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 …
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.
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)!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
As this unprecedented health event hopefully approaches “curve flattening” – if not it’s true apex – continued uncertainty, a myriad of stressors, and a drastic curtailing of normal life, I am trying to look at some of the positive aspects of Life’s disruption. This is not always easy, particularly when you wake up each morning wondering if that cough, sneeze, or runny nose means anything.
Just allergies, I think/hope/pray.
The biggest positive is the timing of this COVID-19 crisis in the beginning of Spring. Here in Southeast Pennsylvania the crocuses are blooming; tulips have already pushed up through the soil and are blooming; and the landscapes are a verdant green (assuming of course that you subscribe to Cranky Man’s Lawn’s Program for Lawn Love). Bought a new lawnmower the weekend before the lockdown hit, and cutting the lawn has been more “fun” than usual!
I’m hopeful that warmer temperatures and how it entices people outdoors could be a positive effect. It’s a welcome benefit to spend at least an hour or so each day outdoors when temps and weather permit.
Outdoor exercise is always a benefit when the weather is nice. Carol and I have been taking semi-regular walks together just to get out and about. It lifts the spirits a bit and invigorates … important when trying to avoid the potential for anxiety and depression, given the constant media obsession.
Try a puppy instead of The Media
Here’s a solution for Constant Media Obsession: Turn off the TV. Get off the internet. I don’t even read the newspaper much anymore. Try NOT reading any corona-related stories and see just how quickly you can read a newspaper!
Let’s face it. Ten minutes of COVID-19 coverage and you know all you need to know. There is no (confirmed) cure, no significant flattening of The Curve (yet), no loosening of the isolation standards.
Back to the positives …
Although spending a lot of time with family offers opportunity. Spending quality time – even an inordinate amount – with your children can work with a little creativity and ingenuity. Examples abound on social media.
Take advantage of your backyard.
Spent early evenings the previous two days (rain today) on our backyard deck and saw more neighbors than you would normally see, even on the most glorious of Spring Saturdays!
Working from home? I have avoided it up to now, actually enjoying my suburban commute to work and the socializing the office provides. But there are a few extra benefits to working two flights from the bedroom. And that’s even as I refuse to work in my PJs!
Cannot remember the last time I had to buy gas for the car.
With everyone under our roof being home all the time and no eat-in restaurants open, home-cooked meals almost every night. (Disadvantage Carol)
People are friendlier. Every time we take a walk or step outside, someone is around getting exercise and fresh air; walking the dog; trying to exhaust their pent-up children; doing outdoor chores, etc. And all seem ready with a smile or a wave.
Sunset over Horsham (PA) this evening
They say hard times make tougher people, truer friends, closer families.
What I think is that these difficult times force us all onto a relatively common level of hardship, challenge, and vulnerability. It strips down the barriers that tend to keep us apart and prevent interaction.
Take advantage of that! But only from a safe distance …
There are sights throughout the World one simply must see; and I have many, many more I have yet to experience. This past week we had the opportunity to view one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Arizona’s Grand Canyon!
Our trip, the offshoot from a cross-country family wedding, included stops along scenic Route 66, Tombstone and the OK Corral, and the wild street donkeys of Oatman. These kitschy, curious cultural attractions take a far back seat to the visual wonder of the canyon.
One could be led to believe they can appreciate the awe-inspiring vistas through the magic of modern photography or high-definition documentaries. But the true depth and breadth of beauty and wonder can only be truly appreciated by standing on … uh, near … the rim of the gorge.
Our stay did not allow a trip down into the canyon, which was regrettable as undoubtably an equally incredulous perspective that must be. And from what we learned, they likely wouldn’t have allowed me to overburden some unfortunate burro.
And by the way, it was unseasonably freezing cold for late October, with sunrise mornings reaching lows of 9-18 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course the following week, temps in the mid-60s were expected. Best check the temps and wind forecasts if flexibility allows.
As a first-time visitor, the most impressive aspect is the sheer depths of the canyon, followed closely by the beautiful colors of the canyon walls and the desire to understand how such a desolate, arid – alien planet-like – wonder was created. It makes one feel small, remote and easily overwhelmed.
From a spiritual point-of-view, I was led to wonder what purpose such magnificence might be intended to serve. And yes, I realize as one who is not particularly religious, some may find such thoughts as Purpose to a natural wonder might sound silly or pretentious. And yet, I wonder …
I sometimes hear the expression “the finger of God” often used to express the power and often the devastation of naturally occurring phenomena. To me, my experience on my first view of the Grand Canyon was that of the Fingers of God, creating and shaping a spectacle of nature intended to demonstrate His power and majesty. Reminding Man that he is temporary and peripheral. One who should be mindful of his place and respectful of what was placed here for his benefit and for the benefit of those who follow.
So I leave you with this thought.
No matter whether your higher entity is God in all His glory … or nature or earth or even if science alone defines “purpose” for you, it’s extremely difficult to witness such grandeur without the thought that it exists … was placed here … made available for humanity to witness for some exalted purpose.
Regardless of your views on any of that, the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring experience for which we all must take the opportunity!
For two weeks this August we had the opportunity to enjoy another combined work/family excursion to sunny Southern California. And as I am won’t to do, I wander off with my more golf-talented brother to indulge our mutual hobby of choice.
So we found ourselves on a gorgeous Tuesday morning preparing to explore the oceanside beauty that is Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles! It’s a golf course we had lusted over even though brother Pat had played there once before.
As a warmup, we had played Steele Canyon Golf Club in Jamul, CA. A solid 27-hole track that cost $125, making a $195 investment for a circuit at a Trump golf property, overlooking the Pacific Ocean a no-brained!
For me, a consistently semi-talented golf hack, the Trump LA track was more than a little intimidating. We had the chance to view Trump LA a year or so previously while in SoCal for a family wedding event. The picturesque ocean-front scenery is dotted a bit too generously with deep, gaping, fluffily white sand traps. The greens billiard-smooth … if you like your billiards played on elephant graveyards where the pachyderms are buried just barely below the surface.
Yeah … only regular golfers will understand that last reference.
Yet the actual play was much less threatening than the visual would suggest. Like any golf course demands you must – as the pro shops resident Captain Obvious pointed out – “Hit the ball straight” as consistently as is possible. Certainly trouble lurks on almost every hole, but it’s easily avoided with a modicum of talent. True life golf hacks are in for a rude and rough ride!
Now permit me a bit of what my bro would call “golf heresy”.
On previous visits to California (Always good to strategically position a close relative on the Left Coast!), we have played Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, local muni tracks in the Long Beach area, and another whose name escapes me in the wine country of Temecula. And frankly, I more thoroughly enjoyed – from an entertainment, relaxation, and playability point-of-view – The Trump experience more so than Pebble!
Perhaps my opinion is jaded by a struggling round years ago at Pebble, or what I like to call the Disneyland of golf. Difficult holes with tough carries and greens so tough to read, you might rather take up bowling. Frankly, I even like Spyglass Hill much more than Pebble Beach!
My biggest problem playing Trump LA was keeping my mind on golf and off the incredible scenery. And yes, that’s impossible. The crystal blue waters … the homes on the cliffs overlooking the course and the Pacific … the natural flora and fauna … the beauty of the well-manicured grounds …
Yes, it was a struggle of monumental proportions, but what’s not to like? And let’s not forget, one also gets to play on a property bought, redesigned, and improved upon by one of the best American Presidents to grace The White House in decades!!
We have been playing golf for over 30 years, some even longer. We enjoy and respect The Game. We love the fresh air and exercise. We love The Game. We are considerate and observant of golf’s expectations for efficient play and the condition the the courses we play.
What course would not want us as patrons willing to play and pay?
We have had our bad experiences, usually at the hand of golfers who are not quite so mindful or considerate. From those experiences, our appreciation for The Game and the correct way to play it has grown. Ultimately though, our pleasure in playing Golf comes from the enjoyment of playing with good friends on quality golf courses on beautiful days!
However, if you can identify with the pleasures of the game described above, you may want to avoid Bella Vista Golf Club in Gilbertsville, PA!
For my foursome Bella Vista has become a golf course to avoid. The golf course’s current management has completely ruined a very good thing. And for what? A customer service approach that emphasizes speed of play over the Enjoyment of Golf!
The Big Aha: What we did learn was a valuable lesson about the abuses of golf course GPS technology that would make Tony Sopranoblanche. The cart-mounted units allow Big Brother to micro-manage golfers like a incentives-crazed production line supervisor.
Our Experience: Teeing off at 0824 on a beautiful June morning, we settled in to enjoy a relaxing day on the golf course.
After some early struggles, our round settled in to a nice rhythm. We were playing our round at a pace not unheard of for a Saturday morning in June. At least in our opinion …
Being well-experienced golfers, we are always mindful of those playing behind us and the drag it can be when waiting around to hit your next shot. But forcing players – to the point of confrontation – to maintain sight of the group ahead can be subjective and unfair, since several factors can magnify any gaps between foursomes.
On this Saturday, we can claim that at no time were the golfers playing immediately behind us ever standing around and waiting to play a shot. In fact, when going over the incredible developments of that day, we could not even remember seeing the trailing foursome after the 2nd or 3rd hole. Only on the 10th tee did we delay our play in the name of Bloody Marys and hotdogs!
Somewhere around the 5th or 6th hole a wandering Course Ranger (Let’s call him Todd.) approached us and advised that we had a hole-and-a-half open in front of us. Not a desirable pace, so we agreed to pick it up as best we could. Again, no golfers waiting behind us. In fact, we could not even see the following foursome.
Fast forward to the 11th hole, when “Todd” approached us again and now DEMANDED that we pick up our pace, claiming that we were holding up the entire flight of golfers behind us. When we pointed back to the 11th tee, where we had been just minutes before, no golfers were visible. Yet “Todd” actually claimed that those golfers – invisible to us on the fairway – were “being polite” (whatever that meant) … apparently wearing camouflage and hiding among the bushes and trees!
When we argued, “Todd” whipped out his iPad and proceeded to show – via a full-color graph – how our pace-of-play was “holding up everyone on the golf course”! So we once again pointed back to the empty 11th tee, and asked him where the hold-up was?
But at least the iPad revealed what the REAL problem was. A data-driven “golf quota”, no doubt fed from cart GPS units to a programmed spreadsheet that fed “Todd’s” tablet and drove him to become a golf course pest of unequaled persistence.
Tony Soprano was right all along! The Authorities could use the cart GPS to harass golfers!
“Take out the GPS. I don’t want the FBI tracking us with it.” – Tony Soprano
“That’s what I like about you, boss; you are always thinking of the big picture.” Paulie Walnuts Gualtieri.
Then the ridiculous turned unbelievable when “Todd” demanded that we SKIP the par-3 12th hole to bring our pace-of-play up to standard! We pointedly demurred as we struggled to determine which episode of “The Twilight Zone” we had stumbled into.
Fast forward to the 13th tee after we ignored the “advice” to skip a hole. And here comes the course superintendent to add in his $0.02, which was more like $4 as he proceeds to argue for 10 minutes. In other words, interrupting our round to preach about pace-of-play while repeatedly stating that he “hated to be out there” harassing his customers.
By now we were disgusted; could not wait to get out of there; realizing we were playing our last round at Bella Vista GC. We have been spreading the word and this ridiculous story ever since!
But let’s review …
1. Yes, nothing screws up a golf round more than playing behind extremely slow golfers and having to wait continuously to play a shot.
2. Our foursome never saw anyone playing behind us, let alone waiting to hit their shots. Not ONCE anywhere during our round, including the roughly 20 minutes during which we were preoccupied by the lunacy of being accused of slowing down the entire golf course!
3. Pace-of-play is a noble concept. But it needs to be pressed judiciously, not a blind data-driven blip on a graph or spreadsheet! Think Gabe Kapler pulling Aaron Nola in the 5th inning on Opening Day!
4. How do you blame golfers for delaying play when none of the foursomes playing behind are being directly held up by your “slow play”! If they were, for any length of time, many golfers will either confront you directly or will take the passive-aggressive approach of “hitting up on you”. Neither occurred this day …
And that’s where we will leave this episode of “The Twilight Show”, Tony Soprano-golfer style.
What we will never do again is play Bella Vista GC. A review of on-line ratings suggest this is not the first time course personnel have made dubious pace-of-play claims that have ruined the good mood, experiences, and monetary investments of area golfers!
Do the smart thing, if you enjoy a relaxing round of golf, and avoid playing at Bella Vista GC in Gilbertsville, PA!
In 2011 Carol and I trekked to Southern California to celebrate my brother, Pat’s retirement. We spent a significant part of our trip pursuing our primary objective … several days of golf and touristy behavior within and about the Pebble Beach resort on the Monterey Peninsula.
That required a good bit of road travel between the Los Angeles area and Carmel/Monterey. One of the impressions from that journey was the exponential growth in vineyards well south of Napa Valley – the commercial heart of California Wine Country – since our previous trip to the Left Coast about 12 years earlier.
On past trips to The Golden State we never took the opportunity to enjoy California Wine Country. Counterproductive it would be to enjoying a fine winely glow, when dragging one’s underage kids around with you …
Now our kids are grown … and as luck would have it one of our Shortall (West) nephews was taking the marital plunge with the festivities taking place in Temecula, California. Sixty miles north of San Diego and ninety miles south of LA, Temecula touts itself as the center of California’s South Coast wine country.
The vino was superb that day, my friend …
Temecula was untouched by the wild fires that hit parts of Napa prior to and during our December 2016 trip. In early December the Thomas fire, one of the largest in California history, began in the hills near Ventura. Smoke from those fires were clearly visible throughout our trip.
With both families established California locals, this was not much the “destination weddings” for them, but for us refugees from a rapidly winterizing region of the mid-Atlantic coast, it was Destination enough!
The happy couple selected the Mount Palomar Winery as the site for their forever nuptials. And frankly, it was quite the venue! The scenery from atop the hills on which the main event took place was spectacular. For a late afternoon ceremony followed by drinks and hors d’ourves set close to the ceremonial stage, one was treated to beautiful daylight vistas, a spectacular sunset, and as night fell, an immensely large and vivid moon rise over distant mountains!
This wedding venue rivaled the trip we took to the beaches of Nags Head, North Carolina for another family wedding. Both venues were spectacular in their own right. Comparisons are unfair due to the dramatic difference of each location; but no one can argue that each made their respective affairs indelibly memorable!
Mount Palomar provided a hilltop venue for the nuptials, which included a screen-saver background of a gorgeous Southern California day with the surrounding hills in the distance. Afterwards, guests took the opportunity for scenic photos while snacking and imbibing the local vintage in salute of the happy couple.
The post-wedding reception was held in a spacious barrel room, the party surrounded by racked wine barrels (attempts to tap several failed). A setting unlike any other wedding we have attended.
And yes, the food was as good as was the wine!
Add in the opportunity to spend an extended vacation with close family and squeeze in a Philadelphia Eagles game (December 10) against a strong Los Angeles Rams team, and you have what was likely the BEST destination wedding I can remember!
The play that could have cost Philly a SuperBowl! (Apologies for the gratuitous football reference …)