In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, they can be found by clicking the labels button "stuff I made up".

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Monday, October 31, 2011

From My Perspective

This is a view from the cab of a 60 ton rough terrain crane.

The boom is in the center. The block is behind the large structural girder.

Here's another view. The blocks are in the center; to the left of the man in the harness.



This is a view from the operator seat. (Yeah. That's a picture of my leg, for the ladies  for reference) The computer is in the upper right hand corner.



This is a better photo of the computer. The readings are 77.4 feet of boom extended, the boom angle is 55.9 degrees and the load radius is 39.5 feet. Total weight on the block is 4000 lbs and the maximum weight for the line configuration (single whip line) is 12,300 lbs.



I can't take pictures of the controls because they're joystick controls on the right and left. Alternate controls for the boom lift and boom extension are on the floor with the accelerator and brake pedal.

So, if you've been wondering where I've been, there you are.

The Golden Rule

You can look it up. There's more than one rendition and links to most all religious faiths. In my mind, it's necessary for a healthy society to function.

I suppose the rule could be subverted like all rules. It could easily be determined to only exist for one segment of society, or to justify unfair treatment of another, but this would be no different than any other rule, or law, that selfish individuals subvert for their own gain. That's the unhealthy part of a society. Envy and avarice have always been a plague and ruins of both are scattered throughout history.

I could write chapters on this subject, but it would only be reiterating what has been written for centuries. In my mind, the rule is what determines if a society survives, or disappears like all before. It's simple and really needs little explanation. Following the rule only requires an honest introspection without rationalization and subversion. That, to me, is the hardest part of following the Golden Rule. Few can be honest and admit they have allowed their weaknesses to justify their actions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's Fall

Fall means different things to everyone, but it's a special time for me. I deal with oppressive heat for months, which gradually causes an unhealthy state of mind. Sometime during every day there is the longing for relief, which finally arrives when the first cold fronts lower the humidity and bring pleasant clear days with light northerly breezes.

This year is different. Due to the drought, nobody is burning leaves. I'm missing the smell, which accentuates the cool autumn air like an incense. It's integral to the experience, but this fall I'll have to do without. I guess it's a fair trade, since we didn't have to deal with a tropical system, or the torrential flooding that some summers bring. I'll take the trade and enjoy the time of the year I like the best.

I know colder days are coming. I'll be uncomfortable and deal with times when my feet ache from the cold. The cold damp wind will cut to the bone. Sometime during every day, I'll be longing for the relief of a hot bath and a warm bed. Until then, I'll enjoy what I have.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Promise of Rain

The rain deficit is still in the dozens of inches in my area. Even with the changes of Fall, it's obvious all vegetation is stressed and even trees are dying. There is an even chance of rain over the next 48 hours, which is desperately needed. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Arguing With Math

We have a project that requires a 30 degree skew on a pipe discharge. The pipe is around 200 feet, which places the end of the pipe 115.47 feet downstream of a line perpendicular to the outfall from the upstream location.  Since 30 degrees is the minimum offset, which may be a concern due to property lines, a change in the upstream location may be required.

One of my bosses, of course, had to ask if I was sure, so I had to explain. Another, acted like the requirements should be changed, which is out of the question . I know who we're dealing with and they won't vary from their requirements.

So, in the end, the math can't be argued with. What I haven't told either boss is that I think their "seat of the pants" measurement of 200 feet is probably off by at least 40%, which means the pipe will fit. The offset is much less for 120 feet.

I won't discuss this with either boss until I verify the dimensions. They like to argue with math; I don't. Math always wins.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Malaise

I haz it. The mild headache, fatigue and generally feeling like crap. This evening, I shall take some Nyquil, soak in a hot tub of water and hope I don't catch the damn cold that's been introduced at work.

Bleh!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Advice For Choosing a Candidate

My advice on choosing a Presidential candidate is to think of all the candidates sitting around a table playing poker, when a loud voice from outside the room says: "I can't stand any of you and I'm going to do something about it."

There are a few things that can happen at this point. There might be a comment, such as "Did you hear that? What should we do?" Whoever you think may say this is definitely not be the right choice. A president should never ask what to do in this type of situation.

Someone may say: "I'll go talk to them. A little reasonable conversation should solve this problem." Strike this candidate. They don't have a clue.

There might be blank stares and confused looks. Eliminate any candidate you think may behave in this manner. Indecision only makes a poor President.

There might even be an accusation from a candidate. "Which one of your made them mad?" That candidate should be struck from your list immediately. There's no way an honest President won't admit they made a few enemies in the past.

So what is the right behavior? Vote for the candidate you think would stand up, flip off the lights and tell the others: " You better grab a weapon and get ready. Things are getting ugly." That's the person that will make the best President, especially if they add: "And if any of you look at my cards, I'll stomp a mudhole in your ass." That's presidential. They're honest with their self, know they may have to get rough with their enemies and demand integrity of those around them. They, also, have the courage to play poker with a bunch of thieving politicians.

If your choices have been whittled to one or two candidates, choose the one that has some military training, or been something besides a politician. They know that they might get their ass whipped, but they, also, know whoever is out there already made the mistake of announcing their intentions and the odds are not in their favor.

Brake Light Switch

My expert based analysis  gut feeling, tells me the brake light switch on my 2008 Sierra is malfunctioning. It's not the brake lights, but the cruise control that stopped working. Up until the temperature drop, I could jostle the brake peddle with my foot and the cruise control would work. Now, that doesn't do anything, so I need to change the switch.

So, I'll now go stand on my head, fight a clip made in hell to torment mechanics to prevent accidental displacement of the switch and change the switch. Last time I did this on my wife's car, I had a cramp in my foot, which kept me from moving, which caused me to scream for help, which my wife ignored  which my wife never heard. At least the same thing didn't happen during sex. That would be terrible, especially the brake light switch.

Anyway, if I don't post in a few days, you'll know where I am.


It was too easy. One hour, including the trip to the parts house. Now, I'll be looking up all day for satellites.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

They Want My Blood...

...literally, they want my blood. The local blood center just called to hit me up for some blood. I donate now and then, but don't make it a regular habit. I think it's important, but I usually feel like hammered crap for a few days afterwards and the last time brought me a stern look from my doctor when he told me I was anemic. So, it's few and far between for donations, but when you're O-negative, it's the good stuff and they want all they can get.

It's Too Nice Outside To Be Working

It's 65 degrees, the wind is out of the North and it's bluebird clear. In this neck of the woods, this is about as nice as it will ever be. Perfect weather and tonight it will dip into the upper 40's. Fall is here and I'm loving every minute of it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Father and Son Conversation About the Protest

Father: "Son I saw you on the news with a sign protesting Wall Street."

Son: "Yeah Dad. It was cool. We sat around, told them how we feel and let them know that Wall Street won't get away with what they're doing. In fact, I'm calling from the protest. We're going to stay until they listen to our demands"

Father: "It looked more like you were eating pizza and texting"

Son: "I had to let my girlfriend know I would be on television."

Father: "Well, Son. I have something to discuss with you."

Son: "And, what's that Dad?"

Father: "A group of investors recognized you from last years Christmas party and transferred their portfolios to another firm."

Son: "So, what does that have to do with me?"

Father: " That account was about 20% of my annual income, which prompted your mother, and I, to hurry our plans."

Son: "And, what plans are those, Dad?"

Father: "First thing: Your mother and I are moving. We discussed this last month at Sunday dinner and would have liked to tell you then, but you didn't show, or call."

Son: "Well, I was real busy with school and the time slipped away."

Father: "Speaking of school, a counselor called last week to ask why you didn't respond to the letter they sent. I told them I didn't know of any letter, which apparently, pertains to you failing all the classes you took this semester. They called again yesterday. We discussed your grades and the tuition check I sent last month. They wanted to know if they should send it back, or just run it through the paper shredder. I told them the paper shredder was fine. They thanked me for saving them the cost of a stamp and asked about your dorm room. I was a little confused until they explained they haven't seen much of you, needed a place for an Indian pre-med student, so we worked out a deal. They'll pro-rate the time it was used and send me a check for the difference. Since I'm cutting costs, it was too sweet of a deal to ignore."

Son: "So, I guess I'll have to come stay with you and Mom.

Father: "I think we have a little problem, Son. Jim at the office has been bugging me for months to sell him the house. To sweeten the deal, he agreed to persuade a friend to move on selling his town house. Long story short, the movers will be through by Friday, your things are in storage and we'll be in our new  town house by the end of the weekend. It has two bedrooms, but we need one for my office. I'm afraid we don't have room for you."

Son: "So, where will I go?"

Father: "I knew you'd ask, so I talked to the youth minister at church. He said he remembers you from high school and you'd remember him, since he used to work the counter at the chicken place by the mall.  We had real long conversation and he suggested the YMCA. He lived there while he was working on his degree. He said they'll work with you on the cost and offer counseling. What's really strange is that when he told me his degree was in accounting, I suggested he send his resume to human resources. They must be interested. He has an interview tomorrow and from what I hear, it's almost a sure thing, since he's going to school at night to work on his masters degree. Give him two years and he'll be a CPA."

Son: "I guess I can go stay with my girlfriend."

Father: "Isn't she the Debbie from the country club?"

Son: "Yeah. That's her."

Father: "Hmmm. That's strange. I could swear I saw her name in the bridal announcements last Sunday. It must have been a mistake, although I thought I saw her the other day having dinner with an older fellow. Then again, the hair wasn't the same."

Son: "Well, she has lighter hair now and she keeps it shorter."

Father: "Sort of an ash blond?"

Son: "Yeah, I guess."

Father: "It probably wasn't her. Anyway, I have to take this call. It's a new customer that I've been calling for over a week. Bye Son."

Son: "But Dad!"

**Click**

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Want My Money Back

By my calculations, 40% of the money I've paid in Federal Income Taxes has been wasted, so I want it back. I know just asking would probably bring some nasty letter from the government, so maybe, I should come up with some viable options for them to compensate me for their error. Here are a few I've thought would be fair:
-Cut my taxes by 40%, or allow me to not pay any taxes for 40% of the rest of my working years.
-Deed me a few acres in Yellowstone National Park. I could open a little souvenir shop and a snow cone stand, but it would have to be next to Old Faithful. Oh yeah, I'd get to shoot bears if they dug in my trash. Bears and smelly tourists.
-Let me charge for parking at any White House Event. I'd be fair (just like them) and only charge $50 per car.
-Allow me to garnish the wages of members of Congress and other high ranking officials. "Dear Sir/Madam: Due to wasteful spending by you, and your predecessors, 40% of your salary shall be paid by the tenth day of each month until full compensation is achieved. A fee of 1.5% per month shall be charged for late payments for a maximum 18% annual fee.
-Let me charge any politician for any of my time they waste on television. Again, I'd be fair. If I like you, $85 an hour. If not $200,000 per 30 second spot. Just like the networks. Fair, is fair.

I can think of other things, such as a usage fee for any private firm that uses political power to get a sweet deal, like Nancy Pelosi's family.

I want my money back.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Not Philanthropy

I've been thinking about the protests of Wall Street, which have now - according to the media I don't have much faith in - spread over the world. Otherwise, there's a multi-national group of whining people that are upset because there aren't unlimited resources for their personal gain. They want more and they want those that produce to give up more for their simple reason of selfish greed.

Giving to these people is not philanthropy. It's perpetuating the myth that life is fair and enabling a class of people that can only be described as parasitic. Their demands, and lack of the maturity to realize they don't have a chance in being successful, only points out how the equalization of income and resources only leads to poverty for all. The "Great Society" experiments have failed and the blame can only be given to the governments that thought their meddling would be better than the natural process of free enterprise.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Working on the Railroad.

I've worked on railroads. Not the main line rails, most of that work is by machines, but in industrial facilities. It's simple in theory, but far from easy.

The first rail job I worked on was leveling and tamping storage tracks in a large plastics plant. The pellets were loaded in rail cars, which would either be stored until the market was good, or sent to manufacturers for whatever they happened to do with plastic pellets. The tracks were constantly exposed to varying loads, which included switch engines. The result of these factors were rails that weren't level, or even.

My job was to work with the tamping machine operator. The machine rode the rails, had hydraulic jacks and retractable tamping plates. It could raise the rail and tamp the ballast (rock) that surrounded the rail. As it tamped, somebody had to keep supplying rock to the machine. That's where I came in,  I shoveled rock and tried to keep up with the machine. After about a week, we finally finished, which was about four days past what I wanted. 

The second railroad job I worked on was to help repair the mess of a derailed switch engine. When the flanged wheels fell off the track, the rail rolled on the side and the wheels destroyed a dozen ties. We had to pull the spikes, change the bad ties, re-spike the rail and level the section of track. The entire job was the result of a Friday evening accident. The switch engine derailed, the railroad company wouldn't switch any more cars until the rail was back in shape and we were available. My boss was glad for the opportunity. Me? I was wary. I had an idea what was soon to happen. We'd start repairs at first light on Saturday morning.

Removing the spikes required a large pry bar called a spike puller. It weighed about 30 pounds, had a large crows foot on one end and a narrow chiseled tip on the other end. Using it required some help with a hand spike driver, which had a long tapered head with hammer on both sides. Using the spike driver, the crows foot was driven onto the spike and then the pry bar was used to pull the spikes. It was like using a claw hammer on steroids. Big heavy stuff, which required little brains but lots of meat ass.

We pulled the spikes on the entire section of rail that had lain over. The rail was fine, but one of the joint bars was cracked. The facility had a few in storage, so after unbolting the rail ( with a really big wrench) we replaced the joint bar, re-bolted the rail and started replacing ties. We had a limited work area and our backhoe only had a large bucket, so removing and replacing the ties required digging around the ties by hand and sliding them under the rail with a set of spike tongs. After the ties were in place, the next step was to gauge the rail and drive new spikes.

Rail sits on what's called a tie-plate. It has four square slots for the spikes, which allow two spikes on each side of the rail. Some are flat, with a raised section to fit against the bottom flange of the rail. Others have two raised edges, which are specially made for a certain size of rail. The have a snug fit, which keeps the rail from shifting in either direction. We had an advantage with setting the rail. We had a backhoe, so we didn't have to use rail tongs and wrestle the rail into place. We, also, had a rail gauge, which we jammed between the rails to insure the 56-1/2 inches required for American rail cars.

Old ties have holes, where the original spikes were driven. Driving a new spike is easy, but it won't hold. To solve this problem, there are spike plugs, which are hardwood plugs that are the same size of the spike. When placed before the spike, they wedge the spike and keep the rail and ties firmly attached. Since we had to re-spike many of the same ties, we had to plug the holes before placing the spikes.

We started driving. I'd spent many hours with a sledge hammer driving form stakes, so my aim was good, although it was a different process. One of us would start the spike and then we'd alternate blows until the spike was driven. It was hard work, but it became harder when we spiked the new ties.

The new ties were hardwood ties, so the dense wood was so hard, a missed hit could bend a spike. Besides the demand for accuracy, each blow only buried the spike about an inch. Driving each spike became a much longer process, which only added to the labor that was already what I considered hard.

We eventually finished driving the spikes, which only left using rail jacks to raise the rail and tamping the ballast under each tie. We finished a little after noon. We'd decided we'd work through lunch to finish. It was Saturday, a beautiful summer day, and everyone had something much better to do than work on a railroad.

As I was driving home, I thought of the morning. We'd accomplished in half a day what railroad machinery would have done in about an hour. Our advantage was we were much cheaper than a rail crew, which would have charged a four hour minimum, besides the high rate of the machinery included in the cost.

The manager of the facility was pleased with our promptness, which brought them back in good graces with the railroad company. They rewarded us with the offer to change the bad ties in their facility. So, by the next Wednesday, a truck load of ties arrived and we went to work. After it was all over, I realized I didn't care much for railroad work.

Since then, we've had a few jobs where we had to repair, or modify, rail in different facilities. I tried driving a few spikes on the last job. After my try, I realized I'm not the young man I used to be. I, also, realized if I had to drive spikes, I didn't want to be the young man I used to be.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rotten Things That Happen

Somebody forged signatures on the petition to allow Clinton and Obama on the 2008 Indiana Primary Ballot. While I can hope they find this criminal and beat them with sticks until they pee blood prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, I have the feeling the rug will have another lump.

The Protest Revisited

I've been reading reports on how nasty the area has become. People are peeing and crapping like farm animals, the trash is piling up and the shared food is available to any contaminated hand that happens to reach into the pizza box. Some reports even describe dumpster diving. Judging by the dwindling reports from the area, it must have reached the point they can't pay reporters enough money to be exposed to the filth.

Dumbasses. Phase 2 will involve a lot of antibiotics.

The newest reports state they'll have to leave Friday, but only temorarily, so they can clean up after the crowd. Isn't that precious? If I lived in New York City, I'd be be pissed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ignorance in Abundance

I think I awoke in the twilight zone. I've heard more ignorant comments this morning than are possible. Surely, some alien force has sucked brain matter from people that should have more sense than a handful of clay. I anticipate the rest of the day. By evening, I'll need a sedative, or a brain transplant.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An Afternoon On The Interstate.

I knew traffic was about to get real heavy. The crew had finished sealing paving joints on the outside lane of the interstate, picked up their lane closure and were making the long loop to set up again on the inside lane. I was changing the message board and the advance warning signs to "left" and they would start setting out barrels when I gave them permission to start. Opening the outside lane had allowed the traffic to "dump", so most of the drivers were back up to 70 mph and determined to hurry on to wherever they were going. We were about to break the hearts of those a few miles down the road. The closed lane would bring traffic to a crawl.

It was hot. The temperature in the shade was around 95, but that didn't mean much on the paving. My thermometer read 105, which was probably about right. Close to the paving, it was around 120 degrees and the paving was pushing 140 degrees. It was tough for working, but the best conditions for sealing paving joints. The hot paving didn't have any moisture, so adhesion was the best it could be.

I called the crew and headed over the bridge that was about a half mile before the setup. The signs were clearly visible, the message board a mile behind was warning the traffic and the visibility was to the horizon. Otherwise, the only weak link in the entire process was the human factor. Drivers jockeying for a position  ahead of merging traffic could cause a problem and probably would. Even though they had over a mile to move to the other lane, they'd push their luck until they reached the arrow board, which sat on the shoulder at the start of the taper.

I knew something was wrong when I crested the bridge. Traffic wasn't merging ahead. It was stopping in both lanes. I pulled to the shoulder and headed to the problem. I really couldn't see what was wrong, but I did know the crew had only partially set out their barrels. When I reached the "crash truck", I immediately knew what happened.

A crash truck is the slang name for a truck with an attenuator mounted on the rear. You've probably seen one. It's a big cushion mounted on the back of a truck. The cushion, which is designed to absorb the energy of an impact, costs thousands of dollars and is usually ruined when it's struck. The cost to repair is too much compared to the cost of a new one.

A late model Buick was buried into the attenuator. The truck was straddling the left outside stripe and traffic was stopped; mostly due to rubbernecking. I pulled into the grass on the right shoulder. I don't  remember if I told the foreman to keep placing the barrels or if he asked. The traffic needed to be moving; emergency vehicles would be arriving. They continued placing the barrels, I motioned traffic into the right lane and headed towards the wreck.

The driver was leaning against the driver side hood of her car. When I was closer, I could see an ugly bruise from her seat belt that went across her neck and disappeared under her blouse. Her legs had "dents" that were seeping blood. The powder from the airbag covered her and the inside of her car. The car was totaled and the attenuator would need replacing.

The woman was in her mid 60's and a little overweight. The intense heat had already turned her face red and she had the confused look of someone that was just in an accident. I thought for a moment on the best thing to do and decided she needed to be out of the heat. I asked if she could walk. She could, but with a pronounced limp. One of the hands stopped traffic and I helped her across the highway to my truck. I helped her into the passenger seat and turned the air conditioning on high. Her face was bright red. I'm sure she wasn't used to much heat and the triple digits on the highway were as dangerous as the traffic.

Emergency vehicles were arriving: Trooper, wreckers, sheriff's deputies and ambulances. I don't remember who called 911 but they must have had given a description of mayhem. I can understand the reaction. When I first came over the bridge, it looked as though there was a twenty car pile-up, instead of a two vehicle wreck. In the orderly flow of the now moving traffic, there was nothing to see but a highway crew, a bunch of emergency vehicles and, if you looked carefully, a really strange "Buick" attenuator truck

A woman EMT walked to the passenger side of my truck and started asking the woman questions. She described how she felt and said she didn't need to go to the hospital. The EMT tried to persuade her, but she was adamant. She would be fine, so I asked if she needed to call anyone. She wanted to call her daughter. I dialed the number she gave, connected the phone and handed it to the woman. She talked for under a minute, reassured her daughter and gave her directions so she could give her a ride home.

As we sat in my truck, I watched the EMT and her partner. They were leaning against the side of their ambulance and appeared to be shooting the breeze. The woman kept glancing our way and it seemed as though they were just killing time. They could have left at any time. I think they knew, more than anyone else, time was on their side. It must have been maddening to wait.

As I chatted with the woman, I could see the pain in her expression. As we talked, it became worse. Eventually, in more of a question, she made the comment: "Maybe I should go to the hospital, just to make sure." I agreed immediately and was out the door before she had time to change her mind. I motioned the EMT's and they were talking to the woman in moments. They knew the adrenaline would wear off and the pain would start. They were waiting for that to happen.

Over the next minute, the ambulance crew made a more thorough examination, she called her daughter to tell her where she was going. and they were gone. I watched them drive away and then went to see what I could do. Troopers had already questioned the driver of the crash truck. He told me what happened. The woman never slowed down. He saw her in the rear view mirror as he was shadowing the crew placing barrels, but there was nothing he could do but watch. She hit the back of the truck at around 55 mph. She had her head turned to see if there was a space in traffic to merge and misjudged the distance to the attenuator.

The wrecker had pulled the Buick from the cushion. The car was totaled and the cushion had performed as designed. The speeding car collapsed the attenuator, which was a controlled collapse. Instead of prying a dead woman from a crumpled car, the woman walked from the accident and would live another day.

Within a few minutes, the emergency crews were gone. The only thing left was the damaged crash truck, which was in perfect condition, except for the attenuator. We decided to get off the highway early. The truck needed a new attenuator and there was time to get another mounted before the evening was over.

The crew removed the barrels, hooked onto the arrow board and was off the highway in a short time. I watched from the shoulder until they had maneuvered through the traffic and reached the right shoulder. I made the long loop to take down the signs and shut down the message board. It was another day on the Interstate. Tomorrow, we'd do it again.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Protesting on Wall Street.

There's some pretty strange folks doing the protesting. From what I've heard, there's a bunch of the strangeness that's not being shown on the major news networks. I'm guessing it has to do with profanity, offensive signs, strange body piercings and the fact that most of the protesters probably can't spell protest and are only there to take advantage of the free stuff that's being handed out.

So, do I think they'll be successful with their protest and change the world? No. I think one, or more, will make the mistake of doing something really stupid. After the police are through with the entire crowd, the only thing left to do will be to hose down the mess and send in the street cleaning crews.

Here's what doesn't make sense and is probably beyond the reasoning power of many of the protesters: All of the protesting, demands for change and push for revolution has been done before. You can find the final effects in the history of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, North Korea, Cambodia, Cuba, Venezuela and other countries that turned to wealth redistribution, with central government oversight. The outcome has been the same: Millions are killed and they die of starvation, exposure, medical experiments or, mercifully, from a bullet in the back of their heads.

So, who do you think will be the first to the "re-education" camps when the dust settles? You got it;  it's the non-productive loud protesters. Their shared dreams will end with the nightmare of bulldozers covering their mass grave. History shows this to be true and repeating this history is madness.

I have to add this comment from Obama at a news conference:

“...I think part of people’s frustrations, part of my frustration, was a lot of [lending] practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact,” the president said at a midday news conference Thursday..."

Has he lost his mind? Surely he can realize the irony of this statement considering the Solyndra scandal and the housing bust, thanks to the madness of sub-prime lending mandates?

Dumbass and dumbasses. This stuff is straight from a "Mad" magazine.

And another add:

The reports are now stating sanitation is a concern. The private park, which is the "headquarters" of the protesters, hasn't been cleaned since September 16. I'm guessing you can smell it two blocks away.

iHope This Doesn't Last For Weeks

Steve Jobs is dead. Now, it will be iReport, iMourning, iReminiscing and iDon't really want to hear any more about his death. I'm sad for his family and friends. He was a pioneer in manufacturing and selling personal computers, but iAm already tired of this. May he rest in peace and may this not last too long.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Fact Of The Matter

I don't like that phrase. It's awkward, overused and sounds crappy. The fact of the matter is that "the fact of the matter" irritates me. Find some other way to communicate.

* I think I need to clarify this:
A typical interview would go like this: "Senator. It's reported that you were seen grazing like a cow in the pasture behind your home. What is your response?"

Regular answer: "The fact of the matter is I was dizzy after taking chemotherapy to show my support for breast cancer awareness and was having a hard time standing."

Better answer: "Actually, this crap story was fabricated by a snot-nosed college student working on a journalism major and you abused your privilage of taking part in this press conference. So, if I ever see you at another of my press conferences, Marco, my bodyguard, will go all medieval on your gimlet ass and you'll wish you never even heard of me."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One Night At The Beach

It wasn't uncommon for my brothers,friends and I to pile into cars and go somewhere...anywhere, just to get out and see what there was to see. It could be anywhere, but one night we decided on the beach.

The beach was around 30 miles away. At night, when there wasn't a holiday, the beach could have long stretches where there was nobody to be found. That's what we looked for. Not that were anti-social; we didn't want to disturb anyone, or be disturbed. We might want to shoot some fireworks, or pistols. That night was just to get out and fritter away some time.

We pooled our money, piled into a friend's van, grabbed a few six-packs of beer and took off for the beach. We listened to music on the way, which was a mixture of Edgar Winter, The J-Giles Band and any FM we could pick up on the radio. Eight track was the  technology, so the songs would have a skip where the tracks changed. Some would fade out and fade in on the next track. Others would just switch, which was an accepted annoyance. After all, it was stereo and affordable stereo was only  a little over ten years old.

We arrived at the beach a little before midnight. As we climbed from the van, I noticed flashes of light on the horizon. Nocturnal thunderstorms were forming on the sea breeze front. It was the nightly summer event where the cooler air from the land lifted the warmer air over the Gulf of Mexico. Lightning flashes would light the entire clouds, which climbed as I watched. The light northerly breeze was keeping the mosquitoes at bay and only allowed small lazy waves to break near the beach. The  wind would eventually completely calm the Gulf, but that was hours away. For now, the occasional wave break quietly broke the silence.

I looked at the bright stars and hazy brilliance of the Milky Way. This was a treat, since the usual night sky of the city hid all but the brightest stars. Opportunities like this were rare, so I spent a few moments just staring in amazement.

Eventually, I looked back towards the Gulf. My eyes were now accustomed to the dark, which offered a better view of the water. There was something different. It was though there was a strong, distant light  reflecting off the waves as they broke. I turned towards the land and back towards the water. Someone spoke: "Look at the waves; they're glowing." They were. There was some type of bioluminiscent organism in the water. The waves disturbed whatever it was, and the result was a flash of greenish blue light.

I had to get closer. I walked to the waters edge and marveled at the sight. Fish left streaks in the water. The occasional wave would light like a dim fluorescent tube. My footprints in the wet sand remained for a few moments. I waded to my ankles and created my own universe with the slightest movement. Large streaks out between the sand bars were the larger predators on the hunt. I imagined it was a feast, since their prey had no place to hide.

For about an hour, it was as though we were visiting another planet. The glowing water and thunderstorms on the horizon were as alien as any planet imaginable. Swarming mosquitoes brought us back to reality as the wind became lighter. We didn't have any repellent and our beer was gone; it was time to go.

That was the first and last time I saw the "glowing waves". Maybe I should get out more; take some time just to go see what there is to see. Next time I'll bring some mosquito repellent.

You Should Go Read This

Ray doesn't post real often, but his posts have quality. This one is a good one.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm Looking For a Term

Have you ever commented on public forum and it was the same reaction you would get if you farted at a funeral? No comments. Everybody gets real quiet, as if they hope you go away. Eventually the comment disappears at the bottom of the page, due to new posts, which appear one after another as if they're trying to bury your comment.

Okay. It might just be me, but I doubt it, so there has to be a term for this.

It's A Beautiful Day Today

There's no other way to describe today. The temperature this morning was around 50 degrees, with a light northerly breeze. The humidity was low and the air had the hint of crispness that later Fall will bring. In my part of the world, this type of day is rare and much appreciated after dealing with the cruel heat and humidity.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Paradox

I think it's safe to write that just about everyone knows someone with a substance abuse problem. There's plenty to be found and the odds are against not knowing someone that is having a problem.

I have the opinion that substance abuse problems are extensions of mental problems. The abuse is a reaction and the real problem may never be addressed because of the carnage of substance abuse. The damage to family members and friends is beyond repair, so the result is the complete destruction of the substance abuser. They end up with only one solution and the solution can never be changed.

Here's the paradox: When the person that abuse substances reaches the point their life is in jeopardy, the people that they really need are probably gone. Their friends and family have reached the point they won't, or can't, offer any more help. They've had enough and may be dealing with emotional disorders they acquired during their attempts to help.

So, is their a solution? I don't know, but I do know that the friends and families of substance abusers are unique in their experience. They see the slow motion train wreck and are affected by their observation. They grieve their loss daily and have little hope. Their sorrow is accentuated with anger and horror. Their resentment eats away at their emotional health like an acid. They wonder why this happened and sometimes feel guilt, even though they have done nothing wrong. If physical abuse is involved, they live in fear, which is horrible to experience and the results are rarely good. 

One thing I do know is that the "oxygen mask" analogy fits best: You have to save yourself first. You can't help someone else if you are succumbing to your own reactions or allowing the poor decisions of another to destroy your ability to survive. This means spending time examining your reactions and learning to not allow them to destroy your emotional health. It's tougher than it appears and the necessary resources can be hard to find. They're there, but you have to make the effort to find them. Otherwise, you might find you too are lured into using a substance to help you cope. At this point, the problem perpetuates and the legacy of another generation is of substance abuse.