The Spechtacle

A site for sharing information, dropping dimes and plotting overthrows...

My Favorite Room…

These memories are from the deep recesses of my (mother’s) brain.

The house was on 9 mile road in Clermont County, Ohio. Daddy built the three houses before the second bridge on the right, down from SR 125.
My room was small but I was really thrilled, it was my room and no one was allowed in it unless I let them.  I remember playing Monopoly, checkers, and cards with Pat and Austin. Pat and Austin were my main childhood playmates. They were the sons of my mother’s best friend, Flo. I was in the eight grade and it was the year WWll broke out. Natalie, my sister, joined the coast guard. She was five years older than me.
My furnishings consisted of a steamer trunk from my Uncle Johnny, who traveled the world. He was a valet for a rich man. The trunk consisted of drawers and a hanger space. The drawer I really loved had a secret compartment. I also had my 22 rifle in the corner. I keept my shells in the secret compartment of my steamer trunk. I had gotten the rifle for Christmas, Daddy did not wrap it, he put It in my dresser draw. I think daddy got the rifle not mother because it wasn’t wrapped. I was thrilled to death.
There was a four post iron single bed under the eaves. Mom cut of the iron posts at the head of the bed because she didn’t like the way it looked. She turned the bed around and used bottom for the head of the bed. I helped her. We were making it look better. She had me stuff socks in the cut posts and cuff them over the holes so no one would get cut.
I had the table with wooden pegs from my childhood under the window that my grandma gave me.  A large “Molly Perkins” doll was in the corner on a chair. The doll was from mother’s sister Katie, I never played with it because it was an antique. Later my Aunt Katie asked for it back, I think she sold it, I didn’t mind.
My metal dollhouse, I had when I was younger, was on the floor full of toy soldiers, some were metal and some were more expensive and made from lead.
I had a small radio, I had sermons all over my little table. The walls I had religions plaques. i sent for the sermons and the plaques from the Sunday sermons on the radio. When I was little, Daddy and I would have tea parties with the new dishes he home from down South where he drove a bus.
The dishes and the toy soldiers ended up in the woods were I played with Pat and Austin. We would build shacks and I would sweep the floor, decorate and play with my dishes in the shack while Pat and Austin played with the mules and made more shacks.

picture of toy soldier

The Army Security Agency in Vietnam

This story was on the Lompoc Record…. it is a typical story for a guy in the Army Security Agency in Vietnam during the 60’s and 70’s… and there were a lot of us.

Andy Francis recounted his story of Vietnam service and mentioned the dangers ASA personnel faced.  One danger all rear area guys faced was constant mortar and rocket attacks, but only rarely coming face to face with the enemy.  That usually happened to intercept guys in outlying firebases, but that was rare.


The one danger we all faced was from our own guards.  Francis mentions the Air Force bombing us if we got overrun, and I had never heard that one.  What I did hear from the MP’s that were assigned to guard our top secret compounds was that they had orders to shoot us if we got overrun.  I think few of us had anything the North Vietnamese could use, but whatever….

Getting drunk with me might not have done that MP any good in the long run though, as who was going to get shot first was the question.

Not that it mattered much, if you got overrun, your survival chances were slim to none.

Change out your Mint hard drive to an SSD hard drive

So new SSD drives are sexy, and now pretty good in terms of reliability. And the prices are down, too.

I use Linux Mint Rebecca 17.1 for my work machine. I had two 500g hard drives, dual booted with grub2. So this is how I swapped out my Linux drive to an SSD. Why? For games dude, why else?

I plugged in the Crucial 256g SSD drive to the system and booted into Windows 7 from the grub boot loader menu.

I installed Acronis, a drive migration and backup tool, which came with the Crucial SSD drive. I downloaded it off the web per the enclosed instructions.

I then used Acronis to copy the Linux drive to the Crucial SSD drive.

Then I shut everything down and rebooted off of a DVD (or USB drive) into a Linux Mint live distro.

Once booted, I ran Gparted and copied the UUID of the new Crucial SSD Drive.

I ran Gedit as root and edited the grub boot menu text file on the Crucial SSD Drive, replacing the UUID of the first couple menu entries with the Crucial SSD drive UUID from Gparted.

I shut down and removed the DVD, and rebooted. Your system should reboot to the boot loader menu.  I then selected Linux and booted all the way into the SSD drive Mint Linux desktop.

I opened up a terminal as root and ran update-grub to finish out my grub menu updating.


I looked at using clonezilla in Linux and DD from the command line, but your partitions need to be the same size or larger on the target drive, and I am way too lazy to deal with that!

Paradise lost

I guess if you are a terrorist and you accidentally blow yourself up before you reach your target, instead of all the promised virgins you get a magazine and a sock.

The church is a cel tower….

I drive through Indian Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati, on the way to work everyday, and sometime loiter in this church’s back parking lot to catch up on my reading if I’m too early. While sitting behind the Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church, I was looking at my phone and noticed I had quite a few bars… in fact all the bars. Indian Hill is notorious for poor cel reception, especially as it is an enclave for wealthy people.

So while I was thinking about that I noticed these cables run up the back wall of the church and dissappearing into the roof. Big cables, and quite a lot of them. They ran back behind the church and into a big pile of computerized equipment…. quite the modern pile of gear for a church. Did this church have a super cool stereo system to praise the Lord with?

There are megachurches with plenty of broadcasting power to lure the tv crowd, however I don’t think this is one of them… On further investigation, I think the sign on the electronic gear gave it away…. Property of T-Mobile…. It’s a cel tower.


Clifford Morris’s D-Day story…

Uncle Cliff landed in Normandy on D-Day+2. He lost his rifle in the surf, as you still had to travel to the beach in a landing craft…. His CO said not to worry, there were plenty of rifles on the beach to choose from. He found one that looked pretty decent (Garand) and his buddies and him spent an afternoon setting their sights to 200 yards. He didn’t change them again for the rest of the war. He shot his rifle plenty during the next 11 months, but only fired it five times at Germans he could see plainly. He thought he got them all. He brought home a German Luger in .30 Luger caliber as a war trophy, and a nun’s cross filled with the bones of the saints… He never said how he got them.


The VW Diagnostic Computer – 1973

In 1973, I went to work as a fledgling mechanic in a nearby VW dealer, Hassan Motors, in Norwood Ohio. I had just got back from the war a year before, and after goofing off for a year was finally ready to start some sort of career. Before I was drafted, I went to a local community college to learn about computers, but everything I had learned had disappeared by the time I got back, and it was time to start over. I should have found some way to get back into computers, as even then it was obvious that it was going to be big. However, my love for mechanical objects (cars) was overwhelming, so off to work I went.

Computers were shortly to take over the car business, and into my first year on learning to repair cars, I came face to face with the VW Diagnostic Computer, a machine introduced to dealers in 1973 as mostly a marketing gimmick, but did show the way forward.


The computer took up a whole bay, and plugged into the diagnostic socket in the engine bay. It couldn’t really do much, mostly would tell you how much the alternator was charging, but people got the readout and really thought they had something. VW had just released their electronic fuel injection on the squareback models just a few years prior. These were simple things, and if you took the control units apart, could practically build them yourself. They weren’t very sophisticated, and could run better, but most cars then were having trouble with the new emission laws, and they could all run better. The saying at the time was, “We can make them run clean, or we can make them run good, which do you want?” We even had a serial Luddite in Cincinnati that was killing these cars. In a VW squareback, the control unit sat close inside the left rear fender, next to the engine’s air vent. Someone who knew where the control unit was was driving something similar to an icepick through the fender and into the control unit. I don’t remember how many of these cars we fixed, but it was a significant number.

In the end, the VW Diagnostic Computer was deemed irrevelant, and the machine was sold to the dealer for one dollar, and they could dispose of it any way they wanted. I kept a few boards out of it for years, hanging them on my garage wall. Kind of a picture into the future. Every car has a diagnostic socket today, with the laptop taking the place of the behemoth of the early seventies…

Image of diagnostic plug from Speedy Jim’s homepage
Image of Diagnostic Computer from
Image of a computer printout at this page

4th of July

So citizen, what does 4th of July mean to you? What will you do? Hopefully you will think about our nation and it’s direction. I am becoming cynical of our future. I don’t like being cynical.

Health care: If you think we have great health care, you are immersed in a dream. Wake up. Overall our health care is too expensive, limited to those who can afford it and behind other countries in terms of management and modernization.

We need change. If you make it to 75, your health care should be free going forward. Personally, I think that if you are breathing, your health care ought to be free at the point of sale. You pay into an account while you are working – a flat 2% or some other number. No deductions, no discounts etc. A normed flat tax per income would help.

Political systems: Get lobbyists out. Get term limits in. Look at Mitch McConnell. I rest my case right there.

Energy: Don’t be an idiot. You cannot see carbon monoxide, but it will kill you dead. Who told us about it? Scientists did. So what they are telling us now is that we are cooking the planet. The planet cannot evolve fast enough to accommodate us and our pollution. Check the math. We need to get serious about alternate forms of energy. Clean coal technology is a myth. Energy from algae is a myth. People will say we have to protect jobs in the coal industry. Really? Tell that to all the businesses killed by Wal Mart, all the small farms gobbled up by corporations, and all the dairy farms gone under this last 10 years. Tell that to the furniture manufacturing industry.

Privacy: everything is fine in a car until someone dies in an accident. No seat belt, no airbags, speeding and on and on. Everything is fine with firearms until there is tragic event. So it is with privacy. Once your information is compromised, good luck. It’s too late. So take privacy seriously. This stuff with the NSA is troubling. Oh, but congress will sort it out. Like they have on everything else? Two words for congress: you’re fired.

So why am I ranting about this? Because fixing everything above won’t fix us: you and me. We have to give a damn. We have to write a letter, make a phone call, attend a rally or protest, something. It’s our job as a citizen. It’s not a hotel: it’s a nation. It’s us, folks.

Politicians’ spend crazy money on campaigns to win because they know that is the only time they need care about you and me. They bank on the fact that as long as we have Doritos and beer and Nascar, we won’t do a darn thing.

The last good run at politics as usual was the wall street protest movement. But in classic fashion, all the politicians and press painted it as youth wanting a free lunch. Thank you professional journalists, you are so valuable. “Houston we have a problem” is what they should have been reporting. Watch the documentaries of how no one is in jail for the mortgage backed securities and derivatives that were sold unethically. Watch “Inside Job” some night with your Doritos.

I dare you. I double dare you.



Studies of stupidity

So I don’t usually rant, but today I’ll make an exception.

Many many studies are showing that texting, talking, fiddling with a device, drinking, eating, exercising and on and on can be dangerous while driving. Thank you in flight rocket scientists of the world.

I’ll go way way out on a limb and predict that texting, exercising, drinking, smoking, playing the pan flute while diffusing an atom bomb may also be dangerous.

Listening to creed blaring loudly while castrating a lion may also be dangerous.

Accidentally waking a sleeping Kodiak Bear in a small dark cave while wearing a protective suit of honey and meat as a result of texting on a noisy smartphone keyboard may also be dangerous.

Punching an Orca Killer Whale in the eye accidentally with your blackberry while texting under water and then snapping a photo of the inside of his stomach may also be dangerous.

Cutting limbs off a tree with a chainsaw in one hand while texting your wife with a smartphone, accidentally snapping a photo of your moments before severed leg may be dangerous. You could fall on your own leg, driving it right through your chest.

Aren’t these things self evident? Let’s focus, people.


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