Category Archives: Life

Mother’s Day Post

So I screwed up. I didn’t consider that pretty much everyone with a loved one in assisted living or a nursing home wouldn’t be able to see their mother this year and that this would result in an early overload of the floral and other delivery industries.

My mother and I have often not seen eye to eye. We have went head to head as much as we have went heart to heart. We have have different paths we have taken in life… But mine was paved by her. So today the only gift I can deliver is from my heart. My entire life was possible due to the sacrifices my mother made. I didn’t always appreciate that. As a grown man, I had to make some of those same sacrifices myself to understand just how hard they were for her. And I learned to appreciate them, and her.

So, Linda Husvar, thank you for everything you did for me, for everything you endured to provide our family with a home and a life that was built with examples of dedication, sacrifice, endurance and love.

With love,
Your son.

PS: I owe you a tacky cactus or something.

83hnwg7gsqr31

Judo on a world stage.

I have been thinking about Judo lately, played between nations…  Or it is actually something more akin to a combination of Judo and Chess.  Judo, for those who are unaware, is a Japanese martial art whose primary focus is defense by using your opponent’s own strength and/or inertia against them.  The simplest possible example would be someone running up to attack you, you step to one side and trip them. That’s the judo. The act of planning to do so, the strategy, is the chess.  

So how does this play into the world stage, as well as our country?  We’re having this very redirection of action used against us by players who have been at the game far longer than we have even existed.  The recent uproar over the rise in childhood obesity comes to mind… Much of which started with kids in my generation, maybe one generation before, playing Atari, Colecovision, and Packkuman (PacMan,) while exercising nothing more than a few fingers, eye muscles and, sometimes, facial muscles.  This was later followed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony Playstation, and more recently the Wii, and PS3 and Microsoft’s XBOX. Yes, you can exercise with a Wii, let’s not go there. Most people buy it to play, not to get fit.

To take down a larger, stronger opponent, you must either redirect his energy, or make him weak.  Or both. Notice that all of the video gaming systems, with the exception of the XBOX line, are Japanese…  And kids are, as they have for 30 years now, sitting around getting fat playing video games. And not in shape to fight, should they be called to as adults, or even walk more than 50 feet in some cases.  Diabetes is on the rise, health care costs will continue to sore… And remember, all of this is mostly coming from an “ally” we shamed and defeated in World War II… The Japanese create business plans that span CENTURIES.  Do you think, honestly, that this action isn’t planned? You don’t have to fly a jetliner or two into office buildings to kill thousands of Americans (and others,) you just have to get them sitting around on their asses, playing games, and becoming bigger, fatter, shorter lived burdens on our country.  Who is the bigger, more successful terrorist… Osama Bin Laden or Namco, Atari and Sony?

It happens on another front, as well…  In Sweden and Norway, Volvo is Chevrolet. In Germany, Mercedes Benz is Ford.  Nearly everyone owns one, they are very common, and not expensive. Here in the United States, a Benz is a “Luxury Performance Sedan” and the Volvo is “The World’s Safest Car.”  And a model that costs 50% less in its homeland is sold as a luxury premium item here. Do you think any German citizen would pay $60k for a Chevrolet Malibu if we stuck some wood, leather and fancy audio equipment, all totaling about $1000 into it?  If so, GM needs to get on it, because we’re missing something. The reality is, we’re missing something, all right… We allow marketing and celebrity endorsement to have more weight on our lives than plain common sense. We’re taking an economic ass-kicking for it, too.  It weakens us.

Germany and Japan are just two quick and easy examples.  The fact is, we, as a country are allowing ourselves to be weakened, torn down slowly, poisoned by complacency, luxury and convenience.  100 years ago the idea of having a gym to work out in would have gotten you laughed at. So would buying something that is not worth what you’ve paid for it.  

You don’t need to uses guns, bombs or bioagents to take down our great nation…  It’s more effective, it seems, to do it with Twinkies, video games and shiny objects.  I believe the Romans called it Bread and Circuses. They were the greatest civilization of their time.  

Until some very skilled enemies learned how to tear them apart by having too much fun and becoming complacent, fat and lazy.

Think about it.  It’s judo and chess, and we’re the ones who don’t understand how to play the game or use the art.  And we’re playing against nations that have been doing it for 5000 years. I think we’re gonna get schooled if we don’t get smart.  And maybe, just maybe, the Japanese are still a little pissed about having been the only nation to ever have a nuclear weapon dropped on them.

Originally posted on my FB October 10, 2015.

Creative Commons License
Judo On a World Stage by Jerod J. Husvar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Eating our own. Division among gun owners, the antigun advocate’s best friend.

The fight to protect and maintain the right to keep and bear arms in the United States is ongoing, played as both a long and short game by both sides of the debate. With recent mass shootings, the topic of gun control is in the headlines, chambers of government and on people’s mind. We also have the leadership of the National Rifle Association in a dumpster fire fight, taking away from their power to advocate. What’s worse however, is how many gun owners and potential gun owners have been taken out of the fight by the attitudes and division brought by other gun owners.

One only has to look as far as any gun posting on social media, or the comments on any article, to see this division. It comes from the focus on 1911 vs Glock, AR15 vs AK, or anything related to value-branded firearms such as Taurus, Bersa or God forbid, Hi Point. The animosity, anger, bitterness and rudeness on these posts drives away both seasoned gun owners and new people alike. “It’s all in good fun” doesn’t have much weight when you are the one whose question about the new Hi Point is shouted down, mocked and belittled.

I have been actively involved in protecting Second Amendment rights since the mid 1980’s and have seen division used to the detriment of it for the entire time. Pistol vs rifle guys, hunters vs target shooters, traditional arms vs military style weapons. More recently it has been high dollar weapons vs guns “poors” own. Mockery of the “poverty pony” by those who can afford HK 416’s and the like. All are supposed to be “in good fun.” The problem is, in typical internet human nature, people don’t know when to stop. Or a group gangs up on the Anderson rifle or Taurus guy. All too often, that person gets a bad taste, or worse, walks away entirely.

How many votes can the pro-gun cause afford to lose? How many potential gun owners can we insult away? How many people will end up not owning something that is “good enough” because they were convinced that they should wait until they could spend $100 more and pay for it with their well-being or life because they were convinced that they shouldn’t buy a Hi Point when they were endangered and couldn’t afford anything else?

These are very real scenarios and not only are gun owners eating our own, we’re keeping others from joining us by our words and actions, and potentially endangering lives. We need to change our approach. We need to treat allies respectfully. In the end, we just need to not be jerks.

What do you think? If you find value in this post, please, share it.

Postcards Of My Life #pcoml No 13: Going to #DairyQueen

An article in USA Today this morning tells the tale of a two year old Minnesota boy who rode his electric toy tractor to the county fair without his parents knowing he was going. Slacker… Back in my youth, I walked if I was going to make such an excursion…

From 1976 to 1978 my family lived in the now-gone Kent State University married student housing complex, called the Allerton Apartments. To be honest, I can only speculate that my 3-4 year old brain’s logic involved “I want ice cream. We don’t have ice cream. DQ always has ice cream. I’m going to go to DQ.” This all went down in the morning, apparently before my parents were awake. I grabbed some money, climbed out the front window and went walking. I don’t recall much about the actual trip other than I got to Dairy Queen and they were not open yet.

I walked almost a mile and must have been frustrated and must have decided to wait so I crossed Ohio SR 43 and walked down to University Plaza and I guess I ended up at some insurance company who realized that I probably should not be out wandering alone, gave me a hot cocoa and a chair, and called the police. I must have known where I lived because they gave me a ride home and the version in my head involves them knocking on the door, no one having realized that I left, and my folks being upset. I should ask my mother if that’s how it all ended up, she likes ice cream, too.

So yeah, in my day, when we wanted to toddle off on grand adventures, we walked. Kids these days have it easy.

Postcards Of My Life #pcoml No. 12, Pedaling my ass.

Growing up, I always had a bike. Even as the “fat kid,” in retrospect, I was in amazingly good shape. I would ride for miles on beater bikes and I guess my dad decided I needed a nice one when he did a job wiring a commercial building in Ravenna that a bike shop was moving into. (It has since been a gym, grocery store, thrift shop and I believe it is a martial arts studio now. It’s in Blackhorse, near the buy here car lot.) as part of the payment for the job he got me a brand new bike. I had never had a really nice bike, let alone a brand new one, and the Huffy BMX Pro Thunder he got me was the most amazing bike to me. Bright yellow, blue tires (!!!) with proper pads in the proper places. It was this:

Many of the better off financially kids were quick to point out that it wasn’t a “proper” bmx bike like their Mongoose’s and other models, it had a coaster brake and no front brake and was too heavy for proper bmx riding. Did I mention that I was the fat kid? I had little interest in bmx, but absolutely loved the mobility and freedom my bikes afforded me. I would ride 5 miles around town or to Ravenna, or anywhere I wanted, often leaving in the morning and not returning until late in the day. No cell phone, no beeper, just told my parents where I was going, grabbed a couple of bucks for lunch and drinks and was on my way. Did you know that in the 80’s almost everywhere had a water fountain? That deputy sheriff’s would stop for a second to say hi and make sure your folks knew you were 10 miles from home and take your word that you were good on all counts? The freedom of the bicycle, and to be a free kid, was amazing. I never gave much thought to what that bike cost… In my 40’s now, I appreciate the cost of it to my father in having worked to get it… And though he’s gone some 7 years now, I hope he realized that he got his full value out of it as well as a huge return on his investment.

Postcards Of My Life #pcoml No. 11, …Down on the Farm.

My pap Ashcraft’s favorite chain restaurant, bar none, was Bob Evans. Pap was a hustler, selling at flea markets, changing inventory from season to season, and often traveling out of the state to resupply. Just one example, railroad policy involved changing the 6v lantern batteries in beacons, lanterns and train lamps very often, even if they had never been used. I believe it was monthly, but maybe even more frequently. The end result? Cases upon cases of basically brand new, top of the line, 6v lantern battens discarded monthly. My genius grandfather, former rail man, had an arrangement with the switching yard in Conway, PA, to dispose of the like new batteries monthly. The batteries had there own store room. Pap had his own key. Old batteries on the left, new on the right, never touch the new ones. A dozen in a box, dozens of boxes. It was not unusual for my grandfather to own several thousand 6v lantern batteries at a time. To the point that he would import lanterns from overseas by the case to sell at flea markets.

Which brings us back around to Bob Evans. Flea marketing is hard work and any day you are going to work hard you need a breakfast that will “stick to your ribs” since lunch may be late, or never. The best place to get that was Bob Evans. Why? Because my grandfather knew the Evans family and you supported friends. Pap knew everyone. And everyone knew him.

Pap had a way of setting his placemat. He would put a drop of honey or syrup at each upper corner and stick it to the counter. We almost always ate at the counter, the service was amazing and fast. We’d hit Bob Evan’s before daylight and be on the road as the sun was coming up to hustle the wares. Lanterns with free batteries for an amazing price… You can’t sell a used battery, pap would say. But you can give it away with a lantern or flashlight that is the same cost as everyone else sells them without a battery. Growing up I must have helped sell enough lanterns to light up a decent sized city. I was only able to help in the summer. Pap did it most of the year. You might recall that pap also sold Knapp shoes to guys on the railroad… At Conway, PA. Every trip anywhere had more than one purpose. My pap was a hard working man and set his own course. I miss him. I miss that he was unique but so like every other man of his era.

Postcards Of My Life #pcoml No. 10, Son of a blacksmith.

My father was a lifetime learner with many skills, a practical and intuitive engineer, he was also a competent electrician, mechanic, fabricator, as well as able to do basic carpentry. Over the course of his lifetime he wore many hats and designed many things from the small to the incredibly large. Be it a belt buckle or an overhead crane capable of lifting 100 tons, he could design and build it. The skill he enjoyed most, though, was blacksmithing.

Dad made many cool things as a blacksmith, from hand-made chains that were used in a movie to a candelabra that sat on a friend’s wedding altar, from belt buckles to broadaxes. He did his smithing to make money but it was also his therapy, hobby and fun. He would spend a couple of weeks every summer living in a tent and smithing at the Great Pennsic War, both as a crafter and a merchant. He loved beating Iron and creating with it.

As I sit in the house he and mom lived in I can almost hear the ringing of the hammer and anvil in his shop out back… Sadly, they are phantom and a memory of when the toughest guy I ever learned to love still walked the Earth.

Postcards Of My Life #pcoml No. 9, Railroads & Trains

My pap Ashcraft instilled what became a lifetime appreciation of trains and railroads of all sizes. Ironically, he could have hated them as he lost one of his legs in an occupational accident working as a brakeman on the Penn Central Railroad. He continued to love trains his whole life.

We would visit the switching yards at Mingo Junction, OH, Weirton, WV and Conway, PA many times as I was growing up. He had many reasons to go, first to visit former coworkers, but also as a salesman of Knapp Shoes. He sold thousands of pairs of high quality shoes and work boots to railroaders. “If your feet hurt your shoes, call me,” was prominently featured on his business card.

Pap’s love of trains wasn’t limited to full size ones. He had a very cool “O” and “HO” gauge model train setup that he could set up in his basement by hinging it down from a wall. We also took trips to see train displays at Buhl Planatarium, Oglebay Good Zoo and other model train shows around the region. Most of these are now, sadly, gone. I recently read that, after decades, Oglebay finally dismantled their fascinating train room.

Another part of every visit to oglebay was the joy of riding their narrow-gsuge train around the zoo.

I still enjoy trains, though not with the deep passion my grandfather had. But you’ll rarely hear me complain about the train whistles living 300 yards from a major rail line, or waiting for the train to pass. Trains, at different points in my life have entertained me, provided income for me and provided me with a way to work via light rail. Maybe someday I will build a model railroad. It’s in my blood.

Postcards Of My Life #pcoml No. 8, Fundamentals of Marksmanship, late 1970’s.

My grandfathers were both shooters, my dad’s father was an amateur competition trap shooter, trick shooter and marksman from his World War 2 service in the United States Marine Corps, my mother’s dad from growing up hunting in the hills of Smith County, West Virginia. As I spent a lot more time with my Pap Ashcraft, mom’s dad, he took on the task of teaching me to shoot and started a life long love of firearms.

The rifle above is a single shot, Stevens Junior Model 11. It is identical to the one that my pap taught me to shoot on and that I fired literally thousands of rounds through. It served several generations of our family only to go missing after his death. The rifle was older and field worn. It had many repairs over the years but it shot true. Simple, non adjustable iron sights, manual extraction and loading, and you clocked the hammer to fire it. The trigger was crisp and effortless and it just managed to hit exactly where you wanted out to over 100 yards. It was not unusual for me to toss a soup can out into the yard and then shoot it until it rolled down over the hill over 100 yards away. But, most often my target was a paper plate with a dot in middle that pap would set up at 50 or 100 feet away.

I would sit or stand on the back step and put round after round through that rifle. Usually 50 or 100 rounds at a session several times over each visit. Every hardware store and bait shop knew what I wanted when I showed up for miles around. Yes, they would sell live ammo to a 5, 7, 13 or whatever age boy… Kids didn’t do the stupid stuff with guns then they do now. Probably still was technically illegal, no one cared.

To this day if I had that rifle I could likely dispatch a soda can at 100 yards with it on the first shot. My pap taught me the gun, then gun taught me to shoot it the way it needed to be shot to put rounds on target. The tool was the tool, you adjusted to it.

My grandfather instilled in me what later became the 4 rules of firearms safety that are taught today:

  1. All guns are always loaded. (Treat them so!)
  2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target (and you have made the decision to shoot).
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

I seriously need to find another model 11. I own some of the most advanced firearms in the world but my heart longs for that old, beat up, well loved rifle. I hope whoever has it appreciates it.