Friday, July 30, 2010

Liberty at Noumea, New Caledonia Was Not a Sunday School Class

The bloody battle for Okinawa wouldn't be over until June 21, but the USS Pickens had done its job, including rescuing survivors from three ships, and on June 4 we set sail for Noumea, New Caledonia. a French possession in the South Pacific. Once we arrived liberty was granted to one-third of the crew at a time. We were excited to see what  the island had to offer because it had been months since we had left Hawaii. Visits to the Solomon Islands, Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa couldn't qualify as liberty under any standards.

Three buddies and I left the ship in   the middle of the morning to see what this French city had to offer,  After wandering around we visited the ship service store, checked  out its offerings, ate some ice cream ( a rare delight), and I acted as agent to buy an Eisenhower jacket for a British sailor.  We had no transportation or any way to explore the island so with little else to do we decided to visit a bar.

The place we entered could have been the scene from an old west movie, consisting of some rough planks over some barrels or other support.  Since I had never had an alcoholic drink, I took the suggestion of one of our group that we order Tom Collins, "which is very like lemonade."  That's what we drank and it tasted okay.We left the bar and wandered around some more, finally deciding to go back to the ship and watch the movie which would be shown at dark.

Someone of the group suggested we find the bar we had gone to earlier, have one more drink and then go back to the ship.  We went to a bar that was identical to the first one but the drinks tasted terrible. We tried another bar and the drink here was horrible, so we left to return to the ship. We left the dark bar out into a bright sun and suddenly I felt strange and fell against a building, then staggered across the narrow street to fall against a building there.  My buddies were in the same condition but some way we managed to get the dock where a Pickens boat was awaiting us.  Crew members who were posted there just for that purpose helped us and others, some of whomwere in worse shape than we, into the boat.  They took us back to the ship where other crew members somewhat undressed us and put us in our bunks.That was my only liberty in Noumea, and I saw the brilliance of having one third of the crew man the ship and one third take care of those on liberty.

From there we went back to Saipan and then on to San Francisco, arriving there August 3 to load on troops to invade Japan.  Thank goodness the atom bombs dropped on August 6 and 9 persuaded Japan to surrender August 15.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


This is the heading of a column by Kerry Lynch, a senior fellow at American Institute for Economic Research in Barrington, Mass. She states facts to make the case that despite all the green energy hype and billions spent to subsidize and promote sources like wind and solar, our energy for the forseeable future will come from fossil fuels and nuclear.

Only eight per cent of our energy comes from renewable sources, most of that from hydro-electric power.  Wind accounts for less than one per cent and solar for just one tenth of one per cent.  Billions have been spent on sources that would meet this country's needs for three days.

Nearly 28 per cent of total U.S. energy use goes to transportation and 95 per cent of  that comes from petroleum, while 2 per cent comes from natural gas and 3 per cent from renewable.  Electric utilities consume more than 40 per cent of energy we use. One per cent of that comes from petroleum, 9 per cent from hydro and other renewable sources, 17 per cent from natural gas, 21 per cent from nuclear power and 51 per cent from coal. President Obama has talked about taxing and penalizing coal fired generating plants out of existence, which he admits would raise utility rates.  Not only would costs sky rocket but rationing would be  required.

The point is, Kerry Lynch, points out -- fully 84 per cent of the energy we consume comes from petroleum,     natural gas and coal. To become energy self-sufficient, the United States must increase oil production and avoid importing oil.  Even with government subsidizing and promoting green energy with some 80 billion dollars in tax credits and subsidies in the 2009 stimulus bill alone, the Energy Information Service projects the United States will still get 75 per cent of its energy from fossil fuels 25 years from now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon

                    Come to the church in the wildwood,
                    Oh, come to the church in the dale,
                    No spot is so dear to my childhood,      
                    As the little brown church in the vale.    

Singing at church today featured old and familiar hymns, a foretaste, the choir director said, of the ice cream supper and gospel singing to come Sunday night,  August 15.  Children often take things literally; as a child I used to argue that the song above was wrong.  I went along with it being in the wild wood but our church was white, not brown.
By the way, I enjoy casual dress during the summer, but please, we are in short sleeves without a coat --can't the air conditioning  be up a couple of degrees?  I needed a blanket.

                                      Funeral Services       
Jen and I attended funeral services Saturday for Dan Moorman, a good friend and Jen's former boss at M&M Insurance. St John Berchman Cathedral was packed, with attendees including girls  he had coached in softball wearing their uniforms.  Several funerals I have attended  recently have drawn large crowds. A person can be forgiven for wondering if he has affected positively enough individuals  that they will take the time to attend his final services.  On another note, the songs included "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art" and I wonder if these two great hymns are becoming almost obligatory at funerals.  Just some thoughts on a Sunday afternoon.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Screw the Moratorium -- Let's Go Back to Work

Judge Martin was right on when he called the Obama administration moratorium "arbitrary and capricious" and without authority. Every day the moratorium is allowed to be effective, human and monetary costs mount. An estimated 150,000 jobs related to offshore drilling in the Gulf are idled, and the moratorium may have already cost more money than has the oil spill.  The CEO of Coneco warns that short term costs, though high, may well be exceeded by  long term costs as rigs relocate.  At least two have already left the Gulf.  Banning drilling in the Gulf will move production elsewhere and force the importation of more oil.  Our representatives should be raising hell every day. Forget polite  pleas; they haven't worked.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Doctors Are Still the Key to Medical Care

Remember when everyone's love, Nancy Pelosi, urged immediate passage of Obamacare, that when it was in force would be time enough to learn what it contained and how it would affect individuals and companies?  Well, Obamacare  was passed without one vote to spare and we have learned that among other things it means less choice, fewer doctors, higher costs, poorer care, and higher taxes.

We know that medical care is expensive and will remain so.  Medical advancements come with a cost, but none of us would want to go back to the days before vaccinations for polio and small pox and before the use of technology to discover and treat medical problems.  One thing remains unchangeable, the importance of not only the doctor's knowledge but his attitude towards his patients.  Two events that  stand out in  in my memory illustrate this.  I don't know the exact dates of either, although they had to be near the same time, and I am almost certain the second was in 1932.  

     A Gold Watch to Save an Ill Child

Our rural area was served by one telephone line to the exchange.  It was built and maintained by the subscribers, each of who had an assigned ring although neighbors would often listen in to any call because most calls were about serious matters.  A neighbor, I do not remember who, came to our house to phone his doctor.  The phone was in the front hall and, as people spoke loudly to get their message across, one side of the conversation could be heard throughout the house.  The man informed the doctor that his child was very sick and he begged the doctor to come and save his life.  Apparently, the doctor told the father that he already owed him for a previous visit.  The neighbor said he would pay when he got some money.  The conversation went on and on with the father pleading and the doctor refusing.  Finally the man said he had a gold watch he would give if only the doctor would come.  I am sorry to say that I don't remember, if I ever knew, whether the doctor relented or how the child progressed.

     "If we sink, we'll all sink together"

This involves a sister, a baby at that time, who screamed constantly from excruciating pain from ear infections. Mom and Dad took her to the family doctor for treatment.  Dad told the doctor that he could give him a check and if the bank opened it would be good, but at any rate, he would find a way to pay him.  Dad said the doctor replied, "Don't worry, if we sink, we'll all sink together."  The family doctor referred them to the surgeon in an adjoining office, who happened to be the doctor of the first story related.  This doctor demanded payment right then, asking, don't people realize doctors have to eat too?  What ever arrangements were made, the doctor lanced the child's ears and eased her pain.  It's true today as it was then, it helps to have a good doctor and it never hurts to have money.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Dad Would Have Been 129 Today

I'm terrible at remembering birthdays of my relatives who are living, much less anniversaries of those who have passed on.  Today, though, as I saw the July 16 date my dad's birthday came to mind.  He used to claim he was born in the best month of the year. Watermelons and cantaloupes were at their best; figs were in their prime, peaches and plums were plentiful, and there was a bounty of  fresh vegetables available. To me when a teenager, July meant hard farm work in almost unbearable heat.  Air conditioning was far away and sleeping  was  not restful in a hot room.Somehow we survived.

Grandma Lowe Was Quite A Lady

Probably quite a character would be more accurate. A woman who dips snuff and speaks her mind no matter the place or  circumstance would not be called a lady today.  Grandma lost her first husband, leaving her with a boy and girl and 500 acres of land she had inherited. She married my grandpa, who was a widower with two boys, and they had five boys and one girl together.The stories I am going to relate are second-hand, but I heard them several times.

     I Must Have Been A Pretty Baby
Grandma grew up during a time that children were treated as not completely human and as if they didn't have feelings. She said as long as she could remember when relatives, neighbors, or even strangers visited they would look at her and say something like, "My, what an ugly child."  One day she addressed an aunt, saying   "I must have been a pretty baby."  Her aunt replied, "What makes you say that?"  Grandma explained that people look at an ugly baby and say she'll grow up to be  beautiful. "Since everyone says I'm ugly now, I must have been a pretty baby."  Her aunt replied, "No child, you've been ugly all your life." 

     Really Reading the News on the Dining Room Table
My dad and the grandparents moved from a home in Waldo, Ark. to a farm near Minden, La. in 1917. During the move a walnut dining table was scratched so grandma took it upon herself to repair it. She covered it with varnish, and I mean really covered it.  She thought she could  correct her mistake by blotting up some of the varnish by putting newspapers on the table.  The paper stuck and became part of the table and for years you could lift the table cloth and read war news of 1917.  The table was in daily use for more than 60 more years, including abuse by eight growing children. When mom died I hated to throw the table away but none of my siblings would take it.  I kept it although I have no use for it.  The newspapers have faded but a double banner headline can be read "Enormous German Losses   in Resumption of Picardy Battle."
      An Invitation to Grandma's Table   
The Lowes were active members of a Methodist Protestant church in Waldo but found no Methodist church nearby in their new community so they began attending a Baptist church which was little more than a mile away.  They were active churchgoers and Dad became in charge of youth programs.  As was the custom in rural churches, when services were over the pastor and family were invited to a home for dinner. This particular Sunday they were guests of the Lowes.  As it happened this was communion Sunday. Methodists practice open communion but Baptists limit communion to only that denomination and some to only that particular church.  As they became seated around the table, my grandmother turned to the minister and said, "You are welcome at my table today although I wasn't welcome at yours this morning."

      (Did I mention that Grandma had no problem speaking her mind?)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do Airlines Care About Their Customers?

Our recent trip to North Carolina to see our son and daughter-in-law and to celebrate our granddaughter's first birthday was a great success, but the trip home was a downer, to put it mildly. From Raleigh-Durham was little more than two hours but the trip took nearly seven hours.  We were ticketed to leave for Memphis at l2 Eastern time but the plane was delayed and we would have had a six-hour layover in Memphis. We changed to a flight to Atlanta with connections to Shreveport.  The plane took a long time loading and the pilot immediately announced that we had to wait at the gate for an indefinite time because of showers in Atlanta.  We finally arrived at Atlanta and was able to make connections because that plane was late.  It stayed at the gate a long time, finally moving to the runway but again waiting for two showers to pass through.  In both cases where the airline knew take-off would be delayed why couldn't the passengers wait inside?  There you have access to REST ROOMS, things to drink, thinks to eat, more comfortable chairs, REST ROOMS, space to move around, and REST ROOMS, none of which are available when the plane is sitting at the gate.

And what about this 25 dollar charge to check a bag of  luggage?   Most people are avoiding this by stowing luggage overhead or, if the bag is too heavy or too large, leaving it at the front of the plane. Very little baggage was checked on the planes we rode.  Next time we'll know better and avoid that 25 dollar charge.

I could give airlines other suggestions but those will do for now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We Return from North Carolina

We had a great visit with Mark and Julie and, of course, Lily.  Jen got to hold her granddaughter for hours as she slept and at other times.  Lily was walking all over the place and babbling in a language we couldn't quite   understand.  She charmed everyone who saw her and who wouldn't enjoy the attentions of a beautiful one-year-old girl, who obviously knew she was providing entertainment.  She was very good most of the time but she definitely has a temper.  We were thinking of visiting the Bentonville battleground and museum Saturday but my minor health problem blocked that, but that was a minor disappointment as we spent as much time together as possible.  Now comes a little depression as we know it is likely several months before we see each other again.
Seeing Lily get so much adulation from everyone who saw her brought to mind  my grandmother Lowe's childhood, which was just the opposite, and I plan to write a few stories about my grandmother soon. She was quite  a lady,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tomorrow we go to North Carolina to see granddaughter

It is time I posted something light on this blog even though there is so much wrong to raise hell about. For now my wife and I are going to concentrate on enjoying being with Lily, who will be one year old July 9. Of course, we are looking forward to visiting with Julie and Mark, also. While in North Carolina, I hope to visit Bentonville, the last major battle of the War Between the States.  Grandfather Lowe fought there and was paroled later from the prison in Greensboro. 

T.T. Lowe Paroled from Greensboro April 26, 1865.

 My grandfather fought in battle after battle, winding up the war at the Battle of Bentonville, N.C. March 19-21.. where l9,000 members of the Army of Tennessee  under General Joseph Johnston fought 60,000 Yankees under the command of General William T. Sherman.  It was the last major battle of the War Between the States, Lee having surrendered in April and Johnston a month later.  Grandfather Lowe enlisted March 8,1862, in Company G, 12th Louisiana Infantry. He was mentioned on all roles to August, 1864 and was paroled at Greensboro, N.C. April 26, 1865.  He was wounded but  continued to serve, including at Atlanta and at Nashville, where the Army of Tennessee had eight generals killed.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Thoughts on Congress and Other Bullies

Anyone who has watched television recently saw California Congressman Jake Stark respond to a constituent's serious question on immigration in a sarcastic, flippant and rude way  Stark is infamous for being arrogant, crude and all-round mean to citizens -- and he is not alone. It galls me to see and hear the way congresspersons insult and bully people who are brought before committees.  Rather than ask probing questions seeking information that might have some purpose and benefit, the representatives make self-serving speeches and insult and ridicule the helpless people before them.  I don't like bullies whether they are elected official or other persons in a position of power, even if they are children.  Here are a couple of examples of my early experiences with bullies..  

           My First School Fight
My first day at school was also the day of my first fight.  My sister, a second grader, delivered me to my first grade room before  heading off to her classroom.  At lunchtime I did not stray far from the door to my room, but suddenly some bigger boys, with another first grader under their control, confronted me. One of the bigger boys said something like this to their captive boy, "This is the littlest boy in the first grade. You can whup him."
The first grader did not make a move and I was too stunned and scared to run.  They gave my opponent instructions,  telling him to hit me in the stomach. I responded by hitting the other boy in the stomach. Next they advised hitting me in the nose but the boy did not respond, so I hit him in the nose and made him cry. The bullies left in disgust, not satisfied that they had hurt two boys emotionally.

         A Kitten Is Tortured     
A few days later a little kitten, no older than a few weeks, had wandered onto the school ground and was captured by some boys.  They began to tease the kitten, making it cry and then started tossing it like a ball, against the wall and on the concrete floor.  Some  little kids were horrified and begged the boys to let the kitten alone, but the bullies  kept it up until the kitten died.  I've never forgotten this and wondered what type of men these boys became, perhaps members of Congress or heads of government agencies.  You may  get the idea that I don't like bullies and have little respect for members of Congress, who can beat up on citizens but cowardly allow the president and his appointees to usurp  legislative powers. Some people think term limits might help. Perhaps six-month terms followed by six months on a garbage truck could make them less arrogant.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pouring Oil on Troubled Waters

I don't believe that when President Obama learned about the oil well explosion  and the resulting oil spill that he leaped for joy, danced and sang, and ran around shouting "Glory, glory, glory, how wonderful."  No I don't believe that but I am convinced the federal government delayed its response and the response has been woefully inadequate. Obama has been emphatic in his desire to see the oil and gas and coal industries put out of business in this country.  He took advantage of this crisis by shutting down all operations in the Gulf despite 60 years of safe operations there.  This decision is dealing Louisiana and the nation a severe blow to the economy, a blow that could last for years as oil rigs move out to other countiries. Two billion dollars is being loaned to Brazil to help that nation in drilling offshore, while drilling here  is shut down.    

Seventy days after the disaster the government has finally agreed to accept help from some of the countries which offered assistance immediately after the accident.  Could the damage to the beaches have been prevented if offered help had been accepted earlier?  Something like l00 nations and organizations have offered help, and at this late time help from  12 is to be accepted.  However, agencies like the EPA and Coast Guard can impose regulations  to block these efforts and those by states and local governments.

No, I don't believe Obama celebrated the oil well explosion but I believe he welcomed it as a boost to his war  against Big Oil.