Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Old John Meyer Farm

A June 13, 2001 tornado did this damage to the out buildings on the farm where we lived during much of the ’80’s after coming back from D.C. The house had very little damage. The storm hit about 7:30 pm and moved in a NE direction about 3 miles east of Seward. We picked up Carolyn & Ben returning  from England but  their flight was delayed coming out of Chicago until the storm was over. We took a pie out to the Ruby’s the next morning and took this picture. The debris is from the big old “post and beam” barn that we had put a new tin roof on, rebuilt the cupola and wind vane. Ironically, when the 1913 tornado hit Seward and went east, it just moved the solidly built barn a few inches off its foundation. My dad was a young man working for a neighbor at the time. He told of helping to work with other neighbors in pushing the barn back into place at that time. Unfortunately, their was little to be salvaged after this 2001 tornado. My Diary entry on June 14 included having received 3’’ of rain and of our going out where, “Jim had a tractor with a front end loader clearing the barn rubble from the driveway. Several old cottonwood trees were broken. The old tractor/shop shed is destroyed and much of the west roof of the corn crib is gone.”  We are now content to drive past the farm occasionally and reflect on the many difficult days we had there and the many very happy days. It was an interesting chapter in our lives.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Wagonload for the Price of a Bundle

We lived on my Grandparents 200 acre farm in the "Bohemian Alps” north of Garland, NE during the drought and depression days of the ’30’s. Oak creek ran through the farm resulting in some 20 acres of woodland. During the winter, my Dad would cut wood and deliver it to local merchants in Garland and Seward. Often it was on a barter basis where he would deliver, unload and “take it out in trade”. As shown in the picture, the standard wagon box was 38”wide, 10’6” long with the first two sides of the box 13’ high, the 3rd was 9”. The dimensions of the box were such that when loaded with grain, each inch across the whole bed of the box constituted 2 bushel. 
Typically a double wagon box was used to haul wheat and when level full, it was 52 bushels. The 3rd, 9” board was typically added for husking or hauling “ear corn”. To account for the cobs, a full triple box of ear corn was considered to be 35 bushels. When dad sold and delivered wood, he would get $4.00 for the double box and $5.00 for the triple box when taken out in trade. He would sometimes borrow a neighbors wagon and tie one team of horses behind the lead wagon and take two loads to Seward which was about 15 miles away. He would be shocked if alive today, and would see the price/bundle of firewood today. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Moving PODS in Seward

We enjoyed seeing a “Pod” mover in operation this morning as it unloaded a Pod and placed it in a parking space in front to the vacant store with the red awning. The driver of the flatbed truck 
(at the left edge of the picture)parked in the street ; used the “mover’s” hydraulic system to drop it’s wheels to the street, raise the pod off the flatbed and move it off the back end of the truck. He then lowered the pod as shown in the picture. The two front corners of the mover had duel swivel wheels and it was moved by the rear powered wheels. The “driver" was able to move the pod into a 
parking stall in front of the vacant building. The pod was lowered to the street with the cables supporting it retracted. The operator backed the mover away from the pod and squared it up behind the flatbed truck. He then backed the truck inside the mover, raised its wheels which lowered the mover onto the flatbed and was ready to move on. I understand that the vacant area with the red awning will be occupied by Verizon. They have had a store here in Seward for some time and assume they will be moving to this location. We have utilized their products and service for some time and wish them well with their move. Googling “Pods" provides much more information. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lunch with Don and Gladys

We enjoyed a delicious lunch this noon with my brother Don and Gladys at Grandmothers on 70th and Pioneer Bl’vd in Lincoln. We not only enjoyed the food and visit but also family pictures  they had printed earlier.We had an exceptionally efficient server who was celebrating her birthday today and took the picture. Don tipped her generously with what was left on the gift card that covered our lunches. (Thanks again). We then all went to the Rockbrook Camera store where I had my camera lens cleaned and where Don & Gladys were looking at new cameras. We went back downtown and did a bit of shopping. We saw people out golfing in this record breaking 64 degree day. Larry called  from California this morning and gave me some ideas on what to further check on my garage door opener (that I wrote about yesterday). I followed his suggestions, got down on my hands and knees and checked the sensor alignment with a flash light, made some adjustments and Lo and Behold, it works. Thanks Larry. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Malfunctioning Garage Door Opener

We take many of our modern conveniences so for granted that we hardly realize they are there until they malfunction. Our “AccessMaster” garage door opener for the north stall is a prime example. It has worked flawlessly for the last 10 years or so but now has problems with closing. It opens the door very normally with the switch or remote. When the switch is touched with the door up, it moves the door a few inches and then reverses back to a fully opened position and the light flashes 10 times. I have assured that the sensors are properly aligned and unobstructed and have pulled the emergency release cord and  able to manually move the door up and down without any obstruction. I mentioned that the touch plate switch in the garage opens the door normally and if the plate is not just touched but “held engaged”, the door closes without incident. When the door is open, the remote only causes the light to flash the 10 times. We can live with it under these conditions but need to get it fixed. Any ideas would be appreciated. I am not aware of any Garage Door service here in Seward. Years ago we did have a company from Lincoln do some maintenance while working on construction here in town. The knowledge to resolve this problem appears to be beyond my grade level. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dr. J.B.Ketner at Kiwanis

Dr. J. B. Ketner, a General Practitioner Physician with our local Memorial Health Care System, presented the program at Kiwanis this noon. Dr. Ketner spoke on Men’s Health: what kills men and what bothers men.  It was an excellent presentation and I wont attempt to get into the details of his presentation. He did comment that while his presentation had been put together for a special men’s program at the hospital, a high percentage of what was discussed applied to women as well. Not smoking, proper eating, exercise and timely checkups were indicated as very important. Family history is a significant factor. It was comforting to some of us to hear him say that if you are within 10 years of your life expectancy, there were many things that you didn’t have to worry about. Dr. Ketner is not only an excellent physician but is equally adapt in making public presentations. When someone indicated that to him in informal discussion following his presentation, he indicted that his Mother was a speech teacher which was an advantage to him. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Crater Lake

We attended a program on Crater Lake at the Library this afternoon presented by Jack & Lynette Broderick. They are both retired school teachers and did an excellent job. It brought back memories of a trip we made with Elaine’s folks and 3 of our little kids back in 1956. Our new Pontiac station wagon took us to California, up through Oregon, Idaho, Yellowstone NP and home safely. I didn’t take my Diary along due to limited space, but did manage to make entries as to where we were each day after we got home. After Brodericks’s presentation, we tried to recall if we had visited Crater Lake when we were very close to it. We know we were at Grants Pass and Klamath Falls and have pictures of Elaine’s folks at the National Lava beds. And, recall driving past Lake Albert while en route from Klamath Falls to Burns, but can’t seem to put all the pieces together. And, in reality, it doesn’t matter. It was a great trip with many enlightening experiences. Lynette told how she and Jack have traveled together to many interesting places but as they talk about them, they have very separate memories. This is a bit like our memories of Crater Lake; as vivid as they are, we have never been there. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Washington, D.C. 1929

This picture was scanned from the April, 1929 National Geographic Magazine. It is looking to the NE form the Virginia side of the Potomac with Memorial Bridge under construction. There are many stories that could be told with this setting; seeing the Kennedy Cortage cross the bridge on its way to Arlington Cemetery is one of them. Elaine picked me up from class at George Washington University on the night that Martin Luther King was shot. We crossed over the bridge on our way home and were met with hundreds of candle carrying marchers on the bridge. Our having the 1929 magazine prompts another story. It came from Elaine’s folks who had been given many old NG Magazines years ago and kept them until we cleaned out their house after their passing. We singled out this one to keep since much of it is devoted to Virginia. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Our Magazines

This is a collage of the scanned covers of nearly all the Magazines we receive. Most are on a monthly basis but some are weekly and others bimonthly. We made a concerted effort to cut down on the number a couple years ago but still receive more than we read very thoroughly. I’m sure more time was spent reading both magazines and books before personal computers came into play. If I were to pick the first of these 20 to let the subscription expire, it would be "Sports Illustrated". And, if I could only retain one, it would be “Time”. The “Saturday Evening Post” contains the largest number of interesting looking articles that don’t get them read. “National Geographic” magazines are probably among the most collectible. We had saved years of them until taking them to recycling a while back. I have bought and sold some old magazines at auctions and sold them on eBay but its not very profitable. Our current process involves keeping the current issues on the coffee table, then moving them to the Magazine Rack in our lower level family room where they remain for a couple months. Then the old ones are sorted with some going to the local Care Facilities and the rest  recycled. Like daily newspapers, and other things, they just have to move on.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Small Group Meeting

This picture was taken by D.E. Hutchinson, SCS (Soil Conservation Service) Area  Conservationist at the Ted Luebbe hone near Staplehurst, NE on December 6, 1954. I am the fellow standing behind the farmers on the right side of the picture and Lew Kehne, SCS Engineer, is standing behind on the left side. The farmers (L-R) are Ted Luebbe, Raphael Dobesh, Bill Luebbe, Frankie Slavik, Lloyd Luebbe. We were discussing Watershed Planning and had aerial photographs of their adjoining farms laid out on the table. These were the type of meetings that were encouraged by SCS in the early days of the Watershed Program where eventually thousands of earthen dams were built across the country to control erosion and prevent flooding. Our youngest son Jon was born on November 22, 1954. Elaine, Jon and the other kids had just gotten back home from spending time at her folks,  a couple days before I went out to the meeting. Jon, who works with the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service & name change from SCS) was aware of this picture and asked about it today. After several years in the Seward County Field Office, I went on to work in Lincoln on Watershed Planning and Construction. Then we moved back to the SCS National Headquarters Office in USDA. During our early years in Virginia, we visited the Arlington County Library quite frequently. On one occasion Elaine took the kids there while I was on a field trip. She happened to just pull a little book off the shelf  and thumbing through it, came across this picture. She was able to obtain a copy of the book, and it has been in our home library ever since. It is titled “Dust Bowl” by Patricia Lauber, published 1958 by Coward-McCann, Inc. It has 96 pages with Library of Congress Coding Card number 58-7006. Jon,  that should give you the information you were looking for. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


As I listened to President Obama deliver his State of the Union Message last night, I was reminded of the Fireside Chats of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Both Presidents had exceptional skill in their delivery. Both came into office at crucial times in our Country’s history. While both have many who disagree with the programs they espoused, they will both go down in history as having had considerable impact on society and the Nation. While I consider myself a conservative, I also believe in social justice  and the sustainability of our natural resources. During my years of federal and state employment as a Civil Servant, political party was never a significant factor in decision making. Our mission was the protection and conservation of our natural resources. It’s difficult for anyone  to  disagree with that in principal. The Soil Conservation Service was founded in 1935 during the Roosevelt administration and has  continued  to have bipartisan support ever since. I consider myself privileged to have been a part of this important mission. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Brother Don & “The Twins” Jerry and Janice

Tomorrow, January 21, 2015, marks the 78th anniversary of the birth of “The Twins”; Brother Jerry and Sister Janice. Seven year old Brother Don is also shown on the picture taken during the summer of 1937. These were not good times  economically in Nebraska with drought and depression but what could have been a better morale builder than twin babies in the family. Dad’s sister Rose and Bill Thompson had twin sons just a few weeks earlier. They lived over in Lancaster County, but we got together with them frequently to compare notes on “who was doing what”. As the only Girl, Janice was always to first to walk, be potty trained, etc. Unfortunately, Billy Thompson died as a youngster and Jerry died a couple years ago. We received an “inspiring” email from Bob Thompson recently who has been a very important part of the Vrana Cousins Clan over the years. Though Janice and Larry have lived in California for many years, the distance hasn’t kept them from continuing to be a very close part of our family. Social media has helped us all keep up with the activities of extended family but nothing can replace the happy memories that the twins provided us. Happy Birthday, Janice

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kiwanis Flag Pole Committee Recognized

Charles Lieske, Executive Director of the Seward Area Chamber of Commerce used today’s Kiwanis meeting to present the Kiwanis Flag Pole Committee with a Plaque in recognition of the recently completed Parade of Flags project. It is the Chambers First Impressions Committee Award that recognizes projects, businesses and events that make a difference in the first impression that people may have as they visit the City. Members of the Flag Pole Committee that were in attendance are shown in the picture below: they are, front row (L-R) Tom, Marv and Del, back row (L-R) Ken, Clarence, Dave and Gordon. I have posted pictures of the project in previous blogs which can be viewed by entering “Kiwanis Flag Project”  (or something similar) in the little white search box on the left side at the top of the Crow’s Nest picture. This is probably the most outstanding plaque that the Committee has ever presented but the project recogniized is  also most outstanding.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Children’s Books

We stopped by the Ben Franklin store in Lincoln on our way home the other day and while Elaine was shopping, I picked up a couple books for Sadie and Jack. We took them out this afternoon and Sadie enjoyed having both Elaine and her Mother read her book about a “Cat in the Hat” that contained all the letters of the alphabet. Sadie already knows several of the letters and likes to sing the alphabet song. Jack was napping and a bit to young to enjoy his book. It is about all the things you can learn from your big sister. Since Jack will be in much the same situation with Sadie that I was with my big sister Vivian, I knew he had to have the book. It may take him a couple years to appreciate it, but it is something that both he and Sadie will repeatedly read “cover-to-cover”. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bert Walker’s Sinclair Filling Stations

Here is a picture which appeared on Facebook recently as “Vintage Nebraska, 1927 - Seward”. It is looking west on Seward St. from the 4th St. corner. The Courthouse dome shows over the top of the buildings west of the corner gas station. It was the gas station that really caught my eye. As I enlarged the picture, it appears that it may have been it’s “Grand Opening”. It was my Uncle Bert Walker’s and I have memories of stopping by the station while walking to our house on the west edge of town back in the early ’30’s. It was there that I remember seeing a dial telephone for the first time on Uncle Bert’s desk.

 Walt Eicher had a battery shop in the old wooden building west of the station. The lower picture is of Uncle Bert (the big guy) and Toy Weaver, a helper, that was taken in the early ’30’s looking south. There was a narrow “pit” bricked up on the south side of the station. Cars would drive over the pit and an attendant would go down the steps at the far end of the pit to drain the oil, etc. Uncle Bert was at this location until about 1937 when  State Highway #34 was moved from Seward St. a block south to Main St. At that time he went into a new Sinclair Station between the Windsor Hotel at the corner of 6th & Main and the Star Hamburger  run by Chris and Heine Christensen. He moved on to other business during WWII.

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Karel Sings the Hits, Vol.1” in Seward, NE

We attended the sold out performance of Katie Karel this evening at the Seward Civic Center Auditorium. Katie is a Seward Native that graduated from SHS in 2005. She went on to Stephens College in Columbia, MO and during one summer worked at the theater in Okoboji, IA. She now lives in Kansas City and has been active in theater in that area. Her performance in Seward is being called, “Karel Sings the Hits, Vol. 1” and is sponsored by the Seward Arts Council and the Seward County Visitors Bureau. We were fortunate in seeing 2 empty seats about 4 rows up in the center of the auditorium and found we were sitting next to the accompanist, Jeremy Watson's and Katie's mothers. It was an energetic show with Katie tracing her singing from grade school here in Seward to the present time. She sang songs to depict the time along the way. From the audience reaction and our personal opinion, it seemed that the Patsy Cline songs were the favorites. Maybe it was because she said they were hers. 
Jeremy Watson is not the typical accompanist but actually took over a lead roll at times. The program indicates that outside  of musical theater, Jeremy is the pianist/accompanist for St. Paul’s UMC of Lenexa and St. Paul’s School of Theology. He played the piano as if it were a part of him and it was all reflected in his facial images and body language. We never knew Katie while growing up here in Seward and only knew her Mother as a lady that worked at the Court House. Clark Kolterman introduced the program and reference was made of Katie having lead roles in several of Clark’s productions while she was in HS. It is interesting to have “Home Town” people come back to “tell their story” after going out into the world and becoming successful. It is probably more entertaining to have someone like Katie come back and demonstrate her talent, but I think of other young people who have come back to the community as MD’s, Lawyers, Agronomist, etc. that quietly persue their profession without any fanfair. Maybe we should listen to their story with equal interest and enjoyment. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oliver Lodge #38 AF&AM

I attended Lodge this evening and completed my obligation of serving as Chaplin; a position I have filled during the past year. We had the installation of offices and the Lodge Master from last year will serve as Chaplin this year. Our Masonic Lodge building is on the downtown City Square and one of the older buildings in town. The Lodge hall occupies the upper floor as shown in the picture with two separate businesses occupying the space on the street level. While the membership level has dropped considerably from  50 years ago, we still have a viable membership roll and participants. Our forebears were very farsighted in providing the rental income from the two business locations to assist with the maintenance cost of the entire building. We had a very tasty Chicken Dinner with our wives in the dining hall this evening prior to our meeting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Seward’s Kiwanis Parade of Flags Project

I have written about the Seward Kiwanis Parade of Flags project in the past but have not shown this picture. The project was recognized at the Chamber of Commerce recently as a commendable addition to the City. This picture was taken a few weeks ago and we have had snow cover for the past 2-3 weeks which has really made the color of the Flags stand out. At this time only the U.S. and Service flags are lighted but plans are underway to provide some lighting for the 50 State Flags. East Seward street if about a quarter of a mile north of highway #34 where the Flags are located. One of Seward’s most popular residential  developments, Ridge Run, is located on East Seward St. Since Granddaughter Julie and John Owens and our Great Grandchildren live out in Ridge Run, we drive out quite frequently. The Flags seems to be even more colorful viewing them against the sun from Seward Street. Seward has a most attractive entrance into our City with the Flags on one side of Highway #34 and Heritage Park recognizing the first settler of the City with a State Historic Marker and little park on the other side. The Hiker-Biker trail follows Plum Creek on the eastern side of the City and is adjacent to both of these points of interest. These sites would not have been available but for a “Flood Plain” buyout program a few years ago. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chipped Dried Beef

Elaine often asks me what we had for lunch when I come home from Kiwanis since it effects her plans for our evening meal. When I told her of having chipped dried beef gravy on mashed potatoes, she remembered how much we enjoyed that when the kids were all home. We also ate a lot of it on toast even when we had the Motor Home. But, we hadn’t had any for several years. The discussion stimulated her appetite such that we had to get some which we found in the Deli counter at Mike’s Market. We remember of buying it in little glasses, and it was a very economical way to “feed a family”. Mike himself was back in the Deli when we found it and asked how much we wanted as he pulled out the chunk to slice. In the process, he said maybe I’d better tell you  the price before you tell me how much you want; it’s $14.40/pound. My first response was that maybe 3 ounces would fix us up but Elaine’s better judgement led to our getting just over $6.00 worth. She fixed about half of it in gravy for supper this evening along with the mashed potatoes, green beans, English Toast bread with apple butter and Fudge Swirl ice cream for dessert. We enjoyed it more than we would have going out to the finest restaurant in town and it was still an inexpressive Dinner.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline

Our son Jon who works with NRCS in USDA in Washington, D.C. asked me this afternoon what my position was on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Here is my response: 
 Jon: Keystone laid a 30" pipeline just a mile west of Seward a few years ago when I was on the City Council. We worked with them to get some special provisions since it passed directly under our pipeline coming in from City wells and was also within the immediate "zone of influence" of other City wells. They were most cooperative in meeting our demands. My observation during construction was that they did a very good job. I asked a farmer who raises corn if he could detect any difference over the line and he said that if anything, the corn was better. We had the Seward/York County Emergency Management fellow speak this noon at Kiwanis and I asked him if there had ever been an alert or any indication of a problem since the line became operational a few years ago and he said "No". He does meet with the Keystone people occasionally and visits their Pumping Station just north of Seward County in Butler where some safeguards are controlled. Now, with all of that said, United States has little to gain by the XL (36" line) being built. The jobs created will be minimal as  are the tax benefits. They do provide a generous payment to the landowners for the easement and crop damage. I don't believe they should have the power of eminent domain and yet that probably is what will be necessary in a few cases. I don't understand the Environmental Damage in Canada with the mining operation but am sure it's questionable. However, If the mining is to be done, if they are going to transport the product to the Gulf Coast for refining, the pipe line seems to be a much better alternative than rail cars or trucks. I haven't heard the news this afternoon but expect the Senate to pass what has already been done in the House and the Bill will be sent to the President. I expect him to veto it, Congress to override the veto and the Keystone XL pipeline built.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winters in the Valley of Texas

We made 8 trips to the valley in Texas between 1986 and 2003. The first one was to visit Vince Jacobsen’s and Ray Flowerday's who lived in Pine to Palms near Weslaco. After my sister Vivian and her husband Ed Soucek began spending the winters in Victoria Palms near Donna, we drove our car down in ’94 to spend time with them and went on an 8-day tour in Mexico. In ’95 we drove our Motor Home down and went on a Mexican trip through the Copper Canyon by rail. We were back again in ’96, ’98, 2000,  January of ’03 and again in November of that year when we helped her move stuff back to Seward. This picture was taken at West, TX when Elaine and I went down in January of ’03 with Don & Gladys in their Mercury Grand Marque. West is a Czech community a few miles north of Waco and right off I-35 where we often stopped for lunch. It was on January 15th when we had: “Sourkraut, sausage, potato, kolachie for lunch and visited an antique store”. We stayed that night at Victoria and Don called several of the Vrana’s listed in the phone book but didn’t find any relatives. We got on down to Victoria Palms the next day where we joined Vivian and Janice. They had driven down ahead of us and this was the first that Vivian had been back to their Park Model since Eddy’s death. We had several enjoyable days playing golf, buying shoes at the SAS outlet, getting $3.00 haircuts in Mexico, going to the Basilica of San Juan and hearing the Mariachis, etc. We enjoyed Don and Jackie Armstrong’s company while there and dropped Janice off at the airport in San Antonio on our way home.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Julie’s 10th Birthday

Today is Granddaughter Julie’s birthday. This picture was taken at my Mother’s house some years ago when we were celebrating her 10th. Elaine and I had taken a job over in Ankeny, IA a few months earlier but were back in Seward for  Dad’s funeral and the Holidays. Though we got back to Seward every 2-3 weeks, our being gone was difficult for Julie to accept. From the time she was a baby, Julie spent enough time with us that she was like our 5th child. I don’t recall  having to scold her very often but a few days before this picture was taken, she jumped up from behind the couch in the basement family room to scare me. According to my Journal, “I scolded her and told her she could cause me to have a heart attack that way. It concerned her so that she came up to her room - got her old Nellie doll to hug and sat in her chair and cried. I held her on my lap for about half an hour getting her cheered up.” This picture was taken just a couple days later on New Year’s Day before leaving to drive back to Ankeny. There may have been some “carry over emotion” from that earlier incident showing as we celebrated her birthday and took the picture. Happy Birthday Julie. We Love You. Always have-Always will. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

City Names on the Bottom of Coca-Cola Bottles

One of our Coffee Group participants brought in a 6-pack of Coca-Cola bottles this morning and told of a game he and his buddies played as teenagers while they drank their bottled Cokes. The winner was determined by who held the bottle with the name of the most distant City moulded into the bottom of the bottle. The picture shows the bottom of one of the bottles with “York Nebr” shown. Our discussion produced more questions than answers. A bit of Google research convinced me that there is more information available on Coca-Cola than what I’m willing to pursue. And, I wasn’t able to find answers to the simple questions of: What is the significance of the name of the City embossed??; Where were the bottles  actually produced??; and, are they done in-house by the Company or by contract??. I did learn in my brief research that while Coke was first bottled in 1894, the Curved Bottle was approved in 1915. By 1923 6-packs were introduced and in 1928 bottled Coke overtook Fountain sales. The packaging of Coca-Cola has gone through many iterations over the years but to most of us, the old 100 year old design is the classic. We have visited the Coca-Cola Display in the Atlanta, GA Underground and have some mementos from there. We also have a clear plastic, square, 0.5 liter bottle of Classic Coke. It has a plastic cap with the message: “Bottled under authority of the Coca-Cola Company by a Member of the CCE Bottling Group, Atlanta, GA. We think some of the kids left it here on one of their visits but are not sure. The bottle label mentions a Harry Potter contest for free Coke  which expired in 2002. It is still full but the contents of a little miniature bottle that we bought in the Underground gift ship have completely evaporated. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Appraisal Summaries

I come across some interesting pictures in continuing to write on “My Career with SCS”. This one is a big map on the north wall of our master bedroom at our Arlington Ridge Road house that we moved in to during the spring of 1964. The Soil Conservation Service had a very centralized management system for its 14,000 employees with the Heads of the Agency at the State level reporting directly to the Agency Administrator. The Personnel Mg’t system involved our furnishing the State Leader a list of 3-5 candidates for filling GS-11 and above positions in their state. Our lists were developed from review of qualifications, experience, and ratings recorded on “Appraisal Summaries”. These were filled by job classification and grade level which we would go through manually to select the “best qualified” for the specific position to be filled. My boss, Carl Lindstrom felt it important that we not only base our judgements on the Appraisal Summary but that we also know as many people as possible. I used the map to identify and learn the names of at least 10-15 of the top people in each state. Then at every opportunity, I would meet people personally to put a face with what I already knew about them. The system was made obsolete by a vacancy announcement and application process, but worked pretty effectively for a number of years. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

“My Career With SCS"

This was one of those few days that we didn’t leave the house. Schools were closed because of the extreme cold temperatures and windchill. We did have Aaron Grant here from Time-Warner who got our HD TV back in operation. Several years ago I wrote, printed and put a lengthy autobiography on a DVD. Then a few years ago started writing “My Career in SCS” but extracting much of the information from my earlier writing. My Chapter I includes the 10 years of my working here in Seward County. "The Lincoln Years” are covered in Chapter II and today, I worked on Chapter III. It covers most of our first 2 years in the Washington, D.C. Office while living in the Fairlington Apartments. One of my entries today included the description of working with son Verlon’s help on the posters we put on our Office doors for the Holidays. This one was based on USDA’s early efforts to computerize management activities which was getting underway back in the early ’60’s. I included the note that Don Williams, Soil Conservation Service Administrator, presented me with a ball-point pen as the 3rd-place winner of the Agency poster contest. Interestingly, our son Jon walks past some of these very doors in his current activity back in the USDA South Building, but I understand they don’t decorate the doors these days. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

TV Dilemma

This is page one of our 2014 picture collage. There are some 130 pictures on the 3 pages which we selected from among all those available to us during the year. We have written captions for them and have put them in a notebooks along with our years “Highlights” and a narrative entitled, “Year 2014 in Review”. In addition to the “hard copies” in notebooks and having them organized in a file on the computer, they are all on a DVD along with all of the digital pictures we took during the year. I just finished the DVD this afternoon and wondered if it would play on our TV through the CD player. I hadn’t tried any of these for some time and quickly learned that it wouln’t play. I thought I got everything restored and actually watched HD TV through the Time-Warner box for a while with things apparently normal. However, this evening when I pushed the remote to turn on the TV, nothing happened. Even pressing the power button on the side of the flat screen doesn’t respond. Our TV box is lit up so we know we have power. Obviously, I hit many buttons in the process. Our review of all the connections don’t give us any clues. So, tonight we are reading, writing this blog, and doing it without the TV playing in the background. Tomorrow is forecast to be the coldest day of the winter (so far) with 5 degrees for a high which isn’t a good time to be concerned with a TV that doesn’t work. There is a fine line between the challenge of trying things like I did with the DVD and having enough sense to not try to fix something if it isn’t broken.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Seward Kiwanis Kitones

Our Kiwanis singing group, The Kitones made several appearances during the Holidays and didn’t have the regular weekly practice last Monday evening. Practices did resume this evening and I didn’t attend with the weather and my recent cold part of the reason. However, the bigger reason may be in the result of my “Pain/Pleasure” analysis. While I have enjoyed singing and the camaraderie of the group over the years, it is offset by the stress of leaving a warm house to go out in the cold, learning new music, and, night driving on crowded slick streets. I have been singing with the Kitones since the spring of 1992 while under the leadership of Harry Gieselman and during the past several years, Paul Beck. I’m not quite ready to turn in my music but on these cold, dark nights, staying home where it’s warm and Elaine is making hot chocolate & pop corn, has a lot of appeal and tilts the equation in that direction. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Big Sister

My sister Vivian was 18 months old when I was born and was my “big sister” for many years. As a Great Grandfather of Sadie and Jack, who have a 20 month spread in their ages, I couldn’t help but relate to this Family circus cartoon. I expect that sometime within the next year they could be caught in a similar situation. While it would be easy for me to offer some sympathy to Jack for the possibility of living in the shadow of a big sister, as I did for some time; I would also have to tell him of the benefits. A big sister can establish a pathway for a little brother to follow. She can have friends who will help a little brother to be a part of the group. She will establish a standard of excellence in school work that will keep the little brother challenged. She will even help him appreciate the pleasure of singing. Vivian and I sang, “Jesus Loves Me” before the Methodist Church when I was 5 years old. The way Sadie likes to sing, “even if she doesn’t know the words”, Jack may be on stage before 5.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Braeburn Apples

We had one of these Braeburn apples for lunch today along with a toasted wheat bread salami sandwich. How can you beat the bargain of getting these for 89 cents/pound at Pac n Sav in Seward. Elaine did fix a Hamburger, fried potato, green bean and cranberry sauce supper with sliced peaches for dessert. We are trying to eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables this winter and the price of beef is helping us make those decisions. We wrote captions for our 3-pages of 2014 picture collages this afternoon and got them into the “book”. It is a 3-ring binder that has a summary of our years activities plus the collages for every year since 1996. This binder is in addition to our one of “Highlights” which goes back to 1940. It includes the dates of “important” events  that occurred throughout the year and enables me to check out the date in my daily diary (Journal). I may have another apple for a bedtime snack.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year

This  picture was taken by a friend at a Christmas party a couple weeks ago. It was just sent to me and felt it deserved a spot on a blog page. There are those who would say that the reason for the pleasant expression was not because of the Scotch but rather because it was complementary. We did have a very nice time at the party  and were also given a gift card for a new restaurant in the Lincoln Fallbrook area. Elaine took down Christmas decorations today with a bit of help.  They are all back in a storage area that will need to be reopened as we prepare for a major garage sale this spring. I am putting finishing touches on my records, pictures, and Highlights as we “wrap up” 2014. I completed 3 pages of picture collages this evening that contain some 125 selected pictures from the year. We will work on the captions for them tomorrow. I enjoy the challenge of doing it and as I’ver mentioned before, “It doesn’t take much to make an old man Happy."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year’s Day Visitors

Sadie, Jack and their folks came to visit this afternoon.  We not only enjoyed them while they were here but had a good laugh when I came up for supper and asked Elaine if she heard the horse “Whinnying” outside our north bedroom. As soon as she heard it, she recognized it as one of Sadie’s puzzle toys of various animals that make their “sound” when lifted off their spot in the puzzle.  I thought for a minute that maybe our neighbor had bought a horse. As I’ve worked with 2014 pictures, it is apparent how much Sadie has grown and changed during the year. We also notice how Jack changes between each time we see him. Personalities seem to emerge early in kids and I can’t help but compare these two to Lucy and Charlie Brown.
But Jack’s facial expressions seem to favor Winston Churchill so he might be able to keep up with Lucy. While the Owens’ visit was the highlight of the day, there were the annual readings that were taken and duly recorded in my 2015 Journal. Medications were recorded as was vehicle mileage. If Seward had a Taxi service, I’m certain that it would cost less to call a cab whenever we have need for the second car. But how do you put a price tag on the value of the one car being in the garage  and available for Elaine when I’m out with the other one. And, who knows, maybe the old ’92 La Sabre will be recognized as a classic one on these days and become very valuable. It has already become more valuable this fall with the addition of 4 new white sidewall tires. I have enjoyed driving it the 656 additional miles that it went this past year bringing its total to 155,742, even though it cost us well over $1/mile. That's still less than the depreciation cost that would be incurred during the first year or two of a new car. I have been reading and hearing more about the idea of “car sharing” in the cities which may be appropriate for some people. HAPPY NEW YEAR.