All posts by Jim

No Starry Night, Only Calm

After i wrote my last, i promise, post about our country’s challenges, i fired up the “egg” grill knock off. Maureen and i, in a rare moment, collaborated on our halibut dinner. She did the tough stuff: the gourmet sauce and magic butter dish for the fish, the asparagus, and of course, another of her incredible salads, along with the bread she somehow finds to match a meal perfectly.


i monitored the grill, greased up what was necessary, turned on my iPod bluetooth for old time music, and waited patiently in what we call in paradise weather as cold (about sixty degrees), finally putting the fish on the grill for a few moments.

i turned on my “Sky Guide” to study the heavens’ constellations, planets, and stars as the charcoal fired up to fish cooking level. There were high clouds in anticipation of a front coming through tomorrow. The starry constellations were obscure. i could not find Venus, but i found Mars. It was dim below the waxing crescent moon. Directly underneath was my ensign…er, flag at the crest of our hill. i could barely make out the stars and stripes, vowing to add some more light. It was a pleasing feeling to look up at it and forward to whatever happens next:









A Different Take

Recently, i exchanged FB messages with a close friend from back home. Jane Couch Boyer now lives in Philadelphia. She’s a huge Philadelphia Flyer fan, and from our exchanges, i believe she leans toward conservative. She is also a well-thought person who seeks facts for her decision making. i like her a lot.

i planned to copy that exchange here and received Jane’s permission to do so. i wrote a fairly long piece explaining my thoughts.

i tossed it, the explanation and our message exchange.

You see, i am once again caught in the middle. i see the need and even the logic of the more reasonable arguments on both sides of “The Wall” issue.

i will not make my opinion about the politics of the situation public. i will be more than willing to have a one-on-one discussion on the subject with anyone who is reasonable and will listen to other’s opinions with an open mind. Like Jane.

But i am out of that business and almost forgot.

So my argument is not political.

i am only addressing what seems obvious to me.

Here is what i think about the whole brouhaha which is causing much more bad of everything than it’s worth:

A “Wall” will not keep the bad guys out. They have proven they will figure out a way to do their dirty deeds.

A “Wall” will not come close to costing $5 Billion. Having some experience on both sides of government contracting, the cost will be at least three to five times that figure.

And personally, the idea of a wall brings to my mind another wall in Germany. Yes, it was to keep people in, not out, but the idea of creating a symbol of limiting personal freedom is objectionable to me.

There are good reasons for and against “The Wall.” i can see the logic of both.

And folks, i’m within days of living here three-quarters of a century. i’m tired of rigidity. i’m sad my friends can’t communicate and resolve real problems when both have good points.

And i want to live the rest of my life living a good life, not reacting to the crazy, illogical current state of politics.

i plan to do that. Thank you, Jane for allowing me to consider the situation and review my opinion. For everyone else:

Have at it.




“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

The Sausage Principle: People who love sausage and respect the law should never watch either one being made.

Goofy guy’s observation about The Sausage Principle: Apparently, there are lots of folks who want to watch one of them being made. Not me.

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Heller’s Law: The first myth of management is that it exists.
Johnson’s Corollary: Nobody really know what is going on anywhere in the organization.

Goofy guy’s admission to Heller’s Law and Johnson’s Corollary: Been there; done that…i’m afraid to admit.

Family Past and Present

This is for all of my relatives on the Jewell side. In going (again) through memorabilia i was given from Aunt Naomi to Maxwell to my father and then to me, i ran across the envelope. The writing is a scrawl that says: “Pictures of Mama & Papa.”

i imagine this is written by a hand of a working man — there is a story about my grandfather and why he was a working man and why his brothers got education, along with several other stories about this amazing man — and it certainly has similarities to my father’s handwriting but much rougher. i imagine him deciding what to do with the photos inside and scrawling the description of the contents before storing them somewhere in the house on Spring Street. i picture my grandmother, Mama Jewell to me, finding the envelope and putting it in her place for safekeeping, taking it with her when her daughter Naomi took Mama into her house across the street from ours on Castle Heights Avenue long before there was a Castle Heights Avenue North. i can see my wonderful Aunt Naomi collecting her mother’s memorabilia and putting it in a special place for memories, hers and other members of the family. i can see cousin Maxwell, many years later, taking the two cardboard boxes to my father shortly after Aunt Naomi joined the wonderful man, her mother, and her husband Uncle George Martin somewhere, and Maxwell telling my father he thought Daddy would be best to keep them.

And then there was that night in Daddy’s garage when he took the two boxes off the shelf, telling me he wanted me to have them and how we went through each box, and how those boxes have been shifted through time and time again after they made it back to the Southwest corner for me to go through them again, breaking out an article of memorabilia or two because i intend to identify who of the fifty or sixty dependents should get the real article or if it should go to some historical site and if i can scan it and make it available for those who might interested.

i think i will complete this task along with several things from the paternal side when i reach 176. But now i have this one for action.

i had seen this envelope and photos before, looked at the photos and put them away for later because of the difficulty with editing and my lack of expertise. But this time, i studied the handwriting and realized it was my grandfather’s. Hiram Culley Jewell died of tuberculosis in 1939, five years before i was born. The last event he attended outside his home was my parents’ wedding, July 2, 1938, as i said an amazing man with some amazing stories around him.  If a family member is interested in learning more, please contact me.

So here are the photos inside the envelope. This is my great grandfather, Hiram Carpenter (Buddy) Jewell who has some pretty amazing stories himself:

And this is my great grandmother, Sarah (Jones) Jewell who has one incredible story about her:

i’m guessing the photos were taken circa the 1870’s. i’m planning to have the restored, scanned again and made available to family members.

This post began  to make the photos known by those relatives on Facebook. It’s a little bit more now. There will be some stories mentioned above eventually included here…if i actually get to it.

It takes me to a time when we were different. The world was different. Smaller, perhaps simpler. There was more distinction between good and bad. The line was more defined, even if it was wrong by our standards today. They were young, hard working folks in the country. Farmers. He enlisted in Bardstown, Kentucky as a member of the 8th Tennessee Calvary, Confederate States of America in 1862. He was mustered out at the end of the war. As far as i know never owned slaves.

But that is getting into the stories. That’s for later.

Still i look at the photos and i see “Jewell eyes” as indistinct as they are in the old and worn photos.

i will close now and sit here almost 150 years later and 2500 miles away and contemplate these two young folks and their eyes for a while by myself.

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Freeman’s Rule: Circumstances can force a generalized incompetent to become competent, at least in a specialized field.

Goofy guy’s comment on Freeman’s rule: i’ve met a lot of specialized competents. In fact, i may be one myself. 

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Parker’s Law: Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes clean to the bone.

Goofy guy’s take on Parker’s Law: i’ve met a lot of beautiful people, and the few i met who were truly ugly were ugly all the way to the bone.

Now and Then

Written on Wednesday, January 2, 2019…or at least begun then:

i am sitting by the hearth. The fire is comforting. i will add no more logs tonight.

We are winding down and winding up. Tomorrow, we will get it in gear.

i, wanting to read four books immediately, have once again put reading aside for later so i might write. i continue to wonder why.

In the last couple days, i contemplated differences between now and then, then being my time. What sparked that contemplation was yesterday, New Year’s Day, January 1. Back a thousand years ago…okay, okay not really…i spent a number of my New Year’s Days in Paris, Texas. Before that, i spent them in a lot of places similar, but the ones in Paris, Texas captured my idea of my New Year’s Day.

My former in-laws, the fabulous Col. Jimmie and Bettie Lynch, the latter being known as Nannie Bettie by an adoring family, put on a Bowl Party to end all bowl parties. Their home on Main Street was a classic and outshone all the other houses  on the promenade leading into the town square.

The Colonel and Nannie Bettie, with a little of my help, had restored it for the wedding in May 1971. The home was built (guessing) in the 1920’s. The Colonel turned the detached garage into a work space for refinishing antiques and then into a recreation room complete with a pool table, a television for watching his beloved Dallas Cowboys, a half-refrigerator, and a very well-stocked bar.

And then, they held their bowl party. Unlike today, the bowls held the attention of the country’s football nation. The Super Bowl, with the first one in 1967, was not the extravaganza of entertainment excess lasting interminably, back then. College football was the focus, not the gaudily and ridiculously rich NFL. We went to college football games during the season to watch decades and decades of sports rivalry on display. The reward for the season was winning in your conference to play in the post-season bowls.

Even though there were 11 bowl games in the 1970’s, only four were considered THE BOWL GAMES and the only ones played on New Year’s Day. The rest were relegated to second place. There were no conference championship games, or even divisions as far as i recall.

New Year’s Day for nearly all of the country was sleeping-in-late after the previous eve of welcoming in the New Year and for many, recovery from hangovers. Then, you had the traditional meals to begin the year and vegged out all day watching bowl games. The Orange Bowl was first (Eastern Time Zone); the Sugar Bowl was second (Central Time Zone, early game); the Cotton Bowl was third (Central Time Zone, later game), and the day concluded with the granddaddy Rose Bowl. They were all day games and played in…gasp…open-air stadiums on real grass. They overlapped to some degree, sometimes a much as a quarter. Back then, channel-hopping was a chore because someone had to get to the television to turn the dial.

The party in Paris, Texas was a center piece for the town gentry. The Lynch’s did not disappoint. They had each bowl game on a television in a different part of the home, including the one in the rec room garage. In case you were having difficulty in determining which game was where, the Lynch’s had a display on top the television: a bowl of oranges for the Orange Bowl, bowls of sugar for the Sugar bowl, a bowl of cotton bolls for the Cotton Bowl, and a vase of roses for the Rose Bowl. There were appetizers throughout the house, all of the famous Texas fare you could find, chips, cornbread, and even a huge round of cheddar cheese shipped in from Wisconsin. And of course, there was a complete bar. One of the highlights was the Colonel’s Bloody Mary’s.

It was a tremendous event made possible by bowl games, undiluted, in the spirit of college football.

Ain’t that way no more. i no longer think it’s better or worse. It’s different.

On New Year’s Eve, we sat by the fire watching “The Shadow of the Thin Man” with a fire roaring in the fireplace. We went to bed early. Yesterday, we watched “Roman Holiday.” To me, they are more enjoyable than today’s movie fare. In those classics, there are no graphics to blow your mind, there is no real violence, there is no graphic sex, and there is no cussing, gratuitous or otherwise. The plots are better, often with unexpected endings. They are witty and entertaining.

Ain’t that way no more. As with the new and old post-season football, i no longer think it’s better or worse. Just different. The new standards of enjoyment are driven by change. The younger set didn’t experience my time with football and movies. They don’t have the same standards. My reality isn’t their reality.

So i am not knocking them for their reality.

But i do like mine better and miss it.

Thoughts on “Murphy’s Law”

Just shy of a year ago, i began to daily post an entry of “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar on my Facebook page. Many folks have told me, either on Facebook, through a message, or personally how much they enjoy reading them.

To begin this year, i will be posting them here until i run out. i don’t know when i will run out, but i not planning to repeat the process when i’ve gone through the archives.

How did all of this get started? i told this story when i began the daily entry. But it’s worth telling again. It began in Hong Kong, 1979. Actually, it was several weeks earlier back on Greenwich Avenue in Red Bank, a suburb of Chattanooga, Tennessee. That’s when my Uncle Pipey Orr and my Aunt Evelyn Prichard Orr found the “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar, purchased it, wrapped it, and sent it to me as a Christmas present. Perfect.

The new gift arrived aboard USS Tripoli (LPH 10), the flagship for  Commander, Amphibious Squadron Five and delivered to the Current Operations Officer, aka me, at the Fleet Landing, Hong Kong Bay. i was delighted when i opened it and on the first day of January 1980, i read “Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Of course, i had heard the law before and thought it was funny, and often true, especially in a bureaucracy like the Navy’s. On the second day, found another law and laughed out loud. By the end of the week, i decided i should share them and did so with Mike Peck, a P3 pilot and the Tactical Air Control Squadron officer assigned to the staff for the deployment, and with Pete Toennies, the UDT officer also assigned temporarily to the staff.

The three of us had become close and shared many escapades together on our Hong Kong liberty (more stories). We also had developed a strategy for the daily “message meetings” the commodore held each workday morning in the staff wardroom. During those meetings, the commodore, Captain Jim McIntyre with the handle of “Silver Fox,” sat at the head of the table.

Ops, Commander John Collins, my boss, sat to the commodore’s right, and began meetings with a review of what had happened, the previous day including radio messages, a preview of important events concerning the squadron, and being a rather bombastic self-promoter some stories about what he had done.

The meeting continued with the staff member to the right of Collins reporting on his area of expertise and what he thought was important. This continued around the table until it reached the Chief of Staff, xxxx, who sat to the immediate left of the commodore. Then, McIntyre would make any necessary decisions and comment on what he felt was pertinent to the staff. Mike and i realized early on if we sat next to the chief of staff by the time everyone else had their say and it was our time, there was nothing to say because someone else had already briefed everything. So we just passed our turn to the chief of staff.

Sometime in the next week or so, we decided we should say something. That something was the daily entry from the “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar. Our comments were well received by the chief of staff and the commodore, although i think my boss had a cooler reaction.

Soon, Mike, Pete, and i realized the daily “laws” were not only funny, nearly all had a good point to think about. Not knowing if i would get another calendar the next Christmas, i decided to save them. i began to scotch tape them on the covers of my appointment books and spiral notebooks. What you have been reading on Facebook and now here are from those old calendars and notebooks — Yeh, i saved the daily notes and the calendars and notebooks: i thought i might write about those events someday .

Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Pipey Orr sent me another desk calendar the next Christmas. They continued the annual gift. Aunt Evelyn sent them until she fell ill in her last years. Then, she had my cousin Nancy send them for her. After she passed away, i began buying my  own and wrapping it with the note it was from Santa. i kept that up and added daughters and a few other people as recipients over the year.

When i went to order my gifts last year, i discovered they quit making them. ne of those calendars as a Christmas gift in 1979 while i was deployed to WESTPAC. They sent me one every year until my cousin, Nancy Schwarze, sent them while her mother still was alive. When my aunt passed, i began to get my own calendar and wrap it “from Santa” every Christmas until this past Christmas when they quit publishing the annual desk calendar. Thirty-eight years and they run out of laws. Go figure.

Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Pipey were successful in their careers as a teacher and psychology tester (Aunt Evelyn) and an engineer for TVA. They were also highly respected in their community and their church. And everyone in their family, their nephew especially, loved them beyond words. So every time i post a “law,” i think of these two wonderful people.

And to institutionalize them, more or less, i will now be posting them here with a link to them on Facebook…until i run out.

Today’s law:

“The Army Axiom: Anything that can be understood has been misunderstood.”

Goofy guy’s expansion of the Army Axiom: This is true in any organization of more than one person, not just the army.