Router Table Project – Drawers

.The bottom section of the table is going to have a drawer and I cut the front, back, and sides to the correct dimensions. Cut a small rabbet near the bottom edge of all those pieces in order to slide a 1/4 inch sheet of plywood for the drawer bottom. Glued all the sides together with the bottom in place.

Next I edge joined two pieces of 3/4 inch red oak together to make the drawer front. Added drawer slides to the side and mounted the front fascia in place.

Going to work on the permanent drawer pull and adding doors above the drawer.  

 

Router Table Project – Jessem Lift

I received a new DeWalt router for Christmas to replace my old Craftsman router and table. The new router accepts 1/2 inch shaft bits and has a more powerful motor. The old Craftsman only accepted 1/4 inch shaft bits and came mounted in a small plastic table with a melamine top.

I’m in the process of building a new bench-top table and portable stand to complete the setup.

The router is mounted in a Jessem router lift that greatly improves the ease of changing bits and the accuracy of setting the height of the bit for various cuts.

The plans for the setup came from one of the Steve Ramsey courses to which I have enrolled. I am heavily modifying the plans but the bulk of the design is his idea. I like Steve’s designs because he, like me, is cheap. Oops, I mean financially conservative.

I may use some of the dust collection, fence, and feather boards from the old system, not sure at this point. I will add T-track guides to those parts if I eventually add those as planned

Nesting Chairs

I made three of these chairs as Christmas presents for family members from a template that I bought from Jay Bates.

The chairs come apart for easy transporting and are intended for camping, outdoor sporting events, or just extra when needed in the backyard or around the house.

These are made of 3/4 inch red oak and finished with a satin exterior oil based polyurethane.

The Guys | Udorn Thailand 1966-67

TRC90-A Comm Van
  1. Udorn is not Bangkok
  2. Heading to Udorn
  3. The barracks
  4. Cab ride to town
  5. One night at the bunker
  6. The ally can be the enemy
  7. Carrying the water
  8. Qualifying on the M-60
  9. The Fuck You Lizard

 

 

When i was updating this section about the year I spent in Thailand I read the various stories I had written and none of them talked in detail about the guys I hung-out with for nearly a year.

Most of these guys were African American, drafted with a two year commitment and really couldn’t wait to return back to the States to get on with their lives. The only difference between me and them was that I had enlisted and had an additional year tacked on to my commitment. The route we took to get there didn’t matter we just had to get through it.

Seay

One big brother from Texas, I think Houston, was named Seay. I can’t think of his first name which will be typical of the stories as I go through them. At this writing our last interaction was 53 years ago.

Seay thought he was a lover, a player, and any other cool name that fit the era. He couldn’t wait to get off duty, put on his bell bottoms and disco style shirt and head to town. Lord only knows what he did but when he came back to the barracks, if he did, he would be wasted.

He would give me a bad time because I rarely went to any of the clubs downtown, I preferred to stay at the compound and drink top shelf booze for 25 cents a shot.

One afternoon Seay stopped by my bunk with only a towel wrapped around his fat ass, put his foot up on my footlocker and commented about me reading a letter that I had received that morning. He said “Damn, Skip. You get a letter from your wife almost everyday. I don’t get shit. When I go to the mail-room I don’t even open my mailbox I just “peep-off” in there. Yeah, he said “peep-off”.

Doc

Doc was from South Carolina and had a drawl to go along with it. I can’t remember his first or last name now after 53 years. Doc, as the name implies, was a medic. We affectionately called him the “pecker checker”.

We played bid whist a lot to pass the time and Doc was one of the best whist players that I have had the pleasure of playing with or against. Which begs the question of why he would try to cheat if he could. He really didn’t have to but, he would renege given the chance.  Of course, everytime he was caught it was by mistake.  Right.

After the cards were dealt, Doc would slide down in his chair, eyes scanning left and right, and a big grin would come over his face like the Grinch. Now that wasn’t a tell, his hand could be terrific or horrible but the demeanor didn’t change.

Inevitably as the bids would go around the table Doc would tell the last bidder, no matter where they were in the sequence, that they had stole his “bud”. Of course he meant his “bid”, but his South Carolina drawl wouldn’t let him.

Tiger

Again I’m lost on the actual name but he named himself Tiger, we didn’t pin him with it. Tiger was about five foot six. Weighed about one hundred thirty pounds and thought he could kick anybody’s ass. Well that was after about one beer. Before drinking Tiger was a mild mannered quiet guy with a great sense of humor.

One could watch Tiger begin to change into a different person as he consumed alcohol. A pleasant face would slowly begin to turn dark, eyes would begin to glaze over and a smile became a smirk and the orneriness would begin. First a few playful fake jabs to the face of the person he happened to pick that day or night.

Fake jabs would began to get closer and closer to actual punches to the face so much that one would have to start blocking his blows and began to become very defensive. Usually protecting yourself only aggravated Tiger more and the punches would escalate until a full fight broke out or Tiger directed his attention to someone else.

Tiger did this to me on many occasions and usually I could get him to stop or I’d just leave the area until he found someone else to harass. On one occasion I couldn’t get him to stop or maybe I was just in a bad mood that day, Tiger and I had a real fight. This little guy was a scrapper but my height and weight were to my advantage plus the fact I hadn’t been drinking the way he had been. I must say that I kicked his ass pretty good but I guess he had a short memory because it wasn’t long after that day Tiger was back again with the fake jabs to my face.

Cool Breeze

Cool Breeze was from Los Angeles. Talked shit all the time about “I did this in LA, I did that in LA”. I’m from Compton, don’t mess with me.

Cool Breeze didn’t like living on the compound with the rest of us GI’s so like a lot of other guy’s he rented a bungalow off base. The rents were dirt cheap and on a E3 or above rank the  rent was doable.  

Cool Breeze and I worked some of the same shifts in a set of communications vans which were located a few klicks down the road on the large joint US and Thai Udorn AFB. 

He kept bugging me to come over to his rented bungalow to hangout and smoke weed with him.  I didn’t smoke weed, never had and thought that I never would.  Cool Breeze kept pleading, begging, prodding me to just take a hit off this “good shit” he bought from a Thai friend. He kept giving me some excellent bourbon he had stashed in a secret place in his solo bungalow.  

I was 22 years of age at this time and pretty much never succumbed to peer pressure but I finally gave in and took one hit.  Nothing happened so I took another and I knew right then that I had screwed up badly.  Before Cool Breeze could stop me I was out the bungalow door out into the streets running like a mad man three miles back to the army compound.  

Days afterwards I was telling Tiger, Doc, Seay, and some of the other guys about my experience and they just laughed.  They all knew that Cool Breeze fortified his “good shit” with more potion stuff that I don’t even want to know what it was.  

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Udorn is not Bangkok

 

I tell people that I spent a year in Thailand they can only think of Bangkok or a resort area like Pattaya. They say how wonderful it must have been to have spent so much time there. Believe me, in 1967 Udorn was no Bangkok and probably isn’t today. I try to tell people that Udorn is in northern Thailand and is actually closer to Hanoi, Viet Nam than it is to Bangkok. Additionally, it is only about 50 miles from the Laotian capital Vientiane.

 Now don’t get me wrong. I would not change a thing about going to Udorn when I did. The people were wonderful, for the most part, and being there was certainly a part of my maturation. I was 22 years old when I first arrived in Udorn. I was uncertain about how I felt about my support role in a war that was only to become more unpopular the years following my discharge. The merits or demerits of the effort in Southeast Asia is a topic for another time. At the time I thought I was doing the right thing.

 I spent a total of two days in Bangkok, eight days in Korat (aka Nakhon Ratchasima), and the rest of my year in Udorn Thani. I spent my first night in Thailand in a Bangkok hotel where lizards crawled all over the ceiling. I just knew one of those little suckers was going to drop down on me. I kept one eye on them till morning. Laugh if you want to, I’m a city boy.

After a couple days I checked into the army base in Korat, a central processing point for army personnel dispersing throughout Thailand at the time. It was so over-crowed there that all the barracks were full so about 40 guys, me included, were given cots in the dayroom until they were shipped out. A cot and a sheet, that’s it! Not having a mosquito net was a big deal. I was so tired from keeping an eye out for the lizards that I slept like a baby my first night on the cot in Korat. The first morning I awakened to the biggest itch I could imagine. I began to count the bites on my arms and legs and quit after I got to 50. I adamantly believed that I would be going home with malaria or some other disease carried by those little buzzing bastards.

 When I got my orders to go to Udorn, the cadre told me how nice Udorn was. They even have flush toilets and cold water showers in some of the barracks. I could hardly wait to get there.

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Heading To Udorn

 

 

I think the temperature was at least 95 degrees and the humidity had to be at least that the day when I was shipping out of Korat to my permanent change of station, which was Udorn. I got all my gear together in my duffel bag and was transported by a 6×6 vehicle to an airstrip nearby. All of us GI’s loaded ourselves onto this propeller driven cargo plane that was probably a C-123 or C-130. I don’t know how much room a sardine has in a can but I think we could have passed for that on a larger scale. I had on my long sleeve OD’s (olive drabs), the mandatory baseball cap style ‘lid’, combat boots, bloused trousers, and the ridiculous orange bib scarf of Stratcom. I can’t remember if I was sitting sideways or backwards but I know it wasn’t forward. We had neither flight attendants nor in-flight movies. Tray tables up and seat backs in the upright position was not a concern.

With the body heat, no air conditioning, and plain no ventilation, I thought I was going to suffocate before I got to Udorn. This flight was not a direct flight to Udorn. It made at least 5 stops before it got to Udorn dropping off GI’s at each landing. A couple places we picked up people but by the time we got to Udorn the plane was nearly empty. Each take-off and landing brought me to the brink of tossing my cookies, but with the increased room and air flow at each stop, I made it without having to make a deposit in my ‘lid’.

Getting to Udorn in the late afternoon I met Staff Sergeant Brown (quartermaster) for the first time. With hash marks up and down his arm his favorite saying was that he had more time in the chow line than I had in this man’s army. I believe he did because of those service stripes on his arm sleeves and the beer belly he so prominently displayed.

I got dinner, a bunk, bedding, and the two most important things. Those were a mosquito net and a ‘Green Bomb’. The ‘Green Bomb’ was an aerosol can of bug spray, which I am sure was 100% DDT, a long banned chemical harmful to man and wildlife.

I was in paradise for the next 335 days or so. Why not 365 days or so? More on that later. I didn’t know if I would make it back to civilization.

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The Barracks

The US Army barracks in Udorn back in 1966 had two rows of bunks about 25 on each side. The higher level non-coms and officers had their own private rooms at one end near the entrance. Screen mesh covered all the openings of the windows but there was no glass but either wooden or sheet metal louvers to keep the rain from penetrating into the interior. There were a few wobbly ceiling fans strategically placed down the aisle between the two rows of bunks.

Each GI had a bunk with a mosquito net, a footlocker, and two upright lockers. Every personal possession was either in or around those aforementioned items. If you were lucky you had a shop light on an extension cord to put in your locker to minimize the dankness and mold from the constant high humidity of northern Thailand. Sometimes the clothes would shift inside the locker and the light would burn-up a couple pair of OD fatigues or worse the dress greens. The foot locker held all your skivvies, socks, and toiletries.  I can’t prove it, but I know that some of the clothes shifting was due to some prank pulling Stratcom guys with nothing else to do.

Every guy had his own personal can of the ‘Green Bomb’, an aerosol arsenal of DDT for the mosquitoes. The trick was to unfurl the protective net from on top of the bunk, tuck it under the mattress all the way around. Get the ‘Green Bomb’ ready, open a small area in the corner and blast away then close the corner and tuck it back in. With the bombing raid completed it’s off to the shower in the next building over, wrapped in your towel covering your bare ass and flip flops flip-flopping with every step. After the shower you returned to assess the collateral damage and get into the rack as quickly as you could tucking the net back in. Quite often after a few minutes you’d hear, buzzzzzz while you coughed your head off from the fumes trapped in the net with you and the mosquitoes. 

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The Cab Ride To Town

In mid-1966 through mid-1967 I was in the army stationed in Udorn, Thailand.  The US Army had a small contingent of about 50 GI’s that was actually on a Thai army base about 3 or 4 miles down the road  from the large joint US and Thai air force base in Udorn.  We were apart of Stratcom that commanded a communications facility in support of the war effort in Viet Nam.  When we went to work we would travel that small distance to the airbase where I was a electronic technician in a tropo-scatter radio van called a TRC-90A.

We were constantly told about the cultural peculiarities of the Thai people and how we should show respect for their way of life. We were held responsible for the deeds done by the Thai’s if they were under our hire or direction.

On this occasion, I was in a cab alone with a Thai driver headed toward town for a little R&R.  The cab was a little Datsun (now Nissan) 1000, travelling much too fast for the conditions of the road between the two destinations.  A motorcycle rider was zipping in and out of traffic and somehow got in front of us and slammed on his brakes when the traffic ahead suddenly slowed.  We hit the bike rider and ran over the motorcycle and I believe the impact  injured him badly or even worse.  The bike ran off into the khlong (a nasty ass water canal with unmentionable stuff in it) and the cabbie stopped the Datsun, looked at the fallen bike rider and begun to run like heck the other way.  Yeah, he ran, leaving the cab there idling with the drivers side door open.   I thought, oh fudge, took the clue and I too ran the five miles back to the base.


To this day I don’t know what happened to that motorcycle rider but I was not going to stay around to find out. From the preaching’s the army gave us I figured that if I hadn’t hired the cabbie he wouldn’t have been there and ultimately it would fall back on me.  That was the logic used by the (in)glorious UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).

I don’t know what the record was for the 5 mile run but I believe  I set it that day.

 

 

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One Night At The Bunker

The soldiers that had spent some time at a particular location made it their duty to pass on the stories, legends, and folklore of the facility, the post, or base where they happened to be stationed.  Most of the stories did have at least a little bit of truth to them but all of them were embellished to make the incoming troops feel uneasy for the entertainment pleasure of the short-timers (a term for the guys nearing the end of their tour assignment or their discharge from the service).

In Thailand one of those stories was about a snake named the Banded Krait, a short but highly poisonous viper.  To illustrate its so-called high toxicity it was called the “Two Stepper”, meaning after you were bitten you might take two steps and then keel over dead.  Actually, they are less venomous and shier then some snakes, such as the cobra, their reputation was bolstered on purpose to satisfy the stories passed on from troop to troop.

There were sandbag bunkers at various areas all around the perimeter of the compound that were to be used if and when attacked by the so called Thai Cong.  They remained mostly unused and just needed a little cleaning out from time to time due to the torrential rains during the monsoon season.  Each squad had their own set of bunkers assigned to them.  During one cleaning out session I spotted the “Two Stepper” and that bunker didn’t get a cleaning that day.


Well as you might guess the very next night we got roused out of our bunks about 2:00 in the morning due to a suspected raid by the Thai Cong.  Everybody had to report to the quartermaster to get a rifle and helmet and report to the bunkers.  All unnecessary lights were off as a defensive measure.


Well, Specialist Harrison was born at night but not that night so he also grabbed a flashlight out of his footlocker.  With my helmet on and rifle in hand, I got to the bunker shining my flashlight at anything and everything until the squad leader snatched the flashlight out of my hands.  The career sergeant was screaming at me and whispering at the same time that the ‘enemy’ might pick me off with one shot by just aiming at the light.   I told him that the ‘enemy’ might,  maybe, or could be out there but I saw a “Two Stepper” in there just the day before and I’d take my chances on the outside of the bunker.  After saying something about my mother and something about stupid comm guys he left me to my devices. 


It did turn out to be a false alarm that night but my commanding officer told me the next day that if I pulled a stunt like that again Specialist 4th Class (E4) Harrison would be Private First Class (E3) Harrison.  I never had to call his bluff since that was the last time I had to visit the bunker at night time.  Oh, by the time I left Thailand I was Specialist 5th Class (E5) Harrison, so take that Captain Napier!

Banded Krait

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