Actual Essential Personnel

Yesterday was an interesting day.  Earlier I was commenting somewhat ironically on the essential, critical, crucial nature of the work I was able to accomplish on my dining room table.  The industry I work in is considered important because the products are critical to some individuals.  But I think it’s important to consider the circumstances under which certain work is done before throwing around words like critical.  Let me elaborate.

Yesterday was a bizarre weather day in my neck of the woods.  We had rain that varied from sprinkles to torrents without any rhyme or reason as to when.  There was also a wind advisory that quoted a range of wind speeds from 20 mph to 65 mph.  When I see a range that broad, I usually take it with a grain of salt.  To me that sounds a little like someone not knowing very much but employing a CYA strategy in case things do get out of hand.

Around noon yesterday I hear a loud cracking noise and then thesound of a high voltage line grounding itself through normal unprotected materials like trees, guardrails and the road.  We got one last loud bang and then the lights went out.  Luckily, we have a large emergency generator on an automated transfer switch that cuts in after a few seconds so life went on.  But looking out the window I could see a very large old tree hanging across the road and suspended in the trees on my side of the road.  This looked like a big problem.

I called 911 and the fellow there took the information and said someone was on the way.  And he was right.  Emergency vehicles of all description showed up.  There was a fire engine, a state trooper, some non-descript pick up truck with flashers, two power company cherry pickers and a big highway vehicle with a heavy-duty bucket on a big arm.

They were out there for a couple of hours without any indication that much was going on.  The fire engine and the statie left.  Eventually the highway guys started walking around and assembling some gear.  Now meanwhile the storm hadn’t abated much at all.  The wind was truly impressive as it shot horizontal rain in all directions with remarkable force.  Areas of my home that almost never even get wet were flowing rivers from time to time.  I even had to sojourn out into this mess when the sump in the lower driveway starting backing up.  Leaves in the sump that hadn’t caused any problem when normal rainfall was involved blocked the outlet line enough that about six inches of water was standing on the lower driveway and advancing to the house.  I freed the clog and that pool emptied into that six-inch pipe in an impressive way.  Luckily this was April and not February so the worst I got was wet.  But when I got inside, I was convinced that the highway guys would wait until morning to work on that tree.  After all nobody would freeze to death without power in 60 degree weather and working with chain saws on hanging trees in that wind and rain seemed foolish to me.

But about an hour later I saw the highway truck change position and the two power company bucket trucks moved over to the next two telephone poles beyond where the tree was located.  And then I could hear the chainsaws and see the trees pitching around as they took it apart.  Well those guys must know their stuff.  It took about an hour to down the tree and clear the road.  After that it took a couple of more hours for the linemen to rework the wires and restore power.  By then the wind was starting to die down.

Today I went out and checked out the aftermath.

 

Interestingly the wind didn’t crack that tree it pulled it out by the roots.  I’m not sure if that made clearing the road easier or harder.  But looking at the size and estimating the weight of the tree sections that the crew was working with in that lousy weather I have to admit I’m impressed.

So, to put an end to this post, I guess I’m just saying that there’s work and then there’s real work.  If we’re going to have a world where power flows through wires across the countryside, we’ll need some men who don’t shelter in place when things go wrong.  They go out in the wind and rain and snow and do hard work so everyone else can stay warm and safe inside.  Hopefully one day soon a lot more people will remember that and once again make it part of the way we address the world we live in.  Not everyone can do essential work from the dining room table or the local Starbuck’s.

He-Man Woman Hater’s Club – Part 1

I found talking about my mad dream to found a continent-spanning, benevolent, fraternal association of American men so much fun, I’ve decided to start formulating various facets in a series of posts.  It truly is an intoxicating pleasure to imagine the world returning to normal.  A world where an American husband and father truly is the king of his castle.

One of the time-honored rituals of male bonding is the weekly poker game.  This was extremely prevalent in the old days and was a great source of stress relief.  Now granted it was also an opportunity for all sorts of destructive behavior ranging from alcoholism to adultery but I’m restricting myself to a more domesticated version where the game takes place at the homes of the participants and doesn’t involve hookers and straight razor fights.  I prefer the game to rotate around the membership’s homes.  That way it takes the burden off any particular wife to provide the necessary food stuffs.

It is important to make sure the membership is in relative agreement on which poker games are considered legitimate.  Lately Texas hold’em has gathered a very large following but I don’t think restricting the play to one game is necessary.  But to each his own.  Also there have to be very specific rules on acceptable stakes.  Personally, I think it’s better to keep things on the low side.  Otherwise you run the risk of scaring off the guys on a limited budget.  Besides losing a lot of money to friends is embarrassing and liable to cause hard feelings.

Now, most important, how to integrate the food into the game.  Some purists believe that food shouldn’t be allowed during the play and reserved to a break in between sessions.  For myself, I think a good pastrami sandwich and some premium chips enhances the game and in fact provides a good opportunity to look for your opponents’ poker tells.  But agreement going in is a good idea.

But the most important aspect of poker night is the chance for men to get together and discuss all the important matters of the day without having to hear the annoying, high-pitched yammering of women.  And one of those important aspects of life to discuss is the annoying things that wives do.  Complaining about and making fun of wives is a time-honored male occupation that has, sadly, fallen out of style.  Reviving this tradition is an add-on benefit of the weekly poker game.

And since this is the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club we’re talking about, think of a poker game as a good way to sound out prospective members on their orthodoxy on all the various club tenets.  A poker game is a very relaxing environment and a good way to get to know people.    It would make sense to allow the prospective member to take the lead on conversation and hang back to see if he’s HMWHC material.  Also a poker game may be a good way to raise funds for a project or an outing.  Each member can throw in a ten spot per game and accumulate that for a bigger purpose.

So that’s my first topic.  Feel free to provide feedback and any stories about your own poker games.

What I Took Away from the Weekend Horror Fest

I waited yesterday instead of writing a post.  I wanted to sift through my thoughts.

My opinion is we’re in a lot of trouble.  And I’m not talking about Democrats and Second Amendment attacks and presidential polls.  Put all that aside for a minute.

Connor Betts was 24.  Patrick Crusius is 21.  We have young men who are of an age where they should be enjoying life to its fullest.  Instead they’re flushing their lives down the drain in a senseless orgy of violence.  And it’s happening more and more frequently.  Without a doubt, the ones committing these crimes are the most damaged of their generation.  They are probably terrible misfits that don’t feel empathy and live inside the tiny world of their own thoughts.  There have always been people like this and there have always been crimes like these.  But nowhere near as many.

What I’m afraid we are doing is widening a window of people who can fall into this kind of trap.  Adolescence is a rough time, especially for males.  Without someone watching out for them it’s easy to get involved in destructive behavior.  And that someone no longer exists.  Nobody is watching out for these kids.  Mom and Dad are both working.  Many times, there isn’t even another brother or sister around to communicate with.  No one even knows or cares if they go to school.  Work doesn’t leave any room for these kids.  So, they spend their time on the internet or video games.  If they fall behind in school or get into trouble often the parents and teachers will paper over it and make believe that something didn’t happen or didn’t mean anything.

And in the last ten years we have added a new dimension.  The Millennials grew up in a world where there were no jobs to be had.  So, after spending twelve years bored in school, without a job you live in your parents’ basement and have no adult life or even prospects of it.  So, in addition to the truly disturbed individuals we are pushing the fragile normal people into the same place.  They’re angry and are looking for someone to punish for their wasted lives.

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton are, as always, shocking.  But what isn’t a surprise is that these two young men were dangerously mentally ill long before their rampages.  Just looking at the pictures and reading the accounts of their histories should be enough to convince people that what we have in this country isn’t a gun problem, it’s societal dysfunction causing a mental health emergency.  Look at the kid in Ohio.  The stories contain the fact that while in high school he had a list of kids he wanted to kill and a list of girls he wanted to rape.  If you’re the parent of this boy what else do you need to hear to know that your son is a ticking time bomb?  And maybe they did know.  And maybe it’s just where we are as a country that they didn’t know what to do.  What would I have done in that case?  What can be done?  These aren’t easy questions to answer.  But they sure do have to be answered.  We’ve got a whole continent full of young men growing up in a world that doesn’t value their talents and doesn’t have anything to keep them gainfully employed.  That is a recipe for extinction.

So other than a lot of talk, what does all this mean?  Well for the most deeply disturbed we have to stop thinking that antidepressants will allow criminally insane individuals to walk among us.  These people need to be institutionalized for life.  That’s for their own good but mostly for ours.

But for the run of the mill kid growing up in America there’s still plenty that needs to be done.  What my take away from this is spend a lot of time with your sons and your grandsons.  Don’t assume that just by keeping them in school and driving them to soccer practice that they’re okay.  Talk about the future with them.  Talk realistically and constructively about how kids transition into adults.  Know their friends.  Check their homework and see if they’re prepared for tests.  Pay attention!  Be aware of their activities on the internet.  Help them to socialize in a constructive way.  And don’t let them feel alone or bored.  A kid is better off with a manual labor job than sitting around alone all day.

You may think that these things only happen to the worst of the worst people.  But I don’t think that’s the case.  The world that we live in isolates us and destroys our communities, families and especially our sons.  Don’t let it.  Even the kids who don’t go off the deep end are struggling in an environment that’s almost unfathomable even for adults.  Help them!  Adapt to the problems, compensate for the dysfunctional arrangements we live under.  Save your kids.  They’re the only possession of value you have.