The Summer of Orange Discontent

Description=ab23638.jpg AB23638 (RM) Traffic cones along side of road Taxi

Official Flora of Orange Summer

Many have heard the lame joke, made at times like these … “What’s the State flower of (fill in your favorite State/Commonwealth in dysfunction)?”  The punch line is pictured to the right.

It’s been one of those Summers in my little slice of Heaven on Earth.  Seems every week I am running into large rectangular announcements that “This road will be closed beginning on (month-date.)”  The amount of road work going on is enough to set commuters’ neck hairs a quivering!

My guess is that the Silver Lining in all this traffic disruption this Summer is a good sign for The Economy as a whole; but it truly reeks havoc with the rate-of-productive-effort vs. travel time ratio.  And for some reason this Summer has seen much more infrastructure investment than any other Summer I can remember.

img_0036Summer’s tend to be most beneficial to blooming orange cones; but this one might set a record, not just for orange cones but also for orange detour signs (announced weeks in advance) and the deployment of the Flagger Forces of Evil.  I have joked recently that any hostile power, looking to pose damage and mayhem to American society would – as their first step in subversion – invest heavily in Flagger Force franchises.

Those guys are EVERYWHERE.  And even though they might seem innocuous, they control the smooth flow of American auto society.  Too perfect a cover for a nefarious force looking to nonchalantly position themselves at numerous strategic venues and choke points.  Reminds me of German efforts to sabatage the Allied response to the Nazis’ World War II offensive in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge).  They sent commandos to infiltrate behind Allied lines, disrupting communications and responses by – among other things – changing routing and destination signage!

It’s getting to the point where I am recognizing Flagger Force operatives moving from one choke point to another.  That cannot be a good thing!

My work commute is generally a non-invasive, relaxing commune with Nature along the secondary and back roads of eastern Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Hatboro, Upper Moreland, Abington, Cheltenham).  No stress, relaxing scenery, manageable traffic …

Until this Summer anyway …

On any given morning, I can find two or three of my favored secondary roads impassable due to construction or repair work.  From the all too obviously needed bridge rework to road re-paving to power-line tree trimming to sewage and water line installations to God only knows what, it has been a particularly active Season of Infrastructure!

Terwood Road (closed since July 5) has been a real kick in the commute, a direct route slicing east-southeast through bucolic settings guaranteed to settle the most nervous commuter.  Worse yet, the popular route’s closure in an area not exactly brimming with non-invasive alternative routes, throws other east-west secondary routes in the area into complete disarray, forcing me to use primary routes (e.g. Route 611) where the driving is closer to Mad Max: Fury Road than psyche-settling leisure.

It’s both maddening and reassuring in the “Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure” way of thinking.

  1. Roads – and the utilities running along and below them – are essential.
  2. Roads take a beating.
  3. Roads require maintenance and semi-regular investment to maintain long-term utility.
  4. Maintenance and Investment Time sucks when moving from Point A to Point B!

There’s NEVER a good time to do it.  And when it’s being done, it’s never a good time for anyone … other than the good people (so far as we know) of Flagger Force!

Just shoot me already … (That was sarcasm, FF!)

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The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

In 1966 I was 10 years-old; and as 10 year-olds are wont to do I was infatuated with sophomoric behavior and attracted to silly comedy on TV and The Big Screen.  In May of that year a comedy hit the silver screen, starring Alan ArkinCarl Reiner, Brian Keith, and Jonathan Winters.

Editors-Pick-The-Russians-are_-Coming-The-Russians-are-Coming

The movie was called “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” in an oblique reference to the Ride of Paul Revere when the British were on their way to Lexington and Concord.  The synopsis of the movie on IMDb reads as follows:

Without hostile intent, a Soviet sub runs aground off New England. Men are sent for a boat, but many villagers go into a tizzy, risking bloodshed.

Apparently, little has changed when it comes to the reaction of “the villagers” whenever we spot someone from Mother Russia!

OK … It’s really the Media that’s largely having apoplectic seizures over Russians, Russians, Russians.

As we slog through yet another so-called Trump “scandal”, I am having much difficulty in understanding where all the hubbub is about.  So allow me to summarize what I know with the hope that someone can make better sense of this confusion than I am able.

  1. lead_960Donald Trump, Jr. is approached by a long-time friend of his father’s, who happens to be connected to the Russian entertainment industry, requesting a meeting on behalf of a Russian lawyer with dirt to share on opposition candidate, Hillary Clinton.
  2. Said points-of-contact could very well have “connections to the Russian Government” – though that’s certainly up for interpretation – in the same way that many in the Legal and Entertainment industries in the U.S. of A would know and interact with US Government officials in the course of professional duties.
  3. A meeting is arranged, and it quickly becomes apparent that the source really has nothing of value related to Clinton and the meeting devolves into a discussion of Russian adoption programs, discontinued by the Russian government in response to sanctions imposed by the U.S Congress in the Magnitsky Act, which seized assets and denied visas to Russians suspected of corruption and human rights abuses.
  4. The meeting lasts all of 20 minutes; does not result in any valuable information on anything; and no future contact between the principles occurred afterwards.

Now that appears to me to be a rather thin basis for all the clamoring about collusion and treason.  I will attribute my inability at being shocked to my pragmatic way of looking at all things.

lead_960-1If one looks at collusion as something akin to a contract, you would need to see some form of consideration or value passing between the principles.  So what was that thing of value?  Even if one can argue that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskay had acknowledged connections to the Russian Government (She denies it.), what was the benefit to them?  Much was made today about the man who accompanied Veselnitskay to the meeting … until it was noted that he was actually an American citizen!

Or let’s look at the definition of Treason, which requires the witnessing of overt acts against the Country or in aiding and abetting the Enemy.  So what exactly was the overt act that accomplished either of those circumstances.  Some argue that Russian operatives may have been dangling the Clinton information to draw out one of the Trumps.  Maybe they did.  But simply looking at the dangle, but not taking the bait in full is nothing to get the villagers running around like beheaded chickens.

Now indulge me as I surmise what might have been the reaction in the Hillary Clinton camp had the same “dangle” been made to them for dirt on Donald Trump, Sr..

  1. Clinton Gives Speech On American Global Leadership At Washington Conference

    John Podesta with Hillary Clinton

    John Podesta is approached by a long-time friend of Bill Clinton’s, who happens to be connected to the Russian entertainment industry, requesting a meeting on behalf of a Russian lawyer with dirt to share on opposition candidate, Donald Trump.

  2.  A meeting is arranged, and it quickly becomes apparent that the source really has nothing of value related to Trump and the meeting devolves into a discussion of Russian adoption programs, discontinued by the Russian government …. etc., etc.
  3. No damaging opposition research results, yet The Clinton Foundation obtains a $2.35 million donation; the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, takes over a Canadian uranium mining firm; and Hillary’s husband, Bill is paid $500,000 to give a speech – on Russian adoptions perhaps – to the Russian investment bank with links to the Russian Government that is promoting stock in the aforementioned Canadian firm.

Now THAT would be an excellent example of Consideration passing from one party to the other!  If it ever actually happened …

But it did!  Every single overt act described above happened in a common thread … Russian interests to corner uranium mining and the Clintons’ interests in building up their political war chest!

hillary-stateHillary Clinton was Secretary of State when that happened, serving in an official capacity at the highest level of U.S. Government, supposedly representing the interests of Americans and National Security.  No way does a Canadian uranium mining firm wind its way into a Russian Government asset portfolio without the tacit approval of the U.S. Government!

You really have to admire the Clintons.  They only do they know how to collude; they have the Treason thing down cold too!

Donald Trump, Jr. and company are guilty of being naive, even stupid … but not criminal.

As political neophytes, the Trumps could learn a lot of bad habits from the Clintons.

Peeves of Grass by W.Whitman*

(* Waldo Whitman, long distance third cousin of renown poet Walt Whitman, was a noted turf-ologist and local laureate to the Bronxville, NY organic lawn movement.) 

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Peeves of Grass

They gird their loins upon mechanical beasts.

Concern for your Lawn? Not in the least …

Their job is but the turf to mow,

On swaths of green in an endless row.

The call to them is “Mow it short!”

Should Weather their next visit abort.

 

Of consequence is the Heat of Summer

Working to render your backyard a bummer,

Baking grass roots to the color of Lumber.

 

Another lawn threat is an obscure little pest,

Whose potential for damage to grass – no jest.

Existing in stealth and snug as a bug,

Sheltered all Winter by your grass turf rug.

Spring brings cravings for roots to devour,

Leaving your Lawn unfit for a Schnauzer.

 

To know Milky Spore, you need not worry.

But if beetles you see, best move in a hurry.

For the future of dear lawn could become quite gory!

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Nothing brings a tear to the eye like a good Ode to Lawn!

And though Waldo’s words paint a moving portrait, his flowery expressions have more simple, straight-forward messages.  For one, the guys and gals riding those professional lawn mowing services prefer to leave your lawn short as a Masters Tournament fairway.  If they miss an appointment for weather, the lawn less cumbersome to mow quickly the next time out.

And a lot of homeowners like that close-cropped fairway look …

But that’s not good for strong, sustained grass growth as the following pictures illustrate.

 

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Tale of Two Lawns:  Can you tell the difference between the professional short-cut vs. Cranky Man’s pillowy mow?

Analysis (above):  Verdant greenery on the left, roughly at least 2-2.5 inches longer.  Note browning already occurring on the right despite rather moderate temps and plenty of rain!  What will it look like in August???

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Which side looks healthier, richer, more likely to survive the Summer?

Remember the words passed down to us from past generations …

A Lawn that looks like a country club fairway in June will resemble an airport runway in August!

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BEWARE THE BEETLE!

In southeast Pennsylvania we tend to see the mighty ugly grub beetles around the 4th of July.  I usually see my first ones (and lately the only ones) on a golf course … while conducting turf research of course!

images-13You can pre-treat in March (Too late now …) or wait until you see beetles.  But don’t lolligag once you do see them.  Grub treatments are intended to keep grubs from entering the lawn.  Once they get in there, it may be too late to keep them out!

If you want to live grub-worry-free, get to know the milky spore.  Yeah, it’s a pain in the hinterlands to apply; but it will give you up to 10 years of grub coverage!

Read more here:

Let’s play microbiological warfare!

Help your lawn beat the heat

 

 

So many never came home …

(This blog post is not intended to damper your Memorial Day weekend or the enjoyment of beaches, barbecues, parties, and activities.  Cranky Man’s sincerest wish is simply to take a few minutes this holiday weekend to reflect on the ultimate sacrifices made on our behalf!)

4483264_origAs is my challenge, Cranky Man will prod his readers into reflecting on the REAL meaning of our more sacred National Holidays.  This weekend kicks off the official start of Summer 2017.  But the true reasons for celebrating the coming three months of Summer – Memorial Day – has a much, much deeper meaning than beaches, water sports, vacation travel, and the wonders of the National Parks system.

That Meaning is the recognition of those thousands upon thousands, who left the safety of Homeland and Family to preserve and protect both, and in that Service gave the Last Full Measure of Devotion.  In many cases, they did so not for the People they left back home, as they did for those in foreign lands unable to preserve and protect those concepts of Homeland and Family without our help.

The Meaning is recognition of those sacrifices and appreciation for the loss pressed upon those who loved them.  Such meaning can be severely clouded with emotion when a Loved One never comes home from War.  The “more fortunate” families might wait for DECADES to recover the remains of fathers, sons, uncles, and brothers.  The truly Unfortunate never know the peace of bringing them Home.

As of 19 May 2017 the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) lists 82,547 Americans still missing just since World War II.  Here are a few of their stories …

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a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim went off to War …

On May 11, 1969 – the before his son’s 1st birthday – LT William C. Ryan climbed aboard his F-4 Phantom as Radio Intercept Officer (RIO).  His aircraft was on a bombing run along the Laos-Vietnam border when it was hit by ground fire and crashed.  The pilot ejected, but Ryan did not make it out.

Rhino

LT William “Billy” C. Ryan

Luck in the form of Ryan’s aircraft seat was found in 1990, but the politics of searching a border region; being limited to 45 days of searching at any one stretch; and the treacherous terrain prevented finding LT Ryan’s remains and positively identifying them until 2016.  Billy Ryan’s son was now 48 years old!  And in a strange, unforgiving twist of fate, Ryans’ wife, Judith, was informed of her husband’s positive identification on the very same day she was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer.

LT William C. Ryan was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on 10 May 2017.

1611 Americans are still listed as MIA from the Vietnam War.  Over 58,000 Americans perished.

IWO JIMA

CPL Freddie Lee Henson enlisted in the U.S. Army on 19 January 1949 at 18 years old out of Klamath Falls, AR.  Serving in the 57th Field Artillery, 7th Infantry Division Henson was deployed to South Korea in 1950.

In November 1950, as U.S. and South Korean forces came painfully close to pushing the North Korean forces across the Yalu River into China, 1 million Chinese troops jumped the river and overwhelmed the Allied forces.  By December the largely American United Nations force was pinned down at the Chosin Reservoir, deep in North Korean territory.

Freddie-Lee-Henson

CPL Freddie Lee Henson

On December 6, 1950 CPL Henson was declared missing-in-action.  Very little was known as to the details of Henson’s death in the confusion and suffering that was the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.  Henson’s unit was one of many suffering from shortage of supplies and sub-zero temperatures.

Despite long-term tensions over a war that was never officially a “war”, which also meant that peace was never declared, several collaborative efforts between North and South Koreas and the U.S. began to yield the remains of soldiers long dead but never returned home.  In 2004 CPL Henson’s remains were among 5 sets recovered on the east side of the Chosin battlefield.

On 3 April 2017, CPL Freddie Lee Henson’s remained were officially identified after 67 years.  His family never found out he was brought home.  Freddie’s brother, Kenneth – his last known familial survivor – had died in 1980.  Henson was interred with full military honors on 4 May 2017 at Fort Sam Houston in Houston, TX.

Over 33,000 Americans died during the Korean War.  The DPAA lists 7,747 still missing.

memorial-day.

Sometimes the tragedy of never seeing a loved one return from war is worsened by the circumstances of their forever absence.  One such example was resolved in July 2015 with the return of 40 U.S. Marines, who perished on Tarawa Atoll during the Allies World War II island-hopping campaign.

Tarawa was mistakenly viewed as a push-over outpost among the many occupied by Japanese troops in the Pacific.  The invading Marines came ashore on November 20, 1943 in rubber boats and amphibious tractors.  Little did the invaders know, the Japanese had an extensive network of concrete bunkers, proudly proclaimed by the Japanese commander as requiring a million man a hundred years to overcome, that survived the intense aerial and naval bombardments.

Aerial

Tarawa Atoll

It took U.S. Marines all of three days to subdue the atoll’s defenders, but at the cost of heavy casualties.  1200 Marines died on Tarawa; many of them hastily buried as the Allies persistently worked to push the Japanese out of the central and western Pacific.  Hundreds of the dead still lay buried there, some of them buried under yards, trash pits, even pigsties.  They may well have remained there if not for the efforts of Mark Noah, founder of History Flight, a non-profit dedicated to bringing the remains of lost Americans home.

Thanks to these efforts a long-forgotten burial ground, containing the remains of 40 U.S. Marines, was discovered on the atoll.  After 70 years laying in an inconspicuous plot thousands of miles away from Home and family, 40 Americans were disinterred and returned to Hawaii for potential identification and return to families long resigned to never gaining closure to unspeakable loss.

Among those 40 American heroes was 1st LT Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor.  In no way to diminish the sacrifice of all 40 of those men, below lies the MOH citation for LT Bonnyman, Jr., provided here as a tribute to all 40.

180px-Alex_BonnymanFor conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of the 2d Battalion Shore Party, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during the assault against enemy Japanese-held Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, 20-22 November 1943. Acting on his own initiative when assault troops were pinned down at the far end of Betio Pier by the overwhelming fire of Japanese shore batteries, 1st Lt. Bonnyman repeatedly defied the blasting fury of the enemy bombardment to organize and lead the besieged men over the long, open pier to the beach and then, voluntarily obtaining flame throwers and demolitions, organized his pioneer shore party into assault demolitionists and directed the blowing of several hostile installations before the close of D-day. Determined to effect an opening in the enemy’s strongly organized defense line the following day, he voluntarily crawled approximately 40 yards forward of our lines and placed demolitions in the entrance of a large Japanese emplacement as the initial move in his planned attack against the heavily garrisoned, bombproof installation which was stubbornly resisting despite the destruction early in the action of a large number of Japanese who had been inflicting heavy casualties on our forces and holding up our advance. Withdrawing only to replenish his ammunition, he led his men in a renewed assault, fearlessly exposing himself to the merciless slash of hostile fire as he stormed the formidable bastion, directed the placement of demolition charges in both entrances and seized the top of the bombproof position, flushing more than 100 of the enemy who were instantly cut down, and effecting the annihilation of approximately 150 troops inside the emplacement. Assailed by additional Japanese after he had gained his objective, he made a heroic stand on the edge of the structure, defending his strategic position with indomitable determination in the face of the desperate charge and killing 3 of the enemy before he fell, mortally wounded. By his dauntless fighting spirit, unrelenting aggressiveness and forceful leadership throughout 3 days of unremitting, violent battle, 1st Lt. Bonnyman had inspired his men to heroic effort, enabling them to beat off the counterattack and break the back of hostile resistance in that sector for an immediate gain of 400 yards with no further casualties to our forces in this zone. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Over 405,000 American soldiers, sailors, and pilots died during World War II.  The DFAA still lists over 73,000 Americans as missing-in-action.

Again … These stories are not intended to damper a glorious pre-Summer weekend, so much as to encourage a moment or two of reflection on the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Horsham (PA), It’s Primary Tuesday in Pennsylvania!

Tomorrow, May 16 (2017) is Primary Tuesday in Pennsylvania.

No …. The Choices are neither sexy or controversial.  There were no debates, no surrogates flooding the cable wires, and – thankfully – no commercials or robo-calls.

I doubt even the Russians are interested …

But you should be!

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Tip O’Neill

The following excerpts (with one edit) from an important township election in 2013 rings true in every election. One of my favorite quotes comes from Tip O’Neill, “All politics are local.”

Local elections have a greater direct effect on you, the Taxpayer; the community in which you live; and the schools your children attend.

No other election will affect your quality-of-life more directly than local government offices that control spending, your schools, property, income and township taxes, not to mention the potential for your township’s Economic Future.

No other elections will affect you more directly or intimately.  From the state of your schools, neighborhoods, finances, emergency services, local public works … Most things you touch on a daily basis in the course of normal life are managed by the people your friends, neighbors, and supermarket/soccer/PTA semi-strangers will elect FOR YOU, if you decide a local election is not “important enough”.

There are important School Board and Judge selections to make tomorrow.

Make the effort and cast your ballot!

Out, Damned Holes!

The holes! Those holes!

Rippling through my cloud-like lawn,

Leaving grass entrails

In bright greens and dark fawn.

Those holes, damn holes … Could be moles

Or voles or Middle Earth lawn trolls.

Had one not known better, they might just consider

This a violent protest by the Lawn Antifa!

Now just settle down, you bloody lawn neophyte!

Both knowledge and experience doth shine a bright light

Where the untrained Turf Brain might see disaster,

The wise, old Lawn Prophet sees good health for your pasture!

corer

How core aerator works

Not quite Shakespeare,
Not quite Milton …

In other words, it’s The Best Time of the Year to aerate your Lawn!

For focused discussions, see the following …

Poking Holes in the Patient – Lawn Year (LY) ’14

Getting a Spring-loaded Start – LY13

Everyone’s Lawn Looks Great in April – LY11

aeration

How Aeration benefits your Lawn

 

Springtime State of Mind

It has been awhile, my friends.  Apologies to you all …

Spring is in the Air; and you hear that pleading call.

The whisper draws you out the door

Where Sun and Warmth do beckon.

You wonder somewhat confusingly

The haunting call’s creation.

You wonder here; pause over there

Listening for those plaintive pleas.

For Heaven’s sake, you hibernating bear,

Your Lawn screams for “Reprieve!”

Click here for your April LAP (Lawn Action Plan)!

The proof is in the pictures …

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Yours truly,

Cranky Man’s Lawn

“Where the only things Cranky are Weeds (until they die a horrible death).”

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