Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

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I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


This morning I have been thinking about a lot of things---kind of nostalgic---but I am 61 years old and have worked 53 years of that. I started young because my parents owned a store and they worked me and my threee brothers so they knew where we were. I also worked for my Grandpa and he paid me well (when I was working for him he paid me the same salary he paid his men $20.00/Day).

He was a cattleman and had lots of steers in feed lots around the country. He would take me with him to the feed lots and while he was talking to the owner it was my job to follow the workers around the lot and look at the steers and listen to what they said as we walked from pen to pen. I was just a kid---right---so they would talk about a lot of things as we moved through the yard---but mostly they talked about how they were taking advantage of Grandpa. Part of the job was to get the weekly gain slips for the pen and the weekly feed bills for the pen---the other part was to report out where he was being taken advantage of.

When we got in the car to leave it was my job to tell Grandpa where they were taking advantage of him and what the weekly gain of each pen of steers was and what the cost of the gain was...both of those were simple math...take last weeks pen weight away from this weeks pen weight and you've got the gain---divide that into the weekly pen feed cost and you have the cost per pound gain. If a pound gain is costing you more that the market is bringing you are losing money if it is less then you are making money. You can do a little more simple math and figure how much you are making or losing each day for each pen.

Anyway the reason for this blog is to let you know I didn't have a very physical job working for Grandpa but he damn sure taught me how to pay attention. I still think that is one of my greatest assets.


5 Mondays

I only have five Mondays left until I retire. The problem with that is these are the Mondays that I usually take off to use my leave. It is highly likely that I will be the only one in the office during this time. I haven't been a real good one to use up all my leave so I have donated a lot of it to people who are sick. This year I am going to take it all---yup all of it---in the form of a lump sum check for what is left---the plan is to have the check be for 472 hours (almost six weeks)---that should get me through until the first retirement check shows up.

It is going to be really strange to get a single pay check per month since we have been getting two a month for almost 39 years. It is going to require rethinking our spending habits because it is a huge change. We also don't really know how close it will be to what we are getting now but it should be realy close because I won't be paying into the retirement fund or into our 401K anymore.

It is starting to seem weird to me that I will be getting paid for what I did in the past and not what I am doing now---getting paid for doing nothing is a new concept to me.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I posted a new quotation today from an old miner---I thought it was profound---it is absolutely true---and there aren't that many absolutes in the world today.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Here are a couple of badges Twist made for me. I have said hundreds of times that I want to be the Wal Mart greeter....see the badge....when I have been telling people that I was going to get even with them I always said BE A FRED---BE VERY A FRED. So he sent these badges for my retirement.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I decided today to vent about my lack of retirement planning and maybe that will help some of the young ones that read my blog to figure out that the time to start putting money away for retirement was a few months ago - not a few months in the future.

If you start when you are 21 and put money away for retirement consistently at 10% of your salary you will be able to retire with a lot of money. I firmly believe that you should pay 10% of your salary to the church first then pay 10% to your own savings/IRA/ROTH or whatever you are doing to save for retirement. If you can't put away 10% put something away and don't touch it---DO NOT TOUCH THIS MONEY---NOPE---NOT FOR ANYTHING. In addition to this you need to put $500.00 minimum into an account for emergencies--$1000 is better but $500 will cover nearly 95% of emergencies. I believe that if you can't do this you are living beyond your means and need to figure out a way to either cut your spending or increase your earnings. Those are the only two ways to fix this.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I read today that the Corps of Engineers has been found liable for the flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Due to lack of maintenance of the levees. So the government is making a huge court ordered payout to a few people that sued---now what do you expect to happen? RIGHT the rest of the folks will now sue---the precedent has been set---dig deep into your pockets---there will be more and bigger payouts in the future.

I will not defend the Corps of Engineers but I will take a shot at Congress. I am not close enough to the Corps to know if they were funded to take care of the levees or not but I will bet they weren't even funded close to what it would take to maintain them properly. I am pretty sure that there is nothing that the government is responsible for that is funded to the level that it can really be taken care of to the level it needs to be.

What this says to me is that the government is into a lot of things they shouldn't be into---and they aren't funding those things properly either.

So today the Senate debates Health Care---wish it was a public forum and I was on the Hill---I would love to ask them how they propose to meet the funding for what we are already responsible for before they add on a significant new program---my bet---IF IT PASSES FUNDING WILL BE TAKEN FROM PROGRAMS THAT WE ARE ALREADY RESPONSIBLE FOR AND WHEN WE CAN NO LONGER MAINTAIN THEM THEN THE COURTS WILL AWARD PAYMENTS TO THOSE THAT SUE..

I try to stay positive about things so---I am absolutely positive that if health care passes we will be a huge step closer to bankruptcy in this country---I already know that with the national debt if we tried to pay it off we would be sunk so where does the money come from.....

Monday, November 16, 2009


T'Day at 10:00 a.m. WE officially became the owners of our home---WE now own the sucker outright---taxes are paid for a full year and the insurance is paid up for a full year. WOW WHATTA FEELING.

I will have one month free of house payments before I retire (WOO HOO)---probably shoulda done a better job of planning that---but such is life. At least I won't have to make a house payment in retirement. It has been really hard to get this paid off in time to retire and Inklings goes into much deeper details of how we chose to do it if you want to read them but---through the choices we made on paying this sucker off early we saved ourselves over $40,000 in interest (FOURTY THOUSAND REAL DOLLARS)---my Dad was right---INTEREST NEVER SLEEPS---never it just keeps on adding on.

It took us longer to pay the last payment today and make sure everything was taken care of than it did to borrow the money for the house eight years ago in the first place---granted the guy making the loan knew we were coming in and the lady closing us out didn't but I think it is really funny to see how much happier the banking industry is when you are borrowing money than they are when you are paying it off---SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE---THEY GET PAID FROM YOUR INTEREST.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I just reviewed the cost estimate for putting 40,000 additional troops into Afgahnistan and they are saying it is $40 Billion - who does these estimates??? That's a million dollars a year cost for each individual troop sent over---somebody needs to sharpen their pencil on the estimate - or cut the pork out of it.



I hate it when I can't sleep at night. HATE IT!!! This morning early (3:30) I had a panic attack---no clue what the panic was all about---but it was bad enough that I got out of bed and stood up to breathe for a few minutes. Inklings asked what was wrong so I told her. I got back in bed and tried to get comfortable and---right the panic attack hit me again. I got up and got dressed---Inklings told me I needed to go back to bed because I would wake the whole house---that may be true but right now I doubt it.

Yesterday we went to the funeral for Inklings Uncle. He has coached baseball for as long as I have known him. HE LOVED BASEBALL---and fully understood every aspect of the game. When I was younger, probably around 11 (50 years ago), he and his family moved to my home town. He started Little League for the community as soon as he got there and kept messing around with it until he died. He also coached baseball at the high school---right up until he died. I don't know how many State Championship baseball teams he coached but it is quite a few.

He had on his program that the honorary pall bearers included all the young men he had coached. At the end of the funeral they called for the pall bearers and the honorary pall bearers to come forward. I was impressed to see about three entire rows from the chapel empty as the people he coached (I was going to say kids but that doesn't work) came forward to direct the coffin to the hearse. They ranged in age from about 16 to over 60. I thought it was awesome and a great tribute to him to see that many at the funeral.

He didn't have much peace in this life so I hope he is resting in peace today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


That's what happens when you start getting OLD - your friends start to die.

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a good friend and a man I had worked with for quite a few years on and off. He was an Engineer and I am a Forester - which by the way is a very bad combination since neither occupation sees any need for the other one - but we got along pretty good and had a lot of projects we got taken care of while he was the Forest Engineer. In his early years with the Forest Service he lived in my home town and helped my Dad cut meat after work and on week ends. His wife told me yesterday that they would have starved to death without my Dad's helping them out with that job. I doubt they were that bad off but I'll bet it helped a lot for Christmas.

When I got to the chapel I sat down by the retired ranger from this District and we visited for a few minutes. When I looked up I noticed a blonde lady just in front of us and there was another dark haired lady and a guy that from the back reminded me of one of the Fire Incident Commanders (IC) I had worked for. I was pretty sure I knew the blonde lady because she was a Planning Section Chief for the Fire Team. I just couldn't stand not knowing so I got up and walked forward until I could see the peoples faces---it was the IC, his wife, and the Planning Section Chief (PSC). Both the IC and the PSC are engineers on a forest quite a way North of here. I shook their hands and welcomed them to the funeral. NO SHAME IN BEING NOSEY FOR ME!!

After the funeral Inklings and I went to lunch with them---it was a pretty laid back lunch and we visited for about two hours. It was really good to see both of them. I learned that the guy we were having the funeral for had hired both of these engineers and that was why they had come the long distance to the funeral - I am sorry we had to have a funeral to see them though.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Here is a copy of the tracing of Jim's name from the Viet Nam Wall and a picture of me and my friend at the wall---I am pointing out his name on panel 22 West, Line 98. Double click the picture to see it larger--you can actually read his name by my finger if you have a mind to.

I have seen a picture of a person with his hand on the wall with a drawing of a soldier in full field gear touching his hand with his palm from inside the wall---let me tell you for sure there is something there. The experience I posted earlier was more than spiritual---WAY MORE!!!


I tried to get to the panel on the wall that has his name but couldn't figure out how to do it. This is my high school friend who gave his life in Vietnam for the USA. The note from his platoon sergeant is good. The note from Mike says it all. I miss you too---both of you.

When I was on a fire in West Virginia we spent the night in Washington D.C. getting ready to come home. Several of us visited the WALL. I had an experience and may have blogged about it before but here 'tis again. I went to the book to look up the panel where his name was and there were hundreds of people along the wall - including the graduating class from Annapolis in full dress uniform. One of my good friends was with me but stopped when I started down the wall---as I started down it I was the only person left along it (I have no clue where the others went). I sat down and etched his name onto a piece of paper so I could bring it home (I couldn't find the paper today or I would have put it here too).

When I finished I looked around and realized I was alone on the Wall - I looked up at the deck where you can look down on the wall and the entire graduating class from Annapolis was standing along the rail looking down watching me etch his name onto the paper. I hope they understood the pain I had while etching his name as they were soon to be our newest Military Leaders. As I walked back up the wall my friend joined me and asked "What did you do to make all of the people leave the Wall?" I told him I didn't have a clue but they must have understood that I needed to be alone for a few minutes---I hope someday I either go back and re-do the etching or find the one I brought home that trip.

This post brought many tears regarding my loss - all of our loss for that matter.


Today is a day set aside by our great nation to celebrate what VETRANS have done for us. While you contemplate this today remember that we are the greatest nation on the earth and that we have the highest standard of living that ever existed and we are FREE.


Sunday, November 8, 2009


This road has been under construction in phases since the day I got to the District. Last week we accepted the second paving contract. Here are a couple of photos of the really sharp turn and the road below it. I am very tickled at how good it turned out and think this is probably the last pavement the road will ever see. There are still two grading phases left but I doubt they will compete well now that the competition has to go state wide starting in 2012.

I am happy that we got as far as we did during my watch-it is an amazingly nice road.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


This is in fact how you feel when you have it.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Fall cleaning is different than Spring cleaning. It entails preparing the house for winter which includes cleaning out the rain gutter and making sure there are no plugs in the down spouts. It is a relatively simple job but it seems to be getting tougher each year. I am not as nimble as I once was and getting close to the edge of the roof makes me nervous now where it didn't before. Stepping off the ladder onto the roof is now a little tougher but now it is really, really tough to step from the roof back onto the ladder. NO GUTS NO GLORY!

I got this all taken care of today and the gutter was completely filled up with decomposing leaves and twigs - problem is there are still a lot of leaves on the trees that will need to be cleaned out after they fall - oh good - I have another job that I can do for Thanksgiving.


As of today I have 8 Mondays left of my career. EIGHT. I have also made the decision that I am not going to work an Fridays during that time. It is nice to be able to work on a flexible tour. What it usually does is insure that you work more hours in a pay period that you get paid for. It is easy to do that and for me it has been easy to give the extra hours just to know that I don't have to be there. I could stay away if I wanted to.

For the past couple of weeks I have been reminiscing what has gone on in my career. I look back at all of the things I have done and am very very thankful that I have had this job. I have taken on some projects that no one else would and most have turned out very good. There are a couple that people have said they are going to improve on what I did and they have been saying that for 14 years. Guess one of these days they are going to get enough guts to take the chance. I will say when we did the cut through at Flaming Gorge that made the land mass surrounded by Horseshoe Canyon and island instead of a peninsula we were very lucky. We couldn't do the job until December when the water was down and the reservoir freezes solid in January....YUP WE WERE VERY LUCKY TO GET IN AND OUT IN THAT TIME FRAME---EXTREMELY LUCKY

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Yesterday I turned in all my wildland fire gear - all of it. I turned in my flight helmet, flight suit, and gloves as well as the fire shelters and pants and shirts and red pack. Everyone was shocked to see all of the stuff turned in. I may do fire in the future but if I do I will have to pick up new gear.

It has been 39 years since I picked up my first set of clothes to fight a fire to the south of Enterprise, Utah. My job that day was defending a guard station from a fire coming from the south - I was left there alone with no vehicle - that relates to no escape zone. It turned out OK and I was able to keep the fire out of the guard station yard with a lot of work and some fear - but I swore at that time that I would never allow another person on a fire I was on to be put in that position. I have made sure everyone could get away if they needed to.

Well that went a different place than I thought it was going but it feels good to me that I was never associated with a fireline fatality in a leadership position. When I was just starting out I witnessed several fatalities that should never have happened that would not have if people would have paid attention. One of these was a man being run over and killed by an engine while he was sleeping in his rule from that experience was....There are only two rules... 1. No parking in the sleeping area and 2. No sleeping in the parking area We had another fatality just like the one I mentioned earlier this fire season.

Guess my College History Professor was right - he said the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history!!!