On the Road – Springfield, Illinois – Packing for the Last Time

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 30th, 2008 by MadDog
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I really enjoy doing daily posts and taking some time to try to make them interesting and funny. But, Eunie and I are flat-out trying to get everything done before we have to leave for Canada on Saturday morning.

I’m still going to try to do a post every day, but it will be mostly photos (sigh of relief from readers).

Eunie’s sister, Mary, and her husband Jim have been helping us do a job that would have been impossible without them. Mary is one of those women, like Eunie, for whom nothing is too daunting. She just plugs away at it without complaint until the job is done. Jim is The Prince of Handymen. I don’t think there’s anything he can’t build. When he’s done building it, you could drive your truck over it and it wouldn’t even squeak.

Here’s a photo of Eunie and Mary packing boxes to go into a crate that Jim will build. You can also see the Harley sitting on the base of Jim’s crate.

Packing in Springfield

I am helping, mostly by staying out of Jim’s way. He has a big nail gun. We’re doing all this inside a huge garage where Mary and Jim’s son, Mark, owns a major landscaping business. It’s so great to have capable and hardworking relatives who are willing to drop everything to help out.

Eunie and I were in a celebratory mood yesterday thinking that this could very well be the last time in our lives that we’d have to pack up for a big move. Everything we own will be in Madang.

Actually, that’s not so. We are still looking for a buyer for the Spitfire. Macca, are you reading this? It would be lovely and it’s ready to roll, uh, except it’s left-hand drive! You could have it for a song if we knew it was staying in Madang so we could see it once in a while.

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On the Road – Springfield, Illinois – A Frozen Harley

Posted in Humor, On Tthe Road on April 29th, 2008 by MadDog
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I have certainly experienced more miserable episodes in my life, but yesterday will remain fresh in my memory for some time to come. This is how I looked when I arrived in Springfield, Illinois yesterday evening about 7:00:

Frozen Sportster

No, I have not gained 70 kilos!

We knew we needed to get two crates built in just a few days before leaving for Canada – one for the Harley and one for all of our other stuff. So, when we looked at the weather forecast, we suddenly realized that we needed to leave on Saturday, because it was going to get impossibly cold and rainy by Monday. We rushed around packing and disposing like mad Saturday morning and left for Terre Haute, Indiana on Saturday afternoon. The ride down there, with Eunie leading the way in the little Dodge something-or-other crammed to the max with all of our stuff was tolerable. It was cold, but I’ve had worse rides.

We stayed in Terre Haute Saturday night and went to church on Sunday morning to visit long-time supporters. It was COLD! I asked the pastor to put out the word that I needed any warm coveralls that might be available. A kind family supplied them within an hour, along with insulated underwear. I left the church looking about as bulky as the photo above.

We got about a third of the way to our destination, Springfield, (no Simpson jokes, please – that’s officially Springfield, Vermont, as I understand it) and, of course, it started to pour down freezing rain. I was pretty well soaked within five miles.

It was one of those situations in which all one can do is keep saying – can’t stop, can’t stop, can’t stop. There wasn’t any alternative but to ride on. We were deep in Amish Country, and people in little black horse buggies were eyeing us suspiciously as we blasted past them.

However, God, in his grace, put a little tavern on the corner where Illinois State Highways 32 and 36 meet. I did not think I could stay on the bike for another mile. I was shivering so hard that I had little control and the road was very bumpy.

We stopped. I lumbered behind Eunie through the door and got the usual curious looks from a couple of farmers nursing their Miller’s Lites.

I could hardly speak. Eunie had to help me get my helmet off. After explanations of our predicament, one of the farmers said, “Why don’t you drive over to the Wal-Mart and get a rain suit?” (I wish I could mimic his accent in print, but it would be impossible.) Eunie did so.

While I waited, I had a Miller’s Chill (oh, the irony of that!). I had taken two Panadine an hour or so ago. The gaggingly-sweet beer, together with the codeine, improved my disposition and delivered a much-needed dose of false bravado. I began to feel like Superman. I imagined bullets ricocheting off my manly chest.

Eunie returned in less than an hour with a gigantic two-piece nylon outfit which was presumably designed for Paul Bunyan. It was all that could be supplied. The waistband of the pants reached up to my shoulders. If I ducked my head a little and held them up in front of me, I could actually hide behind them. I managed to get them fastened at the level of my armpits. The jacket was a slightly better fit.

So outfitted, we resumed our journey through the rain.

Now my problem was my fingers, face and feet. The part of my face not covered by the shield felt as if fifty ten-year-olds were shooting at my chin BBs which had been soaking overnight in liquid nitrogen. My boots were full of ice water – I couldn’t tell for sure if they were really still there and I couldn’t move my head around to have a look. I could just see the road in front of me through my rain-splattered face shield and my gloves on the handlebars. I could only assume that my hands were still inside them.

And then, as if my magic, the rain stopped – and it got really cold!

When I needed to work the clutch lever, I had to look down at my hand and will it to squeeze. My left foot somehow operated the shift lever by moving my whole leg up and down. My right hand, on the throttle, no longer operated at all. It was simply frozen into a death grip. I worked the throttle by lifting and lowering my shoulder and arm. I’m sure that I performed some of the slowest gearshifts in Harley-Davidson history. I prayed that I would not need to stop quickly.

I pulled up beside Eunie at a stop light outside Springfield and said that, if I made it there, I wanted her to get some photos before I got all the gear off. I also said that if I didn’t make it, I insisted that she take photographs of ambulance personnel prying my cold, dead hands off of my Harley.

Here I am after she helped me off the bike: 

Frozen MadDog

Hapily, Eunie, I, and the Harley are soon to be in sunny Madang.

No matter how long I live, I am determined never to be that cold again.

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The Canada Goose – Again

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on April 27th, 2008 by MadDog
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We heard this morning on the news that the guys who are supposed to know (don’t remember the agency) say that there are about 250,000 Canada Geese permanently resident in Indiana. It seems to me as if most of them have set up house in Indianapolis. They want to get the number down to about 80,000.

It seems that the bird that was once held in awe as it passed over Indiana with the occasional honk has now been deemed a nuisance. That makes me feel sad, because I think it’s such a beautiful and remarkably adaptable creature (possibly too adaptable).

Anyway, there are few options to reduce the population legally. The ethical arguments escape me. They were here before people were and they are attracted to places they would not formerly have been because of the activities of people. It seem only fair that people should learn to tolerate, if not appreciate them. Then again, I don’t have to scrape giant stinky goose turds off my shoes after a stroll on my front lawn.

One method of population control is culling by hunting. That’s problematic in cities. The scheme is to wait until October, after the fields have been harvested. Many of the geese then move out to the farmlands to feed on grain missed by the harvesting equipment. Presumably, hunters will have a go at them. The bag limit is five per day and ten per season. It seems as it if would take a lot of hunters to make an impact at that rate. Hooray for the geese!

The other way is to either remove the nest and eggs completely or to ‘oil’ the eggs and replace them. The latter is the preferred method. A thin coating of vegetable oil suffocates the embryo (almost too nasty to think about), but the mother doesn’t notice this – the eggs just never hatch.

Here’s a mommy goose sitting on her eggs:

 Canada Goose on Her Nest

Amazingly, she’s built her nest in a tiny barrier between two very busy parking lots. There is barely enough room for her body between the cement curbs and the two bushes. Consider the difficulty of rearing her goslings in such a setting. They must have water and, of course, food. I don’t see how she’s going to do it. One wonders if she’s either very stupid or she’s already got it planned out.

She is so used to human presence that she let me approach within four feet. I think I could have gotten closer, but there seemed no need to disturb her. She looked at me curiously, but didn’t seem upset.

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Dad

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 25th, 2008 by MadDog
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Finding time to post has been hectic for the last couple of days. We had to fly to Dallas yesterday for our periodic grilling by our bosses. No, I didn’t get sacked, but it’s still a humiliating and disheartening experience to be reminded that I’ll never meet the standard. Never mind. That’s over for another four years.

Going through all the memorabilia that’s been stored in the USA for half a lifetime, we discovered a photo of my dad taken during WWII. When we visited my mom and dad in the place where they live now (called ‘assisted care’ and not nearly as bad as I had expected) I took a photo of him chatting with Eunie.

Here’s dad in Honolulu in 1944:

Dad in 1944

Here’s dad in Indianapolis in 2008:

Dad in 2008

It’s a sobering comparison. How long do I really want to live? It depends.

I wish I had something witty to say.

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Railroad Graffiti – A Postmodern Art Form or Simple Vandalism?

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road, Opinions on April 22nd, 2008 by MadDog
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Sometimes it seems that I’m the last person on the planet to learn about something new. I’m not particularly dim or inattentive; I just don’t get around much.

An interesting new (to me) feature of Postmodern Culture is Railroad Graffiti.

As Eunie and I waited for a long train to pass, I snapped some shots of some of the better efforts:

Railroad Graffiti - Example 1

Railroad Graffiti - Example 2

Railroad Graffiti - Example 3

The aesthetic value of the vandalism varies wildly. I guess every artist must develop his talent. You often see Michelangelo and his apprentice on the same steely canvas.

Acts which are patently illegal while, nevertheless, utterly unstoppable have always interested me. (Not that I actually do any of them, of course!) Legislative bodies pen unenforceable laws as if they were vending peanuts. (Git yer’ marywanna law right here folks! Get it while it’s hot!)

Has anybody considered the possibility that so many laws ignored by so many people only fosters a populace that has been trained to pick and choose the ones they wish to obey and ignore the rest? Examples abound.

I suppose the opposite is anarchy. But, I ask you: really, has anybody given anarchy an honest chance? Possibly we’re selling it short.

Hmm . . .

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Chasing the Fish – Two Lucky Shots

Posted in Under the Sea on April 21st, 2008 by MadDog
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Rich Jones emailed to me a photo that he took at Planet Rock. I don’t often get a chance to see myself underwater. I’m madly chasing a school of barracuda with my camera stuck out in front snapping away. Here it is:

 Chasing Barracuda at Planet Rock

I was thinking about that day and looked back through my own photos to see if I could find one taken at the same time. Luckily, I found one that came out looking okay. Here is what I was seeing as Rich snapped his shot:

Barracuda at Planet Rock

The fish are Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena jello). We have previously called it the Chevron Barracuda and the Millitary Seapike, both of these I now think are species different from this one. Who cares? It’s a fun fish to swim with. Despite the reputation of barracudas these are pussycats. On occasions when I can get close enough, I’ve rolled over on my back and reached up to briefly tickle a tummy. They don’t much care for that.

Thanks, Rich, for sending it along. I look forward to being back in Madang on 4 June with my new Cannon G9 and housing.

And don’t send me any more emails about seeing Orcas while I’m here freezing off important parts of my anatomy.

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Earthquake in Indiana!

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on April 20th, 2008 by MadDog
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A couple of days ago I was awakened by a familiar sensation. The bed was jiggling with vigor and surrounding objects were rattling and clinking. 

Earthquake in Indiana

My first thought on awakening was, “Hmm . . . earthquake.” As I stepped through the door to dreamland again my brain rebooted and I realized, “WAIT A MINUTE. THIS IS INDIANA!”

Madang residents will understand. Earthquakes of this magnitude (5.2 on the Richter) are so common that they hardly elicit comment. Mick: “You feel the earthquake last night?” Sheila: “Yep.”

It is, however, a matter of no small concern. The New Madrid fault is a very dangerous critter, though it hibernates most of the time.

There have been three significant earthquakes during the last forty years in Indiana. Strangely enough, though we’ve lived in PNG for most of that time, we experienced all three of them. The first was in 1968, before we left the USA. The next one was in 1987 (I think) while we were in the USA for a visit. The third was a few days ago.

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