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Friday, July 27, 2012

Catfish in July

Aloha! It is still Friday at this point and I am trying to get this post in before it becomes Saturday!

Yesterday I visited with an orthopedic specialist for my second opinion on what to do with my shoulder problems. He said he wants an MRI on my left shoulder before he suggests a course of action, although he has already indicated arthroscopic repair of the right one. It sounds like the left shoulder is going to be first and the biggest job to fix.

Did you ever have a doctor twist or pull on something and then ask you if it hurt when he did it? And if it weren't for the pain that they caused you might have been able to answer them before they did it again? Yeah, me too. I have had constant pain in my left shoulder since that appointment. Yippee.

I have to go to the room of doom again and get inside the machine. I am severely claustrophobic and have to utilize the open air MRI and sedation, just to be able to get the pictures. It is a pain for everyone involved. I am not that thrilled with their supposed "open air" machine which isn't so open, but I will try to get more, better drugs this time so I don't know what is going on and be a good patient. I will try.

Today we took Mr S to lunch and then shopping. He really didn't need anything but wanted to go somewhere. He tried to pull the old "I don't know what I need, we will have to just look" gag on us but Anna was wise to it and made him make a list. If you don't he will keep you in Walmart all day going up and down the aisles looking at EVERYTHING in the store.

Anna made the slight error of letting him get a small potted plant. Now he wants to take us to lunch tomorrow and go shopping for another plant. We will have to put a stop to this tomorrow, or it will become an every day request because he is bored and wants us to entertain him.

Back in the early 1960's I was pretty independent and went many places by myself that a child of today could never be allowed to go. I can't tell you that it was safer for me to wander alone among the hazards of that environment, than it would be today. I can say that you were expected to take care of yourself and handle situations that you were faced with. There were no cell phones and you just couldn't (and wouldn't), run home crying if you fell down and scraped your knee. Somehow we survived in spite of it all.

This story is about a nutty family tradition of practical jokes that often went to extremes and how a nine year old held his own against the senior prank puller. I won't pretend that what we did was right, or proper, but it was what it was. Hopefully you will just laugh at the craziness of our actions and not get too wrapped up in the right or wrong of it... After all, it was 50 years ago. Enjoy!

Catfish in July

 The Background
When I was growing up in South Florida, I was fortunate enough to have lots of “extra” family, (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.) around me, something that I had to do without from the time that I was 18, until about 23 years later when my daughter Jennifer married her husband Dan, then I had family around me again. When I married Anna I gained even more family… and Jenny had the twins and then her daughter. Now there’s lots of family around me again. Wow. They’re everywhere!

One of the things that having a lot of relatives around will bring is practical jokes. There is always at least one joker in the deck, and in the case of the my family in South Florida, there were just too many to watch at once. Somebody was always pulling something on someone else, and we were all guilty of conspiring with each other to pull a joke on another unsuspecting relative. 

The joke season had no time limits and you could rest assured that if you “got” somebody,  eventually they WOULD get you back for it, no matter how long it took, or how hard it was to set up. 

The Joke That Started It
            One Christmas, about 1962 I believe, my older brother and my youngest uncle went to great pains to wrap a little green snake up in a box and innocently presented their “gift” to the Senior Uncle himself, the King of Jokesters, Uncle R. Naturally they knew that R was not overly "fond" of snakes of any kind, and his reaction when he unwrapped the box was as expected. He thought that it would be something that a dog “dropped”, or like the one year, or at least a VERY realistic looking fake vomit from the mail order catalog.  But, when he opened his present and that 18 inch snake unloaded out of that box... Well, let’s just say that the snake wasn’t the only one looking for a way out! Uncle let out a very undignified screech and threw the box and wrapping paper into the air and everyone busted up laughing.

The young Uncle turns to me and says, “don’t just sit there dummy, catch the snake!" Which I proceeded to do, and let me tell you, that’s not easy in a roomful of people stampeding around, trying to get away from a snake that’s not as big as my shoelaces. 

I finally caught the poor little guy and took him outside and let him go in the hedge, for which I caught Hell, because they weren’t done using him for jokes yet, but I didn’t want him hurt and he was already so traumatized that I was afraid that he was going to go to that great big “grassy field in the sky” prematurely.  Geez, give him a break, he already has to dodge hawks, house cats and lawnmowers.  So I let him go, and who was standing out on the porch watching me talk nice to the little snake while I carried him safely away from the bad-old-people-who-might-squish-him. Yep! Uncle R, who made the instant assumption that I was in on this gag, and for the record, I wasn’t, but he thought so, and I had dog crap in my shoes in less than 24 hours.  And that brings me to the rest of the story.

               It was a hot and sticky July day and I had gone fishing in a pond that I knew about. It was hard to get to, almost impossible, unless of course you know a “back way” in, and I did. All you had to do was walk across a big green water pipe that was at least 12 inches in diameter and spanned a canal with some water moccasins in it, that was a real good incentive not to fall off of the pipe. One slight fly-in-the-ointment though.  You know those Australian lizards that have a fan shaped thingy around their necks to make them look bigger and ferocious?  No there wasn’t a nest of “killer lizards” there!  But there was a fan shaped guard that looked like that on each end of the pipe, a little ways out from the bank. It kept grownup types out, no problem, but for kids who climbed anything and everything, HA! I zipped right around that and was careful where I jumped so as not to disturb anything sleeping in the grass along the canal bank. There were alligators, water moccasins and the occasional rattlesnake to deal with all over the area, but having grown up with them, it never seemed like a big deal to just be careful where you stepped.

            The mosquitoes were pretty bad and it was really hot, so after I caught myself a nice catfish, about two pounds worth, I took off for home figuring on cleaning the fish and maybe taking off for the beach if I was lucky. As I walked past a store I spotted Uncle R's milk truck sitting in the parking lot,  and the inspiration came over me. It was Fate, It was Destiny,  It was Kismet… Oh Hell, it was Payback Time!

            I made a quick check through the store window and sure enough the Uncle was still all the way in the back, stocking the cooler and couldn’t see the parking lot. I made a bee-line for the truck, opened the driver’s door and jammed that catfish way up in the springs underneath the seat; where you couldn’t see it if you looked under the seat, even if you knew it was there. Another quick peek through the window and I was off for home on the run, thinking as I ran; July, Hot, Closed up truck with the windows rolled all the way up, Catfish already smelly. Yep, that ought to do it alright.  I wished that I could stay around to see his expression when he opened that door, but my hands smelled like fish.  I was ornery, not stupid, so I ran for it.

            I was sure that if he looked hard enough, he would eventually find it, but he didn’t and by the end of the day I know it was righteous in that truck cab! I figured that I would do the same thing again (sneak into the truck) and get the stinky thing out the next day and the plan was a good one, except that when I checked the truck, it not only didn’t have a fish in it, it didn’t stink.  Boy was I puzzled, but at least I didn’t get caught messing with the truck, and I kept my mouth shut about it… until now. 

            Years later I finally found out the answer to the mystery of the missing catfish.  Uncle R wasn't sure if it was family, or one of the other drivers he worked with who pulled this prank, but he did know by the end of the day that he wouldn’t be able to get that smell out of the truck. So after he unloaded the empty milk crates onto the dock he parked away from everyone else so that they wouldn’t get a whiff of his catch-of-the-day perfume and when all of the other drivers had gone home, he came back with some supplies. He got the keys and switched places with another driver’s truck and then switched license plates and repainted the numbers on the side of the hood, which identified which truck was which. After the identification switch was made, he parked his "new" truck it its proper place and the old smelly truck in the new "owner's" spot. I know that he never mentioned a word about smelling anything ro owned up to switching trucks the rest of the years that he worked at that Dairy.

            I am sure that the records keeper had to have noticed the difference in mileage etc., but he wasn't talking. The company had a mechanic who gassed the vehicles and did oil changes and maintenance and he found and removed the fish. Neither of these gentlemen were willing to enter the world of practical jokes, so they stayed silent about what they may have known. Wise fellows!

            Bonus… Uncle R thought it was most likely that my older brother and his own youngest brother were the culprits, and proceeded to prank them unmercifully; so I got my payback on them without having to do a thing. Now, I’m not saying that any of this was nice or correct, but that’s the way it was… way back then, when I was young.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Had To Do It

Overdue greetings friends! I have been busier than expected the last few days and I still have reports to write for the Mensa Annual Gathering concluded on July 8th.

There are many messages of thanks and congratulations coming in still and I am happy to have them to offset the very few e-mails of complaint that I get. I am told that I take the negative far too seriously, but I find it hard not to after dedicating the last 4.5 years of my life to making this event happen. Possibly once the last reports are done I will be able to let it all go. We'll see.

We took Mr S. to lunch and shopping yesterday and then to the doctor for a check up. It was fortunate that we did as his blood pressure was 75/38. They did an EKG on him to be sure that he was OK and then reviewed his medications. He is now off of Metoprolol as it was working too well at keeping his blood pressure in check. The doc said this may improve the brain functions as well, as low blood pressure doesn't send enough blood to the brain and causes mental and physical slow downs. We have definitely seen that with the same question being asked repeatedly every few seconds and an extremely slow walking rate.

Last night we hosted friends from Reno who came to have a BBQ and watch the video of the Mr Mensa pageant held at the Reno AG. Mr Mensa 2012 Howard Chen and runner up Nico Aguilera were both in attendance and a great time was had by all. I really appreciated them making the trip to Fallon so that for once we got to stay home and didn't have to make the drive.

Our new arrivals Victoria and Albert the Hog Island Boa constrictors are doing very well and today had their first meal. They are as fast as lightning and hit really hard! I am really happy that they will take thawed frozen rats without any trouble. It makes life easier for both of us. Anna was amazed at both how fast they are, and how they can swallow their prey.

Anna and I share the sadness of the country for the insane shootings in Colorado and while I agree with concerns for the restriction and control of certain firearms and ammunition, I have to say that no matter what laws are enacted, crazy people and criminals will still get the weapons. I would like to call for more mental health care and treatment and let us put more effort into what pushes people to go to such extremes to solve their pain. A very large percentage of the school shootings were the result of bullying and mistreatment. If we do not address the base issues we will never solve the resulting explosions, no matter what laws we make.

Today's story is one of transitioning from an image of security to having to learn about reality. Karma also brings us some small lessons. Read and enjoy!

Had To Do It
There really wasn't any other way; at least that's their story and they're sticking to it.

It was a time of unrest and fears of terrorist attacks, even way out here in Nevada. 1986 was a troubled year with bombings and hostage situations dominating the news, daily it seemed. Fallon Naval Air Station was and still is, responsible for training the majority of aviation units that see duty in the Middle East and as such, is considered a primary target for terrorist retribution attacks.

These guys (terrorists) are mostly from the Al Qaeda network and are really big in the "payback" department, whether your "offense" is real or imagined doesn't really matter to them. And anything which causes fear or injury to the "enemy", is a gift from Allah and considered to be a worthy deed. If they get away unharmed and don't get caught, then it was Allah's will; if they get blown up, well, it was Allah's will and they get to join Allah sooner and their family has gained honor. It's tough to eat honor, but hey; it's Allah's will.

Taking precautions and being vigilant is something that you would expect the military to be doing all the time, not just when CNN says it is the thing to do. And in fairness to the military, they do try to maintain a state of readiness and security.

Here at NAS Fallon, there was a complacent attitude and a very strange kind of "security" in place. For years there wasn't even a fence around the base; and for many years after the fence was built, the only place that you would get "challenged " is going through the main gate. You could get onto the base in several different locations without so much as slowing down. I am afraid that it was a security of image, not substance.

After the big push in awareness raising and tightening security you could still DRIVE onto the base in at least three locations and if you didn't mind walking in; at least half a dozen more spots. This system only kept honest people honest.

Once to prove a point to a friend in Security, and with the knowledge of both his Commanding Officer and mine, I challenged them to keep me out of the base or apprehend me once I had entered. This was just a game and no weapons use or injury took place. The animals used in the portrayal of these events were not harmed in any way; Ah, you are reading this!

I not only got into the base unnoticed, I brought the small fluorescent orange traffic cone,(my SIMULATED bomb), signed by the head of Security, with me and had placed it on the C.O. of N.A.S. Fallon's desk, in his office, in the Administration Building. The same building which houses Security! Just because I am somewhat of a wise guy, I also stopped off in the Security Chief's office and took his hat and placed it on top of the cone, (in the C.O.'s office) I just had to do it.

KABOOM!!!!!! Game over! You lose! No one even asked me what I was doing when I walked into the Security office.

This isn't a good for me, I beat you, HA, HA story. This is about how our years of being safe from harm have dulled our senses and while being safe is a very good thing and I like it, it is time to wake up, the rest of the world isn't like that.
After the little "Traffic Cone" incident, things got a bit more tense in the old Security department and then a bombing in a far away land made fears of attack a lot more real and vehicles coming onto the base got stopped and searched. Everything that seemed even remotely "terrorist like" was investigated and it was not a good time to make jokes or play pranks.

Sometimes things got kind of distorted and perspective was lost; such as when one of the young fellows from a permanently assigned unit on the base, known to most all of us and certainly easily identifiable, was detained at the front gate because he didn't have his ID card on his person. Big deal, you say, well it was kind of. He had been riding a dirt bike and took a nasty spill and in his moment of losing control, forgot to let go of the handlebars and yanked his right arm out of the shoulder socket.

I don't know how many of you have ever dislocated a shoulder, but I have, and HURT is not even close to a good description of what is going on with your body. The man had NOT been drinking, and was not being abusive or difficult, and was merely in excruciating pain and was being brought in to the base medical facility by an Active Duty, ID carrying person, well known to all on duty. That much I know for sure... because it was me.

I was driving my own, registered on the base, personal vehicle, with this hurt friend seat-belted in the passenger side and we were stopped coming in the front gate, by orders from the Command Duty Officer for the day, a certain Lieutenant Commander who was in charge of, wait for it... the Medical Facility, as his regular duty post!

Of all the people possible, he "should" have been the best one to have on duty. But, he was cranky because he had to stand a watch, (just like everyone else in the Navy does), and he was taking out his petty anger on everyone that he could.

He was also in charge of the Physical Fitness program for the base and he was overweight and sloppy looking in his own uniform, and couldn't see why the instructions and regulations should have to apply to him. The humor of the assignment was lost on him; yes, he had plenty of issues to resolve.

I was about to turn around and drive to town and just go the civilian hospital's Emergency Room, where we would have to play the "What kind of insurance do you have" game, but they would be taking care of him meanwhile, when the Security guy on the gate said that they were being ordered to detain us; meaning that now I couldn't even turn around and leave.

Knowing me, you would be correct in assuming that I was about to lose my composure... that's the way you would put it, right? I asked the Gate Guard if they planned on shooting me if I decided to just drive on in without permission, and he said, "Affirmative, those are my orders" but then said, "Hey Ken, you aren't really going to do that are you? I'll get in lots of trouble!"

Fortunately, a rare moment of inspiration hit me and I said, "Not if you let me use your telephone for a minute" And he said, "I don't know...", at which point I reached up like I was going to start my vehicle, and he said, "OK, OK, you can use the phone, but I just know the CDO is going to eat my rear end for it" I said, "Maybe not, maybe we'll feed him his own "Butt Sandwich" instead."

The call I placed was the thing to do, and it caused a bit of a "Shxx Storm" of it's own. I called a friend of mine, who was very helpful and we got right in after just a couple of minutes and even got an ambulance ride out to the Hospital ER after they had given the kid a shot to help with the pain. By the time he got to the ER, he was singing and laughing. It was a good thing he didn't know what was coming. It always hurt me more when they put my shoulder back in place, than it did when I yanked it out. But I didn't tell him that.

Who did I call? You are curious about that Eh? It was just a fellow Optimist Club member; The Commanding Officer of the Base. Who, by the way, was NOT amused with the feeble attempts to explain his actions by his Command Duty Officer.
You would think that my story would end here, wouldn't you? But I have to tell something that gives me a continuing belief in the old axiom, "What goes around, comes around" or what you do will come back to you, karma, etc.
With the heightened awareness and increased training on what to expect and what actions to take, etc., the possibility of hostile actions by terrorist groups was being taken very seriously, finally! You never knew when the PETA, PTA, GREEN PEACE or the C of C... might take action against us, just kidding! It was and is, a very serious thing and lives are at stake, and that's no joke.

So, when the call came in from the Dispensary, or, Base Medical Facility, that a briefcase had been left behind in the waiting room and could not be identified by anyone in the immediate area, the proper procedure was to notify Security and they in turn contacted EOD, (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) who's job it was to "take care of" such problems. All of this was done and the building was evacuated... at least most of it was.

There were factors which came into play that increased the tension for the EOD team: the Base CO had a doctor's appointment in less than one hour and would be in the room where this suspicious object, "SO", was located. The SO was a plain brown briefcase of inexpensive foreign manufacture, with the makers logo removed. The same kind used very frequently by terrorist groups and in fact, a description of this type of case was in the daily read file in every department. There were no initials or identifying marks on this SO and it was locked. It was placed under a table in direct line with the doctor's door and the chair just outside of it.

The EOD guys brought in their portable X-ray unit and scanned the case, and they nearly all had heart failure when, upon putting a stethoscope to the case they heard the unmistakable sound of ticking. The x-rays showed batteries, an electronic unit, a timer and some solid objects inside the case. Holy Cow!

They had just one course of action available here; because of the use of a "timer" and the possibility of "remote" detonation capabilities with the electronic unit inside the case, the SO had to be moved to the Bomb Disposal Trailer and moved away from the buildings and detonated, before it had a chance to do it's job!
They had to do it. It was the only safe way to handle the situation and everyone in a position to have a say agreed with the EOD team leader, including the CO, who was more than a little concerned that a "bomb" may have been placed to "End his Career" so to speak.

The team, using a long handled gripping device and wearing their body armor, lifted the case carefully and walked gingerly out to the Bomb Disposal trailer, which was made of concrete and steel reinforcing plates, mounted on a very sturdy trailer and would direct the blast upwards, should it go off unexpectedly.

With the SO safely inside, the unit moved away from the buildings, out into a field south of the medical facility and carried out "phase two" of this kind of procedure; namely, blow up the SO with a small charge of their own, in controlled surroundings and when they were ready for it to happen. When the smoke cleared and the EOD team declared the area safe again; traffic was allowed to resume on the roads, and in the air, (I had to maintain a safe zone over the area) and the Dispensary which was searched thoroughly with dogs, was allowed to resume seeing patients.

The officer in charge of the Dispensary, who had not been able to be located during all of this, was located, in the opposite end of the building in a bathroom, sitting on the toilet reading what was described as, "a magazine of questionable taste and moral value" and had been in there for over an hour. He knew nothing of the events that had transpired, which further "endeared" (NOT!) him to the CO, who was undoubtedly still having "flashbacks" on his life at that point.

After the forensic specialists had finished with their examination, the results, which were not widely disseminated, but my brother Optimist, (the base CO), allowed me to read, were ready!

Because this proves my point that what you do, WILL come back to you; I will tell you what was found in that case so many years ago:
No explosives of any kind.
One television remote control unit.
One package of four AA batteries, identical to those found in RC unit.
One Ladies wrist watch in a case, new.
One key ring with nine keys on it.
One metal eye glasses case with prescription glasses inside.
One stapler, metal, with USN stock number.
Medical records for one individual.
Personnel records for one individual.
Finance records for one individual.
Sixteen copper pennies.
One quarter.
One dime.
One box of US Government ball-point pens, black.
And nothing else that could be identified.

The owner of all of this material and the "Culprit in the Great Briefcase Bomb" adventure: the very same Lieutenant Commander in charge of the Dispensary, who had just that morning confiscated a "filthy" magazine from an enlisted single corpsman who was reading said material on his own time.

The records in the case were his own, as were the glasses, and the keys to his car, etc., the watch was a birthday present for his "wife", although the corpsmen said his wife's birthday was two months earlier (Hmmm...) The television remote and batteries for it, were from his house. The SOB was so hateful that he wouldn't even let his own family use it when he wasn't there.

The other stuff was just normal "tightwad" briefcase filler in the cheapo, knock-off, simulated leather, too cheap to buy the real thing or have his initials put on it, briefcase. That he had forgotten and left behind when he decided to go "research" the "filth" in the other end of the building, where he wouldn't be disturbed.

What goes around, comes around!

I know that you all want to know what happened to this less than shining example of military officer. I will only say that his official evaluation reflected his true abilities and he was fortunate (in my opinion) to be allowed to retire soon after this episode with his present rank intact. Karma happens!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rockets' Red Glare

Greetings friends,

We have stayed busy since the conclusion of the Mensa Gathering in Reno and I am writing this quite late on Friday evening instead of being able to publish in the morning as I prefer. It has been said to me that whenever I can write and publish, my readers will be happy to have the material. I actually did blush at that statement, believe it or not.

My tales are pieces of my life that while I find them amusing, I am still amazed that others want to read them. At the AG I received a lot of encouragement from not only friends who I know read my stories, but strangers from other countries that I had never met before. One young man from Germany was quoting one of my stories to me at a reception and I am afraid that I just stood there with my mouth hanging open, such was my amazement. THAT was cool!

Today was our day to take Mr S. to lunch and shopping and I see him slipping farther away from us. He no longer remembers from one day to the next. The expression of his frustration, is to ride around and around the outside of his living complex on his powerchair dozens of times a day. It makes no sense, but neither does his life any more. We continue to do what we can to stimulate his mind and provide opportunities, but I fear it is useless at this point. All we can do is see to his physical needs and do our best to understand.

Tomorrow is my son Patrick's wedding and we will be in Reno early as someone has to get a new pair of tuxedo pants... Anna has been losing weight and the dog isn't going, so I guess that leaves me doesn't it. Fortunately I am not tasked with any duties in these ceremonies, so I can't flub any lines or forget to do something. (Yay!) But I will undoubtedly have to do the photo thing so I will get the new britches. Pat and his bride will be honeymooning briefly in the NorCal area before returning to work in a few days. They have been together for several years already, so they will save the major travel for another, more convenient time.

The tale I am about to tell took place in the mid '80's and I believe it was 1986, but I am not sure. The event is certainly a matter of record with the Storey County Fire Department and is just one of the many tales they have to tell about 4th of July fireworks. It is still the Wild West up there at times! Enjoy.

Rockets’ Red Glare

While in the U.S. Navy stationed at Fallon, N.A.S., I had occasion to play host and tour guide to a couple newly assigned to our base. This is usual and customary in the military and a method of making the frequent moves less painful.

The service member, Tim (name changed to protect the guilty), was a member of the elite Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) detachment and at six foot four and two hundred and eighty pounds, looked like a blonde GI Joe doll with a flat top haircut and arms which were bigger around than my legs. The fact that he giggled like a girl when things were funny was a bit image busting, but he was cool. His wife Katie was also a full sized human being at five foot eight with an athletic build and what she called “dirty blonde” hair, but looked light brown to me. She laughed from the bottom of her guts, and when things got funny around these guys you could hear it a long way off.

It was the Fourth of July, and I had been telling these New Jersey city kids how much fun it was to go to Virginia City for the parade, then wander the multiple cemeteries and finally watch the incredible fireworks display. Katie was really excited about wandering the graveyards, and Tim kept asking if they would let him blow something up.

The seven of us, four adults and my three kids, loaded up in my car and made the trip up the mountain, arriving in time to find a parking spot below “C” Street, right where the fireworks would be launched. This is prime real estate, and within minutes of parking, there were no more spots. Timing is everything here.

I told my friends that it would be hot and sunny and to dress accordingly. Tim had a tank top, board shorts, and sandals made from tires and surgical tubing, no hat, and white sunglasses that Sir Elton John would have been proud of. Being blonde and fair skinned I warned him about the power of the sun at 6,000 feet. He just laughed and reminded me that he was “EOD.” Katie was wearing a sundress that had a stretchy elastic top and barely covered her rear, but had frilly shorts on underneath. On her feet were flip-flops and toe rings on each toe. I didn’t think too many people would notice her toes though. Katie was what I had heard described as “amply endowed on top” and they were unrestrained. It was a very good thing that Tim was not a jealous person as heads continuously snapped around as Katie walked down that uneven wooden sidewalk along the main drag. I thought that it was hilarious. They were definitely an “Oh Wow!”  couple.

We walked the length of the main street and back again. When Katie couldn’t stand waiting any more, we headed for “Boot Hill.” There are seven cemeteries on the hill, and we walked around all of them. I believe that we might have read every tombstone; our girl was definitely enthralled. The kids ran up and down the paths and stopped to read and stare at the grave of every child they found. I believe that they learned an important lesson about how hard life was in the “old days,” and how many people lost children to childbirth and diseases that we now brush off as not serious.

As we wandered either my wife or I reapplied sunscreen to our children and warned our friends of sunburn. Both laughed at us and insisted that they were fine. After lunch we stopped in the park to rest and listen to music being played there. Lots of kids running and playing, plenty of beer being consumed and still a lot of hours to go until the fireworks happened. Tim got wrapped up watching some guys lifting obscene amounts of weight on a bench and before we knew it he had his shirt and shoes off and was on his back lifting with them. Katie decided that she would lie down on our blanket and get more sun. She hiked her sundress up, exposing her belly and legs and fell asleep. I was sent off after bottles of cold water and hiked up the hill. The rest found a spot in the shade and plopped down to wait.

I took my time and stopped off in the Delta Saloon to use their clean bathroom and popped in to visit with my friends Paul and Marilyn who ran the Indian Outpost Store. I knew that I had time to kill and nearly forgot that I was on a mission to get water. Waking up from my thoughts of Hopi Pueblos and Kachinas, I hurriedly bought bottles of water and walked back to where I left everyone in the park.

Tim was now drinking beer with his muscle-bound buddies and everyone else was asleep, except my daughter who was putting sunscreen on Katie’s face. Katie had assumed a position with the soles of her feet together and pulled up closer to her body. This position caused her inner thighs to be exposed to a very brutal July sun which had burned those white legs to a bright pink and promised to be painful. I woke her and the rest of the sleepyheads up and distributed water to them and made everyone drink it on the spot. Tim had a cold beer in his hand but I got him to drink the water anyway. Alcohol dehydrates you faster than anything; and even though your stomach is full of liquid, it isn’t helping your body fight off the heat.

We walked back up the hill and ate at the Palace and wandered through the stores again, but much more slowly as we were trying to stall until the sun dropped. As expected the sunburn our young guests got deepened to a lobster red and became even more painful. Tim removed his sunglasses and it looked like they were still on. The same white shape was there against a face that looked like it has been too close to a bomb blast, which was going to cause him no end of grief when he went to work. Katie was in pain as she tried to walk. Her inner thighs touched each other, and her toes were burned and swollen so that she struggled to get those toe rings off. I had honestly never seen anyone stick an ice cream cone on her feet before that day, but she did it.

Finally it was time to go grab a spot by the car, which we had strategically positioned at the beginning of this very long day. It took a little shuffling around but we got the blankets situated and everyone parked comfortably on them. The laughing and teasing continued as we discussed the upcoming fireworks show and the dry ground and houses below the hill.

As the light faded Tim kept saying that he wished he could be right in there with the professional miners who were setting up the rockets about one hundred feet away from us. As the Chinese proverb says, “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.”

The fire trucks were in position all around the small valley where Virginia City is located, with the majority below the hill where the rockets were about to be ignited. There were wooden crates with wet sand in them linked together and leaned against an embankment at just the right angle for optimum trajectory. In this long line of boxes were placed rocket after rocket waiting to be lit. The line of rockets was longer than three fire trucks end to end. The stage was set and the man in charge gave the command to light the fuses. I think that was the last moment of quiet and calm that night.

When the master fuse-lighter put his glowing road flare to the combined fuse line to start the ignition series, something got bumped and that connected line of crates tipped backwards. Wait, backwards? Yep, towards all of us with great seats and the bomb disposal guy who wanted to be “right in there” with the fuse lighter.

Rockets red glare took on a whole new meaning as whistling balls of red, white and green shot past our heads. The boys were asleep inside of the car; they didn’t care. My daughter thought it was so very cool and was laughing. We were scrambling to get behind the car so it could block the blast. I looked for Tim and Katie and saw them as they went up the hill. 

As a blog special addition: an addendum to the original story with information supplied to me by Katie after I wrote this:

The epic run:

Katie was laughing like crazy and those big boobs of hers, (which were something past DDD's and very lively), both burst out of her sundress from all of the motion, which made her laugh even harder. Her arms were trapped straight down along her body, like a full-sized cardboard image, so she couldn't cover up if she wanted to. The bright pink, large, thin, flip-flops waving like overspeed fans as she was carried away damaged my brain. I laughed until I was crying.

Tim with all of his gigantic size and build, was giggling like a hysterical 10 year old girl as he ran carrying this 180lb woman with no effort and hardly any appearance that he realized that she was even there. His own flops were making loud popping sounds as the surgical tubing stretched and then snapped the tire chunks back against his foot. He was running like a barefoot guy on hot coals, but there weren't any there. A young blonde, better looking, "Arnold", giggling as he ran...

The immediate crowd cheered them as he stopped and looked around to see either; where we were, or if a fire was behind them and Katie asked him "if she could stand up now?" He put her down and she curtsied to the crowd above the hill and then pulled her top back up. Yes she is a bit of an exhibitionist.

It took less time to happen than it just took you to read this, but the image is forever burned into my brain.

No one got hurt, not even the guy lighting the fuses who got knocked over backwards. His fire department turnout coat and face shield on his helmet protected him. Some grass was ignited on the hillside above us and was quickly extinguished. The crowd scattered just like you would expect, but came right back clapping and cheering for more. The crew set up again and the show went on. Hey, it is Nevada!

The moral of the story:

When you see the bomb guy running, do your best to keep up.