Warmer Than Usual

Bobby Kurtz was having a great walk. The mix he had on his phone was all eclectic strangeness, and while he was soaked with sweat and tired after doing five miles in the tropical heat, his water bottle was still almost full. 

Grabbing his walking staff in the other hand, he looked down the long rural road. It was, easily, another mile to the next intersection where he’d turn and go north for four miles to get back to his friend’s house. 

He looked up as the stupid helicopter passed overhead for the fourth time this morning. Rigged out as a spraying bird, it was probably nuking the marshes nearby for mosquitoes. The annoying part was that every time it passed overhead it was so loud it drowned out his headphones. One of the costs of mosquito free housing was low-altitude helicopters. He watched it as it broke abruptly right  from it’s previous path, and not only ejected a dozen magnesium flares from it’s top, but turned on a disrupting optical device on the tail. 

Kurtz shielded his eyes but not before he saw the surface-to-air missile follow one of the flares and detonate two hundred yards behind the helicopter. 

He hit the deck and missed being hit by the shrapnel by a miracle of some sort. The shooter, however, didn’t avoid a penalty, for the helicopter pirouetted and made a firing run on the origin of the smoke trail. There was the scream of 7.62 miniguns that fired from what he had thought were the pesticide tanks on the sides of the helicopter. No shell casings fell from the sky, as they must have been captured by the bulbous gun casings disguised as spray tanks. 

The roaring was deafening, and all he could do was hold his hands over his ears, the helicopter just 75 feet from him and firing at a spot no more than 300 from where he lay prone on the broiling roadway. 

Peace returned to the land, smoke drifted off in the gentle breeze, and the helicopter gained altitude, circled the area rapidly, and returned to a hover just 100 feet from Kurtz. 

Loudspeakers hailed him, “You okay, Mr. Kurtz? Sorry that was so close to you, but hey, bad guys get nuked, right?”

Kurtz gave a thumbs-up and the bird flew away to some other mission. 

Bobby Kurtz stood on the roadway, debating checking out what was left of the SAM shooter. He dismissed the idea. They were toast to be sure, and he was on vacation. How they knew it was him bothered him a second, but then he looked at the phone on his harness rig and figured they had his transponder from the Facility Review Board on their equipment.

Why the missile, and why it was so close to him was just another mystery he’d probably never solve. Dusting himself off, he took a long drink from the water bottle and continued down the deserted roadway. He was starving and lunch was another hour’s walk away.

 

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Yes, I am working on the sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes. But since it’s slow going and some of you were missing Kurtz, I figured he’d make a guest appearance on the blog.

 

Now, buy some of my audio books so I get enough money to write for a while!

The Real America Is Alive And Well In Florida

Okay, he wasn’t there in person, but his spirit and love for America sure was. 

I spent the Fourth of July 2021 in Florida. A state that is so vastly superior to the blue dungeon I came from that it barely is worth mentioning. Until, that is, you celebrate a patriotic holiday here.

Morning was church. Love my little church in the Everglades. Small congregation, no big screens or fog machines, and the band is a piano and a guitar with an occasional dulcimer thrown in. They normally have a second service at six in the evening, (which we don’t attend) but yesterday the second service was cancelled, and instead the entire congregation gathered at the home of a member for a “bring a dish” dinner, fireworks, volleyball, jumpy house (I was not allowed in, something about it being for the kids) and a couple of pools.

Dinner was great. So was our conversation. Like these events everywhere, the vets all find each other and trade stories. Last night no exception: except almost everyone there was a vet, so there were a bunch of conversations going on all over. 

While we ate, we watched the young people play volleyball. (Side note: at what age do you get to use that phrase?  Answer: 60.) They had more energy in the 98 degree heat than I do, but I killed the macaroni salad eating event.

As twilight approached, the pastor (our host’s father) said a prayer for America (and, yes, it’s pronounced “murica” down here) and we all joined in. This was followed by the playing of the national anthem. Nobody had a hat on their head, and a lot of us stood at attention and presented a salute. It was stirring and wonderful. I love that feeling of knowing the people around me have my back and I have theirs. 

Then our host’s husband (who was also our host, come to think of it) who is a fire-fighter, lit off about $8,000,000,000.00 worth of fireworks. Now, we live just down the road a half-mile, and they have a big acre lot as well. So we’re out in the boonies. The shredded paper from the fireworks covered my car in the parking area. I took out the hearing aids. We had a great show. 

And as the event ended in our company, the skyline light up from horizon to horizon with fireworks. Lots of fireworks. In Florida, you can shoot off danged near anything you want, but only on the Fourth. Not the third, not the fifth. You got the holiday and that’s it!  God, not wanting to miss out on the fun, lit up the eastern horizon with his special brand of electrical fireworks, and so it went.

Chewy was a bit uptight, but he got some tranquilizers early and late in the evening and he was okay. No panic, just a little anxiety. But we ended the night on the couch comforting him and thanking God we lived in a free place. 

That’s my new ‘murica. I love it.

Some Things That Just Aren’t Right

I know that you’re probably wondering what this moron is doing now. Simple, I have observed some things that just aren’t right and need to be addressed.

Let’s start out easy and get to the really tough ones later.

McDonalds bags. I know that the good people at the counter/window of your favorite burger joint are trying to eliminate the need for you to juggle multiple bags when they jam it all into the bag most able to handle the load.

The problem is, and I say this having lived in a cold climate for a very long time, that if you can’t shut the bag by rolling the top, the top layer gets cold. And what’s always on the top layer? Fries. Nobody likes cold fries except Chewy. 

So, Golden Arches people, give me two bags for that order and let me close them properly. That’s what your competition at White Castle does. They’ve been around a lot longer than you have, so they might have it right.

Store brands versus name brands being displayed in different locations. Look, I get it: there’s a science to how things are shelved, and what locations get the best traffic/grabs from the shelf. But please don’t make me search the entire cereal section to find the store equivalent of Raisin Bran, Grape Nuts, Captain Crunch, etc. Either shelve them next to the big name product, or in a completely separate section of the shelf dedicated to the store brands. I really hate finding what I want in the middle of some other variety of product. I mean, seriously, who looks for Fruit Loops Generic in the middle of the granola section?

Gas pumps with three hoses. I vaguely remember getting a degree from some place that proves that I’m an educated idjit. But I really have to examine the multi-hose pumps with Diesel, non-ethanol, and then three grades of ethanol. The hose colors seem to vary with the chain as well. Let’s go standard here: blue for diesel, red for gasoline, and tiger-stripes of orange and purple for non-ethanol. Something. Anything. Make it somewhat easier than brain surgery for God’s sake. 

Mask signs. It’s time. Take the damned sign down. I don’t wear one anyway, but I want to know if you’re going to scream at me when I walk through the door. None of your staff, and very few customers, are still wearing one, but you forgot to take them off the doors. Get hot with that razor blade and soapy water, you losers. 

Quit blaming police for criminal’s bad actions and criminal actions. Yes, this one’s serious. Every time you label a cop as a racist for enforcing the law, bringing a suspect down with a Taser, or citing a speeder, you diminish the value of everyone involved. Force, violence, power projection is sometimes needed to protect the officer and the citizenry.

Bad shoots are a bad thing. If it’s done with clear malice, it’s a criminal act. If not, perhaps it’s a training issue. It’s not a given that an officer using force is wrong for doing what they’ve done. 

A measured evaluation, instead of an insta-riot is what needs to happen. 

Our President. I’m fluent in lots of things, and just this past week he said we’d nuclear weapons and F-15 fighters to take down the government. Yet on January 6, unarmed protestors were labeled an insurrection. (The word means protest against government, often of a violent nature.) Protesters, I might add, who were given admission into the building by the police in some cases. 

How can that be if we need fighters and nukes to take down the government. And, frankly, why is the government still holding people guilty of nothing worse than trespass in jail from that event. None has been charged with insurrection. Not. A. Single. One. Strangely enough, only one person died due to the violence that day: Ahsli Babbett. She was shot by an unnamed Capitol Police officer. She was unarmed. If you’ve read this blog for very long, I’m as pro-police as it gets. But that shot was murder. Plain and simple. We need to know who the shooter was. Now.

Now, I realize that last paragraph really upset some of you. But think it through: was it a protest, or an insurrection.

Think about all the people in this country with skill and equipment that could really make for an insurrection, and ask yourself where were they that day?  They were not there, in Washington, because it was a protest that got out of hand. Most likely through the agency of people opposed to the message of the protest, but willing to set fire to their own hair to make the protesters look bad.

Those are some of the wrongs that need to be righted. And, Mr. President, you work for us. Don’t forget that. Because millions of Americans took it rather personally when you made your statement. We don’t need no stinkin  nukes.

So, for all of you eating cold fries, with a soggy bowl of the wrong cereal in front of you for desert, go ahead and rage. But you’re still wrong. And so is the President.

That’s all until after the Independence Day celebrations. Go be with friends and family. Eat hotdogs, light rockets, and ignore the dictators who tell you to socially distance and turn in your guns.  You need no permit to be free: God issued that to you at birth within these borders.

George and the boys would approve of your actions.

Great Real Estate Agent Alert

In the past few years I have extolled the joys of certain movies, television shows, books, restaurants, charities, and a host of personal stuff I’ve been involved in.

Today’s blog is presenting great real estate agents.

My recent move from the Blue Hell of Minnesota to the Red Utopia of Florida is case in point. I grew up one place, plan to die in the other, and have had great agents in both places. 

Let’s start with my Minnesota agent, Kevin Horan. Not many people have the guy next door as their agent. We did. It made it easy to wander over with a bottle of adult beverages and some snacks, sit around the center island in his kitchen, and plan the strategy. It made it easy to get the house ready to list, and for him to show it as well, since he just had to look out the window to see what was going on.

But the little things count massively. Example: he cleaned the joint out for us after we moved out. I hired a team of 800-GOT JUNK people to come in and make it all vanish. Kevin was there to let them in and supervise. Likewise with the cleaning crew (whom he recommended) that left the place far better looking than at any point when I lived there. Finally, it got warm before the new tenants moved in, and the snow melted. That meant that a winter’s worth of Chewy poop was visible. Kevin did poop patrol. I owe the man a steak at a minimum. 

He was in constant communication with us, got us a great price, and made it all happen painlessly. Not because he was my neighbor, but because he’s a rock star and a great agent. If you are in the Twin Cities and need to sell, or buy, a home, give him a call at:    (612) 910-3704 Mobile and email at: kevinhoran@kw.com 

As far as hobbies and whatnot goes, I know he tells a great story, loves his family, and is handy with a poop scoop.

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Now, on the other end of the country, we found our agent through my sister. She’d already been looking in Florida and knew Marybeth as a good agent. Good enough for me. We had put out calls to a couple of agents and she was the first to respond, cinching the deal.

She’s fast. Really fast. No phone call or email went unanswered. She asked us what we wanted in our new home. We gave her some precise goals, and she provided 21 homes within a couple of days. We checked the listings, and eliminated most, highlighting what we liked, the areas we liked, and changed our specs a bit. 

This went back and forth several times until we figured out what we really wanted. At that point, the market was turning fast in Florida. Marybeth drove all over to look at homes for us, and used her extensive network of people to find what we were looking for in our lives.

Simply stated, I never would have bought a house over the internet if she wasn’t my agent. We trusted her. We knew she would do right by us. And, with great confidence, we bought our house on Christmas Eve. She has little ones, and she was up late cinching the deal for us. 

She wasn’t done. She went to the closing walk-through on our behalf. She made sure it was all good. We met her for the first time at the closing.

But she wasn’t finished. She helped us find a good fencing contractor and water treatment company. She guided us through the steps needed to make our landing in Florida soft.

So, if you’re looking for a house anywhere around Naples, Florida, you’re wasting your time if you don’t call her at:    239-319-8464 or, you can email her at:  marybeth.alford@compass.com.

Hobbies:  She’s a runner, couple of marathons under her belt, and she hunts wild hogs. Let’s see…. yup, don’t mess with her, she’ll run you down and  – well, let’s just say she’s formidable.

If you need an agent in either market, start with these two. Fine people with great work ethics. They have our vote. 

 

 

 

Nice Timing

No blog last week.  That happens now and again when you’re waiting for someone to get back to you with information. Maybe that one will pop up next week.

In the meantime, an update on the new joint. Reverse Osmosis system in place, water to whole house now tastes good, instead of like a safety match. 

Solar power – – – coming soon. Between supply chain issues related to the Chinese virus, county inspectors, and the blistering heat at midday, we’re still a few weeks out from completion. But so close it is almost tangible.

The yard. It’s so freaking thick and green it is amazing. This time of year is rain on, rain off, every day. No need for sprinklers. My yard guy, Yordany, mows every two weeks, I try to mow in the off weeks. Now, why would a fat old dude want to try to mow this big lot?  I like stripes. Too many years maintaining other people’s turf have ruined me. I like a lawn with stripes. Looks great when I do it, but tough to get out in the window between dry turf and brutal heat. We’ll see how that goes.

Shelving is almost done. One room left, but until the audio book project is done, can’t move the computers around to put the shelves in. Soon.

On a nice note, I scrounged around in Chewy’s toy box last night and found his two favorites. He’s been anything but bored since we moved in, but I missed watching him play with his Kibble ball and puzzle. Pulled them out, loaded them up and put them out while he was in the back yard. 

When he came in, he worked them both hard. He had a blast. I laid down on the floor to watch television later that night and he came over, and licked my head for a few minutes. 

 

Now, if you’ve never had a dog do that on your bald head, it kind of melts you. So relaxing your eyes cross and you go limp. Man, I missed that and didn’t even realize it. Ed and Maisie, our shelties, did that years ago. Stormy never did it, and yesterday was the first time I remember Chewy doing it. It simply conveys total love. And, my nubby head scrapes the tongue crud off, so the dogs like that.

Today holds a block of recording the new DiMercurio audio book and then editing it when the afternoon rains come along. I’m excited:  the book is fantastic!  More details when the release is official.

Now, go about your day and be blessed.

 

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