Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson

Monday, December 31, 2012

Dem Representative Moves to Block Obama's Congressional Pay Increase

Dem Representative Moves to Block Obama's Congressional Pay Increase

Once again, an article on Drudge about the Congressional pay increase via Executive Order catches my eye.

Earlier today my Representative, Sean Duffy, posted to Facebook that he plans to introduce a bill to block this. I usually avoid commenting on post like that, but I suggest he should donate his raise to a worthwhile charity and challenge all the other members of Congress to do the same.

If I was in Congress I would milk it out for all it's worth. I'd call a press conference and present an oversize check to a charity that's working on a cure for juvenile diabetes, or something similar. In fact, I would donate an extra $50,000 just to shut up the people who would whine that I wasn't doing enough, even though they haven't (and won't) donate one red cent to any worthwhile cause.

I would also use this soapbox to voice how I believe better to donate to charities and other causes directly, than having your money taxed and given to those who need it through the welfare system. I feel it's more cost effect and faster to give money or food and clothing to a community food shelf, than have money taxed and go through the government to people in need via food stamps. I will tell the people I represent to take advantage of tax breaks by giving directly to food shelves.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Obama Orders Pay Raise for Biden, Members of Congress, Federal Workers

Obama Orders Pay Raise for Biden, Members of Congress, Federal Workers

I saw this headline and thought; this is truly what our Federal Government thinks of the "fiscal cliff."

One can argue that the amount of our tax money that our government plans to spend on itself is not even a drop in the bucket and it really doesn't matter. You are correct that it's not even a drop in the bucket. But all those little "not even a drops" add up.

Think about that the next time you write the check for the minimum payment on your credit card bill. While some people out there complain about how the "rich get richer, while the poor stay poor" also told themselves at Starbucks "what's another $6.50 in the credit card? I already owe $26,724.81."

Not even a drop in the bucket, I guess.

How to defeat your own security system

This picture was taken at one of the local hockey rinks. I noticed they taped a note to the alarm keypad with instructions on how to arm and disarm it. Including the password. Now I'm not a security expert, but.....

Friday, December 28, 2012

What a Day, What a World

This week I've been enjoying my end of the year "use it or lose it" paid time off from the day job. I'm not really doing much on my PTO. Just a relaxing Christmas with the family and getting some stuff done around the house. Today I took in a high school hockey tournament that my cousin played in. I wish I could say she got her skills from me, but she's way better than I was.

During her first game, a got a work email on the iThing that really ruined my day. No, it was an angry customer, something going wrong on the shop floor, or anything like that. It was a company wide email from the HR lady giving unbelievably bad news. A seven year old grandson of one of my bosses was killed in an accident on Christmas day.

I guess a neighbor was backing out of the driveway and accidently struck the kid. I don't know the specifics, but you can imagine how this could so easily happen. You get into your car, check the rear view mirror and see nothing. Look down for a split second to put the car in gear. Press the gas and... the world changes.

Just thinking about that scenario puts a lump the size of a softball in my throat. Like I said, I don't know the specifics. I don't know who the driver was. I never meet the kid. But my heart breaks for everyone involved. And it scares me because I'm reminded how fragile and brief life can be. I'm reminded how the lives of people, families and neighborhoods can change dramatically in an instant.

Between games I went to a neighborhood restaurant with group for a quick meal. We were a little short on space, so I ended up sharing the end of the table with a one year old in a highchair.

This was the first time the one year old ever saw me and was, understandably, a little uneasy with me sharing the end of the table with her. I broke the ice by making some silly faces. Then I handed her my iThing. I have a ship's bell app for it. 

It rings on the half hour the number of bells according to a four hour watch. You can also bring up a picture of a bell on the phone's screen and ring the bell by pressing the screen. When my new friend figured that out, she was having a ball. She pressed the screen, bell would ring and she would laugh. Over and over, louder and louder.

The little one was having so much fun she scooped up the phone and was waiving it around, making the bell ring while laughing the cutest laugh I've heard in a while. At this point the mom got motherly and went to take the iThing away saying "be careful, put that down. We don't want to drop Shane's phone on the ground."

This, of course, didn't sit well with the one year old. As she started to fuss, I said "it's alright, let her play. The thing can survive a drop from a table just fine." I thought this kid is having a blast and it's putting a big smile on everyone at the table's face. All from a simple bell.

That thought was still stuck in my head as I got into my truck to drive back to the rink. As I checked my mirrors an extra four or five times as I backed out of my spot; I said to myself "what a day, and what a world." Within two hours I was brought nearly to tears of sorrow by reading tragic news about a seven year old I never met, to being brought to tears of laughter by a one year old I had just met. 

I'm glad the restaurant was crowed and I had the share the end of the table with a toddler. That experience, along with the horrible news, really helped me put things into perspective. Life is precious and it can change in an instant. We need to pay more attention to what we do and what is around us. If you look the wrong way for a second, you may get hit by a car or hit someone with your car. If you don't make a funny face once in a while, you might miss out on a meal filled with laughter.

Some More Thoughts on Concealed Carry

Since Wisconsin past a concealed carry law this year, and with the recent events. I know a lot of people who have either recently received a carry permit, are in the process of getting one, or are planning on getting one in the near future. As I mentioned in this blog before, that makes me a bit uneasy.

I really have no problems with someone carrying a concealed firearm, as long as they know what they are doing, have the proper setup (the right firearm and holster configuration), have received some training and practice with their firearm regularly.

The way Wisconsin currently issues it's CCW permits adds greatly to the uneasiness I feel. In my opinion, it's currently too easy to get one. A few weeks after the law took effect, a ran into one of my best friends. He was all smiles when he said "Guess what I got" and quickly pulled his brand spanking new Wisconsin concealed carry permit ID card out of his wallet. I said "cool, that didn't take you long. Are they offering classes already  or do they except the Minnesota training requirements?" He replied "no classes, I just went to the courthouse, showed them my Hunter's Safety card and filled out some paperwork."

I don't like that one bit. While there is a good deal of firearm safety training required to pass Wisconsin's Hunter Safety program (required before you can purchase a hunting license of any kind) but this is no where near the amount of, or type of training one should have for concealed carry. It's a good foundation, but it's not enough. Plus most people (at least in my neck of the woods) take that when they are 10 or 11. I know some people now in there late twenties to early forties who are interested in concealed carry who may have took Hunter's Safety when they were about 11 and haven't touched a firearm in the last 10 to 15 years. I don't like the idea of someone carrying with that little experience.

Minnesota, the state that's about two miles away from where I type this, has a much better process. Concealed carry applicants must take a class and pass a shooting test. At this time I don't know all the details, but I will be learning soon. I feel strongly that not only one needs to pass written and shooting tests, they should be evaluated and renewed often, like our police and military personal have to do. It only makes sense.

I know it is a Constitutional right to be able to bear arms. I in no way would want to limit that. I'm just saying if you want to put a firearm that you legally own into your pocket, purse or waistband and go out in public; you have the right to, but without proper equipment, training and practice you are more likely to shoot yourself in the leg than anything else.

This is why I keep telling people to take a concealed carry training course. I tell that to people who are thinking of getting a Wisconsin permit whether they are an experience firearms owner or not. I've been recommending it to friends who don't own a firearm and have no intentions of ever carrying. I've even suggested taking the class to friend of mine who is against the idea of anyone carrying a firearm. There is a ton of information that can be learned from such a class, I would strongly encourage anyone to take it.

Far as my friend who was so happy to show me his permit, he doesn't worry me. I've been at the gun range with him many times. He is an excellent shot, knows the ins and outs of his firearms and how to properly handle one. But more importantly, he doesn't carry. He simply got the permit just to have it. And that's more or less what I am now in the process of doing.

I'll tell you all about that later. Some people have told me they'd like to see more posts about this topic, since I'm knowledgeable on the subject of firearms. I promise I will not turn this into another gun nut blog, there's enough of those to go around.

I will close and try to keep this post short by saying; if you are going to carry, do it right by getting training, buy a proper concealed carry holster and shoot your firearm often (and I mean 100's of rounds per month often) at the range. You need to have a proper setup and know the ins and outs of your firearm before you even consider carrying. If you are not going to spend about $80 to $100 on a safe, comfortable conceal carry holster, blast though a $100 worth of ammunition each month at the range, and properly clean and maintain your equipment because you "don't have that kind of time" or to spend that much money on bullets, THEN DON'T CARRY!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

You Better Think About It Before You Start Packing

The other day I ended up finishing my Christmas shopping at a Gander Mountain. Kind of last minute, but I was still on schedule and on budget. Nothing on a credit card. Another debt free Christmas, but that's not what this post it about. I'll rub that in mid January, when you all get your Visa bills.

As I wrapped up my shopping, with time to spare before the Packer game, I decided to do a little window shopping in the gun department. As I expected with the recent events, there were a fair amount of people in at the handgun counter, looking at the smaller concealable models.

I have mixed feelings about concealed carry, and the site at the Gander Mountain made me a little uneasy. Recently Wisconsin past conceal carry laws making it legal to carry a concealed firearm. I know quite a few people who now are permitted to carry. There are quite a few who are planning or at least think about doing the same now.

Before you jump on the heat packing bandwagon, please think it over. While it may be your right that is protected by the 2nd Amendment and upheld by the State; it is a huge responsibility that nobody should rush into.

I was made to feel a little better when I overheard the conversion a couple was having with the man behind the counter at Gander Mountain. The couple said the the woman has been considering carrying a handgun for "a long time now." She has been going regularly to a range a shooting a handgun owned by her husband/boyfriend. She has completed the conceal carry training required by the State of Minnesota (which as much stricter requirements to get a permit than Wisconsin) and now she is confident she is ready.

That was the big statement that made me feel better. She was confident she was ready. Not that she wanted to carry, not decided it was time to carry. She was confident she was ready. This wasn't a decision based on pure emotion. It was thought through and the proper steps were taken.

She didn't go out and buy the smallest gun she could find that held the most bullets, went to a range for a few hours to figure out how to shoot and rushed through the permit process. Nope, this lady was taking her time and made sure she was ready to carry and that she was confident in her choice.

As I listened in on the conversation, I found that the couple did their research. She has tried several sidearms at a range and had a short list of makes and models she found to fit her well. The couple asked very good questions about function, reliability and safety features. Never once was asked "how many bullets does it hold."

If you are considering getting a concealed carry permit, please don't rush into it. If there is anything you should be overly prepared for, carrying a gun is it. Spend a lot of time at a gun range trying as many different makes and models you can. Once you narrow down a list of possible side arms you'd consider carrying, consult some experts. Talk to the people behind the counter at several different gun stores. Talk to gun smiths and instructors in your area and get their opinions.

Even as this world seems to get crazier by the day, I have no desire to carry a concealed firearm. When the concealed law past in Minnesota and now recently in Wisconsin, I was repeatedly ask if I was going to get a permit. My standard response has been I don't want one. If I need to carry a gun in my pocket in order to feel safe in an area, I just won't go there.

But since I like to be prepared, I will be taking class for concealed carry some time in 2013. It's one of my resolutions for the year. Even though I will most likely never exercise the right to carry, I want to be prepared. There may be some unseen upcoming reason that will change my mind.

I've recommended to several people to take the training. Even if they do not own a firearm and have no desire to ever carry. There is a lot of things a person can learn from the classes. Not only how to properly handle a handgun and the laws involved, but you'll learn skills on being aware of your surroundings. It's a great idea to learn how to avoid being in a position that would require you to defend yourself.

Far as how my window shopping went, a .40 caliber Walthers PPS did catch my eye.
Here's a nice YouTube video showing the 9mm version. I have watch several videos posted by "Hickok45" and found them to be very informative.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Preventing the Next Sand Hook: Two Ideas, Both Bad

With the recent shootings, gun control laws and the 2nd Amendment are front in center again. They are talked about, debated and argued everywhere right now. With the horrible act of insane violence that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the debate is more important than ever.

There are two knee jerk reactions gaining momentum right now. A large group of people think the best solution is to ban firearms. Some want to ban military style weapons, some want to ban everything. On the far, far other end of the spectrum is the idea of having armed guards at schools.

If implemented both ideas would have almost the exact same result. Some people would feel a false sense of security. Other people will fee less secure and that they had their civil right impeded upon. And the schools would not be any safer than they are right now.

Why Banning Firearms Won't Work

A partial ban on firearms will not work. It has not worked in the past. It does not work now. Currently in the United States cities with some of the strictest gun laws included Chicago and Detroit. Look up the stats yourself on firearm violence for those two cities.

Plus a gun is a gun. It doesn't matter if its a scary looking black AR-15, or your grandfather's lever action 30-30 deer rifle. A gun in the hands of a person who wants to kill who knows how to work the weapon will be able to kill a lot of people in a short period of time. With practice, a person can load a gun about as fast a they can shoot it.

A full ban would be next to impossible to enact, but even if it could take place, it would not work. Just look what happened when the United States banned alcohol during Prohibition. A black market developed and organized crime flourished with the sale of alcohol that; eluded the initial destruction, was smuggled into the country from Canada and the Caribbean, and the production of unregulated, dangerous moonshine and "bathtub gin."

One could expect the same thing with a full (or partial) ban on guns. An initial hording, followed by smuggling in arms from elsewhere and people making their own unsafe weapons.

Also look how well the ban on drugs has gone. I'm willing to bet if I drove around the county I live in with a pile of cash and knocked on the right doors, within a hour I could fill a grocery bag with marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine. All illegal.

Bottom line, criminals don't follow the laws we have. If facing life in prison or execution is not enough of a deterrent to keep someone from opening fire on a school, do you really think making it illegal to possess a firearm will help? You can not make guns disappear off the face of the Earth and better than you can make methamphetamine disappear. Besides, most of these people are on a suicide mission anyway.

I could go on and on about the subject of gun control and I might in other posts.

Arming the Schools is Just Bad, Bad, Bad

I am even more against the idea of having armed security at schools. Just how are we going to accomplish that? Give the teachers guns? They have more than enough on their plates right now. Their budgets are wasted on administrative BS before the funds make it to the classroom. More and more of the kids they work with are close to uncontrollable. And their struggling to keep up with testing requirements. Now you want to throw marksmanship into the mix?

Do we add government security? Should we have all the kids and visitors pass through a TSA security check at the front door? That will do wonders. Can't wait to take off my shoes and step through the scanner before the next volleyball game I go to.

Yes the arming of teachers and the TSA examples are silly and completely unrealistic. But, even a realistic example of having a couple of city police officers is not a good idea. Unless you have an armed guard at every entrance and in every classroom, a rush attacked could still take out many. What would happen if a  high school kid thought it would be funny to run down the halls with a realistic looking squirt gun and a cop shot him dead?

What good would an army platoon do at a school, if some sick piece of trash placed a backpack bomb on a crowed school bus?

So What Do We Do?

Both ideas would make some feel better, but would just be a waste of resources without providing more that minimal results. But what do we do? Is this simply another part of the decline of mankind?

I say we stop concentrating on the "hows" and focus on the "whys." And I don't have an answer, but here are the things that have been racing through my head.

  • We need to be more aware of our surroundings and look for the signs that someone will do this
  • Make an effort to befriend the lonely outsider at school. Don't need to become BFFs, maybe a simple "hey" when you pass in the hallway could make a sad person's day less sad
  • Find better outlets for anger and frustrations
  • Find the reason for the sadness and depression and confront it, instead of simply suppressing it with prescribed medication or self medicating
  • Are we really being desensitized by violent movies and video game? Maybe when junior wants the next Black Ops shooter game, his parents take him to the VA Hospital to meet and talk to some of our Vets who can tell them exactly how fun those game were in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam.
  • A lot of this comes from broken families. Families need to start bringing back old fashion family values, like spending real time with the kids, no dropping them off at soccer practice while you meet your BFF for coffee at Starbucks.
  • Mentoring. Be a big brother/sister to someone who might have a tough road ahead of them
  • Maybe this seems to happen more in modern times simply because of pure numbers. This didn't seem to happen in the 1950's. There where semi-automatic carbine rifles and handguns then too. But there wasn't 350 million of us in this country either.
I don't know what to do. But I know arming the schools or making 20 round magazines illegal is not the answers. I know what I am going to do. I'm going to pay more attention to what's around me. I'm going to care more. I'm going to get to know more people. I'm also going to be more vigilant for possible trouble. I'm going to be more willing to help.

I also know what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to look for a quick cure all fix. I'm not going to blame. I'm  not going to over react.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Marine father stands watch at Nashville elementary school - KCTV5

Marine father stands watch at Nashville elementary school - KCTV5

What this Marine is doing is pretty much awesome. This type of action seems to be very common among them. Might be part of the reason they are "The Few, The Proud."

I can understand the reasoning behind the fuss about his uniform. Rules are rules and there is logic behind this one. Perhaps some of the other parents at the school could help him out by taking take of his dress uniform for him?

Also note, all that he is accomplishing is giving parents and children a little bit of peace of mind. In all reality, the odds of that school being attacked is next to nothing. And if that happens, he will be of no use. We all know that. But if one student see him standing guard (even just in symbolism) and feels a little bit safer, his efforts are not done in vain.

This Marine is just plain awesome.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Call Green Shenanigans!

Yesterday I was giving a coworker a hand preparing the Company Holidays Cards, that we send off to our customers and vendors, by stuffing and licking the envelopes. No I am not going to rant on and on about them being "Holidays" cards and not Christmas cards. That's someone else in the company's choice to make. I don't care, but now I starting think of good ideas for another post.

What I am going to rant about is what was printed proudly on the back of every card by the card manufacturer: "We run our company on 100% certified renewable energy" and "Paper made with 100% Windpower."

Bullshit. Shenanigans! Certified to what and by who?

I've seen a few paper mills. Even toured one. Never saw one that was "off the grid" and hooked up to it's own windmill. Power companies do not run separate lines from their windmills direct to another facility. The power generated from the windmill is put into the same circuit as all the other electricity generated by the other sources the power company has. Including natural gas, coal and nuclear.

And again I say certified to what and by who. What is the governing body who issues the certification? Is it a trade origination? Is it a state or federal government regulatory commission? Is it an independent testing or standards board? Where is this certification? Can a view a copy of the signed document?

Doing estimating and project engineering for a living, I deal with a lot of certifications. You don't just say "it's certified" and that's that. Things need to be certified to something. "In compliance to AS9100" or "heat treatment IAW AMS-H-6875" means something. "100% certified renewable energy" is a marketing tag line that has no meaning. Technically coal is renewable, if you wait long enough.

This "100% certified renewable energy" is something stamped on the back of a greeting card,with the sole purpose to tug on your heart strings and make you think you buying a product from a company that cares.

It bothers to think that people are dumb enough to read a statement like that, and buy it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fiscal Cliff

Well it looks like the Dems and the Rups are willing to drive off the "Fiscal Cliff" like Thelma and Lousie. Only they won't be holding hands, although Boehner might cry.

We have no one to blame but ourselves. We tend to elect mostly narcissistic adult children to office. They get elected because they promise us whatever we want at the time. If we end up getting something they promised, half the time it's pure coincidence but they are sure to take all the credit. If we don't get it, they blame the other party and tell us to keep voting for them to fight the evil bastards. And we do.

Perhaps if instead of sending lawyers and CEOs to congress for the last 3 or 4 (maybe 5) generations, we should have sent accountants and CFOs instead. People with the mindset of "no we won't buy it now and figure out how to pay for it later, we are going to either find a way to pay for it now or do without."

If I ruled the world I could solve this problem.

  • Term limits using the twelve year system with the below exceptions
  • If at the end of your term the budget isn't balance, your out and nobody representing your political party (or whoever has we ain't putting up with that party switching "fake canidate" crap) can run for your seat
  • If the state you represent doesn't have a balanced budget you can not chair a committee
  •  If the state you represent doesn't have a balanced budget you can not introduce or sponsor a bill
Light that fire under their feet and I bet congress could learn to work together and try that "compromise" thing. Find solutions to our self made problems and find ways to make the citizens lives better. You know, what we sent them to Washington to do in the first place!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Yoga. I guess it's a gateway to changing your child's religious beliefs

Link to article

I just read the above article and shuddered at how stupid people are. Parents are actually feel that yoga at school will introduce their children to religious beliefs they oppose?

Yoga. I guess it's a gateway to changing your child's religious beliefs. Here I always thought it was just stretching and breathing exercises that can help reduce stress and strengthen your body.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pet Peeve Lazy Mail

It's one of my biggest pet peeves. People who pull their vehicle over on the wrong side of the road, so they can roll down the driver's window and get the mail out of the mailbox without getting out of the vehicle. It's dangerous and shows just how lazy we've become.

I see people do this on busy state highways and winding, hilly country roads. Sooner or later an accident is going to happen in my area because some body is too lazy to park their car at the end of their driveway and walk the ten feet to the mailbox.

It's bugs me just about as much as the bicyclist and pedestrians who can't figure out what side of the road the belong on.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Snow of the Year

The first real snowstorm has arrived in my neck of the woods and it was timed perfectly. It was forecast to arrive late in the day Saturday and snow through Sunday, leaving behind 3 to 7 inches.

Yesterday I dug out the snow shovels and cross country ski gear out of storage, pulled the snow thrower out of the corner of the garage, and I put away the patio furniture. I even had enough time to pile up the remaining firewood that's been cut and cover what has been split & stacked.

Late this afternoon I shoveled the driveway and in front of the garage. So far what's fallen is about six inches of fairly light snow. Even though I have a snow thrower, if it isn't a lot or heavy, I like to shovel by hand. For a desk jockey, who only gets to see daylight on the weekends this time of the year, it's about all the exercise I get in the winter. Plus it's a nice, relaxing break from my routine. Helps clear my head while I clear the driveway I guess.

But one thing I notice today:  nothing destroys the pristine beauty of the year's first real snow fall, like shoveling it with a shovel you used the day before to clean up the dog poop.

Glass Steam Engine

This is a pretty cool video that was sent to me. I just had to share it here. Below is the email text that came with the video.

This Model of Stephenson's Steam Engine was made in 2008 by master glassblower Michal Zahradn.
The crankshaft is glass. The piston is glass. The counterweight that makes the wheel spin evenly is glass. Imagine that everything is made out of glass. There are no sealants used. All is accomplished by a perfectly snug fit. The gap between the piston and its compartment is so small, that the water that condensates from the steam seals it shut! Notice the elaborate excessive steam exhaust system next to the piston. The piston is the most arduous part to make due to to extreme level of precision needed. Its parts have to be so accurate that no machinery is of use here. The piston and its cylinder must be hand sanded to perfection, and they are very likely to crack in the process! On average, three out of four crack.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Let's All Be Prepared, But Not For Doomsday. That Would Be a Waste of Time.

I get teased about it once in a while, but I don't mind. I like to be prepared, just don't call me a prepper.

I think it's another trait I picked up from my dad. I keep things organized and easy to find. I keep a bag of clothes packed and ready to go, in case a rushed trip is required. I keep and extra button down shirt at the office, in case I spill something on myself right before a meeting. To me it only makes sense to be prepared.

Some of my friends think I must be a prepper. You, the people who turn their basement into a bomb shelter with 55 gallon drums full of freeze dried food and rounds of 5.56mm NATO ammunition. But that is not the case. I have no attention of waiting out the apocalypse in a crawl space, re-hydrating beef stew. I just don't see the point of emerging three years after the end of the world as we know it, once my rations have been depleted, to start a new life on the barren landscape.

No that's not the kind of thing I prepare for. I'm ready the more realistic situations. Like I mentioned, I keep a carry on size bag packed with clothes, shave kit, universal charger and a small assortment of other things. This is handy for last minute business trips, an impromptu weekend getaway, or an emergency trip to the hospital.

I spend a fair amount of time in the outdoors, so there's a duffle bag of clothes (and a towel) behind the seat of my truck. This comes in handy if there is an unexpected change in the weather. I have found the towel comes in handy if you get caught in the rain, or if you slip off a boat trailer and fall into a lake.

Around the house I have 5 gallons of water in the refrigerator and a flashlight in every room. If the power is out for an extended period of time, the extra water allows me to cook, clean up and even flush the toilet. Plus, it works as a "ballast" for the fridge. A full fridge runs more efficiently. If you need more room for food, just take out a gallon jug of water and set it aside.

A year or so ago, we had a nasty wind storm where I lived. The power was out at my place for 73 hours. Besides Internet withdraws, I survived just fine. Although I must admit, I did purchase a "luxury survival item" after that. A percolating coffee pot. Cowboy coffee on a propane camp stove is pretty tasty when you're roughing it in your living room.

As I type this, the first winter storm warning has been issued for my area. So with that in mind, here is a list of items one should have in their vehicle:

  • extra clothes
  • blanket and/or towel
  • pencil & paper
  • book or two
  • toilet paper
  • water
  • food (candy/granola bars)
  • flashlight (keep those batteries charged or get a crank up type)
  • pocket knife
  • whistle
  • lighter
  • jumper cables
  • tow rope
  • 2 quarts or motor oil
  • duct tape
  • screwdrivers
  • ratchet set
  • adjustable wrench

Seasonal items (if you live where it's cold)

  • coat, hat, boots, & gloves
  • collapsible camp shovel

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Days Like Today Is When It Sucks Living In a Small Town

Days like today is when it sucks living in a small town that you know everyone. No, it's not the rumor mill running over with gossip. That's not a problem for me. I often joke a say "I better head to town and go to the bar so I can find out what I've been up to lately." Days like today suck because a tragedy has smacked this small town.

Out of respect for the families' privacy at this difficult time; I won't go into the details about what happened. Plus, as I write this, I don't know all of the details. So I will sum up the general story from my perspective. I apologize if there are any inaccuracies, like I said, not all the details are known.

From my standpoint, it started this morning when a co-worker's wife called him saying a neighbor kid is missing and she was wondering if he had a picture of him to post on Facebook (my co-worker also runs a photography business and recent took senior pictures of the kid for his family).

During the course of the day through phone calls, text messages, and Facebook; the co-workers and I learned that the kid disappeared sometime during the night. By late afternoon he was found near his house. It appears, at this time, the young man ended his own life.

It's bad enough when this type of thing happens to strangers, but it makes it worse when you know all the families, neighbors and friends events like this touch. With this being such a small town, I know them all. I can see all their faces and hears their sobs in my head; it weighs pretty heavily on my heart right now.

One silver lining of this very dark cloud is started shining through even before much was known; and that's the tremendous outpouring of support for the family. That is one of the reasons I love living in this small town and one of the reasons why I moved back to it years ago.

Better days are on their way to the family and the community at large. But today is a tough one to say the least.