Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Projects At The Coast of Gowen

March 30, 2017

IMG_3722Ever since we retired and moved to our lake home there has been no shortage of projects. It began with adding a large “three season” room on the front. In the process rotted wood along the front wall was discovered necessitating jacking up the roof and walls so that a new sill plate could be installed. This destroyed the drywall in the front living room and front bedroom. So while this was being done Paula and I were building a 16′ x 20′ Garden shed behind the barn. Then we had a guy come in and hang new drywall in the living room after we did the demolition to the damaged drywall. He also repaired the drywall in the front bedroom. In order to finish the living room we cut through the wall to the kitchen to make it larger and more open. Once the new room construction was complete Paula and I finished the interior – ceiling, walls, trim and capping it all with new carpet including the living room and front bedroom. Her son and daughter-in-law came and finished some of the drywall to complete the living room and did a better job than the “pro”.

Now at the same time we were trying to condense two homes into one (still ongoing) and the garage is a mess and the barn is full. Oh yeah, the barn. We installed a large overhead shelf for storage along one 32′ side wall and the 24′ back wall. After the garden shed project we partitioned a 10′ by 24′ area of the barn for my woodworking shop. Paula and I built the walls and insulated it and her daughter Kim (the NCAA gymnastic champ) climbed through the trusses above the room and installed insulation for us. The shop needs a bunch of projects to make it functional including a workbench and a miter saw stand.

I’m concentrating my effort in the garage in order to make it useful. The photo above is a small slice of the organization in progress. Once it’s done the garage “shop” area will be very useful to complete the rest of the project list. That list includes demo of the dinning room and kitchen and renovation of both. Then I can concentrate on getting the barn organized for its intended uses which is to store the pontoon in the winter and to house the functional woodworking shop.

I forgot to mention the driveway upgrade and landscaping projects, but I’ll save that for another posting. So we have our work cut out for us… Retired indeed!


Handgun Review

March 13, 2017

I am “into” guns. I’m not a gun nut but I do believe that we have an inalienable right to self defense Xdmod2and that would include any and all legal means. The one thing I have learned is that the best gun to own is the one you will carry or the one you are comfortable using. You need to be able to use a gun in a high stress situation as if it were an extension of you.

Some time back I reviewed my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. There is only one reason I sold the Shield, it has a manual safety. I did not realize that Smith & Wesson offered this gun without a manual safety. I have since sold that gun and moved to this Springfield Armory XD-9 Mod.2 sub-compact handgun. While Springfield Armory is an American manufacturer this gun is produced in Croatia and believe me when I say the fit and finish is excellent. The standard magazine hold 13 rounds of 9mm ammunition so with one in the chamber this gun is ready to fire 14 rounds. The magazine shown in the photo is a 16 round version. So if you carry this gun with the standard magazine plus a round in the chamber and a spare 16 round magazine you have 30 rounds ready to go. If that’s not enough you are somewhere you shouldn’t be.

Let me discuss guns with safety mechanisms. I love revolvers but as I got older the arthritis in my hands makes it difficult to reload under stress. The revolver has no safety. The relatively heavy double action trigger serves that roll. I have a revolver and I carry it sometimes. I train often and I need consistency. I don’t want to think about switching my safety off.  I own several handguns and none of them have a manual safety. I especially like this gun because it is very safe to carry. If you look at the back of the grip it has what is called a grip safety much like the popular 1911s have. You have to have a grip on the gun for it to operate. The trigger is a safe-action trigger much like the famous and popular Glock handguns have. So if I drop this handgun it will not go off. I don’t recommend dropping it to test that out.

This handgun is very comfortable in my hand. It is a smooth shooter as well. The only thing I changed were the sights. I put a set of night sights on it shortly after I bought it and I find them to be great no matter what the lighting is. Target acquisition is quick, so followup shots are no problem. This gun is easy enough to conceal carry but is big enough with the double stacked magazines to provide plenty of fire power and makes a great “house” gun. This is my number one gun of choice and is almost always on my hip. If you have an opportunity to shoot one I’d like to hear about your experience.

Music To My Soul

February 27, 2017

file-feb-27-7-13-26-amRecently I posted my top 10 albums of all time on Facebook. These are my picks not Billboard’s or Rolling Stone Magazine’s. These are so much my favorites that it didn’t take long to compile the list. One of my submarine shipmates commented how difficult it is to pick albums and he’s right. Picking your favorite songs would be much easier. I assumed that an album to make my list needs to be one that I would listen to from start to finish without hitting the >> button. So with that in mind let me drill down into my picks just a bit. So here is the list.

  1. Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
  2. Abraxas – Santana
  3. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
  4. Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin
  5. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
  6. 1 – The Beatles
  7. 40 Licks – The Rolling Stones
  8. The Wall – Pink Floyd
  9. Animals – Pink Floyd
  10. Legend – Bob Marley


“Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd is number one because it is an album that was and is the one that I believe is the pinnacle of Pink Floyd’s run. The album flows where one song’s ending is the next songs beginning. I believe the only way to listen to this album is straight through. In vinyl you have to stop midway and flip the album over but all my music is in MP3 format and I stitched this album together to become one solid file. That’s the only way to listen to DSOTM. It will always be my favorite album.

“Abraxas” by Santana makes the list for a number of reasons. It was not Santana’s first album but for me it is their best work in my opinion. My dad bought this album for me for Christmas 1970. It was on cassette tape and was far from something I would expect him to know about. The cover alone made me wonder how in the world he would by that for me. This was released in 1970 while I was in the Navy and I must have mentioned it somewhere along the line. The cassette wore out and I have since replaced it with an MP3 version but it will always be a gift from dad.

“Led Zeppelin (I)” and “Led Zeppelin IV” are my to favorite Led Zeppelin albums. No group crushes the Blues into Hard Rock the way Led Zeppelin does. Their music has stood the test of time and for a group who never had a number 1 hit this is quite an accomplishment with their best hit being “Whole Lotta Love” reaching number 4. That song is not even on my two favorite albums. Once again I say that I can listen to these two albums straight through without lifting the needle (vinyl lingo).

“Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” by the Beatles is one of their best creations in that is sells itself as a rock and roll symphony. Like DSOTM one song flows into the next. It was a departure from all their previous work and is a standout worthy of anyone’s top 10 list. Heck, the title alone should have won a Grammy.

“1” by the Beatles is a compilation that showcases most of their number 1 hits. This may seem like cheating but it is an official release and an album I can listen to from start to finish and feel good afterwards. what can you say about the Beatles except they were great.

“40 Licks” by the Rolling stones fits the bill similar to the previously mentioned Beatles album. It is an official release and it is a compilation. I would have a hard time choosing a Rolling Stones album to put on this list because I can’t recall any that I could listen to without skipping a song or 2 or 3, with the possible exception of “12 x 5”. This very talented British band is solidly on my list with this album.

Probably my favorite group is Pink Floyd and the two albums that occupy the number 8 and 9 spot are both favorites of mine. Once more these albums flow like a river through the ears into the brain seamlessly. “Animals” will always make my list as a brilliant piece of work. Roger Waters out did himself with “The Wall” pushing the boundaries of the mind into a double album of talented composing and producing. Yeah, great stuff.

Finally Bob Marley rolls in with “Legend”, a 1984 compilation that defines the man as the best reggae artist of all time in my opinion. I have listened to this album so often that if you play the tunes in a different order I will know it. Bob Marley died at age 36 in 1981 and I truly wish he had lived longer just to know what might have been.

There are plenty of albums that I could add to this list pushing it to 50 or more. Albums that are the ones you can cue up and listen to nonstop with no regrets. This is my top 10 and while you may have a totally different list these albums will arguably make any rock and roll aficionado’s list at some point. Of that I am confident.

I’ve Been Busy

February 6, 2017

635945179805942255129741197_originalSo I’ve been too busy to blog but not too busy to Facebook, hmm! So I decided to throttle back on Facebook and make a weekly blog entry here on “Five 14 Responding”. So let me bring you up to date.

I retired! That’s big!! That’s huge!!! It’s been interesting for sure. We relocated from the People’s Republic of Illinois to the great state of Michigan. We sold our home there and put the proceeds into upgrading our former summer home. We had a 16′ x 22′ three season room added but in reality it is in use 24/7, 365. I’m sitting in that room right now with my laptop. I can watch the lake or the birds out back from this location. Love it! We had the exterior redone with new vinyl siding, new roofing and new gutter system. There was some rot here and there and all of that was reworked by our excellent contractor/builder. We had to have the electric service relocated to accommodate the new room so at that time we upgraded to 200 amp and added a panel in the barn for my woodworking shop. We (Paula and I with some help from Kim and Chad) built a 12 x 16 shed for all the outside tools and the garden tractor. We did hire out the shingling of the roof since I’m too old “fo dat”. We finished the inside of the new room ourselves and redid the living room and front bedroom due to drywall damage caused by the front wall rot that was repaired. We had some help with the drywall since I hate it. So we don’t “feel” retired. Actually, up until the Christmas holidays we were busier than when we were gainfully employed.

Here in February I am trying to get motivated to get the garage organized and then attack the barn to get it setup for serious woodworking. I have a back log of projects.

We had a very busy and nasty presidential campaign season that went on forever and ended up with an upset win by President Donald J Trump. Now the left seems to be having serious trouble getting over Hillary Rodham Clinton’s defeat even though she took the lead in the popular vote she was campaigning in the wrong places allowing Trump to capture the electoral college which in this country is what counts. I think we are all sick of politics and political correctness so for me Trump is a breath of fresh air. So I have abandoned politics on Facebook because it is overwhelming. My blog may contain my opinions and you do not have to read it.

I have more guns and ammo than I need so I’m going to pare down my collection to what I consider the basics for home and personal defense and a little fun stuff too. My 12 gauge shot gun is loaded with #1 buck shot and ready for any intruders and that coupled with a 9mm Springfield “XD Mod 2” comprise my home defense. I think that should cover anything short of a full on ISIS attack. For that I have a Ruger Mini-14 which replaced my AR-15. AR-15s are the “scary” assault rifles you see in the press as the most evil of guns. Of course this is total bullshit but the left is what it is. I have a couple concealed carry options and that is where I will need to make some decisions. I desperately need some time at the range.

I now can feed the birds here in Michigan full time. I have a good group of clients that do their best to empty my feeders. I get 3 different woodpeckers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Finches and sparrows year round along with a variety of migratory birds. I seem to have defeated the squirrel population since implementing my PVC pipe baffles. The birds love the variety of my feeders. I use sunflower hearts since the birds do not eat the shells which only makes a big mess I get more bang for the buck using hearts. I also use safflower, peanut splits and suet cakes. In the spring and summer I put out grape jelly which the Baltimore Orioles love.

My kids and her kids and the grandkids come to visit but not as often as we would like. We know they are all busy. The oldest granddaughter is a sophomore in college and the youngest just turned 12 so they all have school and sports that keep them all on the run constantly. We get it.

Next week I will explain what “Five 14 Responding” is all about along with some words of wisdom. So goodbye for now.

Obesity… Who Is To Blame?

March 31, 2014

ObesityWell how did I get here? Before I continue let me tell you I intend for this to be blunt. If you are overweight with thin skin you may want to skip this article. You will skip this article if you can’t handle the truth. Well the truth is how I see it. Obesity it a curse on humanity. Many folks who are overweight have excuses, in fact I think MOST people who are obese have many excuses. It’s a thyroid imbalance, I recently quit smoking, I’m an emotional wreck, my love partner dumped me <politically correct?>, I’m big boned, dieting doesn’t work on me, my medications are to blame. OK here comes that blunt message I was talking about. YOU <me too> ARE FAT BECAUSE YOU EAT TOO MUCH FOR YOUR LEVEL OF EXERCISE. There, it’s out now. The dirty little secret that everyone knows but can’t seem to come to grips with. It’s the elephant in the room! When I say everyone I mean everyone who is a fat ass like me. I used some of those excuses myself but not one of them affected any change in my size. So one day just for shits and giggles I stepped on the scale and it registered a HUGE number and I said to myself, “How in the hell did I get here”? So I know that when I quit smoking it had an effect because in a short few weeks food TASTED better so I ate more. My job had evolved into a more sedentary one so my exercise level dropped while my food intake increased. That there my friends is exactly how I got there!

Let me start at my beginning. When I was a kid I was “husky” but seriously I wasn’t fat, hell I was running everywhere. I would run through the woods and run or walk for miles. When I think back on my childhood I was always on the go. I watched TV when my parents said I could. Otherwise I was playing outdoors no matter what the weather was with few exceptions. Rain probably was the only weather we avoided playing outdoors especially if it was a thunderstorm. Other than that we played outdoors. Outdoor play involved a lot of physical activity. As a teenager I was out with my friends or working, all of which involved physical activity. Food was never an issue so I developed bad habits about eating that back then had little affect but later on would (will) be the death of me. I went in the U S Navy and boot camp was good and so was my Engineman A-school training. Then came Submarine basic education and I was still good. After I completed all of that I got assigned to the USS Sea Owl SS405 out of New London, CT. I don’t blame the Navy but my exercise level dropped off dramatically and it’s easy to get lazy. I’ve now been out of the Navy for over 40 years and my weight has fluctuated up and down over the years through my personal and professional life I always managed to stay in good enough shape to do what was expected of me. I had a 20 year 2nd career as a Paramedic/firefighter and near the end of it I was having trouble maintaining a “reasonable” level of health and weight.

I quit smoking and my doctor said of my weight gain, “you are better off fat and a nonsmoker than to be a smoker.” To some degree I can see his point BUT giving up smoking to just replace it with morbid obesity was not a very good trade off. Then I was diagnosed with cancer. Long story short the radiation treatment table had a weight limit and I was over it. Shit, I had to lose weight just to get radiation treatment to battle cancer. I began to see the light. I did South Beach Diet for long enough to get through the radiation treatments. But as time went on my weight continued to go back up and then that day I stepped on the scale  as mentioned above was the last straw. I couldn’t exercise because I was in sad shape, bad knees, ankles and feet. So I had to start out with diet only. I did Nutrisystem for about 8 weeks. I lost weight but it was expensive and boring with very little variety. My daughter suggested Weight Watcher and I decided that since I had everything to lose I should give it a try. So without getting into nitty gritty details about their plan suffice to say it is working. Next week it will be one year since that “Oh Shit” moment when I stepped on the scale and changed my life. I have lost more than 55# and will continue to use the plan and will add more exercise that will hopefully accelerate my losses to meet my more aggressive goal of losing a total of 100# by Labor Day 2014.

So the answer to the question, Who is to blame? We are to blame. IT IS MY OWN FAULT! I let myself get lazy and did not cut back on food intake to compensate for the lack of exercise activity. I don’t need a bunch of psychobabble to tell me why I am a fat ass. This is very simple. If you want to lose weight eat less or increase your level of activity; even better, do both! Don’t wait to lose weight, it only gets harder as you get older.

Consider these Pink Floyd lyrics:

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.


March 25, 2014

Did you ever have one of those days that waScreen Shot 2014-03-25 at 6.34.20 PMs filled with irritants? That’s how my day was today (so far). Woke up and the dogs had me hemmed in and it was like walking through a mine field to not step on them. They were reluctant to go out and once out didn’t want to come back in. It had snowed yet again and everything was white. It was cold and windy on top of that. Got ready to go to work and had to go back into the house twice because I kept forgetting things. My backup hard drive at work decided it wasn’t going to cooperate with my desire to update my backed up files. I eventually had to replace it. The consultant from Siemens arrived late but then that job went smoothly (a singular bright spot). Two rush jobs later I was on my way home from work. Let the dogs out and went to get them lunch… out of food. So I made a trip to the pet store to stock up again. Fed them lunch, fixed some tea and decided to play a game of Zynga Poker (Texas Hold’em). Hummed along until I went all in on a nut flush and got beat by a full house. Deep breath, went to watch a little TV an saw the latest episode of “The Followers” (and found it irritating). Went back to the computer and checked Facebook. Didn’t like my profile picture so I took another selfie. I really didn’t like it any better and my wife commented on it which confirmed that it sucked. So…. I took a shower. Played a second game of Texas Hold’em and this time I won. Things may have finally taken a turn for the better.

Now I’m waiting patiently for my wife to return from work and have a nice dinner with her. Maybe we can settle in and watch a little TV and chit chat until sleep time and get up and do it all again. Wouldn’t have it any other way!

How I lost 55# In Less Than A Year

March 22, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 3.43.50 PMAt some point some of us (the fat ones) need to take a serious look at how we got to where we are. I don’t need the FLOTUS to dictate what I should or should not eat and how much exercise I should get. That my friends is one of my God given rights. It’s called freedom, duh! So given that I have free will, I have over indulged for a long time and that habit has cost me some intangibles. It has also taken a few days, months or maybe years off my life. I always say that given my choices in my life, I would be lucky to live to 50. Well here I am, still on the green side of the grass at age 64. So how did I lose 55# in less than a year (49 weeks to be exact)? Well I stepped on the scale one day and my thoughts were “holy shit, that’s not possible”.

I knew I had to get it heading in the opposite direction. But how? I’m lazy, but smart enough to find the path of least resistance so I signed up for Nutrisystem and yes I lost weight and yes it was relatively easy but it was boring and hard to justify the expense (not cheap). The one positive thing it did teach me, however, was “portion” control. I am a firm believer in the fact that if you burn more calories than you put in you will lose weight and conversely the pounds will add up. So after about six weeks on that plan I switched to Weight Watchers Points Plus online (no meetings). I always thought that this was strictly for women. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. They have a plan for men different from the one for women. Now I had total flexibility to eat “normal” food. I just needed to learn how to use the points properly. The learning curve was to take what was on my plate and convert it to points. It wasn’t really hard and my daughter was very helpful in educating me on the ins and outs of going through the week staying within my points and not feeling hungry all the time. The first few weeks I was having a hard time deciding what I wanted to eat because I was super conservative with my points usage. But as I learned the ropes I became more and more comfortable with the system. Now I can go to a restaurant with all the confidence in the world that I’ll find something good to eat that is also low in points.

Now my pants are fitting looser (I don’t have abs like the picture yet). I know I’m making progress and that fact encourages me to keep going. Now that I’m a little lighter on my feet and the weather is beginning to improve I am hoping to get more exercise which may help to accelerate the weight loss process. So that is how I did it. Not magic, no surgery, no special pill or elixir. Just a little self-control and a plan. The key to success for me is to plan ahead, not beyond a day but plan the day, even before breakfast, so you know what you are doing. We generally go out for dinner on Monday after work so I make sure to have a supply of points at the ready. It’s not difficult and I’m not starving myself. If I want Pizza I can have it but it might mean a smaller lunch or no snack after dinner. Choices, always choices, but at least for now I live in a place that the choices are mine and the Weight Watcher plan allows a lot of flexibility for those choices.

Welcome Blog Reader

March 21, 2014

photo (4)

So today is the first day of Spring and the weather was reflective of that with the temperature near 60. I had dropped my personal website and blog at the beginning of the year and today finally got around to resurrecting my old wordpress blog. I cleared out the crap that was in here and started fresh. With the political season upon us I’m sure you will see a rant or two <or more> from me on these pages. If you don’t like my point of view say so and express your point of view in the comments but be polite (or as polite as I am)! OK got to sleep now. Happy reading!