Friday, January 31, 2014

Sgt. Dorsey says, WRITE!

We got our first letter from Robert at Marine boot camp today. He sounds upbeat and up to the challenge. He’s got the Ranzenberger work ethic, and he wants this.


We also got a form letter from his drill instructor, assuring us worried parents (I’m not worried. I know my kid.) that “your young man is in good hands.”
I knew that.
But he and the Corps have assigned us a mission:
“Your young man will be facing many obstacles and may experience periods of frustration, especially during the first phase,” Sgt. Jeffrey Dorsey wrote. “Positive and encouraging letters from relatives and friends will greatly contribute to his morale and attitude.
“High morale and a positive outlook are assets for a solid foundation and attributes to successful training,” Dorsey wrote. “Your role in maintaining his high morale and motivation, which can benefit his positive development, is vital and encouraged.”
So if you know Robert, or even if you don’t and want to support him, write him a letter. Send him a card. Don’t send him gifts or goodies – but you can support him by sending him mail.
Here’s the address:

Recruit Robert Ranzenberger
2nd BN HOTEL CO PLT 2173
36001 Midway Ave.
San Diego, CA 92140-2105

It's a long time between now and April when he's scheduled to finish boot. Let's let him know we're thinking about him. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Real wind chill, real damage

Don’t let anyone kid you. Wind chills can do some damage.
Central canceled Tuesday classes on the basis of 25 to 35-below-zero wind chills this week. Some reaction on Facebook proclaimed them “wimps,” but this kind of stuff is dangerous.
This is a Facebook post from a friend of mine who works as a service technician. Spelling has never been his strong suit, but he can make anything mechanical work better than new. He’s married, has kids, and depends on his hands for his living.
Here’s what he said:

have not ben on a couple of days i frostbit my hands bad no feeling swollen large blisters cant move them very hard to type went to hand specialist today it is going to take 2 weeks before we know the3 damage i could loose my fingers this is not for sure i am thinking positiuve but scar4ed i was at soo ste3 marie working on a waste oil tank at bufflow wild wings with wind chill at -20 degrees for about 4 hours i tooki breaks and checked hands seve3r4alo times i wish this job could have waited my hands have dark spots also they look very discusting i cant open a door or dress myself or buckle seat belt i can eat a sandwitch and drink a bottle of water thanks for prayers

A followup:
    a little better to day i put on my own paints ate with a fork hands still look bad slight feeling in a couple fingers still swelling 2 of my fingers are bending a little more thanks for all of the prayers
Men – and women – work in brutal conditions all the time. But they don’t deserve to lose the way they make their living over something like a waste oil tank. It’s easy to send a good-hearted, skilled man out in the cold and say “we need this today. It’s urgent,” while sitting in a warm room. At least there’s worker’s compensation, that product of that socialist commie Franklin Roosevelt, so my friend doesn’t have to pay his own medical bills. Ask the families of West Virginia coal miners, Pennsylvania steel mill workers and Detroit autoworkers who got hurt on the job how that used to work.
Send prayers his way, if you’re so inclined, or good thoughts and good vibrations. And wear your gloves.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ziva, the diva

Ziva finds some sunshine on the staircase at the Ranzenhaus.

It's been kind of challenging to get photos of the newest resident of the Ranzenhaus - Ziva. She's almost 6 months old, and came to us just after Christmas.
Ziva is a rescue cat from Clare County. We're not quite sure of her heritage, but we're pretty sure she's going to be a big, big cat.

A chair makes a good place to perch to keep an eye on those predators with whom she shares the house.
 Yes, she's spayed, has her shots, is microchipped, yada, yada, yada. Of course. Now, she's had to get used to being around those boys who already lived here. And they've had to get used to her. The Siamese, of course, are standoffish, and not sure she has the right heritage. Gus tolerates her. She totally adores him, and emulates his every move. Gus is a lot older than this high energy girl. She rarely sits still for more than a few seconds. Gus just sits, watches, and waits for dinner to appear.

She contemplates life as a pampered, indoor kitty.

 Ziva seems to have the dinner part down. And the stay warm part. And the find-the-sunshine part.

This might not be a bad life after all.

 Not a bad family to join. Not bad at all.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Getting stuff done

This week’s bitter weather has not been pleasant for the redhead. We learned recently she’s suffering from lupus, and it’s not pleasant. It’s not disabling at this point, but it’s not fun.
And it’s not stopping her. If anything else, it’s making her more determined.
She is settling into her role as a senior reporter for Central Michigan Life.  As a townie, she was around for winter break, so she provided a great deal of the online content while the rest of the staff was off Christmassing. For the first print issue of the year, she wrote five of the 16 locally produced, news-side stories.
But this is the world of newspapering and a website. Those beasts need to be fed, and you don’t get a lot of time to bask in your glory. “Great job. So whatcha go for tomorrow?”
She’s thriving on it.
The CM Life newsroom feels like a newsroom these days. I recently heard an actual cheer come from that end of the fourth floor of Moore Hall. I’m not sure what happened, but that’s what’s supposed to happen in newsrooms that succeed.
This girl knows what good journalism is. That kinda happens when you grow up in professional newsrooms. She’s showing me drive, ambition and passion I haven’t seen from her in a very, very long time.
This week, she got new glasses. She likes’em. She is scheduled to have an interview with Jeff Daniels run before his appearance at CMU. She led the paper Friday with a court story. She understands the concept of feeding the beast.
She’s still working weekends at Veterans Memorial Library and selling the odd story here and there   to the Midland Daily News.
She applied for a small-town internship that often has gone to students at that green school down U.S. 127, and she might just get it. And as soon as she sent off the application, she started looking for more opportunities.
The first few semesters at CMU were difficult and not terribly successful. But she’s grown, and grown determined. Her class load is full time. Her cat, Max, is growing rapidly. She’s told her instructors that “lupus is just a word.”
She’ll just get things done.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Great Garage Excavation

Andrew surveys the clutter that has infested the Ranzengarage.

 I know – it looks like a bad episode of “Storage Wars.”
I love the condo where the Ranzenbergers moved, now, six years ago. But there’s a dirty little secret: The garage.
It was never the plan to have the garage be full of … stuff. We always planned to get it organized, and get at least one car into the two-car garage. But …
How did it go on for six years? Well, I was busy. And I didn’t have a plan, other than “We gotta get the garage cleaned up.”
Ashley and Andrew secure The Canoe to the ceiling.
A big hangup was The Canoe. The Canoe has been part of the Ranzenberger household since the mid-1990s. It’s nothing special. It’s a low-end, discount-store, 15-footer, but it gets the job done. It’s been down numerous Michigan rivers, and provides some good outdoor fun.
But it’s 15 feet long and sucks up space. The clutter just sort of collected around it. And when the garage was cluttered, it just attracted more clutter, until …. Maybe it’s more like “Hoarders” than “Storage Wars.’
This year is the year. Phase One: Get The Canoe up off the floor and open up some space to work. Andrew, Ashley and I succeeded in that. The Canoe now is hanging from the ceiling at the back of the garage.
And there’s hope. More detailed plans, one step at a time, are being developed. It’s the old “how to eat an elephant” problem. One bite at a time.
Expect some sort of giant garage sale. When we figure out just what’s in the garage.
One bite at a time.
Perhaps we’ll get a car in there by next winter.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Marine Recruit Ranzenberger

Robert smiles at the Marine Corps recruiting station in Mt. Pleasant.
Andrew says goodbye as his little brother leaves for the Marines.

Robert is now a Marine Recruit.
Note that I didn’t say he’s a Marine. That title is something that Marines earn during their 13 weeks of U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Training, better known as boot camp.
He originally was scheduled to leave for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego on Jan. 6, but a major snowstorm disrupted the civilian air transportation system to the point where his entry was pushed back a week.
Karen and I took him down to Lansing on Sunday night, fed him a steak and turned him over to the organization that will change his life forever.
Robert expects to spend most of his first year as a Marine in training.
Robert, Dad and Karen at the USMC recruiting station.
I never expected Robert to go and join the Marines, and I’ve struggled to understand the appeal. But knowing Robert, I realized that he’s always been driven to be the best. The Marine Corps makes no apologies for being the best. He also doesn’t like to fail. He’s met Marines, many of them, and clearly came to the conclusion he wouldn’t fail. He’d become one of the best.
Robert and Karen ready for the recruit's departure.
The recruit enjoys his last meal as a civilian
The plan, as he’s laid it out for us, is not complicated. He’s not leaving his skills behind. After the longest, toughest boot camp of any of the U.S. services, he’ll emerge as a Marine. Every Marine is a rifleman. Initial training includes the most serious marksmanship training in the U.S. military, and after a break, his education continues with another 29 days of Marine Combat Training.
Recruits from all the services are sworn in
He’s not headed to the infantry. Robert’s a skilled musician, and his military occupational specialty will be MOS 5534: Musician, Clarinet. That’s not easy to get. Robert scored in the 99th percentile on the ASVAB, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, so he could choose pretty much what he wanted. He underwent numerous auditions, and was judged good enough to be a Marine – and a Marine musician.
After combat training, he’ll have another 30 weeks of intense, formal musical education ahead of him at the Naval School of Music in Virginia Beach, Va. After that, he expects to be assigned to one of the 10 Marine bands stationed around the United States and Japan.
Recruit Robert Ranzenberger ready to head to boot camp.
Am I proud of him? What do you think? His mother’s proud of him, too, and that matters to Robert, perhaps even more.
Will I put a bumper sticker on my car that says “My Son is a Marine?” Nope. It’ll go on my door in the Department of Journalism, just to confound the stereotype of the Liberal Media.
Semper Fi.