Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lime in Beer - Yuk

Yesterday I spoke to my friend The Prince who is probably in Atlanta, Georgia as I write this Blog. Yesterday when I called him, he was in Tallahassee visiting with our friend World Traveling Dave. He planned to spend the night with Dave and then trek back to Wisconsin, stopping to see a business associate in Atlanta and then having a sleep over in Nashville before returning to Wisconsin.

I was going to wait until he returned home before calling him, but after the tongue lashing that I received from my daughter; about being a bad host (I let The Prince cook our dinner on the grill and then allowed him and his wife to clear the poolside table on which we dined). This was a faux pas in hospitality etiquette; but they volunteered to do so and I feel that one should treat their guests like members of the family.

So yesterday, I called him to apologize for my breach of good manners. He just laughed! He and World Traveling Dave were working on their fourth or fifth Corona, with lime, at the time; therefore there was no apology necessary.

I had bought a 12 pack of Corona for The Prince but he only drank three in 5 hours because he was driving north that evening. If he had stayed for the night they would probably all be gone. But I had no lime; which also probably slowed his beer drinking down to nearly a halt.

I don’t drink Corona (there are far better Mexican beers) nor would I ever put a lime wedge in a beer. It’s the same thing as ruining a glass of water with a lemon wedge. I like the citrus taste, but only in a Martini, a Bloody Mary or a tonic drink.

This all reminds me of a story that I have told to people for many years.

After the Seventh Love of My Life and I parted ways (I was not marrying material), I went in search of a new Love of My Life. This is usually a long involved process; at least for me it is.

I found that the best test of compatibility was to spend 4 or 5 days together at a Beach Resort, especially in a foreign country. You learn a lot about a potential bed partner on these trips.

In the screening process I chose a candidate to accompany me to the Mexican island of Cancun. We stayed at a wonderful Hotel (on the beach) called the Cancun Palace. Our room (with King Sized Bed) faced the beach, the pool and had a Jacuzzi on the balcony.

Our first full day consisted of having breakfast, then we'd have a few Margaritas and go to our room and make love, get in the Jacuzzi, after having a few more Margaritas and we had lunch. After lunch we would return to the room and again make mad passionate love. Then we would sit on the beach for a few hours drinking beer.

Soon it was dinner time, so we ate and then would go to a place called Carlos and Charley’s for a few shots of Tequila and a few more beers. By ten at night we were back in the room having sex.

We did this routine for three straight days and on the fourth day we took a trip to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, it was her decision not mine; I’m not much into tourism. I missed out on having our afternoon sex break that day, but we made up for it on our last night in Cancun.

After returning back home to Maryland, she became the Eight Love of My Life.

Enough of this jibba jabba and I will finally get to the point of this Blog.

The first day while lounging on the beach our server brought us each a beer. In the beer there was a lime wedge. I pointed to the lime and asked her “why did you put a lime in our beers?” She smiled and said “to keep the flies out, senor.” The College kids that go to Cancun for Spring Break probably never asked this question. These Spring Break kids would drink the least expensive beer available (Busch in Florida and Corona in Mexico). When the Cancun breakers got back to their local College Bar they began to ask for a lime in their beer. The rest is history.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Good Days for the Beach Bum

I had planned to write this Blog yesterday, but a good friend from Wisconsin (The Prince – I gave him the Nickname 42 years ago) arrived at the Beach Bum Shedquarters earlier than I expected. Although we speak on the telephone often, there have been no in person visits for two years. He and his wife still look the same. And though he wouldn’t admit it, I have changed for the worse during the past two years (I know because I see myself in the mirror on a daily basis).

And now to change the subject, which I get better at doing with each passing day.

Years ago I told my children not to waste their money on Birthday or Father’s Day Cards. Unlike my wife (she probably has to rent a storage bin for them), I usually don’t save these cards unless something very special has been written on the card. I’ve saved a few for posterity’s sake; perhaps my grandchildren will read them some day.

This Father’s Day I received two cards; one was a hard copy and the other was an E-card.

The hard card was delivered to me by one of my younger daughter’s dogs (Sanibel). Both dogs know me as Grandpa. When I speak to them, I refer to my daughter and son-in-law as Mommy and Daddy. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the dogs lately because of my daughter’s frequent missions of mercy to Maryland to help her Grandmother with legal matters.

The E-card was from my eldest daughter (42 years old). I would like to share it with you (without her permission). It made my day!

Although it is always spoken and implied, my daughter rarely puts her feelings in writing.

This was the best card that I have ever received on Father’s Day!

Hey Dad!

Just want to let you know that I'm thinking about you. I know I don't tell you very often...but I think the world of you. You've always been there for me. Whenever I've needed someone to talk to or to just listen to're my favorite person to come to! I miss you a bunch! I miss your b-b ques ...all that yummy chicken and ribs or steak that you loved cookin'. I miss hangin' out and having a beer (one of doubt LOL) with you and just talking about old times. I just miss being close to you. Some of my best and funniest memories are with you!!! You always make me laugh that's for sure!!! Anyways, I just want you to know that I LOVE YOU with all my heart and I miss you...especially this day.
Happy Father's Day, Dad!
Love, Kim xoxoxo

The Beach Bum

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

About Face

Well I finally did it; I succumbed to pressure from friends and family.

No, I didn’t go to the Doctor.

About a month ago the seventh “Love of My Life” had told me that she had opened a Facebook account and that I should get one also, “They’re free”; she said. I declined the offer, mainly because I have little time left after I to do the other asinine things that I already do on the internet. Plus I don’t like things that are said to be free; there is always a catch.

Nearly three years ago my son had me sign up for a My Space account, I’ve never used it. I don’t even remember the user name or the password.

Love of My Life 7 (LML7) lives in the same Annapolis, Maryland suburb as my Eldest Daughter and they see one another often. They are 5 years apart in age and both have children and despite LML7’s relationship with the “mean dirty old man” they have been friends for 20 years.

LML7 got my Eldest daughter to sign up for Facebook, who in turn got Younger Daughter to sign up also. Younger daughter then shows me that she had garnered 6 friends in 2 days. I knew most of them from my days living in Maryland.

So I said “OK, I’ll sign up.”

The reason that I don’t like Facebook is that you cannot use a pseudonym (“that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”); I enjoy my anonymity; actually I cherish it. People that are friends and family know who “The Beach Bum” is in reality; but why should I let the world know? I might as well post my Social Security number and Bank Account numbers on this Blog.

Since signing up for Facebook last week I have received four friends. Two are family, one an ex lover, and the latest is a young fellow (currently in his forties) that I drank with on occasion and also had attended his wedding (he is now divorced) 15 or so years ago.

Facebook, as well as, My Space is for younger people and not for old pharts like me.

The Beach Bum


Friday, June 19, 2009

Slammin' Sammy

Wednesday I read some rather alarming news. I was really shocked to find out that Sammy Sosa was on the list of over 100 Major League Baseball players to test positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

Give me a break; who didn’t know this? I was actually shocked when they found his corked bat; I guess that he had to make up for the discontinued use of steroids somehow.

Then yesterday the Chicago Tribune polled their sports writers (the ones that are eligible to vote on the Hall of Fame ballot) to see if they would vote for Sammy. There was one yes, one undecided, and the rest basically said hell no. I wasn’t surprised. I read these writers online on a regular basis. Most of them don’t really cover the sport as I think that it should be covered. If I want to read opinions I go to the Op-Ed page not the Sports section.

Also most these Baseball writers are not as knowledgeable as some of the broadcasters; such as Steve Stone, Bob Uecker and Peter Gammons. In fact, I as well as some of my friends know the game better than the writers do (of course we are much older and have followed baseball for a much longer time). Sometimes when reading their columns I chuckle and just shake my head.

Should Sammy be kept out of the Baseball Hall of Fame? I think not.

I never was a big Sosa fan; in fact I was upset when the Cubs traded George Bell (a fellow Dominican) to the White Sox for him in 1992. Sosa was then hitting in the low .200’s with no “Pop and Hop” and was a satisfactory outfielder at best. Steve Stone was broadcasting for the Cubs on WGN back then and he held the same opinion (of Sosa and the trade) as I did. Great baseball minds think alike.

The Sammy started to play on a regular basis and his numbers went up. The Cubs Fans started to like him, more and more.

Then in 1998, Sosa and Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals) battled it out to see who would beat Roger Maris’ Home Run record (61). Everywhere that they (Cardinals and Cubs) played the attendance records would skyrocket. WGN (a Tribune Company) broadcast all of the Cubs games and I’m sure that they raised the cost of an advertising minute during these broadcast. The Cubs and Sammy Sosa were being seen across the nation on almost a daily basis.

People that would not normally watch these games were now watching. It was bringing excitement back to Major League Baseball and building a broader overall fan base. It essentially rejuvenated baseball.

The fact that both McGwire and Sosa were more than likely using performance enhancing drugs was mentioned, but not really an issue at the time (I knew it, the Sports Writers knew it, and MLB knew it). It’s the same case with Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s career Home Run record. In all three instances, the fan base and attendance increased. Is this bad for Baseball?

The same Nanzy-Panzy Sports Writers that had previously lauded all three of the aforementioned players are now condemning them.

Is the using of performance enhancing drugs good for Baseball? Definitely not! Should their use of these drugs keep the users out of the Baseball Hall of Fame? Definitely not! These players created a lot of new Baseball fans and brought back some old fans. Their records are tarnished, but they still are on the books.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Camping In and Camping Out

Last night an old friend called me; I hadn’t spoken to him since January. That was shortly after his son, daughter-in-law and their two boys moved into his house. He wasn’t very happy at that time; I could hear it in his voice.

His son had lost his job in July 2008 and the wife was not making enough money to pay their rent and utilities. The son was drawing unemployment, so they had food on the table. They had a little savings and fortunately they had low credit card (which they stopped using) debt and could make slightly above the minimum payments.

Their lease was up on January 1st, so the son asked his father if they could move back in with him until times got better. It’s hard for a father to say no; so they moved in a week before Christmas.

My friend owns a three bedroom house and he and his wife, of 40 some odd years, slept in separate bedrooms. In January he told me to accommodate the incoming family they would have to sleep together; which they hadn’t done for years. To add some levity to our conversation, I mentioned the fact that my wife and I also sleep in separate bedrooms: hers in Maryland and mine in Florida.

When my friend called yesterday he was elated. His son had been working for the past two months and they (the family) were planning to move out in late July. This time I heard happiness in his voice.

To commemorate the occasion he was sending the boys (ages 9 and 12) to camp for 4 weeks after the July 4th weekend. Peace and quite was his motivation.

Our topic of conversation then changed to going to Camp. I had gone to camp for one year and he had gone for three years (he was a Boy Scout; I wasn’t).

My camp experience was when I was 8 years old. My Mom was due to have a baby within weeks, so my parents sent me off to Camp Sokol in Willow Springs, Illinois. I was there for 5 weeks before they bailed me out. When I came home I had a little sister.

In the Bohemian language the word Sokol roughly means physical health. Most of the camp activities were centered on strengthening our bodies. We had daily calisthenics in the morning after breakfast and gymnastics before and after lunch. This would have been great if I was a teen, but it was no fun for an eight year old. Eight year olds just want to have fun.

I did learn how to swim and how to recognize Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac and Poison Oak; valuable lessons for later in life. They taught me how to shoot an arrow from a bow; although I was never really very good at Archery at camp – if the arrow came close to the target, I was happy. We also learned how to canoe and make a fire using a flint.

At night we would sit around a campfire, toasting marshmallows (these were the only sweets at camp) and singing songs. Bedtime (lights out) for the Peewees (8 to 10 years old) was 9pm; the older kids were allowed to stay up until 10 at night. The teenage barrack’s counselors were up until 11 (probably having sex near the dying embers of the campfire – we were a co-ed camp).

I had a good time at camp, but it would have been better if I were 4 years older at the time. I missed my neighborhood friends and didn’t really make any new friends at the camp. Most of my roommates were from different parts of the city and suburbs; I would never see them again.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Flag Day - Proud to be an American

Yesterday was the United States Army’s 234th Birthday. It was also Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of our flag, by the Continental Congress, on June 14, 1777.

I got a treat yesterday; WGN America broadcasted the Cubs versus the Twins game. WGN is one of the few stations that does not cut to a commercial break when then National Anthem is played and it is preceded by God Bless America. I like this because I can stand up salute and cry (this year I have also been crying more after the Cubs games than in the past few years).

The Colors were presented by Honor Guard soldiers that serve in the training Brigade at nearby Fort Sheridan (Highland Park, IL). They had all seen action in Iraq. I rose from my chair immediately after they walked onto the infield, and presented the flag.

First came the singing of God Bless America; then our National Anthem. I snapped to attention and rendered a hand salute. It took about 5 seconds before the tears were pouring out of my eyes. I cannot listen to Star-Spangled Banner without thinking about those that have given their lives and their futures in defense of our Country.

The only criticism that I have of the WGN production crew is that they pan the audience, rather then concentrating on the flag. I did however notice everyone in the stands were standing and several men were saluting; the same as I was doing.

In comparison, I had attended several Independence Day celebrations (On the Beach concerts) on Treasure Island, Florida where people milled around, stayed seated, chatted or spent the time stuffing their faces. For shame, for shame.

When complaining to a friend about this, he said that I was overly patriotic; he is no longer my friend.

Yes, I am a flag waver! I love my country and support its authority and interests. I support the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court; whether I agree with them or not. And I often disagree with their decisions. I carp and complain, as many others do; but I still respect them and their decisions. Our system of government isn’t perfect, but it’s the best that you can get.

If my paternal great grandparents and my maternal grandfather hadn’t left Eastern Europe to come to America, I probably would not be here today to write this Blog. I am very thankful that they did make that decision many years ago.

I am proud of my Bohemian heritage, but I’m more proud to be “in the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

I will continue to be patriotic and will always salute our flag. If you cannot, in your heart, bring yourself to do this; you should go elsewhere. If you cannot bring yourself to support the Constitution and the President; get out of the US as fast as you can. We don’t need you here; whether you are a citizen or not. If you cannot bring yourself to honor our flag; leave the country immediately and go dishonor another Country’s flag.

The Beach Bum

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Blogs Of Note

Today I spent about 3 hours, earlier today reading other Blogs; over an hour on one in particular.

When you use Google’s Blogspot to blog they give you what they call a Bloggers’ Dashboard. This is where you go to post and/or edit your Blogs. There are also other features (tabs) such as Blogs I’m Following (I follow 3) which tells you when one of your favorite Bloggers has just posted a new Blog. Blogger Buzz which gives you tips on how to improve the physical appearance of you Blog (I never go there, what I don’t know about improving my Blog won’t hurt me). Then there is the last tab that says Blogs of Note.

Seemingly the staff at Blogspot has nothing better to do all day but to visit Blogs – there are millions of them on Blogspot alone. How they make their decision on what they choose to be a Blog of Note has always amazed me. I guess that if I was a younger person, I would understand their reasoning.

About once every month or so I will check out the most resent Blogs of Note. I usually leave disappointed at the staff's selections!

The staff tends to select Blogs filled with photos of mainly Flora and Fauna. They are very good photo’s, but usually there is no writing of any sustenance. The pictures of the Flora usually make me sneeze just thinking about the pollen that they are putting out. Pretty pictures!

I like dogs, but not show dogs. Looking at a well groomed Poodle makes me want to vomit! The comments below the picture are usually inane. “Here’s Spot – See Spot pose for the Camera!”

Then there are the Bloggers that post pictures of birds. Birds can be pretty to look at, but if you have to live with them in your back yard – they suddenly lose their beauty. Their beaks should be duct tapped together until sundown.

Today I got a breath of fresh air. The Blog of Note for June 8th was Roz Savage, Ocean Rower . I had read about her several years ago when she single-handedly rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. She is now rowing in the Pacific Ocean. And she writes of her voyages very well.

She’s a Greenik, but I don’t hold that against her, as I am getting more and more Green with every passing year. Soon my friends and family will be calling me Kermit.

I have placed a link to her Blog on the right sidebar, it’s well worth reading.

The Beach Bum

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Gifted Student

On Friday I read an article in the Saint Petersburg Times about a local young lady named Jem Lugo. She just had graduated from High School and was the class valedictorian. She graduated with an un-weighted 3.98 grade-point average and is going on to Harvard University on a scholarship.

Not many students from this neck of the woods will ever be going to Harvard, let alone on a full scholarship. This is a gifted young lady.

Valedictorians must give a commencement speech at the graduation ceremony. The School Administrators had informed her several months before, that she was graduating at the top of her class; so she did some research on the internet. She read some former Valedictorian speeches (High School, as well as College) to get ideas and found them all to be blasé and unmoving. She wanted to say something that made a difference to her classmates.

She, of course, had to submit her commencement address to the “powers that be” prior to graduation. These powers rejected the speech as being too realistic and asked her to tone it down. This she did, out of deference to the ‘powers that be”. Not only was she a good student, she also respected the system.

I have read both the original and diluted versions. You should also! - click here

Back in my day, our speeches were not censored or even read by the teachers or administrators before they were given. My class Valedictorian was a girl named Marie. She sat directly in front of me in many of our classes (we were seated alphabetically – for what reason, I never understood). When taking a test she would move her head to the side so that I could see her paper. This was not to cheat, but to see if my answers were reasonably correct.

Marie was a real Plain Jane and she was considered to be a Wallflower (what we irreverently called a mouse). She never went to High School Football games or came out for Pizza with the gang. She was always at home or in the library studying. We were friends in the classroom, but not on a social level.

Her commencement speech was excellent. She quoted and/or paraphrased some of the lines in John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier speech (when he accepted the nomination for President in 1960).
We can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.
Marie's own words were also very stirring; this I never expected from her, as she was never outspoken about anything. I sat entranced and wondered why I had never gotten to know her better on a more personal level. She spoke powerful words; spoken by a seemly un-powerful (but extremely intelligent) person. A Dormouse!

Recently, I spoke to one of my former High School teachers. Both he and his wife, who also taught at the same high school, remembered Marie. They didn’t remember me, only my name, although I finished in the top 12% (64th - probably thanks to Marie, and the class Salutatorian Mikki who were my study partners in several of my classes) of my class of 532 students.

You always remember the number one (student or athlete), and sometimes forget about the others as the years pass.

I was a good, but not an exceptional student. Marie was exceptional, and her commencement exercise words still ring in my mind to this day.

I hope that Jem Lugo’s teachers and classmates will remember her commencement address also.

The Beach Bum

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Friday, June 05, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday

Today is the anniversary of the date of my birth. Actually the precise moment was at 0649 hours UT (Zulu) this morning. I celebrated last night!

I have received several emails (most of them calling me a real old Phart or a Geezer) today from friends that are older than me. If I am an old Phart or a Geezer; what does that make them? Are they older Pharts and super Geezers?

I have received one telephone call (actually two – one yesterday from a Chicago friend late last night) today, I hope that my eldest daughter and my son remember to call me later today. I don’t really care about this birthday crap; I just want them to call me for a change (instead of me calling them).

For my birthday dinner I desired a juicy Rib Eye Steak grilled to perfection. But after eating a hamburger last week, that gave me extreme gastric and intestinal distress; I think not. My second choice is Chinese food, but that type food does not agree with my digestive system either. My third choice is a Home Run Inn Pizza, but I am unable to fly to Chicago to get one (the frozen ones sold in the local grocery store are not that bad; but they are just not the same). I’ll probably end up eating a healthy salad.

On the brighter side, this morning I found the pesky and cunning fly, that has been bugging me for a week, dead on one of the window sills. I guest that it was his birthday present to me. Without ceremony, I escorted his remains outside so that the ants could give him a proper burial.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cajun Cooking

Few days ago, the infamous forwarder of emails, Cazzo, forwarded an email about Cajun Cuisine. I read some of the recipes and thought about an old female friend that I called the Raygen Cajun. I was in between live-in girlfriends at the time.

Her surname was very French and she was originally from the New Orleans (Nawlins) area of Louisiana. But she didn’t look French, so I questioned her about her heritage.

She told me that it was her former husband’s name and it sounded better (for business purposes – Real Estate Sales) than her maiden name. Her father was of Spanish and Arcadian French descent and her mother was Turkish. Both parents were educators at Tulane University.

She was a petite woman probably weighing in at 90 pounds. She couldn’t drink more than two alcoholic beverages before getting wild, crazy and very passionate. She was an inexpensive date, to say the least. If she had three drinks, she was like one of those young ladies that you see on the “Girls Gone Wild” videos. I bought her three drinks many times.

On one of those three drink nights she began to reminisce about New Orleans. I had been there, as a young man, for Marti Gras; but never really saw the much of the city or the surrounding areas.

I asked her if she would like to visit her parents. Her eyes lit up like sparklers and she asked me “really?” I said yes, we’ll go in the morning. We then adjourned to my bed.

On Saturday morning we took the first flight from BWI Airport to New Orleans. I believe that it was on American Airlines. We arrived before noon, rented a car and proceeded to her parent’s house which was west of New Orleans proper.

The house was an old Plantation House that was built in the 1880’s. The original house that was built in the 1700’s was razed. The house sat on about 5 acres. The property had been sub-divided several times over the course of the years. Her father told me that it was originally on more than 1000 acres of farmland.

This house had six bedrooms and one bathroom. Each bedroom had French doors that led to a veranda. My bedroom had a steel mesh chair and table on the terrace and faced west. It was the ideal place to have a sundowner cocktail.

The first night there we went out to dinner, courtesy of her parents, to a New Orleans restaurant named Brennan’s; I ate the blackened Red Fish.

On Sunday morning, I accompanied her father to the local seafood market where he bought 3lbs of fresh (caught that morning), head on, shrimp. He told me that he was making Gumbo for us for dinner that night.

I had had Gumbo before, but never like this Gumbo. It was made with fresh okra and Cayenne peppers that came from plants in the back yard. This was authentic Cajun cookery. I helped to prepare the dinner by dicing the onions, chopping a knob of garlic, beheading and peeling the shrimp and slicing the okra (about 3lbs). I also had watched his every move in the kitchen.

First, in a large cast iron skillet, he put bacon grease and lard and heated it to a moderate temperature. He then placed the diced onion and some sliced shallots into the pan. When they became translucent he drained them with a sieve and placed them into a stainless steel pot, returning the liquid to the skillet.

Next into the skillet were the garlic, hot peppers and the okra. This was constantly stirred until softened. This was put into the pot, grease and all, along with the shrimp and a local smoked sausage (sliced). Two cups of water was added as well as what her dad called fillay powder which thickens the Gumbo.

I have duplicated his recipe many times, but using olive oil instead of bacon grease and lard and using Habanero peppers in place of the Cayenne peppers. Hillshire Farms smoked sausage is a reasonable substitute for the Cajun smoked sausage. Served with rice and beans, it is a great meal.

Although it was a memorable and pleasurable trip; my lady friend and I hadn’t had sexual relations for three days. For me, it was good to be home again!

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Invasion of Privacy

My privacy has been invaded. I’m being bugged close to the point of madness.

Last Thursday my daughter allowed a musca domestica to enter my office (better known as the Shed). This housefly has been buzzing around me for more than five days.

This is no ordinary common housefly; it is a cunning and crafty housefly. It has evaded death. Although I have tried my best to rid myself of this pest, its still buzzing around me.

The best way to whack a fly is when it lands on a window or a screen. This fly never seems to land anywhere; it’s in constant motion when I have my back turned. If I am watching for it, the fly will hide. Where it hides I do not know. This is just a 22X16 foot room. But it has managed to find places, to rest, that are not normal places that a fly will land.

As I mentioned before; this is a very shrewd fly. It never comes out when I am watching for it and am armed with a swatter. It patiently waits until my back is turned and I am looking at the computer monitor or typing on the keyboard.

Then it will buzz me or quickly land on me and then quickly depart. I never see where its final resting place is. Its ability to elude my attempts to destroy it is unbelievable. It’s a super fly.

Perhaps I should let it live out its life, which should be short because there is no food or water available in “The Shed”. But then again, I’m wondering if it told its friends and relatives about the marvelous space that it is currently occupying. They might all want in and I will have to buy an extra Fly Swatter.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, June 01, 2009

A Warm Fuzzy From A Friend

Tonight I received a very touching email from an old Army buddy. He is a member of my email group of old Kagnew Station friends. I recently admonished the group for being too political and for their one line obscene comments (that are made all in jest and friendship). It’s not that I mind obscene language; I hate one line emails. I feel that email should be the same as writing a letter and sending it to a friend (would you waste the cost of a postage stamp on what you have just written?).

I knew my re-found friend Paul (Loopy) for only a very short time at Kagnew. I was a new guy and he was a short timer. I have one black and white picture of us sitting together in the enlisted man’s club (Oasis) with several other guys and two local young ladies. He was more of a friend of a friend than a personal friend. But he was a character that one could never forget. He had a quick wit with very good verbal acumen. I, as well as others in our group, had searched the Internet for years seeking him. Surprisingly he found us.

I would like to share this email which he sent to me tonight:

Every so often I sit back and think about members of my family who I knew so well but never "really knew." I grew up with my 2 brothers and my sister who were all a bit older than myself. As each reached the ripe old age of eighteen, they one by one moved away from home to begin their own lives. The people I thought I had known became strangers as they formed new friendships, new experiences, and new ideas and ideals.

At eighteen, the age when all young men believe that they know everything, I was learning about myself and my world. My eighteenth birthday was celebrated as part of a basic training company at Fort Ord, CA. I made friends there. I served in other units from Fort Lewis, WA to Fort Huachuca, AZ and then got out of the Army. There were more new friends at each new duty station. I re-enlisted in 1965 and found myself at Fort Devens, MA, the place of my birth. My Father was a career Army man stationed there in 1942 with the 18th Inf. Rgt.

My return to Fort Devens was as part of the Army Security Agency, which was totally misnamed as we were training in Intelligence, not Security. I served in different duty stations during the last 4 years of my hitch. It was at Kagnew Station, a strategic listening post located atop the Hamassian Plateau in the then Province of Eritrea, Country of Ethiopia, where I met more young men who I called "friends."

Many years have passed since I last saw or spoke to any of them and some I knew of but really didn't know since we all wore the facade of the people we wanted so desperately to be seen as being. About eighteen months ago, I happened upon a web site dedicated to that long ago duty station and while scanning the visitors log, happened upon several names of old room-mates. Only one had a current phone number and I became reacquainted with a group of these grizzled old Vets.

This group of old Vets remind me of the family I used to have when I was a kid. The vulgar jokes, ribald stories, exaggerations that become greater every time an old story is retold, petty spats, hurt feelings and making up again all remain just like they were in those old days of my childhood. These men have become my family because of all the shared experiences, good and bad. I have come to depend upon the morning ritual of turning on the computer and checking for incoming mail. This group of men have been together as a support group with an annual reunion for a number of years before I stumbled upon them and I know that they looked for me as they did each other.

Due to my responsibilities as a full time caregiver for my bride of almost 40 years, I am unable to attend their reunions, but I hope that they know that I am with them in spirit. My bride asked me recently how long I had known these men. There was only one answer I could possibly give her that would tell her, them, and the world just how much they have meant to me. That answer was, "Not long enough!"


Thank you, Paul, it made my day!

The Beach Bum

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