Free At Last

On our last day in the Omaha area, I had wanted to visit the area around Offutt AFB just to see where my family and I had lived from 1969 t0 1971, during my stint in the Air Force. We couldn’t find my old address on Apple Maps at all, so I turned to Google’s version and there it was: 12433A Turner Circle. The problem was that when we got there we found nothing but grasslands and trees that were at least a quarter-century old. It was not just our old home that had disappeared, but the entire neighborhood had been obliterated and replaced by greenery. No houses, no streets, nothing remained.

The amazing app Google Earth echoes the map’s deception. Here is the view with the option “Streets” selected. The streets as drawn here do not exist any longer.

Here is the same view without “Streets” being selected. It’s like the Air Force had been embarrassed by having anything at all to do with me and decided to eliminate all traces of my former existence.

(BTW, that building in the left lower corner is Fort Crook School, which my two oldest kids attended.)

Anyway, I’ve fully recovered from that shock now, and will go on with life as if this whole unsettling business had not occurred. And just in case you’re thinking that all this is a figment of my imagination, nothing but a delusion mantained over a very long time, here is a photo of two year old Maja, child of mine, standing in front of the building that we once lived in.

Oh well. Tempus fugit, and all that.

Homeless, by Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo

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Here’s something for my kids, the rest of you readers can safely ignore them. They were all taken during those Air Force years.

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At a recent checkup on my car, the computerized screening found that one wheel was out of camber, whatever that is. The service advisor came out to ask me:

Have you been in an accident?

No.

Did you hit some horrific pothole, perhaps one that might have separated one or two of your vertebrae?

No.

Are you quite sure?

I think that I would remember.

Well, we can’t figure out how this could have happened. There’s no sign of damage to the undercarriage.

Yes … ?

Are you sure? No accidents?

Wouldn’t that have showed up in your inspection?

Why, yes it should have.

Why then, these questions?

I’ll get back to you.

Apparently the problem can be fixed, but the repair requires special equipment, which will put us on foot for a day. But one never wants to be out of camber, does one?

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The statistics are bad. Even worse than what one finds in medical care, my old profession. If you take your car in for repairs, there is a too-high likelihood that you won’t get what you needed done, or alternatively, that you will be charged for work that you didn’t need at all. So I always have a bit of concern when I place my precious automobile in the hands of strangers.

Back in the seventies, I purchased a new Volkswagen Squareback sedan. It was a beauty and a pleasure to drive but for one quirk. You might be happily cruising along and suddenly the motor would stop completely, leaving you no choice but to coast to the side of the road. Each time the motor could eventually be restarted, but only after sitting there for several minutes while I walked around the vehicle kicking the tires unmercifully.

I gave the VW people, with their computers and their snappy striped coveralls, three opportunities to fix the problem, but since it was episodic they couldn’t find the culprit when I brought the car in, because it was running normally. When I couldn’t bring the car in because I was stuck out on the road somewhere, they weren’t available. When the issue couldn’t be resolved by looking at their computer screens, they thought it might well be me, and that I was some madman who was wasting their valuable time.

So in near-despair I took the poor thing to a run-down looking auto shop across the street from the county hospital. The name of the business was Traufler & Wisniewski, Mechanics. I walked over to the shop and was greeted by Mr. Traufler himself, who was wearing a coverall that was a testament to grease, as no part of the original material’s color could be seen anywhere. The same was nearly true of Mr. Traufler.

He listened to my tale of woe, and when I had finished scratched his head and said: “You’ve got a loose wire in there somewhere. I can find it, but you’ll have to pay for the time I spend looking.”

I gave him permission to begin, and less than an hour later he called to say he’d found the offending wire, tightened it up, and could I please come by and pick up the car. The charge was $20.00. A pittance for having been aided by a master of his craft.

Why Can’t You Fix My Car?, by Leo Kottke

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Very good column by David Brooks in Friday’s NYTimes. The subject is race and how we think about it. For myself, I have started not answering “White” or “Caucasian”on questionnaires. What sense does it make in a country like ours to maintain these categories? Better to say “Other” or more delicately “Don’t care to answer,”perhaps.

Some of my “white” friends have had their DNA examined and guess what? They have X% African in some cases. So what race are they? What box do they check?

I’ve never had my DNA looked at, in part because the Neanderthals roamed entirely too close to Scandinavia for me to feel complacent about what I might find. (Not that I have anything against Neanderthals, mind you)

I have no data, but I suspect that our resident population of white supremacists is not among the crowds paying to find out about their ancestry. Easier to remain ignorant, like myself, than to have to explain an uncomfortable result.

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Absolutely Positively Mind-Blowing Department

Yesterday I ran across something on the World Wide Web that changed my life. I know that this phrase is bandied about quite a bit, but by now you know that I am not a man who bandies lightly. I was looking for a better way to peel fresh garlic, an odious job if ever there was one, with those slippery little devils hanging onto their coats as if their lives depended on it.

And then this video popped into my search window. At first I was unbelieving, so much so that I grabbed the head of garlic in our cupboard, followed the instructions, and it works. IT WORKS.

The only words that could express my feelings were these: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

[BTW: if you don’t have two metal bowls, you can do it with any metal saucepan that has a lid.]

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One thought on “Free At Last

  • Great pictures dad! I remember much of it well, the house, the school, the base, Lady, painting the large canvases! We really did live there even if they razed the place 🥰🥰🥰 very happily

    Like

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