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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Emperical Evidence

Paul Krugman posted these on his blog.

There is something obviously wrong when a Senator gets applauded for calling the climate change which in the next twenty to fifty years will kill millions of people and cause who knows what havoc a hoax. Is the money being paid to him by corporations afraid of losing profits should we take sensible steps to halt this process really worth all this?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Double Whammy

I take off yesterday for my regular round of golf with the gaggle, come home, get on the 'puter to check e-mail and find out Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett-Majors-O'Neil have died.
The media circus for both of them won't subside for some time.
I came of age in the 70's and Farah was bigger in that decade than Marilyn Monroe was in the 50's. For the record. I did not own her poster. Grinnygranny wouldn't let me buy one. We did enjoy watching Charlie's Angels.
I was never a fan of Michael Jackson's music. His video of Thriller came out the second year of teaching and my 7th grade girls that year hounded me into showing the class the video (with administrative approval).
Everyone who lived in that decade and remembers it has felt a part of their lives die with the loss of these two celebrities, and as such all the media circus is justified, even with all the problems facing the world today. With Farah the media, her fans and everyone in general were prepared for the news. Micheal was a shock. It came out of the blue and he was so young.

Death has been a companion in my family for two years. Yesterday's news mirrored in a peculiar way all we've endured. When we learned Dad had cancer and was given a month to live he'd suffered from dementia for a number of years. We were sad and when the time came deeply grieved, but comforted knowing the pain was over and he'd lived a long and prosprous life. Penni's struggle with cancer lasted four years, but when her days came to an end last December the grief was magnified by knowing her life was so tragically short.
Tomorrow we meet to place a plaque on a bench by the gazebo in the prayer gardens at Glorieta in her memory and spread her ashes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Grinnygranny and the kids on our trip to San Antonio.

My late father-in-law fell and hurt himself. They called and I went down. I couldn't talk my MIL into calling for an ambulance and all I had to take him to the hospital was the Ranger extended cab. The kids were also getting too big for them to ride in the drop seats. So we bought our first mini-van. It was a used '92 Ford Aerostar. A crazy thing happened. The dealership had a promotion that for buying a vehicle you got a free vacation. There were a few cities to choose from and we chose San Antonio. What started off as a nice family vacation over spring break turned into a family extravaganza. Mom and Dad decided they'd like to go with us in their RV. Penni and her family joined in. Bruce was living in Houston at the time and so was Penni's brother-in-law and his family. When everyone showed up we had seventeen trying to find a table at the Hard Rock Cafe on the River Walk.
The day we left it snowed and we dodged zero visibility all the way down to Ft. Stanton. From there we went to Fredricksburg. We stayed at KOA's on the drive. The so-called free vacation included a room at the Mariott River Walk, which was nice. Everyone else stayed at the KOA. For three days and two nights we toured the River Walk, a really great attraction, went to Sea World, walked through the Alamo. went up the space needle and over all had a fantastic time. Upon checking out having to pay for parking, the lodging tax and a couple of other expenses not covered by the company responsible for our "free vacation", it was just a little bit more than staying at the KOA. San Antonio has a really nice KOA, if you're into those kinds of accomodations. It had a movie room at night a barbeque pit for diiner, and a nice swimming pool. This was the first trip outside of NM we took as a family. We've been traveling fairly regularly ever since. If your traveling cross-country vans are the best way to go.

At White Sands National Monument. The kids are on the sands not the van.
The Aerostar had one major problem. A lousy transmission. Ford has an overdrive on their automatic transmissions. If your going up a steep hill or pulling something you use the drive otherwise you use O on the shift. Between 35 and 40 it would shift and down shift back and forth. Intown driving is pretty constant at that speed. We had the transmission completely rebuilt and it didn't fix the problem. Still with both our parents aging and the kids getting bigger we needed a van. Our next one was a green '96 Windstar. The passenger seats in the Windstar are a lot more comfortable than they were in the Aerostar. We would still be driving this one if not for one big problem. It had bad brakes. They had to be replaced at 24,000 miles and adjusted every time you did an oil change. Ford went on the cheap for an ABS system. They purposely had too little brake fluid, which kept the brakes from locking in a panic stop.

I was turned off by Ford. The last make of van I wanted was another Windstar and we were looking at a Chevy to replace it, but when we compared it with the newer version of the Windstar we chose a silver '99 version. Ford fixed the braking and transmission problems. We still have it and have put on over a hundred thousand miles on it. It's been down to San Antonio a couple of times while E was in basic training and tech school with the Air Force. We've taken it up to Nebraska to visit BIL and his family. Numerous trips to Oklahoma to vist E when he was stationed in Altus and up to see Bruce. The miles were really put on it when Autypesty took it to Canton as she was helping out Mom with Dad and Penni. It has the sweetest ride on the highway. Mom thinks of it as hers and has treatened us with death and destruction if we get rid of it.
We did look at replacing it with a Freestar, but Ford went brain dead by adding two thousand pounds making it way too sluggish and reduced gas mileage. Ford killed the Freestar and doesn't make a mini-van anymore.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Over the last twenty years, I've had four Ford Ranger pickups. The first was a Canyon Red 1985 plain Jane. We bought a white camper shell. This was before seat belt laws. We found four real thick cushions, placed them in the bed and E would ride back there. He loved it.

The next one was a 1990 light blue with silver trim (Dallas Cowboys colors) Six cylinder extended cab. It had standard transmission, but was so much easier to drive with air conditioning and power steering. The kids sat in the back drop seats. We bought a silver camper shell that made it look fantastic.

Grinnygranny drove them more than I did. She went through a phase where she liked trucks. While she was driving them I got stuck with a Honda Aero .125 motor scooter. I worked one mile from the school where I was teaching so I really didn't need much of a ride. I went through a series of clunkers until the kids got too big for the drop seats in the blue Ranger. We traded it in on our first van (which will be the subject of my next post).

I finally got to pick out my own Ranger. I didn't choose wisely. The clunker I was driving lost it's heating so I found a 1996 white plain Jane. It wasn't until I'd driven it for a week I finally figured out there wasn't enough leg room. Which I couldn't figure out. The first Ranger had plenty of leg room, why didn't this one? It was a long bed, which cut off about four inches in the cab. I couldn't wait until I had enough equity in it to trade it in on my last Ranger. I picked out a 1999 Jalepeno Green regular cab with air conditioning, power steering, but it still had a standard transmission. The only problem was that I bought it in June and in August transferred schools from across town to two blocks from home. I was back to not needing a vehicle.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I've Joined The Gaggle

A week ago I went to a private golf course as I was getting bored with the muni's. I'd called to see if they could fit me in (courses don't set tee times for single golfers) I was told they could so I drove the ten miles to get there (it's ten miles from my house to just about anywhere I want to go) and they couldn't fit me in before a scheduled group was set to leave. Then they told me I could play with them. They call themselves "the gaggle" and are bunch of senior golfers that meet every Thursday and Monday at 9:30. This is my first year being considered a senior golfer. I like paying the lower rate, but am still sure if I like falling into this catagory.
About fifteen minutes before their scheduled time they pull numbers out of a hat to form teams. I joined it and the group had 22 golfers.
Scores are kept with handicaps. When everyone gets in each team puts six bucks into the kitty and they divide it up to the team who had the best score on the front nine, back nine and total. Everyone kicks in a quarter for all birdies. Out of 22 players there were three birdies that day. So it cost me (above paying for the round which because it's during the week wasn't too bad) a buck and a half for the kitty and seventy five cents for the birdies. My team didn't have any birdies or win any of the kitty, but it was good fun. I played with some interesting people and have the rest of the summer's golf pretty well set.
I played again last Tuesday (the course had a tournament on Monday so the gaggle was delayed a day). Only nine guys showed making three groups of three, didn't win anything that day. Today twenty seven showed up and my team won the back nine and total so I won seven dollars and fifty cents.
It's penny ante and seems like over the long haul everything evens out. It has made me be serious about my handicap, which has been humbling. Most of the guys are five to ten years older than me and have handicaps ten or more strokes lower than me.

Monday, June 08, 2009

My Car

The Colt was actually Grinnygranny's car. I was riding around on a Honda Motorized bicycle, what they called at the time a Moped. It's top speed was 25 mph, but got around a hundred miles to the gallon. It got me to the university and back with the advantage of not having to find a parking space (scarce and espensive).

I was able to get around most of town using residential streets and only having to cross major ones and did my student teaching puttering around on the little machine. I'd chain it up on the metal ramp of the portable. The students nicknamed me Mr. Moped. The worst thing that happened to me on it was after a short rain storm I got drenched when a car passed me hitting a puddle.

In the fall of that year I substituted until November, and the little Moped got me around without too much trouble. I was hired on a short term contract to replace a teacher whose husband was tranferred out of country. At this point I needed a car.

I went to the credit union, found out how much I could afford, found a nice station wagon, signed the contract, filled it up on the way home on a Friday night. I got up Saturday morning and it was half empty when I turned it on. Getting under it I saw gasoline dripping from a hole in the tank. I drove it back to the dealer. They offered to pay half of the repair. I gave them their keys back. Monday I went to the credit union and canceled the sale.

I then found a much better car. A white 1980 Fiat Brava. It had plush vinyl seats a 2.0 ohc 4 cylinder engine that felt like a V8. I really liked this car. A week after I bought it the radiator blew. I took it back to the dealer, and they repaired it without charge. Finding a good dealer is soooo important.

The only problem with it was the fool who had it before me put spoke wheels on it. It drove fine until around 60 mph then the front end started vibrating. Which meant you couldn't take it out on the road, and this was a car that would have been sweet on the highway.
I did find a picture with E sitting on it when he was about two.

The next year I had my first full year of teaching at a middle school, and was hired as asst track coach at a high school. The first day I went down to coach I was sitting across from my car in the head coaches car in the faculty parking lot discussing my duties and watched a student turn too sharply and bashed in the driver side rear door. Naturally she didn't have insurance and the repair was under the deductable on my policy.

I didn't have the money to put regular wheels on it or fix the door, but all in all it was a fine car.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

First New Car

When Grinnygranny had been working a year where she still works 29 years later, and I'd just finished student teaching we felt it was time to trade in the Comet for a new car. I looked at a Chevy economy car and wasn't all that impressed. Then we found a 1982 Dodge Colt hatchback. It was built better and cost less than the Chevy. It had a peppy 4 cylinder engine with an automatic transmission and is the only car I've ever seen that had a lever next to the gear shifter. The lever had an E position and a P position. E for economy and P for power. Normally it was in the E position, but if you needed a little boost you could put it in the P position for more oomph. Living in an area with mountains it came in handy a time or two going up a steep grade, other than that it did fine in E.
One of the great pleasures, that with gas becoming so expensive may be dying, is the Sunday afternoon drive into the mountains. We have various routes we take for these drives. One of them is to go out Tijeras Canyon, turn at the (Sandia) Crest turn off, go through Cedar Crest, but instead of heading to the top of Sandia mountain continue on to Madrid and Golden. (Madrid is where John Travolta, Ray Liotta and others filmed the movie Wild Hogs). This picture was taken when E was around a year old. Grinnygranny grimaced when I showed it to her. It was her first curly perm.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sweet Ride

I was driving the '69 Plymouth when Grinnygranny and I were married, she had a blue '76 Ford Maverick. A nice enough driving car, it had a V6 engine that was good on gas with plenty stop and go power. She'd had a '68 Mustang in high school, traded it in on a Vega (she still thinks that was the worst decision of her life and traded it in on the Maverick) and wanted to get a sports car again. We both liked the Camaro and started looking around for one.
I gave the Plymouth to Penni we traded in the Maverick for a red with white top, '77 Camaro. It was the first car with my name on the title. When we bought it gas was selling for fifty cents a gallon. Within three months it jumped to a buck a gallon so trading in an economy car for a gas guzzler didn't seem so wise in hind sight. Even so this was the sweetest driving car I've ever owned. It had a 350 four barrel V8 that was pure power, and with it's wide stance it had the smoothest ride. You felt like you were floating down the highway. You did have to be careful on speed bumps and dirt roads as it didn't have much clearance.
The Pontiac Trans Am was much more popular because of the Smokey And The Bandit movie, but driving around like Jim Rockford wasn't that bad.
This was the one car I really hated parting with. When E was born we couldn't afford to make the payments on it and the hospital bill.
My father-in-law gave us his spare car, a '71 Mercury Comet. It had four doors and a fairly good sized trunk which was much more useful for putting all the stuff that you need to haul around small children.

My friend Russ at Private Buffoon, one of the old local blogging geezers that have been getting together to drink a  beer or two the last couple of months, posted this song on his blog and I just can't resist posting it here. It's really fun. Take a listen.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Summer fun

I've been hitting the golf courses quite often the last two weeks. It's fun getting into shape.
I book most of my tee times through GolfNow. The costs are lower and they have a few perks. One of the perks is that if you book 5 tee times you get a free round of golf. I went online to set up my free round only to be told they ran out of them and to check back later. I know sooner or later I'll get my free round, but this does speak about how popular the site has become.
Sonic is giving out free Rootbeer floats today. Oh does that bring back memories from working at an A&W Rootbeer stand. (Added later) Grinnygranny and Auntypesty wanted to take them up on their offer. You couldn't get close to the place! Sitting there for thirty minutes or more to just get in an order would cost more in gasoline than the floats. I wonder if the oil industry is subsidizing the giveaway?
I've also been going through boxes of pictures looking for some of the cars I've owned over the years. You won't believe how many pictures we have of all the animals over the years. It'll take some time to put the kids and grand kids pictures in chronological order. For some reason I can't find many pictures of our vehicles, unless they were used as a backdrop, but only a portion of the cars, trucks and vans are visible.