The Long Day’s Night

Saturday I worked from midnight until six a.m. then had to double back by 10 p.m. to work until six a.m. on Sunday. It didn’t end there. I had to return to work as scheduled on Sunday by six p.m. and work until midnight.

By this time I really needed to find the energizer bunny, but she…he …it was no place to be found.

Sunday nights I generally spend my time researching and vetting news items for the Morning Show on Monday. This entails writing, editing and finding sound bites to couple to at least six stories.

It didn’t go like that yesterday as I was lambasted by emergency alert system alarms for the first three hours of the shift. To understand how these work is a little more clinical than I could ever explain.

Simply put, the National Weather Service, State and Federal Emergency Agency or a Law Enforcement Agency sends out an emergency message to our station. These messages, as I understand it, are not broadcast to the public except through the TV ,cable and radio.

Our station is the first one to get these messages and it is our job to broadcast them. In fact, few know this, but this is the primary function any station and not the playing of music or other programs.

Last evening I was bombarded with alert messages for severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings, so I was sweating my butt off to make sure they were getting on the air. And since I had never done one in the entire year and some months I’ve been at the station, it was trial by fire.

Oh, for certain I had practiced, but one never knows how these sorts of things will go when it’s the real deal.

It got to the point that every time I heard a piece of equipment “click” or “clunk” or “clack,” I felt a wave of near-panic wash over me as I knew I was going to have to run around like a chicken with its head cut-off.  And by the time I was off-air, I was exhausted.

And instead of going home to sleep this waking nightmare off, I still had to sit down and do my regular duties involving news stories. And I didn’t hear any complaints from the boss, so I guess everything went okay.

The funny thing is, I came home early this morning and when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed all day-long about emergency alert system activations. Needless to say, I’m exhausted from working all day too.

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Black Slip-on’s — the Bain of My Life

And the saga continues…

Late last night I decided go get myself another pair of black togs. I like them because they are comfortable to wear while standing and walking the majority of  the night at the radio station.

There were some errands I had to do for my wife today, so I took care of those, then stopped in at the station to visit with the boss, and my favorite newsman. I left the station jus ‘before noon and drove directly over to my favorite GIANT retail store, Wal-Mart to get my new shoes.

In the shoe section I found exactly what I wanted, but had to search to find the correct size. And here I was thinking I was average sized (in the shoe department that is.)

After a few minutes I found my size and tried both on. I don’t believe that trying on one shoe means the others going to fit comfortably. It doesn’t always work out.

Paid for them and got them home then started to try them on again only to notice a severe problem. Somehow I ended up with two-left shoes and they were two sizes too big.

What the…!

So I hopped in my truck and had to drive back into town  to THAT Wal-Mart to exchange them. Fortunately the lady behind the counter had a sense of humor and could laugh at the complete ‘goof’ that I am.

And I still can’t figure out how I did it.

My Older, Wiser Self to My Younger, Foolish Self

It’s been 27-years since the U.S. Air Force fired me as an Environmental Health, Medical and Rescue Tech. The day I was discharged, I felt like my world was ending.

Happily, I was wrong.

While my experiences that led up to my dismissal were horrible and emotionally damaging, I survived it…and moved on from it. Recently, I heard a song by Brad Paisley, where his older, wiser self writes a letter to his younger and more foolish 17-year-old self, warning himself not to do various things.

It’s an interesting concept, but I’ve decided I wouldn’t want to write such a letter.

As much as I wished at times that I could go back and correct those event or somehow prove that I was unfairly treated as a younger man, I’ve grown to understand that those events, unpleasant as they were, are a part of what makes me –well, me. And I kind of like me in spite of my tendency to act and react in a stupid way.

And before you start to worry about my having called myself “stupid,” let me give you my quick and dirty definition of the word as it relates to other words we tend to use in its place…

Dumb: When a person is unable to keep the information given to them.   

Ignorant: Never having been given the information in the first place.

Stupid: Having the information but choosing to ignore it and continue anyway.

Somehow, I always mange to find myself in that last category and I can relate it all to the day I was kicked out of the Air Force. The signs were all there and I decided to ignore them and continue on my course of action.

While there were a number of things that led up to my discharge, the biggest was turning my entire department into the Inspector General of the Air Force. Our department was sending myself and another Airman out to missile silos to dump chlorine bleach into the pools of water at the base of these missiles to kill off algae.

The correct thing our department should have done was to remove the missiles, one-by-one, from service and have the engineers fix the cement lining of these water pools called ‘sumps,’ so that the algae wouldn’t grow in them. A cracked lining could lead to a burn-off of all the water, creating a situation where the silo could experience a burn-down.

A burn-down is where the facility gets so hot it cooks the missile rendering it useless and worse cooks the two-man crew locked into the control center. And there is no way they can escape.

To me, it appeared critical that the job be done right. Too bad my commanding office and NCOs ‘ (non-commissioned offers) didn’t see it the way I did. So I took the matter to a higher authority.

What happened next calls for some speculation on my part, but I think somebody in  my chain-of-command got a heads-up from the IG, giving my name to them or perhaps they jus’ figured out it was me.

Yeah, it was unfair as my name was to remain confidential but that didn’t happen.

Next thing I know, I’m asked to house sit for a Staff Sergeant and his wife few days before. I was to go on leave. The plan then was to surrender the house key to a Senior Airman and he ‘d take care of the house.

While at home, visiting my family, I called my friend and work-buddy and he says I better get back, because I’m being accused of theft. I jumped the next military flight I could find back to base and found out he was dead on the money.

It would take the administration at the base 27 days to process me out of active duty. And I never did get the court-martial I requested. Instead the charges were reduced to “misappropriation of personal items,” though I never saw all the things I had reportedly taken.

In the end, I wouldn’t trade the sickly feeling I felt throughout the process or the complete and utter sense of hopelessness I felt each night at lights-out. My grandpa had a saying that I recall to this day,  “I’d rather be wronged for doing right, than wrong for not doing right.”

Instead, I’d throw that warning letter away without a second thought as I’ve learned that ‘stupid,’ ain’t always a bad thing.

My Shoe Killing Dogs

So much for simplicity and organization after a visit from that famous lawyer, Mr. Murphy.

I woke up this morning to find my black lab and pit bull playing tug-of-war with one of my black slip-on shoes.

And jus ‘behind them were the remains of one of my tennis shoes. I was certain it was too late to save it, as it’s tongue was hanging limply from it, yet I felt hope for my black togs.

Out the backdoor I flew, yelling and screaming like a crazy man. Both dogs mistook my flailing as some sort of play and came bounding over to me to join in.

Boy, were they surprised! I snatched both of them up by their collars and dragged them to the kennel, where I locked them away.

Locking them up wasn’t so much a punishment as it was a way of saving their young, tender lives. It was also starting to occur to them that they might be in trouble.

After retrieving all four shoes from the back yard and carefully lining them up in front of the kennel, I went back inside and fetched a rolled up newspaper. Both dogs knew then, they were screwed as the beatings commenced.

Okay, so I didn’t beat them — but man, I wanted too.

Instead I rubbed their noses in the shoes and popped them on their little doggie-heads several times all the while repeating, “No! No! No!” The sound of the newspapers, ‘thwack’ between their ears is loud and scary, but it doesn’t hurt them.

Now I have to go buy another pair of black slip-on’s and another pair of tennis  shoes.  So much for saving money!

Can dogs get athlete’s foot of the mouth?

An Idea of Simplicity

It’s a little late to call it spring cleaning, but it feels good none the less. I’ve gone through my drawers and my closet, getting rid of the things I don’t wear or can’t fit.

I’ve always been a pretty simple in my way of dress. Blue jeans and a white button down or pocket tee-shirt. I used to wear boots all the time and tennis shoes when I felt like it.

Since re-injuring my back, boots cause me tremendous pain and I’m unable to properly regulate my body ‘s temperature, so wearing long-sleeved shirts isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be. But I kept them all the same.

What I did toss into the give-away box are jeans and colored tee-shirts that I certainly cannot fit into. I was up to 223 pounds after nearly five years of semi­retirement, yet I’ve lost 22-pounds jus’ by managing my food intake. Still I can’t fit into the size 34 and 36 britches I’ve harbored, in my drawers all this time, so they got to go.

It’s also an idea of simplicity. I hate having to try to figure out what it is I want to wear everyday. With white tee-shirts, I can even put on a  pair of my Hawaiian-styled swim trunks or one of my many kilts or jeans and I’m ready to go.  And we all know, white button-down shirts work with everything in a man’s closet.

So my entire inventory of clothing is six white tee’s, six white button-downs, two pair of blue jeans, two pair of BDUs, 11 kilts, five pair of swim trunks, six vests, a pair of black slip on shoes, a pair of brown slip on shoes, my dress cowboy boots, my work cowboy boots, a pair of swim togs .and a pair of summer slippers and a pair for winter, plus two night shirts.  I still have to go through my coats and jackets, as I have a crap-load of them.

Yes, men do think about their attire — but in a different way.

My wife has gobs of’ clothing that she wears only a couple of times. It goes to the dry cleaners and then away for a couple of years, then trotted out to either fit or return to the closet when it doesn’t.

It’s the same for her shoes. She has at least 20 pair. Now I know that this isn’t as many as some women I’ve heard of’, but she keeps going out and buying new pairs so that the bottom of her closet-side is a mass of various shoes, from tennis to low heel pumps to flats and sandals.

But it’s what makes her happy, so I won’t interfere with her shopping.  I ain’t that stupid .

The thing that kills me is that in her closet are the boxes and boxes of records she has stored up from her business. I keep telling her that’s why we have a shed. But she doesn’t want to put them out there because it gets dusty and dirty.

Well, okay…

But my side of the closet is clean again and I can actually get all of MY clothes into my two drawers, so I’m happy. Now I need to tackle my office space, where I’m certain I can find at least two garbage bins full of stuff to toss out.

I’ll leave that for tomorrow…or maybe next week…or maybe next spring.

 

The Price of Good

Sometimes good jus’ happens and sometimes good costs a little-bit. In this case it cost me only 20-bucks.

Up the street from our house is a 13-year-old boy. He lives with his Grandmother since his Grandpa died on April 1 and it’s been hard on the young man.

He doesn’t know who his real dad is and his mother traded a life with him for drugs.

This last week he’s been coming over and sitting on the front porch bench, more and more jus’ to chat. He likes to play football, ride his bike and skate board.

My wife says he’s starved for the attention of a grown man in his life. Perhaps· this is something only a woman could ‘see.’

Hearing all of this has been tough to take, making my childhood look like a fairy tale.

Anyhow, he found out his uncle is going to take. him and his cousins to Hawaii next week. He came over excited.

That’s when it came out — he wanted to do some odd jobs around the house to earn money for this trip. And get this, he wants to help his uncle pay for the trip.

So, I put him to work in the back yard. He cut down all the extra growth from our Aspen trees.

This isn’t an easy task as they have a habit of growing up out of the ground several feet from the original tree. And they are hard to kill.

He worked at this for about an hour and after finishing, we sat in the back yard and talked a few minutes. I could tell he was nervous about asking for pay.

Finally, I asked him what he thought the job was worth, he replied “Maybe five-bucks.”

With such honesty and good intention from a teenager, I couldn’t help but be impressed, so I handed him a 20-dollar bill. To see his eyes bug out like they did was well worth the price.

Sometimes I like the way good jus’ works out.

Kicking the Tires on God’s Car

It has certainly been an interesting morning. I know that this subject will be a turn-off for many as it is both uncomfortable and confusing.

If you are jus’ trying out God, like kicking the tires on a car, good for you. If you ‘re growing closer to God by volunteering and going to church, you’re doing great. But if you are like me and have a want to preach and teach the word of God, then list in up.

I’m jus’ back from church where the Pastor spoke on the heaviest of all subjects, ‘Revelation.’ That book in the Bible still blows my mind, because I cannot get my mind wrapped around all the imagery that it has.

While I’m very rarely ·fearful of anything in cl head on confrontation, including the possibility of a violent death, the Book of Revelation scares the crap out of me.

While the imagery John uses to describe Heaven and Hell is vivid and fanciful, its message is extremely narrow. And that is a concern for me as I am real good at sinning.

Shoot, I’ve been a sinner all my life and those who know me best can confirm this. As hard as it is to admit, I completed breaking all the 10 commandments in record time, less than 27-years.

Yup, even the one we think is the biggie on that list of “don’t do.”

Honestly, I don’t know where Pm going in this article as my mind is a confused jumble of thoughts on faith and such. The only thing I do know is that I do believe in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the three figure-heads in one being.

I know I can be saved from Hell, but how do I stay on that straight and narrow path? The simple answer is I can’t do it — I need help.

That help has to come from a higher source. I call him God or Lord. You may say “Greater Power,” “Him” or “Her, ” but the simple truth is whatever we make God out to be, we are created in his image, marred by original sin and have lived in that state since birth.

I suffer from terminal pride, greed and lust. Most of us do.

If one looks at the things the Book of Revelation, it touches on, “cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, and the immoral who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars…” So you can see where I fit in.