Thursday, December 25, 2014

Were You Listening? Are you Listening?

What a tangled web we weave; at least I think that's how it goes. Recent police shootings, in predominantly black communities, have galvanized folks who allege that the shootings are racially motivated.  This despite our judicial system exonerating the officers involved and the fact that the victims all had criminal records and/or were involved in criminal activities. Ill informed citizens combined with a vigilante mentality fueled by what has now proven to be outside agitators were a recipe for riot(s) and mayhem. Sometime back I posted a blog alleging that Al Qaeda and their ilk might eventually penetrate our borders, especially the Southern one. What I forgot to mention is that the internet and fundamentalism do not know or respect borders. It now has come to light that ISIS agents and its followers were intermixed with the rioting mobs. Now we have had two NYPD officers assassinated by a lunatic and fundamentalism has again reared its ugly head.
There has been a widespread ad on national television where celebrities appear to struggle with how to speak out about the issue of spousal violence and rape. We have the same problem when it comes to race and ethnicity. We just can't seem to get the conversation started. Activists like Al Sharpton and others are not helping in this regard and the news media; hopefully legitimately in search of a story, perpetuates it.
There are all kinds of ideas in the mix. Reporting standards and their sources are going to be changed. The very essence of how we police appears to be heading for an epiphany and dramatic change. None of this changes the systemic problem of a lack of morals, education and ethics by our citizens. You can stir in all kinds of outside factors, but that fact remains at the heart of the problem. Without respect for authority and each other this cycle will not end. I submit it all starts in the home.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas 2014

As most of my dear readers know, I am a Grinch this time of year. I have long chronicled my distaste for the commercialization of Christmas. That, combined with the unfortunate coincidence of the loss of several family members around this time of year, dampens my enthusiasm. I really feel the pressure to gift something that will be both appreciated and useful.  I feel, and hope, that I adequately show my appreciation for everything I receive; but I struggle coming up with something of equal or greater value (not just in dollars) in return. I also am part of a family that has gift giving down to a science. The women of my family, like my mother niece, daughter and sister, seem to come up with the most thoughtful and useful gifts. Don't think I'm crying in my beer or that I'm on my pity pot. I think I have made progress and am somewhat at peace with the whole process. Now I endeavor to give gifts that are useful, thought out and (hopefully) appreciated. For the last few Christmas seasons I have adopted the Hanukkah tradition of gifting throughout the season. No one knows when or what may come along and nothing is expected in return. Finally; and here's a hint, we thoroughly enjoy the gift cards we receive. You really find out what you know about a person when you're trying to figure out what store or restaurant someone frequents. Perhaps the innumerable unused cards are an indication of this.
The advent of winter and the holidays usually casts a pall on my mood, especially having to work and live in the Texas pucker brush. As I said previously, I think I'm making progress. I decorated the truck grill and actively participated in the decoration of the RV and surrounding fence and pad.
What Christmas means to me is an amalgamation of all the traditions of the past and fitting them into something I can both tolerate and enjoy. Christmas has evolved into a commercially driven monster and I find myself longing for those days when it was much simpler. We used to always get pajamas around Christmas time. You know, the ones with feet on them. Mystery and hope ruled the day as my sister and I waged war with my Mother, trying to figure out where our presents were stashed and what could possibly be hidden in the wrapper. We'd get up at the crack of dawn on Christmas day and putter around under the tree, looking for and sorting out the presents. When we couldn't stand it any longer we would finally wake our parents. It is odd that, as much as I protested then, I now enjoy going to Christmas candlelight services. Whatever your beliefs, Christmas is still the time that we celebrate the birth of Christ. It is also the time of year when many other faiths celebrate, such as Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. Whatever your belief(s) I hope you use the time to reflect and maybe forget all the commercialization and hub bub. Here's hoping you and yours have a wonderful and happy Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Dreary Outlook

I have learned a lot when it comes to gate guarding and there are few, if any, constants. Those that I am sure of are; singles will always have a hard time finding employment, winter is always a slow time of year and the "boom" will eventually peter out. Every year since we started in the patch things overall have slowed. It is cyclical-we got here when things were willy nilly, oil was selling at almost $150 a barrel and organized chaos was the rule of the day. Now oil is at almost a third of that and most holes follow a similar pattern; from spudding to production. OPEC has it in its head that it must make oil recovery from shale deposits economically unfeasible. If they succeed, most of the bounty reaped from directional drilling and fracking will be for not. And "big oil" can expect little or no sympathy or aid from Washington and its "enviro Nazis". Dirty fuels like gas, oil and coal are universally reviled by our government. If we are still here as gate guards when summer finally comes around, our employment should be secure till year's end. I think most, if not all, workampers looking for gate guard work next winter should look elsewhere; unless they have locked in a gate. THE OPPORTUNITIES WILL NOT BE HERE ANYMORE. As the opportunities dwindle, security companies can and will be extremely choosy about who they employ and the current rate of pay will disappear. Since I have put this in print, it should be interesting to see how prescient I was next winter.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finally, I Can Tell the Story!

For over three months my sister has been planning a surprise party to celebrate our mom's eightieth birthday. Everyone in the family; including distant relatives, were informed. How precocious great grandchildren (and others), could keep such a secret remains a happy mystery. There were some stumbles along the way but the secret remained intact. One of the biggest secrets was our attendance at the event(s). Along the way pictures and other memorabilia were" taken" from my mother's house (so that a scrapbook could be made) and a lot of stories were fabricated. We arrived the Wednesday before the big weekend and passed a couple of days in Homestead, Florida running around with my sister, before we all headed to Naples for the celebration. Adding to the difficulty of keeping the secret was the fact that a lot of us are active on social media sites; including this blog. Happily everything worked out. Well deserved kudos go out to all who were involved; especially my sister and niece, who did a yeoman's job of putting everything together.
Part of what I wanted to pass along to my dear readers could not be disclosed till now, for fear of disclosing the aforementioned secret. I can now share the story of our preparation for our vacation and the 2700 miles it was composed of. Tales on the internet and other media have made me very paranoid about a blowout. So we looked into and finally bought a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) for the 5ver. The $200 we spent for it couldn't have begun  to buy the peace of mind it brought us; much less the damage it can prevent. We also invested in a programmer for our diesel engine in hopes of both improving performance and fuel mileage. Our results have been mostly positive. In order to gain the maximum benefit from the programmer we really need to improve the intake flow and modify the exhaust; all of which are in future plans.

All in all we had a great time in Florida and were pleased with how our new (to us) truck pulled our 15000 pound 5ver down the highway. Speaking of weight, you should at least weigh your truck and trailer, or motorhome wet once. Wet means full of fuel and other fluids plus whatever "junk" you carry around. It tells you a wide variety of things, especially the weight on each axle. With a TPMS and the proper tire, blowouts should rarely happen. Here's .hoping some of this may save you grief on the road

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The 2014 Markies

The 2014 Markies
The Why Can't We Get Along award goes to the folks in Ferguson, MO.

The Dumbass award goes to whomever led or participated in the destruction and burning of cars and businesses in Ferguson. I'm not sure why their ire was directed that way??

The Indecisiveness award goes to Roger Goodell and NFL management.

The You Can No Longer Get Away with Anything in a College Town award goes to the Tallahassee police department. Surely an accounting was in order.

The Shame on You award goes to the Greek society that makes up the fraternities in our collegiate system.

Along those lines the You Shouldn't go to a Party Dressed Like and Acting Like A Tramp award goes to those coeds foolish enough to go to a frat party where alcohol is served. (I wrote this before the latest independent investigations have the co ed's story falling apart)

The Lying Without Compunction award goes to Vladimir Putin.

The How Not to Win Like a Gentleman award goes to both of the leaders of the House and Senate.

The Hot Air award goes to President Obama.

The How Not to Lose Like a Gentleman award goes to President Obama.

For the second year in a row the Missed Opportunity award goes to the Republican Party.

The "Oh Shit" award goes to Virgin Galactic - a sad testimonial to the fact that even the best make mistakes.

There was a tie in the Perseverance Award between Virgin Galactic and the searchers for Malaysian Air flight 370.

The 113th Congress is eligible for every award imaginable; but the one that stands out has to be the Colossal Waste of Money award for continually bringing up impassable legislation.

The Portend of Things to Come award goes to the Islamic Caliphate (you may know it as ISIS).

The Depravity award was closely contended. I awarded it to the Mayor, his wife and, (at least) the police Chief of Iguala, Mexico, They were instrumental in the kidnappings and deaths of dozens of students. The Mayor was reportedly concerned that the students might have demonstrated at a speech his wife was to give. (I can't make this stuff up folks!)

The No Surprise There award goes to the aforementioned city officials. They are on the lam and a subsequent investigation has proven they were using their positions to run a criminal enterprise and that they were involved with (wait for it) the cartels.

The close contenders in the Depravity award were members of a terror group called Boko Haram. They abducted at least two hundred Nigerian girls and young women. Supposedly they have converted to Islam and have been sold off.

Unless I'm mistaken; and that will make me happy, Americans in general should receive the Ignorance is Bliss award. Somehow no one seems very upset about all the aforementioned depravity.

The Not Once But Twice award goes to whoever was driving the 2015 Corvette prototypes. Somehow both the coupe and convertible were involved in accidents.

And finally, here's a nod to the troubled soul that was Robin Williams. For once we can universally agree that he brought joy and happiness to us all.