About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It Was A Good Day

Osama Bin Laden is DEAD! I snapped a photo of the TV screen this morning just to have "something" of this historical event. The Better Half doesn't really watch The View, but if she's home when it's on, she has it on. So today we were both home, it was on, I snapped a shot of it.

What made it a good day

It was a good day today. I woke up at 5:00AM. That was earlier than I would have liked because of how the previous couple of days went. I was concerned I would be too tired if I didn't get another hour of sleep. Anyhow, I laid in bed for 45 more minutes listening to the Better Half snore periodically. Not a loud snoring, just a relaxed, subdued snore. I look at the clock and decide I might as well get up. Now here is what I do first thing out of bed: I go downstairs and start the coffee. From there I go to the bathroom (to take care of routine, fresh out of bed business) and look out the window at the thermometer we have tacked on an old Maple tree. This morning it reads 55 degrees. Yes! For where I live in Northern NY that's a nice temperature to start the day on May 2nd.  I do what I need to do and get back to the kitchen and pour a coffee. Black. With a packet of Knox gelatin dissolved into it. More about that another day.
Next I take my coffee & go to the guitar. The practice is good. I have several solo guitar arrangements I am working up and hope to add to my reperoire soon. They are Lady Madonna by the Beatles, arranged by American guitarist John Knowles. Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkle, arranged for guitar by Britain's Jorge Nolla, and Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline arranged for guitar by Slovakian guitarist Martin Vedej. 
About 8:00AM the Better Half gets up. The first thing she does is turn on the TV. Minutes later I hear from her the news "bin Laden is dead!" That's BIG news. And good news.
OK. So the day begins #1: warm, #2good guitar practice, #3 Osama bin Laden has bitten the radish.
The day gets better. The Better Half purchased a new shower head and wanted me to install it. Well the one we are replacing has been there for 20 years. I figure it might give me trouble. Indeed, removing the old one could have been trouble. It was seized up pretty good. One can damage the plumbing it's attached too if one isn't careful. Well it took a bit of carefull struggle with a pair of pliuers and pair of channel locks, but I got it off. The new one went on with out a hitch and worked fine. Took me about 40 minutes. Another success
At this point I am pretty hungry. I have a ham & cheese sandwhich on Italian Rye bread made by the Mastroianni Brothers in Rotterdam, NY. This is some really terrific bread. I spread it with Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Pepper Mustard. Trust me, if you like spicy hot, this is some good, good mustard. And colorful too!
Next, I socialize a bit with the Better Half. She likes that.
Then I face a project I have been putting off for awhile. The muffler and tail pipe on my 1999 Dodge Caravan is all rusted, loud, and needs to be replaced. I have been driving it for about four, mayybe five months like this. It's been awful. I could get a ticket. With the loud noise & rust that has formed around the perimiter of the van I don't really present myself as gloriously as I really am. It MUST be fixed. I intend to do it MYSELF. Today was the day of reckoning. I WILL repair the van.
Let me digress a bit. I don't like to wrench on vehicles. I am no mechanic. I don't want to be a mechanic. I don't want to play a mechanic on Broadway. However, I am somewhat capable. Many years ago when Jimmy Carter was president the economy was in terible shape. Gasoline was at an astronimically high price of a dolar a gallon. There were no jobs. I was unemployed. I was trying to be a photographer. I had a wife and two little kid. Life was tough. I was young. I landed a job at Camp Drum (which is now Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain division) as a combat vehicle mechanic. What I really was was a mechanics assistant. I knew nothing. Camp Drum was the home for Summer training for the New Jersey National Gaurd.  They were tank drivers / crews. The NJ Gaurd kept a year round staff of gaurdsmen at Camp Drum to maintain their Army Tanks and other equipment, including personell carries, army jeeps, trucks and other vehicles.
US Army's Abrams M1 tank.
Anyhow, I assisted the gaurdsmen  who were professional combat vehicel mechanics. Before long I was changing oil, sparkplugs and tread pads on tanks and personel carriers. Then I / we were changing enigines and all manner of other things. What I learned was basicall how to remove and replace parts. I never learned diagnostics per se,  but to this day you could send me to Iraq and I could repair  or replace tank treads, spark plugs, oil, various gauges and idiot lights, even the entire engine pack. At least on the Abrams A1 tank.
So what this is getting around too is that I wrench on my own vehicles to save money. That's it. I'd rather not do it because I'm really not that good. I make mistakes and do things twice. In these days I have more time than money. Exhaust systems used to be fairly cheap to take to a shop and have repaired. For many years I took my cars to Cole Muffler on Arsenal St in Watertown NY. They ran a good, honest shop. The most I ever paid was $169.00. Usually I was in & out for less than a hundred bucks. But why did I drive around around for 3 or 4 months without repairing it? I'll tell you why. When my job situation wentn to Hell on me 2 years ago I decided to quit using credit cards. Period. I started paying them down. It used to be when I had an unexpected car problem I just whipped out the plastic, got the work done, & worried about paying for it later. Those days are gone Baby. I went to Cole Muffler to have the work done. The first thing I notice is new management. A new sign. I ask the guy in charge where the old staff went. "We bought them out," he said. They looked over the van & gave me an estimate of $387.00! What! You must be joking. How do you justify that I asked them? He said the tail pipe alone cost $125.00. I was incredulous. "A 125 bucks for a tsail pipe" I said. "Are you kidding?" Anyway, to make a long story short, I went to Auto Zone and found a muffler for $39.00 and a tail pipe for $15.00. I said to myself screw it. I'll go home and change it myself. So today I did just that. It took me about 4 hours of frogging around but I git it done. I saved myself over $340.00. So what's the difference if I spend my time shooting a freelance photography job for that ammount of money, or I spend my time wrenching on my van and NOT spending that ammount of money. So I reach the end of my day feeling that life is good. And it is!!
Love to all of you out there.
Gary Walts

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Please leav comments and suggestions about this blog and how I maght improve it. Thanks, Gary Walts