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, I started another blog:

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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bird Sanctuary

I live in an area that can only be described as a bird sanctuary. The variety is almost astounding and the opportunities to watch birds only means stepping off the front porch.

In some earlier posts, I described some observations of a family of robins. Since that time, I've seen them, although their territory seems to have expanded.

I've been working on a large concrete dock, so I've been watching what are locally known as "Chimney Swifts", although I don't know if they're that, or some type of swallow. What's interesting is the nest they build. The picture below is a good representation of their nests.

This doesn't look like the bird, but the nest is identical.The birds - whatever they are - spend a substantial part of the day flying to a muddy bank a few hundred feet from the dock, grabbing a beak full of mud, then flying back to paste it to their nest. When not involved with this activity, they fly around and eat the swarming mosquitos, or "bathe" in the dust on a road, which I assume gets rid of parasites.

Yesterday, a crow visited the site. My guess is that the crow was looking for an easy meal of eggs, but its hopes were shattered when it was swarmed by the swifts and chased away. Although it tried more than once, all efforts were futile and it was forced to find a meal somewhere else.

The nests take up a substantial part of the overhangs on the dock and are placed precariously over the water, which has plenty of predatory fish to consume anything that falls in the water. Even without any predators, the birds are not equipped to swim; a fall would probably end with the bird drowning.

So, now you know substantially more about something that doesn't catch your interest.

You're welcome.

I was well into this post, when I realized I was like my father. He was fascinated by birds; he even put a bird bath in his back yard, so they'd have water and he could watch them. 

With me, it calms my mind to watch birds. Maybe it's a longing to escape - even for a moment - and be free of the confines of the ground.

Bizarre News

I started a long post about the zombie attack on the homeless man in Florida and the "personal decision" opinion of the President when it comes to selective abortion to determine the sex of a fetus, but reached the point I was too disgusted to continue.

WTF people? Am I the only sane person left in the world?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Waste...

...of a catastrophe in California.

If there's any doubt in your mind about never trusting the government, this should remove it forever.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Writer's Block

I think I might be dealing with it. It's that or rapid cycling bipolar disorder, the culmination of a childhood head injury, laziness, procrastination, constipation or fatique. Then again, it might be I'm just pulling your leg and will wow you with something fantastically creative.

Only time will reveal the truth.

Devaluation and Thievery

The dollar is losing value. I know most people don't even have a clue about what this means, but they're being what only can be described as "robbed", and their own government is part of the scheme.

The government spends more money than they have? They print some more. It's like adding water to milk. There's a point where there is a lot of water and no milk, which eventually leads to a point there is a complete loss of faith with the milk supplier. At that point, the ability to trade may end due to a lack of confidence. If it's a currency, the final outcome may mean a collapse of the economy of an entire nation, if not most of the world.

Economists can dazzle with charts, trends and projections, but the root cause of this thievery is greed and unbridled power. The effect is that no matter how much anyone makes, their wealth is constantly being eroded by the devaluation of the dollar, which makes times like today even worse. Not only are raises being frozen, the lack of extra money to offset the loss of spending power means people are losing every day. If you don't believe me, look at the price of food, gasoline, electricity and services. Do a little thinking and remember what you paid as little as four years ago. Don't think too long, you'll realize how irritated you are and want to choke the first politician you see today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Remember the Stories

I didn’t serve in the military. There wasn’t any one reason, but at the time I was of age, Viet Nam was ending and there wasn’t any attraction. I’ll never know if it was the right decision, but I do know of the stories I’ve listened to over the years, which were of those that came home, or served their duty in sometimes mindless boredom.
My father’s stories were few, and I wish I had realized he would be taken before I had enough sense to spend the time listening. He served in two wars: WW2 and Korea.
My father didn’t serve in combat in WW2. He was too young, so when he left boot camp, the war was over and the Coast Guard was involved with occupying Japan. I never knew exactly what he did, but it was with electronics, which were radios and radar at that time. He must have had many a tale to tell, but I only heard a comment about visiting Hiroshima. He had photos at one time. I haven’t been able to find them.
During Korea, he served on a destroyer in the Navy. I don’t know why he went back to the service, but he did and I remember his recollection of sailing through a typhoon and steaming up and down the Korean coast waiting for the North Koreans to wheel antique cannons from  caves in the cliff and fire at the passing  destroyer. They never came close, but the ship was under orders to not fire unless fired upon, so by the time they had the chance, the shells hit the empty cliffs after the cannons were wheeled back into the caves.
I had two brothers serve in the military. One was in the Coast Guard and the other was in the Air Force. Their stories weren’t of combat, but they had plenty to tell. The brother in the Coast Guard was involved in drug seizures and the other brother couldn’t tell me where he went when they told him to dress in civilian clothes and lose his identification.  
I had a close friend, who moved home with his family and I never heard from again. He served in the cavalry in Viet Nam. He wouldn’t speak with many about his experience, but I guess he felt comfortable with me, so he told me of his night during Tet in 1968.
He had a compulsion to add an extra case of grenades to his hooch the night before the Tet Offensive. He had over half a case, but something urged him to add a full case. I asked what happened and he told me the story.
It was midnight, and the fire base was asleep, except for those on guard duty. Trip flares started going off on the perimeter and the 105’s started popping illumination rounds. Looking out the firing slit brought a scene he described as ants crawling on the side of a mound. There were hundreds, if not thousands of the enemy attacking the base. They started shooting, and spent the next few hours fighting for their lives. It reached the point he was only rolling grenades out the firing slit, which exploded and kept the enemy from getting too close and returning the honor by throwing a grenade into the hooch.
Going outside was a mistake, which I figured meant the perimeter was breached, or the soldiers were not going to take the chance and shot anything moving.  The 105’s were now shooting straight ahead and using beehive rounds. The noise must have been almost unbearable, which would have only added an oppressive addition to the raw fear.
I finally asked how it ended. My friend said that the F-4’s arrived at first light with napalm. Within minutes, the battle was over and peace returned to the base. The only thing left was the assessment and cleanup. My friend pulled some pictures from the photo album he never showed to anyone. The jungle looked like a meat market. The beehive rounds had shredded and pinned the enemy to the trees in the jungle.  
He had other stories, including days “humping through the bush” and being kicked from a Huey by a nervous door gunner. My friend had 80 pounds of gear on at the time and he said it took days before he could walk without pain.
All in all, his stories were reflected in his wife’s eyes. She had a haunting stare when she described losing her brother to a tank explosion and waking one night when my friend had a flashback, awoke and finally snapped from his delusion to find he was trying to choke his wife. She was part of his service too. Nobody escapes, even those that don’t go.
So, what am I trying to say? Nothing you do, or say, will ever change what has passed. You can only observe and try to put the pieces together. You never know what occurred, or completely understand the coworker, that was caught by the enemy and tortured.  They did come home, but many didn’t. Monday is the day we honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Remember their service and honor them with your thoughts.

Back to Space

The Dragon capsule is in the process of docking at the International Space Station. Otherwise, the United States can be proud of a manned space program once again. We're back, which is a good thing, but it needs to be better.

An analogy would be developing the fastest, safest automobile known and then having to hitchhike to get across town because there wasn't any money to keep the damned thing running. This is par for government bureaucracy, but now that the private sector is involved, maybe this backwards method of realizing the potential of the best the United States can offer will end, and the unbridled efforts of entrepreneurs will open up another frontier.

For those that don't realize the importance of this event, mark it down in your calender. This is history and the future is looking brighter.

As I've thought about this post, I revisited the past, when the space program was new and the astronauts were venturing into something that the human race never encountered. 

If you didn't live during this time, you'll never understand the infatuation and pride we felt. John Kennedy threw down the gauntlet, and the United States proved it could arise to any challenge. We not only put people in space, we put people on the Moon and were allowed to wear this feather of achievement with pride. 

After the last shuttle flight, I had a moment where it was as though I was touched by a ghost. The past sacrifices by so many, including the deaths of astronauts, were only memories and the future only held uncertainty. I was appalled by the end and wondered how the United States could fail to insure a place in space without the permission of other countries. 

Needless to write, I'm proud of this moment. Maybe we can be blessed by little interference from the government and tremendous contributions by the private sector.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Imagination is on Vacation....I Guess

That's how it feels. I hope it doesn't decide to move.

Election Observation

Everyone running for office is a bad choice. If you don't believe it, listen to the ads. Nobody has any redeeming qualities and if you make the mistake of voting for any candidate, you'll regret your decision.

...and they wonder why we don't trust politicians and the media.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's Insane, but Our Insanity

I read the department of Health and Human Services will spend 20 million to place glitter on the ass end of Obamacare, which may turn out to be unconstitutional due to a final determination by the Supreme Court.

"...The advertising campaign will educate the public on staying healthy and preventing illness, a Health and Human Services official told The Hill..."

So, if you read between the lines, the 20 million of wasted money will promote health, so you don't need Obamacare, which will probably end up unfunded and unconstitutional.

I think it's time to dig a moat around Washington D.C. and wait for the government zombie apocalypse to end.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

That’s Going to Hurt Later

It’s hot today. Officially, it’s probably around 90 degrees. Unofficially, which is the real world,  it’s 95 with high humidity.
I was driving along, not paying much attention, with Little Feat turned up and listening to “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now”, when a group of motorcycles caught my attention of the rear view mirror. I reached a traffic light first, so I had some time to examine the group, particularly one rider, as they stopped next to me at the light.
None were dressed to ride on the highway, since most were in tank tops, t-shirts and not wearing gloves. I know this sounds a little excessive, but road rash, large bugs and the sun can play havoc on an exposed rider. I credit them for wearing helmets, but your head isn’t the only thing that can be damaged.
Anyway, back to the particular rider: I’d say she was around thirty in age, a few pounds overweight and had eight pounds of boobs - with four pounds exposed to the brutal sun. From my memory of cooking charts, she was somewhere between rare, and medium rare. Considering their path, she would cook for a few more hours. That’s what inspired my title.
Later this evening, I doubt she’ll be without volunteers to place salve, although their efforts will probably be in vain. That woman is going to suffer and there’s little she can do, except never make the mistake again.

Friday, May 18, 2012


My mother suffers from dementia. It's not Alzheimer's, and she's not incapacitated, but she struggles with what was once instinctive. The cause is mostly attributed to age and her neurologist stated that most everyone will eventually suffer with dementia is some form or another.

What does this mean? Gentle love and patience that you didn't know you had. That, and the acceptance you'll have your heart broken now and then when you watch how hard the sufferer struggles and the fear they can never completely hide.

It sucks, in my opinion. I miss the long involved conversations about politics and life in general. Since there's nothing I can do to change this, I can only watch and hope it never progresses to the point she's completely unaware of her condition.

So, go give your parents a hug. If they're far away, give them a call and spend some time visiting. You may never get this chance again.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Weight Maintenance

I was a chubby adolescent. My brothers reminded me of this fact every chance they had, which made being overweight worse. I managed to trim my weight and was at the low end of the ideal weight for my height when I finished high school.

My last year working offshore allowed me do gain 40 pounds, which put me back into the pudgy category. Going into the construction industry soon melted the weight away and I was back to about 10 pounds over my high school weight within a year. That was my ideal weight, since the weight difference was muscle, which I gained with physical labor.

My weight would fluctuate, but gradually rose over time. When my gallbladder was removed I'd almost reached the 40 pounds overweight point I'd accomplished while working offshore. I think that was my wake up call. It was time to lose some weight, so I did.

Overall, I've lost 20 pounds and held this weight for a few years. Going by the charts, I'm in the middle of the ideal weight for my height. This is good, but I'd like to lose 10 pounds, or turn ten pounds into muscle. I'll eventually accomplish this task, but it will take time.

So, I've wandered all around the reason I started this post: weight maintenance. I've learned how, but reached the point I realize how little food it takes compared to what was once required. Restaurant servings are at least twice as much as I need. Small servings are required, with the added stipulation to eat at least three meals a day. Missing a meal is out of the question, since my gallbladder is gone. Unregulated bile has unpleasent consequences when the undiluted caustic is dumped into the intestinal tract.

My appetite hasn't diminished, but I'm not allowed the luxury of satisfying my appetite with the amount of food I crave. I guess this is all part of aging, which helps prove the point that getting old sucks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Update on "Something That Caught My Attention"

After I wrote this post, I payed more attention to the family of Robins that occupied the top of the bricks at my mother's house. Closer attention made me realize there were three hatchlings. They were constantly hungry, which was a full time job for what originally thought was a parent, but soon proved to be parents.

The female, smaller than the male, stayed fairly close. She would hunt in the adjacent yards on the ground for insects. Never out of sight of the nest, she was constantly on guard for any activity in the vicinity. If I lost sight of her, moving towards the nest would get her attention and I would catch her movement as she maneuvered for a better position to observe what I was doing.

On Sunday, while she was across the street, the male caught my eye when he brought food for the now full feathered hatchlings. Larger than the female, he quickly fed the young birds and was off again. Instead of staying close, he flew a few yards away and then disappeared over a neighbor's house.

I spent a few minutes examining the young birds. They completely filled the nest and were aware of me as I watched. As I moved, they turned their heads to follow. I knew they were getting close to having to leave and wondered when that would be. I soon found out.

This evening, I stopped to see my mother and noticed the nest was empty. Scanning around the yard, I looked for any signs they were still around. There were no signs of feathers, which would have indicated a predator found them. Looking around in surrounding planters and small bushes didn't yield anything either. After a few minutes of examination, I heard the peep that was the constant reminder to the parents of the ravenous hunger of their babies. Looking up into the branches of an oak tree, I saw a miniature version of the parents. Soon, another jumped from an upper branch and landed next to the first one I spotted. Within seconds the third flew from a higher branch and landed next to the other two. I searched, but never saw the parents.

So, there are now five robins living in the area. I don't know if they'll stay, or if they'll migrate to escape the brutal heat that will soon arrive. It's been interesting to watch, and I'm really surprised all the hatchlings made it to adulthood. If I have the opportunity, I'll take some photos.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Seven Billion Balloon of Debt

California, which started this year with a 9 billion budget shortfall, now has reached a 16 billion shortfall. The blame is placed on a few things, but what really caught my eye was the fact their revenues were below what they expected.

The revenue shortfall is 3.5 billion this year. My thinking on this is the exodus of taxpaying citizens and businesses from the state impacted the revenue more than anything else. With unsustainable taxes and regulations, many left just to survive.

Another thing is the loss of property value. The bloated, unrealistic housing boom (thanks Barney) left overpriced real estate that  the politicians found as a windfall in taxes, except they spent the money they should have saved. Now, since the value doesn't yield the same taxes, they are left with less than their robust spending habits need to survive.

I imagine you could spend days looking at the problems and analyzing the different facets of the California money pit, but they would all lead to the same conclusion: overspending.  Nobody can spend more than they have and expecting revenue is as foolish as stuffing money into one-armed bandits.

So, for those that live in California, work hard and played by the rules: I feel for you. You didn't have this coming, especially if you're getting to the later part of life and trying to determine how your fixed income will relate to costs in the future. The "free spirit" lifestyle that the California climate attracted has left a state with way too many people enjoying the fruits of your labor. Between politicians, bureaucrats, entitlement pigs and illegal aliens, you've now reached the point that all you made, or will make in the future, isn't enough and they're coming for more. Hopefully, you can escape before the deficit Zombie apocalypse. They may not feed on your flesh, but your personal wealth is at substantial risk.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

BTU's and Other Things I've Witnessed

In my work, we use gasses to cut steel. Usually, we use a combination of acetylene and oxygen, but we have used natural gas and propane as the fuel. The difference? BTU's. Acetylene burns hotter, so cutting steel is faster. Natural gas, or propane, doesn't release as much energy, so the process takes longer.

The same is true for automobiles and trucks. Gasoline, and diesel burn hotter, so you get more miles per gallon when used. Otherwise, the energy potential is much lower for natural gas and propane.

Years ago, some "brilliant" bureaucrat decided a certain number of miles driven by the TxDot employees should be in vehicles powered by natural gas or propane. It was a grand idea, except there weren't any such vehicles, which required the purchase, or retrofit of those in the fleet.

The retrofit vehicles could only be described as monsters of problems. The engines weren't designed for this fuel, so the problems of metering the fuel were a constant headache. Vehicles might just quit, or an incorrect fuel mixture could cause backfiring. The worst situation I saw was a truck backfired, the explosion blew the vacuum connection from the brake booster and the driver had to go to the shoulder when they couldn't stop in time to avoid an accident.

Even the new vehicles presented problems. Without a public fueling location, the drivers were forced to return to a central location; even if it meant driving over 80 miles to refuel. With the mandate of the type of fuel, switching to gasoline wasn't an option. The bureaucrats demanded the use, so they were forced to waste the fuel to satisfy the demand.

Overall, the costs must have been astronomical. Besides the extra costs per vehicle, the lack of BTU's meant that propane, or natural gas - which were almost as much per gallon - only allowed the vehicles to achieve about half the fuel mileage. If the truck got 18 mpg on gasoline, the "green" fuel only allowed around 9 to 10 mpg.

So, the entire endeavor was a terrible waste of tax dollars. The result? Who knows? There isn't any was to really determine the effect; especially with the distrust of scientist now that it's been proven many of the supposed scientific research wasn't scientific, or research for supposed AGW.

Politicians, and bureaucrats, have hurt this country worse than any foreign adversary. What makes this more terrible is the complacent nature of people to assume they're being well represented. Neither politicians, or bureaucrats give a rodent's fanny about your well being. They're in it for the power and your money.

Friday, May 11, 2012

When You Cook the Books...

...somebody gets burned.

Due to the labor statistics for unemployment, which are subject to strange counting procedures and not reflect the exact number of people unemployed, the "good" news has generated the removal of 20 extended weeks of unemployment insurance for certain states. Otherwise, if someone has collected their 79 weeks of unemployment insurance, their money is cut off this weekend.

For those of you that truly need the money, I feel sorry for you. For those that have rode the system for way too long, it looks like cruel reality will come knocking this weekend. For Obama, this will not reflect well at all, especially after his comment about forgetting how bad the recession actually is.

The Mayan Calendar

They've found some more astronomical calculations by the Mayans, which were the basis for the Mayan Calendar. Apparently, these calculations predict the position of the moon to years way past the current projected end of the world this year.

 I'm thinking they would have been farther along if they had Excel, an H.P. printer and a calender program to print their results. Then again, all of that would have been useless without a wall plug and some electricity.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


That's the price per plate for a fundraiser dinner for President Obama. Even if I had the money to spend, I wouldn't spend that much to go sit and listen to a politician tell me how wonderful they are. In fact, if I had so much money that that amount was inconsequential, I think I'd do something a little more productive, like give it to the Salvation Army, or help somebody get through a financial crises due to a medical condition.

As I write, and think about this, I realize I wouldn't spend $40,000 to see George Washington even if he could come back to life and was attempting to jump the Potomac on a Moped.

** Update: News reports indicate about a 15 million dollar haul for the event. That will buy Obama a few minutes of commercial prime time. 

He needs to choose wisely. From what I'm seeing, the money will be limited this time and he may need to trim his spending.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Little Auto AC Advice

I've been around air conditioning my entire life. In the past, I avoided knowing too much, since I had a father, and brother that were experts. They'd help, so I avoided the troubleshooting. Things are different know. They're both gone, so I've sharpened my skills and do what I can.

My pickup AC started giving me trouble. It was short cycling, and before it could get cold, the compressor would shut off, only to repeat the process. I knew the process of short cycling usually indicated a low Freon charge, but I called a business acquaintance that's an expert for some information.

Long story short. His advice: "If the low pressure side is 45 psi, or so, stop hunting the problem and change the clutch cycling switch."

That wasn't the situation. It was cycling to the low pressure cutoff point and shutting down. I figured I'd find this before I started the engine due to the low pressure reading on the gauges in relation to the ambient temperature. According to the pressure of 79 pounds, it should have been much cooler than the 85 degrees Fahrenheit ambient temperature, so I wasn't real surprised when the cycle switch didn't appear to be the problem.

I started adding a can of R-134A, with dye, so I could check for leaks. Within an ounce or two, the compressor quit cycling and the low side pressure started rising. I quit at a half can with a decision to add some more the following day. The AC was blowing cold air, even though the suction pressure was still a little on the low side.

The following day, a quick glance of the pressure in reference to the ambient temperature showed my system was still low on Freon, so I added the rest of the can. After it was gone, the suction side pressure was 34 psi, which is an acceptable range. I would leave it alone for a day or two, then check it for leaks.

Early this morning, before the sun rose, I started looking on the engine for leaks. I used an ultraviolet pen light, with special glasses, to examine the different parts of the system. The condenser coils (by the radiator) showed no signs of a leak. The same for the hoses and fittings. The water dripping from the evaporator coil (in the dash) was clear and had no dye. The low side connection on the accumulator showed signs of dye, which was expected, since that's where the quick-break connections spew a little Freon when you disconnect the lines. Further examination revealed what I think is my problem: the clutch cyclic switch. It's covered with dye, but not where I would have expected the leak to be. It looks like it's internal to the switch, and not the connection. Most of the dye is around the electrical connector. I'll change the switch, and then examine everything one more time before I finish, which will require checking the high side and low side pressure and adding Freon if needed, which I think it will require.

So, after such a long post, what's my advice? Don't mess with automobile air conditioning unless you have some  knowledge, or somebody to stand over your shoulder to guide you. Normally, I wouldn't even think of writing this, but after reading how some people just add Freon, without checking pressures and then adding it to no avail without checking the high pressure discharge of the compressor made me think of the possible problems that can develop. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the charge, and adding Freon can only compound the problems besides being a waste of money. Any major repair usually requires refrigerant recovery, parts replacement and a vacuum pulled on the system to verify there aren't any leaks and guarantee there isn't any moisture in the system. So, adding Freon to a system with a blockage, or bad compressor will only be wasted money.

Still, if you know what you're doing, it's good to do such repairs; at least it is for me. I like knowing how things work and I pinch pennies where I can. Even if you know enough to change parts - even major parts, such as the coils, or compressor - the final pulling of a vacuum, refrigerant charge and fine tuning of the system is usually best left to the experts. They have the equipment, specifications and experience.

I may be through with my repair, or not. The shrader valves could start leaking, which isn't uncommon. Besides wearing out, they have a tendency to start leaking when disturbed. I'll keep my fingers crossed they don't..

OWN is not Doing Well.

The Oprah Winfree Network has turned into a money pit according to this report. The amounts of money, to me, is staggering but what really caught my eye is that the report states the big investor is The Discovery Network. Oprah has little invested, except her professional reputation, which probably won't affect her money.

I don't think this falls under the old saying: "you get what you pay for." Apparently, a tremendous amount of money has been paid for a product that doesn't work. This wasn't a bargain and the costs are astounding.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Something That Caught My Attention

Robins are more of a migratory bird where I live. Few stay and it's usually rare to see any after the Spring migration.

I was at my mother's house, when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Turning, I saw a Robin feeding two indignant and hungry hatchlings. Within moments of feeding the tiny birds, she was gone after another meal.

After a few minutes, she returned to feed and quickly settled in for a short rest. Creeping up slowly, I came as close as I dared and snapped a photo.

The nest is resting on top of the bricks by the front window. I'm surprised I didn't notice it, but don't remember seeing it when I sprayed the house for insects earlier in the season.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm Not Surprised

Years ago, when the U.S.S.R. suddenly disappeared, there was great celebration and proclamations of how things would be better. I wondered how anyone could come up with this opinions, since it was only a few months before that there were thousands of warheads pointed at the United States by these fine people and the constant reminder we weren't friends.

Now, since nobody ever really proved to me that the former Soviet Union was granted a membership in the "Good Guy Club", with the secret handshake and special decoder ring. I'm not surprised by this news report.

Cooked Numbers

"Official" unemployment rate was reported at 8.1% by the fine lying sacks of crap folks that proclaim such things. Sounds good, huh? It does, except those numbers don't reflect the people that are not in the labor force, which means they're not counted because it's not politically advantageous. This number rose by 522,000 in April, which is over a half a million people for those that are challenged by zeroes past one or two digits. Otherwise, if you're unemployed and not actively pursuing a job - which means you're probably living off my taxes - you're not counted so that the current administration can put a feather in their ass cap and pretend everything is looking better. 

Personally, my thoughts on what to do with lying bureaucrats don't fit in with the current accepted methods of dealing with liars that exist because most people still allow confiscatory taxes without any recourse for the taxpayer. Maybe that's why everything is so out of hand. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Voice Mail

Voice mail is great, since it allows flexibility of schedules and locations. You can be just about anywhere, and unavailable, but still receive voice mail messages. This allows more productivity, without the loss of theory.

After a personal experience, and a similar experience by my boss, I've come to the opinion that voice mail is the ultimate method for public sector workers to avoid the public. To add insult to injury, voice mail systems for many municipalities have reached the point there are no humans answering the phone. Otherwise, there's no real responsibility and these workers can go for days, or longer, without being accountable to the people they serve.

About two years ago, I had to contact a local municipality to verify the location of their underground utilities. The underground maps were incomplete, the plans didn't show any utilities, but the manholes and valve box covers proved the opposite. I called the appropriate departments, left voice messages and didn't receive a reply. I tried again, with the same result. I even called an engineer I know and, once again, left a voice message.  Nobody ever called me back.

In Texas, the law states that if you disturb the ground, you're considered an excavator. Even if it's only to put a new fence post in your yard, you call, someone will either locate an underground utility, or tell you they have nothing there. They have 48 hours. This one call system is mandatory, except for municipalities. You call them and they come at their leisure - if at all.

Eventually, a city maintenance supervisor - that knew they would repair anything we broke - came to the job site out of curiosity. They knew about the project and wondered about the tight confines of the new structure. They made sure the underground utilities were marked and helped in every way they could.

So, the supposed effort to become more productive has a different outcome. My boss had a similar experience trying to determine code and permit requirements for another municipality. I guess complaints are in order. Please leave a message and then press pound.