Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy...

Does anybody know a word 
That sort of rhymes with "quint?"
In English, is there such a word?
If so, please give a hint.

'Cause we all want to celebrate
The birthday of the Five;
So rhyming "quint" is needed
And a goal for which to strive.

If such a rhyme is possible,
Perhaps we'll have to squint,
And search through scads of volumes
For a word that sounds like "quint."

Or have a steel trap-like mind
Or knowledge sharp as flint;
Else wise it is impossible 
To rhyme a word with "quint."

So happy birthday, ALL of you,
Each one of you a "quint."
We hope you get a bunch of gifts
And loot that fills the Mint!

Your Faithful Super Hero,

Kernal "Batman" Ken

Friday, July 25, 2008

Verizon on the Horizon

Well, today is my day to "out" Verizon.  This will be progress for me.

You see, here in beautiful downtown Brambleton, we are an "all Verizon Community."  All of our phone service, TV and computer hookups come through Verizon FIOS, their fiber-optic network that comes to each house, and here in Brambleton, to each room of the house. We have been called "the most wired community in America." It's lightning fast and usually very reliable... But not this week.

On Wednesday, I called our "special Verizon Reps here in Brambleton," the ones who are to provide us with "concierge service" since the whole community has opted for Verizon FIOS.  I wanted to upgrade my cable box to HD so that I could see every bead of sweat at the Olympics coming up.

"No problem, Mr. Carlson.  We'll have someone out tomorrow between 1 and 5 to exchange boxes and set up your new high definition service."  Great.

Come 6PM yesterday, no cable guy from Verizon.  One ringy dingy... "Oh, thank you for your call. Just a moment while I check on that work order number."  10 minutes pass.  

"I've found the problem, Mr. Carlson.  Let me connect you with a dispatcher who will verify a time tomorrow morning to have a tech visit your house."  5 minutes pass.  "Hello, this is Bonnie with Verizon.  How may I help you?"

Well, Bonnie, what time tomorrow will I receive my new box?  "Mr. Carlson, I have no idea what you're talking about.  May I have you phone number and the amount of your last bill?"  Bonnie was apparently the default pickup when I was otherwise cut off.  Start back at square one with Bonnie and, no, I don't recall the amount of my last bill.

"No problem, Mr. Carlson, I'll have a dispatcher call you in the morning with your appointment time."

One PM today.  One ringy dingy.  Hey, Verizon, no one has called as promised on this work order number.  "Let me check on that, Mr. Carlson, and thank you for copying down that number - it will make this go much faster." 

 15 minutes pass.

"Are you still there, Mr. Carlson?"  Yep, but I wouldn't be if it weren't for speakerphones.  "We'll have this done in just a moment.  Thank you for your patience."

Five minutes pass.  "Hello, this is Bonnie with Verizon.  How may I help you?"  Bonnie, this is Mr. Carlson, amazingly the same guy you promised last night that I would get a call this morning.  Remember?  "I'm sorry , sir, I wasn't here last night.  You must have gotten another Bonnie."  Start back at Square One with Bonnie #2.

"Mr. Carlson, we are tracking that order # that you gave.  But let me give you a special number to call for our valued customers in Brambleton."  I think I've already done that, Bonnie #2, but go ahead.  And I get a new number, not the one Verizon had provided before for our Brambleton "concierge service."

One ringy dingy.  " Mr. Carlson, we've checked your work order number but it is not in the system."  Why not, I asked, since for the last two days everyone has been referring to the same number?

"Well, it appears that our system for new orders and order upgrades is down."  And how long has that been the case?  "Sir, it's been down for over a week, but we're working overtime to fix it."  

So, all these people at Verizon who have been promising me that I would shortly receive a call as to the appointment time??? "Sir, I don't know how that could happen, since we haven't been able to process orders for the last eight days.  Just a moment, let me check one thing..."

Five minutes pass. "Hello, this is Bonnie with Verizon.  How may I help you..."  Agggggggh!

I need some high ground to send smoke signals to Verizon.  The stuff burning is my hair...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kirtland, K&V and Kooks

Thanks for giving me a week off from blogging duties.  Last weekend allowed me to escape the area for the first time since last November.  Getting away with the Queen was good for both of us, and I certainly felt more like a person than a patient, which, as Martha would say, is a good thing.

We drove West at a leisurely pace to Kirtland, Ohio, near Cleveland on Lake Erie.  It is a place that the Queen has long wanted to visit, since a significant chunk of history from her faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, occurred there.  The Mormons left Palmyra , New York in the early 1830's and were directed to Ohio by divine inspiration.  In Kirtland they built a thriving community and their first temple, which was dedicated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1836.

Smith had no engineering training yet produced plans and blueprints for the temple which was built of wood, stones and stucco, yet stands today.  As an engineer, I found it to be a pretty remarkable piece of work.

At the temple dedication, many witnesses saw the appearance of heavenly personages and felt their temple had been approved by God.

And, as many of you can probably tell, I'm way over my head in Mormon theology, so I'll just continue with the history.  By 1838, over 2000 Church members called Kirtland home, but lawsuits and the failure of the Kirtland Bank caused serious community discord and the Mormons were threatened until they agreed to leave.

Within a year, only 100 remained.

The rest of the LDS community began their movement westward, first to Northern Missouri, a state where the governor declared it legal to kill them on sight, and then to Nauvoo, Illinois where they established a city larger than Chicago.  Eventually, Joseph Smith and his brother were assassinated in the Carthage, Illinois jail and the Mormons were again driven out, this time led by Brigham Young.  After much hardship, they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, where they made the desert bloom like a rose and the Olympics succeed in 2002.

So, after taking care of me for seven months, the Queen deserved a chance to see some of her heritage and I enjoyed it as well.  We even met some LDS missionaries who are from the same congregation in Saint George, Utah as the Queen's brother and sister-in-law.

And, we got the chance to see other neat stuff in northern Ohio, including flea markets and the really quaint town of Gambier which is home to Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school whose campus looks like a movie set from the 1930's.  Great fun!

On a lighter note, on the way back to D.C. I was very concerned as we saw our first set of large scale wind turbines.  In one case, there were eight of them on Pennsylvania hilltops, in another set there were 13.  So why the concern?

Wake up, folks!  The earth turns clockwise, right?  That's why the sun comes up in the East and the weather patterns generally come from the West.  So, if all these new giant wind turbines are facing West (and they are), the turbine blades must be doing more than just spinning electricity - they must also be producing a propeller-like force which is, depending on how the blades are configured, either pushing the Earth to turn faster in a clockwise direction or, alternatively, causing the earth's rotation to slow.

With enough wind turbines facing West, will will eventually spin the globe so fast that days and nights will be only a few hours long OR we will bring the globe to a halt.  In the latter case, you don't want to be either on the dark or the light side, one of which will freeze and the other turn to desert.

Another example of the Law of Unanticipated Consequences!  And, the turbines will eventually take up all the high ground,meaning there's no where for us to go while trying to escape the polar bears!

Get to the high ground quickly, before it is all filled with wind turbines.  I'll see you there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 3d

I swear I must be the only blogger on the planet who gets harassed by his readers if not exactly on schedule each week.  Some folks must set their sun dials by me, it seems.

Well, I was busy on Friday - remember it was Independence Day. We had a Chris Lee All Star baseball game and dinner at Spy Mommy's, followed by Leesburg fireworks which were great.  And Saturday, I got roped into doing the VA side of the Carlson War Memorials Tour, so I was pretty whipped when I got home.
So, today I am going to rewind the clock and talk about the
 3rd of July, another day we Carlsons celebrate.

On 3 July 1967, Miss Victoria Nelson agreed to go on a date with me for the first time.
She and her boyfriend had recently broken off and my girlfriend had gone home with her parents, so both of us were unattached in Berlin, at the height of the Cold War.
I asked if she would like to join me for dinner at the French Officer's Club, where I would demonstrate my French language proficiency and my general savoir faire.
She accepted.

Unfortunately, I had failed to check with the French to see if their club was open that evening, which it was not.  So much for savoir faire...
Well, we were stuck in the French Sector of Berlin,so we went
to the French Volksfest, a bit overdressed, 
but what the heck.  We had a great time, and I even spoke a little French.  And that was 41 years ago, last Thursday.

We got engaged in Hawaii in 1969, while I was on R&R from Vietnam and were married in December of that year at Fort Douglas, Utah.

And it's been a wild ride ever since.

Special prayers this week for my dear
friend, LadyJosh, who has contracted breast cancer after successfully having fought renal cancer several years ago.  You can follow her story at  She is a nurse and former police detective, so be prepared for the truth about cancer, not the pablum I have fed you as I have become a Leatherneck.

Next week, the Queen and I are taking a weekend trip to Kirtland, Ohio to check out some Mormon historical sites.   So, no blog from me this Friday.

Jean and friends, I'll see you on the high ground!