HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Again - My Sincerest Thanks to Helmet Hut -- A Quality Company That Still Believes In Doing It Right the First Time!

Theses photographs are so indicative of what an American company can do when their employees are truly dedicated to their craft that I am running them again!
Helmet Hut is an absolute consumer's dream to work with. Not only did they keep continuous contact with me through e mail to make certain what they were doing with the helmet was exactly what I wanted, but they did it in a manner that used both a sense of humor and an innate understanding that the customer is something more than a way to make money.

Witness the e mail I received when it came time to "stencil" the player's number to the back of the helmet:

Larry,

We are ready to put on the rear numbers. We can do this two ways, paint them on using stencils (this is the way it was done) Or put on our super thin 2 mil vinyl numbers that are exact duplications, will look perfect and will just last for ever. The only way to tell the difference is the painted on ones will not look as nice esthetically. You tell us what to do. Thanks

Helmet Hut

Then the e mail that accompanied the photos you see in this blog:

Larry here are the last pictures of your completed helmet. I think you will find the helmet turned out very nice and it was a pleasure working with you. If you ever need anything don't hesitate to contact us. Your helmet is on the way. Talk soon.

Helmet Hut

Then, the most impressive public relations move of all, a personal phone call from Helmet Hut, apologizing for the fact that the helmets pictured did not have the signature "G" logo on the sides of the helmet and explaining that there are copyright laws that forbid Helmet Hut, as a company, to use NFL properties (and each NFL team's logo is trademarked) without getting involved in a possibe law suit,

Fortunately, with all the time I have had on my hands, in addition to finding the "Pete Rozelle" decal, and the Super Bowl XIII decal, I was able to track down a couple of sets of the logos and have them on hand here at the office. Does this mean I go to NBFL prison?

Ten years working for Bill Belicheck as a spy?

So Helmet Hut is sending me a perfect replica of the Green Bay Packer 1959 version of their helmet! It wasn't until after the 17-14 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles that Lombardi designed and had appled the "G" logo for the next season.

Bart Starr Helmet Completed By Helmet Hut




Yesterday I got an e mail from my friends and fine artisans at Helmet Hut of Warsaw, Indiana, who have been working diligently on restoring a Riddell TK5 (1960's) football helmet to my specifications representing the helmet of Bart Starr MVP of both Super Bowls One and Two.

I have long planned on setting up a display in my office of the two helmets and their accompanying jerseys under glass as a memorial to Green Bay Packer Super Bowls One and Two and Super Bowl Thirty One.

Through diligent searching of the internet, I found the decals I needed to make a replica of the helmet that Brett Favre wore, as well as the correct face mask. If you go back further in my blogs you will find the Favre helmet with the "Pete" decal which was displayed in honor of late commissioner Pete Rozelle's passing.

Yesterday I received a telephone call from the guys at Helmet Hut, saying that they are finished with the helmet and will be shipping it this week. They apologized about the lack of the Packer "G" logo being on the sides of the helmet, but NFL rules and copyright forbid their painting them on and they asked that I understand.

I suspected this would happen and know ways aruond that! I had found the "G" decals elsewhere on the internet, and although they are of heavier mil than the original, they will suffice.

So here are the final pictures Helmet sent me. Man! They do great work!

Now I just have to get myself booked at a banquet that Bart is speaking at also and get it autographed!

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Final Photos From Good Folks At Helmet Hut



Here is the final series of photographs fro the artesans at Helmet Hut that have been restorng my "Bart Starr" TK5 helmet to its original glory. I think that you will agee these guys really know what they are doing!

Throughout the entire process they have been in constant contact with me to be certain that it was being completed just as I wanted it. The other day I got this e mail from them:

"Larry,

We are ready to put on the rear numbers. We can do this two ways, paint them on using stencils (this is the way it was done) Or put on our super thin 2 mil vinyl numbers that are exact duplications, will look perfect and will just last for ever. The only way to tell the difference is the painted on ones will not look as nice esthetically. You tell us what to do. Thanks"

Helmet Hut

I opted for the 2 mil vinyl numbers.

Yesterday I got a long distance call from them explaining that they were finished with the helmet and would be shipping it. They apologized about the fact that they could not put the well known "G" on the sides of the helmet as it would be breaking some sort of copyright laws with the Packers and NFL rules. I found it pretty disappointing, but fortunately, there are ways around that (I HAVE DONE MY HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH) and I already have those decals here at the office that I will apply myself when the helmet gets here.

Unfortunately, these decals won't be quite as authentic as the originals which were put on in two separate applications, first the green football-shaped background, then the white "G" over the green in a two mil decal. the new decals are one piece, much heavier (20 mil) decals but they will look great on the helmet.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Lord Send Me Some Work!

If you are one of those who checks to see what the blog has to say, you know that it hasn't had much to say lately. I have been in a real struggle with depression brought on by worry. I get the "worries" from my mother's make up. Alice was a worrier. Big time.

Truth is, there has been good reason to worry but I musn't let it control me! The economy is shit and it shows in mny booking schedule. Yesterday I also just lost the one gig I thought I might have in June.

So it looks like it's back to rummaging around looking for stuff to put up for sale on eBay to try and tide me over.

Yesterday and today there were some glimmers of hope which have really helped. My manager, Liz, got a call from the Weyawega School District and I have a solid booking for August 28th for the Weyawega School District Fall Inservice.

I also will be doing a pizza party on August 9, the week after we get back from our trip to visit John in Oregon.

Speaking of father John, the "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" tour of 2009 is starting to take shape for May of 2009. We are hoping to do three performances while he is back. The first will be in Merrill, Wisconsin, at a location to be decided, on Friday night, May 15.

Saturday night, May 16, we are all but certain (contracts still not signed) of performing at the Heyde Center For the Arts in Chippewa Falls. It is a really beautiful room to work a show and I have a feeling we will draw a really big crowd.

Sunday afternoon, May 17, we are hoping to land the performance at the Tainter Theatre in Menomonie, Wisconsin, to finish the mini-tour in our own back yard, 8 miles from where we grew up together on the farm.

We are also working on releasing a comedy DVD entitled "Living On the Edge" with a performance sometime in July in Eau Claire.

We are also discussing doing a show in Rhinelander sponsored by a radio station there that plays "The Wood Tick Song" every summer.

Incidentally -- "The Wood Tick Song" has been their consistently most requested song every summer for the last four years!

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The ongoing saga with Hitachi appears (and I say "appears" because who knows for certain) to be nearing some sort of finality. A courier company came and picked the set up yesterday so at least it is no longer in the house and I don't have to look at it and curse at it anymore!

Let me remind those who are reading this once more. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM HITACHI. There customer relations is absolutely abominable and the customer is far from number one with them.

Keep in mind that we have been dealing with them on this issue since mid April and probably will not get a settlement check until mid June.

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sorry I've been gone so long. It's the blues!

Monday, May 26, 2008

E Mail From Another of My Friends Poses Good Questions

Matt Capell (I love him like a brother) sent me this yesterday all the way from Italy:

Questions to ask the Bush administration and John McCain:


When we consider the almost half of the money spent on the Iraqi and Afghanistan war effort to "bring Democracy to their countries" has been stolen and/or remains unaccounted for, yet more is constantly being allocated:

Are there families living in abject poverty and ignorance all over the United States...children starve to death in the United States too. Check out Appalachia before you answer.

The United States continues to let the medical profession and the insurance industry and the drug merchants keep universal health care and affordable medicines from every citizen? Check out how many elderly citizens choose to buy medical things and pay medical bills before they buy food? See how many elderly are living on canned pet food.

The United States does not revere teachers enough to pay them in many cases a living wage...Teachers should be at the top of the pay scale. Why are schools underfunded and understaffed?

Why is every person who truly wants to not able to go to college and get a college degree including room, board and expenses?

Why is there little effort to rid ourselves of mid east oil dependency when there is plenty of oil in the US, Canada, Mexico and the gulf?
Why do we let the big oil companies rape the economy while huge profits are being made? Why have we not built any nor improved our refineries in years and years?

Why is the tax rate so low for the rich and so high (relatively) for the middle and lower economic portion of the population.

Why are soldiers coming back to the United States after fighting a war not afforded either adequate health care or educational benefits?

All these and others could be paid for in cash right now with the monies that have been stolen by the so called "freedom war" and war on terror.

The big question is:

WHY DO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE PUT UP WITH THIS ANYMORE? IS THERE A REASON OR ARE WE JUST STUPID?

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E Mail From Artist/Poet Tiit Raid

I just received a really poetic e mail from Tiit Raid down in Fall Creek -- not only can he paint -- he can really write:

Tere/Hello:

It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood...7:33 am...the sun is out with a gentle breeze and everything is green, green , green.

Sunday...yesterday...it was cloudy and it looked like rain all day...but we didn't get any until in the early evening. I was in the back yard hitting golf balls...the wind picked up and dark clouds started rolling in from the north...the kind that billow at the bottom and have the soft looking rounded shapes...the trees are moving in every direction...it looks really 'cool'...then a few rain drops. The 'billowy' clouds move on...the wind dies down...and behind the dark clouds it is a solid, single toned gray...kind of a beigh and light greenish...the rain picks up...it is nice and steady with signs that it could last awhile.

The rain gets heavier and I go to my studio to paint and watch the rain from the window...the storm-warning folks are showing a tornado watch to the far south...towards La Crosse...88 miles south. There is some thunder...but it is one continueous roar...I think it is the train coming by...it sounds just like it except a little louder. I go to the front porch and open the door to listen...the rain is light by this time...and the roar is steady...have never heard anything like it...there is of course rolling thunder that starts off in the distance and moves across the sky...this is different.
The roaring sky is to the south and slightly right of where I'm standing...I'm thinking that the folks south of us are really getting it...the roar continues...it is very steady and load and very slightly raising and lowering in volume...the thought of a tornado comes to mind...witnesses say that it sounds like a train...I keep listening...the center of the sound is slowly moving to the left...or east. The rain begins to pick up again and soon we have hail...not much...and everything has cooled down from a damp warm...I listen to the roaring sky until it slowly moves to the far left...like I said...I've never heard anything like it before...the rain is quite heavy now and have to close the porch door.

Ann has turned on the local weather-warning-boys...Eau Claire got a inch and a half of rain...some streets are flooded...but no tornado reports around our area. In southern Minnesota and northern Iowa some die in the tornados.

I go back to the studio...the rain begins to let up after about twenty minutes...then stops...the sky gets lighter and the yard and trees 'light-up' to this spectacular green...kind of a glowing slightly yellowish green-green...it looks amazing. The visuals continue for the next 1/2 hour-45 minutes...the 'green-glow' gradually darkens to a deep, dense yellowish-green...and slowly, slowly fads to darkness. With all of the rain the waterfalls is roaring...the full length of the dam is one large mother-of-a-water-feature...this happens every time we get a bunch of rain.

This morning we have a cloudless sky and blazing sun...hope there is a little coolness in the air...at least this morning...(had my second cup of high octane)...time to check it out.

Later,

Tiit

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I was down to his house not too long ago to pick up one of my little accordions to sell on eBay and he is doing really well. The leukemia is in full remission. He is such a beautiful man and he has an attitude to match!

Friday, May 23, 2008

How To Fight Summer's Skeeters - Cheaply


T'is the season when tiresome mosquitos can make any outdoor activity a living hell. And they aren't just itch-causing little bastards anymore. They can carry West Nile Virus which will make you go "seepy-now".
But it has come to light that there is a really inexpensive way to keep the little blood suckin', disease spreadin' miscreants looking for another picnic. It's cheap and it's handy and in big supply even at Wally mart -- it's LISTERINE.

Here's what some have testified:

I was at a deck party awhile back, and the bugs were having a ball biting everyone. A man at the party sprayed the lawn and deck floor with Listerine and the little demons disappeared. The next year I filled a 4-ounce spray bottle and used it around my seat whenever I saw mosquitoes. And voila! That worked as well.. It worked at a picnic where we sprayed the area around the food table, the children's swing area, and the standing water nearby. During the summer, I don't leave home without it.....Pass it on.

OUR FRIEND'S COMMENTS: I tried this on my deck and around all of my doors. It works - in fact, it killed them instantly. I bought my bottle from Target and it cost me $1.89. It really doesn't take much, and it is a big bottle, too; so it is not as expensive to use as the can of Bug-spray you buy that doesn't last 30 minutes. So, try this, please. It will last a couple of days. Don't spray directly on a wood door (like your front door), but spray around the frame. Spray around the window frames, and even inside the dog house.

Sounds like it's worth a try to me! I always hated using mosquito dope that contained DEET when I played guitar outdoors in summer because the crud in DEET eats right through the guitar's finish.

Hell, maybe Listerine does, too, but it's worth a try. And not only that, it will clean up my bad breath when I get nervous before a show.

THE ONLY GOOD SKEETER IS A DEAD SKEETER.

Finally Some Movement From Constipated Hitachi - Still Need More Metamucil

After fighting with Hitachi for nearly 6 months and five visits from repair, they finally agreed to a cash settlement in mid-April. I figured that finally we would be well rid of this company and their incredibly poor customer relations.

Shows what I know. Here it is, turning the corner on the end of the month of May and the damn set is still sitting by the front door waiting to be picked up.

Ah, but yesterday came a glimmer of hope with the arrival of the Fed Ex truck driver, over night letter in hand. The letter inside came from the California office and reads:

Dear Larry Heagle:

It has been agreed that Hitachi America, Ltd., Home Electronics Division will buy back your Hitachi Television, Model 37HDL52A, Serial MX6D002256 for $1609.99.

In order to proceed with this transaction, please sign the enclosed Release of All Claims form. Once the form has been completed, please fax a copy to me at (619) 591-5351. In addition, Hitachi Customer Service will contact you with the telephone number for the Transportation Company, so arrangements can be made for the pick up of the defective unit. Upon receipt of the completed forms and confirmation that the unit has been picked up, I will arrange to process your refund check for $1609.99.

Please allow 2-3 weeks from the date the unit was picked up, for this transaction to be finalized. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hestitate to contact me directly at 1-800-981-2588 ext 5607.

My Best regards,

Jaime Perry supervisor, Call Center Operations

So I immediately signed the damn form and faxed it out yesterday. Do you think I heard from Hitachi today with the telephone number of the transportation company? Dream on!

In fact, I am going to call customer service and rattle their cage again right now!

The answer I was just given, and one that I somehow expected at this point, is that they don't really know what telephone number I am to call because they don't know the w's -- who, what, when.

Which leads to the million dollar question. How in the hell do companies like this stay in business when the left hand doesn't even know the right hand has a finger up its ass?

As Kim told me last night. Might as well just forget it and go about your business. Yeh, right. Only every time I open the front door to the house the damn thing is staring at me as I come through the door.

So I will say it once again. Do yourself a favor, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING MADE BY HITACHI!! If it fails, you are royally screwed!

This Just In From My Pal Matteo In Italy

PMS Jewelry

My husband, being unhappy with my mood swings,
bought me a mood ring the other day so he would be
able to monitor my moods.

We've discovered that when I'm in a good mood, it
turns green. When I'm in a bad mood, it leaves a
big frickin' red mark on his forehead.

Maybe next time he'll buy me a diamond. Dumb ass.

Kim Wilson Shines At Retirement Dinner - Reverence of Her Peer Group Impresses

Thursday evening, May 22, marked the annual banquet for retiring teachers from the Eau Claire Public Schools. It was truly an evening of celebration for both Kim and for me, knowing that in less than 10 days, we will have all of our own time together to plan events and just be!

To the left you can see Kim's picture being shown on the big screen, as she is being congratulated by the powers that be (in the right hand corner of the photo). Kim's comments while her picture was up the screen were great. She told of special moments with her kindergartners and the wonderfully funny and innocent things they say in class. She bought the house down with her final quote from a little five year old boy who told her: "Miss Wilson, I have a penis problem."
She wore a tee shirt that she designed herself and that we drove up to "Paw Prints" the previous Saturday to have made up -- and believe me, with Kim as a teacher -- Kindergarten did, indeed, ROCK! Eau Claire is not only losing a dedicated teacher, but a loving second mother to all the young children who past through her door. She is a great disciplinarian. I know as I have watched her work in her room and her students got away with nothing under her watchful eye.
In one of the photos you see her visiting with Dr. Marvin Lansing who was the Superintendent of Schools that hired Kim thirty two years ago. Marv is the best superintendent and friend of education that Eau Claire ever has had. There are those in power who could learn a thing or two from this man!

I often kid him that he is responsible for my being married to Kim. Coming off a very troubled relationship, I was very wary of committing to marriage and Kim and I lived together for nearly five years.

At one point, Dr. Lansing called Kim in and told her that it didn't look good for the two of us to be "living together". We married shortly after that.

It was definitely not a mistake.

It was really good that I was there with Kim last night if only to see how much she is admired by her fellow teachers and aides. I don't think there is anyone in the system that put in longer hours than she did, arriving at 7:10AM and hardly ever leaving the building until 6PM.

Kim gave her heart and soul to all those innocent little souls in her keep. Eau Claire is a much better community for having had her contribution over all these years. And just look at her! The years don't even show. I find her more attractive today than the day I met her.

My fervent prayer is that I can be a giving and helpful mate to her as she begins a new phase in her life. She loves her foot rubs and back scratches and I am THE MAN!

She loves the movies.

Now we can stay up as late as we want - and watch movies while I rub her feet morning, noon, and night!

I am hoping that after we spend so much money on our trip to Oregon to further celebrate her retirement in late July, early August, that we will have enough money come October when the leaves are at their most glorious on the Mississippi, to rent a houseboat and take a three or four day cruise down the river together in celebration.

I haven't pushed this next item much yet, but when we get back from Oregon, I am going to begin lobbying to adopt a couple of furry little children from the Humane Society. I still miss Harley and Hannah every day!

So congratulations, Miss Wilson, for a job well done. You were matchless in your profession and I am proud to be on your arm.

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While We Are On The Subject -- More News From The Pros At Helmet Hut

The gang at Helmet Hut are impressively fastidious on keeping me up to the minute on my "Bart Starr" helmet renovation. I got home late from Kim's retirement banquet (more on that later) to find this JPG in an attachment from them with the following note:

"Just giving you a photo of the helmet in the paint booth. Looks like the first paint series went real well with about 8 very thin coats of paint. Yellow is a very translucent color so we want to make sure we get that deep yellow look. Real happy with this piece. Talk soon."

Helmet Hut

EIGHT THIN COATS??? Is that impressive or what? Every time they send me a picture it takes my breath away! I think I better go out to Scheels and buy one of those UV protection glass cases to house this piece of art when it gets back here.

Now my pipe dream is that some day Bart will come to the area to speak and I can get him to autograph it.

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Tenacity Pays Off -- Continuing Thoughts of Two days Ago (I Hope)


I am having the same trouble today that I was two days ago when I was going to display the two new decals that I needed to complete my "Brett Favre Super Bowl XXXI" helmet. This morning I finally got at least one to upload -- that would be the photo of the helmet with the Super Bowl logo near the bottom of the helmet that you see pictured.

The other decal is of the what I call "Pete" decal", a decal that was originally designed to be worn on the Super Bowl XXXI helmet because of the passing of former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who did so much to really establish the National Football League on television and make it as popular as it is today, replacing baseball as the most watched sport in America.

I will try again right now to upload it! (Still no luck!) Maybe I will have to rename it! Stand by.

Okay! So renaming it, and then changing it's position to "center" allowed it to load. Computers -- drive me nuts!

At any rate, both these decals, especially the "Pete" decal are really difficult to come by. I had bought the Super Bowl XXXI decals many months ago and put it aside in hopes of finding the other one.

Finally I hit upon e mailing the gentleman who was manufacturing the SuperBowl XXXI decals. He wrote back and said he had been trying to develop that decal but was not happy with the results, although he thought the one he had might show up well on a yellow helmet. He volunteered to send me one -- which is a really nice thing to do!

When it got here, I was amazed at its quality! I immediately wrote him and asked how much he wanted for it and would he make me two more.

He wrote back saying he wouldn't charge me for the one he sent me but he did not address my request for two more. Later I again wrote to him and told him that I insist on paying for the one he sent and would he please tell me how much he would charge for two more but I still have not received an answer. I also sent him JPG's of the finished helmet so he could see how great they look.

I always like to sing the praises of people who I believe should get their due here on my blog (in hopes that others will read about it and I will have sent more business their way.)

I will let you know in further blogs if the "Pete" decal becomes available on eBay. His Super Bowl XXXI decals have been on eBay at various times. His eBay "handle" is deal4u42 and he is a good man! How can he not be? He lives in Louisiana! Land of Cajun music, black beans and rice, and New Orleans jazz -- oh -- and some guy named Favre. I wonder if he has had a beer at "The Broke Spoke".


If you have been following my blogs lately I know I have been fixated on football helmets, but that's the kind of guy I am -- I go through phases. And I am a collector.

you really should see the office. I have to my right, three shelves of WWII aircraft, to my left, two shelves of WWII armor, and further back, to my left, my shrine to the NFL.

I am still in my NFL phase, which started with collecting jerseys. I have about 52 some NFL jerseys hanging in the house closet. My two favorite were made by Harv Harvison in the Philippines -- both white "away" jerseys of the 1960's Packers. I have a #66 -- Ray Nitschke and a #34 -- kicker Don Chandler, who, incidentally, kicked 4 field goals in the second Super Bowl, helping the Pack run over the Raiders 33-14.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Story From Below Continues -- Where's My Luck Now?



Almost a year ago, I found an almost unused Packer gold (can ya' say "yellow?") helmet with a gray face mask. I jumped at the chance to bid on it and won!

Then I managed to get the decals necessary to turn it into a Packer helmet with the big "G" and the three stripes. (See photo -- I also bought the proper color mask -- dark green -- and installed that on the helmet.

Then this Spring I decided I wanted it to be a salute to Brett Favre's Super Bowl XXXI season but I needed two decals: the Super Bowl XXXI decal, and the "Pete" decal the players wore in honor of Pete Rozelle, former commissioner of the league who died previous to the game.

So I began sifting and searching the net. I found the XXXI decal first. I set it aside. Eventually, frustrated, I wrote to the gentleman who sold me the super Bowl decal and asked if he had access to the "Pete" decal -- amazingly he wrote back and said that he had been trying to make them but didn't like the way they turned out, but would send me one!

I got it yesterday and put it on the helmet today and I think it looks great! So my Brett Favre salute is complete!

Robin At Window Sill Good Omen -- Tenacity Pays Off In Decal Hunt

This morning I had all kinds of activity just outside my office window sill. I wish I had a telephoto lens! I could have gotten a much better shot of this lovely robin that perched on the lilac outside my window.

A little earlier I had a female cardinal, twigs in her beak, gving me the eye from the same branches, but was unable to get a good shot of her. I consider them both good omens, however, as I have been searching and searching the "net" for two particular football related decals.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Photo From Helmet Hut -- Another Step Completed!


Everytime my computer lets me know with THAT sound that I have new mail, I respond like Pavlov's dog, hoping it is from the guys -- wait a minute -- that's sexist -- the professionals at Helmet Hut in Warsaw, Indiana.

I was just sitting down to my keyboard pondering what I would write about today when the jpg you see on today's blog arrived along with this e mail:

Larry,

Today we are sending you a picture of the internal paint and fine red glaze in the pin holes around the out side for a perfect paint job.

John Riddell painted all of his early "clear shell" RT helmets (no mask) from the inside. He protected this paint from sweat and dirt with a gray sizing coat. Riddell was so conscious of customer relationship and product continuity that even when the helmets were painted on the outside he still painted the inside of the helmets gray. This was very frustrating for the factory and in 1969 that process ended.

Thanks and talk soon.

Stop by: http://www.helmethut.com/


HOW COOL IS THIS?? NOT ONLY ARE THEY DOING THIS WONDERFUL PROJECT FOR ME, BUT THEY ARE THOWING IN HISTORY LESSONS FOR FREE!!

Well, at least I think they're free -- I don't have the final tally yet.

Guess I better google Mr. Riddell. He sounds like a pretty unique dude!
From an article by Cassaundra Flores:

Back in 1929, John Tate Riddell started his company armed with a vision of providing better sporting equipment to athletes. And such idea has proven to be very beneficial, not only for J.T. Riddell but for the players as well, for from this concept of his came forth the country's foremost manufacturer of football headgear.

Removable cleat--- the history of Riddell football helmets all began with a removable cleat. Said design was prepared by Riddell back when he was still the Athletic Director and at the same time head of the football coaching staff for a certain high school located in Evanston, Illinois. The year was 1922 when head coach saw the need for developing the current leather-fitted footwear for his team. With the arrival of the rainy season, such condition dictates the necessity of changing cleats and installing a longer mud cleat to adapt with said variable. This process is time consuming, not to mention that the cobbler in-charged of doing such task was also hired by a university ergo not being able to finish all footgear by game time. The invention of removable cleats was openly welcomed and such flamed a string of innovations that led to the groundwork for the history of Riddell football helmets.

Ten years after the formation of the company, Riddell pioneered the fist plastic suspension headgear. This breakthrough caught the attention of the government for it will certainly be to the advantage of the brave men in WW II. This is one of the finest points in the history of Riddell football helmets.

With protection as the main goal, it is hard to believe that helmets, rather than pads, were the last to be accepted in pro football. The former is not even mandatory in football---that is until 1939 when NFL ordered that players wear such protective headgear. Before the dawn of plastic helmets, there was leather. The players may be protected against concussions but not the heat---air can barely circulate inside.

Evolution is inevitable; same applies in the history of Riddell football helmets. RT-2 was the first helmet engineered by the company and sold to the public. Said helmet model was manufactured in 1946, a year after J.T. Riddell's death. RT-2 was a three-pieced shell using Tenite II with cotton web suspension for the head and neck. Said suspension presents a pocket of air in between the head and the shell of the helmet. Though Riddell wasn't able to actually see the evolution and expansion of his company, he'll always live in every noggin he has protected, whether it's attached to an amateur or professional football player.

Following RT-2 was RK-4. The latter resembles the shape of RT-2, though it's shell material differs. RK-4 was manufactured utilizing a chemical called Acrilonitrile Butadiene Styrene concocted by US Rubber. The cotton webbing that was present in the RT-2 was substituted by a combo of cotton and nylon. Both models showcased the 3-loop and 6-point regular suspension.

The history of Riddell football helmets includes the models TK-5 and PAC-44. The two shared the same shell composition as that of the RK-4. The difference rests on the interior cushion. TK-5 was originally cushioned with cotton. However, it was altered to that of the interior of RK-4, which was made of cotton and nylon. As for the PAC-44, same was tagged and aimed for the youth. It featured an interior air cushion crafted out of vinyl.

From these forerunners, the company has progressed along with the game. With its 'firsts' like the web suspension, air cushion interior and self-contained inflation head gear to name a few, it's really hard to picture the sports equipment scene without Riddell.

This is the history of Riddell football helmets...so far. With ingenious minds continuously formulating new ideas, it is easy to say that another touchdown is within reach.

After further research, I found the black and white photo at the top of the page of General George S. Patton, wearing an early Riddell "tanker"s helmet.

From the article that accompanied:

"General George S. Patton Jr., the already legendary tank commander, was also stationed there. Patton had himself been involved in the acquisition of helmets for his brand of warfare, armored combat. Patton, a football player in his younger days, understood the value of head protection and took a keen interest in finding better headgear to protect his forces from the dense steel and sharp edges found inside tanks and armored personnel carriers. In the mid-1930's, Patton and several other high-ranking Army officers apparently corresponded with John T. Riddell and other headgear companies. They requested samples of various helmets for testing to see if the helmets could provide needed protection for tank crews. It appears clear that Riddell responded to Patton's request for helmet samples and apparently Patton liked what he saw. In 1939 or 1940, Patton actually designed a tank uniform. The uniform sported a dark green jacket and pants with gold buttons topped off by a gold football helmet...almost undoubtedly provided by Riddell, whose company was the only manufacturer of plastic helmets at the time. Patton used Riddell's helmet not only for his uniform design, but also during combat exercises and training in Louisiana. Several photographs of the day document Patton wearing Riddell's hard plastic helmets. Prior to and at the start of WWII, football helmets, including Riddell's, were given serious consideration as tank helmets but were in the end rejected, due to an inability to incorporate required military communications gear."

(My, my! How far we've come! Now the QB's helmets are full of communication gear!)

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Oops! I was just about to sign off for the day when I got another e mail from Helmet Hut:

"Well thank you for the kind words Larry. The next step is a final sanding on the out side and here comes the greenbay gold paint. We will most likely put 2-3 coats on and if it turns out great then we will wet sand and buff. If it doesn't we will apply another 2-3 coats and then we will have enough material to wet sand and buff out any issues with no chances of breaking through the paint. But still it is a 50 year old helmet, perfection will never happen but we know you will be pleased. This will take a few days so you shouldn't expect anything else until next week. Paint takes 2 days to cure."

See what I mean about these folks being stand-up guys - er - professionals.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Clever. Those Japanese Farmers!



My friend Suzi Kittson of Wausau, Wisconsin, sent me this series of photographs of a new method of growing watermelons employed by Japanese farmers.

Ordinary round or oblong melons take up a lot of room in your refrigerator. Room is at a premium in Japan so it only seems right that they would come up with a way to save room in your refrigerator!

Since a round watermelon can take up a lot of room in a refrigerater and the usually round fruit often sits awkwardly on refrigerator shelves, smart Japanese Farmers have forced their watermelons to grow into a square shape by inserting the melons into square, tempered glass cases while the fruit is still growing on the vine.

Think they still sound the same when you "thump" them??

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Good Guys From Helmet Hut Send Me Second Photo!

I got this photo of my Riddell TK5 helmet as an attachment in an e mail from Helmet Hut this morning. It took my breath away! MAN! They are doing such precise work on it!

Here's the little note that accompanied the picture:

"Here is the helmet in the next stage. Holes and cracks repaired and the first block sanding of the initial primer. Thanks"

All the extraneous holes that others had drilled have been fiberglassed, as well as the crack that was in the ear piece. You will note that there are small holes going the full circumference of the helmet. After the helmet is painted, the webbing suspension will be mounted and the holes house the rivets which hold the webbing in place.

I am very, very impressed with these guys. First with their very professional attitude and work and also with their willingness to allow me to blog along with the steps as they complete them. And then they THANK ME? No -- 'tis I should be and am thanking them for allowing me (us) to follow along with this project as it is completed.

So stay tuned! There will be more photographs down the road!

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First "Fruits" of Spring

Here it is mid-May and the morning temperatures are still hovering just above freezing. I am still chilled just walking overe here to start my day and I am still scrounging around for scraps to burn in the stove to take the morning chill off the place.
But if you look carefully at the photo furthest left, you will see a solitary sprout of wild asparagus springing forth. I was over there the other day and there was no sign at all that there would be a return. Then I came back and had to discard my clothes and shower to get rid of the damn wood ticks! I found four!
The second photo is of the chives I planted mid summer last summer. They seem to have survived the winter and are doing pretty well. Last week I put a little "Miracle Grow" on them -- jut in case. I do love my chives with scrambled eggs!

The third photo is of my rhubarb patch out behind my office. Looks like in a couple of weeks i will be able to start making rhubarb custard pies -- my personal favorites! warm with a little dollup of ice cream or some whipped cream!

(I just previewed my "layout" and the directions I give for looking at the photos don't match up at all, but I think you can figure out asparagus from chives from rhubarb!

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I probably won't finish writing this blog before the guys from Kjelstad Plumbing arrive to save us from the trials we have been going through of hot water that smells like rotten eggs. Our present hot water h eater has to be totally replaced. We have tried chlorinating it at least two times and the damn bacteria just keeps coming back.

If it ain't one damn thing, it's another. At least the cold well water isn't contaminated (knock on wood) and we don't have the extra expense of shocking the well.

Still no satisfaction from frickin' Hitachi -- they haven't even picked up the set yet much less sent us a check in settlement. We are going to start calling them nightly!

Meanwhile I continue to pay for Directv with nothing to watch it on. As I said, if it ain't one damn thing, it's another. I can understand how people end up on the roof of a mall with a high powered rifle!

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Friday, May 16, 2008

First Wood Tick Removal -- Look Out, Oregon, Here We Come!


This coming June is going to be a pretty momentous month for the clan. Both Diana, Anson's wife, and Kim Wilson, Larry's wife, are retiring from teaching after a combined total of more than sixty years service.

At a family gathering last autumn, John suggested that there be a gathering of Heagles at his lovely beach home on the coast of Oregon sometime in the summer of 2008 to celebrate this momentous passing.

When he was back in Eau Claire this past March, the idea was again raised, but I, for one, had fallen on some pretty dark days employment-wise, and doubted that we would be able to afford the cost of flying all the way out and back, renting a car, and seeking lodging. In fact, I had pretty much made up my mind it was all out of reach.

George Bush to the rescue! Economic stimulus!

As difficult as it is for me to say it, if it hadn't have been for the tax refund tacked on, I would be mostly twiddling my thumbs this summer.

Well -- I will still be twiddling my thumbs most of the summer, but from Wednesday, July 30th to Monday, August 4th, I will be twiddling my thumbs from a deck chair just above the beautiful Pacific Ocean, looking for whales at Fr. John's beach house on the Oregon coast near Gleneden Beach.

Yesterday, in a move that swallowed up most of the two checks that we haven't even got yet, I booked Kim and my flight. We will be leaving from Minneapolis at the ungodly hour of 6:45 AM (which means we may as well not even go to bed the night before as we will have to be at the Frontier Airlines Desk at 4:45 AM to be poked and prodded by TSA.

Last time I flew was to New York City to help my friend Tom Johnson move his belongings back to Wisconsin. The TSA officer went over me with his magic wand -- I told him I had an artificial knee -- and sure enough, when he passed the wand over my right knee it was bells and whistles time.

But then it happened when he swiped it across my upper chest. "Are you wearing a medal or chain?" he asked. "No", I replied, confused.

He passed it over my upper chest again with the same result.

"Open your shirt."

Nothing to hide.

Finally he just let me through. About half an hour later I am sitting reading the Milwaukee Journal and it hits me! The open heart surgery -- Yeh! That's why it went nutso! After the heart work they sewed the chest bone back together with wire.

So this time I will be ready.

I booked our tickets through Best Fares. My agent was barely intelligible. she was talking to me from New Dehli, India. I asked her what her name is.

"Rhonda"

Yeh, right.

Which reminds me of an opening joke I have been using in my show -- let's see if I can remember it -- been so long since I've worked! (My thanks to Matt Capell for supplying me with this one!)

"Man! It has been one long winter hasn't it? we have had snow for the past 7 months! Around mid-January I got real depressed. I did something I have never done -- I called the mental health help line -- and wouldn't you know, they have outsourced the mental health line service --- just like everything else!
I told him I was depressed.

"How depressed?" he asked.

"Suicidal", I replied.

The guy got real excited! He wanted to know if I knew how to drive a truck!"

Anyway -- back to getting air line tickets. Have you done the tickets on line thing? It's called an "E-Ticket". they don't send you a ticket. You just print out an e mail they send that has all the particulars on it and you take that with you to the airport along with government approved ID (driver's license).

I told Kim last night she's going to have to pack LIGHTLY. One large suit case only. We have to rent a car and it ain't gonna be an SUV -- there'll be room for my ass and a gallon of gas - and Kim's large suitcase and my small bag! Oh -- and Kim's ass, too.

We'll be landing in Portland and then driving down the coast to Gleneden Beach, Oregon. I better map that out and see how many miles we have to go. With gas at $4.00 a gallon (at least) by the end of July, I want a car that will get at least 30 mpg.

Just checked it out on "Google Map" -- it's 95 miles from Portland to Gleneden Beach. If everything goes as scheduled, we get into Portland at 10:15 AM, pick up a teeny tiny sub compact and should be there by 1PM for a late lunch.

I guess I had best get started with some bicycling now that the weather is tolerable. I need to get this right knee into better shape.

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I e mailed the guys at Helmet Hut early this morning to give them a nudge about keeping me up to date on the restoration of my TK5 helmet. Here's the answer I got back:

As we mentioned in our last email, the gutting of the helmet is the easy part, now comes the tedious work in repairing the cracks and holes. We love the restorations we do but manufacturing is our first priority. Since we manufacture all of the RK line of helmets for Riddell and the NFL and now all the NCAA, time is precious but we will certainly send you photos. We expect to have your helmet completed over the next two weeks. Thanks again and have a great weekend.

Helmet Hut

Wow! I didn't realize that they did all the other stuff mentioned! Hope I didn't upset them too much. Don't want to be a pest.

Here is a photo of a helmet that I bid on and won off eBay -- I really hadn't planned on winning -- but this Jets helmet speaks of another era. I always like the design. And the face mask is worth nearly what I paid for the entire helmet. Makes me think of Mark Gastineau. Remember him? Old #99?

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Spring is officially here. This past tuesday, I met Kim after school at Memorial High School for a retiring teachers meeting. While listening to the speaker, I thought I felt something crawling on the back of my neck, but couldn't locate it --and the sensation stopped. 40 minutes later we are sitting across from each other at Cancun and Kim asks what that thing is on my neck.

It's Mr. Tick --fortunately not well embedded yet. Kim takes him for a swim in the toilet. Then this morning, I am starting up a "take the chill off the office" fire and I feel that old familiar creepy crawly again -- this one goes into the fire.

They are back.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Washington Follies -- Like Energizer Bunny -- They Just Keep Going and Going

Up on my refrigerator I have a political cartoon of some months back entitled "The Washington Follies". In the first frame, Bush is shown on the telephone talking to his version of Goebbels, Karl Rove: "Karl" he says, " after Iraq they'll never elect a Republican in '08." Karl replies: "Threaten Iran. Talk about World war III."
George says: "But everyone knows Iran has stopped developing nukes."
Karl replies: "We never let the truth stop us before."

And so it goes. fortunately, we have John Conyers, who is not going to go gently into that goad night. Read what Senator Conyers has to say in recent correspondence about and with the not-so-honorable president:

From: The office of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr.

May 8, 2008

Join Me in Calling on President Bush to Respect Congress' Exclusive Power to Declare War

Dear Democratic Colleague:

As we mark five years of war in Iraq, I have become increasingly concerned that the President may possibly take unilateral, preemptive military action against Iran. During the last seven years, the Bush Administration has exercised unprecedented assertions of Executive Branch power and shown an unparalleled aversion to the checks and balances put in place by the Constitution's framers. The letter that follows asks President Bush to seek congressional authorization before launching any possible military strike against Iran and affirms Senator Biden's statement last year that impeachment proceedings should be considered if the President fails to do so.

I hope that you will join me in calling on the President to respect Congress' exclusive power to declare war. To sign the letter below, please contact the Judiciary Committee staff at 225-3951.

Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.
Chairman

May 8, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to register our strong opposition to possible unilateral, preemptive military action against other nations by the Executive Branch without Congressional authorization. As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power "to declare war," to lay and collect taxes to "provide for the common defense" and general welfare of the United States, to "raise and support armies," to "provide and maintain a navy," to "make rules for the regulation for the land and naval forces," to "provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," to "provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia," and to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution ... all ... powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States." Congress is also given exclusive power over the purse. The Constitution says, "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law."

By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the Executive Branch through the President can be found in Article II, Section 2, which states, "The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States." Nothing in the history of the "Commander-in-Chief" clause suggests that the authors of the provision intended it to grant the Executive Branch the authority to engage U.S. forces in military action whenever and wherever it sees fit without any prior authorization from Congress. In our view, the founders of our country intended this power to allow the President to repel sudden attacks and immediate threats, not to unilaterally launch, without congressional approval, preemptive military actions against foreign countries. As former Republican Representative Mickey Edwards recently wrote, "[t]he decision to go to war ... is the single most difficult choice any public official can be called upon to make. That is precisely why the nation's Founders, aware of the deadly wars of Europe, deliberately withheld from the executive branch the power to engage in war unless such action was expressly approved by the people themselves, through their representatives in Congress." [1]

Members of Congress, including the signatories of this letter, have previously expressed concern about this issue. On April 25, 2006, sixty-two Members of Congress joined in a bipartisan letter that called on you to seek congressional approval before making any preemptive military strikes against Iran. [2] Fifty-seven Members of Congress have co-sponsored H. Con. Res. 33, which expresses the sense of Congress that the President should not initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress. [3]

Our concerns in this area have been heightened by more recent events. The resignation in mid-March of Admiral William J. "Fox" Fallon from the head of U.S. Central Command, which was reportedly linked to a magazine article that portrayed him as the only person who might stop your Administration from waging preemptive war against Iran, [4] has renewed widespread concerns that your Administration is unilaterally planning for military action against that country. This is despite the fact that the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003, a stark reversal of previous Administration assessments. [5]

As we and others have continued to review troubling legal memoranda and other materials from your Administration asserting the power of the President to take unilateral action, moreover, our concerns have increased still further. For example, although federal law is clear that proceeding under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) "shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance" can be conducted within the U.S. for foreign intelligence purposes, 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(f), the Justice Department has asserted that the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping in violation of FISA is "supported by the President's well-recognized inherent constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs". [6] As one legal expert has explained, your Administration's "preventive paradigm" has asserted "unchecked unilateral power" by the Executive Branch and violated "universal prohibitions on torture, disappearance, and the like." [7]

Late last year, Senator Joseph Biden stated unequivocally that "the president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran, and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach" the president. [8]

We agree with Senator Biden, and it is our view that if you do not obtain the constitutionally required congressional authorization before launching preemptive military strikes against Iran or any other nation, impeachment proceedings should be pursued. Because of these concerns, we request the opportunity to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss these matters. As we have recently marked the fifth year since the invasion of Iraq, and the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. deaths in Iraq, your Administration should not unilaterally involve this country in yet another military conflict that promises high costs to American blood and treasure.

Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.
Chairman

Now go to:

alerts@truemajority.org

and watch the video. Bush's would-be successor, John (Madman) McCain made my blood run cold when during a speech he launches into a few bars of The Beachboys "Barbara Ann" with "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran -- and then laughs. HE laughs!

This world is Mad -- and getting madder by the day.

Speaking of John McCain, there was a time when I had a modicum of respect for the man. After all, he spent a long time at the Hanoi Hilton during the Viet Nam years.

But has war taught him anything at all????

Obviously not.
Now he does not want to lend any support to the American youth who are braving gun fire, rocket propelled grenades, and road side bombs in such a useless cause,

His latest stance?


What's McCain Have Against Education Benefits for Veterans?
By David Lightman
McClatchy Newspapers

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Washington - The "Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act" sounds like the kind of rally-round-the-flag plan that John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton all could embrace.

Instead, it's become one of the starkest dividing lines between McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, and his likely Democratic opponent.

The bill, which the House of Representatives is expected to debate as soon as Thursday and the Senate could take up next week, would increase education aid to all military members who've served on active duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The House version has 294 co-sponsors; the Senate bill has 58.

Obama and Clinton are co-sponsors, and in West Virginia on Monday, Obama outlined the differences between himself and McCain. The Arizona Republican, said Obama, thinks the bill is "too generous. I could not disagree with him more."

McCain countered that the bill is misguided because it doesn't encourage soldiers to re-enlist. (AND GOD KNOWS, WE NEED THAT YOUNG MEAT TO STAY IN THE GRINDER)

Under the proposal, all veterans, including those who served in the National Guard or Reserve for at least 36 months since the attacks - not necessarily consecutively - could get full in-state tuition, regardless of cost, as well as some money for books, fees and a stipend for living expenses. Certain grants also could be provided for those who attend private colleges.

The program would replace the 23-year-old VA system, which provides about half the average cost of tuition.

Chief sponsor Sen. James Webb, D-Va., a highly decorated Marine in the Vietnam War, called the plan an easy vote.

The Pentagon, he said, has "done a very good job managing the career force. It's not done a good job in terms of helping people transition back into civilian life."

Obama agreed, saying the bill affords "a real chance to afford a college education." Backers of the bill maintain that the cost of college has soared in recent years, and the current benefit isn't sufficient.

McCain, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW, has joined Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and others to push an alternative that would make it easier to transfer education benefits to spouses and children and to provide more generous education benefits to personnel who serve for 12 years or more.

McCain's monthly education benefit, which would be available to any active-duty military personnel, regardless of when they began their service, would also rise to reflect increases in college costs.

The benefit would be based on the average cost of public colleges and universities across the country, which is $1,500 a month.

That sum, plus other government-sponsored grants, Graham maintains, would cover most, if not all, of the cost of college.

In addition, the McCain-Graham bill would provide $500 a year for books and supplies. And after 12 years in the military, the benefit would gradually rise to $2,000 a month by 2011 - a way of encouraging people to remain in the service.

Webb's plan has no such provision for longevity, though veterans would have up to 15 years after they leave active duty to use their benefit. Under Graham's plan, they'd have up to 10 years.

The transfer and longevity provisions, supporters argue, are crucial ways of encouraging people to stay in the military, and they have strong support from the Pentagon.

"Transferability supports military families, thereby enhancing retention," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., recently.

The Webb bill, Gates suggested, wouldn't encourage retention.

"This is not World War II we're fighting. This is not Vietnam," Graham said. "This is a global struggle with an all-volunteer force. And anything we can do to help retain people, I think, would be great."

But that's the point, Webb argues: This isn't like past wars. He estimates that roughly three of every four Marines and Army personnel leave after a single four-year enlistment - the people, he says, who "answered the call" and should be rewarded.

Webb is at the forefront of a parade that includes not only the Democratic presidential candidates, but also a lot of key members of Congress and veterans' groups. Last month, they rallied in front of the Capitol, where backers wore buttons saying, "Leave No Veteran Behind."

"This legislation is wise," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "It has consensus. It brings us together in a bipartisan way."

Not so, said McCain. "There are fundamental differences," he said at the time.

Key Provisions of the Bills:

The Graham-McCain bill:

As of October, education benefits for active-duty military personnel, regardless of when they began their service, would increase from the current $1,100 a month to $1,500 to cover the average cost of a four-year public college, plus $500 annually for books and supplies.
Benefits would increase gradually to $2,000 per month by 2011 for members on active duty for at least 12 years.
Education benefits for National Guard and Reserve members called to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, would increase from $880 to $1,200 a month.
National Guard and Reserve members who've been in the Selected Reserve for 12 years or more and who continue to serve could receive as much as $1,600 a month by 2011.
Veterans could transfer education benefits to spouses and children. After six years of service, a member could transfer up to half of his or her benefits; after 12 years, he or she could transfer all of them.
The Webb bill:

All members of the military, including members of the National Guard and Reserves, who've served three to 36 months of active duty, not necessarily consecutively, beginning on or after Sept. 11, 2001, would be eligible for new education benefits.
They'd get "some amount of assistance proportional to their service for 36 months," which equals four academic years.
Veterans could receive benefits "up to the cost of the most expensive in-state public school, plus a monthly stipend equivalent to housing costs in their area." Some tutorial assistance and books would also be covered.
People whose service ended before Sept. 11, 2001, would remain covered under the current system.

And so goes the Washington Follies.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Come Follow Me As Helmet Hut Does A Restoration. Today: Step One

The guys at Helmet Hut, Warsaw, Indiana, are being patient with me and have agreed to share photographs of the ongoing proceedings of resurrecting my Riddell TK5 (TK stands for Tru-Kurve) into a Green Bay Packer helmet from the "Glory Years" -- a Bart Starr helmet to be exact, complete with his number "15" stenciled in black on the back of the helmet.

Teams often stenciled the player's number on their helmet so that they would be easier to locate along the sideline during the heat of battle -- unless, of course you were Max McGee, who was so hung over for his second and final Super Bowl that he came out on the field after warm ups without his helmet and when Boyd Dowler went down with an injury, Lombardi yelled at McGee to get in the game.

McGee, dazed and confused, yelled at Pop Burress to go back to the Packer dressing room to retrieve his helmet. Meanwhile Max had to borrow someone else's helmet -- a frightening aspect when you consider that each helmet was fitted exactly to each player's head.

At any rate, the photo you see today was sent to me by the Helmet Hut crew. At this point, it is "gutted" -- all the interior straps and rivets that held the suspension in place have been removed.

The next step is to "glass" the helmet shell, filling in all the drilled holes left from the past with fiber glass, save the holes that will be need to affix a two bar Riddell face mask to the helmet upon completion.

I am afraid that I am going to be quite a "pest" to the talented crew at Helmet Hut. But I find this whole process really fascinating and hope that my readers will also.

And really -- it can't be bad for publicity either, do you think?

And now it is time for true confessions. They are working on a stolen helmet. Well -- not exactly stolen. More like borrowed and somehow not returned. And I didn't do it! It was "borrowed" by some of the sorority/fraternity kids that were working on a homecoming float for the UW-Eau Claire Homecoming Parade.

The coach gave out some really beat up helmets for them to use. this was one of them. Several years later a fraternity brother of mine painted it up (freehand) as a Green Bay Packer helmet and gave it to me for my birthday. It sat in my basement for years and years.

When I went through a divorce, I didn't get much property, but the helmet went with me. so then it sat here in my "office" for another 13 years before I sent it out for a new life.

So arrest me.

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My fondest memory concerning this helmet is seeing my friend Matt Capell wearing it while riding a little Yamaha scooter, wheeling across town to visit Kim at work at Roosevelt School. I don't remember why he was on his way to visit Kim, but with a home made Packer helmet on his head and sitting astride a little bitty Yamaha scooter -- well -- I was gonna say "you had to be there" but if you just picture it in your mind, you will laugh!

Hitachi Corporation Does Not Respect Good Customers -- Insulting Settlement

Here's an update on the continuing battle with the Hitachi Corporation. Just as an overview, a little over a year ago we purchased a 37 inch Hitachi LCD set, basically so we would have it in time for the NFL season.

I then signed up for Directv - which by the way -- is not cheap -- I am paying over $60 a month (basically so that I would be able to get the NFL Network and because Directv seemed to be the leader in High def channels) so that I could watch the Packers in what was one of the most enjoyable seasons to watch in years.

It wasn't long before we began experiencing difficulties with several of the inputs on the Hitachi television set.

The DVD player's input began to run erratically. the picture would jump and tick, making it very difficult to concentrate on the rented movie. This got worse. Finally we called in a service man. He recommended that we contact Hitachi (under warranty) and replace the input.

After replacing the input, it wasn't long before the same problem began to crop up again. So began service trip number two.

The replaced input worked for a short time and then began to deteriorate yet again.
This time I called Hitachi and invoked the three times and out "lemon law". I was told that law pertained only to automobiles, but that we should be patient, they would fix the problem.

When the same problem began to reveal itself yet a fourth time, I made a rather angry call to Hitachi Customer Relations and I guess I must have said the magic word: ATTORNEY because the woman I spoke with guaranteed that if this next repair did not remedy the situation they would supply us with a new set, no questions asked.

A little after the original warranty expired, THE SAME PROBLEM BEGAN AGAIN!!

When I called Hitachi I got a different person who tried to tell me they would fix the set again but I then told them the name of the person who had promised us a new set, the exact date and time that promise had been made, and then this agent agreed that we would get a new set.

Weeks went by -- turning into over a month without a new television set. Meanwhile I am paying over $60 a month for no apparent reason.

Yesterday I finally get a call from Hitachi. They have decided to give us a cash settlement.

Now get this. We paid $1788 for the 37 inch set a year ago. Hitachi will give us only $1609.99.

I decided not to argue with them because 1) at least I don't have to deal with Hitachi any more -- I can get a different brand -- and 2) prices on LCD sets have dropped dramatically over the year and we will get a lot more set for the money.

So I called my friend and piano player Tom Wieseler (who is also an electronics genius) and we take his Legacy wagon and my charge card to Sam's Club and chose a 46 inch Sony Bravia LCD, brought it back to the house and Tom hooked it all up for me.

I just called Hitachi Customer Service -- Now that we have accepted their "buy back", the paper work begins. If the past is anything to go by, this could take most of the summer to finally get Hitachi out of our lives. Meanwhile, I will pay just the minimum on the credit card I used to get the new set. In a perfect world, Hitachi should be paying for all the interest on my purchase as well as $120 worth of monthly Directv subscription.

If you are reading this: BUYER BEWARE!!
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WOW! I wish I had my camera just now. A male Baltimore Oriole just landed on my upstairs window screen about 8 feet away from where I am sitting and eye-balled me for about 10 seconds before moving on. Beautiful color! I shall take that as a good omen!

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Helmet Hut, Warsaw, Indiana -- Fascinating Business Restores Riddell Helmets To Glory

Several months ago I became immersed in Linebacker Sam Huff's autobiography "Tough Stuff". On the cover is a close up of Huff, wearing his #70 NY Giants helmet with a huge "cowcatcher" face mask, dirt and turf stuck between the mask and the helmet. Later in his career, Sam was traded to the Washington Redskins, a move that he is still bitter about today.
About the time I was finishing the book, I spotted the burgundy Redskins helmet you see pictured here -- on eBay -- and just had to have it! I managed to come in with the highest bid and it is one of my favorite sports artifacts!

So I did some research on who refinished and refurbished the helmet as I was very impressed with the professional job that was done with it.

I found out that it was done by a company called Helmet Hut and their reputation is so good that even Riddell sends their own helmets to them when they need any kind of help or advice.

Helmet Hut is located in Warsaw, Indiana, where, oddly enough, I did several seasons of summer stock theatre. In fact, I was there the summer that Neill took one small step for a man, one giant leap for all mankind.



I contacted Helmet Hut recently to see if they could restore the other Riddell helmet you see. I asked that they restore it as the helmet belonging to Bart Starr during Superbowl I and II -- Bart was chosen MVP of both those games and I thought it would be so cool to have a representation of his helmet.

Who knows -- maybe some day I will get to meet Mr. Starr and get him to autograph it.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

The first step was to ship the helmet to them in Warsaw for an appraisal, which I did. I got word back this morning that they received the helmet and I decided to have them go ahead with the refurbishing and restoration.

So what you see is how the helmet looked when I shipped it to them. I have asked that they stay in contact with me and send me updated pictures. If and when they do, I will show them on the blog.

In addition to being capable craftsmen, they are really enjoyable to visit with by e mail. They make you feel comfortable and right at home. Is that because they are "Hoosiers"?


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Sylvia's Pound Cake

Recently my good pal Matt sent me a recipe for pound cake called "Sylvia's Pound Cake".

Last night, after letting all the ingredients come to room temperature by taking a long nap, I whipped one up. All the while I was working on it, a little voice in the back of my brain, (probably the hyper-tension voice) kept asking "Where's the salt in this recipe?" Unsalted butter? No salt called for whatsoever.

Well, as you can see from the photo, it came out beautifully. I let it cool for a couple of hours and had a sample late night slice last night. It is good -- but to my way of thinking, it is way too sweet! I need to run out and get some fresh strawberries to balance that sweetness.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

MOTHER'S DAY CAME EARLY -- LIKE TODAY!


Kim and I took off for Methodist Hospital, St Louis Park, this morning about 11AM to spend some time with Kim's mom, Joy, and to wish her a Happy Mother's day a day early. Joy was in good spirits but we both commented on the way back home how tired she looked and how weak she sounded. The doctors had her on intravenous antibiotics but switched her over to pills while we were there -- a good sign, really -- that she may be turning the corner on the pneumonia that has plagued her most of this week.So now we are home and back at it; Kim with school projects and me over here building a good stove for over night and temps that are going to drop down near freezing again tonight.

I am also re-doing one of the items I had up for sale on eBay. Seems they are pretty touchy about selling non-firing pistols. I had a model of a western six shooter up to near $60 and they pulled it! They have all kinds of rules -- orange barrel plugs -- yada yada -- so now I am just selling the holster and gun belt.

ANYBODY WANT TO BUY A NON-FIRING SIX SHOOTER? Depending upon what I get for the holster, it could go cheap.

Gonna go put another log on the fire -- and return to the house and practice field stripping the Smith and Wesson.

And oh -- by the way, Mr. Jerry Way -- I promise not to wound my garage!

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Look Out Mr. Wood Chuck -- I'm Armed And Almost Dangerous

Several years ago I purchased an Italian made "Old West" type revolver which sat in my bed room drawer untouched, unfired. It was cumbersome, unwieldy, and not the most practical.
So yesterday, I traded it for this Smith and Wesson .22 long rifle semi-automatic, It fires 10 rounds per clip and came with two clips. Looking at it again today, however., it does look like an air gun doesn't it?

I have been practicing "field stripping" it -- over and over again -- as I am not exactly a rocket scientist. In fact, the first time I tried to break it down, the spring came flying out and I had no idea how to get it back together again, even following the manual directions.

So I had to drive back to Scheels with it, all the while hearing my father's voice in my head telling me the same thing he did when I was a kid: "You'll get it apart, but you'll never get it back together again."

The sales guy and I worked on putting it back together and then tore it apart, and went through all the steps several times. I am looking forward to the time when I am proficient enough in assembly/disassembly so that I can target shoot a bit with it.

I have a wood chuck living under the office -- he returns each spring and his burrow is under the bath room. It is rather disconcerting to hear varmint noises while you are sitting on the toilet. I will start carrying the Smith and Wesson in hopes of catching him out in the open!

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Looks Like I Will Never Be a Reporter For The New York Times

Yesterday's blog about my "new found respect for Ronnie Reagan" blew up in my face over night. On one hand, I am somewhat embarrassed for not having done what any "real" reporter would do, and that is check my source (and to think I taught junior high journalism way back in the day), but on the other hand, I can go back to remembering Ronnie for the dufus that he was.

-- and no, I am not going to check my sources on that statement since it is only my opinion!

Here's what got the fuse lit last night. I got the following e mail from Marc (no last name) :

You have a quote from the ronald reagan diaries:

http://travelins.blogspot.com/2008/05/today-i-have-new-respect-for-ronnie.html

The only thing is that it isnt an actual quote from the diaries. Rather, it is a made up quote from a satirical article by Michael Kinsley:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/kinsley.asp

By the way, love that pound cake recipe! :-)

Thanks,
Marc



I immediately liked the guy because he can actually use the word satirical correctly in a sentence. So I clicked on the above URL -- and you should, also --

As for me, I am still considering spreading this tidbit as the truth -- in a kind of a WWKRD* move. The truth or the lack of it hasn't bothered the Bush administration in years!

Still, my thanks go out to Marc and I can only hope that he is sincere in his comment on Matt's pound cake! This coming week, in my throes of unemployment, I shall take my "piggy bank" -- it's actually a spaghetti sauce jar -- to the change machine at my bank and see if I have enough money to buy the ingredients to bake that self same pound cake.

Watch for pictures on the blog!

Today Kim and I are trekking up to spend a little early Mother's Day time with Kim's mom, Joy. I say a "little time" because Joy is in the hospital with pneumonia. This has not been a good year for the Wilsons.

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*What Would Karl Rove Do?"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Today I Have A New Respect For Ronnie Reagan

If you were an adult back in 1919 and you came upon this bunch, carrying THIS sign -- seriously -- would you even CONSIDER quitting drinking??

On the contrary, looking at these "lovelies" and thinking about kissing any of them without first guzzling a full quart of Jim Beam is absolutely out of the question.

This is the same group of women who today would be "right to lifers", giving credence to George Carlin's opening line the night I saw him perform at the State Theatre in Eau Claire:

"have you ever noticed that the women who fight so fiercely for the right to life are so ugly you wouldn't fuck 'em in the first place?"

Good old George!

Speaking of "Good Old George" today I got an e mail from my good friend Gary Spaeth:



"Ronald Reagan Called It"

Beneath the photo from the REAGAN DIARIES is an actual quote that Reagan
wrote about George "W" Bush in his diaries, recently edited by author Doug Brinkley and published
by Harper Collins :

"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his n'er-do-well son around
this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who
lives in Florida; the one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless.
This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe
I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a
contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."

From the REAGAN DIARIES------entry dated May 17, 1986.

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Are you depressed enough yet to eat copious amounts of sweets? If so, check out this recipe for pound cake that Matt sent me. It already has me drooling!

SYLVIA'S POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

3 cups of sugar
2 sticks of unsalted real butter (No Margarine will NOT WORK - If you have to ask...quit here!
6 large eggs
3 cups of a good cake flour...like Swan's Down (sifted and then measured...IMPORTANT)
1 TABLESPOON of real vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
ALL INGREDIENTS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE LEFT OUT OF FRIGE ALL NIGHT!!!


METHOD:

Cream together really well butter and sugar..If you can get extra fine sugar it works best. Beat hell out of it until creamy
Add the eggs one at a time - beating on high all the time.

Add alternately (beating all the time) the flour and the whipping cream

Add the vanilla...more if you like!

Put into a prepared tube pan....(I spray the pan with Pam and then shake sugar all around...also the flour/oil...such as Baker's secret works well....

Bake one hour and a half or more at 300 degrees Farenhieit.......Test with a wood skewer -- when it comes out clean....then turn off the oven and leave in some more as the oven cools....so as not to leave a bit unbaked.....It may according to the temp outside and the humidity in the air....etc....take more time....the top may crack as it bakes...

Cool before trying to unpan...after a half hour turn upside down and wait ...it will unmold and fall out....

Put any kind of glaze on it....a great cake that can be used for many things...with strawberries and ice cream....or with anything you desire......also sliced can be toasted in the toaster....with added butter and jam....YUM....

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Matt has a great story about an elderly woman that he worked in the kitchen with down in Texas. I suppose I don't have all the facts down correctly, but here goes:

I can't remember her name, so let's call her Ida Mae. Ida Mae comes to work in the kitchen on a monday morning and tells Matt that she almost got herself in trouble at the mall the past saturday.

She parked her big old Buick, locked it, and neglected to really notice which section she had parked it in.

After shopping for a couple of hours, she came out looking for her car and was really having a difficult time finding it. Finally she saw it -- but there were two black men sitting in it!

Ida Mae always carried a pistol in her purse (after all, she's from Texas) so she walks up to the window of her car, pulls her pistol and yells:

"You two! Get out of that car right now!"

Staring at the business end of her .22, that's exactly what they did! They took off running across the parking lot without looking back.

Ida Mae got in the car and got her car keys out to start the car. But the key didn't fit the ignition. It wasn't her car!

Matt asked: "My god! What did you do then?"

Ida Mae said: "Well, I found my car just as quick as I could and got out of there!"

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