Best Laid Plans

calendar, planning, routineThe Rescue group I work with (Steele Away Home) was supposed to have a medical day yesterday (Friday) so I requested to be off work that day — since I have two dogs that needed to be spayed or neutered.  But the mobile vet clinic would not start, so the medical day got rescheduled to next Thursday. I work Thursday — I’m off Monday and Wednesday.  Monday I’m supposed to take Marie’s car to the mechanicn place.

Today I asked around work if anyone would swap days with me. Bobby said he needed to be off Monday because his wife has a doctor’s appointment and he needs to stay home to take care of their 3 kids. That would complicate getting Marie’s car to the mechanic, but we could drop it off Sunday, so I agreed to the swap.  That means an extra trip into town and leaving her car in the parking lot overnight, but … it would be there so they could get started on it Monday morning.

When I got home there was a message on the answering machine. It was from Bobby. His wife’s appointment is Wednesday this week, not Monday as usual: the first time that’s ever happened! So he’d rather swap Wednesday for Thursday not Monday for Thursday.

I love it when things just work out!

Tale of the Toolbox

toolbox basic

Last week there was a fence/gate repair job that needed doing at work.  A co-worker, Bobby, and I were asked to take a look at it and see what we could do.  The boss had some parts that might help.  They even had a toolbox … of sorts.

Bobby had recently been assigned the task of cleaning out several junk drawers, finding all the tools and putting them into a donated toolbox, sorting through the rest: toss the detritus and sort the usable “stuff” into big plastic bags by category.  So our task now was  simpler.

However, the toolbox consisted of 3 hammers, a half-dozen badly abused screw drivers, and a pair of pliers.  We decided to bring tools from home and do the job the next day.  Bobby wasn’t there the next day, so I accomplished the job with the tools I brought.  All I was missing was a set of deep sockets (which I didn’t have but Bobby did) and a ratchet.  But I did the job with a crescent wrench.  The sockets do the job faster and with fewer bloody smears on the fencing, but a crescent wrench will do in a pinch.

I wanted to double the hinge at the top of the gate (which is at least 8 feet wide, maybe more) to keep it from twisting the hinge again.  I lacked one part and a couple of bolts to do that.  I picked up the hardware on my day off.  I also decided to assemble a usable toolbox.

My Toolbox History

Continue reading “Tale of the Toolbox”

The Future of Motor Vehicles and Travel

flying motor vehicles

self driving cars transportationThis, supposedly humorous, picture has been making the rounds on Facebook. I imagine we’ve all spaced out behind the wheel of our motor vehicles once or twice. What is frightening is that this post has collected dozens of comments from people who say they’ve done it. Many say it’s happened several times. Some say it happens to them frequently. That is worrisome, and the biggest reason I can think of to push for the development of self-driving cars.

My Twin-Brother-By-Another-Mother and I have discussed this a few times, and the following is a melding of our ideas.

Self driving motor vehicles will be a novelty that catches on slowly. People described above will be the primary customers: people who, for whatever reason, cannot manage to pay attention to their driving will see self driving cars as a great convenience. As the vehicles on the road become primarily self-driving, society will be ready for the next step. Continue reading “The Future of Motor Vehicles and Travel”

Adventures in Dentistry

Another article from my moldy-oldies file, but when originally published folks did find it entertaining, so I’ll pop in in here.

Yesterday I renewed a relationship that has for many (many) years been neglected.  No, not neglected: avoided;  stringently and purposefully avoided.  I made a trip to a dentist.

You see when I was a wee lad, long (long) ago, my parents would take me to the dentist every year for a check-up.  And it seems he would always find a cavity or two to drill out and fill.  Early on they used Novocain and I don’t remember it as being particularly torturous – not fun by any means, but not like being stripped naked, covered with honey and tossed into a fire ant hill. Continue reading “Adventures in Dentistry”

For a Peek Inside

This tale was written years ago, filed, lost, found, lost again,  recovered again, and now posted here. For friends and relatives who often jump to conclusions, this is ancient history:
I am not sick.

medical emergency, doctor, hospital, testing, costThe small pick-up truck hurled along the winding, bumpy mountain highway, the tighter turns and bumpiest spots elicited increased groaning from him.  The driver looked away from the road just long enough to glance at him and ask, “Are you alright?”

He was curled up in the passenger seat clutching his belly.  He reached over and gently patted her arm, “Just ignore the screaming and wailing from this side and get us there as quickly – and safely – as you can.”

Eyes back on the road she steered through another curve and retorted, “If it gets too bad, I’ll just turn up the radio to drown you out.”

“Good girl.”  Continue reading “For a Peek Inside”

Reasons to Skip Thanksgiving

thankful, thanksgivingI heard an interesting program on the radio yesterday. It started by citing a poll which asked people, “If you were offered a thousand dollars to forgo the traditional Thanksgiving celebration, would you do it?” The majority of those asked stated they would pass on the money because their traditional celebration with family is too important to them.

That’s a good answer: family should be more important than money. But in many cases Thanksgiving seems to have gone the way of most “traditional” holidays: especially this year.

With social and political issues causing deep rifts in families and social groups, can your gathering be kept civil and respectful of one another? Can you be thankful for their presence in your life and at your table?

Every year I hear more people moaning about the amount of work and expense they had to put into preparing The Feast and cleaning up after. If these are things you dread as it approaches and complain about afterward, can you be truly thankful for any of it?

Has this holiday lost its meaning? Do you spend more than 23 seconds just before you eat being thankful for anything, or is it all about a long weekend, gluttony, football, and a big party?

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, make it about being thankful. If you cannot be thankful for what you have, where you are in life, and for your family and friends; you might as well skip the whole thing, or tell the gang, “We’re going out for dinner – and it’s Dutch treat.”

Smoke Makes for a Rude Awakening

4:30 AM: we are awakened by the shrill, asynchronous, electronic screams of our smoke alarms calling for us to “Get out! Get out! Get out!”

smoke alarmI hop out of bed, wind my way through the herd of large dogs dashing about in confusion over the painful assault on their ears. I check the house. It’s a small house: it does not take long to find that there is no fire, no smoldering appliance, indeed, no visible smoke. I grab a magazine off the kitchen island and wave it at the alarm nearest the kitchen.  It’s all I can think of to do at the moment: fanning the hallway alarm silences them when I’ve been making toast. I’m not good at toast.

Amazingly (or perhaps coincidentally) that works: the alarms fall silent.

Blondie and Tinker stride to the door, “We’re outta here, that’s just RUDE.”  I don’t blame them and wonder what set the alarms off. Continue reading “Smoke Makes for a Rude Awakening”

Movie Review: Alien Fury, Countdown To Invasion

I find it interesting how many of the conspiracy channels are running video “expose’s” insisting top government officials have leaked classified information to them that aliens will invade Earth in late 2016 or early 2017. I guess they’re hoping their followers didn’t see Anonymous and WikiLeaks pieces on the Beneson Strategy Group advice to the Clinton Foundation on the (potential) plan to use Project FireSign (a.k.a. Blue Beam) to institute martial law because of an apparent alien incursion.

alien furySpeaking of lies, deception, and twisting everything: I watched a movie the other day called Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion.

This is the story of a government agency (S.T.R.A.W.) that discovers spacecraft massing on the Moon and tries to warn the military about an impending invasion. Of course the military thinks they’re wacky – until a spy satellite sent to take their own photos is shot down, after they glimpse alien ships, then they prepare to nuke the alien base … and things start to get really weird. Continue reading “Movie Review: Alien Fury, Countdown To Invasion”

The Visitor

I am not fond of snakes. Snakes are, at best, creepy and, at worst, deadly. So I avoid them. This, however, has not always been my opinion.

As a youngster I found grass snakes and garter snakes fascinating and often made (temporary) pets of them. Much to my mother’s chagrin.

In one elementary school science class it was a special privilege afforded only to the top students to “wear” the class boa constrictor for a portion of each class period. I kept my grades up more for this badge of honor than for academics sake.

Snakes were fascinating.

coral snakeMy mind may have started to change the day some school chums and I found a pretty, brightly colored snake on the playground. We teased it and prodded it with a stick until recess was almost over. When we failed to arrive at a consensus as to who was to be the first to take it home, one fellow stated that we should just cut it up and each take a piece. For some, now unfathomable, reason that horrific solution satisfied each of us and one boy used a pocket knife to carry out the sentence.

When we got into class, we were each secretly toying with our snake bit. The teacher caught one of us and demanded to see what he had that was so interesting that he could not pay attention to the lesson. When he showed her, she blanched. You could actually see the color drain right out of her face.

To her credit, she remained calm as she demanded that we each surrender the various pieces. I imagine she as looking for the toothy bit.

Then her lesson plan changed. Whatever we were studying got shelved and she launched into a lesson on herpetology: focusing on identifying locally indigenous snakes. She stated that although some snakes are harmless, they are still living creatures and should not be harassed. This particular snake was a coral snake – a venomous snake. Had it bitten one (or more) of us, it was likely that we would not have lived long enough to be taken to a hospital for treatment. Coral snakes use a neurotoxin that paralyzes the heart and lungs. It’s a terrible way to die, and it happens quickly.

Since then I have encountered other venomous snakes –and have avoided being bitten myself. But have seen first hand the agony that such a bite brings.

Not all snakes are dangerous. Most are actually beneficial in that they rid us of mice, rats, moles and such. Some non-venomous snakes even eat the venomous snakes. Killing every snake encountered on sight just because it is a snake is not rational.

But it is tempting.

The other day I was working on a construction project in my garden. I happened to look over onto a garden box and noticed, with a start, that I had an unexpected audience.

grass snakeThis visitor was sunning itself about 5 feet from where I was digging. At first the alarms went off, “SNAKE”. But I quelled those when I recognized it as a common grass snake, something I should welcome in my garden because of its dietary preferences. I was tempted to chase it off (it was creeping me out) but that seldom works. Snakes of all stripes become defensively aggressive when challenged. They rarely just run away from a threat. I don’t have a snake pole, and I wasn’t of a mind to grab it and carry it out, so I decided to just leave it alone.

I took a landscape timber up to the workshop to cut it to length.

visitor-goneWhen I came back, my visitor was gone from its sunning spot. It probably didn’t care for my watching it any more than I cared for it watching me. But instead of relief, I felt apprehension: where did it go? Would I find it under the plastic sheeting I was working with? I shuddered.

But, no … more likely it crawled into the deep shelter of the sweet potato vines that overflowed the garden box next to the one it was sunning in. Maybe it lived there. If so, it will probably stay in there, safely hidden from the monstrous creature wielding a pick axe just outside.

In time I finished my work for the day, packed up my tools and went inside.

dsc04918Early the next morning I came out to plan the continuance of my work and again encountered my visitor. This time, quite lifeless. It was not torn up or chewed, but dead just the same. I can only speculate what happened to it. My best guess would be that it was out foraging this morning (or more likely late yesterday evening — it’s chilly in the mornings) and one of the dogs (probably Blondie: she has a history) spotted it and flapped it to death.

I fetched the poop-bucket and clam-shell grabber I use to clean up the play yard and removed the limp remains before someone decided to make a meal or a toy of it.

I am not fond of snakes. But as I disposed of this one, I did not feel elation or vindication, but sadness. Perhaps I should have captured the thing and relocated it outside of the fenced play yard.

Perhaps.

If snakes could read I’d post stumpy little signs warning them of the danger in trespassing on the dogs play yard. But they can’t, so they follow their tongues to where they think they’ll find food. Sometimes that works out well for them. Sometimes … not so much.