Saturday, May 23

Lock at Windmill Harbor

The boat lock at Windmill Harbor is the first and only one I have seen on Hilton Head Island. When i went to the boat show earlier this month it was an interesting surprise. An attendant told me the lock had been closed last year for about three months for repairs. When this happens the boats in the anchorage are locked in and those outside are locked out. Not a happy time for boaters. This was all the more interesting because before my visit I read a story of how British forces blocked and blew up a lock built to accommodate Germany's largest battleships. When this happened in March,1942, the lock was not usable by the Germans for the duration of World War II. 
The gate to the lock.

Inside the lock.

The anchorage.

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Sunday, May 10

My Sister Carol

Today at 11:12 in her home in The Villages, Florida, my youngest sister, Carol, died with three close friends in attendance. She had declined chemotherapy and radiation a couple of months ago. This was her third bout with cancer and it was too much for her. I visited her in April along with my son, James. 

Carol was born on June 7, 1935. She would have been 80 in a month. She was a retired federal employee, a contract officer for the Air Force during her working life. She started with the Air Force in an entry position and worked her way to the top civil service grade short of the Executive Service.

She was an avid golfer for fifty years and won many tournaments and served as the president of her golf club. She was blessed with many friends, among them Carole Tessier with whom she shared her life. They moved in together when their mothers died and owned property together. 

Carol was a friendly and outgoing personality who had a good sense of humor, was smart, liked a beer and cheered the Red Sox and New England Patriots. She was especially voluble when the Sox ended a 100-year drought and won the World Series in 2004. 

Carol was the linchpin of our family She lived with our mother all her life and took care of the business affairs of an aunt and uncle. She was especially close to her older sister and younger brother. Our brother Charlie preceded Carol in death, also a victim of cancer. 

My mother told me that of all her five children, Carol took my father's 1940-41 abandonment of us the hardest. Like all of us she struggled to put herself through college and overcome hardships we all faced. She did this with the same courage and discipline that she refused the final chemo and radiation treatment.

Carol was a lifelong Roman Catholic and received the last rites recently. I have no doubt her soul joined our mother in heaven on this, Mother's Day, 2015.

We, her siblings, my family, Carole Tessier, and the multiple dozens who knew and loved Carol will miss her as we continue to pray for her.

Carol Tessier and Carol Archibald, 2010

Saturday, April 25

Wi-fi pacemaker check and flying wheelbarrows

WiFi pacemaker check:

The technician put a programming wand (resembles a large mixing spoon with a hole in the center on the end of a cord attached to a monitor) around my neck and dropped it over my left shoulder to where my new pacemaker (installed in January 2015) is and then instantly removed it. 
"What's wrong?", I inquired. I've had a pacemaker for over six years and when it is checked (about twice a year) the wand was used throughout the check. 
"Nothing is wrong. See this antenna on top of the monitor? It is reading your pacemaker by Wi-fi." The brief use of the wand established a connection between my pacemaker and the monitor.  
This was not the only surprise awaiting me. The second technician asked if I would like her to monitor my pacemaker continuously from home by telephone. She explained, and I signed on. Some equipment will come in the mail which I will hook it up to the house phone and it will be connected to a computer monitored by the technician. We had some friendly banter about her staying awake 24/7 to monitor me and she assured me it wouldn't be that intimate.
Progress is always underway. Some pacemakers currently have a battery with a 8 to 10 year life expectancy.  Swiss scientists are testing to see if the heart itself could power the pacemaker and make batteries obsolete. 

A fellow retiree in Arlington,VA, told me this story recently:

It has been annoyingly windy up here all week long, preventing me from flying.  And here is where our story begins....


In search of simulated flight today, I headed to Leesburg to use the school's full motion simulator.  With a head full of aeronautical thoughts I set out on Interstate 66, west....

Traveling down I-66 west at the speed limit, because that is how I drive, I was being passed rather frequently by cars and SUVs driven by self absorbed very important people on their way to big and important meetings.  

I was driving in the right inner lane of the four lanes.  Over in the fast lane was a large truck loaded with all sorts of lawn care equipment.  Positioned on top of the pile of equipment were two heavy duty wheelbarrows.  They were positioned such that the tops of the wheelbarrows were facing downward.  

I was boxed in by speeding cars to my left and right with another behind me coming up fast.  Not wanting to be reared ended, I slowed and fortunately the guy behind me slowed too.  We came to a rapid halt as the wheelbarrow now cascading down the interstate headed right for my car.
It must have bounced 5 or 6 times before coming to a halt about 3 feet in front of my car as I stopped.  The wheelbarrow was perfectly upright.  

Think about that:  worked all these years and learned to fly only to be killed by a flying wheelbarrow--on the way to the airport.  Not a way to go.....

I pulled off the road and saw two men get out of a truck behind me and push the wheelbarrow off the road.  As for the truck that lost the wheelbarrow, he never slowed down.

Sunday, March 8

Cranberries Don't Help

Bloomberg Businessweek (March 2-8, 2015) ran a major story on how Kellogg's, after 109 years of being in business,  has lost the breakfast meal. This was of particular interest to me because I have been eating Kellogg's Raisin Bran practically every morning since the decade of the 60s. (By now I ought to be on pension from Kellogg.) For most of that time it was one cup of RB and a half-cup of Kellogg's All-Bran. The latter recommended by my mother "for regularity."

Kellogg's has more than 25 cereal brands, most aimed at kids and parents on the go. Frosted Flakes are their number one seller. Raisin Bran and Rice Krispies are close to the bottom of the revenue stream. 

Efforts are being made ( it's called "a long-term rescue plan") to regain market share, One effort adds cranberries to the Raisin Bran. It isn't working. 

I looked at four stores before I found any on a shelf, and then I used a 70 cents off coupon to buy a box. I needed a magnifying glass to find the cranberries. There were only a few (apparently only raisins come in "Two Scoops.") The bran flakes were lighter in color than in the Raisin Bran without. There was no taste of the cranberries or cranberry flavor.

Wednesday, January 28

The Interview

On Tuesday night Netflix surprised by offering The Interview for instant viewing. This is the film that got North Korea bent out of shape because it pokes fun at "Dear Leader," ("Dear Leader" in black on the right.)

and led (or not) to cyber-hacking Sony Corporation which wasted a lot of money putting this piece of trash together.  Shareholders ought to revolt. If it was not for the controversy created by offending "Dear Leader" and his minions,  this film would have been of no interest to anyone and the master copy of the film would have gone straight to some vault for unreleased films in the Arizona desert.

The story line is two PR guys who specialize in TV nonsense calculated to titillate the masses are going to North Korea to interview "Dear Leader." This comes about because "Dear Leader" allegedly watches every episode of the TV program these nut cases are connected with and wants to be on their show. Hence they are invited to broadcast the show from North Korea. To assure it goes well, "Dear Leader" will write the questions to be put to him. Along the way, the CIA gets wind of this and not an agency to let an opportunity go to waste prevails on the two showmen to kill "Dear Leader." This is where I ought to have shut the film off and gone to something more worthwhile, e.g. picking the lint out from between my toes.

But I hung in there. (What does that say about me? I hung in there for research purposes sounds sort of lame.)

North Korea and "Dear Leader" rightly ought to be insulted by this film. Not because it pokes fun at "Dear Leader," but because it is such a terrible film. It has more usage of the F word as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb than an hour of Lewis Black The dialogue and premise is so stupidly insulting to even the least average among us it makes your skin crawl. Watching it in the privacy of your home is the only redeeming feature: your neighbors won't see you coming out of a viewing at your local theater.

Thursday, January 15

Drones, mothers and deaths

A couple of paragraphs I read recently made me think about the world around me.  And then there was some sad news more personal and closer to home.

"The drone and surveillance program, like much of counterterrorism today, are driven principally by two phenomena: on the one hand, previously unthinkable terrorist threats, and on the other, equally unanticipated technological developments. These twin factors have motivated and enabled security agencies to undertake measures that were once impossible--and to do so in secret, without the awareness, much less approval of the people on whose behalf they act."  (David Cole, Must Counterterrorism Cancel Democracy, The New York Review of Books, January 5, 2015. Pg 26.)

Thirteen years after 9/11, much thinking is looking back. At 9/11, I, and most Americans, did not care what the security agencies did with or without our approval. We only wanted to strike back. We did not ask to be consulted then; why now complain?
"When my mom picked me up at the airport from my LaGuardia flight, she was wearing a designer coat she got on eBay. It was too tight, and it made her look like she was hunchback. She hadn't been washing her hair, and she had a pronounced bald spot . It was Thanksgiving, in 2009." (Amie Barrodale, My Mother's Apartment, Harper's, December, 2014.Pg. 38.)

My mom never picked me up at any airport nor bought clothes on eBay. As she got older she was fastidious about her hair and had it done almost weekly. Amie has written ten short stories, all revolving around her mother. 

Closer to home, my brother-in-law, Edward Cooper, died January 8 in Florida early in the morning. A few hours later his sister, Bertha Cooper Westbury McMillan, died in Georgetown, S.C., where she was born and lived all of her life. 

At my marriage to Mary Cooper in 1954, Edward walked his sister down the aisle and gave her in marriage; Bertha and Mary were always close as sisters ought to be. I visited Bertha and her husband Harold, in December 2014.

Thursday, January 1

A new baby for the New Year

Yesterday, when I blogged ending the year I had no idea 2014 was not really over for me or my family. It held one more wonderful surprise. One that was not expected until some time in January. At 8:58 last night my granddaughter-in-law, Rondalyn, gave birth to Steven Francis Archibald and made me a great-grandfather. His father, Steven, text-ed to tell us the newest member of our family weighed in at 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 22 1/2 inches long. This is a most happy and delicious moment in his parents life - and my life -  and was made even happier this morning when I learned the baby's name. At the request of his parents, we are not putting any pictures on social websites at this time. They will make that family decision at some future date.

I plan to travel to the Charleston area on the weekend to get a first look at our first great-grandchild. It will be an exciting time. This newest member of our family will find himself loved by all and prayerfully blessed by the Lord.