Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Odds & Ends

After a few requests and because I keep hearing that chicks dig firefighters, here is a photo of me (on the right) and my friend Mo during last month's live smoke/SCBA training session. Notice he's got the brand-spanking-new bunker gear and helmet while I'm stuck with hand-me-downs... It's been an eye-opening switch from police officer to firefighter to say the least. It's only volunteer and part time, but I'm still enjoying it.
And speaking of live smoke, I'm not sure if it's that I'm getting older and less tolerant of it or what, but I haven't been smoking nearly as much as I have been and have cut down on it greatly since Christmas. I've been meaning to quit for a while and I am slowly weaning myself off of cigarettes. I'm not going to go cold-turkey like the last time though. Ranger Tom was not a very pleasant person to be around, and lets face it. Nicotine is a drug and I'm addicted. I am going to switch over to a pipe for a while and slowly wean myself off that way. At least pipe tobacco smells nice and won't stink up my apartment.
And speaking of stinking apartments...
I've said before how small my place is, so although I'm by no means a neat freak, I keep up with it because if I don't it gets cluttered fast. If I let it go for more than a few days it looks like it's been ransacked by the FBI serving a warrant. So I keep up with things, especially the garbage. It would be the height of laziness that I didn't take the garbage out every other day. The complex's dumpster (skip to my readers in the UK and Oz) is only about twenty feet from my front door and I have to walk right by it every night on my way to work so it's no big deal to take the trash out.
So I'm baffled by and odor I'm assaulted with the other morning when I walked in from work. It's not really overpowering, just under the threshold of annoyance really. I smell it as soon as I'm through my front door and in a moment it's gone. I have no garbage piling up and no dishes piled up in the sink so I'm basically clueless on the origins of this smell. It' s definitely a garbagey smell... It's not the dumpster because that never has time to pile up because it's emptied three times a week. The only other thing that I can think of is the apartment next door to me. It's used by the local rescue squad as a 911 substation for this part of the county but it's not been used in well over two months.
The only thing I can think of at this point is the last ambulance crew who used it never took the trash out and something is festering in there... I left a voicemail on another friend's cell phone to let him know about it because he's a supervisor for the squad. Hopefully that'll take care of it because I don't want people coming over thinking it's my place. Not that I have a shitload of visitors now. Until my friend gets back to me I'll continue to burn vanilla scented candles. I know it's not real bad, but I know it's there and it'll drive me nuts until it's taken care of.
On to dental work...
I've finally found a decent dental plan through of all places the American Legion. I've been a Legionare for over eleven years now and have never taken them up on any of the benefits they offer us veterans. I lost my dental coverage two years ago in my divorce and frankly I couldn't afford it until now. God knows I need it. I have this hole in one of my molars slightly smaller than Brice Canyon and I've been eating ibuprofin like it's candy for the last month. I've got to do something fast or my teeth are going to start falling out of my head, and then all I'll need to do is get my hair cut into a mullet and I'll really fit in here in West Virginia. Moral of this story is twofold. Take care of your chompers, and two, if you're a veteran, take a few moments and join the American Legion and take advantage of some of their benefits.
And another word or two about my planned trip to the UK. I've been doing a little research on that, and if I play my cards right and nothing catastrophic happens, I might be able to do that sooner than summer of 07'! The thought of taking a rail tour of Britain and Scotland has me excited! An adventure in the making and I can't wait!
Until tomorrow!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, February 27, 2006

Beaten with the stupid stick

I'm by no means an Einstein, but even I can tell when a gas station is closed for the night, or even what state I'm in at the time.
Early this morning I'm doing my regular checks in town and as I'm passing the Deli Mart I see a vehicle parked at the gas pumps. I pull up and ask if they need any help.
"Yeah, this pump isn't working at the attendant is gone..."
"Maybe it's because they're closed for the evening?" I ask the man.
He gives me the all too familiar deer in the headlights look as I explain where the nearest all-night station is. As I watch him drive away, I look around. All the lights are off, inside and out. The pumps are dark and it's obvious that the power is off to them. But here was this mental midget at 2 AM trying to put gas in his car and wondering why no one is around and the pump isn't working.
Second case. This happened last Monday night. I had been meaning to write about this guy but other things happened I wanted to write about so this got put on the back burner until today, when Zippy the Pinhead came along.
I was at the Deli Mart shortly before closing and a guy came in to pay for the gas he pumped. He was carrying a piece of paper and after he paid for his purchase, he asked me for directions.
"How far is it to Rt. 33?"
"Route 33? Never heard of it. Where are you trying to get to?"
"Columbus, Ohio."
"Well, there's no Route 33 anywhere near hear, and you've got a ways to go before you get to Columbus."
"I'm just retracing my route from MapQuest from last week. We're coming back from Florida."
"Just head on back north on I-77, up through Marietta, Ohio until you hit I-70 and head west. You can't miss Columbus from there. It'll take about eight more hours."
"Wow, that's not how we came down. We stopped at the Wendy's down the street and got dinner."
"Wendy's? Here? There's no Wendy's here. You're looking at Athens. This is it."
"Yeah, it was right next to the Burger King."
I silently began to reconsider my opinion on this guy's intelligence at this point but bit my lip...
"There's no Wendy's or Burger King here. Where do you think you're at?" I had to ask...
"Aren't we in Athens, Ohio?"
"No, you're a long way from there. You're in Athens, West Virginia..."
"No way!"
"How did I get to West Virginia then?"
Right then and there a gigantic urge to shout 'The Mother Ship beamed you down to find me!' was stifled and I told him I had no idea. I got a map from one of the guys and pointed out right where he was, where he needed to go and how to get there. I even marked the route out with a highlighter and bought the map for him. As he drove away into the West Virginia night he waved goodbye along with his wife and children in the car...
Oh my God, he's procreated!
Even though I have sort of a sixth sense when it comes to directions and very rarely lose my way I can understand being a little lost some times. It's human nature. But to be over two hundred miles and a state away from where you thought you were? And be totally oblivious to it?
We are doomed as a species.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Friday morning I was kidnapped by several members of my volunteer fire department, packed into a non-descript vehicle and transported against my will to a secluded cabin in Pipestem State Park...
It was there I was forced to eat hamburgers, hotdogs, steak cooked on a grill, chips and various other munchies...
Sit around and swap old 'war' stories for hours...
Saturday night I was taken to a place where a live band was performing and saw a very large member of my squad flat-foot to bluegrass... Then later that night I was taken to Mulligan's and consumed more adult beverages in one night than I have in a very long time...
Only to be unceremoniously dumped on my doorstep this afternoon with a major headache...
Now if I can only survive work tonight...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, February 24, 2006

It doesn't matter what you hum...

... As long as you hum!

I love a woman who is a partaker of oral enjoyment!

Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


After my post yesterday I was accused of being callous and cold hearted towards the soldier who was wounded in several emails I received. What I was trying to say was apparently lost on some people. I in no way was minimalizing what had happened to the soldier in question, only stating this practice has been going on for quite some time, through several presidential administrations over several decades. It annoys me to no end that some, mostly the left, are using this as another weapon to do damage to the present administration, how cold hearted they are and don't care about the soldiers fighting.
I do have some serious doubts about the current administration and several choices made over the last year or so, but the alternative in my mind is far worse. But that being said, the left in this country are trying every political trick in the book to do damage and it's not working. At least not on me. The latest is this blowup about the company in Dubai, UAE to manage several ports in the United States. How we've sold out.
Sold out?
You're just now coming up with that argument?
How about this little tidbit of information that I bet not a whole lot of you know. Did you know that the Ports of San Diego and Long Beach, California are run by a company out of Red China? Yes, the communist part. The part that hates us just as much as the Islamic Extremists. And this company running these ports on the west coast is a front company for the Chinese Secret Police? And would you be surprised that it's been running these ports for well over ten years? And just who was president then?
This same Red Chinese company also holds the contract for the daily operation of the Panama Canal. What do you think that would do to us if suddenly one day our navy couldn't use that canal?
Scary, isn't it?
How about this. During the Carter administration, when the country was in a chokehold from OPEC in a far worse fuel crisis than now, oil wells all over the US, but mainly in Texas and Oklahoma were being capped off and are still capped to this day? Have you filled your gas tank up at your local Citco station recently? Citco and it's 24,000 gas stations in the US are owned by Venezuela.
Why was it that fifteen years ago, when the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) sent out bids for new rail cars on the Broad Street Subway and Market~Frankford Elevated, the Budd Company, which was based right on Red Lion Rd. In Northeast Philadelphia, who had been making rail cars for years, who made the distinctive "AmCoach" cars for Amtrak, lost the contract to Mitsubishi in Japan?
Yes, it was cheaper for Septa to buy subway cars built halfway around the world than to buy them from a company right there in the same city.
The Budd Company is no longer in business. After over fifty years building excellent rail cars for railroads and rapid transit systems all over the country, that company went out of business.
We can't buy a TV set, stereo, DVD player, automobile built here anymore. I can't even buy a pair of goddamn socks that weren't made in Malaysia. Find one thing made in the country, and if you do, tell me it's made by a company completely US owned. Chrysler is owned by Daimler~Benz... Who made wonderful panzer tanks during WWII. Saturn is owned by a Japanese company. Bethlehem Steel closed down in Allentown, PA and now we get our steel from overseas.
But now we're sell outs.
It goes back almost a generation. Over forty years of bankrupt trade policies have sold us out. Not this administration.
Do you know what this country's main problem is? We're far to short sighted and forget all to fast.
I don't forget. Anything.
Hell, I'm still pissed off over Pearl Harbor.
I just don't want to hear it anymore. We've been sell-outs for years.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why all the hubbub


For the past few weeks there's been a story here in West Virginia making the papers and I just have to shake my head and wonder where these people have been. Apparently, and officer in the US Army from Charleston, WV was severely wounded in Iraq and was discharged recently. His family complained that he was charged $750 for the body armor he was wearing that was lost in combat. This complaint has several state and federal lawmakers up in arms, wondering why the government is being so callous.
Where the fuck have you been people? The Army has been doing this for years. I remember vividly being charged $250 and had it deducted out of my pay for the loss of a kevlar helmet back in 1986. (But that Soviet border gaurd's hat I got in trade over the inner German border looked pretty cool...) Every piece of gear you are issued in the military you are responsible for. You sign for it, and when you leave the post where you're stationed you have to turn it all back in. And it better be in the same condition you received it, or you pay for it. This doesn't include uniforms, where although you are responsible for the care and upkeep, they're yours after issue. (Exception, officers have to pay for their uniforms, enlisted are issued)
Those of my readers who have been in the military know of this little joyful experience when either changing duty stations or being discharged. It's called "Out Processing". What fun that is. I'm not going to go into a full blown description of that little chore, but suffice to say you will get to places you never knew existed on the base to have your outprocessing form stamped and signed. Even if you've never used that facility.
But the one place every soldier, especially those in Combat Arms dreads is the field gear turn in. One small tear in a magazine pouch and a trip to clothing sales to buy a new one to turn in. And don't even dream of losing an expensive piece of equipment like a kevlar vest or helmet, night vision goggles or something like that. It comes out of your paycheck. But to be fair to the army, there's no markup, you pay exactly what the army paid for it to begin with.
And I won't even go into what happens if you lose a weapon... Suffice to say after Grenada, I was petrified that I had lost the M-60 machinegun I had signed for. Luckily my platoon sergeant secured that for me. I'd still be paying that one off. We had to account for every round of ammunition issued...
The military is a strange animal. They do shit like that and once your in for a while you get used to it. They do things exactly opposite that the private sector would do. I know I have a few readers who work for the Federal Government, and they should identify with this:
Have you ever noticed around military bases an increase of activity right near the end of the fiscal year? I'll tell you why. Because if a particular unit doesn't use their whole budget for that fiscal year, the next fiscal year they get less money. Towards the end of the FY, the unit audits itself, looking at the budget.
Airforce squadron #1 is allotted $2 million for fuel for FY 2004. It's close to the end of FY 2004 and the flight officer looks at the amount spent to date for JP5. (jet fuel) He notices that the squadron has only spent $1.2 million on fuel. In the private sector, this guy would have been rewarded for saving $800,000. But not the military! If they don't spend that extra money on fuel in the next month, they'll only get $1.2 million for fuel in FY 2005.
So that squadron burns up $800K in JP5 in four weeks, just so they'll get the same amount in their budget next year.
Crazy, I know. But the way things work in the government. Your tax money is being well spent. Kinda' give you a warm fuzzy feeling, don't it?
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Something for me

Last night at work I was talking to one of my friends at the Deli Mart. He was telling me that he might take this summer off as one final fling after he graduates from college in June.
I wholeheartedly agreed that he should do it for a few reasons. It was a luxury I never had a chance to do myself, and once he gets into the world and is working full time and starts a family the chances are pretty slim that he'll ever get the chance again.
Myself, being quite good at giving other people advice, have yet to ever take the advice I dispense.
That is until now. For years I have been bending over backwards to please other people, never once thinking of myself. I started to do that a year and a half ago when I moved here to West Virginia to finally follow through on my dreams of the railroad, but I still haven't really done it yet. It was only a small step.
I thought about our conversation last night for a while after the Deli Mart closed and what he's planning to do. I envy him in some ways. He's still young enough not to realize what's really ahead for him. I also thought about my 20's, when I was single and making really good money and all the chances I had to do things and go places but decided not to because whoever I was dating at the time didn't want to or I didn't want to go by myself. I let these chances slip through my fingers like sand, to be gone forever.
So I've decided this morning to start saving for a trip to the UK. It'll probably take me about a year to get enough cash to do it, but that's ok. I'll enjoy the anticipation of the trip. I had been to London once, but that was on Uncle Sam's tab and I really didn't get to see much of anything. It would be nice to have someone to go with me, someone to share the experience with, but now I'm comfortable enough with myself to have a great time alone.
Back around 92' or 93', British Airways had this fantastic deal I should have taken. Four nights in London, travel by train to Ediburgh, Scotland, Four nights there and fly back to Philadelphia from Scotland. This at the time would have cost an unbelievable $550! I didn't take the trip because the woman I was seeing at the time hated England. I spent that vacation in Atlantic City, New Jersey... A slum with fifteen nice hotels and a shitty beach.
I doubt that they still have that trip or even airfares at that ridiculously low price, but I'm going to work out my own itinerary along the same lines. Of course I'll include a train ride in there somewhere... And I've always wanted to see the Scottish moors and those old castles.
So that's my next goal... The United Kingdom by Summer of 2007.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, February 20, 2006

New chapter is up!

Since I've been awake since 9 AM yesterday, today's post will be a short one just to let you know the next chapter of my book is up and posted.
Hope you enjoy and look forward to your feedback! Just for some side information. This is only the first draft of the story and the chapters will have more "meat" to them in in the following drafts. This is just a test to see how the dialog and story flows right now. I'll get more descriptive on later versions.
Now it's time for me to slip into a long, hard sleep.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

RT Cooks, again...

I was told recently that my cooking "wasn't all that great" but you know what? I don't care. Unlike 99% of the men in this country, I don't mind to cook and have fun experimenting in the kitchen.
Yesterday for instance. It was one of those days when I just wanted to stay inside. Cold, windy & snowy, it was the perfect day for chili.
So I made a batch of chili from scratch. I was lucky enough to have everything I needed, and it came out pretty damn good!
Try this:
RT's Chili
Brown ground beef in a skillet and put into a large sauce pan. Add tomato sauce, ground chili peppers, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic and onion powder, salt and paprika. Cover and let simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
What I used:
1 1/2 pounds of ground round
8 oz. tomato sauce
ground chili pepper
ground cayenne pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
Everyone's taste is different, so use the right amounts of spices to your own liking. I like my chili hot, but not too hot. Just enough of a bite to waken the senses, not set my sinuses on fire.
The only thing missing from yesterday's meal was cornbread but I was out of eggs.
Give it a try!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, February 18, 2006

It figures

Of course that now I actually have weekends off the weather would naturally turn to shit. I've got my body-clock reset for daytime activities, I'm up ready to do some things and it's snowing.
Naturally Tuesday and Wednesday when I was working and had to sleep all day it was in the high 60's and sunny. All the snow that fell last weekend melted away and it was beautiful outside, now I'm off and it's shitty out, 25 F and supposed to fall all day to a low of 9 F tonight.
Well, I guess I'll just do my taxes, dishes and laundry... Another do-nothing day.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, February 17, 2006

The best of the wurst!

Everybody! Put on your dirndles and lederhosen and celebrate your sausage!

I'm celebrating my sausage!

Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A test of time

Remember I was saying Barney still has yet to figure out the whole military/24 hour time thing? Apparently he hasn't figured out there's three other times zones in the country either...
On Sunday night when I got to work I noticed the clock in the vehicle had been changed. It read 7PM, not 8 Pm like it should, so I changed the time back. I didn't think much more about it until Tuesday morning. Right before I go off shift a few other employees come to work in the office and ask me this...
"Tommy, I thought the shift was from 8 PM until 8 Am now... How come the other guy is staying until 9?"
I hadn't a clue what they were talking about until this morning when Barney relieved me from duty at 2 AM...
"The clock was wrong the other night so I changed it to the right time..."
It hit me then just how stupid Barney was... I listen to an all-night radio talk show on a Nashville, Tennessee radio station, that happens to be not on Eastern Time, but Central time... He left the radio station on and heard the time in Nashville and thought it was the right time, changed the clock and stayed until the appropriate time in the central time zone...
Again, nobody can be that stupid, can they?
Imagine if I actually had to work together with this guy? Even Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show wasn't that stupid, was he?
Save me from stupid people, please?
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A small track-trek

I might have said before that I love trains and the railroad... At least I think I have a time or two...
I also love to explore old, out of service and abandoned rights-of-way like the one pictured above. There are several thousand miles of old right-of-way in the continental US alone just begging to be explored. You never know what you're going to find or see along the old roadbed.
It's also like taking a trip back in time, at least it is for me. Walking along the old rotted crossties and rusted steel rails sometimes I can hear the whistle of an old Baldwin locomotive chugging along with it's load behind, smell the smoke and cinders... Imagine the steam belching from it's cylinders and it works it's way to it's destination...
A few weeks ago I got to do that again. The Friday before last the weather here in West Virginia was almost balmy and that Friday it reached up into the upper 60's for a while so I decided to take a look at some rails near me. Norfolk & Southern railroad had 'retired' a spur line that runs from Bluefield to Matoaka back in 1985. The line served several coal mines that had closed, and no longer needing that line, N&S decided to put the line out of service instead of just abandoning it. The tracks, crossing and block signals are all still in place yet overgrown with vegetation, just waiting to feel the steel wheels of the locomotive pulling their loads of coal again.
I decided to start at Matoaka and work my way south along the tracks and I found myself transported again to a different time. I walked several miles of track and saw some very interesting things... A block signal completely overgrown with kudzu, an old manual hand car off in the weeds... I ended my trek at the foot of what's claimed to be the highest railroad trestle east of the Mississippi river. I stood at the footers of the bridge and drank in the sight. A hawk screeched and farewell as I turned and walked back to my truck, knowing somehow I'd be back someday. Maybe on foot, maybe at the controls of a locomotive.
My only regret from that day is I forgot my camera at home so my souvenirs of that day are my memories and a few small lumps of coal picked out of the ballast... When the weather turns warmer in the spring I plan on returning with my camera to get some pictures, so you can all see how beautiful this area is.
Go here for more info on exploring abandoned rights-of-way:
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


No, not VD as in Venereal Disease... At least a dose of the clap can be gotten rid of with a shot of penicillin.
Maybe I should take the advice of this card. Seems that no matter what I do, how far I go I still get shit on and it just makes no sense what so ever to continue hoping against hope.
Want to hear the latest mental castration I received?
I met up with a woman last week for coffee who said she was my age, but yet looked like my grandmother... Blue-hair rinse and perm, granny sweater and all... Know what she told me right to my face? What this 40 year old going on 90 had the nerve to say to me?
"You're not attractive enough for me..."
The fucking BALLS!!!!
I'm soooooooooooooooo fucking sorry I'm not Brad Pitt or some soap opera stud. Take a fucking look in the mirror why don't you.
I've tried hard to be everything a woman says they want in a man, but still that isn't good enough.
I give up.
Copyright Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, February 13, 2006

Winter is finally here

I was begining to think that winter had just past us by this year. Since October we've been having some really unusual weather for the Appalachians. Temperatures in the mid 50's to 60's and no snow.
Which is all well and good for me, because I really don't like snow. I detest driving in it. I grew up in Pennsylvania and remember winters where it would start snowing in October and we wouldn't see the ground again until May... (I know some of my readers from the northern climes like Michigan, Minnesota and Alaska are laughing even at that...)
So it's been great so far this year.
That is until Saturday... Snow began to fall in ernest Saturday morning and it's still flurrying now Monday morning. We've got about 12" of the white stuff here in Athens, nothing like what my old home town of Philly or NYC got, but enough to make it miserable.
The last really bad snowstorm I survived was the blizzard of January 96' where my full-size Ford Bronco sat out in front of my house in Philly for three weeks buried under an eight foot snowdrift...
Anyway, it snowed on and off all last night making my shift all the more miserable. I did notice something that never seems to change anywhere I live when the very hint of snow is in the forcast. The stores were completely out of bread, milk and eggs once again. It's the French Toast gene kicking in... Go here for that rant from last year:
The only time I'd ever really want it to snow is if I was in a cabin somewhere out deep in the woods, an nice roaring fire in the fireplace and a special someone to cuddle up with.
But since I have none of those at the moment, snow, please go the fuck away!
Hope you all had a swell weekend and stayed warm!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I don't get it.

I'm beginning to think I'm the only one who sees this.

I've been accused in the past of over simplifying things and of being to narrow minded to see the 'big picture' and that couldn't be farther from the truth. I do look at the big picture and see what's really happening. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's not.
Most times I take a look at things from a third prospective, sort of take a Devil's Advocate look and see things from both sides before making an opinion on a matter. Once I do make an opinion, I tend to stick with it until someone can show me something concrete that will change my mind.
Case in point. This whole Muhammad cartoon dustup.
Ok, the way I see it, these cartoons were published well over six months ago and only now people are getting upset? The way I'm seeing it now it's the radical Muslim imams and clerics fermenting disorder in order to feed the growing resentment towards the west, the US and Israel specifically.
From what I've learned, Muhammad's depiction has been around for hundreds of years... Go here:
That's from the San Francisco Chronicle, not exactly a Right-Wing rag.
We're in a war for our very survival people. A very real war and there's only going to be one winner. We have a very large group of people with a grand agenda and in our short-sightedness and willingness to capitulate with appeasement we will surely lose this fight.
These folks see appeasement as weakness.
In black & white, plain as day here is their agenda:
1) Convert all non-believers (infidels) over to Islam
2) Those who don't or won't convert to Islam will be killed
3) Erase Israel off the face of the map
In achieving the three goals above, will subject the world to their own brand of Islam and therefore subjugate the entire planet, and in my opinion bring on a whole new Dark Age. All forms of art and literature will be censored and banned, women will no longer be able to work or go to school, they will be beaten in the streets for any minor infraction the imams hand down... Free speech will be all but wiped out. No more voting or elections.
Sounds medieval? It is. Looks how things were in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. Looks at how things are in Iran & Saudi Arabia right now.
These people hate our very way of life and fiber of being. They want to destroy everything we hold dear, everything we hold so precious but yet take for granted every day. And still people want to appease them, maybe if we're nice and give them what they want they'll stop killing us.
I'll give you a news flash. They won't stop killing us.
Take a good hard look the next time you drive through the town where you live. Take a hard look and really see everything. Take it all in. In every town you go to, there's Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Anglican churches, Synagogues, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines... Even Mosques. Every form of worship you can imagine all in one town or city and everyone is basically getting along fairly well. I have friends of all those faiths and even some wiccan and pagan ones. Although I may not agree with all of them, I respect their right to worship anyway they want and they respect my beliefs in the same way.
If we let these people win, take everything you have seen in your drive through town and erase all of it.
It'll all be gone, like Scarlett said, With the Wind...
Peace loving Islam?
I'll play Devil's Advocate here for a moment. Suppose that when the New York Times published pictures of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung and Jesus on the cross submerged in a jar of urine (which they did) The pope in Rome, Pat Robertson or Billy Graham pontificated and instigated mobs in American cities, burning down buildings, rioting in the streets, and demanding for the death of the publisher?
Sounds insane when you look at it that way, doesn't it? But that's exactly what they're doing.
Until we all get our heads collectively out of the sand, wake up and really fight back with every fiber of our being, surely everything we've worked and strived for these last 231 years will be for nothing.
9/11 should have been the big wakeup call. It was for a while until, as most Americans tend to do, we forgot. They took the footage of those towers falling, the people on the higher floors leaping out of windows holding eachother's hands, sure they were going to die... They took those pictures away but they're indelibly etched into my memory as they should for every American.
A few other regimes have tried this in the past... Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin... They all failed but the question is, do we have the same intestinal fortitude to win this one?
Looking back as a spectator, I seriously doubt it. That is unless we pull our thumbs out and stop fucking around. It's coming to a head, I can feel it... You don't have to read tea leaves to see it, just stop and look at the big picture.
They are trying to KILL us, and here we're all worried about offending them. I'm offended by that.
And the really sad part about it is that if we lose it'll be not because we couldn't, we just failed to act with decisiveness, we failed through indecision and inaction for fear we may offend someone.
And the most ironic thing of all is that the end of the world might be brought on by a cartoon.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Saturday hodgepodge of shit...

Between work and the fire department I've been busier that a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest the last few weeks so I really haven't had time to go over my next installment of "Bridge of Sighs" for you. I promise I'll get to it this week sometime and have it posted by the end of the month.
Thank you all for your input on chapter one, it's been a big help. In posting it I did have one windfall. The fictional National Guard unit the main character is in, C company, 824th Tank Destroyer Battalion isn't completely fictional, it happens to be the army unit my father served in during WWII. In using the unit and then posting the chapter, someone doing a search for that unit on Google and subsequent emails to me has steered me towards the 824th TD Bn. Association, located in Long Island, New York. This is really good news because hopefully I might get to talk with someone who served with my father during WWII. I know it's a long shot at best, it was a small unit and most veterans of that unit still alive have to be in their 80's now... My father would have been 80 this past October. So I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and hopefully I'll be able to get some answers to questions that have gone unanswered all these years.
On to Barney... I've got a feeling he's going to unknowingly give me reams of material. He's just that stupid.
This past Thursday morning when Barney relieved me from duty at 2 AM I just had one thing to pass along to him. One of the guys from the Deli Mart accidentally took home the key for the ice box and came back later in the evening to drop it off to me. I gave the key to Barney, and told him these exact words:
"Give this key to the owner at 6 AM, one of the guys mistakenly took it home with him and dropped it off to me..."
Simple, right?
Somehow even this simple little thing Barney would fuck up. And in the process almost gets the guy who took the key home fired.
What did he tell the owner at 6 AM about the key?
"Tom found this in the lock on the icebox..."
It's a really good thing I saw the owner later than morning when I was heading over to the firehouse and found out what had transpired. He was about the fire the guy when he came in that day for his evening shift.
He's that stupid. He makes the two main characters in "Dumb & Dumber" look like mensa members.
Onto the fire department. Since they've got a huge big-screen TV with cable I've been spending most of my free time there... I'm making up for all the lost time without TV at my place. That and since the weather has turned to shit I've been hanging out there just in case we get called out. I spent last night and most of yesterday there sleeping on a couch in the upstairs TV room. Tonight, barring anything major I'm definitely going to spend the night in my own damn bed for once.
I'm also going to be taking a few classes here in the next month so my posting may become irratic. I'm scheduled to take the Firefighter 1 class in March, and there's a basic vehicle extracation course coming up given by the Princeton FD I'd really like to take too, but that's at the same time. The assistant chief is going to try to see how I can take both and still not change my work schedule around. I was also going to take a few classes at the ESCAPE seminar in Pipestem come the end of this month, but I thought it would be better to get my FF1 under my belt first because most of the non-EMS classes for firefighters are advanced classes. I have decided to attend the huge party the last Saturday of it though, from what I hear it's usually a blast with live music (and plenty of adult beverages). My department always gets a cabin for the entire week so I won't have to worry about getting home that night.
Right now it's still snowing like a bastard and my pager hasn't gone off since yesterday morning when we had a vehicle roll-over on Rt. 20... I'm going to keep my fingers crossed it stays silent and try to get myself some supper, get a shower and crawl into my bed for a few hours. But I just know as soon as my head hits the pillow I'll get toned out... Snow is supposed to continue tonight into Sunday night.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, February 10, 2006

Uh oh...

Looks like I'm going to burn in hell!

Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Enemy of the State

This morning I got home from work with grand hopes for a really funny post about Barney Fife... I go to Google and do an image search for "Barney Fife" and this poster is what I got on the first try. If it wasn't so damn close to the truth it'd be a whole lot funnier. I don't know how many of you have flown recently and have experienced our country's illustrious TSA in action... Before moving to West Virginia permanently I flew a lot. I have enough frequent flyer miles now to go back and forth to Jupiter a few times, that is if the blackout dates are ever lifted.
Anyway, my last flight back to Charleston, WV from Phoenix had me stop over in Detroit, MI. And in changing planes I had to actually leave the terminal and re-enter at another gate. Which meant I had to go through security again. I was pulled aside for yet another "random" screening which included a full body cavity search and pulling apart my luggage. Yes, my checked luggage was pulled off the airliner, brought to the TSA screening area and unceremoniously dumped out and pawed through. A very efficient and humorless TSA agent going through my wallet noticed my police badge. Even though I'm off the job, my badge number was retired and I was given a wallet badge by my buddies on the job and I carried it for good luck. Holding the badge in my wallet was a medium-sized safety pin ... Well, on seeing this threatening safety pin, the ever vigilant airport security specialist called the bomb dogs and supervisor in. It was decided that this Two inch safety pin was deemed a Dangerous Weapon and it was promptly confiscated to ensure the continued well being of the United States of America.
While all this was transpiring, I'm allowed now to put my clothes back on I see four gentleman looking similar to these gentleman pictured below only in a less jovial mood than these guys waved through security with a wave and a cursory glance...

I get it now. The main threat to airline safety, homeland security, the good ol' USA, drive-in movies, cheeseburgers, barbaques, mom and apple pie isn't middle eastern men in their mid-twenties with two-year-old expired student visas from Saudi Arabia who loathe the west and the US in general, it's white Irish~German American guys in their late thirties with military haircuts. Like this dashingly handsome ex-cop, US Army veteran, divorced future novelist and railroad engineer pictured below.
Sleep well tonight America! TSA is on the job!

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Here we go again

Every time I think I've seen or heard it all along comes something new to amaze me.
My long time readers know I really enjoy a overnight radio show called Coast To Coast AM. It's a syndicated show in over 500 markets across the country and deals with a lot of "X-Files" type stuff, along with alternative fuels and global warming, from Bigfoot, the Chupacabra and UFO's.
Being a natural skeptic I take a lot of what's with a slightly jaundiced view and listen primarily for entertainment.
But I don't ever dismiss it because some of the arguments for some of this stuff is really quite compelling. To dismiss it as impossible off the cuff would make me just as hypocritical as those folks who dismiss the possibility of aliens and life on other planets in the universe because of no scientific evidence to support it yet in the same breath vow a faith in a supreme being that controls the entire world and has a grand plan for us, not by definitive proof of that being's existence, but of blind faith that one is there.
So I listen, digest and ruminate over it.
This morning I hear this woman saying she's had prophesies of a meteor striking the earth and detailed out what is going to happen to the earth, specifically North America... Besides a whole bunch of other nasty shit coming down on the world.
If what she says is true and it's going to really happen, people in south Texas, California, Oregon, Washington, Maine and New York City should be really nervous right now and looking into flood insurance.
I can't dismiss any of this because giant meteors have struck the earth in the past causing great global upheaval... And I've had some really bizarre and vivid dreams of the same thing in the recent past... So I can't just disregard it as bullshit...
You decide. Go here:
And here:
It's an interesting read and this woman has done her homework, unlike another of Coast to Coast's guests I lampooned a few months back... The guy who was making "Anti-Alien Abduction Helmets". Go here for that little gem:
That guy was a whack-job... And if you look at the comments he actually found me and replied to my post...
Have a swell day and keep looking up!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Where to start

About Barney?
That's toughie.
This guy really isn't new to me... When I first started with this company in October 2004 I worked with him down in Bastian, VA at a pharmaceutical warehouse. I was introduced and it was he who showed me around the place. He gave me a tour of the buildings and showed me where and when to check, and I thought it strange that he referred to a notebook for each step in his shift... Especially after he told me he'd been at there five years at this point. I really began to wonder about him when he checked his notebook for the alarm code to disarm the system... I asked if they'd recently changed the code. Nope. Been the same for the five years he's been there.
And yet he still checked the code on a slip of paper he carried with him every time he entered and exited the building.
Are you following where I'm going with this yet?
Once I reported in to relieve him from duty early and I noticed the gate arm was broken at the front entrance and splinters of wood were still strewn out on the driveway. He didn't say anything about it in his briefing to me and shrugged when I asked him about it. I relieved him and decided to read through his patrol log... In a six-hour shift he managed to fill up seven pages of logs, noting the times of everything that happened on his post, down to the exact times his wife called, he called his wife, what the phone calls were about... When he used the restroom... Made a pot of coffee and how much creamer was left, when it started to rain and when it stopped. But not word one about the gate arm.
I had to find out from the UPS driver that Barney had closed the gate on his truck...
This is what I'm dealing with here.
Fast-forward to a week ago.
I begin by telling him the laundry list of things wrong with the truck and that the boss was aware of the problems and had intentions of getting them fixed shortly. I made him aware of this because on our patrol logs there's spaces to fill in about the condition of the vehicle and repairs needed and was trying to let him know that it was unnessessary to log the problems in, they were going to be fixed that week.
After two hours of me explaining what and when to check things and his furious note-taking I left him alone to have at it.
Not a really difficult job. Here it is in a nutshell: Check the office, diner and deli mart every half hour, three houses my boss owns on Church St. Every hour. The last hour of the deli mart's hours before they close for the night, hang out there until they count the register and have it secured in the safe. One last thing, make yourself visible in town all night as a deterrent, especially along the properties on State Street.
Not all that difficult.
A monkey can do it.
One of, if not the easiest job for the pay I've ever done. I do this for the same hourly rate as EMT's at the local rescue squad get paid. Definitely not rocket science.
Enter Barney.
I have my first real weekend off in a long while and enjoy every minute. I get back into work Sunday night and it's then I get an earfull.
He rattled the front door on the diner so hard he jarred it open, then woke the owner up and reported it left unsecured... Wrote a FOURTEEN page patrol log for his first shift, including TWO PAGES of things wrong with the truck... Didn't show up to the deli mart until five minutes after they closed and proceeded to turn on the coffee pot after the employees had cleaned everything up, poured one small cup and left the rest to waste... That pissed the owner of the deli off so much he was about to cut us off of the free coffee. That's enough right there to get my hackles up.
I checked his reports and he's still having a major problem figuring out the 24-hour time, or military time. Half of it is in military time, the other half in AM/PM... I checked his mileage report and the furthest he drove on a shift so far was two miles when I, on average, go over forty miles on a given night...
Another thing. What looks like a driveway into the property where the office is looks like just a driveway to the place but in actuality it's a public road as there are several houses down a holler behind the building. He was stopping people and asking them where they were going in the middle of the night and couldn't understand why they were getting pissed off at him... This was after I told him it was a public street, by the way.
Last but not least, last Thursday morning when he came to relieve me from my six-hour shift at 2 AM, he hinted around carrying a gun on duty and asked me what handgun I would recommend?
The mere thought of him in the possession of a loaded firearm sends me into convulsions. I'm a very strong believer and advocate in the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution and the people's right to keep and bear arms, but this guy shouldn't even be allowed to posses a pointed stick.
Give me strength to get through this and to get on with the railroad really, really soon...
Oh, and he's procreated several times.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, February 06, 2006

Blue Screen of Death

I'm back!

Shortly after I posted my Funny Foto Friday post, around 12:05 AM, I got what every user dreads, The Blue Screen of Death.
Nothing I did could let me reboot my computer... I was able to check my email Friday and Saturday from a buddy's computer but that's about it.
Luckily I live in a college town with a lot of starving computer geeks and I happen to know one. He was able to finally get my box fixed and dropped it off to me at work last night around midnight. It's not 100% though as now none of my drives are working except my C drive. Both my CD-ROM, CD-WR and my 3.5" floppy drive aren't working. But at least now I'm back. I did have a lot to write about over the weekend, more Barney Fife fuckups and Saturday was my first blogversary here... I'll get to them later this week so stay tuned!
Another bit of news now.
Those of you who are regular readers of Kat Woman's blog will notice it's gone. I didn't find this out until last night in a phone conversation with her. I won't get into in here, I'll let her tell the story in her own words when and if she chooses to start blogging again. I'll just say that it was rotten what happened and although it should have happened better, she's much better off now and I trust will be much happier. She's far to special of a person to let the bullshit she was putting up with get her down the way it did for as long as they did.
Kat, I'll say it for everyone, you will be sorely missed and we look forward to more of your funny EMS stories in the future... I know you have tons of them and they're just as good as my cop stories if not better! You nor I have barely scratched the surface of the really good ones... We've shared a bunch over Chinese so many times in the past and laughed until we've pissed ourselves. They should be told...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, February 03, 2006

I'm proud of my wood!

Especially my morning wood...
Would you like to touch my wood?
Love my wood?
Happy Funny Foto Friday!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

We were soldiers once...

And young...

This is a few of me, Circa 1985/86 at Ft. Sherman, Panama, the Canal Zone. I'm third from left, kneeling.

This one I'm kind of hard to make out, it's my whole platoon at the same place. I'm far right, standing with the M-60 machinegun.

One mean bunch of tough motherfuckers winning the Cold War on the Central American front.

Found these a while ago when I was cleaning my hardrive getting rid of old baggage I didn't need anymore.

Hope you like!

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A compliment & more about Barney Fife...

For most of my career in law enforcement and later in security work, the feelings I get mostly are like pissing one's pants in a dark suit. You get a warm feeling, but nobody really notices.
Usually nothing happens, which is really a good thing. First, if nothing happens I'm doing my job right because I'm here as a deterrent. Even as a cop, my job was mostly deterrence. Only the severely retarded or blindly drunk idiots do stupid things in front of a uniformed police officer... Although that has happened before. Secondly, the more excitement one gets on the job is in direct correlation and proportionate to the amount of paperwork one has to fill out.
I hate paperwork so usually I don't want anything to happen. Quiet = good, busy = ungood.
Of course that makes for longer nights, but at least I don't go home with writer's cramp and a subpoena for court.
Anyway, the other morning after my shift I stop into the Deli Mart to pick up some things before heading home, gallon of milk, loaf of bread... And the owner of the place pulls me aside. First he asks how the new twelve-hour shifts are working out and then says something to me that I really didn't expect.
"You know Tommy, I'm sure glad you're here at night. There's been a whole lot less shit going on since you've been here..."
I was stunned and really didn't know what to say. Hell, I'm just doing my job. But it did feel good to get a thank you. When I first started this town patrol there was drug deals going on every night in the deli's parking lot. And a lot of other unsavory shit. Just my presence in town at night has all but dried it up. And the word out on the street that I'm not going to take any shit off of anyone either didn't hurt any.
So it felt good to hear it. I didn't expect it or solicit it, but still...
I walked home that morning feeling a little bit better about my job.
On to Barney...
My new shift is Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights, 8 PM to 8 AM and Wednesday night from 8 PM to 2 Am.
42 hours a week.
Barney is supposed to meet me at the office at 2 AM Thursday morning, the end of my Wednesday night shift. So this morning I'm sitting in the vehicle in front of the deli doing paperwork (crosswords) And I see him shuffling across the lot carrying his lunch bucket...
He's a day early.
Apparently my boss told him to show up Wednesday night at 2 AM... Meaning Thursday morning...
"Eh, Barney... What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here until tomorrow..."
"Tracy said to be here Wednesday night at 2..."
"This isn't Wednesday night... It's Wednesday morning. You're not supposed to be here until tomorrow at this time..."
I get a blank, deer-in-the-headlights look...
So for twenty minutes I have to explain the schedule to him and all the while he's taking copious notes in his dog-eared and tattered notebook... Interjecting my lesson with pointed questions about the difference in military time vs. (his words) normal time.
I tell him to hop in the vehicle and I give him a lift home as he lives right here in town also, and at least he's smart enough not to drive his own vehicle a half mile to work. As I drop him off I tell him I'll pick him up in front of his house tomorrow morning at 0155.
"Is that AM or PM?"
"That's MORNING Barney..."
Why me? Why do I always have to put up with stupid people?
Here's my version of hell: I'm stuck in a room with Barney Fife and Jessica Simpson and the legions of other morons I've had to deal with throughout my life... And I can't escape. For all eternity I'm stuck with people with IQ's of a ficus...
And they all want to ask me questions...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden