Every picture tells a story


Alright, today I introduce a new category of posts here at LTG entitled “Journey through the Past”.  As old men are wont to do, I find myself thinking frequently of the past.  And I’m often surprised at just how much I’ve forgotten about my life.  Sometimes when I get together with old friends or the kids they’ll tell stories that I would have never remembered on my own.  It seems to me losing your memories is an especially sad thing because what are we except a collection of what we have done, places we’ve been, and events we have experienced?

I have boxes of photographs, mostly stored away safely in the garage.  When I return to the states next year I have good intentions about sorting through them and uploading the ones that trigger a long-forgotten memory.  And then I’ll tell the story.  I have no illusions about these stories holding much interest to anyone who happens upon this woebegone blog of mine.  But then, I’ve been blogging for going on seven years with little of interest to say.   I’d call that a freakin’ tradition!

So, let’s get on with the first story in “Journey through the Past”, shall we?


That’s my son Kevin at 2 years of age back in 1980.  We were living in the beautiful mile high city of Prescott, Arizona.  I was carrying mail for the Postal Service and was president of the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers.  I was big time into softball in those days, and founded the Mile-Hi Softball Club, the purpose of which was to drink beer and play ball, pretty much in that order.
But enough about me (ahem).  We had purchased our first home at 202 San Carlos Road and life seemed like it could go on that way forever.  Turns out it didn’t of course.  Things happen, but just as importantly, things don’t.  And it was one of those things that didn’t happen that I remembered when I saw that picture of Kevin.

As you can see by the Google Earth map above, our street was a narrow dirt road.  About 1/8 mile up from Gurley Street, one of the main thoroughfares in Prescott.  You can kinda sorta tell that Gurley has a curve on both sides from where San Carlos enters.  This made entering Gurley pretty treacherous as you couldn’t see oncoming traffic until it was on top of you.

One day little Kevin got it in his head to go visit the house where we used to live.  On the other side of Gurley Street.  The Deputy Sheriff who found Kevin standing in the middle of the road with traffic swerving to miss him said it was a miracle he hadn’t been hit.  I’m not really a man of faith, so as much as I’d like to believe in guardian angels and Providence and such, I’m thinking it was just pure blind luck that Kevin lived to be the fine young man and father that he is today.

Had luck (or whatever it was) not been with us that day, everything in my life would be different, and not in a good way.  Being a parent is without a doubt my greatest accomplishment, but oh how it makes you vulnerable to the whims of fate!

And that’s the story I remembered today.

The best birthday ever

But I suppose you could say that about any first birthday.

Sydney Renee had a nice little shindig today which she undoubtedly will not remember.  Unless one day she reads my blog.


It seems like every social event brings calls for some of Jee Yeun’s Korean food.  Accordingly, she cooked up a big batch of galbi on the grill.


Me and the birthday girl.


And the guests of a certain age enjoyed this bouncy castle.




Dressing formally in the traditional hanbok.


And as if by magic an ice cream truck arrived.  They must have child seeking sensors in those things.

Anyway, it was a good time on a special day…

All Along the Watchtower

Great Bob Dylan song, but I’ve always preferred the Jimi Hendrix cover.

I mention this because I’ve just completed my journey through 76 episodes of Battlestar Galatica.  And that tune provides a thread in the story.

BSG was one of those shows that began and ended while I was living full-time in Korea.  I wasn’t really into the (Ben Cartwright) version of the show and probably wouldn’t have watched this one either except for two things:  People whose opinion I respect spoke favorably of it and Netflix made it pretty damn easy to do (I have the proverbial time on my hands these days anyway). What can I say of my viewing experience?  I found the concept of the series intriguing, the story lines alternately engaging, irritating, frustrating, and sometimes confusing, but in the end I’d rate the overall series as being mostly enjoyable.

Now you can see why I don’t write reviews for a living.  Television I suppose contributes to the vast homogenization of our society, and this trying to include something pleasing for everyone tends to result in displeasing me.  You know, I could have done without all the allusions to current political events and the unfairness of contemporary American society.  I mean, if I can’t escape that crap in a deep outer space fantasy, I might as well head back to Korea.  Which I’m fixing to do.

Suffice to say, I’d have probably cut a third of the episodes and enjoyed it all the more.  Otherwise, the series kept me mostly entertained and I guess that was a purpose fulfilled.  Now, the Big Hominid has written up a series of ongoing reviews and considerations which are quite outstanding in their insights and perspectives, especially regarding the theological aspects of the show.

There must some kind of way out here…

Makin’ Aiken


These past several days I’ve gotten off my lazy ass and worked at practicing my dart game.  The picture above represents the highly coveted and rarely thrown 6 bulls (aka “three in the red”, “triple double”, and “lucky bastard”) which I accomplished yesterday.  Of course, I threw it in practice which is pretty much meaningless.  But Jee Yeun was excited enough about it to snap a photo, so there it is.

I can definitively report that the old saw “practice makes perfect” is pretty much pure bullshit.  However, I’ve seen some evidence that practice does in fact help you improve.  I’ve found that my inconsistency is somewhat less consistent, which is to say that I totally suck less often than usual lately.  Obviously, I’m pretty darn happy about that.  I’m still throwing bricks (three darts, no hits) more than I’d like, but the triples seem to be coming more than they used to, and as any darter will tell you, a few triples can mask some otherwise terrible throws.

So, Wednesday night was the finale of the Puddlin’ Duck league here in Columbia and we played it out as ten man (well, nine men, one woman) singles event.   I had the good fortune to prevail in spite of myself and that victory gave me enough points to be crowned league champion (although there is technically no crown awarded).  I unseated my nemesis James Mabie, but to be fair he wasn’t there to defend his ranking these past few weeks.

Feeling inspired and full of confidence (not to mention bored with sitting around the house) we made the drive out to lovely Aiken, SC to partake in the blind draw tournament at the VFW post.   I’ve been meaning to get out there and give it a try for several months, but one thing leading to another and all (a nice way of avoiding the word “lazy” don’t you think?) I hadn’t had the opportunity.  I’m so damn spoiled by public transportation in Seoul that I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around the idea of driving over an hour to get to a darts match.   But the reality is that Columbia is pretty much a darts wasteland, so it’s drive or lay on my amazingly comfortable couch perusing the thousands of programs available through the miracle of Netflix and satellite TV.

There’s lots to like about the VFW venue.  10 boards, cheap beer, very friendly people, indoor smoking, some excellent players, and almost everyone seemed to be having a good time.  I’m always somewhat uncomfortable my first time in a new dart bar.  I don’t know anyone, no one knows me, and I feel pressured (totally self-imposed) to throw well so I don’t come off as a total dweeb.  Consequently, I usually come off as a total dweeb.  I remember my first night at the Puddlin’ Duck hearing Jee Yeun telling people “really, he’s usually a lot better than this!”.  Sweet girl, always has my back.

But last night, folks were coming up and introducing themselves and telling me how glad they were that I’d made the trip out.  Just good old fashioned Southern Hospitality.  I also had the good fortune to draw a solid partner and we seemed to find away to pick each other up when the need arose (which means, when I had a bad throw, he didn’t and vice-versa).  We fought our way through the winners bracket, had some real battles against players we probably wouldn’t normally beat but did, and came away with first place money.  When I hit the double 9 out for the win in the finals, I couldn’t help but dance a little jig.  Gangnam-style, of course.


As you can see my partner David was ecstatic about our victory.

It was after one in the morning when we got out of there.  My Garmin took me through 20 miles of dark narrow highways before finally leading me back to the Interstate.  Between Aiken and Columbia, I passed one car with a what I assume was a drunk driver (he was driving in the left lane under the speed limit with his bright lights on) and was passed by one.  Ah, the open highway!  Oh yeah, my odometer hit 55555 during the drive home.  That passes for excitement on the road at 2 a.m., at least for me.

And so ends my tale of dart prowess, long drives, and a pretty damn fine Friday night.

Coming clean about my criminal past

I’ve been arrested and spent time in jail.  OK, I’ve now admitted it and it feels good to let go of the burden I’ve carried all these years.  Hopefully you’ll agree I’ve paid my debt to society in full and despite the disappointment I’m sure this revelation must cause, I humbly beg your forgiveness.

Why am I coming clean now?  Well, I’ve been sorting through some of my parents’ old papers and I came across the indictment.  I swear, they saved everything.  But it was more than a little disconcerting to find evidence of my criminal past tucked away amongst the crudely drawn cards and elementary school photos.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll share the text of the charges levied against me:

“On or about July 4, 1973, at 18900 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, County of Orange, [John McCrarey] did willfully, unlawfully and maliciously disturb the peace and quiet of Mrs. Hal Westley Shirey by offensive conduct, and the use of vulgar, profane, and indecent language, in a loud and boisterous manner, in violation of Section 415 of the Penal Code of California.”

I was found guilty, fined, and released with time served (about 4 hours in a concrete holding cell).  No one appeared to testify against me other than the arresting officer.  But the judge kept talking about some woman I’d never even heard of, a Miss Demeanor.  (bada bing).

Now, as bad as those charges sound, I was not completely without justification for my behavior.  Here’s the rest of the story:

It was Independence Day and my girlfriend, Gail Weed (yes, real name), and I were planning on enjoying the Huntington Beach 4th of July parade.  Gail was driving (she had a sweet ’65 Mustang Coupe).  Finding a place to park was a bitch, and for some reason they had blocked off Gothard street with a single barrier saying “road closed”.  We observed several cars driving around the barrier and I told Gail to follow them as there may be a place to park down there.

So, after bypassing the barrier we went down a slight hill and at the bottom were several police cars.  And they were issuing tickets to everyone who had taken the detour.  Yes my friends, it was a classic trap.  We were set up like bowling pins.  Back in those days I had a bit of a temper, and I was pretty pissed about being suckered in such a fashion, especially on America’s birthday!  After the girlfriend received her ticket and we were driving away I expressed my opinion about the whole situation by leaning out the window, extending my middle finger, and shouting in “a loud and boisterous” manner FUCK YOU PIGS!

Apparently the First Amendment doesn’t cover the heartfelt expression of speech in this fashion.  We hadn’t gotten a mile down the road before the police helicopter was hovering overhead.  And then a cruiser was behind us with red lights flashing (they were red, not blue, in those days).  We pulled over and were then surrounded by no less than three police cars!  Shortly thereafter the cop who had issued our ticket arrived and announced “yeah, that’s the sonofabitch”.

I was pulled from Gail’s Mustang and was required to answer a series of questions.  One of them that I remember was “do you have any scars, tattoos, or other identifying marks?”  I responded that I had a Battleship tattooed on my ass, and when I shit, it sinks.  That seemed to really make him even more angry, and the next thing I knew I was being thrown up against the the police car, my arms were roughly yanked behind my back, and they slapped the handcuffs on me.  Then it was off to the jailhouse.  For the record, I don’t really have a tattoo.

Dad came and bailed me out a few hours later, and he was even madder than the cop had been.  Which is why I found myself living on my own at the tender age of 17.  But that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, keeping things in perspective, I take solace from knowing that there were numerous occasions of certain other acts in which I regularly engaged that the state deems criminal and for which I was never arrested.  So it all balances out in the end, doesn’t it?


Who, me?

Voting early and often…

Well, at least I tried to vote today.  I made the 30 minute drive into downtown and put 50 cents in the meter, only to be told the ballots aren’t ready yet.  They said I should call back around the first of the month.  I’m not leaving until the 4th, so it shouldn’t be a problem.  But if I had left earlier in September like I originally planned, I’d be screwed.

Feeling a little disenfranchised I guess.

Actually, I’m pretty philosophic about the whole voting routine.  My kids have expressed their intent to vote Obama, which is a little distressing (I thought I’d raised them better than that!).  But Romney is going to carry South Carolina regardless, which means their votes are meaningless.  As is mine.  But I still believe the Founders were right to go the Electoral College route.  Otherwise, a bunch of New Yorkers and Californians would get way more power than they deserve.

And that’s what I’ve got to say about that.