Friday, February 16, 2018

It takes a village?

There are numerous random yet related thoughts cascading through my pea-brain after perusing through the sewer of social media, the general media and the expectant reactions to current events from Florida.

It goes without saying that both sides of the disarmament debate come out in predictable fashion on the normal talking points.  The gun grabbers don't wait for the smoke to clear and blood to flow before insisting that America needs to "turn them all in"!  Those cherishing this country's foundation, freedom and the Constitution quickly offer the rebuttals.

One aspect that is increasingly bothering me is the ramping up rhetoric over mental illness.  Please don't misunderstand where I'm going; Mental illness is a very real danger and does need to be addressed.  Unfortunately this is a general issue that has been increasing for years and for many debatable reasons.
What concerns me is the high potential for the "mental illness" aspect to become a slippery slope of denial of freedoms.  What is mental illness?  Who defines it?  We've already witnessed the prior administration try to limit veterans.   According to Joyless Behar, those who profess a faith in Christ are mentally ill.
Are we being subvertly herded into that corner?  I believe those who are in the positions of (real) power on the side of reducing the common person's freedoms know that the cliche anti-gun arguments don't work.  Time for another approach.
What's the old saying about getting a neighbor to agree to putting up a fence?  Make him think it was his idea!
So, back to mental illness.  Almost every one of these killers has had someone in their lives that knew  that something was askew.  Hildabeast wrote a book a number of years ago about it taking a village to raise a child.  While I don't subscribe to probably ANYTHING that woman (I use that term loosely) believes, perhaps the key to this problem is friends/ family members to be more proactive, not intrusive oversight by a rigid government with un-ending laws and regulations.  Yeah, I'm being idealistic.  I'm coming from a perspective of one who has a teenage stepson who doesn't present with "mental illness", but I know he has some serious anger issues.  When he is in my home, any firearms I may or may not have are locked away.  We have made it a point to not let him be aware that there may be firearms in the house.  I don't want to be "that guy" that allowed someone access to things with which they could create carnage.

I don't know what the general, legislative answer is.  I do know that a depraved heart separate from the redeeming and renewing work of Christ is capable of evil beyond our imaginations.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Beyond furious

No, I'm not referring to who won the Super Bowl.

Or to the insane contradictory reactions prior to and post release of the FISA memo.

To what made me so angry I almost couldn't see straight was much, much closer to home.  Quite literally.
My 17 y/o stepson was was back for the weekend from the military boarding school where he is attending his senior year of high school.  Yes, there is a reason he is there.
The weather in my area yesterday consisted of snow with about 1-2" of accumulation then it turned to rain.
Some friends picked him up yesterday afternoon.  It was raining at this point.  I only saw the boy leave the house, didn't see that he was picked up.
To begin their afternoon of adventure, the numbskull that was driving (a car sans license tag) didn't have enough gas and they apparently ran out shortly after they left my house.  Stepson texted my wife about said situation and she wisely bowed out of the situation and let them come up with another solution.   According to a dear friend of mine who works for the state dept. of highways and was plowing, came across them in his travels and stopped to help them push the car of the road.  He told me he had to tell them to help push, because they were just standing there.

Fast forward a couple of hours.  I was starting to get ready to go to a gathering at a friend's house for the game when I heard some strange noises.  I looked out numerous windows but did not see anything.  My driveway is not visible from a window.  (one of the few things I don't like about my property.)
The dog had perked up and acted like she wanted to go out.  As I was letting her out, the boy was coming up on the patio.  I noticed he left the gate open and brought this to his attention.  That's when he chuckled and said his friend's car was stuck.

Cue an anger level I have not been to in quite some time as I rounded the corner and saw where they were stuck.  I somewhat regret that I did not get pictures.

Not only were they stuck in my yard and had created ruts from spinning the wheels, but the rear wheels were off the ground.  This due to the rear of the vehicle being perched atop the wellhead!  The wellhead  is at least 10' away from the driveway and I had placed a fence post next to it in the event we had a lot of snow I would know where it was.

 I'm guessing the dumbass driving didn't have the traction to make it up the slight grade of the slushy driveway and blindly backed up.  Apparently at a pretty good speed, too, because the rear axle hitting the pipe is what kept him from going over it farther.
Amidst my extremely colorful language, I commented about him not seeing the fence post.  His reply was that he didn't have a rear view mirror!

Quite honestly, I suspect the friends were probably stoned.  I doubt the stepson was, as he knows testing is routinely done at school.

So here it is; 5:30 in the afternoon, pouring down rain, I'm trying to leave to go to a party and I have stoooopid kids with their car stuck on my water wellhead, with who knows yet what kind of damage has been done.  And no, I'm not referring to damage to the car.  Livid is an understatement.

After pondering best solutions for a moment, my off roading experience kicked in.  I retrieved the Hi-Lift jack out of the Jeep CJ and told the boys to fetch some cement blocks I had next to the firewood pile.  The boy that was the driver went and brought back two.  The other two boys just stood there looking stupid and I had to tell them to go some some blocks as well.  Sigh...

I jacked up each side of the car and got blocks under the rear wheels and placed a couple in front of the wheels to keep the rear raised off the pipe.  The front drive wheels where buried and whatever tread the tires had was loaded with mud, so I knew the car was going to have to be pulled out.
Using hooks is typically not a good thing in stuck vehicle recovery, as they can become deadly projectiles in the event of a line failure.  Cars, unlike off road vehicles, don't have recovery points, so I had to use the hooks on the ends of a chain to grab whatever substantial framework I could.  A strap was used to connect the chain to my truck.
I got the knucklehead out of the yard and onto the road.  I was surprised the cement blocks got put back without me having to give instructions.
Now I'm soaking wet and running late and have some pretty sizable ruts in the yard.  Pointless to think anyone but me will be fixing that.

Small miracle of miracles, at a quick cursory inspection, there did not appear to be any damage to the wellhead.  The pipe is very stout and set in concrete, but the cap is cast aluminum.  The fuel tank of the car could also have been ruptured, for which I am VERY thankful it was not.  I don't know how gasoline in my drinking water would be remedied.

My friends and I did some pretty stupid (and sometimes dangerous) stuff when I was that age, but I don't recall being quite that boneheaded.  Perhaps if I could ask my parents, they would disagree.

Edit note/ clarification:  What had me furious was not them getting stuck in the yard.  That would have been a simple annoyance.  Having landed squarely on on top of the wellhead and the possible expensive damage that could have caused is what sent me over the top.

Friday, December 15, 2017


OK, so maybe this post isn't about unicorns.

But it's about something I saw yesterday that's almost as rare involving a "Lane Hanger"
A lane hanger is what I call someone who refuses to leave the left lane of a multi-lane highway, regardless of traffic conditions or the lack thereof.  Unfortunately, Lane Hangers are extremely prevalent in the Not-So-Free state. (MD)  I view it as a symptom of our general societal degradation and the "me first, you be damned" attitude that seems to be ever increasing.

As I was commuting home yesterday afternoon, I was traveling on I70 in the left lane.  I saw a MD State Trooper making his way closer as the vehicles behind me moved to the center lane to allow him to pass.  As he got behind me, it took a few moments to get to a clear spot where I too could move to the center lane.  About that time, we came up on a slower moving car in the left lane.  Moments after I moved to the center lane, traffic cleared that allowed me to move to the right lane to clear the center for the Trooper to pass the lane hugger.  To my surprise, the view in my mirror instead was that of the red and blue lights coming on and the lane hanger being pulled over.

Very satisfying, indeed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It only takes one idiot to ruin your day

Pre-note: Wow! has it really been six months since my last post? Anyway, I digress...

It wasn't my day that got ruined yesterday.  It was some poor bloke truck driver that happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  But if one wanted to play the game of "What ifs", then it's entirely possible this truck driver saved someone else from having an even worse day.

Let me explain.
I was driving to work yesterday morning, typical routine.  I had passed through Frederick, MD on I-70 and it was around 0430.  Traffic was it's typical relatively light smattering of vehicles.  I was in the center lane of three lanes, another vehicle about 40 yards ahead of me, traveling about the same speed and slowly overtaking tractor trailers in the right lane.
A car passed me with no uncertainty on the right.  The vehicle in front of me changed lanes to the left, even thought there was no one in front of them and no traffic in the left lane.  I can only guess they did that out of courtesy or to avoid the overtaking car from cutting them off as said car was quickly closing the distance with a tractor trailer in the right lane.

As it turned out, this was one of  Murphy's favorite drivers; a 20 year old female.  Don't know if she was distracted by something or simply zoning out, but she almost rear-ended the truck.  At the last second she swerved to avoid the truck, albeit too late, clipped the left rear corner of the trailer which sent her into a spin to tag the truck again, this time on the fuel tank, then zip across all lanes and finally came to a stop against the guardrail in the median.
Did I mention yet that the roads were also wet from sporadic rain?

I also think it's fortunate that the vehicle in front of me changed lanes when they did or she would have taken them out as well.

I stopped, flipped on my emergency lights and called 911.  She got out of her car and was freaking out about the crash.  I was concerned she was going to inadvertently run out into traffic.  She was soon on her phone, apparently calling her parents and boyfriend, because they all showed up before the fire department and state troopers.
Boyfriend took her to his car.  Moments later the cavalry arrives.  Parents and I directed the trooper to boyfriends car, where he finds her smoking weed!
I don't know if she ended up getting arrested for the weed or not.
The trooper told me I could leave and he didn't need anything from me so I continued on to work.

The truck had a fuel leak from the saddle tank getting hit.  Talking to another guy at work that travels that route, the clean-up operation had traffic snarled for quite awhile.

It is fortunate that no one was injured.  Or worse.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A different kind of vocabulary

Last night I was talking to the Mrs. and discussing one of my earlier career endeavors back in the late 80's.
I had been working numerous different jobs, none of which I considered to be anything more than "stepping stone" jobs, with the pay range around $7.25/hr.
Being a graduate of a vocational technical high school, where real skills are learned, I knew that drafting and drawing interested me, so I decided to enroll in the local community college's Computer Aided Drafting course.  During the first semester though, I realized that was a zero-sum gain endeavor, as the pay rate for draftsmen was only about $9-10/hr.  In hindsight, programs like AutoCAD and Pro-E made those jobs obsolete anyway.

So all that, just to get back to me explaining computer aided drafting.  Apparently I wasn't enunciating well enough, because she thought I was saying "computerated".  It took a few moments of laughing discussion to clear that up and then we got on a roll of massacring other words.  Larry the cable guy would have been proud.
"You can send me a litter on that computerated thing, cause I'm literate!"
So now I'm wondering, could there be multiple meanings?  Verbs, nouns, pronouns?  Such as;

"I used to use maps, but now I have that computerated thingy in my car."
"I computerated all my pictures into a slideshow" (AKA "Death by Power Point)
The act of being frustrated with technology?  "I am completely computerated with trying to figure out this video editor!"
The digital version of obliterated; "The hard drive stopped working and now everything is computerated!"

I'm most certain there can be other examples as well.