An Ode to Raw Fishies

The Real Feel

For a Meal of Eel

by ME

Last night I tried the eel,

But it’s not my kind of meal.

Although I enjoyed the sushi,

The eel was kind of mushi.

So if you decide to sashimi,

You might want to stick to the crab!

Now before anyone asks, this is a review of eel, not a review of the food from an establishment new to us. The rest of the meal, including the sushi with the eel, was quite the appeal … for real.

M-M-M-My Corona … Year 1: A year of modeling navally

We used to track our “two-week” COVID-19 lockdown by the day. Now it looks like we will be tracking them not by days, weeks or even months …

Here’s what I have been doing with my wealth of free time during the lockdowns. It’s an old hobby I resurrected with the unwitting assistance of the snarkier people in my Family. Little did they know …

The first creation was intended as a joke by a misguided family member, based on my World of Tanks Blitz semi-obsession.

What this harmless family joke turned into was the re-lighting of a hobby interest decades-long in the dormant portion of my brain right next to fantasy sports leagues, bowling, and dressing-to-impress. It was the perfect time-absorber for someone searching for sanity preservation during COVID CrazyTime!

Model assembly – at any age – can be fun and challenging. And if you are a bit OCD, having endless hours trapped in your home let’s you be crazy obsessive!

There are thousands of models in all shapes and sizes (scales), whether you are into planes, ships, tanks, cars … whatever. When it comes to aircraft models, there’s a huge difference in the thoroughness, clarity, and complexity of the kits and the instructions that accompany them.

I have found that Tamika makes the best model kits. (See the F-14D above.) They are complex, but thoroughly illustrated and assembly clues (slots, spots, part trees) are logical and easy to follow. Italieri makes very good model kits (See the V-22 above.), but some of the detailed assembly is intuitive.

Regardless of the overall quality of the kits, I found it frequently helpful to refer to on-line photos of real in-use aircraft to replicate details, including paint schemes, equipment placement, decals, etc. There is even a site – Draw Decal – that can provide high-quality markings for any military aircraft and the squadrons that fly them. (See MV-22 as an example.)

On the other hand, my last model foray was somewhat disappointing. Years ago, when I worked in support of the Navy’s SH-60 Seahawk program, I had built an SH-60 model. It was damaged beyond repair during an office move; and I wanted to replicate it.

Bought a 1/72 scale HH-60H Seahawk – the USN Search-And-Rescue (SAR) version – from Italieri, and it was a major disappointment. Pushed through and completed the model despite directions lacking detail, poor fittings, and impossibly small detail parts (one reason why I prefer the larger 1/48 scale models).

The lesson to learn is “You get what you pay for.” There’s a huge difference between picking up a “bargain” model, such as a $19.99 Italieri HH-60H disaster, and spending a hefty $100. for a well-developed Tamika F-14D. Live and learn.

My next project looks a bit more promising for kicking off COVID Year 2 … although I did get a great 40% off deal at Hobby Lobby ($29.99 retail), a great place for model supplies and paints).

Not sure what I’ll do once I have run my course through military models, but thinking maybe crocheting.

Waking Up Whitney

Dreams are fascinating. Completely unreal at times, yet not always memorable or even remembered. They can also be revealing … for the Dreamer, and those in their immediate vicinity.

Certainly, a sudden middle-of-the-night outburst can be fun, funny, sweet, even cute. But they be very rare occurrences in my experience.

With that as prologue I relate the experience I Saturday night, when I was suddenly awaken from a deep, peaceful sleep.

It went like this … (Turn the volume up!j

That’s right … the full-throated emotion, a career high point of Whitney Houston, singing the theme song from The Bodyguard! And I have to admit, it sounded pretty good!

My bed buddy’s performance ended shortly after that brief but awe-inspiring chorus, as I opted to awaken Houston’s protégée. I gently (kinda) nudged Whitney.2 awake in mid-chorus.

“Hey, Whoever-you-are … Wake up! You were singing Whitney Houston.”

“No, I wasn’t.”

“You must have been dreaming. You were singing The Bodyguard!”

And I break into my own screeching rendition of Whitney being attacked by a mountain lion.

“YOU were dreaming!”, she claims.

(OK, that’s not out of the question. I mean, it was a surprisingly impressive performance. But no, it definitely wasn’t the Real Whitney. It had to be What’s-Her-Name.)

All you Dream Interpreters must be thinking … Oh, how wonderful To be soooo in love as to belt out one of the most passionate love songs from the ’90s. She must really, really LOVE The Cranky Man!

But I’m pretty sure – somewhere she called me “Kevin” …

Musings on A Milestone Birthday

Birthdays – for me these days – serve no benefit other than reminding one how fast those Lifetime Milestones are flying by. This one had the added attraction of officially designating Yours Truly as soon to be in need of advanced medical treatments.

65 … The Medicare Year … YEA! Could it get any worse? Of course it could …

I spent the morning at the DMV (PENNDOT Division)!

UnHappy Birthday

Hello Blogging, my old friend …

Every year at this time I have to consider the prospect of letting go of Cranky Man’s Lawn. Been a long time, and my attention span for fascination and obsession usually runs 10 years max.

We started our journey here in 2011. (That weirds me out.) And lately, every February I have to convince myself that hanging around would be good. For me at least … With a micro-blog you are – more often than not – talking to yourself.

This year I really thought this was it. CML had run its course. What more could come of this? Let’s just end it.

And then last week – true story – I get two comments from a woman, whose father used to own a bar/restaurant in our old neighborhood (Frankie Masters Tavern), about a blog post I had written that very first year. Without revealing details, she appreciated the chance to reminisce about her parents through a very brief memory I shared.

Then her brother chimed in. It meant a lot to them and to me. How can you throw that away?

What stands now at 9401 Ashton Road

Having My Cake and Eating It

Weight-conscious, healthy people and cake haters are no fun with which to celebrate birthdays. No one wants to eat my chocolate-frosted cake Carol so meticulous prepared.

Not even Carol …

Fine … I’ll eat the whole thing myself!

A snowy day in sports hell

God … I’m so so very tired of Winter. More snow today … but only about five inches. Fine. Dealt with it. But I am tempted to leave my car running overnight in an attempt to speed Global Warming.

Thoughts of Spring creep into my brain. The Philadelphia Phillies open Spring Training today! Good to see a franchise do what it takes to re-sign Didi Gregorios and J.T. Realmuto!

J.T. Realmuto

Halfway through snow cleanup … Realmuto breaks his thumb.

The Eagles trade Carson Wentz for two more opportunities to draft a Danny Watkins or a J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Danny Watkins (Eagles fans will get it.)

I cannot believe how quickly the flower of Spring can be trampled by the sport gods! What else could possibly go wrong?!?

Nothing’s worse than a snowy, cold Winter day and Philadelphia sports.

*sigh*

Schiff: Intel Committee to probe Hatboro bakers.

BREAKING NEWS: House Intel Committee Chair, Adam Schiff, announced an investigation into possible Russian agents, allegedly posing as confectioneers at Lechol’s Bakery in HATBORO, PA, for attempting to influence the American Election. The plot, uncovered by the American Bakers Association, allegedly involved the baking of 2020 Presidential Election cookies under the names BIDEN and TRUMP.

Schiff claimed that “anonymous baker people” told him that Eric Trump attempted to meet secretly with the Russian bakers this week. When Trump’s visit to Lechol’s Bakery was uncovered, witnesses allege Eric Trump acted as though he had simply stumbled upon the bakery and then threw rock-hard cookies at passers-by to distract attention.

Four people were injured in Eric Trump’s attack. Three had their feelings hurt, and one was struck in the eye by a ricocheting jimmie. Others on the scene accused Trump of abusing the working class by providing incredibly delicious cookies without a proper milky beverage.

First responders claimed it was the worst bakery attack they ever saw.

Schiff also claimed to have called Lechol’s Bakery during the baking process and heard Al Stewart’s “Road to Moscow” playing in the background. AOC called cooking baking “a selfish act of privilege contributing to the death of the planet”.

Nancy Pelosi called for impeachment proceedings to be authorized.

The electoral cookie count was allegedly manipulated by adding beet juice, borscht, and pumpkin spice to the Biden cookie mix. An attempt by this reporter to confront the Russian co-conspirators was ended by a well-aimed vatrushka.

No explanation was provided as to why anyone would have wanted a Biden cookie in the first place.

Eric Trump seconds before his heinous cookie attack.

My Corona … Day 80: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Air Force

Dear U.S. Air Force:t

At times like these that I have to question the readiness, judgment, and sobriety of our National defense forces!  Though true at such dark times, many individuals will be looking for fresh starts, even seismic shifts in their life paradigm, it appears the USAF has lost all recruiting perspective.

Either that or you have really hit rock bottom in regards to recruit qualifications for chaplaincy services!

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I am not sure what troubles me more.  Is it that you actually send a recruiting offer to a 64-year-old civilian U.S. Navy (nonetheless) employee with 40 years of service?  Or is it the obvious desperation your Chaplain program appears to be in?

Me? A chaplain?

Mark my words, from here on out I will be side-eyed leery of any U.S. Air Force chaplains I might run across after this!

Yours truly,

Cranky Man

 

My Corona … Day 55: Enough already!

Question:  If we – The American Public – reach consensus in acknowledging that Corporate America is a). “In this together …” with us; b). Are doing everything they can to recognize our “Heroes on the Home Front“; and c) Are willing to do “whatever is necessary” to serve our needs during the COVID-19 crisis, can we dispense with the endless commercials “celebrating” our “shared experiences” in being incredibly annoyed and monumentally bored?!? 

Please!?!

At this point, what Corona America needs right now is relief from the endless Corporate Corona Imaging efforts!

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On-line image searches suggest the COVID-19 virus comes in an assortment of color patterns. Personally, I like this one best!

So how do I really feel about the COVID-19 crisis?

Like a lot of us, I am pretty fed up with the restrictions, the draconian measures and – as you can tell from the above – flat out getting annoyed with the perpetual message that “Golly gee … Ain’t this a wonderful Community-building opportunity?!?”

As for the crisis itself, I do not presume to know more than scientists and medical experts.  However, based on 64 years experience on this planet, I can offer several rational checks on the emotional responses and the measures taken to protect us Everyone.

My biggest issue here is the premise that ALL people need protecting.  That could be either a pragmatic, experience-based point-of-view or a cynical, sick-of-this-crap response. You decide.

The following might help …

  • Never in my life has anything even remotely similar occurred, where everyday normal life functions have been curtailed by quarantining the entire populace.
  • Swine flu, avian flu, H1N1, Asian flu (Was not considered “racist” at the time.), Hong Kong flu (ditto) never resulted in responses this restrictive and severe.
  • Is it really statistically possible that there has not been a similarly threatening flu or virus flying around the globe since the 1918 Spanish flu. (Something I really have a very difficult time accepting!)
  • People die of flu-type and viral illnesses every year.
  • In general, it’s the same people, who are most likely to die, regardless of the viral type or its virility.  The elderly, the very young, those with preexisting illnesses are always the most susceptible.
  • There are no proven effective measures at stopping a potent flu or virus from spreading, not locally, nationally, or globally.

Now here’s where my particular brand of cynical pragmatism might get me in trouble with some people.

My salute to dairy farmers on the front line.

Exactly what has been gained by shutting down society; crippling economies; and threatening the very subsistence (e.g. meat packaging) of our healthy population? We still have thousands of the elderly dying from COVID-19, despite the measures taken to protect them. In some cases, the very decisions made by government authorities under the powers bestowed upon them under COVID-19 protocols killed more of the institution-bound elderly!

From the perspective of societal evolution, it’s is always the old, the infirm, the weak, and the very young who are most likely to succumb to such health threats. Does that change in any way by forcing everyone into isolation?

And what of the biology of the healthy? We know that the human immune system works to evolve by creating antibodies when new biological threats present themselves. How is this being affected through attempts to keep everyone from being exposed? How does such an approach help should – as some predict – this virus recycles itself as it circles the globe?

Sweden has taken a very different approach to the corona virus, where the social, economic, and vulnerability issues appear more balanced, based on risk assessments and folkvett, a cultural concept that roughly translates to “good manners”, that – colloquially – can be expressed as “act like an ******* adult”. And although some express caution or even open derision at Sweden’s strategy, their objections are largely based on the lack of sufficient statistical data to support the strategy and emotional responses to the threat to vulnerable populations.

Meanwhile, in Sweden …

In my humble opinion, if you take Emotion out of the risk assessment equation, the Swedish example sounds like a much more pragmatic approach. And let’s recall how often Sweden is elevated as a shining example of sound socialist healthcare management! If such is the case, why do efforts to behave closer to the Swedish model meet so much resistance, particularly in our more liberal states?

Risk, fear and emotion will be the biggest obstacles as we emerge from quarantine. My biggest fear – given how risk-adverse politicians are – is the potential for monumentally slow and tentative decisions on how best to get back to normal (whatever “normal” will look like). Many politicians – in their interests to remain employed as public servants benefactors – may very well approach every COVID-19 decision as a three-sided puzzle (please everyone, risk nothing, minimize emotional responses).

 

img_0320Under such circumstances, a productive and fair balancing act is not impossible. Attempting to avoid any and all losses, which are inevitable, will retard the recovery and accomplish nothing more than prolonging the pain for those for whom normal life means survival (hands-on, in-person workers; small businesses; retail, bar and food employees; personal service providers; etc.)

An interesting example of sensationalizing COVID-19 statistics popped up this morning on Lehigh Valley Live.  The article highlighting a new model forecasting “PA coronavirus deaths to TRIPLE …“!

What the authors neglected to leave out is Perspective, in favor of attempts at triggering Emotion and Fear.  As in … If – as this model suggests – Pennsylvania deaths were to increase to 8600, the overall death-per-capita in Pennsylvania (pop. 12.7 million) would be 0.068%.

Those whose health is compromised or threatened we must continue to protect, but frankly, that should have been the primary focus all along, not necessarily a total societal shutdown. It’s always the duty of the healthy to be mindful of the vulnerable with whom they will have contact (family members, friends, coworkers, etc.). COVID-19 did not change what is – should be – a modicum of human decency.

Put another way, we should prudently reopen the country, especially in less dense population areas (e.g. suburban communities) and demand that people act like adults! Now THAT would be an effective use endless Corporate Corona messaging!

And if this proves too difficult a concept for some to grasp, then maybe Society will benefit from their absence on the evolutionary ladder!

My Corona … Day 47**

** I think … At this point I am having a hard time just keeping track of what day of the week it is.

Tuesday, April 28 was an exciting Day 47.  The combined flights of U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds conducted coordinated America Strong demonstrations over New York City, northern New Jersey, and the Philadelphia region to salute COVID-19 healthcare workers.

As a dutiful patriot, this was an opportunity to share with those unable to witness the spectacle first-hand, using my drone’s live-broadcasting capability.  We get very few opportunities to see and record our military’s precision and power on display, especially from the front yard.

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Photo Credit: James Beaver

But as Murphy’s Law goes, several aspects of the operation went awry. This due largely to the Navy and Air Force’s inability to be predictable, practical, and cooperative!

Sons of bitches …

Anywho … An intricately laid plan was dreamed up roughly an hour before the scheduled flight down the I-95 corridor towards Center City Philadelphia, then out north towards Doylestown.  A Cranky Man aficionado, located to the northeast of Drone Central in the Langhorne area, was an obliging volunteer spotter. Far enough north – I believed – to give plenty of warning as the DoD’s Finest passed to the east from NYC.  By either sight or sound, I should have sufficient notice to get Little Bird off the ground and into position.

images-1But no … no, not at all …

Our Heroes of the Flight Line evaded my spotter through stealth and a general reluctance to cooperate. Our frustrated spotter claiming to have neither seen or heard our elusive subjects. (Frankly, I think she wasn’t really paying attention.). After waiting five minutes past the expected FOP (Forward Observation Post) alert, I launched Little Bird and took it to its maximum altitude (400 ft).

Expecting – at best – to catch a glimpse of the 12-plane formation zipping down the I-95 corridor somewhere in the vicinity of NE Philly, I trained the drone to the east.  In assuming the flight would be traveling high enough, but likely be too far for Little Bird’s camera to pick them up, Plan B was to look for them heading north up Rt. 611.  The drone’s dedicated WIFI allows me to link my personal devices with the drone camera.  On my iPhone, I could see Center City as a slight rise of tall buildings well out to the southeast.

philly-flightpathAfter 5-10 minutes of fruitless searching a neighbor announced that they were already flying out over West Philly; and I had the sinking feeling that my op was lagging far behind the action.  Plan B was executed, and I scanned the skies to my immediate south, hoping to catch the flight on what I was assumed to be a direct line from Philly towards Doylestown.

Of course this was where the Greatest Military on the Face of the Earth decided to prove –  once again – their complete disregard for best laid plans.

Perhaps I missed an important tidbit of information, difficult as that may be as its a 1000-acre property no more than a 1/4 mile from my house.  Somehow I never considered the potential for a flyover of the largely abandoned Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove.  Also missed was the only military presence at JRB Willow Grove was an Air Force drone facility (oddly enough) and that the Thunderbirds were – ya know – in the Air Force!

Seconds after my neighbors started screeching, “There they go!”, came the realization … I was now at the mercy of events.  Trying to multi-task, a dangerous development, especially when trying to do three things at a time (fly, watch the video, and eyeball a large uncooperative 12-plane formation).  All the while a large formation of military jets speed where they aren’t expected and quite obviously flying a lot lower than predicted.

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Photo Credit: James Beaver

Remember the drone?  I had it at 400 ft, as I expected a fairly far-off sighting at altitudes approximating that of the tall buildings of NYC and beloved Philadelphia.

Suddenly the roar of jet engines grows, reminiscent of days-gone -by when JRB Willow Grove hosted airshows with bi-annual appearances of the Blue Angels.  Yep … They used to fly right over the house at treetop level!

Right over the house they screamed, and at that instant I realized Little Bird was in big danger!  Not to mention the potential for damaging a $18-30 million copy of an American fighter … The thought, “How much damage a drone could cause if sucked into an engine intake”, came from my professional though vague familiarity with the intricacies of military jet engines.

I frantically looked to spot the drone, which at that height is visible to the naked eye, but barely.  When I found it, I realized the Thunderbirds had just passed it to the south.  But the Blue Angels were actually flying directly BENEATH IT!

It would have been the Video of all Videos … if only its camera were pointed down, not out.

I do not take lightly the ultimate stupidity of allowing Little Bird to get anywhere near any aircraft, let alone high-performance jets. It was a brief, terrifying in moment.

I take all the blame, but never ever expected to see the fly-bys so low and that close.  I should have known better though.

In the end, the balance sheet has no videos, no photos, no property damage, no federal prison time. Could have been worse …

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The shot would have been epic, if I had gotten it. On the other hand, the pilot would likely be giving Little Bird a one-finger salute!

 

 

 

 

My Corona! Day 36

18Techfix-illo-mobileMasterAt3xTeleworking is either the bane of our civilized existence or the greatest invention since the beer keg … depending on your personal perspective. Being an old school diehard, I have avoided teleworking, despite the encouragement of the US Navy, largely because I did not trust myself around so many home-bound distractions.

Before big, bad Corona reared its ugly dangerous head, I was forced by Necessity to experiment a bit with the whole work-from-home phenomena when – somehow – The Most Powerful Navy in the World tripped over their Internet cord.  We have many alternate definitions for the acronym NMCI (Navy Marine Corp Intranet), and none of them are flattering.

On such occasions I suggested to Carol that this might be our retirement dry run, as I am painfully close to pulling the plug on my illustrious civilian Navy career. Those practice sessions improved neither my views on teleworking or the prospects for a stress-free retirement. Let’s just say, when you aren’t around as much, people get used to you not being around.

My first mistake teleworking was setting up the Command Center within sight and sound of the Activity Monitor. It was impossible for the monitor to avoid observing – and commenting – on how many “breaks” I took for silly things like eating, drinking, and personal hygiene.

Retirement-wise, I began to wonder what working into my 80s would look like.

z-funny-75-1When Corona confronted me with the prospect of living for WEEKS in constant, uninterrupted work-from-home contact, I knew we had to make this work. If not, one of us – likely me – would end up buried beneath my thick, weedless, pillow-like Best Lawn in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

The first couple of days were tough. You know … The usual “Are you eating again?!?” and “Do you do this at the office?!?”

It was time to get realistic.

So I moved lock, stock, and barrel to the basement apartment. Comes with it’s own half-kitchen, Keurig, fridge, TV and semi-comfy furniture! It also has a bed (wink wink). The benefits in peace, quiet, and unlimited, unjustified man-breaks are a boon to navy supply support!

It’s been an enlightening experience. And I found a solution to the inevitable post-retirement “What the … You’re still here?!?” adjustment period!

I will only have to disappear for 10 hours a day … five days a week!

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