Currently Browsing: Personal
Nov 11, 2014
Getting into genealogy has inspired me to ask many more questions about the veterans in my family. I never expected to learn even a fraction of what I have lately.
My paternal grandfather got a bug for flying as a child when he was walking home from work in the late 1920s and he went by the local airport in Ardmore, Oklahoma. A guy with a plane offered him a chance to fly. That man turned out to be Wylie Post. In college, my grandfather joined the ROTC and was called up in June 1941 shortly before he could finish his degree in Petroleum Engineering. He served in the Army Air Corps and was stationed in Burma for his longest stint. He was trained to fly the B-25 and C-46, but after a while they told him to get into an unarmed P-38 and go take pictures of the Japanese. After the war, he went back to school to finish his degree and met a freshman girl who caught his eye – my grandmother. My grandfather survived a plane crash during the war and having a boat sink out from under him, but not skin cancer. He passed when I was 11 months old, so I never knew him.
My dad’s story isn’t nearly so eventful as his father’s story, but he did serve in the Navy during the later years of Vietnam. However, he was never sent over there and his job was primarily making sure people got paid and taking care of the accounting. I’m sure the men who served with him appreciated his ability to do his job. :)
(He’s the second from the right.)
The final picture I have to share was just recently obtained. It’s a picture of CASU-44, my maternal grandfather’s unit in WWII. He enlisted in the Navy, and they put him to work fixing planes because that man can fix absolutely anything. He went to Tinian behind some Marines and, from his stories, was basically working with them most of the time. He was punished for striking an officer after the fresh officer showed up and insulted my grandfather after trying to tell him that the manual said to fix the plane a certain way that my grandfather knew from experience didn’t work. He also told us about getting shot at by the Japanese while delivering ammunition to the other side of the island when he took a wrong turn in the sugar cane. Fortunately, some Marines nearby heard the shooting and pulled him out. My grandfather was put in the hospital when a storm caused the loss of most of their food supplies and they were put on different rations. He couldn’t keep any of it down at all and was no longer able to do as much as the Navy needed him to do. Eventually, he was shipped back to Hawaii and then back home.
(He’s second from the left in the fourth row from the top.)
To relate this a bit back to guns, my maternal grandfather could also shoot a squirrel out of a tree from damn near anywhere, even when other people couldn’t even spot the damn thing. His favorite squirrel gun is still kept loaded by his chair, and it was ordered from the Sears catalog.
Nov 11, 2014
A recently discovered picture of my Grandfather, who served in World War II at the end of the Battle of the Bulge. He was deployed for about a month before he was wounded near St. Vith, Belgium. This picture was taken before he deployed, in Spartanburg, South Carolina on August 6, 1944.
This was also recently discovered:
It looks like they chose not to inform my grandmother of the extent of his injuries. His wound was bad enough that he was partially disabled in the use of his left hand for the rest of his life, though he would never admit it. They shipped him home to convalesce. My grandfather died in 1996 at age 76.
Oct 31, 2014
I really liked the week in Oklahoma, but I do have to say, not as much singing as I expected.
How many states can say their official state song was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein? Sadly, I hear Mr. Chips has been waiting by the swinging chair for me to return:
The barn cats all seemed to take a liking to me, especially Mr. Chips.
Oct 29, 2014
Sorry for the lack of posting, but we had to take a trip to Bitter’s home town, a place where the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye (actually, down there it’s more like the cactus rather than corn). Bitter’s grandfather, who she has not seen in 11 years, called on her. I’ve now met three of Bitter’s grandparents, all of whom are still alive, but obviously her grandfather is struggling at nearly 90. All my grandparents were gone by the time I was 30.
In that one picture, that’s probably about as close as I’ve been to horses in my life. We stayed at her Uncle and Cousin’s. Her cousin owns a horse ranch and riding school.
Oct 8, 2014
Are you better off than you were a decade ago? In terms of real wages, I’m making about what I did when I was 26, and I’m now 40. Granted, a lot of that is self-inflicted, so I really can’t complain. I gave up salary for flexibility, and the opportunity to take risks on new and interesting things with bigger potential payout down the road. But I have to admit, as I get older, it gets harder and harder to sacrifice for uncertain future rewards than when I was in my twenties.
That’s the one side of the coin. As I’ve have to be more careful about finances, the other side of the equation is undeniable: inflation. The powers that be decided that food and energy prices are too volatile, so they should not be calculated into the official rate of inflation. If you listen to those charlatans, inflation has been non-existent. But when I look at my own finances, the big things that stand out (other than the mortgage and taxes) are food and energy. I’m spending way more in those categories than I was a decade ago, as a percentage of my income.
In 2011, when I lost the high-paying job after the company went tits up, we decided to start eating more meals at home, and eat out less. Sure, it did save money overall, but my grocery bill shot way up to compensate. It was still a net savings, but the grocery bill offset more than I expected! Ordering out some pizza or cheesesteaks every once in a while, it turns out, is reasonably competitive with cooking at home.
Sure, if you can subsist on a diet of hot dogs and ramen, you can do pretty well, but if you cook meals at home as to not bore yourself, it will cost you some money. Eating on the outside of the grocery store? Yeah, that’s some shit invented by rich hippies with money to burn. I don’t find it to be cheap, even if you’re good at meal planning. I realized this summer I am mostly priced out of the beef market. I usually like to smoke a brisket at least once in the BBQ season, but not this year. Last summer we enjoyed several nights of grilled ribeye, but not this year. I haven’t had beef that wasn’t ground in some time. Fortunately, my mother taught me how to make a mean meatloaf, but I have to admit to missing steak.
How is the great recession treating you? Are you better off now than a decade ago? Is food and energy inflation pinching you? And let’s not even get into whiskey prices! It’s almost enough to turn a fella into a populist!
Oct 7, 2014
No posting from me for a while. I have been working every waking minute, amounting to about 18 hours a day since last Monday, including the weekend. The client project is wrapping up with a good old fashioned death march. It might be over after next week. I’m not sure, however. In the mean time, I’m going to be scarce around these parts. Apologizes, but the mortgage doesn’t pay itself.
Aug 7, 2014
Bitter has come down with a cold, so she has not been in the mood to do much blogging. I came home today to see her on the sofa, watching a foreign movie that involved two guys who had just killed a bear by impaling it from underneath with a spear, set inside a church. Apparently this involved some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare. I said “What movie is this? I must watch this from the beginning,” since I figure any movie where two guys run a large brown bear through in a church probably involves all kinds awesomeness to arrive at the scene.
Either way, I’m still billing at the client, and about to take a second on. Today was to be my last week at the current client, but they extended me until the end of September, or I run out of work, whichever comes first. My bet is the end of September comes first.
Fourteen years ago, I invested in a small consulting company when it was a start-up. That is now my current employer. Two and a half years ago, I came on board to work on special projects. We wanted to take up special projects, because we don’t want to be in the consulting business long term. The consulting business has lasted 14 years, and has thrown off enough extra money to support my (and several others) efforts for the past two and half years to try to come up with a line of products that people might want to buy. But consulting is a tough business to be in, especially when you’re a small outfit. Unfortunately, we need the consulting business alive to provide the cash flow to fund the special projects.
This winter sucked. I can’t express how much it sucked, both in terms of weather and lost economic productivity. I wish I could say it was all the weather, but a lot of other unhappy things are just hitting at the same time. In consulting, it can be like that, and if you’re not Very Big Consulting, you can only take so much bad luck.. So that’s why I’m out billing instead. As long as I’m out in the field, even if it’s part time, I’m making money instead of costing money, and the company needs that right now.
Personally, I think it’s all a conspiracy by the Obama Administration to deliberately wreck the economy. That way the people who have to do all the work to support the technocratical terror he’s constructed don’t have time to complain ;)
Jul 4, 2014
I hope you all enjoy celebrating the birth of our nation by blowing up a small chunk of it. I’m going to spend most of today doing as little as possible. My major planned activity is snoozing in my chair and drinking iced tea.
My apologies for the light posting this week, but we’ve been busy tidying up for a house guest this weekend, and yesterday I had problems with the server the blog runs on. I was down a good chunk of Thursday because of a persistent crash involving the Ethernet chip on the board. I switched over to the other interface, in the hopes that it might only be specific to that one. We’ll see. I usually will get a text when the monitoring system detects the machine is down, but the mail relay was coincidentally out on that machine, which is the one thing that could go wrong where I wouldn’t know about it.
It may come time soon to replace the blog server. If I come to that point, I might have a fundraising drive. But I still think this current machine has some life left in it yet. We’ll see if switching to the other port fixes the problem.
May 6, 2014
Several days ago I had written a post asking for some advice on what to do about my beloved Aeron chair that had an arm break clean off. I got a lot of good advice, but the one that fixed it was the person who suggested looking on Fastenal. A pair of calipers and counting the thread density revealed the bolt was a 1/4″-28 X 2-5/8 black oxide bolt. I managed to find this bolt at Fastenal, which fixed the issue right up. The plastic part I thought I was missing it turned out was just hiding, so all parts were present. The new bolt put the chair right back together like nothing had happened.
As a person who spends an unhealthy amount of time, between working in IT and blogging in my spare time, with my ass planted in a chair I appreciate it. Now the only question is how long it will take the Glock 19 to finish wearing through the mesh on the (my) right side (which you can see in the pic if you look closely).
Apr 30, 2014
I’ve been planting my rear in a Herman Miller Aeron Chair for the better part of a decade. Back around 2003 the previous company I worked for acquired another company out in San Diego that was about to go tits up. We mainly wanted their technology and a few key employees who understood it, but it also came with a heaping shipment of Aeron chairs. I snatched one up immediately, figuring it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. It’s hands down the best chair I’ve ever owned. When our company finally went tits up in 2011, I was the last employee out of the building, and since the wind-down team had to hold on to our chairs through the asset auction, I took two Aeron chairs home.
Everything was fine until just before we were ready to head to Annual Meeting, and I stood up from my chair and the right arm broke clean off; the bolt head having separated completely from the shaft. Given the chair is about 14 years old at this point, that’s not a bad run. But I’m loathe to spend money on a new one. The trouble with fixing it is that Herman Miller pretty heavily controls its parts distribution, and there are only certain approved parts that can be sold, like lumbar pads and arm rest pads. There isn’t a arm rest bolt to be found on all the Internets that doesn’t look like a cheap non-hardned knockoff.
Herman Miller demands you to take the chair to an authorized service center to be repaired. I have a real problem with forcing customers to screw themselves out of hard-earned cash. It’s a chair, not a Saturn V rocket engine. I can fix it myself given the proper part. My guess is Herman Miller knows the .com crash flooded the secondary market with their chairs, and they know they are very well built and last forever. So they have to manufacture ways to extract money from the used market, and probably hope you’ll just buy a new one. Except that one with all the bells and whistles, a new Aeron pushes close to 9 or 10 bills.
So I’m kind of pissed off at this whole thing. I’m wondering if anyone out there knows of either a good Aeron knockoff that’s well built and comfortable, or knows a good source for Aeron parts outside of official Herman Miller channels. I’d also be open to getting a broken one to use for parts if it’s cheap enough too.
UPDATE: I found a solution! The chair lives!