Sunday, July 26, 2015

Granny's Ball Of Twine (a link)

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http://gailatthefarm.blogspot.com/2015/07/grannys-ball-of-twine.html
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Training weekend with Greens Rangers 18th century living history group (a link)

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A Woodsrunner's Diary: Training weekend with Greens Rangers 18th century living history group.
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Violence Is Timeless (a link)

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Perpetual Proverbs: Violence Is Timeless
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Are The End Times Upon Us?

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For several years, one of the last things I do at night is to close my eyes, turn the edge of my Bible upward, and ask the Lord for a verse. I then put my finger down and open it to the verse where my fingernail seems to be pointing. Usually, the verse seems very relevant. For the past few months, though, most of the verses have dealt with judgment, wrath and end times. Yesterday, it was Zechariah 13 (the whole chapter). A few days earlier, it was Deuteronomy 32:28-36. (The verse often becomes verses.)

I believe the Lord is trying to tell us something!

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Sound And The Flurry

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As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’d never driven a dump-truck before hiring on with my current employer. Like most companies, they just sort of pointed me in the general direction and said “here’s what we need done.” No-one told me for three months to NEVER back up with your tag-axles (cheaters) down, though I usually didn’t, but for my own reasons. No-one told me until LAST WEEK that the “regen” wouldn’t work on my old truck unless the coolant was kept almost full to overflowing (meaning that I might have been partially responsible for the loss of my truck). There were other things, though, that had nothing to do with vehicle needs for which I was somewhat unprepared when I took on the job.

The first was the noise. I hired on in July, during the hot months. Since “my” truck had been purchased used, like most of their fleet, the air-conditioner was more than a little inconsistent. It tended to go off and on according to a mystical sequence of potholes in the highway. As a result, I sometimes ran with the windows partly down when the AC was partly working, and clear down when it was on the fritz. Incidentally, I noticed a psychological effect of additional perceived speed with the window noise, about 10 MPH at highway speed, it seemed to me.

I often kept my windows down about an inch anyway, to stay in better touch with my surroundings. Of course, in letting in the sound of sirens, horns, shouts, squealing tires, engine noise of other vehicles, etc, it also let in more of the noise of my exhaust (on the passenger side) and the noise of my own truck’s engine. It was particularly noisy when the turbo kicked in. The windows were generally at least part-way down on job-sites, too, so I could hear back-up warnings, other machinery moving and the horn of various machines used to load the truck, many of which had diminutive horns in comparison to the size of the machines.
The independent radiator fans are nearly a loud as the engine, when they kick in, making it especially difficult to shift by ear, now that I’m driving a standard. Plus, in the old Mack, the speed sensor for the automatic transmission made a lot of noise, at certain speeds. I guess everything comes at a price. Besides the noise in the cab from the engine, transmission, hydraulic lift controls and speed sensor, all those items also add heat to the cab, good in winter, not so much in summer.

The flurry of activity with a dump-truck was also something I hadn’t thought about. My previous driving experience had been with long delivery routes with few stops. There ARE some days like that on this job, but not many. While the salt runs of winter may involve one or two trips a day to some far-flung end of the state, the local “dirt jobs” can involve multiple short runs. I believe 24 loads is my record so far for a day. I don’t usually mind the dirt jobs, though two weeks on that one was a bit much. The senior man, who was there with me, fussed about it after the first day and got moved to another job.

Often, the only breaks that we get are when the loader operators are adjusting their positions or their machine requires some sort of minor maintenance. On dirt jobs, it’s hard to answer nature’s call, or even eat your lunch (those things are difficult EVERY day, for that matter). We’re told when hired to always take a 30 minute lunch break (so they’ll be in compliance with the law) but, with the next load always waiting, few guys do, nor do they really expect us to, though they don’t complain if we do. Most guys do like me and eat on the fly, or when they’re being loaded. Lunch then, is not a meal, but a series of snacks. What you pack in your lunchbox soon begins to reflect that.


Keeping us busy, of course, is what keeps the company profitable and the drivers working, so I won’t complain. I must confess, though, I DO prefer the days when the things are a bit more relaxed. © 2015
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Sick Day

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Thursday, I called in sick for the first time since I began working with my current employer, nearly a year ago (lacking four days). My wife insisted that I go to the doctor, and I did. He gave me prescriptions for four kinds of dope and I now feel better than I have in a month. Amazing what dope can do. (The RIGHT kind, at least.) One was an inhaler to open my lungs (no refill). That alone gave me the first decent night's sleep I'd had in weeks. I didn't feel like I was going to suffocate if I fell asleep! I worked Friday and did okay, so maybe I'm on the mend.

I used to shake my head at folks who had a pile of pill bottles, now it seems that I'm one of those people.
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Old Truck Is GONE!

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The old automatic transmission Mack that I drove at work broke down once too often. It was stripped of its company identification that evening and my personal items removed, and it disappeared the following day. I'm now trying to relearn driving a standard (it's been eight years), and I have to say, the Volvo that I'm in isn't half the truck my old one was. For one thing, it has no power! But, the boss is happy. Maybe I'll take early retirement in two years, yet!
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SHADOWS OF THE FUTURE IN THE PAST !

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28 For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.

29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!

30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?

31 For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.

32 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:

33 Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.

34 Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?

35 To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

36 For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.

Deuteronomy 32:28-36 King James Version
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Thoughts From The Highway

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It's been enjoyable seeing the wildlife along the road this spring. Obviously, I'm not referring to the road-kill. The young groundhogs have been venturing out of the den for over a month now. This year's squirrels and chipmunks have been seen even longer. I get tickled at the latter scurrying across the two-lane roads ahead of me. They raise their little tails straight in the air as they go.That's a trait found in many animals as they run. I assume that's where the expression "high-tailing it out of there" and its various tenses came from.

Squirrels seem rather plentiful, anymore, including the big fox squirrels, which took many years to come back after the winter kills of the late 70's. The prolonged deep snows of '77-'79 caused many to be unable to forage, thus they starved in their dens. The tiny bunnies are cute and remind me that the species isn't yet extinct. though it seems so the other seasons of the year.

I watched a young crow the other day, obviously just out of the nest. He was following his parents around, getting in their faces and demanding to be fed. They were doing surprisingly well at the task. I assume that seeing them scoop up a bug and put it in his mouth will eventually make him realize that he could eat better if he'd learn to do it himself.

To the unaware, it would seem that a lot of trees are dying this year. The seed pods on the locusts are brown and look like dead leaves from a distance, and the locust leaf miners seems to be at work already, making the real leaves turn brown. Also, due to the excessive rain in my area, the tulip poplars have brown tips on their leaves from a type of fungus that attacks them during wet springs. They'll recover, but it surely weakens them to some degree.

I've noticed in the past year on the road that people have gotten noticeably ruder and less considerate, even the truck drivers. I think it's not just on the highway, but in society at large. I remember that when I worked at my last telemarketing job that they had no button for "you're welcome," but had one for "no problem." I suppose they thought the two terms were of equal value. They AREN'T!

Our little dog has grown increasingly attentive to the calls I place to my wife, as I check with her through the day. She gets really upset if my wife doesn't let me say something to her. After I do, she lays down and rolls for minutes at a stretch in apparent celebration of hearing from me. Wouldn't it be great if we still found the joy in simple things that dogs and children do?
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A Whine (Or Ten)

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I've felt like crap all week. I mentioned in my recent prayer request that my weight has caused breathing problems for me. What I DIDN'T mention, was that I already have a 13% diminished lung capacity, due to scarring from several bouts of pneumonia as a child. As if that wasn't a bad enough combination, I got a really bad cold this week that tried filling my lungs with mucous. If it wasn't for a pharmacy chain's copy of Dayquil and Niquil, I'm not sure I'd be here to post this, literally. I THINK I'm finally getting slightly better, but Thursday was the worst I'd ever felt and still gone to work anywhere. Doctors could have done nothing but give me oxygen, since they can't treat colds (being viruses), so I elected to work sick and get the money. Now my wife has the cold and it's hitting her hard. The summer heat makes it rough when we have to venture outside and can barely breathe.

As if that wasn't bad enough, we recently had to replace our house air-conditioner. Our toilet quit working this week, but I was too sick to fix it, though I got the parts. (My brother-in-law was able to do it for me Friday.) The house roof and porch roof both need patched, and my laptop, on which I do 99% of my work, just crashed. This is turning into the summer of my greatest discontent!
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Excellent Story ! (a link)

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http://coopfeathers.blogspot.com/2015/07/information-please.html?showComment=1437084316081#c3109504432235914440
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Songs In The Night

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The tree frogs have been singing in the hundred-foot strip of woods between our house and the neighbor’s, since early spring. Their raucous, repetitive songs remind me of the long summer nights of my youth. Last week, they were joined by a single cicada singing from the woods on the opposite side of the house. A week later, it remains the only one. Its higher pitch voice adds an odd harmony to the song of the tree frogs. Its presence tells me that it will soon be joined by many relatives who will, at times, make the night almost deafening. That, in turn, will be a reminder that summer doesn’t last forever and autumn will soon be on its way. I find myself humming the tune “Sunrise, Sunset,” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Indeed, “swiftly go the years.”© 2015
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why the rebel flag had to go (a link)

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the lazy farmer: Why the rebel flag had to go
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Telling It The Way It Is

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Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
The faithful have vanished from the earth!

Neighbors lie to each other,
speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.

May the Lord cut off their flattering lips
and silence their boastful tongues.


They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content.
Our lips are our own—who can stop us?”


The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless,
and I have heard the groans of the poor.


Now I will rise up to rescue them,
as they have longed for me to do.”


The Lord’s promises are pure,
like silver refined in a furnace,
purified seven times over.


Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
and evil is praised throughout the land.


Psalm 12 (NLT)

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Look! Up In The Sky! (a link)

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_It Don't Make Sense_: Look! Up In The Sky!
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07-11-201 - Riding Shotgun - Rainy-Day Hauling, Part 2

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Two Friday’s before last wasn’t rainy in the beginning, but rain was predicted. Two of us went over into enemy territory to haul “topsoil” from a local sand pit to where a new home was being built about a mile-and-a-half away. We went down into the pit, and then wound around for a little while, before coming to the highwall at the back of the pit. There, the pit owner had constructed a crude road up the side of the dig to about 4/5 of the way to the top. There, he made a small turn around, so we could load and then drive back down the same road.

The road had an adequate berm on the lower side, but it was steep, with a decided hump in it. I had to try the third time to get up, and only then when I locked in the positive traction and all-wheel drive on the rear end. Once at the top, I saw there was barely enough room to turn and it required a bit of zigzagging, forward and backward, to get in position to load and then complete the turn and go back down. There was very little berm at the top, so it gave the impression of being on a narrow ledge of a sand cliff, probably because that was exactly what it was. I’d arrived first, but the second truck was waiting at the bottom of the grade when I came down. I laughed and told him that I reckoned that dump-truck drivers might be the only folks stupid enough to do such things. He had better tires and had less trouble with the grade than I did. Once he was up, I left to make the first delivery.

It started raining lightly about that time, and the next two trips up the sandy path became harder. The fourth time around, my truck wouldn’t make it, but kept spinning out just before the rear wheels cleared the hump, onto the flatter ground above. On the fourth try, I swear the front end left the ground, I was hitting the slope with such speed. If I’d had a confederate flag painted on the top of my cab, I’d have felt like I was on TV. (I think that was a day or two before all THAT stuff hit the fan.) I finally told the old fellow who owned the place that if we were going to keep hauling, we were going to have to go through the edge of his hay meadow, like his son running the loader had suggested. If looks could have killed, I’d have been dead on the spot.

Having been raised on a farm, I understood the fellow’s dislike of tracking up his meadow, but hey, he was selling the field a yard at a time; so what was the difference in the long run? A third truck showed up about then, so the loader man stayed a little busier which, of course, made the old gentleman money even faster. We drove as close to the edge of the dig as we dared, sometimes only five feet from the cliff-like sand slope to the bottom of the pit. We were as cautious as we knew how to be about chewing up the sod with our tires, and there was far less damage than I expected. Perhaps the sandy soil let the water drain so quickly that it just wouldn’t get gaumy.

As I looked at the meadow, I assumed it to be virgin soil, but the loader soon brought up terra-cotta pipes from an earlier era. Whether they had been part of a field drainage system or part of a drain from some long-gone house or barn, I had no idea. I wondered, also, how many arrowheads, flints tools and pot shards that I might be driving over from the days before the white man.


At 2:30, the builder called it a day, due to it getting too muddy for us to maneuver the trucks at his place. By that time, though, we had in eight hours and the pit owner had sold about 40 loads of dirt, so he didn’t seem worried about his meadow anymore. We each got a load of sand to haul back to the shop and agreed that it had been a pretty productive day to be so rainy. © 2015
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Night Steam (coal train video)

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http://coopfeathers.blogspot.com/2015/07/friday-night-steam_10.html
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Three Photos From This Week

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Click photos to enlarge.
The photo above was taken in the yard at work. For now, I can park my pickup beside my work truck, so I can transfer my lunch and such a lot easier; plus, I don't have far to walk to go to work! "Old '53" isn't a large truck; it has a 16 foot long bed with five foot sides. The bottom, outside corners of the bed are rounded, to make it dump cleaner, so I don't know the exact yardage of the bed. I hope they have trouble finding a buer, because I'd love to keep driving it, insread of another.


I've posted a picture of this building on here before, but I find it interesting, so I put it here again. It;s ugly, but it has a sort of historic, "ghost town" look. Still, I hope it gets torn down before long. I hauled debris from the plant a couple days last week, from sections that were being demolished. This week, I spent part of my time hauling some contaminated soil from the area to the rear of where I snapped this photo.


Since it was rainy, the dump was muddy, so they opened the "tire wash" on the way out and blocked other exits, so you HAD to go through it. It's NOT to wash off germs, but to get the mud knocked off, before it makes it to the highway, where the state could issue them a ticket. With all the "flora and fauna" in that mud, I'd think they should be able to grow some monster carp in that holding tank to the right of the wash! LOL © 2015


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FORDSON !

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The guru sent me this photo from shorpy.com. I thought some of you might enjoy it.

Click photo to enlarge.
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Sunday, July 5, 2015

07-05-2015 – Riding Shotgun - Rainy-Day Hauling - Part 1

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After a couple near-60-hour weeks spoiled me pay-wise, two rainy weeks set in where I didn’t even get 40 hours. I have to work 50 hours at this job to get the same pay as I did for 40 hours at my factory job, 10 years ago, so I prefer to have a little overtime. The money doesn’t go nearly as far as it did back then, though. Since most of our work is tied to the construction business, rain in summer is almost as bad for us as snow in winter. The bosses are good about having a little “busy work” on hand to keep us working as near 40 hours as possible, however.

Thursday before last, the three of us with the least seniority sat around for the first hour, hoping for a load on that on-and-off rainy day. Finally, the dispatcher found us a job hauling for the mine. They had an overabundance of one size of stone, while their yard in town was a little low on the same size. Our job was to load up at the mine, 20 miles away, and haul the stone back to that company’s city yard, almost directly across the river from our employer’s shop. It was stone-yard to stone-yard, instead of stone-yard to mud lot, so it was a good rainy-day job.

Now you might think that, since their mine is only 20 miles away, the city lot would get ALL their stone there, but I’d never seen any evidence of that. Since the city yard sits between the river bank and a spur of the railroad, I figured their stone came by one method or the other. Not being bashful, I asked the lady running the scale about their stone source. She said that it came by barge from a source downriver—Kentucky, she thought.

I guess it says something about the cost of trucking that it’s cheaper to do the extra handling and ship it from another state than to haul it 20 miles by truck. Still, the stone spends a few minutes on a truck, even then, since the dock is about 200 yards downstream from their yard. So, the crane uses a clam bucket to load the trucks, and the trucks shuttle it the 200 yards to the stone-yard and dump it in a big pile. There, the end-loader pushes it up into a taller pile, so it soaks up less rain and takes up less space in the yard.

Incidentally, the company is very diversified and owns not only mines and stone-yards, but also manufacturing plants. In fact, it’s known primarily for its work in the aerospace industry. I’ve never been fully convinced that the whole moonwalk thing wasn’t just a slow-motion tape of goings-on in Area 51; I wonder if those “moon rocks” have been tested for lime content?


After hauling three loads apiece for that company, the dispatcher had us haul a couple loads each from the mine to the shop. That was just busy-work, but they’ll probably sell it there in a few days, since that’s where they do their retail business. Between those five loads and the hour’s wait that morning, we got eight hours on the clock, so that wasn’t bad for a rainy day. © 2015
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Friday, July 3, 2015

ULTIMATE Prepping

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Those who’ve followed me for a while know that I’ve done several articles on prepping in the past, some with the help of the friend that I call “the guru.” I know that some of you have an interest in such things, too. On Facebook, I daily repost things from other folks that have to do with prepping, homesteading and DIY projects. Some folks prepare for societal collapse, financial collapse or the collapse of the power grid. Other folks prepare for things like floods, tornados, wind storms, drought, and food shortages due to various scenarios.

While many of my readers are exceptions to the rule, people at large don’t seem to want to prepare for the one event from which none of us escape—death. No, I don’t mean just buying life insurance to protect your family if you croak. Nor do I mean pre-arranging your funeral, making a will, or doing estate planning to lessen the taxes paid by your heirs. I’m thinking of something bigger, the biggest in fact—dealing with eternity.

Science tells us that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be made to change forms. Science also tells us that we have an aura that is photographable with the right equipment. When we die, that aura doesn’t fade; it leaves the body and heads elsewhere. Religious folks will tell you that aura is the soul moving to the next realm.

There are people, of course, who choose not to believe in any god or in life beyond the grave. Surprisingly, this attitude is more common in the lower classes and less educated. People would be shocked to learn how many scientists are religious. For those folks who simply think they’re being pragmatic not to believe in spiritual things, I’ll quote my late uncle. He was neither the first nor the last to say such a thing, but he was the first to articulate it to me. He said, “If I spend my life believing in God, only to die and become nothing; I’m not out a thing. A lot of folks go through life mistaken about some things. However, if some guy goes through life NOT believing in God and finds himself at the judgment seat after leaving this life, he’ll have literal hell to pay.” And that will be for all eternity, folks. Have you ever considered the idea of something with no end?

Concerning Jesus, Acts 4:12 tells us “…God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (NLT) That means Buddha, Mohammed, Vishnu nor any other person, living or dead, can get you into Heaven. You have to accept Jesus as your savior, or you’re headed somewhere else entirely.  We can’t make it in on our own either, for Romans 3:23 tells us, “ For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (NLT) However, once you make that decision to accept Jesus as your savior, He won’t turn his back on you. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (NLT)

Sadly, I believe that Satan may have more fake Christians out there than God has real ones, so don’t be swayed by “Christians” who set bad examples. If you know one who has impressed you with his (her?) behavior, go to him and ask about “getting saved.” If he’s sincere, he’ll find the answers you need, even if he doesn’t have them on the tip of his tongue. Feel free to ask me to converse privately, also. Otherwise, get a red letter edition Bible and just read the words in red a few times, so you get familiar with what Jesus says, instead of what people say about Him. Then, you might want to read all of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John plus, perhaps, Proverbs.


Please get prepared for eternity, because your world could end at any moment, and eternity is a long time to suffer needlessly. Heaven sounds like a much nicer place. © 2015
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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bicycling For A Cause

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I saw the first rider before I ever made it off the ramp that led up to the eastbound lane of the old Northwestern Pike. He was in Spandex, like the ones that come out onto my country road and create safety problems. Unlike them, he was riding on the berm, instead of the center-line. Then, I saw another rider ahead of him, and then another. I thought that it was probably one of the local clubs, out for a week-day ride. Then, I noticed the “chase-car” stopped on the berm ahead, waiting for them to catch up. That’s when I realized that it was something bigger. As I drove further out the highway, I saw numerous cyclists and chase-cars.

At least once a year, some national gathering of bicyclists passes through town, usually doing a coast-to-coast ride for some charity. When I passed the second chase-car, I was able to read just enough to tell that the effort was tied to some cancer research charity. Good cause—wasted effort.

Those who’ve lost friends or relatives to some disease, understandably, want to do something to keep others from suffering through the loss that they faced. It makes them feel like they’re helping others, like their own life is making a difference, and it helps them overcome the feeling of helplessness that came from watching someone that they loved slip, daily, a little further into an early grave. Their efforts are sincere and commendable. It’s just sad that the money, that they work so hard to raise, will go to line the pockets of some already rich “research scientists” and not to the cause for which it was given.

Over the years, I’ve read the columns of a few conservative black commentators. I can’t remember which one did a piece on cancer charities, but he made the wise comment that no doctor or scientist will ever find whatever it is that you’re paying them to look for, since that would end their cash flow. Instead, they “discover” just enough information to keep hope up, meanwhile, searching all around the answer, without quite stumbling onto it. He said that if we want the answer found, that we should not pay ANYONE to search for that answer. However, we SHOULD pay multi-millions to the first person to find the cure. I’m certain that he’s right.


You may understand why I don’t waste money on disease charities. Nor do I participate in “walk-thons and such because I know where the money REALLY goes. So, how do I help sick folks and their families? I pray for them. You can, too. It will do more good than making the doctors gain a tax bracket. © 2015
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Friday, June 26, 2015

They’re Selling My Truck!

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I’ve only driven one truck as my regular truck since I hired on with my employer 11 months ago. It’s a 2006 Mack tri-axle with a 16 foot dump bed. It’s also an automatic. It’s one of only two that I fit into comfortably, and I suspect they’re selling the other one, too. The boss just decided that they’re too expensive to maintain. Whether that belief is based on speculation or solid bookkeeping, I really don’t know. I DO know that I didn’t hear anything about it until my truck blew a tire this afternoon, something completely unrelated to the truck itself. Who’s to say?

I DO know that I’ll miss my little truck. It goes places that some bigger ones won’t go. Plus, I’ll have to get used to driving a standard again, after eight years of driving automatics. And then there’s the problem with most cabs not allowing enough room to adjust for fat guys like me. The other fat guy with the company is driving the twin to mine. He may be out, too.


My years of self-employment had their problems, but they had their good points, too. One was not being completely dependent on the whims of any one person. Sometimes, I miss those days. © 2015
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Saturday, June 20, 2015

What’s It Worth To You?

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Several years ago, I read a book about personal finances. One of its main ideas was that we should figure the cost of an item not in dollars, but in the number of hours we work to acquire that item. In other words, if something costs $50, and you make $5 an hour, it costs you 10 hours of work to purchase that item. Of course, if you make $25 an hour, it only costs you two hours. It puts things on a rather personal and ACCURATE cost basis. I’ve tended to look at things from that angle ever since.

A case in point was our lunch today. We went to a well-known and popular restaurant that we go to on occasion. The cost there is more than a fast-food joint, so we don’t go there frequently, but ever so often, we like to splurge. Normally, it has cost me about three hours of labor for my wife and I to dine there, and that included the tip. Today, the cost was four hours (again, with the tip), despite getting the same meals that we usually get. I hadn’t looked at the prices when we ordered, so I was a bit surprised, though not shocked.

I realize that prices are going up on EVERYTHING these days, and that the restaurant may have simply adjusted their prices as needed to stay in business. I also realize that their own greed could have played in the higher price to some degree, as well, though it wouldn’t be provable. I know, too, that the rise in poultry prices, due to current disease problems, will cause a rise in other the cost of other meats as consumers switch to those other sources of protein.  However, there are other restaurants that haven’t yet raised their prices to that degree.

All in all, I felt that the cost of our meals had exceeded my willingness to pay. I had to pay for today’s meal, of course, but I have a choice to make the next time I feel like dining there. Will we go to a less expensive restaurant, or will we simply choose to eat at home. Since my wife likes a break in the kitchen on weekends, I suspect that I already know the answer, but it’s a decision, nonetheless.


So what would YOU do? Is there a “test” that you use to decide when your willingness to pay has been misused or abused, or that something is simply beyond your means? © 2015
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Friday, June 19, 2015

Not A Good Week

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I thought that I was going to have a little extra cash last week to apply toward bills, but I ended up using it Sunday to go to the quick clinic. I finally realized that I was into my yearly sinus infection, and every hour that I put it off would increase my suffering and recovery time. So, there went $100. According to their records, I’d skipped last year. I hadn’t realized that.

At work Monday, my truck went on the fritz as I was leaving the lot, and the owners decided to take it to the dealer a few miles up the river. Since I wasn’t feeling well and I would have been put in a different truck, I chose to go home, though I only had two hours in at the time.

Tuesday, I waited a couple hours to even be assigned a load, and then had to take the truck of a guy who was working evenings. It was hard for me to climb into the big Volvo, plus it was a standard. It’s been eight years since I’ve driven a standard regularly, and I’m VERY rusty. Shockingly, I didn’t rake a lot of gears, but I did miss a few completely. I had to stop my day a bit early to return the truck and get it ready for the night-shift guy. I felt lousy all day.

Wednesday, I waited three hours for a load and then was assigned yet another standard Volvo. I had the same problem getting in, and the seat-belt in that one choked me even worse than the one from the day before. I felt even worse than the day before, plus, my water pills were going wild and I needed to pee about every half-hour to 45 minutes. Twice, I couldn’t make it to a john and I had to improvise. Once, I settled for a big bush on the access road to the landfill. The other time, I had to answer nature’s call behind a pickup parked in the storage shed of the waste-water treatment plant. The former wouldn’t have been so bad, since I grew up on a farm, but it was pouring rain, plus, I fell down on my hike to the bush and got soaked from head to foot. From the odor of my urine, I finally figured out that I have a urinary tract infection to go with my sinus infection. I thought that was a female thing! Oh well, the same antibiotic should cure them both. I felt lousy all day.

Thursday, two other guys and myself were sent home after waiting three hours for a load that never came.

Today, Friday, there were ten of us that suffered that fate (again, after a three hour wait), but at least we had our paychecks when we left. I noticed I’d gotten a 45 cent raise (I’ll have to give the bosses a thank-you card). Every little bit helps, but rain-free weather would be a bigger boon to my pay right now. Construction jobs shut down when the mud gets too deep.


I’m sore and achy in the shoulders and hips from making those 20-24 inch steps to drag my overweight carcass into the trucks I was driving the last couple days. I hope I have my truck back Monday, I could use some comfort and some good news. © 2015
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yep, It Works! (pic)

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Click image to enlarge.

I finally got around to trying the maul that I made a while back. It works fine, as you can see from the split piece of firewood. An axe of some kind is still needed to severe splintered sections, of course. My little log-marking axe is shown here.

The advantages of a maul are three-fold. If you're traveling to the backwoods, you save the weight of carrying a sledge-hammer. You can make it yourself, with only an axe, once you get there. Plus, it doesn't distort the base of steel wedges that you may be driving with it. Still, I don't plan on giving up my splitting maul, though I could get by without it.© 2015
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Greed Ultimately Destroys The Product

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I’ve seen it often over my nearly 60 years of observation. A product fills a need and gets popular and profitable. The company gets rich, but has visions of getting even richer. They start “new and improving” the product, each time finding a way to make the process cheaper, or to leave out a part or ingredient entirely. Eventually, this affects the usefulness of the product and people start buying it less, or move to competing products. Faced with declining sales, the company finds ways to make the product even cheaper, often by sending the work overseas. Eventually, the product becomes so poorly made as to be worthless, and the company goes out of business. This happens quite frequently when the second generation takes over a family-owned company. They didn’t work and sacrifice to create the company, and often don’t have the pride of name and quality like the founder.

I’ve noticed the same downward spiral with restaurants. They offer a good menu, fair prices and good service. The public responds by flocking to the establishment and spending their money. However, the owners or stockholders get greedy and want more, more, more profit. First, they try to get by with fewer wait staff and less skilled cooks. Soon the food quality suffers. I’ve seen quality get so bad that my dog wouldn’t eat the stuff! Then, they close their doors.

I’ve seen this with cereal brands, clothing companies, cleaning supplies automobiles and other products.

Recently, Grand River, a brand of Chinese-made jeans that I’m forced to buy (due to them being the only ones available in town in my size), has decided to save money by putting less fabric in their jeans. The way they did this was to keep the waist size the same, but skimp on the butt and thigh areas of the pants. Now, I realize that there are butt-less wonders out there that have a spare tire, but no backside to match. I’m not one of them. If their trick continues, I’ll soon be buying my jeans online from a place where one of my coworkers shops. If the big-butted guys like me outnumber butt-less wonders, Grand River may soon find itself a brand of the past.

A couple days ago, my wife set a “new and improved” bottle of Dial liquid soap on the bathroom counter. The first squirt went nearly across the counter. It was like WATER! If the next bottle is like that, it will be our last.


It seems too many companies just can’t make enough money. I always remember John D. Rockefeller’s answer when asked how much money it takes to make a man happy. “More,” was his reply. © 2015
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Me And Music

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(If the title is improper English, mind your own business.) ;-)

Parkersburg, West Virginia, Big Red Marching Band, circa 1943. Click image to enlarge.

My taste in music is pretty broad. I like most classical music, folk music from nearly any time or country, “tribal” music, old country and western, SOME so-called country of this day and age (most would have been called “southern rock” in the past, with some being just plain rock. I like blues, swing, soul, bluegrass and jazz. Name any other kind, and I probably like it, too! Just don’t mention rap; it ain’t music. (I have spoken!)

Some of my favorite music, though, is the pop music my parents enjoyed during their younger days. I find music from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s to be either pleasant or poignant, except for the silly stuff, which is okay, too. Mairzy Doats is an example of the latter, and I get a kick out of it. You can hear it HERE. An example of poignant a one is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” which you can hear at THIS link. The “pleasant’ song that I now love/hate from a week of catching myself humming, whistling and singing is “Bie Mir Bist Du Shein.” You can hear it HERE. I guess you could call my taste in music “eclectic.” ;-) © 2015
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If It Ain’t One Dern Thing, It’s Another!

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I had a little money left over this week that I thought I could use to pay down my colossal medical bills from a four-hour visit to the emergency room a few months ago. At that time, I didn’t have the money on me to go to the quick-care place and pay the $100 up front, and I sort of panicked when I realized that the cellulitis was moving UP my leg, so I went to the hospital emergency room. I knew that I could go then and pay later. I figured it would run $500-1000. It ended up about $2000, altogether. I should have waited and taken off work and gone to the quick-care place the following day, I guess.


I’ve been having some health problems (caused by my weight I figured), but I finally realized that not all the symptoms were related, and that I had my usual yearly sinus infection. Once they get to a certain point with me, they only get worse, NEVER better, so I have to get medical help. This one was getting to the chronic headache stage, with about a 10-point rise in blood pressure. Surprisingly, the doc told me that it had been TWO years since I’d been there with that problem. That must be a record for me. Regardless, the doctor got my bill-paying money. I got a shot in the hip and a prescription that probably won’t last long enough to do the trick. That may mean another office visit and another round of antibiotics. Only time will tell. © 2015
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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Too Tired To Blog

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I appreciate the larger paychecks that come from 60 hour weeks, but it sure doesn’t leave me any time to blog, OR do much of anything else. I’ve discovered that I’m not made for such hours. I’m chronically sleepy (a bad thing for a driver) and grumpy (a bad thing for my wife and my dog). I slurp coke through the day to keep from falling asleep at the wheel and take anti-acids to counter its effects on my stomach. No, I think 50 hours is more than enough, but the larger paychecks ARE helping me catch up a bit on my doctor bills.

I started the week hauling limestone sand to fill in part of an old sewage treatment plant. They call it a “waste-water treatment plant” now. I’m not impressed, as a “rose” by any other name,…..well, you get the idea. Interestingly enough, they’re erecting a new medical building next door to it. Maybe the change in terminology WILL serve some purpose! LOL

I hauled some stone to a new medical building going in across the river in enemy territory this week also. I’m glad to see the little town finally get the medical facility that it deserves. Now their ambulances won’t have to bring them across a state line to our town, OR speed them several miles up the river to the hospital in the next town.

I spent the last two days hauling top soil and fill dirt from a little power plant up the river to the farm of one of the fellows working there on a building project. It was a fellow that was in school when I was, so we were vaguely acquainted. His first wife was a girl from my French class in high school, plus, I used to do a lot of business with his brother back when I had the sawmill. The thing I’ll always remember most about the guy was that he was on the wrestling team and took on the wrestling bear during half-time at a Globe Trotters game here in town. The funny thing was, the guy WON and the bear got angry about it!

As I looked around that jobsite those two 93 degree days, I noticed that most of the workers were older, like he and I. The only younger fellows were the “educated” kids riding around in the air-conditioned pickups with blueprints and cups of coffee. I couldn’t help but wonder who will do the grunt labor when my generation retires. SOMEBODY still has to get their hands dirty, and the fewer folks willing to do it, the more those jobs will pay. I suspect I know who will be doing that work, and they won’t be speaking English as their first language.

I’ve noticed several small gas-fired power plants going in the region. As much as I think it was unwise to rush the closing of the coal-fired plants, I believe the smaller, more numerous plants are the way to go. For one thing, no one act of terrorism could shut them all down. Also, if one plant has to go down, it won’t affect such large numbers of people. The only problem I see is that they’re still, undoubtedly, tied together with an antiquainted grid system.

There was a bad wreck out on the four-lane a day or two ago. Someone rear-ended another vehicle in a work zone. That vehicle was knocked into a third, which was then knocked into a fourth. The bad thing was, a worker was between the third and fourth vehicles and was crushed to death. He was only in his 40’s. I see people do stupid stuff every day in those work zones, both the folks driving by AND the workers. It’s amazing there aren’t more people killed.

I hit the big six-zero Thursday and, even though we have a “no gifts” policy for us older members of the family, my 85-year-old mother wanted to do something special for me. SO, I suggested she make me a few chocolate chip cookies. I went by today to pick them up and pay her with a hug. She also gave me a hymnal from the old church that’s closing down that has my aunt’s name printed in the front. I’m to give it to the cousin that helped install my water tank, since it’s his grandmother’s name in the book. I saw him earlier today when he put some freon in my pickup’s AC. Guess I’ll see him again tomorrow.


As I came home from town today, where I’d gone to get a haircut, I topped our ridge to find a doe standing right on the center-line nursing her fawns. I stopped the truck, but they left quickly anyway. The doe picked one of her rear feet up as high as her belly to keep from knocking one of her fawns over as she moved. Now THAT’S being a gentle mother! I didn’t have my camera, unfortunately—maybe next time. © 2015
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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Duggar Situation Brings Out The Haters

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 With all the attention focused on the family, I actually feel sorry for ALL the Duggars, including Josh. He tried to do the right thing by coming forward on his own and trying to stop his wickedness. He seems to have succeeded, with much help. As for the affected girls, the current media circus has violated them far more than the actions of their brother, considering that they were not even aware of what had happened back then, until they were told. As for the parents, I wouldn't wish their situation on anyone. Some folks, though, seem to want to line the whole family up for the firing squad.

I've seen few issues bring the haters out like this story. The hatred isn't reserved just for the Duggars themselves, but for anyone who doesn't think an sdult should be drawn and quartered for acts committed as a young teen. I've decided that much of that hatred probably comes from two sources, though I have no way to prove it. The majority are down on the Duggars at large, not just Josh. I think that's because they're personally at war with God, and the Duggars represent Him in their minds. Therefore, since they hate God for not approving of their sins, they hate the Duggars even more, since they have earthly faces at which they can aim their vitriole. As unrentant sinners, those folks can't know that "winning" a war against God is the ultimate defeat.

The other group is the surprisingly large numbers of people in this country who have, themselves, been victims of sexual abuse, often of the violent type, and feel that no-one who has even harbored a single thought of pedaphilia can be human. Their position is more understandable, but still distorted. The sad thing is, there may never be a way for them to truly heal until they can forgive the individual who violated them. (Remember that forgiveness and approval are two ENTIRELY different things.) The more I see and hear, the more I think this story has tarnished the reputation of the media and general citizenry even more than it has the Duggars. THEY, at least, seem to have some sense of compassion. © 2015
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Wirt County Hillbillies

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My mother told me a little story on the phone tonight, about when she lived in Wirt County, West Virginia during the early 40’s. My grandfather had lost his factory job as the war first started winding down and had returned to his first love—farming. There wasn’t much money to be had on the farm, but there was plenty of food. That came in handy when his kids wanted to go to 4-H camp. It seems that they would let you bring food to help feed the campers if you couldn’t afford the camp fees. That was good arrangement in the days before government interference put an end to common sense.

Mom’s best friend also wanted to go to camp, so they figured they’d ride together, along with their siblings. Her friend’s dad took them in his pickup truck and the kids rode in the back with their luggage, produce, eggs and live chickens. At every bump, the old hens would give a cackle and, of course, the road to Camp Barb was gravel back then.


She said that when they came rolling into camp, more than a few folks noticed their arrival. That was before anyone had heard of the Beverly Hillbillies, but the look must have been similar. They were kids, they didn’t care and they had fun on the trip there and fun the week of camp. What more could you ask for? © 2015
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The Great Mystery

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As I cruised back toward the shop, after a hard day’s driving, I was enjoying the relaxed feeling of the wider road and the lesser twists and turns of the larger two-lane. I was passing through a narrow wooded valley when I noticed something white near the center of the road far ahead. The hillsides and the tiny valley floor were covered completely with young forest with surprisingly little undergrowth. The effect was that you could see a long distance through the woods in any direction. There were no driveways, outbuildings or houses, so I assumed that the white thing in the road ahead was a piece of trash or litter from some passing vehicle.

As I drew closer, I could see that a slight breeze was ruffling some of the material on the pancake-flat object. The nearer I got, the more feather-like the material looked. Suddenly, I realized that the narrow part pointing my direction had a yellow beak and a pink comb attached. The white, fluttering things were indeed feathers. There, in the seeming middle of nowhere, lay someone’s white leghorn chicken—dehydrated and severely compacted.


Having recognized the object for what it was, I took another quick look around me. Nope, there was no sign of human habitation in the considerable distance that I could see along the valley or up the hillsides. SO, where did this avian adventurer hail from? What brought her to this lonely section of country highway? And WHY,…..WHY did she feel the need to cross the road? © 2015
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Interesting - But Depressing (w/pics)

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This week, a couple other fellows and I have been hauling "rap" (old broken-up concrete and other demolition debris) away from an old plant that's being demolished. At one time, the plant was a huge specialty metals place. Since then, it's been bought and sold a couple times, parts of the original operation have been spun off as seperate businesses, and some parts have been sold to other companies that continue to operate on the same property. Still, much of the property is no longer used, so after many years of disuse and neglect, the unused parts are being "deconstructed." Nearly all the metal is being recycled. What materials can't be recycled, we're hauling to the dump.

I had to wait a bit to get into the place on one trip.

Click images to enlarge.

The excavator marks the spot where we've been loading the last couple days.


I find it interesting to see a world that I've had little contact with, but the scenery reminds me of pictures I've seen of bombed-out areas from World War II. The effect may not be as different as we think, either. Probably, many closed plants have EPA regulations to thank for their demise. That production, and the jobs that went with it, moved to foreign countries that have no concerns for the invironment, or for the well-being of their workers.

Wages from those jobs paid the expenses for hundreds of area families. The loss of those jobs probably caused the loss of some homes and many automobiles. The financial stress probably broke up some marriages. Some kids may not have been able to go to college. A few adults and children may have even gone hungry, once those jobs weren't there to buy the groceries. However, the bureaucrats enjoyed their power, and the executives and shareholders found they could make even more money exploiting foreign workers than they could doing it to our own citizens.

Here are three more shots of the once-flourishing factory:




I did see ONE thing that I'd love to have. About 50 feet of natural hedge along the edge of the area was made up of small sassafras trees. I have very few on my place and would love to have more. They're unbeatable for beanpoles, hotdog sticks and TEA!


Funny how quickly nature tries to reclaim its own! © 2015
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Monday, May 25, 2015

The Stone Work Of Calhoun County, West Virginia (w/pics and link)

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My first acquaintance with the stonework in Calhoun County was 36 years ago when I drove a feed truck around the area on deliveries. The house beside the main store in Big Bend was of excellent stonework, unusual in our local area. The store owner at that time told me that the store owner during the depression provided room and board for a gang of Italian WPA stonemasons in exchange for them building him a stone house. The story made sense, so I never questioned it. Below is the house today.

Click photos to enlarge.

I really didn't pay so much attention to the other stonework in the countyb at the time, though I knew it was there. Recently, though, I've been hauling limestone and blacktop through the area, and it's piqued my interest in the quality and quantity of such work in the county. For instance, there's the grade school in Grantsville.





Notice the stone walls in the four photos, also. There's quite a bit of such work in the town. Notice the stone garage in the next photo; there are four in town, I think; I suspect there may have been more at one time.




Here's a photo of the back of their courthouse and jail, though prisoners are no longer kept in the jail. I didn't get a shot of the front, but found one online.


Here's the one of the front from online. I brightened it considerably to make things plainer to see.


Here's another example of the area stonework found online, it's of the old high school, no longer in use. Both it and the grade school are now boarded up.


A few miles away, near Millstone, also in Calhoun County, a DOH garage shows the same quality stonework as many other buildings in the county. (Taken through a wet windsheild in the rain.)



 All this time, I'd been thinking that this was all possibly done by a group of Italian immigrants working for the WPA, and that could be partially true, but the main story, I discoverd almost by accident in an old article at The Hur Herald. Please take a look:

http://www.hurherald.com/cgi-bin/db_scripts/articles?Action=user_view&db=articles_hurherald&id=16502

I hope they find a way to save this part of their heritage. If these buildings were in Parkersburg, They'd likely have been torn down years ago. © 2015
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Waste (w/pic)

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I hauled some “dirt” (contaminated sawdust) to the dump a couple weeks ago for about a week, at five trips a day. Once again, I was amazed by the things that I saw going there. The construction and demolition debris going there continues to be downright sinful. Having come from a sawmill family, I cringe every time that I see absolutely UNUSED material going to the dump to be covered over with filth and wasted. Some landfills refuse to accept yard waste and lumber, insisting that they be recycled or composted. I wish ours was that way. It wouldn’t put the contractors in such a bind, either, if everyone had to live by the same rules.

This past week, I worked for another company that our employers had farmed some of us out to. Once again, nearly perfect farmland is being used to enlarge an industrial park, while a swamp (aka “valuable wetland) sits unused next door. On the job where I was hauling, there were TWO state inspectors sitting in their cars, not really communicating with each other, making me think they were from different agencies. Neither one seemed to be serving much purpose, other than to slow the work down occasionally. The one was so young that I was surprised his mother let him out of the house, so I couldn’t help but wonder if us taxpayers were getting our money’s worth.

A little piece down the road, the renting farmer got the field plowed and disked before the owners came in and drove survey stakes all over the place and put up little plastic erosion barriers. I don’t know what’s going in there. In front of another industrial property, a bunch of maple trees are being cut, with no indication that it’s for any reason other than to have a more manicured front lawn. The entire trees are being chipped, logs and branches alike. Next door, a two foot thick walnut tree was cut into firewood because it was too close to power lines. I don’t blame them, but they could have sawed that tree into at least $500 worth of beautiful lumber, rather than $50 worth of firewood.


I found out, this week, that an old stone school building, probably from WPA days, was being demolished. It was one of the few remaining stone structures in town, and was solid as a rock, so I guess it just HAD to go. This area seems to have no appreciation either for quality structures, or history. It would have made a good apartment building or something, but I guess the land is freed up for “development” now. No wonder we have nothing in this area, we keep destroying what we DO have.

The Roosevelt School, Parkersburg, WV, stands no longer.
(Photo from online source.)

© 2015
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