Thursday, April 30, 2015

Snobbery In The Woodyard

It never ceases to amaze me what some folks will pay for bragging rights. The world's finest splitting HATCHET (not an axe or a maul, but a HATCHET) is available from Granfors for only about $150. It's not for professional woodcutters, they'd use full size splitting axes and mauls at one-third the price. This is for weekend warriors who want to go camping and carry TWO hatchets, instead of one, and want to be able to use their phone to take photos of it in use to send to their idiot friends to make them jealous.

Don't get me wrong, it really IS the absolute best commercially-made splitting hatchet in the world. BUT, who cares? We're talking short pieces of wood that are handled perfectly well by ANY decent hatchet that you happen to have with you. Mine cost $2 at a yard sale, plus the cost of a new handle. AND, I only have to carry ONE hatchet, instead of one to chop with and one to split with. Incidentally, it says "Boy Scouts of America" on it.

Here's the world's best if you'd like to see it:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Firewood Splitting For Seniors - Lesson 1 (w/pic)

Click photo to enlarge.

Always save the largest diameter log and split it last. That way, when you need to take a breather, you have a stool handy! lol © 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Swingin’ In The Rain

I got sent home early from work today, since the job that I was on got rained out. The rain came earlier than predicted, but at least I got in six hours today. I’m sitting in the porch swing beside our front door, with the Mighty Dachshund on her leash and at my feet. I moved the welcome mat over to where she likes to lay, so she wouldn’t be on the cold concrete. It’s much cooler since the rain began. 

I’m not actually in the rain here, since I’m on the porch, but a soft rain is falling, and the pooch and I are enjoying the scents, sights and sounds of the day. I notice that the breeze is from the ESE, rather than the usual west. That probably means that the rain has set in for a while, rather than blowing through quickly.

We sat here about five minutes when I brought the pooch outside before dawn, also, and listened to a couple barred owls in the hollow. Now, the little birds have taken over and seem to fill the woods, beginning only 30 feet away, with their chatter. I guess they realize that they have to eat, rain or shine. It’s been 20 years since I worked in the woods regularly, and I’m losing the memory of which calls go with which birds, though I still remember the birds themselves. It’s something that I hate to lose.

As we sit here, a couple crows fly back and forth through the woods and caw to one another. I think they have a nest somewhere down the ridge, to the west of the house. A couple little flycatchers would like to explore the porch (or maybe they have a nest I haven’t noticed), but they see me and the dog, so stay in the white oak limbs, 20 feet away. A hundred feet away, a squirrel scurries across the upper half of a small (4-5”) cherry that has broken part-way off and whose upper end now rests in the fork of a scarlet oak. The natural bridge lets him leave the woods, enter the scarlet oak, then jump over to the limbs of the big white oak in the front yard, without endangering himself further by getting down to ground level. A pair of red-headed woodpeckers arrives, one on the ground, the other in a nearby tree limb. I’ve been seeing them often the last week or so, I suspect they have a nest nearby. It’s probably been 10 years since I’ve seen any others, though we have plenty of hairy, downy, and pileated ones, plus flickers.

Sitting here, I see a good selection of wild greens in the lawn before me, as well as some violets and bluets. Plus, there are hundreds of tiny green oak leaves, showing where some of last fall’s acorn crop has germinated. The Mighty Dachshund begins to growl, and I laugh when I realize that she has just now paid attention to the pieces of firewood in the front yard that I stood on end last night to split. I tell her what they are, and that they’re harmless, and that she should be quiet. She obeys, but she still eyes them suspiciously. Finally, my wife comes to the door and suggests that we go to town and get the dog a burger for lunch, not that she’s spoiled or anything, so we do.

After running the original errand, I drive my wife around a bit and take her a couple places to give her an outing, then we head home. It’s not raining by the time we get there, and the pooch and I reclaim our spot on the porch for a while. It’s obviously later now; you can tell that the darkness of the day isn’t due solely to the overcast sky. The unseen sun is getting lower. The birds are getting quieter, except for the crows. A couple new voices are added to the chorus, though. One of the area roosters is sounding off and a tom is occasionally gobbling on my back ridge. It seems a little late in the day for his vocalizations. People are getting home from work now, and kids are getting out of school. I don’t know which is which, but the sound of cars racing out my ridge-top road is added to the sounds of nature. Then, too, so are the whistle of a far away train, the rumble of passing jets and the whine of truck tires on the old Northwestern Pike (about a mile-and-a-half away as the crow flies). Sometimes, even those sounds are interesting.

The dog finally makes it obvious that she wants to go in, so I let her in the door and close it behind her. I then take the eight-pound splitting maul from the back of the truck and begin to split some of the pieces that the dog growled at earlier in the day. Within a minute or so, a soft rain begins again. Now I really AM swingin’ in the rain—swingin’ a maul, that is. Soon, I get wet enough that I call it a day and head back to the porch. The air grows colder yet, and the breeze picks up, as I sit in the swing once more. Eventually, my shoulders begin to ache, partly from the cold, perhaps, but probably more from the affects of atmospheric pressure on my arthritis.

Soon, my wife comes to the door and tells me that the pooch is barking for me and that my presence is required. What can I say? It’s a command performance, so I go inside and leave the swing empty as the rain continues to fall gently on the quiet woods and the spring grass. © 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Idiotic And The Evil

Being on the road every day has convinced me that the proper attitude for safety is to assume that every other driver on the road is a raving maniac. Some days, it seems nearly true. Friday was one of those days.

Maybe it has to do with some folks getting their checks early and rushing around to spend them. Maybe it has to do with some folks getting distracted, thinking about how far they need to stretch their check to survive. Some may be unable to see through the tears they’re shedding, remembering the days when they HAD a paycheck. Then again, maybe they just smoke too much wacky-weed, or are affected by the phase of the moon.

I had a lot of aggressive drivers that day, acting like they owned the road and that I was an unwelcome trespasser. There were quite a few “what-do-you-think-you’re-doing-passing-ME” drivers on the four-lane, also. They’re the ones going slower than you, so you begin passing, only to find yourself going 10 miles over the speed limit to get around them, or give up and fall back in behind them. If you do the latter, they usually slow back down to what they were doing before you began passing. I think it’s all about ego and control, but I guess only the Lord knows what goes on in their minds. These things are so common, though, that unless you chose to let them define your day, you tend to let them pass and move on to new adventures. The deliberately evil ones are out there, but sometimes, we don’t even know HOW evil until later.

And so it was yesterday after I’d turned in my time card and was in the office to ask when to come in Monday. At that time, the big boss asked me if I’d had any problems on the road that day. My reply was, “Other than the usual crazies, not really.” Then he asked about a particular location, a light bulb came on and I replied to the affirmative. When asked about it, I described it thusly:

"I was headed out a four-lane, and was in the lane to turn into the mine access road across the way. There was a “wolf-pack” of cars coming at me, but they were far enough away that I knew that I had plenty of time to safely make my turn. However, as I turned across the first lane, it appeared that one of the lead cars accelerated at a mad pace and wished to plaster itself on my rear axles. Not wishing to give them that opportunity, I accelerated and entered the access road faster than I’d ever done before. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I saw the car go speeding by with plenty of room to spare."

The boss then told me that the woman driver (I’d assumed it was a man, due to the aggressive nature of the driving) had called in and told them that I’d cut her off and that she had to slam on her brakes and stop, to keep from hitting me!

The boss, and the others in the office, seemed to buy my side, but he warned me to always be careful and err on the side of safety, because some folks seem to feel that all trucks are their enemy, and they’re out to cause the drivers and the companies any trouble that they can. And, as we all know, some folks are just looking for a reason to sue.

I told him that I had my business name on the side of my truck when I was self-employed and understood the responsibility and possible repercussions of doing so. I told him that it made the situation even MORE important to me when it was someone else’s name on there that could suffer damage from my actions. I also told him that the woman was flat-out lying, but that neither he nor I could defend against that. I mentioned that I could have somehow misjudged her individual speed in comparison with the pack and accidentally been at least partly to blame, but that still didn’t explain her saying that she’d jammed on her brakes and stopped, when she hadn’t.

I left to come home, but with a bitter taste in my mouth. How do I know if the boss really believes me, or thinks that I’d just said what I did to save my own hide? Knowing that she’s a liar, my guess is that she was hoping to cost me my job. What in the world ails people? My only guess is that the Devil has them.

These things I know. She appeared to accelerate, not slow down. There was no squealing of brakes or smoke from the tires. There was no downturn of the front of the car that you see when someone brakes suddenly, and there was no right-to-left shimmy to show that she was fighting to control a car that was pulling left or right in a desperate braking situation. Plus, I saw her shoot by in my rearview mirror. Since humans are fallible, my observations could be less than 100 percent accurate, but this I know, the woman called my boss and LIED! I can do nothing, but the Lord will deal with her. © 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Picking Up Lead

I've mentioned before here, that one way to accomplish gun control is the make some of the components unavailable. Few people have probably noticed that lead is increasingly harder to get and more expensive. Then, there's also the simple concern of having supplies on hand if hard times come knocking. So, whenever I get my tires changed, I look around the lot for wheel weights. The owner discovered the price of lead a few years ago and now tells his employees to pick them up so he can sell them, rather than give them to customers who ask. However, they don't bother to claw any out of the cracks like I do.

Yesterday, while waiting on my truck, I picked up 9.7 ounces of lead weights. If I knock off 1.7 ounces for waste, I still have half a pound. According to info that I found online, that would let me cast 17 of the.500 balls that I use in my smoothbore muzzleloader. Seventeen balls would put a lot of meat in the freezer. I think I'll keep looking, whenever I go back!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seen Along The Way (pics)

The following pictures were taken Tuesday, April 21, 2015, during the course of hauling six loads of limestone from the mine, to a city sewage facility.

This photo was taken looking west on the old Northwestern Turnpike; I thought the redbuds were pretty. They lined the road for miles. Click images to enlarge.

Here's Mt. Trashmore (local landfill) rising from its original pit to tower over the nearby landscape. It looks nicer than it smells. I consider it a memorial to the wastefullness of man. For those who'd like to see this man-made marvel, drive the last few miles of the Northwestern Turnpike toward the Ohio River, while keeping an eye to your left.

I think I can remember when this area along the Northwestern Turnpike near town was gardens and pasture fields. The last time they "new and improved" shipping and flood control on the river by building a new dam, this former botttom land became virtually unusable, due to frequent flooding. Everything comes at a price.

This bridge was built in 1935 with two luxuriously wide lanes and a nice wide sidewalk on each side. Thirty or 40 years ago, they tried making it a three lane, with two lanes headed toward the downtown of a morning, and two coming out of an afternoon. Unfortunately, folks got confused and ran into one another. SO, they went ahead and squeezed FOUR lanes onto the formerly two-lane bridge. I'm not saying that it's too narrow for that, but the lane across the yellow line from the nearest car allows me three inches on each side between my tires and the lines that mark the lane. Even worse, there's a curve in a rise at the far end, making it even harder to stay in your lane, especially for semi's, since they track off more than straight frames.

Need a phone? Check out your area Department of Health and Human Resources office, they may have people on THEIR sidewalk (just like ours does) collecting information that's none of their business so you, too, can have an Obama-phone!

A hundred years ago, our town had brick streets and a profitable street car system. Traces of both can be seen where the "new and improved" asphalt pavement keeps peeling off (as does the appliqued "brick" street crossing). New layers of asphalt seem to last about two years, while the old, "obsolete" bricks keep hanging in there. The profitable street car system was originally replaced by equally profitable large diesel buses, which eventually became unprofitable. We now have a tax subsidized fleet of small buses providing some folks with transportation that they wouldn't have otherwise.

I didn't take a picture of the big hole at the sewage-treatment plant that we were filling. I was afraid some bureaucrat would raise a stink about it if he saw me with a camera (terrorist concerns and all that). © 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Good Read!

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalm 19

C'est Fini! (w/pic)

Ya didn't even know that I knew that Frenchity stuff didja? Well I don't, but my maul is finally finished. I used a draw-knife, a small handplane and a fine rasp to get the handle smooth enough to use with gloves, and MAYBE bare-handed. The handle isn't completely uniform in diameter, nor is it without a little swing and sway in its length, but it will do fine as is, I believe.

I took about an inch off the length of the handle, due to a slightly battered end from an glancing sledge blow. At that point, it weighed 20 pounds and 12 ounces. If I were going to use it in timber framing, I would have left it there. However, this maul will probably be used for driving wedges and small posts, so that made it seem cumbersone, especially one-handed, as when starting posts and stakes.

To remedy the situation, I cut about three inches off it's 12 inch head. Interestingly enough, removing one-fourth of its length reduced its weight by about a third, to 14 pounds, 10 ounces. It seems much more "user friendly" at that weight. It wouldn't surprise me if it loses another pound or so when it's finally fully seasoned. The overall length has been reduced from 40" to 35-1/2."

I suspect the weigh being concentrated at the butt end is due to three seperate influences. First, the butt IS slightly larger in diameter. Second, the sloping cut of the shoulder gave the air more surface from which to draw moisture than the straight cut on the butt. Thirdly, the maul has spent a lot of its time standing as you see it, so moisture in the wood has probably settled some from simple gravity.

The maul is done now, though I MIGHT chamfer the rim of the lower end a little bit. Then again, maybe not. I probably should put some boron or linseed oil on it soon, so the powder-post beetles don't discover it. Incidently, the apparent crack of the head in the photo is actually only in the bark, though the wood may also eventualy develop a crack, as well. Most of the old ones did the same, so I don't suppose it hurts them. Click the photo to enlarge it. © 2015


Saturday, April 18, 2015

04-18-15 – Riding Shotgun – Friday

Rain was predicted for Friday, and the dispatcher told me to come in at 7, instead of 6:30, so I was expecting to wait around a couple hours for the paychecks and then be sent home. Surprisingly, it hadn’t rained yet by dawn, and I was able to do my pre-trip with no flashlight or umbrella. (Yes, EVERY self-respecting truck-jockey needs a bumbershoot!)

The sky was overcast by 8, when two other guys and I were dispatched across town to Mount Shrinkmore, to get some fill dirt for a customer. It started raining enough on the way over that I already seriously doubted our ability to get to the top of the dig, from where the dirt is currently being taken. Just as we were ready to turn into the site, the bottom fell out of the clouds and the rain came down in buckets. Instead of turning into the site, I turned onto a lot across the road, owned by the same company, to wait and watch. The other two fellows followed.

When the monsoon stopped five minutes later, there was a small stream flowing down the access road of the site. I called the dispatcher on the radio and he said to go ahead and try to get the fill dirt if we could get to it. I knew the impossibility of climbing a hill of red clay, but I agreed and proceeded to drive to where the guy in the track-hoe was working at a location that was mostly rock. He said that we’d never make it up the hill and, if we did, would probably slide over the hill on the way down, so he wanted no part of trying to get regular fill dirt. I radioed the dispatcher with the news and he told us to go ahead and load rock for the next order.

That order was actually for a branch of our employers’ own company. They’re filling in a low section of their property which floods, so they can put mini-storage or rental buildings there. That site was unusably muddy, too. However, there was a small unused section of asphalt road where we could back in and dump, and the boss could then doze the dirt a short distance to where it was needed. The dispatcher pulled the third guy off the job after his first load and put him on another job, leaving me and the new guy they hired this week. (The kid actually has far more experience than I and has worked for the company before.) And so, we spent our day driving from one side of the river to the other.

A side note here—this tributary river has a total of three bridges joining the north side of town with the south. The Ohio, into which it flows a mile downstream, has only two bridges joining West Virginia with Ohio. Yet, the state says that when the older bridge, (originally privately owned, but now owned by the city) gets unusable, they will take no part in replacing it. That would leave only two bridges joining the two states in this area, one here, and another about 15 miles upstream. Go figure! ADENDUM - (For some reason, I forgot the relatively new bridge a few miles downstream.)

The track-hoe that was loading us had a good-sized bucket, and since the mud between the rocks helped hold everything together, it often took only three buckets to give me an 18-20 ton load. When leaving and pulling onto the three lane going by the site, I tried to get into the center turn-lane to let the mud sling off my tires in the least-used part of the highway. It’s always interesting to see how some folks will let you out, while others will speed up to try and keep you from getting out ahead of them. I’ve also spent enough time in that traffic area to know that some of the same cars run some of the same red lights every day.

My nine-mile round trip took me by the homeless camp I took a few photos of recently—22 times in fact, before the day was over. That was often enough to start figuring out which of the folks who frequented the bridge area were residents of the camp. One looked like a typical wino. Another looked like he was well enough fed, but down on his luck otherwise. A third looked like he could have been a Harvard graduate—neat and clean, well dressed, and concerned that someone would see him slipping off the sidewalk and walking toward the camp. He acted like he was just out enjoying the scenery and waited until he thought no-one would see him before heading for the camp. I wouldn’t have seen it either if I hadn’t kept an eye on him in my rearview mirror. Obviously, not all folks on the street are shiftless characters who want to live that way, they’ve just run out of other options.

Since the job form that I was using had lines for either load or dump times, so I recorded the dump times to see how long every trip took. Most of the 11 round trips took about 45 minutes, but some took only 30 minutes and a couple took an hour each. Variations included waiting for the track-hoe man to return from lunch or to move his machine for a better reach of the materials. It also made a difference how you caught the traffic lights and how heavy the traffic was. Of course, my water pills tend to complicate things, so three of the 45 minute cycles included a much-needed “pit stop.”

I had one interesting case of road rage to observe on the next-to-last trip. Waiting at the stop light before entering onto a bridge access road, the car in front of me remained stationary while the about ten cars ahead of him went through the light. When I looked closer, I could see a young fellow busily texting away, blissfully unaware that anything was happening. Perhaps it was my own rage that caused the situation, but I gave him a sort of medium blast on the air horn. He stuck a heavily-tattooed arm out the window and flew the bird as he started off. Then, he slammed on his brakes, slung open the door, stepped one foot out of the car and started screaming what I suspect were some rather unkind words at me. I just shook my head at him as I steered around him and went on. I had work to do. Besides, I doubt if my employer would have been pleased if I’d been the instigator of violence. I might not have been pleased, either, if his twenty-year-old speed out-fought my sixty-year-old sneakiness!

I mentioned the incident to one of the owners and he said the only thing he’d have done different would have been to LAY on the air horn. He then went on to tell of a similar situation, back when he was a hot-tempered young man, where the other guy ended up running away while he was chasing him and throwing wrenches at him. The next day, the guy’s name was in the paper for shooting his grandfather in the back with a shotgun. He said that he began thinking things through a little more after that, just in case some crazy might start shooting.

I guess some things are just all in a day’s work, as they say! © 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

One Child’s War Memories

As some American’s know (far fewer than should), the USA was drug into World War II by the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The following November 17 (1942), a little girl was born at the home of her maternal grandmother on Lynn Street, in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Soon, she was living in her parent’s home about five miles north of town.

Unlike most folks, her memories go back to well before her second birthday. For one thing, she remembers large flights of airplanes going over their farm (probably to stop at the airport only a couple miles from their home), and her asking her mother where they were going. “To the war,” her mother always replied. The number of planes seemed incredible, even to a little girl.

She also remembers rationing, especially shoes, and saving aluminum foil. The latter was done even to the extreme of separating the foil from its backing on gum wrappers and cigarette packages. In her family, they’d pack the foil all together into balls, perhaps the size of soccer balls. Every so often, her grandparents would take the foil to wherever it was collected for recycling. She also remembers people saving their tin cans and newspapers to be recycled.

Coffee was one of the things rationed during the war, but her dad worked at a local factory where it was readily available. To get some for his coffee-craving wife, he’d fill his thermos with it before he left work each day, so he could take it to her. He was safe from the draft, having served in WW I and since he was employed at a factory that made war supplies as part of its production.

She remembers most of the men in her mother’s family, and some on her father’s side, going into the service. She especially remembers one of her mom’s brothers coming back from the war, when she and her mom met him at the train station. He was in his uniform, and she thought he was just about the handsomest man she’d ever seen. Even at age two, she was a sucker for a man in uniform!

She also remembers the stars in people’s windows, indicating that they had family members in the service, and how many. There was also an indicator for ones who’d given their lives, but she can’t remember what it was.

She remembers practicing "air raid blackouts" at night, when only one light source was allowed inside a home, and it wasn't to be visible from the outside. Naturally, NO lights were allowed outside or in outbuildings. She can;t remember what the cues were for stopping and starting the blackout, though.

They were hard times in some ways, and horrible times in others, but she remembers that people in this country seemed to pull together in a way that she hasn’t seen since, and she believes folks cared more about one another back then. No doubt, she’s right. © 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Pregnant Pepper ! (w/pic)

My wife fixed some fish today, with a sauteed vegetable medley as a side dish. She came to my office laughing, during her preparations, and carrying this half pepper. She said the inner piece was already loose and rattling before she cut the pepper open. Also, she said that she noticed that the pepper had developed a crack in it as it sat the last couple days in the fridge. I tried to put the "baby" back where it was attached before snapping the photo.

I wonder what would have happened if it had been left on the plant. You notice that the end of the baby is green, which makes me wonder if a fair amount of light was coming through the pepper walls. Have any of you folks seen such a thing?

I just can't help it; I have to wonder who the daddy was.

© 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

An Aggravation And A Comedy

Earlier today, my wife and I went to Kroger’s to look for some fish worth cooking. Good, fresh fish is hard to come by in the Ohio Valley. All of the fish in the main cooler was frozen, not fresh, and nearly all was from China, with a couple varieties being from Indonesia. I WILL NOT buy fish from a country that is perfectly willing to poison both our pets and our children. Indonesia isn’t much better, since it’s full of muslims these days. The only things in those cases from the US were one pound packages of shrimp anf scallops, going for about $17 a pack. Interestingly enough, the “product of China” phrase was in tiny print on the back of the packages, while the American flag on the front was quite noticeable. The “product of USA” phrase was equally well-hidden. It sort of made me wonder if they were ashamed of the fact!

We finally found a tiny kiosk with fresh (or freshly thawed) fish that held catfish, salmon and tilapia that said that it was “distributed by” an American company. Unfortunately, nothing was said about the source. Out of desperation, we settled for a couple packs of tilapia and hoped it was domestic. I’ll find out before we buy again. Also, the pieces of fish were rather small, nothing like the large pieces that I remember getting there as a kid. I was pretty disgusted by the whole experience.

This evening, I got my cane from the truck and my chainsaw from the basement and worked-up some of the small trees that have lain at the edge of my lawn all winter. Between my weight, my stiffness, my being in less than good physical condition, and a week’s worth of rain, I figured that I could use a third foot on the ground when moving.

It would surely have been amusing to watch. I’d set the safety on my chainsaw and, with it in one hand and my cane in the other, move around the sloping yard edge to my next work-site. Then, I’d lay down the cane, unlock the safety and do anything I could do without moving my feet too much. Then, I’d repeat the process. It took me a little longer than it would have 20 years ago, when it was still the way that I made part of my living, but I got the job done. I can only imagine what the neighbor must have thought, if he was watching! © 2015

Bad Weather, Bad Vibes

Don’t worry; I’m not going to whine about low paychecks today. I’ve done enough of that lately. Besides, I have other things that I can whine about!

The company always has us come in of a morning, even if they know that they won’t have work for at least half of us, due to the weather. I guess it’s their way of giving us at least a few hours on our paychecks. The thing is, no-one really likes sitting around for 2-3 hours until they tell us to go home. It gets boring and your backside gets numb.

The big boss REALLY doesn’t like to pay us for sitting around doing nothing and paces through the place with increased speed and obvious agitation until it’s finally time to tell us to hit the road. One day, he had us wash our trucks between rainstorms. It’s not that I can blame him for his concerns; I’ve had a business before and understand all too well about negative cash-flow.

Naturally, when you put a bunch of guys together for any length of time, the bull pucky starts to flow. That’s not good when you’re wearing low work shoes and each speaker tries to top the last one. Unfortunately, there is also a tendency for things to get a little more tasteless and baldy as time goes on. Sometimes, I just get up and walk around a bit, lest I fall back into my old ways and join them.

The hot air is made hotter by a retired gentleman who inherited some money and has a little too much time on his hands. Though he never worked there, he knows the owners, and drops by nearly every day to join in the bull sessions. I learned quickly not to believe much of what he says. The hard part is knowing what you CAN believe.

 Today, he was on his phone a minute and then informed us that a local creek was flooded and that residents were being evacuated. I didn’t tell him that I was raised on a hill above that creek and knew that the information was highly suspect. THEN he mentioned that the source was his son-in-law and mentioned where he lived. I managed to hold in a laugh. His SIL is as big a goof as he is!

The guy has a business here in the Ohio Valley, and chooses to advertise it while wearing his “cowboy outfit” and riding his horse through his front yard. Now, I like both western wear and horses. In fact, I’ve owned a couple horses in my time. However, I don’t think I’d play cowboy for the camera while advertising a business that had absolutely nothing to do with horses, the west or anything country. Call me odd.

I had to wonder which one had done the lying, the son-in-law or the old guy. I also had to wonder why anyone would tell such a tale in the first place! I suppose some shrink would tell us that the guys have self-image problems, and thus a need for attention and approval. They might even have a theory why “anal retentive’ folks like me let it bug them!

As soon as the checks were ready, they turned us loose and I went to my bank to cash mine. On my way there, I crossed the creek in question, and it was slightly over its bank there at the lower end. After leaving the bank, I followed that same creek out the valley a couple miles until I reached my turn-off. Once I got to the edge of town, it was running about half-bank, with no indication that it had been any higher. I can’t help it, I still wonder what ails some people. © 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The "Big House" at Speed, West Virginia 1945 (pic)

My mom's family moved around some when she was a child. Two of those places were at Speed, WV. One was a tiny little house, the other was the craftsman bungalow that you see here. She called it the "big house," by comparison. Here is a photo of it, probably from 1945. It sits along Route 21 between Spencer and Charleston and is still standing. The little house was the second one up a hollow on a gravel road, a slight distance behind this one. That's "the Speed church" on the left of the photo. Click the image to enlarge it slightly.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lookin’ For Work (Sorta)

I still like my job, but from Thanksgiving on, I haven’t made enough money to live on. That was due in part to too many unpaid holidays and more so due to bad weather. The latter should be changing soon, but that didn’t keep the utilities from sending their nasty little shut-off notices. I got a loan against my tax refund and caught ALL my bills up, but a guy shouldn’t have to do that.

I was sent home after three hours again today, so my wife suggested that I go down to the job service office and see if anything interesting was in their files. The number of jobs made a stack of paper about an inch thick, with one job per sheet. I wasn’t qualified for some. I wouldn’t have been able to do a few of them, due to physical limitations. Many paid far less than I’m currently making, including some of the truck-driving jobs. Those driving jobs paying more either required two years of over-the-road experience (which I don’t have and don’t want), require hazmat training (which I don’t want), or involve LONG hours and shift-work (which my wife doesn’t want). I truly believe the Lord put me where I am, so I guess I’ll stay there until it seems that HE wants me to move on.

I DID see a couple “interesting” job titles while I was there, though. Now you might think that a “floor technician” might involve the installation of specialty, high-tech or high-dollar flooring. Nope, but it DOES involve a mop! Another job title that intrigued me was “sandwich artist.” A picture came into my mind of someone using the finest of ingredients, slaving over their creation to make one perfect sandwich each day, both in taste and appearance, to be sold in a local high-brow restaurant to the highest bidder. I didn’t have the heart to read the job description. © 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Have A Blessed Resurrection Day !

I'm one of those rare few that lean toward a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday sundown resurrection.Most folks believe in a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday morning resurrection. The truth is that NO-ONE will ever know, for sure, the exact moment of our Savior's exit from the grave. It's the same for His birth. Perhaps that's because our Father wants us to concentrate on the FACTS of the Messiah's birth, death and resurrection, NOT the times. And so we should.

I believe that we could probably count the years before the "rapture" on one hand, IF the Lord chose to let us know the time (He doesn't). To my understanding, when the Messiah gathers his church, the door will forever slam closed for the salvation of any more gentiles, PERIOD! The time of tribulation will be solely for the salvation of any Jews that chose to accept the one we call "Jesus" as their redeemer. Most of them will pay with their lives for their decision, from what I've read.

THEREFORE, we need to remember our friends and relatives who have never accepted the Messiah as their own. THEY HAVE VERY LITTLE TIME LEFT. Soon, it will be forever too late. The same is true for anyone who feels they're "almost" saved, but not quite there yet. You need to make things right with the Lord IMMEDIATELY!

We don't have to convince one another of the details about timing, only that the Savior has already paid for the sins of all who accept him. As we celebrate, let's also dedicate what time we have remaining to encouraging others to accept the Messiah, before it's forever too late. AND, whether you start celebrating the resurrection at sundown today, or tomorrow at dawn, please do so with JOY. May God bless you all.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hobo Jungles, Homeless Camps, Hoovervilles And FEMA Camps (w/pics)

We’ve probably all seen old photos on TV, in magazines or on the internet of the old “hobo jungles” and “Hoovervilles” of the Great Depression. To my understanding, the hobo jungles were generally along or near-to railroad tracks, the main form of mass transit for the 1930’s working man on the move. Bums hopped freights, too, but they weren’t looking for work. The jungles were usually constructed of blankets, tarps, junk tin and old boards. They served as a way for the poorest of the poor to get at least partly out of the elements. It wasn’t uncommon back then for the railroad “bulls” or the local law to crack a few heads and burn such jungles on occasion to “better the community.” Some of the inhabitants were never seen again, but who wept for hobos?

Hoovervilles were named after the president who was blamed (unfairly) for the bad economy, and were usually located near the less populated edge of a town. They tended to be a little more substantial than the jungles, and were mostly made up of families who had no other place to live. Even the tiniest of one-room shacks or tents were better than a blanket stretched over a tree limb. Hoovervilles also suffered raids from the “civic-minded” folks who wanted to better the community by persecuting the poor, but it wasn’t generally as bad, or as common, since there were women and children present. Even tyrants are sometimes concerned about bad press.

These days, the hobo of old is mostly gone. It’s rare to see a guy riding a freight, though I have seen a few in my time. Most of the poor have a way to get at least a little help from government or private charities these days, so far fewer are looking for work. The hobo jungles have given way to what might more accurately be called “homeless camps.” Still, most of the residents are men. Sometimes, they are still subject to police harassment and their huts, tents and possessions destroyed.

The Hoovervilles don’t seem to have been replaced, except in a few areas of the Southwest. Instead, families are camping in tents on the land of friends or relatives or in campgrounds, or living in automobiles or tiny campers, vans or, more rarely, small shanties. It’s usually a family by family thing these days, rather than multiple families forming small villages. Even so, there are always a few “good respectable folks” who are offended by someone letting friends or relatives live in their backyard, and complain to the zoning and “safety” arms of our bloated bureaucracy.

Hitler first explained the gathering of people into his concentration camps by saying it was for their protection. Then he added those who needed to be prevented from engaging in petty crime. We know where it went from there. Remember how the FEMA camps that were supposedly built to help flood victims? They’re now putting homeless people in them in one or two areas of the country. Of course, it’s to “protect them from the elements and themselves.” Incidentally it’s “voluntary,” with the other option being arrest.

Here's a camp in my hometown.

The main camp is to the left, with a little satellite camp to the right; there may be other satellites that I can't see. I DO know that there are other shelters in the area that are set up by themselves. Click to enlarge image.

Here's a better view of the main camp. I counted at least nine shelters.

Here's a slightly better view of the satellite camp. I counted at least four shelters there. The one to the right is larger and more substantial than it appears, and has a stovepipe coming out one end of the tent.

The little homeless camp that I show here today can’t be seen during the summer months. It lies near a busy bridge, and is less than 100 feet from the Little Kanawha River. Will the people there eventually be offered the same “help” as the ones in the FEMA camps? If they disappear, will anyone notice? More importantly, will anyone care? © 2015