Category Archives: Veterans

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

These are photos posted after the first time I ever saw this place back in early 2014. Jeanne took most of the pictures and I just walked around amazed at the place. But back then I was still in the process of dying on her couch and didn’t have a lot of energy.

All in all it hasn’t changed much.    Just a bit more run down and crumbling.

Anyway, I sure as heck never dreamed a few years later I’d be living here. Old Jules

So Far From Heaven

IMG_2234 Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

IMG_2237 !895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

IMG_2245 Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

IMG_2238 Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

IMG_2239 The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

IMG_2240 The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

IMG_2243 This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

IMG_2249 Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s…

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How’s that empire thing working?

Maybe most of us don’t care for the idea of empires because we think of them as being something other countries have, but we don’t.    Despite what’s before our eyes ever time we look at a map or watch a news program.  And of course, empires haven’t been faring too well lately.

US expansion 1867 1914

Heck, the British Empire folded up more-or-less spontaneously during the decades after WWII.    Around the same time as the French were getting their deserving asses kicked out of Indo-China to them, Vietnam to us.   Indo-China, Algeria, and pretty much everything else they called their empire.

colonial empires 1910

But around a century ago everyone was still doing it.   Grabbing real estate outside their boundaries and making a fight to keep it.

Here’s a short video demonstrating how empires worked worldwide until around 1945:

https://youtu.be/1csr0dxalpI

That’s how it was done mostly, except when the imperial powers fought one another.   Which wasn’t something anyone liked to do if they could help it because it tended to get a lot of white people killed.

But I’ve digressed.   What I intended to talk about was a remark I made this morning during coffee with Johnny, across the hall.   In some context or other involving the government shut-down and Puerto Rico, I casually mentioned the American empire.

“American empire?   Haw haw haw!   What the hell are you talking about?”

“Heck Johnny, do you think we aren’t an empire.”

“Haw haw haw!   Where do you come up with this stuff?”

I tried a while longer, but the discussion just couldn’t move forward on that tack.   Johnny doesn’t believe the US is an empire and the concept is so foreign to him he refuses even to think about it.

I’m a bit awed by this entire concept.    Are there really people in the world who don’t think the US is an empire?  Well, yes, there are.

Same as there are people who think the moon landings were faked by NASA and that the world is flat.

People believe all sorts of things.

I wonder if there used to be people who didn’t think the British, the French, even the Romans weren’t an empire.

Damn I love this life for the surprises.   The constant surprises.

Old Jules

Does the United States still exist when the government shuts down?

communication

What is the United States, anyway?  It’s a government that exists by virtue of an agreement between the various ‘states’.    It’s the only thing keeping Hawaii, Guam and Samoa from going off on their own and bombing the bejesus out of Japan.

The US Government is the only thing keeping Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands from attacking Spain and taking away all its possessions.

And the US Government is the only thing keeping the secular state of Israel afloat year after year with its foreign aid.

I’m only pointing this out so you understand the gravity of the situation.   When the US Government shuts down people all over the world will have to tend their own affairs, learn to get along with their neighbors or end up in endless wars the US isn’t even involved in.

So why, exactly, did the government shut down?   We have to ask ourselves this.    And the answer is obvious.    The government shut down because not everyone was standing up for the National Anthem.    Not everyone put their hands over their hearts to say the Pledge of Allegiance.    And not everyone gazed at the US flag and gulped in veneration and awe.

So here we are living in the geography once occupied by the United States.   What the hell should we do next?

I’m thinking if we’re going to start it all again, we need to begin with a new flag:

jolly roger

And a new National Anthem:

Never mind the Pledge of Allegiance.   If you’ve got the money you can buy loyalty, votes, and every elected official.

Old Jules

Statue of Liberty replica from a water tower

A lot of people these days worry about whether other people are going to bring about the collapse of civilization and the end of life as we know it if they don’t perform the proper ritual when various patriotic icons are displayed.    But the VA in Leavenworth is going the extra mile to recreate a national icon that will take the breath away from the most casual observer.

water tower 1

See those wossname, things, sticking out at the top of that water tower?

water tower 2

Yeah, those.    And here is what is happening:

water tower 3

That’s right!  Can you believe that?   The VA is creating a replica of the Statue of Liberty out of that water tower!

water tower 8

Is this a great country, or what?

Old Jules

Beat me daddy eight to the bar

I don’t know what to think.    Rebecka’s back.

[ If you don’t know what this entry is about see:  A little excitement here, Posted on January 17, 2018 by Old Jules]

This morning the maintenance man came to work on my central heat.    He knows everything that goes on around here, so I followed him to the basement to kibitz and find out the latest dirt for Eisenhower Ridge apartments.

Thought I’d prime the pump by  telling him about the deputies picking up Rebecka.   He didn’t let me finish.    “She’s back!”

I thought he meant from some earlier beating, so I told him about the deputies.   “Yeah, I know, but she’s back.”   He rolled his eyes.   “I just saw her over there before I came to your place.   My daughter was going to do something over there but when I saw Rebecka I sent her home.”   [Donny has a college age daughter who helps him on some of the maintenance jobs when she can].

Soooooo.    That’s what I get for expecting things of people.

 

What can I say?     I’ve got to quit having expectations.

Rebecka is back.

Old Jules

Heigh-ho the holly, this life is most jolly!

Lee, one of the lesser lost souls who lives in the house next door to this one, brought to mind a little Shakespeare I was surprised I could still quote to myself the other day.

Lee is a closet alcoholic, a heroin addict, as heavy a smoker as he can beg, or afford after he’s taken care of his other addictions, and not a bad guy if you can put up with him.    He’ll try not to steal from you if he can help it, manipulate you and play on your sympathy to trick you into giving him rides to feed the drug, booze or cigarette hungers, and ignore you, or scowl at you when he doesn’t need anything.

Because deep down, Lee is a white hater.    If there were black robes and hoods and a black KKK he’d be out burning crosses in the front lawns where white folks live.   But he can be fairly personable most of the time if he’s thinking he might cadge a ‘loan’ or a ride somewhere.

Anyway, the first few months I moved here, being one of the lucky few who own cars, I hauled Lee to the food pantries a few times, let him con me into taking him down to KC because ‘there was a guy down there who was going to pay him some money owed him’.   And one day I was dropping some of my better history library off in grocery bags on the porch of James, [another history buff the next house down] when he braced me.

“What you leaving groceries on James’s porch for?    I need groceries!”

Well, I wasn’t about to loan nor give any money to Lee, but I went to the grocery store and picked up $20 worth of food for him I knew he couldn’t resell.   Basics.

But I digressed.

The other day I was playing chess with a couple of buddies in a waiting room up at the hospital.    We meet over there because they’re smokers and they can’t smoke in that waiting room.

Coming down after a few games I ran into Lee in the hallway.    We gossiped about how cold it was and I thought he was coming to my car with me for a ride home.   But his other lost-soul-mate was parked next to my car.    So he got in a moment, then came back out and leaned over conspiratorial and cagy.

“Hey man!    Do you have a few bucks you can give me?”

“No.”

“Well,” he muttered.  “Next time you need someone to run around with you, find someone else.”

I was dumbfounded.  The only time Lee and I have ever done anything together we were taking him somewhere.     Between times he barely speaks to me unless he’s begging money and I’m refusing.

Which somehow brought to mind who?    William Shakespeare.    Who else?

 

Heigh Ho, The Holly

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly;
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember’d not.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly:
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

William Shakespeare

Sounds as though old Lee’s not going to give me the benefit of his company as a consequence of me not giving him some money.  If you want good friends it’s going to cost you.

Best offer I’ve had all year.

Old Jules

Heater doesn’t work? Prove it!

If you’re a company contracted to manage a bunch of old houses such as these you’re obviously going to want to squeeze every dollar you can out of it.   After all, you’re dealing with a bunch of old drunks, addicts, derelicts and other fallout from the mainstream human experience.    So one of the things you’ll do from the start is pretend all those complaints of failings in the buildings you contracted to maintain get ignored as long as possible.

During this cold spell I’m told there have been a rash of complaints of old sissie veterans who thought their central heating units ought to be working better.   Mostly they’re lying.    Just want something to complain about.  I know because last year when my heater didn’t heat the place the manager explained it to me.

So I went out and bought a radiator heater and a bottle-top propane heater and barely even attempt to use the central heat.     I try to keep the thermostat at 61 degrees.

thermostat jan 18 2018

radiator jan 18 2018

propane jan 18 2018

Sorry but the radiator just can’t keep up with Zero degrees F outdoors.    But anticipating the response to my maintenance request I applied the use of a tool I picked up on sale a while back.    It’s magic!   Somehow this little pistolie can read the surface temperature of all manner of objects from a distance, along with the ambient temperature.

In other words you can point it into your heat outlet vents and find out the temperature of the air coming out of there as it emerges!

thermo gun jan 18 2018

thermo gun 2 jan 18 2018

No room for arguments, evasions or excuses.

I’ve loaned this to the other guys in the building and they’ve all become believers.   And my own maintenance request is getting some respect in the proper quarters.

Heck, I’d loan it to some of the folks in the other buildings, too, but someone would trade it for a bottle of whiskey or some skag.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

A little excitement here

It being colder than a well-diggers brass bra the past several days, we’re forced to entertain ourselves by watching carefully out the windows, reading [I’ll talk some about that], and watching movies.     The other tenants read somewhat less and watch tv, I reckons.     So when we meet down in the little ‘lobby’ that used to be a sort of lobby mornings we’re all full of news.

Such as, yesterday the deputies came past on the way to the corner house apartments, pulled in and stayed a while.    I donned my arctic gear and went out onto the porch to see who was getting busted.

Turned out they were moving out the girl-friend of a guy we call Bird Whistle.   I don’t know his real name.    He’s a scowling crackhead, old vet white hater who works over in the main hospital pushing patients around sometimes.    Beats hell out of this woman enough to have the cops out there frequently.      I’ve never seen her when her face wasn’t so full of bruises a person can’t tell how she might have looked once.

Anyway, she was a prostitute in town when she came across Bird Whistle and he brought her down here to live with him.    A few months ago she totaled his car, so they’ve been begging rides for smokes and whiskey, making nuisances of themselves.  I’d never talked to her until the day she flagged me down and offered me a BJ if I’d take her to the liquor store.    [I refused—grapevine has it she gives them for five bucks to anyone in the market.     Not worth it.].

We’d all puzzled over how he stayed out of jail, beating her up that way, and held his job at the hospital only showing up half the time and taking off anytime he could get some crack..

But I’ve digressed.

Those deputies went inside a while, and came back out with Rebecka [the name she goes by is Rebecka], all of them toting bags and pillowcases stuffed with what was probably her belongings.    The deputies got back in the car, but she ran back in and returned in a few minutes with more loot from the apartment.    And the lot of them, her and deputies drove away.

Well, they were no sooner gone than the other residents down there scurried out like a bunch of cockroaches and hurried away in all directions, afoot, or in whatever vehicles they had that would start.

Johnny and I hashed this out this morning.    We figure Bird Whistle beat hell out of her one too many times, and as soon as he was gone, she called the cops asking to be taken to a family violence shelter.    And she must have remarked while she was waiting for the deputies that she was going to spill the beans about all the other crap going on down there.

So everyone must have thought it was a good time to take a powder for a while.   No cars and no lights down there last night.     So maybe Rebecka had a nice night somewhere without any crack and not getting billy-hell beaten out of her.

We’re all thinking Bird might be in jail, but that might be too much to hope for around here.    We’ve had bets going for a long time whether someone would get killed before anyone did anything to stop all that crap.

So now the only woman likely to get beaten up by her man is Sandy, the next building over.    An old Army nurse who has a boyfriend named Daniel Northern who knocks her around enough to bring the cops and get restraining orders for a while.   But somehow love always wins out and before you know it he’s back.

Love conquers all.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

The Bivouac of the Dead – [Thank you for your service wasn’t enough]

 

cemetery poem sign 6

cemetery poem sign 3

cemetery poem sign 1

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve visited a lot of National Cemeteries over the years, along with a lot of private and State cemeteries where the remains of military personnel and veterans who served over the past centuries are planted.   I used to attend Memorial and sometimes Veterans Day ceremonies at the National Cemetery at Santa Fe when I lived in New Mexico.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about National Cemeteries, even Arlington, was the tasteful, somewhat understated and even egalitarian approach by the caretakers to those burial sites.

But that was before the presidential wars of the 21st Century and the need to glorify the whole idea of those who served in the military.   Suddenly, post-9-11 a surprisingly large piece of the population was singing the song of the spanking new fad, “Thank you for your service!”    Pretending all those who served were heroes, had dodged bullets of some enemy who wished only to rob us of our freedoms.   We veterans ‘fought’ for the freedoms, rights, something else ambiguous, courageous, praiseworthy.   Although it’s between wars and the fad is declining somewhat, it’s still out there to a limited degree, waiting for the need that will come from the next presidential war to spark public outrage against some group politicians declare are enemies and need killing.

But I’ve digressed.    What I was going to write about are the signs that have appeared during the past couple of decades in the National Cemeteries.    It wasn’t enough to have the public beating the drums and parroting thankyouverymuch to veterans.   Some bright light in the National Cemetery management system decided to make us all Chargers of the Light Brigade by hindsight.

Evidently they couldn’t find any 20th Century poets who expressed mawkish enough sentiments to satisfy their needs.    So they rode their lofty mounts back to the times between the Mexican War and the Civil War to Theodore O’Hara and his poem, The Bivouac of the Dead.    And they sure as hell found a level of absurdity and theater there to bring the 90% of the dead vets who never saw a day of combat right up there with fixed bayonets and bloody comrades.

So, even though VA hospitals across the country appear to have a lot of difficulty providing services to veterans legally eligible to receive health care services and the historical buildings are falling apart, the residue of synthetic heroism still resides across the hill in the graveyard,  The National Cemetery managed to afford somewhere between 10,000 and 38,000 Christmas wreaths made of real pine to place on those stones.

National Cemetery background

National Cemetery Christmas

But at least they didn’t allow the affluent mothers of young men killed in the last couple of presidential wars to put their helmet-bayonet-fixed-rifle-and combat-boot memorials in the National Cemetery.    Nope, they made them put those up by the front gate to the Medical Center.

Levenworth med entrance6

There are seven of those up there to ponder, along with a couple of empty block of granite in place for more if the moms and pops lose one and want to remember their son in such a way.

We Americans are such patriots, we are.

Thanks for the visit..

Old Jules

 

 

 

If they wanted good health care they should have dodged the draft and gone to Canada

When I wrote this I was probably still carrying some bitterness about what happened to me when I tried to get diagnosed through the VA in Odessa/Big Spring and instead became one of the types of experiences that got a lot of terrible publicity for the Veterans Administration.

But the horror stories are still widespread, though no longer so pervasive. Living here and being over at the hospitals so frequently, I still listen to more of it than is right and proper for those legally mandated to provide health care for veterans.

So by golly, I’m reblogging this one.   To read the entire text….. 351 words that didn’t get on the reblog, you can click at the bottom where it says, “View original text 351 words.

 

So Far From Heaven

All over the US VA Hospitals/Medical Centers are under investigation for incompetence, waste, negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance, brutality and being a cruel farce.  Turns out the San Antonio VA Medical Center is under investigation for precisely the same [failure to treat patients in a timely manner] reasons I entered a private hospital in Kerrville, Texas in January after several weeks of non-treatment and non-diagnosis at the VA Odessa and Big Spring VA Medical facilities during November and December, 2013 All over the US VA Hospitals/Medical Centers are under investigation for incompetence, waste, negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance, brutality and being a cruel farce. Turns out the San Antonio VA Medical Center is under investigation for precisely the same [failure to treat patients in a timely manner] reasons I entered a private hospital in Kerrville, Texas in January after several weeks of non-treatment and non-diagnosis at the VA Odessa and Big Spring VA Medical facilities during November and December, 2013 Current VA Hospital investigation news videos:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0LEVw85nG5TSFYAZTdXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0a3VnZmkwBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1NNRTQ4NV8x?p=VA+hospital+investigation

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve said before I don’t believe the US government owes veterans good health care for the remainder of our lives as an ethical matter.  Merely a legal one.

We don’t particularly deserve it any more than Native Americans deserve cradle to grave health, dental and eye care because they happen to be descendants of aboriginals.  Merely…

View original post 351 more words