Haint scared

Afraid of ghosts? Believe in ghosts? Tis the season to start thinking about such if such is what you think about I suppose. Me? Don’t really have an opinion much one way or the other. Never really been bothered by one or so I thought until recently. And therein is our story for tonight.

Now I have mentioned my upbringing before. It was another way of life and I miss it. One thing lost on most today is what the heck a Haint is. A Haint is what they called a ghost. Given that, that’s the word for such in my “native tongue” if you will. Here lately it seemed I had one of them there things here in the house! It worried me a bit but don’t you worry, no one will die an untimely death here tonight unless it’s her!

Let’s go back to when it all started over the summer. I had rearranged furniture a bit. Know everyone knows a Haint hates some human messing up it’s house. Shortly after I did it, I started seeing it. A bit more troublesome was that it was only in Girly-girl’s room and only at night. I’d go in, get in the bed with her, tell some outlandish tale, get the obligatory hug and kiss then leave the room. Wouldn’t be five minutes later when I’d see it.

There would be this erie white/blue glow under her door but no sound. A step outside would reveal that the windows were illuminated as well. Now my girl needs her sleep and I was worried. I’d hate to throw a Haint out of it’s own house but I don’t want her bothered either. She’s a good kid you know. A bookworm to boot. Heck, she does well in school and loves to curl up with a good book. Why, around that time she went from reading 300 pages a day to almost 500. She didn’t seem disturbed by that mean old Haint and it’s light. Maybe the fact the light only lasted a few hours each night was a good sign. Also, it was never anywhere else. It was only in her room right after I put her to bed.

Pardon, what did you ask?

The color of the light? Well, not sure but, if I had to guess my best comparison would be that floor lamp I moved over the summer. Funny thing that. I was going to toss it but she asked if I would put it by her bed. Odd thing is that she isn’t afraid of the dark and she never uses it.

You know what? I might not have a Haint now that I think about it. I might have me one of them female bookworms and they are the worst sort too. They will stay up until all hours reading. Oh but they think they are slick. If I hadn’t been for your question I might have gone on worrying about her but now I have a different plan. Maybe I’ll pull the power on that socket next time she bathes, send her to bed with a kiss and then listen to her flounder about for the problem. That’ll teach her to have me all worried about a Haint floating around her room at night.

Or maybe I’ll remember doing the same at her age and just make tonight’s bedtime story extra silly so I can hear that sweet laugh. Might as well indulge just in case.

Hope y’all have all been well.

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Absentia

It seems that my bit of Dick Tracy regarding WP issues last week has borne fruit. I now have a rough idea of the problems and a tentative path to solutions. It (naturally) turned out to be a collection of component failures combined with the evergrowing footprint of this platform. That last bit is beyond my grasp but the rest isn’t and so, one component at a time, things are bring repaired/replaced. As each fix is tested and proven out work begins on the next. So, I just said “blah, blah, blah” but what does the mumbling mean?

I will be back once all is done. As of now, writing posts is the only semi-stable part of this world I have access to. Just wanted everyone to know that I am neither dead nor ignoring you. I regret not seeing you and I miss your stories. Be they singular events or multi-part introspections, we all benefit from them. If all goes well, I should be back in about two weeks. Until then I will have to suffer alone in the real world without your pleasant distractions. You will get to post in peace without me!

Hope everyone has been well and enjoys the next couple of weeks. Have fun, I look forward to reading about it later!

Rushed repetition

I don’t think that there is anyone here who doesn’t know of last night’s tragic events. For reasons of my own, I’m following this as it unfolds. That is notable in, and of, itself. I typically avoid such events and corporate media in general. It is another area where I’ve had a good deal of interaction that has left me with a bad taste in my mouth if you will.

My efforts over the last hour have borne some fruit and I’m sure that patience will see my questions answered. So why even bring this up? Simple, it’s because I bet you are probably doing the same and so I’m thinking of you.

Never forget that the media lives within a 24 hour feeding frenzy nowadays. Never forget that they are paid to have something to say. Never forget that they are NOT paid to know what they are talking about. As a matter of fact, they will “aaccidentally” mis-speak in a search for relevance and revenue. None of this is an excuse for deplorable actions but it is a reminder that we are each responsible for our actions, our consumption and our output. The latter two currently dominate my concern.

I will commonly hear “facts” parroted after such a tragedy. The last half dozen things I read were loaded with such “facts”. The latest (last two hours) trend is to report on the weapons involved. After reading the articles from the biggest names in American news I am not sure if I should laugh or cry. No writer came remotely close to reality. Only one article quoted an expert of any sort. The brief overview of that sources comments could only be called accurate in the very broadest of ways. The information on everything from weapon platforms to calibers to capabilities to laws was wrong. I could be kind and say that they were in a hurry but I won’t.

I won’t be kind, even now, for a reason. Five minutes of checking facts on their major points would have shown the error. One call requesting review by a known, knowledgeable source would have yielded a vastly different product. They willingly skipped over that though. They put the rush for relevance over the veracity of their message. They choose to knowingly publish an article on a topic they neither know or understand with an eye to profit instead of education and the conveyance of information for public discourse.

Be very careful in how you consume, ponder and repeat things of this nature in the coming days. Be aware of the weakness inherent to the source. Who knows, I might be within earshot. Maybe it will be someone like me. No matter, in either event, corrections will be politely made that may be hard for listeners to square against “what everyone is saying” and that can be confusing. Always remember that we once all agreed the Earth was flat because everyone said so.

Now, back to feeling sorry for those poor folks who just wanted to dance.

“Wash Me!”

It is said that the fact that you can’t see something isn’t proof that it does not exist. At the moment I can understand how that something feels. I haven’t been seen a lot lately but I do still exist. WP has been a pain. For a week or so it has been a hard slog to see, read or comment. The couple I have read took about an hour each because it crashed everytime I read a sentence. The good news is that it seems a bit better today.

Read posts from Beth & Misfiery today. Walking up to the truck reminded me of this. That truck got thirty minutes in the car wash last week to knock off the worst of it and a hand washing Saturday. Hard not to see the glow now and it’s hard to miss the metal flake glittering in the sun. That beauty had been covered in grime for about a year. Like most things in relationships, one partner had let the other down so the luster had faded. Once that person did what needed to be done, the brilliance of the structure shone through.

We can’t make the dings of the past go away totally. Exactly how we do things us up to us but, in the end, if we each do our tasks, things will look much brighter.

Just a stream of thought brought on by a shiny truck. Hope everyone is having a good day.

Twenty Five

Ever had a small series of inputs steer your thought process until the light comes on? Sometimes it’s that niggling feeling you forget something and other times it might be the solution to a problem. Sometimes it just is what it is and today falls into that pile.

Someone asked a good and valid question earlier. Spent some time pondering an answer. Went on about my morning though and found myself home by noon to work there. Still pondering, I grabbed the next task at hand. Girly-girl had left out her sewing kit. (She was surprised to learn that Daddy could sew. It had never occurred to her that if I taught her how when she was little then I must know. Silly girl..) Sat down to sew up some torn pants and thought a bit more about life but there was still that something I hadn’t gotten a finger on yet.

Returning the sewing kit to it’s place in her room did trigger one thought. I hadn’t written her letter! Bad Dad! I write her one every week and leave it on her bed. I was busy last week and missed it. Whoops! So, I grabbed the pad and headed for my chair. Along the way I glanced at the calendar to make sure I had the right date for the letter. It all clicked then. Twenty Five….

A few years ago I wrote about Twenty Two and some other things. The early days of my blog saw me giving something of an overview for why I was here and how I came to be here. There is a purposeful lack of absolute clarity though. I am who I am and there is no doubt about that. I could delve much deeper into a lot of topics with a lot of accuracy. I don’t though.

I don’t because I was married. She did make a decision I did not agree with. I do understand how it seemed logical to her. I see how the demons of her past (before marriage) got to her. But the motto that I demonstrated for Girly-girl was “Sad not Mad” and I want to do the same here. There could be many good lessons based on her past, her problems and her mistakes. That they could help others is true. I have no interest in ever appearing demeaning of her though and I certainly don’t want to identify her.

Life taught me hard lessons early on. One of them was that you can work very hard and still fail. She was given my full attention twice a day, every day. We never had an argument (literally) and were considered the model marriage. She announced one day that she “quit” and walked away. To call it a surprise is an understatement. She stayed here for five months before my friends and I loaded her gear and they delivered it elsewhere. The topic was never broached again. Watching her pain every day was not fun.

If you read that, you will see my comment on the significance of “22”. Since then I have seen that one number as THE one again and again. We were talking about this at my high school reunion after I commented on it. Every class mate with parents who divorced after more than a couple of years said their parents divorced at 22 years. (Didn’t expect to hear that much math at a reunion.) There is a lot to this life that I don’t understand and never will. I do know that honest communication would change a lot of it though.

Maybe there will be a day when there will be someone to explain it to but only time will tell. Until then I’m left with memories of what was and the fact that tonight, in an alternate reality, I could be taking her out to celebrate twenty five years. Seeing as i don’t live there however,  maybe I’ll mow my neighbor’s yard instead.

 

Lost?

It’s a beautiful day. Been dry for the last two months though. That dry spell has been combined with temperatures running at least 10 degrees higher than normal. But the days have been beautiful. Now that I’m back home it’s tempting to get out and work. Reality is that my body needs a break. So, I’ll sit, look out, listen and share. The listen involves an accidental find just now. Something I thought gone reappeared. Music can take you back. It can be many things to many people and it can add another sense into the beauty of the day. These songs take me back almost 30 years and have me thinking about paths taken and directions followed. Some memories good and some bad. Funny how things can do that to us, and for us, if we let it.

A casual comparison this morning gave me another reminder of the past. There was once discussion of a post to come. That discussion, in turn, took me back as well. I think that I shall sit a spell and share the story and some lessons from it now. Ready? It is a rambling tale but it’s a pretty day so let’s enjoy it.

Once upon a time, long ago, I embarked on a path that contained some amazing things. To be fair, I learned alot and had fun. It is fair to say that I never foresaw all the places it would take me. Simply being open and willing to enjoy the ride helped decrease the fear and increase the fun. Besides, giving a curious redneck toys constitutes a budding addiction! Some were intriguing, some useful and some life changing. One of those toys was the GPS unit.

Now I was educated enough to know the theory and, at that time, applications. It was a voodoo that few in the public had heard of and fewer still understood. It was just at the point of becoming a thing that could be used to do more than “guide planes, ships and missiles” but you didn’t have to squint hard to see its expansion into civilian life as technology permitted. Maybe a quick overview would be helpful for those who haven’t had one. Don’t worry, very small words are all I know.

Picture the Earth. Remember those Latitude and Longitude lines from school? Well imagine if there were more of them. There are. Using those big lines, you can get a general idea of where Florida is on a map. Subdivide with another set of numbers added and you now find southern Florida. Add another pair of numbers and you have Miami. Add another pair and you get a particular stretch of beach. Go one more pair and you have now pinpointed a tree on the beach. A person with that number string and a map can leave Kazakhstan and go to the tree and meet you. Kind of useful and kind of cool. They can pick their route to the tree though and that difference is why we are here.

(GROAN, WP just ate 20 minutes of typing.)

GPS is a boon to many. Think of (relatively) two dimensional movement. A ship leaving Miami wants to go to New York. The captain can input a series of way points into his GPS. These way points are positions chosen on the map that take the form of his intended route. Using left/right/forward/backward instructions, the unit will take him from point to point until the last way point is reached. Pretty cool isn’t it. Using triangulation from satellites, it works like a charm. For fun, throw in an altimeter and things (probably not ships) can add up/down movement to their path. All of a sudden planes and missiles cross continents much more easily and accurately. This was the intended “bread and butter” for GPS. The government made a huge investment and it worked beautifully.

This technology slowly but surely trickled down as satellites and technology continued their inexorable march. By the late nineties computers were common and the ‘net was growing. Sites such as MapQuest became the go to resource. That’s all good and well but we need to see what makes them tick and what the weakness is. How about a short story first?

Back in the early nineties I was blessed with an arrogant Yankee turd of a professor. His vast intellect was on display daily. At every opportunity he expressed exactly how backwards and ignorant we were. He took special delight in jabs taken at the “ignorant hicks” who went in the military because they weren’t good enough leave the area and become sophisticated. I listened quietly. No since in fighting stupid. Occasionally I would ask a question regarding lecture knowing that he would neither understand nor have an answer for it. Lacking both, he would simply walk out. (I was frequently asked by others to ask more questions.) One of his projects involved creating a hypothetical and writing a summary and so I did. As he returned them, he asked me to come to the front to receive mine. He showed me the “A” then turned and gave a speech on veracity and realism. I was berated for including “fiction” and not properly solving a problem. Further, I was told that I would better understand reality in 20 years. With a flair, my “A” was marked out and changed downward for my transgression. As I walked back, he explained to the class that I had “made up” something called “GPS” and that fictional flights of fancy were not proper in a reality based environment. It was indeed tempting to track him down for the 20th anniversary of his ignorance but I figured he had suffered enough living with himself all those years. Now, where were we?

Ah, yes, how all of this might apply to you. Well, you probably use it without thought to it’s origin, applications or foibles. Knowing a few of them wouldn’t hurt. See, there wasn’t an idea in the beginning to use it as we do. That appropriation of application is the issue. I will try to explain.

You live here but you wish to go to see Grandma’s new house. She now lives over the river and through the woods but that’s not a problem, you have GPS. You go out, hop in the ubiquitous SUV, load the address and hit go. The SUV is suddenly launched into a medium altitude arc and, after descent, crashes into Grandmother’s side yard killing all aboard and crushing her transplanted Petunias. Sounds familiar right? What do you mean it doesn’t? GPS takes you from here to there doesn’t it?

GPS sees a beginning and an end such as Kazakhstan and Miami. A program overlay then tries to find the shortest route between the two. This is by no means a true “best route” it’s the shortest. There is a huge difference. I will use GPS to initially locate a position. Beyond that I use knowledge (local) or a map (out of area) to determine a route much in the way the person leaving Kazakhstan would as they head to see a tree in Miami. Why? GPS is not, and should not, replace doing your own task as a driver. A map gives you a much better view of where you are going. Frequently you will see things not shown on GPS. You did know that routes can be (and are) made invisible to GPS by local authorities right? A map will reveal things and routes that might not appear without otherwise. A good example is near me. From A to B on GPS takes you over 40 miles of tight, crooked (but gorgeous) road over a mountain. A map shows an equally beautiful route over a saddle of the mountain on a four lane road. The former is 4 miles shorter but takes 30 minutes longer. Due to work and traffic on the latter, it simply no longer appears online or in an updated GPS.

I have talked to far to many people who drove hours on backroads going to “x”. After hearing the complaint I ask if they looked at a map. “No, why?” “You just drove 300 miles parallel to an interstate!” The GPS took them on the shortest route. Even if online, always consult a map before going somewhere unknown. Then, if you like GPS, cheat. Create way points on GPS. It will then take you on the path you pick. Be sure to confirm the track before departure.

In the end, it’s our journey through life. We are responsible for how we travel and where we go. There are many aids available to us today but we must use them wisely. Head for “B” in the way that best suits you but do so in a safe, wise and prepared fashion.

Questions or comments?

20 Twenty

Haven’t been around as much lately. This is partly due to ramped up load since the first of the month and partly due to the crash happy nature of WP recently. Thus far it has taken 30 minutes & 9 crashes to get here. Seems stable for the moment so, if it holds, methinks I’ll share a thunk I thinked earlier.

Backed up the truck to the shed and got out some thirsty things this evening. Lined them up and slid the fuel cans onto the tailgate. Soon as those were out of the way the dogs hopped into the truck to supervise. Duly overseen, I proceeded to fill fuel tanks. Last in line was a hungry mower and therein lies our story.

I looked at mowers casually for about 5 years. Didn’t need one for myself but I knew “one day” would come eventually. Each time an organization or person needed a mower, I was tapped for the task so it was a fitting track to follow anyway. Each time I looked around the general conclusions were the same. One day came unexpectedly in late ’14 and early ’15. Suddenly I needed more mower, a lot more. Checking again yielded the same results. Seeing as I  have one, we know how that story ends. This story is about one of the things I saw on the way to that end though so let’s talk about that.

Everyone agreed that this thing was a monster of a mower. Ride, build, power and ability were undisputed. Not cheap but boy does it cut grass. There was a concern that came up everywhere I looked. I read seemingly endless discussions over it. I wasn’t reading out of concern though, I was reading to see if anyone ever figured out why the discussion itself was pointless. Yep, the answer does apply to you so keep reading.

They were all debating fuel economy and if it was worth it. A typical mower burns just under a gallon an hour once broken in. This one has a much more powerful engine and burns over a gallon an hour. Guys (commercial lawn care operators) wanted it but worried it would eat them alive in fuel. They failed to see all of the variables right in front of them and, thus, they failed to see the flaw in all of these discussions.

Remember how I mentioned this thing being a beast? It cuts time over a similar mower of other brands by about half! Not a brag but rather this is a pertinent fact. I’ll show you how.

For a given lot:

Other mowers take two hours so you have 2 hours x 1 gallon per hour for two gallons total. You cut 5 lots in 10 hours.

This mower takes one hour x 1.3 gallons per hour for 1.3 gallons total. You cut 10 lots in 10 hours.

Hmmm, 2.0 gallons vs 1.3 and 5 lots a day vs 10. Seen this way (area mowed by gallon instead of gallons per hour), the bigger engined mower is a no brainer. You are going to make a LOT more money in a week. This would, literally, double profit theoretically. Some guys saw this but stayed quiet to protect a serious competitive advantage. Then, and now, most guys missed it. They are hung up in the debate and unable to see the real question.

Me? I was laughing to myself as I dumped in 13 gallons of happiness. What took 3 hours before now takes 45 minutes. The yard looks better than before and I get off the mower feeling better than when I got on it. I used to burn 3 gallons of fuel and now I burn 1! Glad I saw the real question at hand.

So? Simple. I share this as a reminder for you in life. Don’t get hung up in debates and snappy comebacks until after you’ve accessed the problem and figured out what the big question really is. That engine was introduced in 2010. Some people have debated fuel usage ever since and others have cut a lot of grass with a smile. Be able to smile because you figured out the real question and answered it.

Hey, I made it! Look Ma, no crash!