Adventure to the… Mailbox

I went to pick up the mail this morning. As I did I thought to myself, “Do you know where your mail has been?”

I mean… who has handled it. Perhaps I should ask how many people have handled it. I think it’s likely that it has been handled by twenty or thirty postal workers along the way. But… it is worse than that.

The envelopes in my mailbox have not been practicing social distancing from other envelopes. I dare say, they may have come in close contact with several thousand other envelopes. And none of them are using flap sanitizer. You know those flaps have to have been licked by… well I can’t imagine the horror of it all.

I peered down into my mailbox and saw a small mound of mail waiting for me. I started to reach in, but before I touched anything I pulled back my arm like I had discovered a rattlesnake ready to strike. I suddenly realized all of my mail has been contaminated by the dreaded Cootie Bugs.

What was I to do. I was expecting some important mail… money! (Actually a check from Carnival with my massive winnings from my last cruise… $11.73.) I wanted to get the mail out, but I also wanted to minimize my exposure to the Cootie Bugs. For a minute I contemplated all the risks. First, it was the mail itself. How would I handle it.

Then there was the mailbox. As the mail was slid into the deep, dark, cavernous recesses and corners of the mailbox, I’m sure the postal carrier (politically correct for mailman… ours is a man) must be covered in Cooties since he had been delivering thousands of Cootie covered pieces of mail. Therefore, the whole mailbox must be covered in Cooties.

After contemplating my dilemma, I realized I had just found a use for that closet full of 100,000 Walmart plastic grocery bags I had been saving. I would use those as “gloves” for my arms. I poked two holes in the bottom… one for one finger and one for my thumb. It would be no problem to decontaminate my finger and thumb… spray with anti-Cootie bug stuff and then wash my hands for three hours. So… I pulled the bag up over my left arm,  reached in, grabbed the mail, pulled it out and closed the mailbox with my right hand.

Doh… now my right hand had Cooties.

When I got back to the house, I opened the door… Doh… now the door-knob has Cooties. Once inside, I didn’t know what to do with the mail. I couldn’t put it down anywhere because I didn’t want the whole house to have Cooties. Finally I walked back into the spare bedroom and put the mail down on the nightstand. Fortunately, no one is using that bedroom.

I peeled off the Walmart bag, dipped it in a bucket of gasoline and torched it. Take that you Cootie Bugs! Then I proceeded to hose down everything I had touched with disinfectant. We hoarded 743 gallons of disinfectant when we got word the Cootie Bugs were coming. (We didn’t get to the TP till it was gone. I don’t think Walmart plastic bags will work well for that.)

Just to be sure I didn’t get any Cootie Bugs on me, I stripped off my cloths and burned them too. That was quite a show for the neighbors. Finally, I got in the shower and washed everything thoroughly. I sang “Happy Birthday” to myself four times for every part I washed… six times for a couple of parts.

Finally, it was time to plop down, turn on the TV and tune in my favorite sports show. Doh… replays of the first spring training game of 1984.

Just as I was about to doze off, there came a quick knock-knock-knock at the door. I opened the door, but there was no one there. Out of the corner my eye I saw the flash FedEx person making a mad-dash for the truck. I understood… they don’t want Cooties either.

There on the porch step was a box. I realized the box had not been practicing social distancing with other boxes. Out came the Walmart bags, and into the spare bedroom went the box. This box was covered with plastic wrap, so I put it in a separate area from the mail. I called the mail area the 24 hour area, and the plastic stuff the 72 hour area.

About that time, there was another knock at the door. It was the pizza delivery. The young girl held out the pizza with her bare hand, and held out something for me to sign with the other hand. I froze for a minute. Where could I put the pizza?… would the pizza itself be covered with Cooties? With my hand and arm still wrapped in the Walmart bag, I signed for the pizza and told her, “Enjoy the Pizza’s. It’s on me.”

I guess I just have to eat beans till tomorrow. The food pick-up I made two days ago is still in the back of the Magic Bus. That quarantine will be up in another 24 hours.

Of course this has been tongue-in-cheek… sorta. But I do want to thank all the people who are out there delivering stuff like the mail, packages, and food. You are the front-line troops in this war.

Journey to the Land of Cootie Bugs

For the past few days I’ve been hunkered-down here on Kokomo Island. I want to avoid the dreaded Cootie Bug until it’s time to fly out to the Great Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride.By hunkered-down I mean I’m hangin’ in my safe-room bunker deep below the earth. This bunker is a cross between a man-cave and the NORAD command center buried deep in the mountains of Colorado. Except NORAD has nothing on this bunker. Mine is deeper into the earth and has much better stuff.

I have big screen TVs hard wired to all the sports channels. Oops… they’re all blank now. That’s okay, I’ve also got live feeds from entertainment venues all across the country. Oops… no live entertainment. That’s okay because I’ve got a tequila pipeline all the way to Jalisco, Mexico. So it’s “party on.”

But… today I had to come out of the safe-room to take care of some stuff I couldn’t put off any more. I had to go to the bank, the post-office and the store. It wasn’t pretty.

The Magic Bus transporter to beam me off Kokomo Island.

After the magic bus transported me off of Kokomo Island, I went to the bank. As I went in, I used my hands to open the door. You know… just the usual way. But then I thought about it and I was sure Cooties must have jumped on my hands when I opened the door.

OH NOOOOOO!!! I’ve got Cooties

I was 7th in line. Everyone in the line kept their distance. They all probably opened the door with their hands so they were certain to have had the Cooties too. Not to worry. I said to myself, “The Cooties are only on your hands, so just don’t touch your face… or any other parts… and you will be ok.”

Have you ever said to yourself, “Don’t touch your face.” As soon as I thought that, my nose started to itch. And I’m sure something was crawling on my cheek. And there was no doubt in my mind that a spider was spinning a web and laying eggs in my hair. Then my ear itched and then my other cheek. Pretty soon was about to leave. I couldn’t stand it. I had to go to the Magic Bus for some anti-Cootie wipes for my hands so I could scratch.

When it itches, but you can’t scratch your face.

But just then, it was my turn at the teller. First I had to put my card in the little machine and then enter my PIN. I hesitated to enter my PIN because I thought of all the people who had been putting Cooties on the keypad. But then since I figured I already had cooties on my hands, more wouldn’t matter… as long as I didn’t touch my face.

Now my face was on fire, but I managed not to touch my face throughout the transaction. The teller had been wearing those baby blue surgical gloves as she helped each customer. So those gloves must have had Cooties too. But, she wasn’t touching her face. I was wondering if her nose itched as much as mine, but I didn’t say anything.

I was getting cash out so the teller dutifully counted the the money. I saw she had it right the first time, and I just wanted to get out of there to wash my hands and scratch my nose. But noooooo.. she proceeded to count it again and again… 3,793 times to be sure the amount was correct. I should have asked her if her nose was starting to itch just for revenge.

Finally she was done. You guessed it… after all that handling, the money was surely covered in Cooties. So I asked the teller to put the bills in an envelope. She did and handed me the Cootie covered envelope with the Cootie covered bills inside. What could I do? I took the envelope.

Now my whole face itched. I ran back to the magic Bus as fast as I could. I used my clicker to unlock the doors. I had Cootie Killer wipes in the car so I ripped one open and cleaned my hands. After I cleaned my hands twice, I wiped down the door handle and the clicker. I put the Cootie infested envelope and money in the glove box. I then cleaned my hands again as well as the whole surface of the Magic Bus. Now I can’t use any of that money until all the Cooties die off… about 17 years from now.

By the time I was done with all that… my nose didn’t itch anymore.

When I got to the Post Office, there was a door and a line there. And the tellers were doing much the same as the one at the bank… handling everyone’s Cootie covered stuff.

I really didn’t need those stamps after all.

But I couldn’t avoid going to the store… I was low on toilet paper. Yep… you guessed it… no TP in the entire Northernmost Caribbean.  So I’ve implemented rationing.

This should hold me for about 73 days

And if that runs out… It’s a good thing I saved all those catalogs from Victoria’s Secret. Don’t scoff at me… I was saving them for an emergency. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now I’m back in my man-cave – Cootie bug bunker. I flipped on ESPN… no good. I went to FOX Sports… nope. So I went to the emergency recorded material to find tonight’s entertainment.  I made myself a frozen concoction to help me hang on… and a shot of tequila… plopped down in the recliner and began to binge watch seventeen seasons of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Hey… I’m just a guy.

Cootie Bug Update

So far, the Cootie bug hasn’t caused me to change anything for the Great Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride.

You remember the Cooties don’t you. For those too young, tween-age boys and girls would say to each other, “Ewwwwww… you’ve got Cooties.” Of course they were really just flirting with each other, but hadn’t figured out how to do that yet. Sometimes it would be mean, but it was mostly a way of getting attention and saying, “I’m really interested in you, but I don’t know how to show it.”

So, even if you don’t remember cooties, if you are over 14 you know what I mean.

The dreaded Cootie Bug. It was first discovered in the 1940s and plagued tweenaged boys and girls through the years.

This time the Cooties are disrupting travel. As I write this, there have been about 3,200 cases of the Cooties in the United States. Many of those have recovered. So, leadership in various places are shutting down everything… sporting events, large gathering and some travel. That said, I’m pretty sure I haven’t come in contact with those 3,200 people and maybe another 6,000 they were in contact with.

So… I don’t have Cooties. Yes… I’m sure I had them when I was 13, but they were gone by the time I was 16. I am going to hunker down for the next 9 days so I’m sure I don’t have Cooties when I get on the airplane. I’m wearing a hazmat suit on the airplanes.

I should mention that as of today (March 15) the place I’m going, Laos and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, has no reported cases of Cooties. So indeed… if you don’t want to get Cooties, then Laos is the place to be.

All that could change if some government or airline forces me not to go, but until then, I’m still going on the Great Ho CHi Minh Trail Ride in 9 days.

The Great Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride – Gettin’ Ready

A few weeks ago, I mentioned I was going on another great adventure; the Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride. Now it’s getting “real,” and I’ve got to get ready. I leave for a few weeks on a dirt-bike through the jungles of Laos in just over a month.

Five years ago when I prepared for this trip, I took everything I could possibly need… tools, spare tire-tubes, and stuff like that. I even took a hammock with mosquito net, water purification stuff, and MREs. I prepared to walk out of the jungle if I had to. You see, I was going by myself and tried to cover every contingency.

The stuff I took in 2014. As you can see… I had everything and a partrige in a pear tree.

Looking back, I was nuts to plan on going by myself. As it turned out, I only made the Thailand part of the trip. I lost my wallet three weeks in and cut off the 3 weeks planned for Laos. With no money(cash), plastic lost (and canceled), and already a case of “Monkey Butt” from the three weeks on a Honda CRF250L. I decided the wise thing to do was cut the trip short.

I was glad I made that decision. At the same time, I was sad. I thought I would never see Laos beyond the glimpse I had from the Nakhom Phanom (NKP) side of the Mekong river. Now it’s five years later. Actually… it didn’t take long for the dreamin’-n-schemin’ about this trip to start. But there was a new woman in my life… who I married… and we had other places to go. So… I put aside any real plans.

A view of Laos accross the Mekong River from Nakhon Phanom

Still, a little voice in the back of my head kept talking to me. Finally, a few months ago, I started dreamin’-n-schemin’ again in “earnest.” It was time to put together a plan. It took a while, but that plan was finally done a few days ago… at least the “big” plan.

Now it’s time to get ready to go. I have to decide what to take and what to leave behind. This time I’m not going alone, so I don’t have to pack everything and a partridge in a pear tree. I want to travel as light as I can.

OK… anyone that knows me is now rolling on the floor laughing at my definition of “traveling light.”

Ordinarily, I have to take every kind of camera known to mankind; A Canon digital SLR with three lenses; a Video Camera, A GoPro with underwater housing, a pocket-sized digital camera, and my cell phone. Then there’s a pile of accessories and chargers for all this stuff. It all fits into a bag about the size of a small steamer trunk.

Next, I have to have all my computer stuff. I always take two laptops… one as a back-up. Along with that are spare batteries and all their charging “bricks.” I also add a tablet to the computer bag. I take the tablet so I can throw it in my backpack when I go exploring. Of course, I have a laptop in the backpack too. The tablet is a back-up. All the computer stuff fits in a roller-bag that just makes it as an airline carry-on. I would never check this since I don’t know how I would survive without all my computer stuff if an airline lost it.

Now, there’s my newest “must” take device… a Mavic Pro drone. This is actually one of the high-end, but small ones. (My wife is smart enough not to ask how much it cost.) There are also spare batteries, and charging stuff that must go with it. It all fits in a bag about the size of a loaf of bread… a 10-pound loaf of bread.

The last thing I take is the backpack itself. Everything I must-have goes into that. It’s a big backpack, but suitable as a carry-on. Into the bottom of it goes the drone. Then I put in two pairs of undies. I can live without a lot of stuff, but not without clean undies. Next comes three or four t-shirts, a pair of pants, lastly a toiletry bag full of everything I might need, and a partridge in a pear tree.

You get the idea. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what goes into my suitcase(s)

For this trip… the Great Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride… I really do have to pack light. I mean, really light. Anything I take has to go with me as I ride a Honda CRF250L through the jungles of Laos. It has to be on my back or on the bike. And with a CRF250L, there can’t be too much of either.

Honda CRF250L

So… for the last few days, I’ve been considering what to take. Obviously, all my riding gear is a must. Except… I can’t take the gear I’ve been using for the last few years. You see, from helmet to boots, everything is “Red, White, and Blue.” Even though it’s not an American flag, the color scheme is obvious. I think that could cause problems in some. After all, we (the USA) dropped bombs on Laos for ten years.

So… that means I had to get all new outer gear… helmet, jersey, and pants. It is all much more subdued. I also bought the most lightweight stuff I could find. Not only does it weigh less, it will be cooler. I’m not telling my wife how much I spent on the new gear on Amazon.

I spent way toooooo much time searching for all the right stuff to take on this adventure. I wanted to evaluate everything very carefully before plunking down my hard-earned money. I also wanted to be sure I could use this stuff on adventures for years to come… not just the Great Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride. If you’re interested in any of this, I’m putting links to everything I’ve bought so far. But… I want to warn you, shopping for fun stuff on Amazon is addictive.

All the riding gear I bought was “last year’s” stuff. I sure am glad young kids have to have the latest, greatest stuff for 2020. Heaven forbid they have to wear that “old” 2019 stuff. All the gear is first-class stuff but at closeout prices. Here are the links:

I put all this new stuff to the test… and I do mean test. Here’s the link to the full video: https://youtu.be/QvOhRpUXvpM

Next, I’m only taking my tiny camera stuff and no computers. But since I can’t download my pics and videos to my laptop or to the “Cloud,” that means I need more memory cards. So it was off to Amazon to order a bunch of SD cards.  They’re tiny, right?

32 GByte SD Cards: https://amzn.to/37wmsaI

Then I started thinking about mundane things. I mean… what if I’m out in the boonies and get a boo-boo? I’m not sure where I’ll be able to get Band-Aids, so that’s something I need to pack. And then what about stuff like aspirin? So how much of that stuff should I take?

I’ll also need to charge all the stuff I’m taking. But, how will I plug it in? In the big towns, that will be no problem. I ordered up one of those magic plugs that plug into everything and everything plugs into it… and, of course, a magic “any voltage” charger. This will be great in any adventure since it looks as if it will plug in anywhere in the world. Yeah… got it from Amazon.

By the way, in case you are wondering, I bought everything with my own money. That way I’m not obligated to say wonderful things about the stuff. I promise I will give you a full review telling the good, the bad, and the ugly for everything I’m telling about.

Damn! My backpack is getting full. I have a waist-pack. I guess I’ll take that too. Then I had to make another trip to Amazon. I decided I needed one of those “chest harness” thingies for my GoPro. That will be neat for videos when riding.

Let’s see… what else? Hummmm… while out on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I don’t think I’ll be able to wash & dry clothes. And, since we’re sure to do some water crossings… there’s nothing worse than putting on wet, thick socks the next day. So I ordered up a couple pairs of riding socks. These are extra thick socks I wear for the motocross boots.

Amazingly enough, Amazon didn’t have exactly what I wanted. The ones I wear are from RockyMountain ATV/MC. These are full lenght “stockings” that come up high on my thigh. I wear this kind because on the knee braces I wear and they gover these “socks”. Click here to see what I’m talking about.

There are certain pieces of riding gear I simply won’t ride without: helmet, boots, and two knee braces. Not only are those expensive, if they get lost, then I won’t ride. As long as I get to Laos with those and the stuff in my new backpack (Amazon), I can ride. If I have to, I’ll jump into a river to wash everything else.

To be sure I have boots, I’m going to wear a pair of “Tactical Boots” I bought a while back. They are lightweight and comfortable enough to wear all the time. Everything else can fit in a carry-on size bag if it is just the right size. So, it was back to Amazon. There’s a bag that is precisely the right size for international carry-on: 22” x 9” x 14”.

While I was looking for the carry-on-bag, I got curious about the latest GoPros. My old “Hero 2” has served me well, but the new stuff has a lot more magic. Yeah… you guessed it…I had to order it.Shhhhh!!! Don’t tell my wife.

(If you watched the videos above, they were made with a combination of my Hero 2 and my new Hero 7 Black.)

GoPro https://amzn.to/2UZL0Gp

And… I decided I needed more memory for the GoPro. You saw that one coming, huh? Then there are other little things…I don’t want to forget those antiseptic wipes and anti-germ sprays. To keep from being eaten alive by mosquitoes and other tiny “creepy-crawlies,” I’ve got to take the all-important anti-bug spray.

And I also need one of those magic charging battery packs about the size of a cell phone. And… Well, you get the idea. It’s a good thing I have Amazon prime.

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, click the link below to get 30 days free.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

I’ve got a bit over a month before I leave. Every day I think of new stuff I’ve just “got to have.” I’m applying for a second mortgage on the house.

If you are still interested in going, you can still get in on the adventure of a lifetime. The round-trip cost of airline ticket prices to Southeast Asia is way down… as little as about $650 Los Angeles-Bangkok. Most major airports throughout the US are the same (JFK, O’Hare, etc.). But you need to be quick if you are going to go. Contact me right away. You can also get more information and details of the trip at:

Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride

A Tradition of Stealin’

If you’ve known me for more than a day, you know Baseball is in my blood. In case you don’t know if I get a boo-boo, I bleed Dodger Blue

A few days ago, there was a bunch of hoopla about the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox stealing signs. I say to you, that’s just part of Baseball. Stay with me a few minutes here, and I’ll explain.

Stealin’ signs is part of the cat-n-mouse of Baseball. Teams and players have been doing it since day one. Abner Doubleday probably figured it would be there when he invented the game.

STOP THE PRESSES… STOP THE PRESSES!!!

Just as I was about to publish this op-ed, the news came out that the Houston Astros have been fined $5,000,000 by Major League Baseball… manager and general manager fired. Baseball will never be the same. News at 11… maybe

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Ole Abner knew that when the catcher wagged his a sign out to the pitcher, the runner(s) on base would try to figure out what that sign was. The runner wanted to signal back to their teammate what kind of pitch was about to be thrown… a fastball, curveball, screwball… or even a bean-ball.

I mean… this is as much a part of baseball as stealing bases and throwing spit-balls. It’s all part of the charm and tradition of the game.

Let’s take a step back from stealin’ pitch signs and look at all the other signs you see in a game. Sittin’ in the dugout, the manager performs all those quirky maneuvers to tell the third base coach what he wants the batter or runner to do… or not do.

For example, the manager touches his nose, then his chin, followed by his ear, and then grabs his crotch three times. That means nothing… it’s just a decoy… or maybe he just had an itch. But, if in full view of the television cameras, he does all those maneuvers and then scratches his butt twice, that means the batter is supposed to bunt.

Very funny bit… Sending signs… from A League of Their Own.

Following that, the third base coach has a whole different set of signs he sends to the batter… he adjusts his belt, sticks his finger in his ear, takes off his hat and rubs his head, and finally swats at a nonexistent bug flying around his head.

Then the batter steps up to the plate… but when the pitcher throws the ball, it’s nowhere near the plate, so the batter does nothing. And the whole thing starts again. You should see the gyrations managers, and base coaches go through for a hit-and-run play.

Of course, all this wagging, touching, scratching, and rubbing are in full view of the world… including the opposing team. And you can count on it… the opposing team is trying to figure out what all those signs mean too. You don’t hear anyone saying “ain’t it awful” to this stuff.

So, let’s get back to the catcher and pitcher. At the first-ever baseball game, when the catcher held up his arm waving, over his head that he wanted a curveball, ole Abner Doubleday was on second base. When Abner saw the signals, he hollered back to the batter, “He’s going to throw a curveball!” The batter hit a home-run.

After that, the catcher walked out to the pitcher and told him, “I’m going to show you 1 finger out in front of my crotch for a fastball, and two fingers for a curveball… got it?” Of course, Abner figured that out and started signaling back to the batter. And so it has gone for 181 years.

Now catchers have an elaborate set of signs intended to throw off the opposition. Catchers do more rubbin’, scratchin’, tappin’, and finger-wagging than the manager in the dugout and the third base coach combined.

Both sides know what’s going on. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. These days, catchers try to combat sign stealing by changing their sign patterns between innings. Sometimes in the middle of the inning, the catcher will run out to the pitcher to change the sign pattern.

And I think I’m probably right when I say, catchers have decoy signs. Just when they think the opposing team has stolen the signs, they change them to mean the opposite thing. A team steals what they think is going to be a curveball, and they get a fastball.

One more thing… the news media has said there’s so much at stake today, and technology makes it different. I submit it doesn’t make it different. Do you think the 1988 Dodgers thought there was any less at stake during the World Series? I don’t think so. Yeah, the dollar value has changed, but so has the price of a loaf of bread. Stakes now are the same as it was back in Abner’s day when they first hollered, “Play Ball.”

Some of you may think, “Ain’t it awful,’ but consider this. If baseball wanted to keep managers, coaches, or catchers from getting their signs stolen, they would just put a buzzer in the pitcher’s ear. Managers and coaches would use radios to the batters. The catcher would have a button under his big toe to press… once for a fastball, and twice for a curveball. No one could see anything. Of course, they would probably use a scanner to pick up the signals out to the pitcher.

And about that technology thing… first, it was just eyeballs… then it was a spyglass, then it was binoculars, then it was a camera on top of the stadium in centerfield. One day I’m sure they will have satellites looking down at the catcher’s crotch. Yep… stealing signs will still be going on then too.

So get over it. It’s part of baseball. It always has been and always will be.

By the way… “There’s no cryin’ in baseball.”

As for me, I can’t wait till February 21 when the umpire hollars out…

PLAY BALL!

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