He called! As I was pulling into a local McD's for coffee, my phone rang. We talked about forty-some years for 15 minutes. From the Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo prison) to vacation homes, from childhoods to present times, etc. we swept along. It was a call that helped me to tie up a loose end from long ago. Thank you, God.
I'm really glad you were able to tie up those loose ends. It was only because you took a chance and moved on an opportunity. Until recently I just let the past stay where it was and didn't understand why folks would re-open that door. But I have found that it does good things for you to be able to bring old things to a conclusion. A lot of us have friends that survived the Hanoi experience. I'm sure it was an honor to serve in Operation Home coming.
Andy, serving on that project was indeed an honor. I also helped bring home a young F-4 jock. He was in prison a shorter duration, and was in fact in better physical condition than I was. And, i was a runner at that time, runnung at least 2 1/2 miles, three times a week.
You, Andy, are a hero of mine. You were almost certainly involved in sorties carrying the potential to change history. We were part of something that is very worthwhile, and much bigger than ourselves.
This report is of a trip yet to be taken. Later today, I'll run errands. A couple of items on my list include buying some rice noodles for the pot of chicken soup I'm making, and dropping off Julie's absentee ballot. Neither act is difficult, in fact they're easy. But - one is more important than the other, a lot more important.
The right, and duty, of free leople to speak up in the choice of their governmental representatives is important. Actually, it's more than important. It's critical. In wartime, we defend our country with our guns. In peace time and in wartime, we help to defend our country with our votes. 'Nuff said.
I did my duty last month with a mailed in ballot , fired my peace time shot for freedom from liberalism and socialism.
This morning it cooled down around here and felt like Fall , finally.
Enjoyed a 4 mile hike on the Florida Trail with the fallish temperatures , for Florida.
It was quite pleasant , the storm ( cold frount ) last night blew a lot of leaves off the trees so the trail had a carpet of leaves on it which made it even more fallish.
Our nation, the U.S.A., is on a journey - as are all other nations. Sometimes the paths are rocky, and uphill. At other periods, the paths are on nice ground and in the sunshine. Among nations, we like to think of her as the pride of the land.
Here, there is more freedom of choice than elsewhere. . And, freedom of choice is the rock bottom foundation of all freedoms. So, when we pause to give thanks, be sure to give thanks for our feedoms to choose.
Here, in America, we can each choose how we see our Creator. And how we relate to Him - or Her. There are, at this time of year, an accumulation of holidays. A part of them is to be sharing, and caring. And celebrating.
We celebrate during these days, and part of the celebration is for giving, and forgiving. We might think that to forgive another person is to do them a favor. And it is. And in a more expansive way, it is a bigger favor back to ourselves. To bear a grudge, is to bear a load. We have to carry that grudge, that load. Part of forgiving, is to relinquish that load.
AND, PEOPLE OUT OF THE MIST
A sequel to People In The Mist - above a couple of pages
Thirty years ago, my son and I had somehow crossed a time line, (what else could I call it?), and had ended up in a distant past. How distant, we never knew. Oddly - one day I had recrossed that same time line and had reemerged back into present time.
I have thought about those events every day since. What a crazy thing. What a sad thing. And, what an exciting thing. Nothing could happen to me that would ever top that, crazy chain of events. I thought.
After I retired, there was now time to pursue hobbies more actively. Wow - a week of Saturdays! A whole month of Saturdays! I could go canoeing and camping more. I asked a friend who I'd paddled and camped with a lot, if he was interested in a trip that would be similar to, but different from any we'd been on. Well, Charlie hardly ever turned down a paddling trip, and in three weeks, we were camped at that very same mysterious camp site.
"Charlie, do you remember when we were here, years ago?"
"Remember!", he exhorted. "That damned snapper almost got my toes!"
Pausing, I turned to him and said, "Charlie, I have a story to tell you. You may not believe it. Pass over your cup and I'll give you some of this single malt. And I'll tell it to you."
About thirty years ago, Eric and I were camped here. I was showing him some of the things here that you had shown me. So, I took us on a similar route to what you and I had traveled. A snapper almost got his toes too. Probably the same one. But, maybe not. Any way, one day, as we were paddling back to this site, something pretty weird happened. I went on to tell Charlie the story of people in the mist. He wanted to believe me, but how could he?
"Charlie, do you remember how I told you that Eric and I had a bad argument, and he left for Arizona? And that I never heard from him again? Well, that wasn't what happened. He actually disappeared back into time somewhere. And never came back. I came back, but he didn't. I know he survived there, because he left a sign. Look over here. I showed him the chiseled letters and numbers - Eric 2 Jul 68. That's when he was born."
It was wuiet for a few minutes. We both looked at the name and date. "What's this little arrow here, chiseled into the tock?", Charlie asked. He was pointing to something I hadn't noticed. We scraped away more leaves and moss. Another couple of inches out, in the direction of the arrow, was more writing chiseled into the rack. "Eric 1895++".
Wow, what the heck was this? Had Eric actually come back forward in time? Had he returned, but not to this present time, but a different present time? That was a lot to wrap our minds around. Had he returned, realized that he was again back at that site, but in a different time? Then connected with Europeans, found out what the date was, and added the second message?
A week later, Charlie and I were back home again. And I had some ideas about how to research that part of the Killarney area for the 1895 era forward. If he had been there - out of a far distant past, in a more recent past - for an extended time, as the two + marks indicated, maybe I could find some evidence?
My entry point was to find what towns and settlements existed in that area in 1895. Then I could search records of those towns for names and stories that might reflect Eric's name. After a lot of research that didn't turn up anything conclusive, I let the project lie fallow for a month or two. All I had found was a folk take about a blonde haired, blue eyed "Indian" that inexplicably turned up one day. It seems that he appeared, hung around that fall and winter, and left in the spring of 1896. No mention of a name, though.
All of this got me a bit more interested in genealogy, so, when Julie gave me a kit to analyze DNA, I used it. Part of the report from that package included information about family tree. Part of that is looking at census reports, etc. My family came over from Germany, and settled here in Michigan. I know the exact spot, to within 5 feet.
Three miles, SSE of my hometown of Okemos, is the T intersection of Dobie and Stillman Roads. Dobie is a 5 mile long road, running south from Hamilton Road to Holt Road. Stillman Road runs 3 miles easterly from Dobie to Meridian Road. In fact when I was a kid, I knew both Don Dobie and Ralph Stillman, whose families the roads were named after. At that intersection, several immigrant families had settled. They called their cluster Snickerville. My family's home was a simple two story house on the south side of Stillman Road, 95 yards east of Dobie Road. The house still stood there when I was a kid.
Reading over census reports, and amendments, I found what I was looking for. My grandad had been born there in Snickerville. He bought an 80 acre farm about one mile east of Snickerville, on Stillman Road. There he lived until he died. My dad was born there in June of 1910. The census report for that year, and that household listed my grandad, George, my grandmother Laura, my aunt Mary, uncle Stanley (dad's older sister and brother), baby George Junior (my dad), and a boarder Eric Voss!
BINGO! Somehow, Eric had traveled the several hundred miles southwesterly to Sarnia, Ontario, and then westerly across lower Michigan to where my grandad lived. Somehow, he had cooked up a story about being a shirttail relation, and boarded there. He was there when my dad - Eric's grandad - was born! My god, how does THAT happen? My son knew his granddad as an older man, and as a baby.
After that, he moved away, and I haven't yet found where. Leek Cemetery is only 1/4 mile south of Snickerville; all the Vosses are buried there. But, not Eric. Somewhere else, my son lies at rest. Lying in that place since before I, his father, was born.
Sitting here now, reading back over this, I pause. Looking out through the slider, out into the woods beyond the deck, I see that it's foggy out there. And, I can't see very far out into the mist........... . . .
Riding a bike was fun when I was a kid, and it still is. Spring is already here in some places, and just around a corner - or two - everywhere else. Let's review some stuff to do. It's been my observation that, if you stop the next 100 bikes you see on the street, you are very likely to find the following. Ninety eight (98) of them will have one or ALL of these conditions:
1. Tires are soft
2. Seat is too low
3. Chain needs attention - and oil.
Let's look at these a bit.
1. Tires today are almost entirely pneumatic. IE: They have inner tubes and are filled with pressurized air. For a few, extra dollars, we can buy inner tubes with a self-sealing slime in them. I've had mixed results with them. When they did self seal, it wasn't a permenant seal. I've had them slowly leak down over a day or two. I've also had them be holding air, then suddenly go flat. Even a hole that resealed still nerded to be patched if I wanted a tube that could be trusted. Not teally confidence inspiring.
In a nutshell - I now buy a good quality standard inner tube, and carry it as a spare. I also carry two or three little, plastic "tire tools" to use when changing a tube while on the road. Those tools can be bought at a bike shop, are about 4"-5" long, and are handy.. I found it to be overall easier and more reliable, to put in a new tube, and patch the old one. A patched tube has been as reliable as a new one.
On the side of each tire, it provides a recommended pressure. I write this on the handle bar as a memory aid. I usually add 3-5 pounds per square inch (PSI) over the recommended pressure. I'm not recommending that practice, only admitting to it.
To measure that pressure, we need a gauge. I used to trust gauges with metal slides. No longer. They are only slightly more accurate than a pinch with your thimb on the sidewall. Go to an automotive parts store, get a digitized gauge. They are accurate to 1/10th of a pound, instead of plus or minus 3-5 pounds. Use the digital gauge, and gjve the slider gauge to somebody you don't like.
Are you sure about the soft tires leaking air. Could it be that over the winter someone put on excess weight. If that's the case then the tires would appear flatter then normal.
The seat is to low. that's understandable when you get on someone else's bicycle. Could be a vision problem from looking at all that snow for such a long period of time. I think they call it snow delusions of it might be blindness.
The chain needs attention and oil. This is understood because of all the salt they toss all around during the winter. Some is bound to get on the chain no matter where the bike is used or stored.
Seams like the folks up north have a lot of problems to deal with everyday Heck the same down here in the south but a tittle different.
Tire pressure.....We normal have to much pressure in the tires , The hot pavement make the air expand in the tires so we are always letting some Hot Air Out. Might be one reason folks like to say that you are a really Cooking.
Seats .....We always are moving the seats down since a high seat , when out in the sun for a while , gets really hot and no one wants a Rump Roast in the middle of the day. Especially if the rider is a Couch Potato.
Chains..... The chains stay in great shape from all the sun tan lotion ( oil ) dripping off a person as the ride in the sunlight and heat. If a person drinks to much electrolytes ( salts ) and sweats them out it might cause a minor case of rust on the chain from the perspiration dripping on it. The up side is all of the activity will give a person a tan as dark as some good Beef Gravy. If you ride you have to control ( limit yourself ) your drinking.
The one real problem is if you are riding off road threw the weeds , grass and stuff. They get caught in the chain and a rider can end up with a tossed salad in the chain and sprockets.
Darn , all the typing has made me hungry , gotta go and find something to snack on.
PEDALING AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD - on a seat that works
Seat height is important. It can easily rob the rider of their most powerful leg thrust. Or, it can enable you do your very best.
First, the critical height is measured from the top of the seat, down to the top of a pedal when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke. Seat height is NOT measured from seat to ground. A way to do this is to sit on the seat with a foot on a pedal at the bottom of the stroke. (You probably want another person stabilizing the bike). The ball of you foot should be on the pedal. Not your heel, and not your arch. The BALL.
If your knee is straight out at full extension, the seat is too high. Lower it an jnch and try again. If your knee is bent more than just a little, the seat is too low; raise it a couple of inches and try again. When correct, the ball of your foot is on the pedal, and your knee is only slightly flexed at the bottom of the stroke. Take a short ride to double check. You should be able to pedal without sliding around on the seat, and with you knee flexed only slightly at the bottom of the stroke.
An easy way to mark this height for future reference is with a short length of cord. Tie about a foot long cord onto the framework under the bike seat. A bowline knot is a good one for this. Pull the cord down along the seat tube. Where the cord meets the frame tube, mark the cord. (A black or red permenant marker works well here.). Cut off the cord a few inches below the mark, and tie it off in a knot to prevent fraying.
Now, you can easily restor the correct height if it gets out of trim. You can also set the correct height fo another rider, and mark that.
Another issue here is - what is a good bike seat. My answer is - one that satisfies your needs. Looking at it from a performance point of view, here's what I value.
COMFORT. Let's face it, discomfort is not going to entice us to want to ride. And, what one rider finds to be comfirtable, may well not satisfy another rider. But, some generalities do exist.
(1) Fit is important. Some bike saddles look about as comfortable as sitting on the upturned edge of a double bitted axe. I have no intention of buying a bike seat that requires me to also buy a special pair of pants to be able to withstand the discomfort of that seat. I'm not that dumb. So, simply said, a bike seat should feel good while you're sitting on it. Duh!
(2) Fit also includes how the seat feels while actually pedaling. The motion of constantly moving our legs up and down can chafe us in tender areas if a seat doesn't fit us.
(3). Adjustment is critical. Seat height is critical, so is seat angle. Having the front of the seat too high or low leads to at least two, uncomfortable situations. We will slide around if the angle is wrong. That will hurt, and it leads to our feet moving out of position on the pedals. This distraction is not only a bother. It can lead to falling off, or not avoiding a collision.
(3) Bumps multiply the shock force transmitted upwards to us. Some bikes have spring-loaded shock absorbers on one or both wheels. Mine has none. It used to be that all bike seats had springs. Now, you have to shop carefully. I wouldn't spend money for a seat that doesn't have springs. And, don't get fooled into thinking that a gel pad on top of a poorly designed seat will correct for that seat. It won't. Get a seat that is built correctly in the first place, and you won't need any attachments to make up for the poor seat.
(4) After spending over $150 on several seats and pads, I sent off to the Brooks Company in England, and got a leather seat with springs, for about $125. Probably a bit more now. It works for me, but may not for others.
Bike chains live in a messy world. Ideally, they should be tightly enclosed and shielded. Every once in a while, a little spray of warm oil would spritz out onto them. Fact is though, that ain't so. They live in the open, subject to sand and gravel dust (read "grinding compound") to work into their joints and accelerate wear by 10 or 20 times. Then, rain and muddy water from puddles sprays onto them, initiating rust.
Some periodic care can help the chains, AND the rider. Once or twice a year is enough for the riding that I do. Your riding conditions and distances may require more often attention.
Let's talk about "changing the oil" on a bike chain. I start out by cleaning off the old gunk - a combination of old oil, dirt, and steel particles that have worn off of the chain. A couple of years ago, I found the "Filzer chain cleaner". Amazon sells them for $14.99 plus shipping and maybe sales tax. It's easily identifiable by its bright chartreuse-green color, and its name. There are other, similar products available for $10-$20 more if you so choose. I didn't.
This is a messy project. Wear old clothes, and BE CAREFUL. A Filzer chain cleaner clamps onto the lower level of the chain. You turn the pedals backwards while holding onto the handy, black handle of the cleaner. The chain whizzes through; brushes work it over on both top and bottom surfaces; and dirt comes off. You'll need the bike frame to be held steady during this operation. Have a helper hold the bike; or turn it upside down; or buy a bike maintenance stand online from Walmart.
A word of CAUTION here. The directions on my Filzer advised using a soapy water solution in the tank as a cleaning fluid. Instead, I chose to use a hydrocarbon solvent to dissolve oily gunk. Kerosene or Diesel fuel would work. I used gasoline. These liquids burn, so use them at your own risk.
A few minutes of running the chain around, and it was clean. The inside of the cleaner wasn't! It was dirty, black, and gunky. Inside the little tank is a small, button magnet. It was FULL of little bristles. Those little whiskers were steel shavings that had worn off of my chain because I hadn't cleaned and lubed it in previous years. Those bristles represented dollars that I had wasted in accelerated wear of chain and sprockets! Here's an axiom: oil is cheap - steel is expensive.
Now, let's get to oil. In the past, I have read that you were supposed to boil a chain in oil. I've actually done that, and it works. BUT, we're not cooking french fries here; gang; we're lunricating steel. (1) Steel chains do not need to be cooked. And much more importantly, (2) only a small part of the chain needs oil. None of that need involves the outside of the chain. The only part that needs oil, are inside parts that we cannot see.
Bike chains are technically a roller chain. The rollers spin on little axles. We can't see the axles either. The ONLY place that a roller chain requires oil is on those little axles, where the rollers roll upon. Period. Any other oil is excess, and needs to be wiped off. If excess oil is left on the chain, it will sling off onto the bike and YOUR CLOTHING. Not the way you want it.
After cleaning the chain, a handful of paper towel wrapped loosely around the chain, while rotating those pedals backwards, wil help remove the cleaning fluid (soapy water or hydrocarbon). HINT: you should use several clean paper towels several times to clean the chain. As the outside surfaces get clean, more gunk works its way out from inside those pins and axles. More towels.
The oil that we lube with has two jobs. It greatly reduces internal friction. Lubricity makes the working parts slippery. The only horsepower available for running that bike is the rider. Make it easier on yourself - reduce friction. The other job of the oil isn't as clear to see..
When chain links are moving along on the bottom of the route from the front sprocket, on their way to the rear sprocket, it is loose and not under tension. As it reaches the rear sprocket, it comes under tension as it pulls the sprocket around. All of the work done by a bike chain is done in between the top of the front and rear sprockets. All of it.
As chain links, with their little roller and axle assemblies, are loafing along on their way from the bottom of the front sprocket toward the bottom of the rear sprocket, oil is free to move all around in between the axle and roller. As a link encounters teeth at the bottom of the rear sprocket, the chain then comes under tension. That tension squeezes the oil that was wrapped evenly around the axle. Now, part of the axle has less oil, and part of it has more. Moving that little bit of oil provides a shock absorbing cushion. It eases the job of pedaling, and eases wear and tear on the mechanism of the bike. And it does that hundreds of times a minute. That part of the oil's job works better with a heavy, high viscosity oil. I use 90 weight gear oil.
But, trying to get the oil down into the tiny area in between the axle and roller requires a very light, low viscosity oil. Converting a thick oil, into a light weight thin oil, that will then reconvert back into its original thick state requires a bit of a trick. But, its really fairly simple.
I use a small, plastic bottle with a small nozzle on it. A nose spray bottle works well if you remove the little tube from the inside. Add a small, clean hex nut or steel washer to act as an agitator when the bottle is shaken. I fill the bottle about 60%-70% full of 90 weight gear oil, then top it off with gasoline. ( CAUTION: gasoline is flammable and burns.). The gasoline thins down the oil so it will readily wick into the axle-roller cavity where it needs to be. And then, the gasoline will evaporate off leaving behind the thick oil to do its job. Slick, ehh?
So, after you've cleaned and dried the chain, it's ready to be lubed. This can be a messy job, so lay out some paper towels to help catch drips and drops. Mark your starting point on the chain with one of those little twisties for plastic bags. Using the plastic bottle of thinned oil, carefully put one (and ONLY one) drop of oil on both ends of each roller. That's all the oil that is needed. Actually, even that is too much. Most of the oil will be excess. Go all the way around the chain, link by link. When you come back to the twisty thingey, remove it. And again, use handsful of paper towels to wipe off the chain and sprockets. Wipe more times than you think necessary. After wiping it off, I leave it set while i wash up and have a cuppa coffee.
Coming up this year, are several, planned trips. Our Geezer Run will launch again.. A liesurely canoe trip, a week long, I look forward to it every year, all of it - except the pickled baloney.
Julie and I will be doing a road trip, taking along our bikes. Plans for the trip are loose. A visit to a buddy; a visit to some family, and a visit to a neat museum. And, of course, some chocolate ice cream.
Charlie and I plan a bike trip on a trail here in Michigan. Camping, riding, 40 or so miles.
And lastly, a trip to a Canadian lake for a week of camping in one spot. This is a favorite for us. Part of this trip will be to revisit the Canadian Bushplane Museum in the Sault Ste Marie (pronounced as "Soo Saint Marie", and just called "the Soo"). I've been to the Cabadian museums for canoes and bushplanes. Both are fascinating.
Each trip takes some planning and preparation, which is part of the fun.