Sunday, March 18, 2018

Scouting Around

  Jan and I took a little trip down to the lower 48 last week. We were on the lookout for a new place to call home. The trip didn't start off all that great. After checking out the ferry schedule, and coordinating the with doctor's office to see that we could get appointments around the ferry, and making arrangements for a flight on Alaska airlines that would require the least amount of down time, I got a call from one of the attendants at the local Alaska Marine Highway office the day before we were to leave,  informing me that the ferry was broken down (again) and they weren't sure when it would be up and running again. Frankly, I wasn't shocked at the news, but I was really angry. I needed my car in Juneau when we returned from down south so we could run around to the doctors and shop at Costco and Fred Meyers and load up. The potential savings on groceries alone is enough to offset the almost $300.00 it cost to take the truck to Juneau round trip. However, it didn't appear that that was going to happen, so I had to beat feet out to the airport and hope we could get a flight the next day. There is never a guarantee that there will be any flights on any given day in Southeast Alaska. Especially in the winter months. As it was, the weather cooperated and we were able to get one way tickets for the rather hefty price of $170.00. That's with a twenty dollar discount for booking on line. It's about a twenty minute flight, so that's a little over $4.00 a minute each to go over. At least they were running as opposed to the ferry. The ship that broke down, the Leconte, is the same one we came to Hoonah on back in 1976. I hesitate to think of the hundreds of thousands of hours that its logged in its long career. It really should have been replaced at least ten years ago, but unfortunately it wasn't, so breakdowns are the normal now. The only two ways to reach Hoonah from Juneau are by airplane or boat, and since Juneau is landlocked the only way out is the same. I don't know how many trips we've made south in the forty two years we've lived here. A few, and they all involve lots of planning and money and more than a little good luck to carry out. It's things like the difficulty and expense of getting out of here that have kind of cemented the idea that we need to leave. The closest hospital is in Juneau, as is my doctor and dentist and bank and tax accountant. Because everything has to be barged in, the cost of every day items are high. The last time I got gas in town it was over $3.50 a gallon. Milk is over $6.00 a gallon. There are no plumbers or electricians or barbers in town, although there are folks who can perform those duties on a limited basis. For years I've tolerated these things because the fishing has been good and the scenery is hard to beat. Most of the folks I know are friendly, I've felt safe and it was a good place to raise the kids. Now my youngest is in his mid thirties, and the tourism industry has flooded the town every summer with folks gawking and crowding the streets. The harbor gets full of whale watch and charter boats and I have to work harder to find a spot to fish. I've been spoiled by what used to be a fairly isolated existence. All things change with time though, for better or worse- it seems like change is usually for the worse. Anyway, if I have to put up with a lot of people, I'd like to have the option of at least getting in the car and seeing something different. We flew in to Boise and took a trip west to Sequim and Port Angeles Washington. We have friends there. We covered a lot of beautiful country, most of which I couldn't get a picture of because I forgot to take the charger for the camera battery-go figure. Anyway it was a fun trip. We had a good time, ate some good food, saw some awesome scenery, talked to some great folks, slept in some so-so beds and spent a bundle of money. The bottom line is, we're on the lookout for our next home, one where we can drive to the hospital or take a car to see the grandkids or go on a week end road trip. It won't happen right away, but we have to start somewhere. I'll keep you posted as time goes on.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What The Heck is That?

 I was poking around on the Internet one evening and started looking at space; in particular nebulae. I find them fascinating. I really wish I had paid more attention to my science classes in school, but I was too caught up in daydreams and fantasies to be a good student.My eighth grade science teacher was also a model, so it was hard to pay attention to the science stuff.  If only I could go back and do it again, but I can't. Anyway, I guess I must have signed up for something. I started getting pictures of nebula and other space shots; then telescopes and observatories and all kinds of other things that I wasn't all that interested in. Usually I just delete them and carry on, but today when I turned on the computer, there was this thing. I wasn't really sure if it was an Internet trick or what, but after doing a little research, I found out that it's quite real. This particular picture is compliments of Live Science. The above life form is a tardigrade or waterbear. Apparently a new species of tardigrade was found in a parking lot in Japan on some moss that was growing on a building there. From what I can gather, these things are very small, less than a millimeter in length, and they are quite tough. Much tougher than human beings. They have the ability to develop a cryptobiotic state, which as I understand means they can shed their skin and all of the liquid in their bodies and basically shut down until the conditions are more favorable to life. They have been found in hot springs and under layers of solid ice and can endure temperature extremes from minus 328 degrees F  to 303 degrees F. They aren't indestructible, according to one scientist. They could die if exposed to the water in your shower, but if they had time to get into a cryptobiotic state, they would be much harder to kill. They were even sent to outer space and endured the cold and radiation of that environment. They're quite a fascinating creature, and the one in the picture looks almost cuddly. I really don't know too much more about them. I'm not sure what purpose they serve, if they are good or bad for mankind, but no doubt they have been around for quite some time, and as tough as they sound, they'll be around long after we're gone. When I see things like this, I start to get the smallest glimpse of how fantastic this world is that we live in, and the wisdom of God to create it all is well beyond my comprehension. I hope you'll take a moment to reflect on all that is seen as well as unseen in this universe, and thank God for showing us the wonder of it all.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Second Amendment

In light of the most recent tragedy involving the slaughter of so many innocent children down in Florida, I decided to address this issue. There is probably little that I can add to the many conversations revolving around this, and what I've got to say most likely will do little to change anyone's mind. Depending on what side of the aisle you're on, you're either for or against stricter gun laws. For the extremists on the left, such as the New York Times reporter, Bret Stephens, the second amendment should be banned all together. What would that entail? Would congress pass a law requiring all gun owners to turn in their weapons?The second amendment states, A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. If congress could pass a law that would fundamentally change the constitution, why stop at the second amendment? Why not pass a law forbidding free speech? Something that apparently some liberal college campuses think would be just fine. They feel the need to protect their students from hearing anything that doesn't fit their agenda. If ideas are expressed that could inflame an individual or group and incite them to commit violent acts, let's not let them speak! How would that work? Why stop there? Any of the rights that are guaranteed by the constitution that we find offensive or outdated maybe we should do away with.  I'm not without feelings of sorrow for the family members and friends of the kids who were gunned down in Parkland. They were murdered in an act of senseless violence, and I hate that it happened. Their young lives were snuffed out before they ever got a chance to reach their potential. The fact is, we can't regulate evil. We can try. We can put more rules on the books regarding gun ownership or back round checks or bump stocks or automatic weapons, but unfortunately that won't stop those who have an agenda. They'll make a bomb or drive a truck into a crowd or swing a machete or something. Some years back I saw a bumper sticker, probably endorsed or even created by the NRA. It happens to be a slogan that I agree with. It said- When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guns. I believe that's true. Criminals don't care about the law. I've mentioned on more than few occasions on this blog about the law of sewing and reaping. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring home an idea- we're a hard headed people. I don't believe we have a gun problem in this country, we have a morals problem. We have a problem with a righteous God.I think if we would return to the foundation that was established with the passing down of the  ten commandments, we wouldn't be dealing with gun violence or terrorism, or spousal abuse, or poverty or corrupt politicians. The fact is, we can change the direction of this country if we want to, but it won't be through passing another gun law.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Power of Music

 It's once again time for the Winter Olympics. Personally, they don't do much for me. I'm not much of a sports fan, although I did enjoy watching the Super Bowl this time. Usually I just tune in for the commercials, but this time the game was more interesting than the advertisements. For me, the best part of the Olympics is the theme song. I like it so well that I downloaded it last night. I was kind of hoping that it would be a little longer than it is. Unfortunately, the whole song only last 59 seconds- not even a full minute- what a bummer. It is quite stirring though. I think that businesses should adapt if for their employees. Can you imagine how it would make you feel to step through the door of your workplace and have the Olympic Theme play? It would convey the fact that the company you worked for felt like you were a super star, and it would make no difference  if you were the CEO or the janitor, all the employees would be given that same rock star treatment. It would be even better if when you punched in at the time clock, your arrival would be announced throughout the building, and then the song would start. Of course, if you're in the habit of being late, you probably wouldn't care to have your name blasted through the public address system, but at the same time, it could perhaps serve as a deterrent to tardiness. Music is really handy for all sorts of situations. Do you remember the music from the World War II movie, Bridge on the River Kwai? Perhaps not, unless you're from my generation. Anyway, it's called the Colonel Bogey March. Regardless of the name, the movie didn't star Humphrey Bogart. It's also a pretty stirring song. I was brushing my teeth this morning listening to it and discovered that my arm was moving like a drive piston on a steam locomotive at high speed. Needless to say, my teeth were highly polished after a few minutes of Colonel Bogey. I was listening to it while I was walking on the treadmill also, and almost walked the tread right off. I listened while I was out shoveling this morning and got done in record time; however, I did  discover that some situations are better handled at a slower pace. It's really not a good idea to go out and clean up after your dog while the adrenaline is flowing. I was flinging poop through the air like an acrobat at the Circ Du Soleil. I might add that listening to stimulating music shortly before you hit the sack probably isn't conducive to a good nights sleep. If you're anything like me, the song will play in a continuous loop in your mind for half the night, thus robbing you of the rest you may desperately desire. Not to worry though, no problemo. I have volumes  of Celtic music songs that are totally relaxing, as well as other soft sounds to lull a person to sleep. The problem with playing them when I'm in bed though is that I want to hear the songs and will force myself to stay awake so that I can, thus defeating the purpose. I suppose there is music to cover almost any situation that you find yourself in, from falling in love to digging ditches; from praising God to the end of life. Speaking of which, I'm somewhat undecided what kind of music I'd like at my memorial service, assuming I have one. I kind of like the sound of Amazing Grace done by bagpipes, but there's also the country song Amazing Grace (used to be her favorite song) by the Amazing Rythm Aces which is pretty bouncy and kind of funny. I think I'd like my memorial service to be both sad and happy. I don't think I'd like people to be crying through the whole thing, but I wouldn't mind a few tears, so I might include Yanni's song to his mother- Felitza. On the other hand I don't think I want them two-stepping through the funeral parlor, so there probably wouldn't be anything like Rodney Carrington's Dancing With A Man. Frankly, I do rather like the idea of everyone lining up at the end of the service and exiting smartly out of the building to the sound of Colonel Bogey's March. I think it would be a fitting end to a fine life. I guess I'll have to see what I can do to make that happen. Meanwhile, whether you're sitting at the bar and drowning your sorrows in a glass of beer or driving down the road with your sweetheart, I hope you turn on some music and enjoy.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Those Were the Days

  I was planning on doing a blog post about taxes. I have a picture of all the papers and files and envelopes scattered all over the table, with a calculator and yellow legal pad, but I thought- how entertaining would that be? No doubt it would be a nice challenge to see how I could make it interesting, and maybe before the month is out, I'll do a post on that, just not today. I was looking through some photographs the other day, and ran across this one. It's a picture of my wife Jan. She's standing on the White Street Pier down in Key West, back around 1973 or so. It looks like she's using a fiberglass rod with a Zebco 33 reel. Not exactly made for saltwater, which is what we were surrounded by. Even the golf course pond was saltwater. I caught a twelve pound tarpon in it on a live shrimp. I was fishing with my division petty officer, who was considered a golf pro, so they let us fish in it. Jan and I spent many an evening fishing off the pier. I don't believe we ever caught too much, a few small Grunts or the occasional Needlefish. There was a hole in the corner of the pier that a Morray Eel had decided to make his home. I spent more than a few hours trying to catch him. Lord knows what I would have done if I did. He probably would have latched on to me and I'd be missing some limb or another. We had a green Ford Pinto back then, the only new car we've ever owned. Actually,Jan bought it before we were married. Gas was about 29 cents a gallon at the time which was good, because we couldn't have afforded to buy any otherwise. Our entertainment was to go fishing almost every night. If it was payday we might splurge and buy ourselves a soft serve ice cream cone. We were living in an old Conch house that was divided into four apartments. An old lady by the name of Mrs. Segal owned it, and we rented it for $82.50 a month. It had a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room, which was painted brilliant chartreuse with tan trim. When Jan first saw the apartment she started crying. I felt  terrible, but what could I do? I think part of it was because she was so far away from her family and part of it was moving into an old house that hippies had occupied previously. I guess there must have been a couch in there, though I don't recall. What I do remember is that there was an old wooden desk that had been painted white, and green I believe, and it was full of termites. Every morning when we came into the living room there was a neat little pile of sawdust by one of the legs. We'd sweep it up and by morning there would be a fresh pile. At night we'd watch shows on cable that the last tenants had installed. We never paid for it, and when a cable guy came down from Miami and asked Jan if it was hooked up she lied and said no, and he left. We used to lay in bed and  shut off the lights and could see the termites from the head board flying in front of the TV. We could hear them munching too. It was bothersome, but it wasn't our furniture, and there weren't too many other places to rent that we could afford so we put up with it. We ended up painting the kitchen yellow, and the living room a mint green, and added some sheet rock to the bathroom walls to keep the breeze from passing through the cracks. It could feel chilly when we were wet from the bath. The bathroom itself was an add on. Originally it had been part of a porch that ran the entire perimeter of the upstairs. The floor was slanted so that rain wouldn't settle on it.When you were in the tub, one side had eight or ten inches of water, and the other had two. We had a resident gecko that hung around the kitchen; a cute little green thing, kind of like the one from the Geico commercial.  Sometimes I'd see him climbing the screen or walking down the wall. I was always afraid our Siamese cat, Fred, would get it, but to the best of my knowledge, that never happened. Across the street was the Kleen Wash Laundry. It runs in my mind it was all open with just a roof covering everything, no walls that I recall. There was a pay phone under the awning and every Sunday night Jan would call her mom. One night some creep was walking around trying to expose himself to Jan while she was on the phone. She just kept walking in a circle and he followed her hoping she'd get a peek. I must have been on watch down at the ship, or out to sea, I don't recall. Isn't it funny the memories that a picture can stir up? I guess that's why we take pictures, so that some day forty some years later you can run across it and remember the way it used to be. I hope that the memories you have of days gone by are pleasant, and that the memories you're making now will be as well.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Spaghetti Mask

    You know, we have all been blessed with different talents. Some folks are really good at mechanics, some folks are excellent seamstresses, or they have a flair for writing or building things or they're mathematicians, or whatever. The fact is, I'm not very good at any of the above. I'm here to confess that I'm not even good at the simple art of eating spaghetti. We happened to have some earlier in the week. Nothing fancy, but it sure hit the spot. Fortunately I wasn't sitting in front of a mirror while I consumed my meal, or supper might have been brought to a sudden standstill. I could tell as I was enjoying this fine cuisine that I was slopping it all over my face. It didn't matter that I tried to wind it around the fork or eat slowly, or only put a few strands of spaghetti on the fork at one time, kind of like stringing those silver icicles on a Christmas tree, I could feel the sauce splashing on the side of my face and clogging my mustache with every forkful that I took. My fears were confirmed when I ran a napkin across my mug and it came back wet with sauce. It didn't help any that when I looked at Jan there wasn't a sliver of evidence that a drop of sauce had been any where near her. It was somewhat embarrassing to acknowledge that at the ripe old age of 65, I still hadn't mastered the art of eating spaghetti. It was while I was in the process of borrowing Jan's napkin, since mine had been rendered utterly useless, that I got the brilliant idea of inventing the Botts Spaghetti Mask. Perhaps I could jiggle the name a little and call it the Bottelli Spaghetti Mask, kind of make it sound Italian. Anyway, I was thinking that the mask would be a simple affair, made out of the same material as a good quality paper towel. It would have pre-cut holes for the eyes and a reinforced cut out for the mouth with a cheap rubber band strap like the kind that hold on a Halloween mask. When its time to sit down to a nice Italian dinner, don your disposable mask and have at it. No more fear of showing up at a PTA meeting with orange stripes or smudges splashed across your face because you rushed out of the house before you did a quick check in the mirror. I suppose the spaghetti mask would work for sloppy joes, some Chinese foods and for those folks who had been to the dentist and were still feeling the effects of Novocaine, but were too hungry to wait for it to wear off. They would come packaged like a box of Kleenex, with fifty or so to a box. Of course they couldn't be one size fits all. There would probably have to be a Kids size, a normal Adult size, and for those folks who really enjoy their food, the Rotund size. I think I may have stumbled on to something here. We were having dinner tonight at our friends, the Budkes, and I mentioned my idea. He was astonished that I wasn't rich already with ideas like the Spaghetti Mask. It just so happened that we were eating tacos, which for me, and I'm sure others around the world, are also a rather challenging food. Inevitably, whether utilizing the soft flour tortilla or the hard corn shell, the contents spill out of the taco and on to your clothes, or if you're lucky, the plate. It was while I was wrestling with my soft taco that I had the brilliant idea of the edible taco pin. It would be like a clothespin for tacos. You fill your shell full of your favorite delights, fold the taco together, clamp on the pin and eat to your heart's content. No more embarrassing spills all over your hosts linen tablecloth.I need to give it a little more thought though. I haven't come up with an edible material that would be springy enough to hold the taco together yet, but I will. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Who Mentioned You?

  It seems that there is never a lack of material to draw on here in the Botts household.  We've been blessed with a grand sense of humor and we make use of it often. Of course that same humor means that on occasion we have to make fun of each other when the situation warrants it. I believe I've covered this topic before, but I will refresh your memory. One night while visiting his older sister Jen, my son Ben looked up and saw her slouched in  a kitchen chair wearing a shirt that said "Who mentioned you?" He was somewhat perplexed by such a rude remark and thought it was out of character for Jen so  he confronted her. She had no idea what he was speaking of until she looked down at her shirt and realized it was something that she had received from the Big Brother's /Big Sister's organization. Not exactly the kind of  welcoming message you want to portray to needy children. With that mindset, why not have a shirt that says " Who invited you?" or "Who cares what you say?" Fortunately, what the shirt actually said was "Who mentored you?" That makes a lot more sense, but it's not nearly as funny. It became a kind of family joke, and to say the least, I was pleasantly surprised when one of the gifts I received this year was a "Who mentioned you?" t-shirt from my daughter Autumn. That's her in the bottom picture with the sweatshirt that says "Cold air,don't care". She was modeling a pair of leggings, showing me how stretchy they are.I don't understand the whole leggings thing. Aren't they just extra stretchy pajama bottoms? Is it just an excuse to wear your PJ"s out in public? I guess people don't really need an excuse to do that now, because in today's society, apparently it's acceptable to wear the same duds you went to bed with to the store or the post office. It doesn't set well with me, but I guess I'm old fashioned.I suppose that there could be an upside to wearing leggings.I'm not sure what it would be, but what do I know? They don't make leggings for men do they? Lordy, I hope not. I don't want to see a set of those things balled up in my Christmas stocking. For now I'm content to wear Carhartts or blue jeans and an extra large t-shirt that insults the viewer.