I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 131 - Guest Column: The PT Boat

Daily Kup (Ready for My Close-up, Mr. DeMille)
The garage now boasts a bright yellow wall. Soffits to commence this weekend with the return of the rugrats from Grandma-land.

In a repeat of my cameo appearance in a crowd scene in the 2001 Tim Allen comedy Joe Somebody, I've applied for a role as an extra in a crowd scene in a commercial. I signed the two youngest kids up, too. If accepted (or "cast" as we showbiz veterans say), the obligation will be one afternoon of filming in exchange for a gift certificate and a chance to win an iPad. And, of course, answering the siren call of fame. (Light up the sky like a flame ... Fame!)


As Back-to-School sales bloom and grass doesn't, we start to feel the distant breeze of approaching Autumn. The looming end of summer vacation brings nostalgia to every child, no matter how grown. Please enjoy with me this fond look back, courtesy of our friend and frequent contributor, Corsair09.


The PT Boat

It seems as though there are times when you become acutely aware of the passing of things. I reflected on this as I was working in the barnyard this last week, burning off old scraps of rotten wood that had fallen from old barns long past. I wondered how long ago the building was built and how many generations of kids played and worked in it. I wondered if they would be sad I was burning their memories.

One summer, my father went to an auction in La Crosse, WI. La Crosse sits on the Mississippi River and has had a long meandering history with the "Father of Waters." At this particular auction, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers were selling old obsolete equipment. My Dad bid on several small lots of tools, but the really big thrill for me was the PT boat he brought home on the back of his flatbed truck.

At this time, I had seen the movies "PR109" and "They Were Expendable" and "McHale’s Navy" was still popular on cable, so I instantly recognized the old boat for what she was. Dad bought the craft for only one reason: three HUGE Packard engines in the hull. The boat itself was made out of plywood and had no value to a scrap dealer, but the engines had enough cast iron and parts to be worth the relatively small amount he paid for the little ship. As he planned the eventual destruction of the ship, I was in kid heaven. When word got around town that I had my VERY OWN PT Boat, suddenly I went from "that weird little fat kid" to the coolest dude on the block. I had friends I didn’t even know existed coming up to me and asking if we could play on the boat after school.

In retrospect, the old Elco boat had been pretty thoroughly stripped by the Coast Guard. The machine gun turrets were still there, but the traverse and elevation rings were gone, all of the radio and navigation equipment were removed, and only the massive motors remained of the machinery. Even the ship’s wheel was gone. Holes in the deck were the only reminder of where four powerful torpedoes once rested. None of this mattered. Where reality failed, our imaginations took over and just about every kid in town played on that boat, fighting, and re-fighting imaginary battles, exploring uncharted islands, and repelling wave after wave of piratical boarders determined to wrest our ship from us. It was a long, hot, wonderful summer.

Fall came, as it always does, and the long summer days of swashbuckling began to ease into cooler shorter days of schoolwork. In due time, my father was laid off from his construction job for the winter and he then had time to devote to his own projects at "The Shop." Like a farm boy grown too fond of a prize calf, I begged Dad not to scrap the old PT Boat. To no avail. The mighty Packard engines were removed from the hull and I cried as I watched him break up the plywood hull with the Caterpillar bulldozer. He was not insensitive to my feelings, but this was an investment and the proceeds would keep his family in "boots and beans" through the long Minnesota winter. The broken pieces of hull went bit by bit into the potbellied stove and kept the worst of the winter cold out of the workshop. One of the last pieces to go into the fire was the instrument panel. The empty sockets where gauges once rested now like sunken eyes gazed back at me.

It seems as though there are times when you become acutely aware of the passing of things. This was one of those times. And while I was a long way from growing up, I knew then that this was a piece of my youth, my childhood, passing away from me.


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