General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com

Thursday, July 03, 2003
I saw this over at Silent Running and remembered the story of one of my Army friends who was stationed in Naples, Italy several years ago. He moved into an apartment with his wife and son and soon after was visited by a nicely dressed man who asked if he wanted to buy some home security insurance. The cost was about $25 a month. Jack told him that he would get back to him and the next day, he asked one of his co-workers about the "insurance". The co-worker assured him that it was a good deal. Jack paid the guy and was told not to worry about anything. His wife, son and possessions were safe.

A few weeks later, he got a new neighbor (another American) who refused the insurance. While he was at work one day, someone drove up to his house, backed their truck through his iron gate, shot his dog and stole everything he had. Jack's 4 year old was ouside playing when the dog was shot and the nice man waved at him. The neighbor called the Policia who assured him there was nothing they could do to catch the thiefs. He then bought the "insurance" and the "agent" was able to find his sentimental value property.

Jack said he never felt safer than when he was living in Naples and had his "insurance" policy.

We are dog-sitting this weekend. Our friends were just notified that their son-in-law in Memphis was murdered. He went downtown to deliver some insurance papers and never came home. The family located his body in the Memphis morgue. Our friends have not had a good year. The wife's brother died of heatstroke late last August, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, he is laid off from his job and now this. Makes my gripes about writing contractese seem trivial.

I have added a counter to the page and the count is climbing really fast. I think there must be phantom visitors. If you see this, please add a comment so I can see if at least one one visit is real.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003
Today, I had to go out to some meetings and stopped in at the BBQ Emporium for lunch. The BBQ was fantastic and now I need a bottle of Rolaids to make it to supper. I don't get out to the old place very often, but it is good to see the gang from the old days now and then.

This was a day for "marketing" when I go tell people with no money what I could do for them if they ever got money and they tell me how much they will use me if money ever appears. It is a very productive system. We both can pretend we are working and if everything goes well, we can go have a good lunch.

Marketing has been one of the most interesting aspects of the business since I started it 2 years ago. I do what I learned in business school and research my potential clients to determine what they need, put together a sales pitch, set up appointments, deliver my pitch and nothing ever seems to come of it. Then I am sitting in the cafeteria drinking coffee, waiting for the next meeting when someone walks up and asks if I can do something for them. It is truely a wonder.

Some rain today. Old Cletus is still worried about Mizz Gore but I think he would be better off worrying about us if it doesn't stop soon. I have been trying to do some work in the backyard since January and it hasn't been dry yet. Of course, good old Alabama red clay only dries on the surface and stays wet two inches down for months. I suspect that is how the first potters figured out how to make pottery. They noticed clay held water forever.

I have been reading a book called "Last Stands". Of course it has Custer's (the moron), but so far, the absolutely most astounding is the Rorke's Drift stand by 130 something British soldiers against over 4000 Zulu. The movie Zulu is about that event but doesn't do it justice. The Alamo was similar, but many of the soldiers at Rorke's Drift survived to fight another day. Nearly a dozen Victoria Crosses were awarded for the one day action and they didn't give posthumous medals or there would have been more.

Talked to a friend whose son is an Airborne Infantry Lieutenant in Bagdhad. He called his parents for the first time last night. He says they get shot at daily, there are booby traps everywhere and the Iraqis are doing command detonations on mortar and artillery rounds. He said the corruption is beyond belief, but that the average Iraqi (which the soldiers refer to as Hajis, you won't see that in the news) has no idea of how to make a decision or stand up for something. We may really have to be there for ten years. If we are, we will have to learn how to deal with the people and protect our soldiers.

The LT's Mom asked him if he had finally decided to leave the Army (Jimmy was an enlisted airborne ranger, but left the Army and went through ROTC at Auburn). He answered no, that he was planning on applying for Special Operations since they know how to get the job done. He may be a Brigade Commander by the time this is over.

Monday, June 30, 2003
I have added a bunch of new links. I have been planning on adding these for some time but just now got the time. I have several more to go especially the Axis of Weevil.

Okey-dokey. Time for the old retirement update. I have convinced myself that I do not want to retire. (I think that is making lemonade of lemons.) The old retirement account is about where it was at the end of May . That could be because it is mostly in cash. My business is up and down, today being a down day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be an up day, but then my old tactics instructor insisted that hope is not a plan of attack. Funny thing, a retired friend stopped by last week. He travels around the country in an RV. When he retired a few years back, he and his wife sold their furniture, house and anything else that looked like an anchor and headed out. They pass through here every two years or so. They seem to enjoy the life. I don't think I would. If I had my way, I would probably spend my days writing (I do, but it tends to be government contractese which isn't like real writing) and playing an eclectic mixture of rock, country, folk and bluegrass on various musical instruments. Of course, it is a little hard finding someone else who likes all of those so I would probably play mostly country and bluegrass with a beat. Anyway, on to the update.

Retirement is now projected no earlier than age 100. That is an improvement from when I needed to work past death.

Speaking of death, we have been discussing death in my Sunday School class. This week, my lawyer buddy talked about wills. If you do not have a will, get one. At least if you live in a state with laws similar to Alabama's. "By law" here means the surviving spouse gets $50,000 plus one half of the remainder for assets not jointly held and all of the estate will be held up since the court has to approve everything that happens. Write out a will and make all assets jointly held with your spouse including bank accounts, car titles and anything else you can.

The Sunday School class got my wife off on the age old question: "Will you remarry if I die before you?" My standard answer is: "No dear, because I could never find anyone who would be as wonderful as you." You gotta better answer, let me know. Anyway, she is now worried that I will remarry and my next wife will get all her stuff and give it to her own kids. I promised to immediately give all joint assets to our kids, at which point she took me to task for not thinking about the tax implications of such an act.

I'm going to get a large bottle of cheap wine. Later.

My middle brother owns a small automobile paint and body shop out in the country, down a dead end road where he and his son, and occasionally, his brother-in-law repair a few cars a week. He enjoys what he does and has worked 12 hours a day, six days a week for 34 years. A few years back, he started having seizures, lost hearing in one ear, is down to 40% in the other, is blind in one eye and as he says, can't see out of the other. A few months back, he applied for social security disability based on the idea that a half blind, half deaf man who has "fits" ( his self-description) didn't need to be working around dangerous equipment. After six months and a dozen different doctors, SS turned him down saying he was capable of continuing his "usual" occupation. He says he guesses they are right since he can do the body work by feel and his son can keep an eye on him in case he has a seizure in the middle of welding or using a high speed grinder and he can just not use the frame straightening machine with its high tension cables and chains.

Something good did come of the many visits to doctors though. One of them recommended he see a specialist at the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital and the specialist found some scar tissue in his brain that may be causing the seizures. He goes in tonight to be weaned from his regimen of drugs while being monitored for seizures to determine if they emanate from the scarred area. If so, then the doctors will insert probes into his brain and deaden the scarred area to see if he retains his speech center and motor skills. If that works out, he will have surgery in early August to remove the scarring and should be seizure free.

He is looking forward to the probe in the brain. He got cable TV several years ago just so he could watch Discovery and the Learning Channel. The medical shows are his favorites. He hopes they will set up a monitor so he can watch. This from a man who faints when he sees a needle.

He says he figures that he can be back to a full 72 hour work week by mid-August although he is trying to figure out how to weld by feel.

Oh, for relaxation, he works on his own car on Sundays.