An Addition to the Damn Bird Feeder

Eventually, the software started identifying the bird species. It is not very accurate as it keeps trying to tell me the squirrels are birds. Last count, it identified them as 17 different species. I could get more accurate identification by having my daughter doing it from 1700 miles away. (crow flight)

This bird feeder camera has the ability to share with others. Since my wife’s sister who lives down in the Southern Hemisphere loves birds, we sent her the link so she can watch them in live time. To make this even more interesting, her little 6 year old daughter also finds it fascinating so she watches them almost continuously.

But the little niece has discovered a microphone icon on the screen that enables her to talk to the birds & the damn squirrels. So, she sits in a house 5000 miles away (crow flight) and talks to birds and the damn squirrels in my backyard. I haven’t been out in back to hear her, but it find it fascinating. … the little stinker.

As you can see in the image, the feeders of the feeder has emptied the feed again, and I filled it the day before yesterday. I found my nefarious slingshot and now trying to find where I put the 68 caliber paint balls (red). When I do, I will sit outside with whiskey and cigar and patiently wait for one of the squirrels to come and feed again,  …. after running back to Walmart to get more feed, or course. I just need to make sure the little niece doesn’t see me.

Unfortunately, there is a side effect to this scenario. It seems when she is watching the feeder, I cannot connect to the live camera. It appears only one viewer at a time can watch; but that itself is inconsequential as I love the idea she is talking with them from 5000 miles away (crow flight)

Find the fascination of things in Life and you will never be bored.

As We Age …

We tend to become like our parents.

Remember how Mom and Pop would sit and watch the birds?

I purchased a bird feeder with a built-in camera. It would have been the perfect gift for them, especially for Mom in the past few years to be able to sit in her house and see what birds have come to feed in her yard. This model has an AI (artificial intelligence) that can identify up to 6000 species.

So, below are some of the videos taken of the birds:







Now if you are sharp-eyed like me, you noticed that one of those is not a bird, and you would be correct.

The camera is amazing, but most unfortunately, the software is not. I have not been able to get the AI to identify the birds. So, even though I noticed one of those is not a bird, the software didn’t notice any of them. I am communicating via email with the manufacturer and so far I am not pleased.

But I find myself thinking how MotherDear would be in awe at seeing birds like this in her yard, even if the software is not working.

I will keep working.

BTW, they finished off all the seed I had in it, so back to Walmart.

Arisaka 99

With the Internet it is easy to do research on items I find interesting. Back when I was just a gleam in my Dad’s eye, my uncle brought back a Japanese rifle from the Pacific Theater. I asked an engineer of Japanese descent at the manufacturing plant I worked at if she could interpret the insignia. She said it means, “Model 99.”

That just fed the interest in finding out more about it.

With the help of a decades old book and the Internet, this rifle is called Arisaka Model 99. There is a fascinating history to it I am going to share with you unless you fall asleep.

Its predecessor was a different caliber. The one my uncle brought back is a 7.7mm caliber, which equals to .303 inches, whereas the previous version was a 6.5mm, or .256 inches.

The decades old book I have that is pre-Internet, points out that the Japanese army went to the 7.7mm (commonly known as 7.7 Jap) so that if any of the Allied forces captured any of their 7.7mm ammunition and tried to shoot it in their 7.62 (30 caliber) rifles, it would cause over pressure and destroy the rifle. And if the Japanese captured any Allied ammunition, they could shoot it in their 7.7 mm rifles. It would not be too accurate but would work.

So I am in possession of my uncle’s rifle (with bayonet) which I heard over the years was a training model. Those models have no rifling and cannot fire a real cartridge. I was happily surprised, even to the point of giddiness to find this rifle is not a trainer. It has rifling and not only that, I purchase a box of 7.7 Jap ammo from the Norma Manufacturing and have shot 10 of the cartridges through it.

History books say that in order for these rifles to enter the US, they had to have the imperial ownership seal, a 16-petal chrysanthemum known as the Chrysanthemum Flower Seal stamped on top of the receiver in all official imperial-issue rifles, filed down. See below. This rifle unfortunately had it removed.

Because the Japanese are little people (do not confuse with Munchkins), the butt of the rifle is short and has a metal butt-plate, so it tends to want to jam itself into the shoulder of a grown Texas man, really hard.

Further research says this rifle is a low pressure weapon designed for only 38,000 psi. The modern day rifles usually tops out at about 56,000 psi. So when I fired the cartridges from Norma, I noticed the primers were flattened. Now I realize I probably lost you there, but understand it means the cartridges from Norma are for high pressure rifles.

So I acquired a Lee-Loader® so I could reload the cartridges to a safe pressure. I used the 7.62 mm (30 caliber) bullets and used less powder. It was not an accurate load but would hit a pie-pan at 100 yards without a scope.

That is actually impressive for an undersized bullet, So if the Chinese or Russians attack us, I will pull the 7.7 Jap from under the bed and head into battle. If any of you want to join, please send me your name, address and phone number.

P.S. Bring your own rifle, … and your own snacks.


Thank God for Shenanigans … and Serial Killers

A few years back, without realizing it I became a person who no longer gave a $h1t on issues in life. I blame it on being an old retired fart who has seen much and heard too much BS in life which has no bearing on the real world. (think: Will Smith/Chris Rock fiasco). But to maintain sanity, I still cling to my shenanigans, something I never knew existed until Pop said, “No damn fool shenanigans.” – and he was serious!

I didn’t look up the word but relied on my personal expert analysis of life to understand and appreciate its meaning.

I decided it is perfectly acceptable to pull off innocent shenanigans provided:

  1. No one is harmed.
  2. It costs no money.
  3. The action remains anonymous.
  4. I can get away with it.

Let me explain examples of shenanigans over the past years.

I worked at a manufacturing plant years ago where bosses would drive around in little three-wheeled golf carts so they wouldn’t have to walk. When I found one that was parked outside a building, I would jump in it and turn it around. They would come out of the building and see it headed in the wrong direction and wondered if they parked it that way.

1. No one was harmed.  2. It was free.  3. The action remained anonymous.  4. I got away with it.

When I saw a jacket or lab coat hanging up, I would put something in the pockets. I once put a couple of dandelion flowers in one. A rock in another. I usually had loose items in my pockets such as screws, blown fuses, a short piece of wire and believe it or not, I once came across a small frog that I scooped up and placed in a coat pocket.

Again: 1, 2, 3, 4

When I was a welder, there was a crazy cowboy who insisted on using the whole table to spread his lunch on, leaving just enough room for my sandwich.

Years ago, my late brother who was a master of shenanigans, taught me how to make Nitrogen Triiodide (NI₃). For those who are unfamiliar with NI₃, it is an easy to make contact explosive from ammonia and tincture of iodine. It is a very corrosive mixture that is harmless until it dries, at which point, it is very sensitive. I made up a nice batch of it and smeared it on the latches of his lunch box. When he placed his box in the middle of the table and proceeded to open it, BANG! It left a blister on his thumb. He was totally baffled but knew I may have had something to do with it. Couldn’t prove it.

Again: 1 (well, maybe not 1) but 2, 3, and 4.

In High School, I placed the NI₃ in pencil sharpeners, under the pads of commode seats and in padlocks on lockers. I had a teacher who had a small desk bell like the one you find at hotel counters. If the class got too noisy, she would tap the bell, “ding!”, and everyone would stop talking to see what that “ding” was. I placed NI₃ under the little clapper of the bell. I believe it was the fourth period when I heard the bang followed by a strange ringing sound, followed by a long scream that went down the hallway.

2, 3, 4.

When I lived in Brazil before moving back to Texas, I used a slingshot smuggled through the mail system to me by an unscrupulous sibling. There are more tales of usage by the weapon, er. instrument than I have time to tell. But there was one time I sat on the balcony late one night and watched the people meander toward the subway. One individual was about a half a block away when I sent a marble flying down the street. Didn’t hit him, but he stopped to look where it came from. I stood in the shadows of a fourth-floor balcony. Every time he turned toward the subway, I sent another marble. This took place at least four times until he was too far.

1, 2, 3, 4.

Okay. There are many of these stories, but let’s look at others.

I have a good friend whose father was as onery as his son. His name was Orville. Once when he was using a power saw, Orville cut his thumb pretty bad and went to the doctor to have it sutured up. Afterwards he asked, “Doc, will I be able to play the piano?”

Doc said, “Well there will be dexterity issues at first, but within a few months I feel you will be able to play with no problems.”

Orville said, “That’s great Doc. I always wanted to play the piano.”

1, 2, 3, 4.

A little girl I knew who lost her first tooth, told me she placed it under her pillow, and in the morning there was a quarter! I told her that once when I was a little boy, I had a fist full of quarters that I was afraid my brother would steal when I was asleep, so I put them under my pillow. The next morning, when I woke up, I looked under my pillow and found a bunch of teeth!

1, 2, 3, 4.

My wife is currently learning English. I told her she needs to get into the habit of speaking Texan.

Examples include:

Yeah huh.  Yeah boy! Over yonder.  And it is Colder than a Well Digger’s Butt.

I told her when some kid tells her their goldfish went over the Rainbow Bridge, tell them, “No, your fish just kicked the bucket.”

1, 2, 3, 4.

There are so many shenanigans in life, that if it were not for them I would be in an Insane Asylum.

Speaking of Insane Asylums, shenanigans remind me of one of my favorite games to play when I am with several people in a crowded area. Back in December I was at my sister’s wedding and after everyone was content with good food and drink, I went to the bar where two bartenders were standing at the end talking.

I told them, “I need your help with something.” They both perked up and I told them, “Somewhere in this room is a serial killer. Who is it?” Right away they scanned the crowd and within 5 seconds, they both pointed to a man in a striped shirt. “It’s him.” they said in unison. Before I could find him in the crowd, they said, “He hasn’t been to the bar yet.”

So, if any of you are a serial killer, be sure and get a drink at the bar. That is how I do it.

Thank God for shenanigans and serial killers.


What I learned from Pop

At my age, I find the Nolte siblings are unusual, and some would say, wonderful people. With the incredible life MotherDear had, you would think that alone was enough. But when you take time to think about Pop, it becomes even more apparent.

To understand both of our parents, you have to look at the life that made them that way. Both were born in 1919 and their early years were during the Depression. And to better understand the Depression, look at their lives.

Neither of them were lazy, and I learned during the depression everything had value. When Pop passed away, I found coffee cans in his shop with worthless pieces of copper and brass in them. I felt guilty tossing them out and found myself saying out loud, “Sorry Pop. These are worthless.” This also explains the time when Isaiah had accompanied Pop to Iowa. During the trip Isaiah threw a fistful of worthless pennies out the window and Pop blew up. It was also the reason he used both sides of the adding machine paper.

The first thing he ever bought himself, at 18, with his own money, was a heavy wool coat. It makes me a bit ashamed for the money I waste on trivial things I think I have to have.

I learned to spit on the bait from Pop, also money doesn’t grow on trees. I learned that eating vegetables will grow hair on my belly. I believe that was an untruth. I was also warned to avoid any damn-fool shenanigans.

On trips to Iowa, I learned that his family grew potatoes which were used to feed the family during the lean years. Potatoes can be used to make flour which can be used to make bread. I also learned he walked to and from school every day in two feet of snow. He failed to mentioned he lived across the street from the school house. I also learned that Pop’s patience shortened when Mom’s hearing aid went out. It was at that time, the Iowa trip suddenly turned toward home.

Pop taught me how to change the oil on a car and how to change a tire. There was also an interesting time with him on a trip through Santa Fe, New Mexico, when we stopped at an intersection that had several nuns waiting to cross the street. I distinctly remembering him say under his breath, “Go ahead, Sisters.” as he gave them time to cross. To this day, I have given people, not just nuns, but old people time for what they have to do, just because of his simple comment.

Be mindful what you say around kids.

Thinking of long trips with the family, I remember peeing in the bean pot in back of the station wagon as we traveled down the road. I wonder why I didn’t think of that in my later years, unless knowing my daughter would die from a ruptured bladder before using the bean pot, whereas my sons would drink as much water as possible, just so they could.

I learned if we misbehaved, we had to listen to Lawrence Welk which also reminds me of us getting Pop his slippers; I do remember seeing him with his once a week glass of coke and Lord Calvert, shaking it in a stirring motion.

I learned to watch the weather, specifically rotating clouds. He had his Tornado Alarm and we were to head to the cellar if it went off. “You won’t have time to grab anything, just run.” After that, during stormy weather, I did my daily business in the bathroom quickly in case the alarm went off.

But take time to evaluate what all he accomplished in life. It was his first trip to Iowa that started the Iowa family reunions. There was a century old feud in the Nolte Family. Since the Noltes are bull-headed, (up North anyway) there were families that just did not interact with the others, and yet none remembered what the feud was about. It was Pop who brought them all together again.

When Pop was in his early 40’s, he decided to move the family to Nevada to start a ranch. Mom called it Happy Acres. Some say it was a mistake, none-the-less Pop pulled it off. I personally never could have done that, even with just four kids.

And you cannot forget him building a house in his 70’s.

I used his tools often and he chewed my butt out often for not putting them back. There was one-time, years later I told him, “Pop, every time I turn around, you’ve moved your tools again!” He and MotherDear both laughed.

When he was young, he built a crystal radio that has stayed within the family, and now that I am an old retired fossil, I will rewire it and get it working again.

Time passes and we continue. It is comforting to me to reminisce about our life with these two incredible people. Luckily, I remember the good times and fortunately have forgotten any hurtful times.

There is so much more to say about both of these amazing people, but I have to stop somewhere. I will do so with a joke I heard Pop tell many times.

The farmer asked the horse if it wanted more oats. The horse raised its tail up and said, “a-phew!”


We are, Who we are

… thanks to two incredible people.

I think once a year all the siblings should get together somewhere secluded and reminisce about our parents. Pick a time when the phones are turned off and wine/beer/whiskies are cracked open, with plenty of our favorite food.

And if we throw Alan into the mix, he would provide plenty of jocularity.

Often, I will sit with drink and an occasional cigar if the weather is conducive and think about Mom and Pop. I will either end up laughing (or at least smiling) or with the tears people have when they dwell on things dear to the heart.

Mom and I have talked a lot about what comes after this life, and she and I both agreed, the thing we worried most about was leaving things undone. Even in her last months, she had talked about writing another book knowing full well she would not.

I was afraid after she left this life I would forget the sound of her laugh. Not so. I sat thinking yesterday about the time I had breakfast with her and asked her what kind of jelly she wanted on her toast. She said, “Oh, whatever I have in the refrigerator, Hon.” So, I took out what she had in the refrigerator and placed it on the table in front of her.  ….  All 10 jars. I can hear her laughing as I type this. She looked at them a few minutes more, then started laughing again. This was Mom’s humor.

And I think of all her jokes I heard over and over. What made them funny was watching Mom laugh after telling them. Her joke about the three old ladies. … “I’ll be up there after I see who is at the door.”

The guy who moved to the mountain in seclusion and was invited to a party by his neighbor. … “What should I wear? It doesn’t matter, it will just be the two of us.”

And the story about Grandmother Bullard being called an Old Stinkpot by some cute little girl playing on the sidewalk.

And every time I was there, she always asked if I had seen Decoration Day with James Garner. “Yes, MotherDear. I saw it twice with you.”  *sigh*

And though I am not a lover of poetry, I always took the time to listen her recite her favorite poem about trees. Afterwards, always a satisfied look on her face.

And something that always makes me smile was her choice of wine. She always had chillable red wine in the refrigerator. Sitting with her, I would ask, “MotherDear, would you like some wine?”

And she would reply, “Yes, I think I will have some (pause) Chardonnay.” Then she would have a satisfying smile. I would get her little Brazil cup with the toucan on it and pour her red chillable and take it to her.

She and I loved the cheap little cherry pies from Walmart at 50¢ each. I always picked up a good assortment of flavors, and after splitting one with her, (with ice cream on top), we would decide we needed to split one more.

As we get well into our later years, many people start to lose their Faith. This is not unusual. Once when we sat outside, she confided to me that she was losing hers. I reminded her of the time she was riding in the car and witnessed the miracle of the Dancing Sun. Her eyes lit up and said, “I saw it three times!” And I told her it was a gift from the Holy Mother for her creating the website about Međugorje. It was what she needed to hear.

Each of us have so much more we can share, as Mom has affected each of us in different ways. But as I typed this, it was revealed to me that we put too much into having a perfect life. Mom did not have a perfect life, but what she had, she loved. And I realized that Mom had not just a life of love, but a long life of love.

Her view of life is what made her a success. Later, I will talk about Pop.