November 29, 2017


My oldest son is flying in today. I have not seen him since he moved to Colorado in early August. I wish it were under different circumstances, but I will be glad to see him. I miss him like crazy. He will jet back Friday evening after the funeral.

My daughter was rushed to the ER yesterday with extreme cramping. She had a large blood clot. She seems better now.

The week of fun continues.

I want to thank all of you from the depths of my soul for your kind words, prayers, and support. It means more than you will ever know.

November 25, 2017


My grandson died today. I Barely got a chance to know him. I held him for just a few minutes. He spent his precious hours of life on this Earth with his parents, as it should be. I take little comfort in the knowledge he is now with God.

A rare twist of genetics left him unable to live for long once the cord was severed. He was a fighter. He held on for 20 hours or so. The doctors predicted only minutes. He only had one half of a heart, but it was a big one. That baby was a fighter.

I mourn for the grandson I will never know: the missed games of peekaboo with his Paw, playing catch with a ball, trips to the playground, watching him play sports, go to school, grow into a sweet boy, a man.

I mourn even more for my daughter and son-in-law. No parent should ever have to bury a child. Such a burden is beyond my understanding. I lack the vocabulary, the ability to describe the unmitigated misery they must have felt choosing a cemetery plot and making funeral arrangements for a baby alive and kicking in his Mom's swollen belly, knowing he had no chance at life. I honestly do not know how they managed to climb out of bed each morning.

I would trade places in nanosecond to ease the pain his passing leaves in the lives of his mom, his dad, his sister. There will always be a hole in their life. I have lived my life. Little baby Sawyer had no chance.

My grandson died today. I am in grief. I am desolate. I am at a loss. I want to cry. My wife is devastated. I have not the means to comfort her. My family is hurting and I don't know how to help them. That is my job and I am failing. We have know this day was coming for months, but knowledge does not reduce the ache.

This tragedy is repeated a million times a day around the globe. We are not unique. That is no comfort either. This pain is personal.

Life will go on. My granddaughter doesn't understand. She is looking forward to her upcoming 3rd birthday and Christmas. We all have to slip on a brave mask and artificial smile for her. She deserves it.

Tomorrow will be better. The day after also. Incrementally the hurt will become a dull pain. I don't think the heartache will ever disappear completely. I hope not.

My grandson died today.  I Barely got a chance to know him.

silver bells

I got the lights and wreaths and garland and stuff put up outside yesterday. The wife helped. I don’t do the garland or spread the wreaths like she wants it done. I’m good with that. She makes them look nice. I just want them up. As usual, about 1/2 the lights failed to work. I did not have enough to put around the patio door or to do the trees in the back. I don’t think the backyard will get the holiday treatment this year. No one can see the backyard except us anyway.

I got the lights up around the roofline. We were wrapping garland around the porch rail when I glanced up to see two sections of the lights had quit working. I admit I said a couple of curse words. Luckily, I had a new box to use. Back went up the ladder.

The inside is done, so we are set for Christmas, decoration-wise. Decorations have sprung up around the neighborhood, it looks rather festive. Now we just have to get some presents to put under the tree.

Have a great Saturday.

What? Sure, I will post a holiday classic, since you asked:

November 24, 2017

Like the man said

Let the season begin!

No, I will not be shopping today.

Yes, I will finish putting up the decorations today. The inside is mostly done. I will get the outsid lights up this afternoon since it is supposed to be in the fifties.

Dinner was great yesterday, food family and festivities. My granddaughter was on, entertaining everyone.

The wife and I cleaned up the mess after everyone left. We went to see a movie afterward.

Have a great Friday.

November 23, 2017

I have plenty to be thankful for...

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thank you for taking time from your busy day to read my blog. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.

I have lots to be thankful for this year.

Right now I’m up hanging out with my turkey. Ok, I was up anyway. She is taking a cold water bath just to make sure her inerds are thawed before I rub her big old breasts with salt and smother them in melted butter before baking.

Early this afternoon my  immediate family will gather here at the old homestead (minus my oldest son who is a thousand miles away). The normal Thanksgiving fare will cover the table: turkey, noodles, mashed spuds, candied yams, green beans, mac&cheese, rolls, gravy --  a veritable carbohydrate extravaganza. Your menu may vary.

What are you doing reading this crap?  Go spend time with your family, watch a parade or football game, read a book. Take a break from the interwebz today.

November 22, 2017

A peek behind the Wizard’s curtain

Sinatra is crooning softly in the background. It is early. I complained about that yesterday. There is no point belaboring the subject. It just is. The boy and his dog are asleep in the bedroom adjacent to my office. The wife sleeps restlessly down the hall.

Yesterday the boy was at work. The wife was visiting a friend. I was ensconced in my office, or maybe putting some boxes in the attic, or perhaps on the patio smoking a short cigar in the weak winter sun. I don’t know where I was, but at some point my daughter stopped by and left some cookies on the counter. They were just there — a paper plate of snickerdoodles. I don’t know how I missed her. It is a good thing it wasn’t a cat burglar. Does anyone under the age of fifty use the term “cat burglar”? It brings to mind Cary Grant and Princess Grace, not armed thugs breaking in at night to grab your wallet and TV.

I bought a couple of “smart” plugs. Now I can turn on a lamp or the Christmas tree just by telling my Amazon Echo to do it. Because who doesn’t want to control their house by voice? More importantly, I did it because I can. I dig technology and I look forward to automating more stuff. It would be awesome to say “make coffee” and a steaming mug is waiting downstairs. Suck it George Jetson. So what if evil Amazon is listening in to every aspect of my life as long as Big Brother turns on my lights, locks my doors, plays my music requests, and makes me coffee? We are under permanent surveillance anyway, I might as well make the technology work for me.

I went to the store last night to buy the stuff for Thanksgiving dinner. The place was pretty well cleaned out. I managed to get everything except crackers for the cheese ball. That is OK, I don’t like cheese ball anyway. That may not be true. I am 55 years old and have never tried a cheese ball of any variety. Never.  Don’t know why. Now it is a matter of hard-headed pride. I know it is stupid. I have eaten all manner of foodstuffs, but for some stubborn perverse reason I refuse to even try a rolled-up collection of soft cheese. I like cheese. But I won’t eat a cheese ball. I won’t start this Thanksgiving either.

I think I need more coffee. When does that automated coffee brewer arrive? “Hey Alexa, order me a smart coffee maker...” .

November 21, 2017

Who volunteers to sing me a lullaby?

I don't know what is going on. I have not been able to sleep at night. I cannot blame it on jet lag, I have been home for almost a week. Besides, I had issues sleeping while I was in China. In fact, my problems started before I even left on my business trip.

I am so tired, I fall right asleep. Then, a couple of hours later, I wake up. I manage to get back to sleep but wake up every hour or two until about four or five then I am up for the day. I fight sleepiness and exhaustion all afternoon and evening until I hit the bed, fall right asleep only to wake up a couple of hours later....

My sleep is marked by expressly vivid dreams, something I used to rarely have ( at least that I can remember when I wake up).

I am so sick of this pattern that I am seriously considering taking a sleep aid for the first time in my life. I have eliminated evening caffeine. I have tried staying up later and going to bed earlier, but I do not know what to do about the thoughts and worries that creep in as soon as the firewall in my brain is weakened by sleep and exhaustion. Poof, I am awake again.

I have always managed to get by on 5-6 hours of sleep. I have occasionally fought bouts of insomnia. Back in my graveyard shift days I was often up 24 hours at a stretch. Never have I had such a protracted period of sleep deprivation as I am experiencing now. I feel muddled and tired all of the time.

Enough complaining for this morning. I am sure this pattern will break soon. If not, I suppose I will just get used to it.

November 20, 2017

A foodie post

Go ahead guess the mystery meat

Hands down, this was the best thing I ate during my recent trip to China. It was even better than Peking Duck, my previous favorite. I had the Duck again this trip and it was excellent, but this dish surpassed the crispy duck skin. I will let you guess what it is in the comments. Feel free to embiggin, it ain't against the rules. No using search engines though. Besides, this isn't a stock picture from the interwebz, I took it myself as the dish was placed on the table. I ate this in a restaurant in Zouzhuang.

Speaking of food, I purchased a nice big turkey for our feast Thursday. I still have to get the rest of the dinner stuff, but turkey was on sale this weekend at Kroger. I saved almost 50% off the tag price. I know a certain blogger who would approve.

Yesterday was cold and blustery, perfect soup weather. I made a big pot of potato soup and some BLTs for supper. The tomatoes were the last from the garden. I brought them in green before the first frost and let them ripen on the counter. I will miss good 'maters until next summer.

November 19, 2017

Sorry about the blog

On occasion I indulge in pure narcissism and reread some of my old blog posts. For instance today I read about three years of old November posts. One thing is clear, both the quality and quantity of my efforts has decreased. I guess there is a reason I have about 1/10th the readership I enjoyed back before face-whatever and twit-verse took over social media*

I will blame it on multiple factors, I have used an iPad in recent years to blog and surf the interwebz and typing on the tablet is not as easy as on a real ‘puter. Plus, I have shared most of my old tall tales and adventures already. I have written more than 5,700 posts. I think we know each other now.

I enjoy reading old comments. Many of you have been here for a very long time. Some of the old readers are gone, your opinions and comments sorely missed.

As we head into Thanksgiving week I want to thank each of you for taking time from your busy day to read my drivel. I don’t know why you do, but I appreciate it more than you know.

I would like to be able to promise better, more interesting, funnier, insightful efforts going forward. I won’t make that pledge. You are going to get more of the same.

Sorry about that.

* am I the only one who hates that phrase?

November 18, 2017

wind in the willow: the bloggity version

It appears today will be most unpleasant, weather-wise. Blustery and rainy, it will at least be seasonably warm. The mix is just the kind of weather that spawns severe weather. Highs in the upper fifties today will be followed by a steep drop in temperatures resulting in a high Sunday in the 30s. Thus the windy conditions. It was just such a weather pattern that spawned a tornado that hit my neighborhood back In 1992 on, by coincidence, the weekend before Thanksgiving. In that event my house was spared damage but some houses and a gas station and hotel about a quarter of a mile away from me were heavily damaged.

The local professional football franchise is on a bye this week. I won’t have their pathetic play to complain about Sunday. I guess that opens up time to do some stuff around the house. Traveling two weekends in a row left plenty of things to do. I got the front yard raked of leaves on Thursday. I still have the backyard to do and today’s wind will shake more down. Besides, my neighbor hadn’t raked up her leaves, so they will end up in my yard. So it goes. I have the most trees on the cul-de-sac, so I co tribute to everyone’s workload. I am in no condition to complain.

That about covers it for a Saturday morning. Enjoy your weekend.

November 17, 2017


Remember when the Democrats, and leftists in general, condemned anyone who criticized Bill Clinton as perverts, focusing on sex? They ridiculed our repressive society and religion in general. It was a just a BJ, they would scoff. So what if Clinton was a person in power who waved his manhood at underlings. We were told to “lighten up you perverts”.

Skip ahead 20 years. Women suddenly “remember” events from 40 years ago and how they have been traumatized for life. Apparently every woman in Hollywood, in the media, in the workplace, at the mall, pushing a cart at Target has been harassed and/or sexually assaulted.

I have no doubt that many, if not most, of the accusations are true. Men are pigs. Men are assholes. Men are predators. Men are jerks. Men think about sex all of the time. Some of us are able to contain our urges. Some cannot will not.

That said, am I the only one who finds the current...hysteria....a little unsettling? Hypocrisy of the left aside, the whole atmosphere is a little reminiscent of a witch hunt.

Should I fear for my job, my marriage, my reputation, because back in 1977 I spent pretty much every minute of summer school Driver’s Ed staring at a girl named Nancy’s sideboob? And what about now, since four decades later I still remember her magnificent rack?

 Whoops, sorry.

I suppose that confession will get me reported and kicked off Blogger. That is three strikes against me — conservative  white  male. Hillary was right, I am deplorable.

I never thought I would long for the days where were focused on Russian Facebook ads.

Some days I really miss the Cold War. Back then we didn’t have to invent crisis to worry about.

Part of me wonders if my position here is very wrong. Women have been treated pretty much as objects for far too long. Caveman Curt probably tried to cop a feel in exchange a portion of his newly- killed saber tooth tiger. Things haven’t gotten better.

Those of the female portion of the species, or think they are, or want to be, or are just confused about their nether regions, should feel free to set me right in the comments. I have a suspicion that I am completely out of touch.

Still, I can’t help but think about the estimated 900 men, women, and children “witches” who were tortured and burned from 1625-1631 in Wurtzburg, Germany. It still feels like we are in the midst of a media and political witch hunt.

November 16, 2017

Maybe Bond, James Bond, can do it

The front yard is ankle deep in leaves. Yesterday was all rain and drizzle and I was tired. Today? I may try to get out and rake a bit. I had a conference call this morning, but I have nothing scheduled for the the afternoon. My forty hours this week is long exhausted if you count the travel time and being gone for twelve days.

I managed to sleep most of last night, so I should be back to normal by this evening. Fortunately, I have always recovered quickly from jet lag. Even so, I laugh at movies and books where the hero jets across oceans and goes right into action, never tired, never off-kilter, his body clock switching seamlessly. It doesn’t work that way. If there is a person who can do it, I have never met him or her.

November 15, 2017

Stuff I think

Why haven’t we seen a press release from UCLA announcing they have dismissed those three basketball players who managed to embarrass the university and America when they opted to shoplift while in China?

I don’t care how well they can dribble and shoot the ball, an honorable program would give those players the boot and the hell with the win-loss record.

Edit. Never mind

I’m baaaack

I walked in the front door around eleven last night. The total trip, hotel to home, was about 26 hours. I scored a aisle seat with an empty seat next to me on the long Shanghai to Toronto leg.

I went to bed around 12:30 and managed to sleep about 4 hours before getting up. I will be fighting sleep this afternoon.

Forgive me for not throwing up a meaningful essay today. Perhaps something will come to mind later.  I doubt you want to read any more semi-sarcastic travelogues.

I will leave you with an amusing anecdote. On Sunday we went to the Sun yat-Sen mausoleum in Nanjing. Like most places in China it was crowded. There were about a thousand school kids there (not an exaggeration). My colleague told me the kids were very excited. Most have never seen a “foreigner” (read round eye) before and found me way more interesting than a dead guy who died
school kids in their blue track suit uniforms
almost a century ago. I received lots of stares and embarrassed  giggles. After descending the stairs we were walking along the path back to the parking lot when one brave little guy, about eight or nine, had the temerity to actually offer me a shy “hello”. I gave him a hello right back. He ran thrilled back to his group chatting excitedly. My guide laughed and said the boy kept telling everyone “He spoke to me, he spoke to me”.

I am glad to give someone a thrill in life. My ego allows me to imagine that for the next couple of weeks the lad will be mentioned by his classmates: “Hey, remember that time Ralph spoke to that foreign guy”. In time the legend will grow to describe that we had a full conversation.

I have to admit, the whole thing made my day too.

November 13, 2017

Do you prefer pig snout or scrambled duck brain?

Jinshan temple
When you read this, provided you are not up in the middle of the night surfing the interwebz, I will still be here.  Despite the time stamp on the post, it is pushing four in the afternoon as I hunt and peck at the laptop keyboard.  I am still here, but not for long. I head home tomorrow and I am more than ready. I like Chinese food, but I am jonesing for a good old American cheeseburger.

Last night at dinner I grabbed a skewer of...meat...I took a bite and I must have made a face, because it tasted terrible. My host look at me and said "You do not like duck stomach?".

Why no, I do not. I also do not like sheep intestines, chicken feet, bullfrog, nor pig tongue. If I never lay eyes on tofu again I can live with that. To break things up, we are having Korean food tonight.  I wish I could skip tonight's dinner with my colleagues, go to the Burger King down the street and grab something, but they would be appalled and ashamed if they did not entertain me. They would never leave a guest to fend for himself.

In all, it has been an enjoyable trip, albeit too long. I saw some cool stuff. Like the temple above. I saw some funny stuff. Take this for example:
I am pretty sure that does not mean what they think it does

Embiggen both or either picture if you desire. Or not.

I am done working for the day. I will be picked up in a few hours.  In the meantime, I am tempted to hit the minibar. Instead, I might take a nap. I need to get my body adjusted back thirteen hours.  I will likely recover around Saturday.

Right here in this post you get a slight glimpse of the good and bad side of travel -- especially International travel.

November 12, 2017

November 11, 2017

the eleventh day of the eleventh month...

The leaps and bounds and hoop-jumping I must  perform just to read certain interwebby things, not to mention even post these words here in Red China, reminds me of how much we Americans take our freedoms for granted.

That freedom, while God-given, has only been protected at a steep price in blood and vigilance. Our men and women in the armed services have served to guarantee we have freedom enjoyed by few people in history. 

Thank you for your days and nights away from loved ones, your service, your sacrifice.

Stuff that cracks me up

Here is a definition of irony: I visited a small museum dedicated to Chairman Mao.

They were selling souvenirs.

Nothing like using the very definition of Communism in a capitalist venture.

November 9, 2017

It appears Trump is on a similar travel schedule

I am in sync with the President's travel schedule in that we are both in China.  China is a big place, so that is like saying we share space in the US. I was here first this week. I wasn't doing Secret Service advance scouting. In fact, I am a long way from the Forbidden City where the Trumpster met with the big Poobah from China. I will still be here after the President makes his escape.  I suspect his travel arrangements are just a bit more comfortable than mine. The taxpayers are not funding my travel, perhaps that is the difference.

Speaking of escape, I have been informed my plans have changed. I have been "volunteered" to stay into next week so I can carry some urgent samples back by hand. Unfortunately they will not be finished until early next week. What is an extra few days from home when I have already been gone a week?

Hmm, my sarcasm font seems to be inoperable.

On the bright side, I will get to do some sight-seeing over the weekend, so that is cool.  I was told the original plan was to take me to see the large temple complex near Hangzhou. I ruined plan that when I told my hosts I was there a few years ago. You remember. If not, look it up. You can find pictures in the archives. You should try and keep up. In any case, I am sure whatever we see, it will be interesting. My hosts have been very accommodating.  That is not sarcasm.

There is some additional good news, I have increased my Mandarin vocabulary by 30%. I now know three words. Look at me, trying hard not to be the ugly American.

I thought I had adjusted pretty well to the 13 hour time difference. Then came last night. I fell asleep early, woke up after 4-5 hours and then slept in fits.  I am up early now. That means I have time to type this drivel. Lucky you.

I guess we are all the beneficiaries of good fortune. BTW, that is more of that elusive sarcasm font.

Enjoy your Friday, Thursday whatever.

November 7, 2017

A post written tomorrow for your enjoyment today.

I have not seen much on this trip to the Far East: hotel, car, plant, car, hotel. Rinse and repeat.

I have eaten some good food and some not-so-good. Chicken feet, not so good. Beef tongue, tolerable. I still cannot mange chopsticks. My hosts have given up on me in that regard.

I forgot Google is verboten in Red China. So is my personal gmail account. I have gone through leaps and bounds to post this quick note since Blogger is Google too. I am sneaking in through my company's VPN.  I expect the authorities to burst into my hotel room and any moment and drag me off to be squashed by a tank in Tienanmen Square.

Actually the visit is fine, I am finally getting adjusted to the time difference.

Not that you care.

I will say this.  I don't watch CNN at home. That is pretty much the only English channel available here in Zhenjiang. The programming is all Russia/Trump 24-7. I mean the theme of every single story. There is such an anti-Trump bias it is palpable.

Enjoy your week. And yes, this post was written tomorrow due to the international date line and all of that time zone stuff.

November 4, 2017

Lucky you

I said I probably wouldn’t post. I lied. Total complete boredom compels me to electronically scribble a note to you.

“How’s that?” , you ask. I’m here in Canukistan on a long layover. I have free WiFi. I’ve been here since just before eight AM. My next flight leaves at 1320 for those of you who can tell military time. That means I have — lemme pull out my fingers and count — a bunch of free time. Then, my boredom unsated, I get to climb into another flying tube of aluminum and fly west for 15 hours or so. Yay, me. Then I get to ride in a car for three or four hours. My total trip will be pushing 30 hours from the time I left home. Say it with me “Boy, Joe, I wish I had your job, traveling to those cool places”.

I said say it.

Since I am parked in the international terminal the loudspeaker is blaring in multiple languages. Since it is Canada, everything is in English and Surrender Frog. Gotta keep those Québécois happy. Of course, hypocrite I am, I will need all announcements in China to be in a English. It is my right as an American. Everyone knows that. Catering to me is completely different. I think that is called irony, and it has nothing to do with wrinkled shirts.

Security took forever this morning. There were only two lines open: one for TSA Pre, one for the rest of us schmucks. I got there just in time, after I moved into the queue, the line stretched almost back to the central airport lobby. You would have thought a few of the 15 or 20 TSA types standing around talking about last night’s episode of Last Housewives or something could have fired up another x-ray machine, but that is just thinking crazy. One Agent told folks in the back of the line there were six lanes open in the B Terminal with no waiting. He said they could go over there. I just wondered why they didn’t bring some of those  superfluous TSA agents over to the A Terminal and open up another lane? Silly me.

I’m giving serious thought to lying down on the dirty floor and taking a snooze. I’m afraid I will sleep right through my flight. I could set an alarm, but mostly I’m just all talk. Besides, I need to sleep over on the plane. I have to get my body clock shifted 12 hours.

Enough bitching. How’s your weekend going?

November 3, 2017


Yeah, I am lacking. I haven’t posted for a couple of days. I’ve really got nothing to say.

I know.

I could whine and complain, but you don’t care.  Who wants to read that stuff?

Baseball is done. Hurry up February. The Colts suck and things won’t get better soon. I don’t like basketball. Politicians of both parties should suffer painful crotch fires (That should no way be considered a threat, rather a metaphor for my general disgust).

You have weather. I have weather. They may or may not be similar.

That about covers my normal topics. Feel free to insert your own adventure.

Oh, posting will be sporadic at best for the next week or so. You will survive. Sometimes I can some posts when I know I will not be able to get here daily. Occasionally I throw up a rerun. Not this time.

Have a great weekend. I made other plans.

November 1, 2017

Bitch set me up

Lee, Washington, Jefferson, Grant, Lincoln - no monuments for you. Your lives and beliefs make us squirmy and squishy, and remind us of old unpleasant times and besides you were white. Spit.

A crack-head corrupt former mayor — You deserve a statue.

Edit: This is the best thing you will read on the whole “get rid of history” movement

I have a little wooden replica cigar store Indian I call Charley

It is spitting snow this morning. What happened to those beautiful fall days we didn’t have? I blame it on climate change. I am certain we are all gonna die. Really. All of us.

We had four (4) trick-or-treaters last night: two pairs. The wife bought three bags of candy and a box of little bags of cheese balls. I told her to buy one package of six full-sized Snickers or Reese’s.  The four kids last night makes a total of less than 20 visitors on Halloween since we moved here in 2013. I don’t know what made my wife believe this year would be different.

Now I have to fight the temptation to grab a Milk Dud or Almond Joy or little chocolate bar every time I shuffle through the kitchen. Yeah, I am about as likely to ignore that giant bowl of candy right next to the Keurig as I am to not look at her nekkid boobies when she takes off her shirt. I think she is secretly trying to kill me. She bakes cookies and cakes every week. A few Sundays ago I was shooting diabetic meds into my gut while she was baking cupcakes.

It is hump day. You already know that. Couple keen insights like identifying the day of the week with a weather report that has no relevance to you and you can see why this blog has an audience of fourteen. Insty has nothing on this collection of musings.

How about a couple of political thoughts?

Suddenly, Democrats have a big issue with draft dodgers. They are outraged by Trump’s bone spurs. They were so upset that Bush served in the National Guard they made up stuff. But when it comes to Democrat military service (I’m looking at you Bill Clinton) there is nothing to see here folks, just move along.

If I spent my time cataloging liberal hypocrisy I would get nothing else accomplished.

As far as I can tell, a guy did lobbying for the Ukraine, didn’t fill out the proper forms, banked a bunch of money for doing the work, lied about it and now that proves Trump did something with the Russians and therefore cheated Hillary out of getting a chance to sell nights in the Lincoln Bedroom for outrageous amounts of cash. Does that cover it or am I missing not just the smoking gun, but the evidence anyone brought a .45 to the meeting to start with?

A dude murdered a bunch of people with a truck in New York. He was from a majority Muslim country, shouted “Allah Akbar” , and had ISIS materials in the truck. Police are not sure if it was a terrorist attack.

I think that about covers the world as I see it for today.
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