.
6) Illegal immigration: Not happening from North Korea. When was the last time you had a North Korean working on your roof. Never! Also, one of the big problems we have with all these illegal immigrants we have in the US right now, is that we ship 'em back home and they're back taking up American jobs in a week and a half. Its a revolving door. New concept is that we ship them to the “country of our choice.” Guess where that is? You got it, North Korea. It'll be years, if ever, till they can make their way back to their home countries and then to our borders. Bonus is that some will stay in North Korea and we'll be able to find some good Mexican food when we go over on a fact finding tour.
7) Ethics: Okay, everyone is pointing to those pesky “ethics violations” in your record. They won't let it slide. You know, no one will care after they see North Korea. Hell, even the UN says its the most corrupt society in the world. Those kickbacks you've been getting will pale in comparison to what's going on over there. Another bonus, guess who's gonna be able to pad that nest egg? You got it. Everyone expects graft over there, so you're just “culturally attuned.” cha-Ching!
8) Taxes: Well, the Left always keeps whining about more taxes. We need to tax the 1%. Well, who's more “1%” than this 28 year old Kim Chong Un? He owns the friggen country! The tax rate over there is like 100%. Anything we do over there pours right back back into the good old American treasury! We'll. anything thats left after being “culturally attuned.” The “Left thats left” (hey, I'm hearing a new tea party slogan) will have nothing to whine about. You'll have seriously upped the taxes without taking one cent out of any American's pocket.

Okay, there might be a little downside to an invasion. North Korea has nukes. But hell, the only way they could use them is ship them out on a truck. Who are they gonna nuke, Seoul? They make a car called a KIA? Really? Killed In Action? If their marketing dweebs can't do any better than that, they deserve it. However, the upside is using good, ol' American companies for “reconstruction.” And our reconstruction teams don't have to eat kimche, they'll be eating good ol' TexMex! That'll knock down the nasty unemployment rate. Winning!

So, who's gonna be the first candidate to sign up for the new “Winning” policy?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mexican Oysters (stolen from the web)

A big Texan stopped at a local restaurant following a day roaming around in Mexico.

While sipping his tequila, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptious looking platter being served at the next table. Not only did it look good, the smell was wonderful.

He asked the waiter, 'What is that you just served?'

The waiter replied, 'Ah senor, you have excellent taste! Those are called Cojones de Toro, bull's testicles from the bull fight this morning. A delicacy!'

The cowboy said, 'What the heck, bring me an order.'

The waiter replied, 'I am so sorry Senor, there is only one serving per day because there is only one bull fight each morning. If you come early and place your order, we will be sure to save you this delicacy.'

The next morning, the cowboy returned, placed his order, and that evening was served the one and only special delicacy of the day. After a few bites, inspecting his platter, he called to the waiter and said, 'These are delicious, but they are much, much smaller than the ones I saw you serve yesterday.'

The waiter shrugged his shoulders and replied, 'Yes, Senor, sometimes the bull wins.'

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fishing Detour

I’d heard about this stretch of the Potomac from two people and an old
magazine article. It was the kind of place that you hear about, but
only in reverent, hushed tones. Twohundredfifty yards of water that
are considered the best stretch of river smallmouth fishing on the
whole Potomac watershed. Layers of slate, interspersed with softer
stone, have been turned on their sides over the millennia. The softer
stone has been washed away, leaving ledges of slate near the surface of
the river, bordered by deep, narrow channels cut perpendicular to the
current. In these channels, the smallies hide, waiting for food to
drop into their laps, safe and secure, but accessible by an angler
wading out on the slate shelves. These shelves are normally no more
than two feet below the surface.
I researched the area and the other clues, it started at a boat
ramp and was probably “near” the home of one of the people that let the
secret slip, Sharpsburg, MD. This boat ramp was called the starting
point of the magic water. This was as close as the clues would get. I
looked at topo maps and, finally, geologic surveys that delineated the
composition of the underlaying rock strata. This research encompassed
geographic information systems and international databases. I found an
area that had to be the place that was mentioned. All that Air Force
training had paid off.
This morning I hopped in the truck at 0500 and headed to the
spot. I figured a 97-mile drive, but the roads aren’t well marked in
this area. The road names change at each little hamlet. I estimated I
could be on the water by 7:15 a.m. At 8:30 I pulled into the boat
ramp. Had some really interesting side trips. I may be able to make a
map, but I can’t always follow one.
There is a line painted down the center of the boat ramp. It
is, as far as I know, yellow and then red. There may be more colors
further down, but I couldn’t see them. The yellow indicates that one
should use “caution” if the high water is within the yellow area. If
the high water makes it to the red area further up the ramp, then the
conditions are “dangerous.” Well this morning, the water was about
three feet into the red zone. The water was pounding through and off-
color, foam catching in the flooded weeds. Cocoa with whipped cream.
The bright spot was that two gentlemen launching their boat confirmed
that I’d hit the right spot. The “not so good thing” was that if I
tried to wade, I’d end up in the Chesapeake as crab bait.
I quickly determined that discretion is the better part of
valor. There was too much brush to cast from shore. I couldn’t wade.
I repacked my gear and headed back to Sharpsburg.
In Sharpsburg, I wandered through town. I found a store that
had been the Sharpsburg Arsenal, selling antique weapons. The
gentleman working there, Tom, was doing so as a favor to the owner. We
got to talking and found that we shared some similar passions for
fishing and the outdoors and we’d both done time in Uncle Sugar’s Air
Tom said that I shouldn’t try to wade the Potomac under any
circumstances. The current on the ledges is difficult when the water
is thigh deep. When the water is chest deep, the whorls that form over
the holes will slide downstream and knock you off the ledges and suck
you down.
He directed me to a bridge in the nearby national park. He
said that if I waded that creek, I would be alone and undisturbed.
There are holdover stockies in there and some bronzebacks.
I followed his directions out of town. Along the road, stone, steel,
bronze, and aluminum tablets and monuments were scattered every fifty
feet. On each highpoint, cannon stood as mute testimonials to a long
ago battle. I turned down a side road and parked in a lot overlooking
the bridge and the creek. The creek’s name is Antietam. The bridge is
Burnside Bridge, formerly known as Lower Bridge or Rohrback Bridge,
scene of the bloodiest fighting in the bloodiest battle in U.S. history.
I kitted up and headed down to the creek. Sycamore and poplar vied
with the monuments as silent guardians to the secrets of this stream.
At the far end of the bridge is a giant sycamore, three feet across,
that was drawn as a sapling in a U.S. Civil War corespondent’s
depiction of the battle at the bridge.
I waded wet and slipped into the water. As I moved upstream in the
blood-warm current, the sound of the Park Service Ranger describing the
battle quickly turned into an anonymous drone, drowned out by the
trees. The water here, like the Potomac, was high. The trees dipped
their fingertips into the cool wetness, forming tunnels along the
banks. The light filtering down through the canopy was that of green
leaded glass. The whole effect was that of a serene natural cathedral.
I waded up the stream and a fog clung to the water like a mother’s
tear on a cheek. Sounds from roads, other park areas and hiking trails
were transformed in this cloak of mist. The mind plays tricks. Voices
are heard, sounds, feelings, wrap your mind as the fog wraps the
Halfheartedly, I cast to the errant fish, a rainbow here, a
bonzeback there. Withing 100 yards of the bridgethe water reached mid
chest and I decided to give the fish a rest. I caught no fish today,
not even a nibble. The sun was high and even the fish felt and
respected, the quiet, monastic nature of the place. I turned
downstream and headed back to the bridge.
Hundreds of men died on that day, September 18, 1862. 500 men from
North Carolina and Georgia stopped the whole of the North's 9th Corps
for just long enough that the attack on Lee's flank that afternoon did
not have the same effects that it would have had in the morning.
I look up from the water, and there, framed in the trees, mirrored
in the water is Lower Bridge. Its abuttment has become the apse in the
cathedral. At my feet, along the way, I find two bullets and a piece
of grape shot. They are mixed in the cobble of the creek bed, they are
a part of the whole. I leave them there.
I’ve had the pleasure of fishing in some pretty spectacular places
around the globe; a pond run by South Korean Special Forces Senior NCOs
filled with trophy sized brown trout, the river Tay in Scotland for
Atlantic salmon, the Kern river drainage in the southern Sierra Nevadas
for golden trout. Today, I fished and came away changed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Kite

When I was younger, I really enjoyed flying my kites on the beach at Seaside in California. I had a big kite called a Hawaiian that was a huge dual-control delta wing, 1.5 meters tall and 3 meters across the bottom. It had so much surface that I could launch it in a 5 mph wind and, with an offshore breeze, put a wingtip in the water kick up a rooster tail. At one time, one of these was radar clocked over 90 mph.

One day, I went down to the beach and found it empty save my kite-flying mentor Corey. The wind was coming onshore at about 35-45 mph. Corey was sitting on top of a dune in his tuxedo jacket and tails and hot pink shorts, his long blond, trending to grey pony tail flapping in the wind.

Cool, I've got the whole beach to myself. I lay the kite down on the dune, pushing the bottom slightly into the sand. I rolled out the twin lines, hooked up the kite on one end and the wrist straps on the other. Slid my hands through the straps, squatted slightly and pulled the lines, bringing the kite upright. Then, elbows at my side, I gave just a quick tug, launching the kite.

The kite went straight up, I glanced over at Corey. Corey wrapped his arms around his knees and leaned forward in anticipation. Of what, I didn't know. He had taught me to fly kites, so knew that with my mentor there, all was well.

As I said, the kite went straight up. Normally, it will get to the top, reduce the angle of attack and then you start steering it from there. That's normally. Normally is flying a Hawaiian in a 7-15 mph wind. If you're especially daring and have a bunch of mass (i.e. over 200 lbs), you might fly it in an 18 to 20 mph wind. Weighing 125 lbs and flying a Hawaiian in a 35 mph wind is contraindicated in the instructions that hit the garbage, unread and unloved, along with the plastic wrap from the Kevlar lines.

The black, red and gold kite continued to rise. 60, 70 then 80 feet off the ground... I had only 100' feet of line. The kite is now at 90 feet and climbing. The straps have tightened around my wrists like a Chinese finger trap. My feet have left the ground. I'm flying.

I'm now the weight in a perverted human pendulum. The kite climbs higher and I'm 20, 30 now 40 feet off the ground and swinging forward. I now see that things are going from bad to worse. If I don't release soon, I'll either fly too high and drop to my death or, if I don't get that high, I'll be dragged across Hwy 101. My scream is torn from my throat.

I'm directly under the kite, the kite's angle of attack is neutralized, I drop quickly and I slam into the sand like the Great American Hero on his first day in the Super Suit. I'm down, the wind knocked out of me, but down. Oh shit, I'm still moving.

I've become a human sled. Acrross dunelets and flotsam, rotting seaweed and chunks of wood. My wrists are still locked in the straps, the kite is pulling ever forward. There is no fence between me and the highway and the Saturday morning tourist traffic. I'm actually going faster.

I realize that my struggles to release from the wrist straps have turned the kite. It's now going parallel to the ground, increasing its pull and speed.

There's a log in the sand about 40 feet ahead of me. I angle the kite so it will drag me to the log. Maybe I can grab it. 35, 30, 25.. The sand is abrading my stomach, filling my shorts. My eyes are mere slits and I'm spitting sand castles. I look at the log for a place to grab.. Oh shit!

Its not a log. Its the rotting carcass of a sea lion. A cloud of flies fills the air and the stench fights its way up my nose, against the wind. I pull in my right arm and rub the wrist strap off against my shoulder, my elbows digging twin furrows in the sand. Wham, the right strap releases and the kite tries to dislocate my left. Without the balanced control lines, the kite spins its death spiral into the ground somewhere near the Pacific Coast Highway.

The roar of a passing truck is in my ears. I'm not that close to the road, but I only realize it afterwards. I thought I was gonna be road pizza. I've stopped two feet from the corpse of the sea lion. Flies buzz around my head sensing fresh meat.

I take off the other wrist strap and stand up. Corey is standing there on the sand dune, laughing like a hyena. I pick up my kite and follow the trail my body has created in the sand back to where it all began. There's almost 150 feet of drag marks and I've gone more than 250 feet from where I started.

I ask Corey why he didn't stop me. He knew what was going to happen. The wind was too strong for that size kite.

"Man, sometimes you have to learn from the experience. You have to experience to have a life. 'Sides, it was a hell of a show."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Snow Blower

Okay, for a fly fisherman, it’s getting close to when I have to pull out a chainsaw just to fish. You just cut a 3 foot circle in the ice and then a 25 foot long, one foot wide slot leading to the circle. Bob's your uncle, you can fly fish in the Winter in Nebraska.
But first, you have to get by the blizzards. Yes, I said the ugly word, blizzard.
For those of you that have never experienced a blizzard, go to your favorite ski slope at night. When they turn on the snow making machine, place a 50' wide fan behind it and crank it up to hurricane. Now stand there in the -10 degree weather with this in your face for 3 days. This is a blizzard. Wind chills down so low, atoms slow down. The upside, your mother-in-law will stay in West Palm Beach for Christmas instead of camping out in your spare bedroom.
Tuesday, we were scheduled to open Nebraska's Donner Party Season with a bit of wind and snow. Everyone makes a mad dash to the grocery store for toilet paper and milk. The only reason I can figure for this important combination is that folks sit around in their snow forts and make cocoa from chocolate-flavored ExLax. Just don't ask about the marshmallows. Really.. Don't.
Tuesday morning dawns and I call the snow line for work. SNOW DAY! Bonus. Let’s get the snow blower up to speed. I then remember the fun of using a snow blower in the wind. The snow comes back in your face, covering you from head to foot, you end up looking like the looser in a chainsaw ice block carving contest (I love chainsaws).
Hmm, okay, up in the man cave over the garage is a box with a cab for my snow blower. I bought it on Summer clearance sale a couple of years before. I get the thing down and install it.
It is a three-sided cab made of clear plastic with a steel tube frame that mounts on the handle bars. You put it on, step into the open back and plow away. Great. I take it out for the first test run that afternoon. Snow has covered my 120' driveway and I clear it away. Wind is at about 5 to 10 mph, snow blows back at me. Nothing, nada. Face is clear. Thing works like a charm.
Wednesday... another snow day. The difference being is that the wind has circled around from the North, the isobars tightened up and its howling. Snow's not coming down, its coming sideways. Three to five foot drifts cover my yard with two feet of blown snow over the driveway.
This is what my serious snow blowing machine was made for. Nine horse Brigs and Stratton behind a 29" throat, dual stage, six gears forward, two in reverse, power-drive, electric-start monster. Now outfitted with the ever important cab. Bwahahahaha!
I start up the driveway, wind swirls, blowing the snow 50 feet into the air. A few crystals make it past the cab, but nothing like it would be without it. I have about 3/4 of the drive done and am making passes up and down. On about the sixth pass, I turn the beast around in the street... and then... just as I pull the lever down to engage the power drive, a 50 mph gust catches the cab from behind.
The snow blower is now rocket propelled. It shoots forward, pulling me off my feet. I'm holding onto the handlebars as the monster goes mach snot down the driveway dragging me behind it. I'm now stretched out with my knees and toes making dual tracks in the snow. The Dickies insulated coveralls burst into flame, finally warming my frozen feet. I'm a snow blowing comet!
The snow chute on the machine spins like a top. Snow shooting out in all directions, flames out the back, the snow cone maker from Hell has a life of its own. I blast a chunk of snow through the neighbor's window, instantly flocking his Christmas tree. I think I’m flocked too.
More comes out the chute, not just snow, but the newspaper. It’s a frozen missile that takes out 17 tobogganers two blocks over. It’s like bowling with a shot put.
The crazed ice yacht takes the path of least resistance and whips around the house where the wind has cleared the snow. I crash through the fence, streaming wire like a Rorschach Christmas garland.
I then zip through the back yard where the dog does his business. Now the thing has become an instrument of mass destruction. Its shooting out tiny icy B.M.s.
The dog is running for its life. I'm afraid he's not going to make it. He then decides it’s a game, circles back and jumps for the snow coming out the top. Snow shoots down his throat, out the back end and writes Froehliche Weihnachten in Chinese characters on the side of the house (he's half dachshund, half Maltese).
And finally, as I'm about to crash through the garage, the cab flips over on top of the snow blower. The snow blower glides ever so calmly to a stop, I get to my feet, turn the machine into the wind, flip the cab back up before it can burst into flames from the heat of the motor, dump snow on my smoldering knees (hey, these coveralls look better in charcoal black), examine the pedicure on my toes, wonder where my boots are, and turn off the machine. The dog comes over and looks at me with that look of disappointment only a dog can muster. He pees on my leg.
I wheel the snow blower into the garage, wander into the house, and buy a ticket for the Bahamas, one-way. Never again.

Friday, October 16, 2009


The following is an excerpt of a conversation discussing the previous post. It was pulled from the USENet Newsgroup Rec.Outdoors.Fishing.Fly with the authors permission.

Wolfgang: I recall a day on a stream somewhere in central Pennsylvania, lo these many years ago. There, upon the very bridge once traversed by the three billygoats gruff, stood a clutch of erstwhile fishermen who smelled of strong drink, and the truth was not in them. Eagerly and breathlessly, OH so eagerly and breathlessly, we watched the merry Frankster, standing stolid and steely-eyed in the foam and the froth, casting ever so persistently to the presumed fish which had long ago fled the wobbling shadows of the equally steadfast (and, admittedly, somewhat bloated) forms defiling the very asphalt above.....which latter, if you've ever seen it, you know is a pretty impressive (though not at all pretty) accomplishment.....asphalt ain't all that easy to defile.
Anyway, back in those days, the magnificent "bend like an oak or break like a" Reid was already (and justifiably) famous for having repeatedly (and with malice aforethought) pissed in the very face of death.
Um.....not real bright, some doubters might suggest, but panache, spelled with a capital.....uh.....whatever that first letter is, to the aficionado. We loved it. We ate it up. We waited with 'bated breath. We giggled in anticipation and elbowed each other in the ribs. We smiled. We laughed. We stank.
And then.......

Handyman Mike: Ah, yes and as I was passing over the mountain in central Pa. I came across 2 souls attempting to coax a trout or two from a small stream. I slowed down and told them there was a storm a-brewing with clap of thunder and bolts of lightning. Haven't heard anything said the souls. Then came the clap of thunder and the bolts of lightning. Climb in the back I tell these 2 souls. So they climbed into the steel flatbed body (not tin}. Wasn't real sure if we were going to get them to the Cherry Run cabin unscathed or fried..........Was a great clave that year for sure..........

Wolfgang: Hadn't thought about that day for a long time. I've had many great days on trout streams. Sharing that one on Cherry Run with Mark, catching numerous sparkling brook jewels, ranks high among them. Riding back to the cabin in the back of a truck, dodging lightning bolts, gave the whole experience a certain quotidian comico-mystical quality worthy of treatment by someone like McManus.....or maybe Traver would be a better choice. Yeah, I think so. The bear in the tent would be more in McManus's line.
The only disappointment I recall in the trip was that day on the bridge. There we were, with front row seats at a show that promised certain disaster, excruciating physical pain, blood, and general mayhem, and Frank........Frank, the chiseling bastard, did not float down the stream upside-down, Frank did not have a leg broken by a falling tree, Frank did not fracture his skull on a bridge abutment, Frank did not bleed out after perforating a major artery with one of his famous fighting craws, Frank did not disappear in a pool of quicksand. No, Frank lost his bug in a shrubbery and then walked out of the stream unscathed, saying, "next!"
I wanted my money back. :(