An English Homestead: Make The Ordinary Come Alive
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Sent to me by email, don't know how true it is, but I hope it is!
Sent to me by email, don't know how true it is, but I hope it is!
The City of Dallas, Texas
passed an ordinance
Stating that if a driver is pulled over by law enforcement
and is not able to provide proof of Insurance, the car is towed.
To retrieve the car after being impounded, they must show
proof of insurance to have the car released.
This has made
it easy for the City of Dallas to remove uninsured cars.
Shortly after the "No Insurance" ordinance was passed,
The Dallas impound lots began to fill up and were full
after only nine days
Over 80% of the impounded cars were driven by illegals.
Now, not only must they provide proof of insurance to
have their car released, they have to pay for the cost of the tow,
a $350 fine, and $20 for every day their car is kept
in the lot.
Accident rates have gone down47% and Dallas' solution
Gets uninsured drivers off the road *WITHOUT* making
them show proof of nationality.
I wonder how
Holder's US Justice Department
Will get around this one.
* * * * *
** Just brings tears to your eyes doesn't it? **
*** GO Dallas ***
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Most of us think that drivers are getting crazier by the day. Nothing strengthens that belief like spending all day, five days a week, on the road. Though a few stick out, so many people have cut me off and pulled out in front of me that I actually remember few of them. You would think that putting yourself in the path of a vehicle that (loaded) weighs 15 to 30 times the weight of your own vehicle would cause folks to hesitate. And it sometimes does, just long enough to let you get closer before they pull out in front of you anyway.
Even though their use while driving is now illegal in both states in which I drive, the number of people that I see driving along texting and talking on cell phones is scary. Many talkers seem nearly unaware of what’s going on around them, but the texters literally have to take their eyes off the road to do their “typing,” sometimes for amazingly long periods of times. The one that surprised me most was a brine-truck driver. The guys who haul water and brine to and from the well-sites tend to work long hours and drive fast, so it sort of shocked me the other day to find myself gaining on one. As I passed, I noticed that he was texting away!
Speaking of water truck drivers, they tend to be a dangerous bunch. I’ve seen a few that have gone off the road and got stuck in the mud, probably because they fell asleep at the wheel. They were VERY lucky!
Also, the first week that I drove, I was following the boss in my truck when we came to a stop light. He was sitting in the right lane with two cars ahead of him. I was still in the left lane with two cars and an extremely old, rusted-out water truck in front of me. The cars got stopped okay, but the guy driving the water truck and had waited too long to slow down and had to jam on the brakes. He was almost stopped when the surge from the water in his tank threw him forward. He was quick enough to steer around the stopped cars in front of him, but he blew right through the red light. Luckily for the traffic coming across, they’d made a slow start, so he crossed in front of them. Still, water truck drivers are mostly decent sorts at heart. A couple years ago, some idiot woman with a car full of kids pulled out in front of one on the Northwestern Pike. With no time to stop, he steered toward the berm, went through the guardrail and down the long fill of the raised highway and lost his life in saving theirs. As far as I’m concerned, that woman has his blood on her hands.
Some people pay no attention, though. Thursday of this week, I was headed east on the Northwestern Pike in the left lane and had just gained full speed when an old lady pulled from a road on the right and then STOPPED broadside in my lane, while she waited on traffic in the opposite two lanes. There was a very wide median pass-through that she could have pulled into, but she didn’t! Two cars were behind me and a motorcycle and two cars were beside me. I probably had time to stop, but was afraid the cars behind me would rear-end me if I stood on the brakes. So, as I braked gently, I slowly started inching toward the lane of the cars beside me (the motorcycle had already pulled ahead slightly due to my braking), knowing that they had a wide, paved berm on which to escape my crowding. For the first time ever, I laid on the air horn, but the old lady was apparently deaf as well as blind and never even looked my way. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, she eased forward just enough that I could squeeze by her. I wouldn’t have wanted to be standing against her rear bumper, though!
Since I’m speaking of the Northwestern Pike, I’ll state that I believe the western end to be an unnecessarily dangerous highway. It was designed back when 55 mph was the national law. For a four-lane, it was poorly designed even for back then. Many of the curves have no banking or not enough to be worthwhile. Even back then, they posted signs on a few curves that gave “safe speeds” of under the speed limit. This on a brand-new highway, mind you! Since that time, they’ve raised the speed limit on that road to 65. That’s okay on the straight stretches, but those curves are still laying in wait for you. Technically, you can take them at 65 in a truck, even a top-heavy, loaded dump truck. I know this because I’ve done it while following veteran drivers. HOWEVER, all it would take would be an unexpected pot-hole or bump in the road (both common around here) to cause you to lose control and go flying over the high fill upon which the highway is built many places. An idiot driver, animal or pedestrian could also cause a driver to brake or flinch with the wheel, resulting in the same tragic scenario. Anymore, I let the other drivers go their own speed, while I slow down for the curves in many places. I’d rather the ambulance drivers pick those driver’s body parts from the wrecks in the valley below, than theirs and mine, too. © 2014
Too often, due to corrupt out-of-state corporate owners and sometimes equally corrupt state politicians, to many out-of-staters, West Virginia has simply been a place that has to be traveled through to get somewhere else. Over the years, however, many of us who live here have developed the attitude that such a bad rap may be a blessing in disguise by keeping the northern big-city riffraff from settling here while looking for their little slice if heaven. Whichever perspective a person has, the truth is that moving people through the area began early on.
The first of four major routes of the day was the Midland Trail, formed by the Native Americans themselves, as their moccasins travelled from the eastern side of our mountains to the Ohio Valley and beyond, and back again. Generations of back and forth hunting and warfare made the trail obvious enough that early settlers followed it with no fear of losing their way. It’s now at least in its second reincarnation as U.S. Route 64. I generally prefer to drop off the four-lane and travel the two-lane version that I remember from my childhood.
Of the remaining three, the next one to the north is the old Staunton – Parkersburg Pike, created in the early 1800’s to link Staunton, Virginia with Parkersburg, Virginia on the Ohio River. On the Parkersburg end, it’s always been referred to as “the Staunton Pike.” Considering the grudge most southerners carry about losing the Uncivil War, I seriously doubt if it’s referred to as “the Parkersburg Pike’ in Staunton these days. It was this road that my great-grandfather traveled in some form of covered wagon immediately after said war. He’d fought on the “wrong side” by local standards and was probably seeking friendlier territory. Perhaps because of that war, the Staunton Pike has largely fallen into disuse, except for local traffic, and now consists of three different numbered routes.
Moving northward again, we come to the Northwestern Pike, originating in Washington, D.C., and also terminating in Parkersburg, at the Ohio River. I used to read that it was the brainchild of Thomas Jefferson, who sought to further his belief in manifest destiny by getting people quickly to the Northwest Territory. Wiki now lays the idea on a young George Washington, seeking an easier way to check on his western lands. It is now replaced by U.S. Route 50, which in some places, is in its third incarnation and has become a four-lane highway. In nearby Murphytown, WV, the old, and the old-old versions lay in the shadow of the new, and all still in use by locals. In the mountains, though, you have no choice most places, as the government hasn’t yet chosen to spend the fortune needed to make a four-lane through our state’s more scenic parts.
Furthest north, and barely in West Virginia at all, is the National Road. Like the rest, of these east-west highways, it was designed to get settlers to the western lands. It only passes through a few miles of our northern panhandle here in West Virginia, passing through the former steel town of Wheeling, as it crosses the Ohio River. Due to its steel production in the past, there’s a surprising strong business bond between Wheeling and Pittsburgh, and I don’t just mean the old company by that name. Strangely enough, though I’ve traveled the National Road from D.C. to its junction with I-79 (mostly through Maryland), I’ve never traveled the section from I-79 to Wheeling. The National Road has basically been replaced by U.S. Route 70, though many of its parts are preserved as scenic byways.
The four-lanes are certainly a boon to folks who need to get somewhere in a hurry, and I guess they do keep the “furriners” moving so they don’t have time to settle in and do serious damage. Still, when possible, I like the old roads. © 2014
Saturday, August 16, 2014
This was on Facebook, with a video.
"On 5-18-14 I received a call from my 22 year old autistic son. So I immediately got in my truck and went to where my son was being ticketed. As I drove up on the right hand side of the road adjacent to my son's car, I did not leave my vehicle, I kept it running. The officer turned around and asked "can I help you?" I said "I'm his father." The officer yelled at me to leave the premises. I stated "I'm his father, and just wanted to tell you he's autistic." He turned around and said, "Leave or you'll be arrested!" He started walking towards me and said "you're under arrest." I said, "for what?", I kept saying over and over all I wanted to do was tell you he's autistic. He just replied, "you're under arrest." But I was sure I hadn't broken any laws. This was when I said, "no I'm not under arrest, I haven't done anything." I was still sitting in my truck with the door closed when another officer drove up. The other officer opened my passenger door and proceeded to climb in and push me out. As I came out, I was standing in front of the officer, and he grabbed me and tried to throw me on the ground. When I didn't fall down he tased me (and I have heart trouble). I went down on my knees, then both officers jumped on me and slammed me into the pavement. They handcuffed me laying on the ground and put the taser to my lower spine and tased me four more times. I was put in the police car and taken to jail, where I posted bond."
*** ACCOUNTABILITY CHECK (2) Please Contact the STATE ATTORNEY NOW & tell them to drop Roy Sherman's charges! CALL Brad King, 5th Judicial Circuit: 352-671-5800 & EMAIL email@example.com (reference case # 42-2014-MM-3929-A)
Roy L. Sherman is facing 3 criminal charges for allegedly "assaulting a police officer & resisting arrest".
You can also file a complaint with the State Prosecutor:http://jud5.flcourts.org/sao/piu/index.htm (Officer involved is FRANCO PORCELLI - Badge 5505)
Sorry folks, this one’s a bit longer than normal.
Most construction jobs start at 7 am; that’s why my company expects us to have our pretrip done and be in the dispatch room at 6:45. By 7, we’re all on our way to the slag yards to load up and get product to the sites. (I need to learn to call them “stone yards,” since slag is a rare commodity, now that little iron and steel are made in this country. Sand has replaced cinders and limestone has replaced slag in this day and age.*) Since the site that I was hauling to Monday was on the far side of the mine, and in the next county, it made sense to pick it up there, rather than load at the local yard and haul the weight the extra distance.
It had rained on Sunday, so the well-sites would be too muddy to deliver to, thus most companies were scrambling to fill orders that didn’t depend on the weather, until the mud dried out in a day or two. Many were filling various Department of Highway orders for supplies that the DOH keeps on hand in their own supply yards. The drive east on the modern four lane version of the old Northwestern Pike consisted of driving into what I call “bright fog,”—fog thin enough that the sun was back-lighting it, but thick enough that you couldn’t easily see through it. My clip-on polarized sunglasses helped cut down the blinding glare. In the distance, I saw the lead truck in our little five-truck flock turn on his signal, one by one, those of us following did the same.
I was surprised how dry the access road was already, after rain the day before and the current fog. Guess good ditching and a deep bed of limestone helps. Going in, I saw not only the usual native pioneer plants on the roadsides, but a few non-natives as well. Multiflora rose abounded, as did autumn olive, what appeared to be pampas grass, and several young specimens of pawlonia tomintosa or “princess tree,” a native of China. They had apparently sown ceresa lespedeza soon after the road had been graded in years ago, for it was thick everywhere. The native boneset plants were thick in a couple spots, but they were probably covered with diesel-laden road grime. Most days, they’re also covered with a thick layer of limestone dust from the road. I swear there were little puffs of dust coming up from the wheels of the trucks ahead of me. By noon, the water truck from the mine would probably be spraying the road to keep down the dust. He never seems to be able to keep up, however. Even though he sprays all day, I’ve seen times when clouds of dust swallow the truck in front of you, and the dust cloud over the little valley that they reamed out to form their yard looks like pictures of smog hanging over Los Angeles.
I soon pass the gate, with its signage telling me what the place is, that they have security cameras, that there’s a $10,000 fine for getting out of your truck, that they monitor CB channel 3, and that the speed limit on the grounds is 10 mph. All that concern for my safety makes me feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside. Arriving at the scale house, I see probably 50 trucks lined up waiting their turn to get their “tare” or “lightweight,” the weight of their truck when it’s empty. Most are in little ranks and files of about 10 trucks, often at different angles to the other groups. They count on the honesty of each driver who started each group to be certain that everyone stays in order. Of course, 50 sets of eyes and CB radios would keep them straight, too.
After weighing again when loaded, they’ll know the weight for which to charge the customer. They usually just get a tare weight on Monday of each week, and use that weight all week. When you’re dealing in tons, a few pounds here and there don’t matter. Today, though, many of the trucks are hauling to various DOH sites, and they demand a tare FOR EACH LOAD. I’m sure the government bean counters don’t realize that the time the trucks sit in line has to be covered by dollars charged in the contracts, while the practice saves them a few pennies, at most. My grandfather used to talk about folks who’d spend a dollar to save a dime.
If you know where the material is located that you want, you simply back up to the pile so that the loader man can load you from the driver’s side. Otherwise, you can ask him on the CB and he’ll tell you where to find them. Many “gravels” are classed by numbers like 57’s, or 467’s. That isn’t just a random number, but shows that shows that the pile is a blend of sizes 5 and 7, or 4, 6, and 7. I haven’t yet figured out how those numbers correspond to inch measurements, but I will. The big end-loaders have scoops that can load over 10 tons at a time, so sometimes the 22 ton loads we usually carry are only two scoops. Usually, though, they have to add a partial scoop, as well. I think they have a somewhat inaccurate scale built into the loader, but it puts you in the ballpark, at least. When you’re loaded, the loader man will either tell you on the CB or give you a thumbs-up, at which time you can either give him a wave of thanks and acknowledgment, or tell him thanks on the CB.
They have little signs directing those exiting to do so by basically driving the perimeter of the yard. On the berm around the yard are strewn stones of light brick red, dark grey and golden brown. I assume them to be color variations of limestone, since the texture looks the same from my truck cab. If it wouldn’t cost me 10 grand, I’d stop and get a sample of each to take home and examine. (I notice that they use the stuff themselves, but they don’t seem to include it in the product they sell. Uniformity of color is a selling point, no doubt.) After getting my truck weighed again and a receipt for the customer showing that weight, I head off to make the delivery. I retrace my route coming in from the hard road, put my cheater axle down when I get there and start my first of several deliveries for the day. The fog is beginning to burn off as I head east on the Northwestern Turnpike, and it looks as if it might be another good day to be on the road.
*I think it’s ridiculous that we have allowed our smelters and foundries to close, put our ore mines, ore boats and trains out of commission (usually scrapping them), are selling all of our scrap iron overseas, and have closed our steel and iron casting and milling operations. Not only will we be held hostage to prices charged by other countries, but if prolonged war ever comes, we not only will no longer have the facilities for production, but will have let the knowledge of operating such things die as well. Furthermore, I read the other day that ALL of the “smart” parts used in our current weaponry are manufactured overseas. It’s a heck of a way to run a country! © 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
The words below were sent to me in an email from the guru. It's posted here with his permission.
The words below were sent to me in an email from the guru. It's posted here with his permission.
"Just some info you might be interested in, culled from several reports and mostly (but not all) paraphrased by me:
"Section 1033 (1996) of the 1990 NDA Act passed by Congress promotes the acquisition of military equipment by police across the country ... supposedly it was for counter-drug activities, and would use excess DOD equipment. The idea was that if the US wanted its police to act like drug warriors, it should equip them like warriors.
"So now cops everywhere are using militaristic troopers and SWAT teams to do some of the simplest jobs the beat patrolman used to do. That show of force, breaking and entering, etc., for innocuous and mundane jobs has created a gestapo-like attitude in many areas.
"In Furgeson, with the recent shooting that has caused the riots, it sure looks like the officers are using MRAPs (which they do not list as having: they call it a utility truck — MRAP=Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected) in addition to other military-acquired equipment such as sniper gear and night vision units.
"Even police in small Watertown, CT with a small (under 23 thousand population) acquired an MRAP (which costs 3/4 of a million dollars to the DOD, and which transferred it to Watertown for $2,800). Hmmmm ... I didn't know there were landmines in Watertown, CT.
"And why would Bloomington, GA with a population of only 2,713 need four grenade launchers? The list goes on and on, from the big and expensive to the small and expensive military gear being transferred to police departments all over the US ... all provided by the military, in my opinion, to militarize the police forces of our country. Thus, the use of military force and tactics is not surprising given the far-reaching proliferation of military weapons and military training among US police departments.
"What it boils down to this: "When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." [Maslow's Hammer] So, even the most everyday actions are now seen as requiring military-like force.
"Bummer. Real bummer. Just look to pre-WWII Germany to see how it starts."
My own comment to the guru's email was that the police MUST be militarized if the government wants a force that will happily shoot Americans if martial law is declared and people rebel. Part of a policemans job requirements is the willingness to shoot his fellow citizens. For the same reason, we are seeing the islamization of the military, while trying to rid the military of Christians and older leaders with good moral compasses.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
Sunday, August 10, 2014
I drive for what would be called a small family business, but it’s not as small as I suspected. There’s a row of 12 or so trucks under the shed that faces the highway, plus a few “spares” in the front edge of the lot, so I suspected they’d have about a dozen to 15 drivers. It turns out that I’m number 23, plus the owners still deliver as well, though it’s mostly for special orders, fill-ins or to finish up an order, so they can move on to the next one. They deliver over a much wider area than I realized, and once rolling, a truck rarely stops until the day is over. They actually have two businesses on the property, since the stone yard and the trucking business are run separately. Those who’ve been in business for themselves probably understand why. For those who don’t get the idea, let’s just say that it makes figuring taxes and some paperwork easier, though there would probably be other reasons as well, in a family business with multiple owners.
The two owners are brothers who grew up in the business started by their father. The elder appears to serve as manager, though I suspect all major decisions are mutual. Some days they appear to spend most of their time on management, while other days, they’re driving the same as the men. Most days seem a blend of both. As I mentioned in another post, it makes it easier when the boss actually knows what’s going on and how things work, instead of sitting in some office, on the phone, studying charts and sipping latté. If you describe a matter on the site, or about the truck, the boss knows exactly what you mean. I was amused to hear the eldest brother tell of his father’s first “tag axle.” He pulled one of his trucks into a friend’s garage, raised the extra axle (used rear end with the “guts” taken out of the “punkin ball”) one inch off the floor and welded it solid. When the springs settled the least bit, the tag axle began helping to bear the load. Technology and regulations were a little simpler in 1956, obviously.
I drive a 2006 Mack with an automatic transmission and a Mercedes engine. The “gearshift” is comprised of push-buttons on the dash, reminding me of the old push-button shift ’56 Dodge station wagon, with the two tone blue paint scheme and the white roof, that my folks had years ago. The Mack is burgundy and a WHOLE lot bigger, of course. Despite being an “automatic,” I’ve learned that if I don’t push the up and down buttons a little, I spend entirely too much time standing on the brakes. The engine brake doesn’t help much if you’re in too high of a gear. I wish I’d known how to lock the transmission in first gear the day that I came off that big hill at the well-site in Doddridge County! I soon learned how, and now the engine brake will bear most of the braking load on high or long hills. I need to google that transmission and see if there’s anything else that I should know. At one point, I was down to 80 pounds pressure that day and getting a little edgy. Going up into a couple of those places, I’ve kicked in the back axle and locked the differentials, in order not to spin out on the steep gravel roads. That’s the equivalent of four-wheel drive and positive traction at the same time. Semi drivers will know what I’m talking about.
Like most modern dump-trucks, the tag axle is in front of the drive axle. You only drop it when you’re loaded and on pavement. Off road or on the lot, it can make turning more difficult. It does distribute the weight over a larger area, and it may help keep you legal on the scales when you’re nearly at maximum load, too. The boss pays us by the hour, and overtime over 40 hours, so we have no need to try to squeeze by a heavy load, or drive like an idiot to get in that extra load for tonnage. We usually haul about 22 tons or a little over.
I have no real beefs with the truck, except that the dash lay-out looks pretty poor to me. The wheel blocks my view of most of the gauges. One thing is for sure, taking that thing down the road sure beats telemarketing! © 2014
Unlike the subject of a song by that name, at least I’m home every night. My work day has been starting at 6:15 every morning for the last couple weeks (and always will there) and ending about 4:30. I’ve discovered that I need to get up about 4 a.m. to get everything done at home, make the 15 minute drive to work and have my pre-trip inspection done by 6:30. I’m just slow, I guess. This past week, I’ve not made it back to the shop, after my first dispatch, until quitting time. Keeping those wheels turning is what makes the company money, and provides me with a job, so I’m not about to complain. Sometimes, a load isn’t even sold when I’m dispatched, but by the time that I’m there and loaded, an order has come in and off I go.
I’ve delivered to four counties in West Virginia and one in Ohio so far. One delivery is in the third county east of here. I’m surprised that it’s a paying proposition to haul that far. Those loads are going to a site where the soil around the area homes is being replaced, since the city found out that it was contaminated by a chemical plant that used to be there. Some of the eighty and ninety-year old residents opted out of the offer and told them that if those chemicals were so dangerous, that they should have been dead years ago. Makes sense to me! The work is being done by a company from Maryland, while the young people of OUR state have to go to places like Maryland to find work. Why in the world don’t people just hire folks from their own area, so everyone could work where they were raised if they choose?
Something that I’ve noticed on a construction site where I deliver, is that no-one really cares how you get to the dumping site, just as long as you get there. They leave tools and equipment worth hundreds to hundreds of THOUSANDS of dollars parked and strewn all along the path through the site. Some places, you have only eight inches on each side to get a dump-truck through. Generally, if the mirrors go through, the rest of the truck will follow, UNLESS there’s “ground clutter.” The stuff doesn’t belong to any of the workers personally, so I guess no one cares if it gets damaged. The workers seem friendly enough, though they’re from out-of-state, IF you acknowledge them first. You can tell who the engineers and “big men” are, though; they’re the ones who sneer at you when they have to move from their position in the middle of the alley, so you can deliver the stone that their plans call for. A tan hound has called that site home and the workers his new family. He follows them around and they give him attention when they can. I suspect he gets a few bites of their lunches, too. He has a collar, but it has no name on it. They don’t know if it’s a stray, or just a neighbor’s dog who likes the attention. I hope the latter, as he’ll be lonely and unfed when the workers finish up some week and go home.
I went to another well site this week. First, the other driver and I went up a hollow so far that I was half expecting to see a sign that said “Welcome to New Hampshire.” Then we went a similar distance up a big hill. The last few hundred yards were on a ridge so steep and narrow that a goat would have been nervous. Once there, though it was in Doddridge County, West Virginia, you would have almost thought that you were in the Smokies, and not a house in sight. Going down, we had to wait on a semi that was being pulled up the hill by a dozer. The grade on the gravel road was so steep that he would have just dug a hole with his wheels, otherwise.
It’s been thirty one years since I was on the road every day in a truck. My previous observations from driving my personal vehicle have proven correct, though; people really ARE crazier and more idiotic than ever. It never ceases to amaze me the dangerous things people will do with a 75,000 pound truck bearing down on them—like cut him off, or pull out in front of him! Some people just have death wishes, I suppose.
Still, I enjoy the job. Except for the seven years that I worked full-time for myself, this is the first time in thirty-one years that I can honestly make that statement. Whine as I may, life isn’t ALL bad! © 2014
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
I was pleased, today, to leave my new job with my first decent paycheck in nine years. However, on my way home, my brother-in-law calls me with the news that his wife has only a couple more days to live. So, I have to give my wife the news when I get home. So, we decide to run to town and pick something up for supper and the serpentine belt on my truck breaks. Guess the devil knows how to destroy a good day!
I was pleased, today, to leave my new job with my first decent paycheck in nine years. However, on my way home, my brother-in-law calls me with the news that his wife has only a couple more days to live. So, I have to give my wife the news when I get home. So, we decide to run to town and pick something up for supper and the serpentine belt on my truck breaks. Guess the devil knows how to destroy a good day!
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Most of us with a few miles on us have joked about our joints snapping, crackling and popping when we move. I tease my chiropractor when he tries to give me an adjustment and his hands crack more than my joints. I tell not to worry, that I won’t charge him anything.
Recently, though, I’ve been making such noises when lying absolutely still. I mostly sleep on my left side, but I’ve always turned to my right side if I get tired of lying on that side. Anymore, though, when I do lay on my right side, my vertebra, shoulder joints and rib connections seem to click and pop something awful for a while. It’s like all my blubber is causing them to shift from their old “sleeping on my left side position” to a new position for sleeping on my right side. This has only been going on for a little over a month, but it’s mildly disconcerting, when I’m trying to go to asleep, since each pop is very slightly painful.
Getting old isn’t for sissies, I’ve been told. I guess it beats the alternative, though. © 2014
Sunday, August 3, 2014
I admit to being odd. My interests are generally unpopular and my humor is often considered quirky. For the most part, though, I feel like the Waggoner’s Lad who said that “them as don’t like it can leave me alone.” Needless to say, I don’t have many friends.
For instance, who would enjoy going to a sandpit or a limestone mine to look at the scenery? I do. Most folks would see ugliness and destruction at such places—the very opposite of beauty. I look at things a bit differently. Yes, I wonder what the places looked like before man’s intervention. Were they wooded bottoms and hillsides of ancient trees, or perhaps small prairies maintained by the Native Americans to create grazing for the buffalo, elk and deer that once lived in the Ohio Valley? (Yes, buffalo and elk once lived here, and the Indians DID practice land management!) At a later time, perhaps the area was covered with the crops and pastures of the white settlers, who built their homes and raised several generations of descendants here. Beside those scenarios, some folks couldn’t help but see the current appearance as homely by comparison.
Still, people travel hundreds (or even thousands) of miles to see the Bad Lands, Monument Valley or the Grand Canyon. To someone from the forested hills of the East, such places might seem lonely and forbidding, yet the scope of those landscapes, and their very appearance of barrenness, is a large part of their draw for those with wider definitions of beauty. And the Native Americans lived there for centuries, so there IS life there and there ARE natural provisions for man in those places. Even cacti have blossoms, as do many desert plants.
When I see the active part of a sandpit, I see a miniature Monument Valley, perhaps only because I’ve never been to the real one. Like the buttes and mesas out west, the pit walls show the different levels of the land’s creation. Sitting in the truck the other day at a little mom and pop sandpit, I marveled at the similarity of the sedimentary layers of sand to the growth rings of trees. Just as the rings of a tree indicate the physical growth of the tree and the passing of time, the obviously different layers of sand represent the filling of the valley from floods over the centuries. According to geologists, the Ohio River, as we know it, is only about 10,000 years old—a mere tick of the geological clock, if you believe estimated scientific time over the Bible bean counters. It’s hard to imagine a river 50 miles wide, but only one inch deep. However with time and flooding, a channel was cut vaguely similar to what we see today, and additional floods filled some low spots in again, creating the sandpits that man now mines for building material and fill dirt.
When I look at the “abandoned” part of such places, I see an archaeological dig, a ghost town of old equipment, a history lesson and a lesson about the relentless perseverance of nature. In 500 years, little or no sign of man will be seen here if nothing more is done. Quaking Aspen, Sycamore, Virginia Pine and other pioneer species are already growing there. So are many of the native plants; I saw Queen Anne’s Lace, Brown-eyed Susans and Joe Pye Weed blooming prodigiously as I looked around one pit yesterday. There were others, of course, including some that were edible, like Milkweed and Colt’s Foot.
As for hunting, were it legal, it could be done there. I’ve watched trophy bucks grazing cautiously among the native “weeds” and the deliberately sown lespedeza covering the land once mined. Other times, does and their spotted fawns have fed and cavorted within 50 feet of the truck. Canada geese have grown accustomed to the traffic in and out of such places and to the digging and dumping. I dumped a load within 30 feet of a flock the other day and all they did was walk 20 feet further away and turn around to give me a honk and a dirty look. Perhaps the land is preparing itself for the next age of hunter gatherers.
The slag yards and the limestone mine is little different in most ways. One extra thing there is the trains. I was blocked from crossing a two mile spur line for about 10 minutes the other day by a CSX engine and it’s following of coal cars. A couple hours later, I was blocked by the smaller engine (pulling a single car) of a tiny railroad company that operates a mile-and-a-half spur line on the other side of the river. There aren’t many places that I get to watch trains anymore.
So, are such places ugly? They are to some people, but I’ll take them over a modern downtown any day. See, I TOLD you that I’m odd! © 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014
So far, so good, as they say. I’ve got a lot of things to learn and have made a couple minor gaffs already, but nothing they wouldn’t expect from a new guy on the job. The owners and their staff give very appearance as being as nice to work for, and work with, as I suspected that they would be. One thing I like about the owners is that they grew up in the business and still do most every aspect of the job on a daily business. It’s a whole lot easier to respect and follow orders from people who actually know what they’re talking about than it is from some guy in a suit, sitting in an office with no idea what’s going on anywhere except on paper.
I love the work—traveling from slag yard to work site to supply yard, to sand-pit, etc. There isn’t much sitting still, since keeping the truck moving is what makes the owner money. I enjoy the change of scenery, going to and arriving at the different places that I go; I even find the sand pits interesting. I thought that I knew where most of the sand pits and slag yards in the area were located. The truth is that I only knew about the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. I haven’t seen “nothin” yet, I’m sure. I learned there is an underground LIMESTONE mine on the eastern county line at a place called SAND HILL. (As far as I know, there’s never been a sandstone mine at Limestone Hill on the southern edge of the county. LOL!) It’s quite a surprise to start down into their yard of several acres from the hilltop. It’s a view slightly reminiscent of the big copper mines out west, but on a much smaller scale.
Every job has its downside, of course. One of them on this job is traveling the far-flung country roads to make deliveries to oilfield sites. I’ve only made two of those deliveries so far, but speeding down roads already torn up by oilfield equipment feels akin to sitting on the handlebars of a jack-hammer in use. After two trips, I had both a b_tt-ache and a headache. I don’t care for long rides of over an hour on the interstate, either, and for related reasons. At least there, though, I can set the cruise and move my legs a little. I like the short hauls, where you make shorter, but more frequent deliveries. They let me get out of the truck and stretch my legs more often.
Besides the fact that the folks are good to work for, there’s another plus. I picked up my first paycheck from my new job yesterday (they DO NOT hold back a week, like most places), and my last paycheck from my former employer. Even though the one from my old job was the largest I’d ever gotten (for some unknown reason), the one from my new employers was for $45 more, and for only four days, not five like the first place (though the total hours were nearly the same). Their pay period is from Friday through Thursday, so yesterday’s pay will be on next week’s check. I’m still $3 short per hour of what I was making when the factory moved to China nine years ago, but the overtime will probably more than make up the difference. That overtime is the cost of not getting laid-off in the winter, since the owners try to not hire more people than they can use in the winter. While I might not enjoy the overtime, I’ll enjoy the extra money and the lessened chance of winter-time lay-off when expenses are the highest.
Since I follow the old maxim to write about what you know about, future posts may contain more references to my job than some folks will care for, but I hope you’ll bear with me. Also, thanks again to everyone who has been praying for my employment situation. Your prayers and mine have been answered to the affirmative. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” © 2014
Sunday, July 27, 2014
JUST SAY NO! There’s no charity that you can’t donate to more directly and no product or service that you can’t buy elsewhere! I don’t do business with ANYONE who calls me on the phone, since there’s no way to prove who they are, unless I know them personally.
Don’t give ANYONE your credit card number, debit card number, bank account number, or social security number, even if they say they’re from your bank, your card company, or a government agency. Even though the companies that I worked for were “legitimate” in a legal sense, they sometimes had to fire people for trying to write down people’s credit card numbers to use later for their own purposes. TRUST NO-ONE!
EVERY firefighter and police “charity” that I’ve ever come across is a complete scam. First off, your local folks in uniform will never benefit from your donation. The money is solicited for large departments in large cities which are often affiliated with the mob. Pay-outs go only to people who are members of their organization. Most small town folks in uniform are NOT members of those groups. Fire chiefs and police chiefs that I have spoken to personally say that you have to apply for grants from those groups to get any money, and those grants are never “granted.” Most of the funds go to those who run the group, NOT grieving widows, injured firefighters and cops, or small departments needing funding. The ONLY way you can benefit your local department is to give the money locally.
Though most of those groups get millions of dollars from telemarketing companies, the highest percentage that I’ve heard of the organization getting was 12%. The rest was kept by the telemarketing company. Most of that probably went to the owner of the company; they certainly don’t pay their help very much.
There IS one positive thing about telemarketing. It provides jobs (though very low paying ones) to people who might be living on the streets otherwise. So, in a sense, it IS a valid charity, just not in the sense that most folks would think. Still, telemarketing continues to exist due solely to the basic stupidity of the average person. Sorry if this steps on anyone’s toes. © 2014
Saturday, July 19, 2014
On graduation from high school, we all head out into the world to make our way, or lose it. Some are blessed by our parents with a college education. Some of us make use of that blessing, others don’t. Some work our way through college. They usually make the best use of their degree, for they know the blood, sweat and tears that earned it. Others, like me, foolishly think that hard work alone will let us build a life worth living. In this day and age, that works only for a rare few. Cunning and wise planning helps a lot, but those little pieces of paper (or sheepskins, if you will) mean a lot to the other folks with little pieces of paper who do the hiring. Intelligence and hard work are worth less these days than those little pieces of paper. I eventually got a couple of those little pieces of paper, but they were too little, too late, and the wrong kind.
For the first few years after graduation, many of us tend to be interested in how our former classmates are doing, partly to see how our lives stack up against theirs. However, as we age and start to look back on our youth with a bit of nostalgia, we wonder about their lives not only from curiosity, but also from a bit of concern and fondness for their memory.
Within five years of graduation, a few of my former classmates were already dead. One was a former star athlete turned dope-head who was cleaning his apartment floor with gasoline and forgot that it might not be a good time to light up a cigarette (or joint). Another blew his brains out when he found that he couldn’t come to grips with his own homosexuality. Yet another died in an oilfield explosion. Over the years, others have died from cancer (usually the seemingly healthy types), a few in car wrecks, one from a ruptured spleen and others from various and sundry diseases and medical conditions.
The other day, the neighbor’s roaring motorcycle brought a kid to mind that I’d been in school with back in the day. Rod was always on a motorcycle when he wasn’t in school. He had a few brushes with the law in the process. He raced motocross professionally after high school, even racing on some European tracks. Wondering whatever became of him, I searched his name online and discovered that he’d eventually become the president of the American branch of an Austrian motorcycle manufacturer. However, he’d died at age 50 “after a brief illness,” surrounded by his wife and children. I rarely saw him without a cigarette in his mouth back then, so I suspect I know what got him.
I searched for the names of girls that I once dated and found that one had married and divorced twice and then died young. Another became a doctor, had five kids by her doctor husband and lives down south. Her brother became a doctor, too. What others I could find led mundane lives like the rest of us. Of course, many of the “boys and girls” that I once had classes with, now old geezers and geezerettes like myself, live close enough that I still bump into them occasionally, or at least hear of them through the grape vine. I always enjoy seeing them, even the ones that I wasn’t particularly close to at the time. It’s funny how old age draws people together that youth did not.
I’ve read several times that the first few high school reunions tend to be about showing off and making comparisons. They say that changes about the 40th or 45th. My 40th reunion was last year. It was held at a neighbor’s farm. I’ve never attended one yet, but if I’m still here when the 45th comes around (IF it comes around) I may go. It might be nice to see some faces from the old days, though they’ll be OLD faces by now. © 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I guess they’re a sort of screen-saver system—the pictures on the monitors at work that change every few minutes. For quite a while, they were beautiful landscapes and Gothic architecture. I enjoyed them.
Apparently though, my cubicle became the home of a young person on day-shift. Suddenly, my eyes beheld neo-Gothic armored warriors, their weapons a mix of swords, maces and lasers, fighting demons and alien life forms (armed similarly) in a post apocalyptic landscape. Blood and gore was everywhere, including on the blade of the fascine-knife or bill-hook the apparent lone Amazon-like woman was carrying. Some of the weird creatures looked mostly machine-like, others like hybrids of humans and lizards.
On the other monitor, cartoon zombies fought what must have been Monsanto GMO plants of some kind. The weapons used by the unidentifiable plants were apparently a part of their physical make-up, while the zombies were armed with strange weaponry. I noticed that the artist couldn’t resist giving one zombie a case of plumber’s crack; why, I’m not sure.
If he’s like many of the people his age who work there, the kid probably has evil, possibly satanic tattoos, plus a few piercings. I suspect that he goes home to his rat-trap apartment after work and plays video games where blood spews and things explode. He’s probably broke the day after payday, between buying pot, beer and ever gorier video games. And just imagine, he probably votes. And we wonder why this country is in the mess it’s in!
The supervisor changed the pictures back to landscapes for me, but they didn’t stay that way long. I managed to put a couple stationary landscapes on the screens a couple days ago and they’re still there, so maybe he’s moved. If he changes them again, I may if I can sneak a picture of Jesus on there for him. THAT should stir something up! © 2014
Saturday, July 12, 2014
I decided that I’d stop at a local auto parts place and get some oil and a filter for my truck. I used to change my own oil all the time on my old truck, so figured that I still could (unless I get stuck under the truck). I asked for what came originally in the truck and found out that it was synthetic, as I thought. The thing is, while the dealership has been charging what I considered a fair price for an oil change, I figured out that they hadn’t been using synthetic oil. No wonder the price was “fair!” Seven quarts of oil, a filter and a bottle of Slick 50® ran me $25 more than what I’d been paying for an oil change, even after a couple discounts. I also got a mail-in rebate for $10, though, so that will get it down to only $15 more than I’d been paying. So now I’m wondering, has the dealership been using the cheaper oil ever since I got the truck, or did they switch last year when they started paying for their bigger and better new showroom?
I’ll take a look tomorrow, and if it looks like I might get my big belly stuck between the frame and a hard place, I may just pay the garage that used to work on my old truck to do the job for me. © 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014
On the job that I had before, there was a guy just reaching early retirement age that I gravitated toward somewhat. It wasn’t because we had anything in common, but because he got so little respect from others, and I’ve always been sympathetic to life’s underdogs. He was a Vietnam veteran, plus a former druggie and a former sound man/roadie for a rock group. He was also a semi-alcoholic and a weekend drunk. Between his current life and his past one, he was missing more than a few brain cells. He was getting a little hard-of-hearing, plus was loud to begin with, having been trained for telemarketing during the old boiler-room days. He was also prone to a general bad attitude and temper tantrums. Due to that, no-one, including me, really wanted to sit by him while working the phones.
To make matters worse, he was often forced by his circumstances to live with room-mates who stole his food, and sometimes his money. I began to realize that he often came to work without having eaten breakfast. I was doing a little better in those days before hope and change had taken full effect, and sometimes stopped at a drive-through on my way to work to get my breakfast. So, I started getting an extra dollar sandwich and offering it to him. He gladly accepted and often came back a second time to thank me. He was fired not all that long before the place closed down.
A power outage earlier this week had caused me to spend a few extra dollars, so I had to count up the change in the truck, including 25 pennies, to get something at the dollar store near my workplace to snack on at work yesterday. While looking over my unhealthy options, a familiar voice started urging me to get a particular item. Turning, I came face-to-face with my old co-worker. He had something in his hand that he was going to by and offered to buy my choice for me, telling me that he hadn’t forgotten all those breakfast sandwiches from the old days. I thanked him for his offer, but told him to save his money, but I DID take his suggestion of junk-food, to make him feel good.
At the register, I still had my change in my hand as the clerk reached for my package. My former co-worker pushed his stuff forward and told the clerk that it was all together. What could I say without causing a scene, or making him feel bad? Even those at the bottom want the chance to be the giver once-in-a-while, instead of always being the receiver. I put the change back in my pocket and thanked him. I also told him that he was a good guy, but that I’d always known that. His eyes twinkled and he almost smiled. I thanked him again and walked off with my prize.
Outside, he caught up with me and shoved a 10-dollar bill in my hand. Try as I might, I could not convince him to keep it, unless I was willing to destroy his dignity. Once again, he told me how much he appreciated those sandwiches, and explained that he might never see me again, knew I wasn’t as flush as I once was, and just wanted to feel that he was helping a friend. Once again, I thanked him, plus told him that I hoped God would bless him for his kindness.
Today was payday, and though the $10 will come in handy, I don’t feel right about keeping money from someone that I know is having it rougher than I. Maybe I’ll pass it along somewhere. Still, I was truly touched by my former coworker’s sincere show of appreciation, and I think that he needed to be able to return a kindness to maintain his self image. I’m sure that we both felt the better for it, so it appears the Lord blessed us both yesterday. © 2014
Monday, July 7, 2014
We all work for the same company. There’s really only two of us—one male and one female. Every call that has been made by those two people for that one company in the last 40 years should not only be on record, but should be instantly remembered by the person who made it. There is only one police “charity.” There is only one fireman’s charity.” Donations to those “charities” actually help the rank and file members of those professions. You should have to be a policeman to call for the police charity. You should have to be a fireman to call for the fireman’s charity. If you are NOT a policeman or fireman and call for their charity, you should do so for free, because you don’t have the right to earn a living like other people.
Back when I used to call live, and someone told me that they wouldn’t donate, because I wasn’t a cop or a fireman, I sometimes asked them (VERY politely) if they would prefer that the cops and firemen come in and man the phones, and us telemarketers put on guns to keep them safe and spray water on their houses if they caught fire. For some reason, they thought that was a really STUPID idea! © 2014
Saturday, July 5, 2014
I woke up half-an-hour ahead of the alarm yesterday, so got up and got my shower. My wife had already gotten hers. It was cool enough that we could leave the dog in the truck when we went inside McDonald’s to have a breakfast of gravy and biscuits. Our appetites sated and with a piece of sausage for The Mighty Dachshund, we returned to the truck and headed south.
We arrived at Cedar Lakes, in Ripley, West Virginia at nine o’clock, just as they opened the fair for the day. The fair is called the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, and this is its 51st year. My folks took my sister and me that first year in 1963, when our beautiful state celebrated its 100th birthday. The original purpose was largely to preserve and showcase old-time skills, but that has changed quite a bit over the years. I didn’t miss the fair for about 30 years, but then they got a little off-track, plus, there were a few miserably hot Fourths, plus a couple years of poverty, so my attendance the last 20 years has been somewhat sporadic.
My wife and I hadn’t been there for three years and we hadn’t been able to afford to do anything at all last year, so I suggested that we go this year, since I was working again. It was unusually pleasant, temperature-wise, with some clouds and a good breeze. The three of us walked and looked and rested and drank water, and then walked and looked some more. By noon, we old geezers and our short-legged little friend were about pooped, so we slipped out of the place just as the main crowd started rolling in bumper-to-bumper.
On arriving home, we all took a nap, then, the missus and I went to Cheddar’s and had a nice late lunch. Looking around us, we noticed that most other folks had ordered nearly all fried stuff. I’m not sure why you’d go to a slightly better restaurant and still order burgers and fries and onion rings and such, but that seemed to be the case. We had grilled fish and vegetables of our choice and it was all very good. Then we went home and took another nap. Later, I slipped outside and did a few odds and ends that needed done before I mowed the yard, then came back in and spent the rest of the evening watching TV with the little woman and giving the dog some floor time. It was a good day. © 2014
I’ve always said that the only completely unconditional love we ever get is from Jesus and our dogs. Jesus proved His love by willingly dying on the cross for the sins of each of us. Many dogs have proven theirs by dying while trying to save their owner’s life. Thankfully, most don’t have to go to that extreme.
When we got The Mighty Dachshund as a pup five years ago, I was working days, so, while I was gone through the day, I always spent part of each evening on the floor with her. Fifteen months of unemployment got her used to me being available a large part of the day, as well. With my current job, though, I’m working afternoons.
My wife tells me that the pooch goes into a deep blue funk as soon as I leave, and won’t perk up for anything. Well, there IS one thing, it turns out. She soon noticed that it was my voice that her sharp little ears picked up on the far end of the line, when I called my wife on breaks. In no time, she began sitting up (begging) in front of my wife and whining whenever I’d call. Finally, my wife said, “Here, say something to the dog.” So, I told her what a good little dog she was, that I missed her and that she was my little sweetie-pie. When my wife came back on the phone, she said that the pooch was on the floor, happily rolling like a pup.
Since then, she expects for me to talk to her nearly every time that I call, EXCEPT for the last time I call each evening. At that time, I speak to my wife for just a moment from inside my truck, to let her know that I’m headed home. The Mighty Dachshund seems to know what that last call means, because she doesn’t beg to talk to me, she just starts rolling up a storm. On my arrival each night, she nearly drags my wife to the edge of the porch to see me. Then, my wife hands me the leash and I take the pooch out to answer nature’s call. After cleaning her up and going inside, she then fully expects (and usually gets) some much anticipated “floor time.” © 2014
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Nearly every day, at some point when sales are depressingly slow, we are blessed with a “brand new list,” handed down from the powers-that-be in the nether-world of telemarketing. The first time that I heard it on my new job, I remember thinking “here we go again!” You see, truly new lists are made up from currently used numbers, usually found by looking for new business listings, or purchased from the phone companies that SWEAR that they don’t sell their lists. You very rarely get an honest-to-goodness new list.
Now OLD lists that have been beat to death, where everyone has come to hate the charity or business that has harassed them for months, eventually have to be retired. Preferably before the people arm themselves and come looking for the telemarketers. So, they are stored somewhere in storage devices, or old computers, “put on the basement shelf” so to speak, for a number of years. During that time, since many of the former best donors were older folks, many of the people die. Some move; some change numbers, and some numbers are simply no longer in service for reasons unknown. Many of those numbers are eventually re-assigned to other people, some to individuals, and some to businesses.
Eventually, when their current lists become filled with defensive, suspicious hate-filled people who have tired of giving to groups who never get enough, they decide they need some “new” lists. SO, they go down to the basement, if you will, blow the dust off the old lists, rename them “new” lists, and give them to their callers. It’s then up to the callers to get rid of the wrong numbers, businesses (if they’re supposed to be calling individuals), deceased folks and out-of-service numbers. When they’re done, indeed, they’ve cleaned up the old list and turned it into a new one, but it was NOT a new list when they received it. Of course, the company will hype the old list as a new one and try to convince the callers that it’s going to be a big deal. It rarely is; it’s just a lot of thankless, head-banging work.
With my current company, the “new” lists seem to average about 10 years old. You can gradually figure it out after enough folks say “Well Mr./Mrs. So & So has been gone for 10 years!” At my old job, I sometimes encountered lists as old as 25 years. It makes for some “interesting” work, especially since some folks don’t appreciate pesky people asking for their dearly departed. Guess it’s all in a day’s work for us sons of perdition! © 2014