Saturday, July 31, 2010

More From the Archives

Just for posterity's sake... some family shots taken in Ferndale, Michigan in 1989 and 1990.

Left to Right: DIL Alisa, Granddaughter Anastasia (age 18 mos or so), The Second Mrs. Pennington; SN2 and YrHmblScrb in back.

Sam, Alisa, and Anastasia

TSMP and Me

Sam and Alisa came to visit in the Spring of 1989.  If I'm not mistaken they were on their way down to Charleston, SC where Sam reported in for his first fleet assignment as an A-Ganger on the USS James K. Polk.  Don't we ALL look so very young?  Well... some of us do.

Speaking of young... The Major dropped in for a visit in the Spring of the following year (1990) on his way to RAF Lakenheath.  Here's an informal shot of the young man:

That was back in the day when he was on the E-side of the house and was allowed to have hair.  TSMP and I returned his visit in December of that year for the infamous UK Christmas Tour of 1990.  We shall have more pics of that adventure at a later date but in the meantime here's the three of us in some London pub:

I think this might have been taken the day of our arrival in Ol' Blighty but I'm not sure.  There were so MANY pubs to visit, yanno?

Friday, July 30, 2010

NOT a Good Start

We made TWO pots of coffee this morning, the first of which went down the drain.  I used yesterday's grounds to make the first pot, failing to add fresh coffee and a new filter to the mix.  Senility is creepin' in, there's no other possible explanation.

Update, 0905 hrs:  This is NEW MEXICO?

The good news is we're down from the 83% humidity of an hour ago but it's still sticky.  WTF is up with our WX this year? 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

M'Lady's Bonnet Is Repaired

And like new, too.  I spent the morning over at Craftmasters Upholstery in The Big(ger) City™, watching three people do what they do best... needlework on a grand scale, coupled with superlative automotive repair skills... and they are REALLY good at it.  I arrived at 0815 hrs this morning and was out the door with a repaired top around 1130 hrs.  So not only are the folks at Craftmasters good at what they do, they're quick, too.  A few pics...

The top had to come off the car for the restitching and that trick is MUCH more involved than it sounds, especially considering the close quarters craftmasters Joe and Nacho had to work in.  Case in point:

That's Joe inside the car doin' his contortionist imitation while Nacho assists.  It took the guys only a little over 45 minutes to remove the top, which included drilling out about a half dozen rivets and undoing a boatload of fasteners.    Here's a hat-less Green Hornet:

And then it was over to the sewing table...

 Sizing things up

Nacho did the needlework, which was a two-man job...

After the needlework was done the guys re-installed the top while proprietor Susan and I talked about most everything under the sun.  I took a bunch of magazines with me to kill time if that had been necessary but it wasn't.  Susan is a most personable woman who's been in the upholstery bid'niz for 35 years and started out working for her Dad Ray when she was 15.  Ray is semi-retired now and Susan pretty much runs the show.  And a great show it is!

So... we left Craftmasters and headed over to the car wash for the acid test, which was passed with flying colors as nary a drop o' water penetrated the top; TGH is still as water-tight as the day I bought her.  I'm one pleased dude... and yes, that IS a testimonial.

Heh - Priorities Division

h/t: Townhall

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fast Times At Ridgemont When I Was High

High on LIFE, Gentle Reader... high on life.  And mo'sickles.  There were a few previously unpublished pics of mo'sickles-past lurking in the pages of those photo albums I brought home from SN2's place.  You know I'm gonna post those, so we might as well get started.  First up: my old RD350LC.  Here she is up against the wall, a position we rarely found ourselves in, metaphorically speaking.

If that pic looks somewhat familiar it's only because it is.  We previously posted this pic of the happy couple:

And then there's this, taken on the same day as the above but in a different place.  The day would be the day I sold her in June of 1983 (she wasn't street-legal in the USA and I was going home) and the place is High Wycombe Air Station where I lived during my three-year all expenses paid (courtesy of the USAF) vacation in London.

I kinda like that shot because you can read the tee shirt I'm wearing in the full-size version of the pic, to wit:

That 350-cc number prolly sounds laughable to Americans who routinely think "Harley" and big-ass 96 cu. in. (1600 cc) motors when they think of bikes, which is rarely (unless you're a biker).  But lemmee tell ya, those 350cc's made mince-meat out of many a cruiser back in the day and sport bikes twice its size, too.  That was one hella quick and fast mo'sickle and it could carve a corner like few others.  Fast times, indeed.

Here's the best bike I ever owned... it edges out the 350LC by only the tiniest of margins... my RD400D.  The first pic is the bike in box-stock configuration, the second is in its current mildly-modified condition:



I spent the winter of 1978 in my garage working on that bike.  Most of the mods were bolt-ons, which is to say after-market shocks, new handle bars, rear-set foot pegs, a brake/shifter kit, electronic ignition, and better tires.  The cognoscenti will note the expansion chambers on the bike and those were part of the minor engine mods I did.  I didn't want to build a hand-grenade motor so I just added expansion chambers, larger carbs, and K&N air filters to improve the bike's breathing.  I also polished all the cylinder ports to improve air flow.  And that was it... but the finished product really wailed.  I should also mention coastal Oregon was a danged fine place to own a back road burner like the RD, too.  Even more fast times.

Here's a previously posted and MUCH prettier pic of the stock RD:

 TSMP and Stock RD

I tried to get her to pose in her bikini but she wasn't having any of that.  (sigh)

Lastly... the RD400 is still in the family, sitting in the back of SN2's garage.  It still runs but is suffering from a leaky rear master cylinder.  Sam keeps telling me "one of these days..."  Heh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Then and Now, Part Deux

I brought home a bunch of photo albums Sam (SN2) found in a box I had sent to him for safe keeping when I downsized all those years ago and there is much blog fodder lurking in those albums.  A lot of that blog-fodder is dependent on me developing suitable narrative to support the photos... but rest assured I WILL try and develop said narrative.  It is easier, after all is said and done, than developing new stuff for the blog.  So you are warned: there is much nostalgia to follow in upcoming days.  All that said, there's this...

I posted a couple o' pics of The First Mrs. Pennington over the course of the last week or so.  People who know us both, either intimately or superficially, often ask me "How in the Hell did that happen?  Y'all are so different from one another!"  Well... a picture is worth a thousand words, innit?  So... here we are, back in 1969 or thereabouts:

Shorter:  TFMP was a comely wench in her youth, and I say that with ALL due respect and with the best of all possible intentions.  Those people who ask "How could that happen?" might be better served by asking how TFMP could see anything in a guy who was clearly working on his Woody Allen nebbish persona in the way-back.  We were oh-so-nerdy back then and we haven't changed a whole helluva lot, truth be told.

A couple o' more from the archives...

That would be me, circa 1961... when we were workin' on our James Dean persona.  It will come as no surprise that we failed in our attempt.

And then there's this...

My senior picture, circa 1963.  I don't know what the Hell we were on about then.  Your guess is as good as mine, Gentle Reader.

One more, and then we'll go... here's The Second Mrs.Pennington and I on the day we met:

There aren't many people who have photos of the occasion of their first meeting, or first date, or whatever you wanna call it.  Be that as it may... we were drunk as skunks.  This picture was taken by an amateur Japanese photographer at an open-air concert on Tachikawa Air Base in August of 1975.  TSMP and I happened to run into the girl who snapped this photo at a party a few months after the fact, she being the girlfriend of a friend of ours.  "I have a picture of you!" she squealed upon meeting us at that party... and she provided us with the print that you see above a couple o' days later.  Serendipity, and all that.  As for me... we were STILL geeky, as you can plainly see.  I remain amazed and mystified that I ever got laid during my youth, let alone the fact I managed to establish lasting relationships (sorta) with anyone.  Life is strange, indeed.

Busy Busy Busy

We retired early last night and got up at oh-dark-thirty this morning for the second consecutive day.  I'm thinkin' this isn't such a bad thing and am associating this phenomenon with the recently-completed vacation, which appears to have really rejuvenated me.  

Our normal routine... which has been in effect for the last several years... is to stay up to all hours of the night and roll out sometime before noon, often just barely before noon.  Now that's all well and good and I do it because I can.  But here it is not quite noon (as I write) and the coffee's long since been put away; we've made the blog-rounds; three weeks worth of mail has been retrieved from the post office, opened, and processed; we ran a few errands over in The Big(ger) City™; and finally whipped by the Class Six store on Cannon Airplane Patch to restock the beer supply.  

About which...

The Well-Stocked Bachelor's Fridge

Happy Hour will be MOST pleasing today -- note the ample supply of Chimay Blue in the fridge.  There's a story there, too.  I happen to run into the beer distributor out at Cannon on my last beer run before we left for points east.  I was wearing my New Belgium Trippel tee shirt and the guy looked up from stocking the shelves to say "Nice shirt!"  We got to talkin' and he identifies himself as the local distributor, after which I complimented him on the wide variety of beers he puts on our shelves, following that up with "I have a request.  You stock Chimay gift packs (three bottles of beer and a glass) but don't put any of their beer on the shelf.  What's up with that?  Coz I'd REALLY like to see bottles of Chimay Blue for sale."  He replies "You're the second guy today who made that request.  The next time you come in there'll be Blue on the shelf."  And so there was.  And we are most grateful. 

So... the other errands.  The Green Hornet is showing her age.  Case in point:

Car Dermatitus

The clear coat is peeling off her bumper cap, which doesn't surprise me seeing as how she's nearly ten years old and has NEVER been garaged; the New Mexico sun is fierce indeed and is HARD on paint jobs.  So we cruised over to Clovis this morning and made an appointment with Rembrandt's body shop to get the bumper cap resprayed on the 17th of next month... coz we cannot stand seeing our baby suffer.  And there's more...

Her Hat is Coming Undone

The stitching was coming unglued on TGH's top when we left for points east and it got progressively worse as the trip went on, winding up looking like this when we got home.  We held our breath (metaphorically speaking) for the last 500 miles or so, as a constant 80 mph wind in conjunction with incredible amounts of rain certainly wasn't being kind to what remained of the stitching.  All that will be fixed this coming Thursday when the kind folks at Craftmasters Upholstery Shop in Clovis will stitch her up like new for the reasonable sum of 275 Yankee Dollars.  Which is reasonable when you consider a new top costs about 2,500 of those same Yankee Dollars plus installation, tax, title, Baksheesh, and all that happy stuff.  I'm getting off easy.

So.  We're pretty much done for the day.  The hardest part of the rest of the day will be delaying Happy Hour until the Chimay is chilled.  Hmmm.  There IS the freezer...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Today's Happy Hour Soundtrack

A wistful and rather melancholy guitar piece by Will Ackerman which is just perfect for comin' down off the road.

So here we are, back to bid'niz as usual... beer and cigars on the verandah in the late afternoon.   There's much to process concerning the last three weeks and a lot to think about.  But it's all good, I don't care what anyone else might say or think.

It Sure Is QUIET In Here

I slept the sleep of The Just last night or mebbe the dead, which is prolly the better metaphor considering my age.  (Minor digression: I'm always wonderin' if I should use "metaphor" or "simile" at times like these.  Fortunately there's an app answer for that.  Gotta love the inner-nets.)  We exercised Option Two immediately after putting up yesterday's post, followed by Option Two yet again, then Option Three, followed by another Option Two as we exercised Option One.  We then made what passed for dinner, followed by Option 2A, a couple o' fingers of single malt and a small cigar.  It was then we realized we were tired, despite the fact we'd done Option Three just a couple o' few hours earlier.  Now it might could have been all that Option Two and 2A stuff, but I doubt it.  Driving is mentally taxing, yanno?  And so to bed, lulled into sleep by the gentle pitty-pat of rain on my roof... and there's only ONE other way to fall asleep that's better.  But rain-on-the-roof had to do in the absence of (a significant) other.

So.  Early to bed and early to rise.  Oh-dark-thirty early, before the sunrise early.  We made the coffee, poured our first cup, sweetened it with newly free-flowing sugar (after repeatedly stabbing a surprisingly resistant solid block of sugar in my sugar dispenser), and lightened it with half-and-half that expired two days ago.  It smelled OK and tastes OK, but I'll prolly get beriberi or the bends or some other rare and excruciating disease for disregarding the expiration date.  Coz the FDA, the Department of Agriculture, and several State regulatory agencies know better than me or my nose.  Right?

And did you know you can grow a FINE crop of mold in about an inch and a half of left-over coffee left sitting in a pot for over three weeks?  Yes, you CAN.  We took great care to remove all potential science experiments from the fridge prior to our departure and even remembered to take out the garbage, the fetid memory of unattended garbage from our last road trip still fresh in our mind after all these years.  But we did not empty the coffee pot.  So we had to sterilize it before making the morning coffee, and I HATE doing anything before I'm caffeinated.

So, again.  We finally got caught up with our Daily Reads this morning (sorta), which was an enjoyable but  long and time consuming process.  Some of my reads are prolific posters and it takes some time to work through the backlog.  Others of you are turning into real slackers, if I may say so.  But Hey!  It's summer; you're authorized.  Pretty soon we'll be off to Wally-World to restock our consumables, that being second choice to a full-blown commissary run.  Wally-World is a mere three miles from the house and the base is about 20.  That's something of a testament about my revulsion at the thought of driving even that short distance.  We are getting old.

Finally... about the post title.  I spent the last ten days or so in the company of these beautiful children:

Beauty also can be loud.  Pleasantly so, I should add, the pitter-patter of lil feet and all that.  I miss 'em already.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Just a quickie to let interested parties know I've arrived safe and sound... albeit in one hella rainstorm... which served to make the last 50 miles (or so) interesting.  Rain is always a good thing here on The High Plains of New Mexico... but the best thing?  The inside of El Casa Móvil De Pennington is as cool as the proverbial cucumber.  This what I drove through:

Neat, hunh?  The rain didn't cover the entire area between Amarillo and Clovis/Portales as I was driving... it only blew in on me during the last few miles.

Total mileage for the excursion: 3,299.4; 485 of which were done today in a mere seven and a half hours.  Now I have to decide if I'm (1) gonna unpack or (2) have a beer or (3) take a nap.  Prolly (2) AND (3)... in short order.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Livin' On Tulsa Time

That would be me and Eric, him metaphorically and me in real-time.  Nine hours and 45 minutes on the road... 561 miles... with one stop at Starbucks and two at McDonald's for coffee.  And one Helluva lot more stops at rest areas along the way than I used to make; I think I'm gonna buy a Motorman's Friend for my next trip.

Not much to report, other than...
Oh I am sleeping under strange strange skies
Just another mad mad day on the road
My dreams is fading down the railway line
I'm just about a moonlight mile on down the road
That's the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band describing my feelings exactly.  

And now a few observations from the road...

(1)  The recession has hit the billboard industry HARD.  I saw more danged "this space for rent" billboards (in one form or another) in Indiana and Illinois than I saw actual advertising.  I found that pretty weird.

(2)  Driving through St. Louis during the noon hour, listening to the radio, and the deejay comes on and says it's 121 degrees in St. Louis.  Say WHAT?  He was talking about the heat index, obviously, but he never read the real (ambient) temperature.  Tomorrow is supposed to be worse, at 123.  Zowie.

(3)  It's hot in Tulsa, too... 92 degrees, 58% relative humidity, heat index of 103.  There's an extreme heat warning in effect until 2200 hrs tonight.

(4)  I got the LAST beer at the front desk when I checked in.  This does not bode well for the customer satisfaction survey results.  Not at ALL.  The lone saving grace is it's a bottle of Sammy Adams' Honey Porter.  Thank The Deity At Hand it wasn't a Bud Light; otherwise we'd have gone shopping immediately.  Still might.

This is my last night on the road... home tomorrow afternoon.  I can hardly wait.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On the Road Again

I really wonder how ol' Willie does it.  Here he is... 162 years old and still pickin', playin', and singin', and spending something like six months out of every year doin' just what he's singin' about up above.  I mean Hell... he played Glastonbury last month, which is to say there's touring and then there's touring.  I'm both amazed and awed.

Which is a sleazy way to intro this post because I'm on the road again myself, headed home.  And I ain't quite as rhapsodic about it as Ol' Willie, either.  As a matter of fact driving is just a chore and not a joy any longer, and I have a fun car.  Feh.

So anyhoo... we're in Terre Haute, Indiana this evening, Tulsa tomorrow night, and home Saturday.  I decided we would break this up in manageable chunks this time... three approximately 500-mile days... beginning with a "shorty" of only 436 miles.  Today felt really strange in that I was at the end of my first leg by 1530 hrs and ensconced in the hotel by 1600.  But here's the deal: I forced the issue by making reservations ahead of time.  We're stopping whether we're ready or not, mainly because I do NOT pay penalties for cancelled reservations or "no shows."  If I hadn't made reservations I might still be on the road...

We're spending our first night on the road in the Terre Haute SpringHill Suites, which is nice enough.  The room is about twice as big as what the Air Force gave me last week.  And at twice the price, too.  Military transient quarters are one helluva good deal.  My digs tonite:

Not too shabby.  There's an Outback steak house just down the road and I went over that way earlier this evening and was disappointed.  Not with the fare, but due to the fact the parking lot was COMPLETELY full, with a couple of folks circling around waiting for someone to come out, get in their car and leave.  I fixed that by whipping into the "take-away" parking... the only three slots available... whereupon a waitress came right out, took my order, and I was on the way back to the hotel with an intermediate stop for beer.

And dinner was good.  Quite tasty, as a matter of fact, but there's a LOT lost when you're eating a filet and snow crab out of styrofoam containers, using plastic cutlery.  And have you ever tried to crack crab with a Swiss Army knife, Gentle Reader?  It can be done, but it is NOT easy.  I'm lucky I still have all ten digits on my hands, actually.  But we did what must be done.

And now we're gonna act like the trailer trash we ARE and go sit out on the curb with a beer and a cigar.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


An occasional reader sends the following along with an "I know you had this in mind" message...

The man does have a point...

More Pics

We are in receipt of the Official U.S. Navy photographs of last week's Change of Command.  Herewith a few of them taken by NRD-Pittsburgh's Public Affairs Officer, Mass Communications Specialist Chief (MCC) Jeremy Siegrist.  Captions by YrHmblScrb.  As always: click for larger.

The assembled ship's company.  I was in error when I said the company observed the ceremony at parade rest; they were put "at ease."

The Pennington side of the seated Distinguished Visitors.  In the front row, from left to right:  DIL Alisa, Granddaughter Amanda (holding great-grandson Taurean), Granddaughter Angelina, The First Mrs. Pennington (Ramona), and Granddaughter Ava.  Granddaughter Anastasia and Great-granddaughter Aria are in the first seat, second row; DIL Erma and Grandson Sean are seated immediately behind Anastasia.  I find it MOST ironic that I'm seated in between a Major and a Major General; not many MSgts have that distinction.

A great shot of the color guard under the Talos missile battery.

"We're the Navy.  We do boats pretty well but we don't march."

I thought long and hard about a caption for the above... all in jest, of course.  But WE are the Air Force and we're NEVER out of step.  free smileys

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Outtake

The Major and the MSgt...

Today's lesson: NEVER clown around for the grandchildren while in uniform.

Photo credit:  Granddaughter Angelina.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Change of Command... In Two Parts, This Being Part Two

That's the USS Little Rock in the photo above, parked in her berth at Buffalo Naval Park.  The Little Rock was where the change of command ceremony was held and I couldn't think of a more appropriate place.  The ship looks EXACTLY as it did when the ceremonies were held last Friday... and I'm referring specifically to the large white awning on the fantail, under which the ceremonies were held.  I'm quite sure the assembled ship's company of Naval Recruiting District Pittsburgh... who were standing at parade rest throughout the ceremony... appreciated that awning; I know the seated guests certainly did.  Because it was HOT, Gentle Reader.

I've mentioned elsewhere in these pages the Navy "does" tradition better than the other services and Friday's change of command was a fair representation of that tradition.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Navy rituals, officers at the rank of Commander (Lieutenant Colonel) and above are "bonged" on to a ship, any ship -- with the exception of carriers, where only Captains and above are bonged on coz there are just too many Commanders.  The master at arms makes an announcement on the ship's PA to the effect of "Commander, United States Navy, arriving!" and a crew member strikes the ship's bell twice.  Officers holding command are announced by the name of their command, e.g., Commander Shoemaker was bonged aboard with "Navy Recruiting District Pittsburgh, arriving!"  So with that background... here are some of the ceremony's dignitaries... arriving.

416th Engineer Command, Arriving (Paul Crandall, Major General, USA )

Navy Recruiting Region East, Arriving (CAPT Tim Pangonas)

Commander, United States Navy, Arriving (SN2, who arrived as a Commander and left as "Navy Recruiting District, Pittsburgh") 

Here's SN1, The First Mrs. Pennington, and grandson Sean just before they officially arrived.  SN1, who is a major and thus not eligible to be bonged aboard, was mistaken for a Lt Col and bonged aboard as "Colonel, United States Air Force, Arriving" in one of the few administrative cock-ups of the day.

A shot of the color guard assembling before the ceremony. 

A shot of people mentioned in yesterday's post, but in uniform this time.  Left to right... SN1, MG Crandall, CDR Mike Meyer, CDR Corry Judeman.

The arrival area on Little Rock.  Those of you who chased the link to Little Rock know the color guard is posted in front of a Talos missile battery.

Some of the ship's company (personnel from NRD-P) assembling just before the ceremony kicked off.

The change of command ceremony itself was the usual, customary, and reasonable affair for those who have attended such things before.  We had the presentation and posting of the colors, the singing of the national anthem (which was a beautiful a capella rendition by an NRD-P Chief Petty Officer), invocations coming and going, lots of speechifying by all concerned, the official reading of orders, presentation of the Meritorious Service Medal to CDR Shoemaker (the outgoing CO), and ceremonial gift giving to the departing CO.  

Here are a couple of shots from the ceremony...

Your classic "grip'n'grin:"  SN2 presenting CDR Shoemaker with a commemorative plaque.

CDR Pennington addressing the troops.  SN2 set the standard for conciseness and brevity in his remarks.  There's not one single doubt in my military mind the troops were most pleased.

The whole affair took about 45 minutes and left me feeling slightly... but only slightly... bad for the guys who had to stand at parade rest through the whole thing.  I have a few of those tee shirts and the guys standing in formation are VERY glad when it's all over.

So there ya have it... "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," by lil Bucky Pennington, AKA "Buck Pennington, MSgt, USAF (Ret)."  And we must add... once again... that we are MOST proud.

Photo credit:  All "arriving" pics and the group shot of SN1, MG Crandall, and CDRs Meyer and Judeman by DIL Alisa.  The rest were shot by the usual suspect.