Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Staying young by being stupid, becoming old by being a coward.

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

From an excerpt from one of Sippican’s posts

I am not young any more. I have a bad back. There is a great deal wrong with my feet. I am still a bit feebler than I’d like to be from a bout of Lyme disease. All my neighbors, the nicest people I’ve met in this world, no exaggeration, passed by and told me to be careful up there, fearing that I might fall, never suspecting that if one of the bees buzzing around the chimney took umbrage I’d die right there without ever making it back to the top of the ladder, never mind the bottom.

A upon reading this, I could not help think three things.

1. The nicest people I know would have done the roof for Sippican.

2. One such nice guy was an old guy (in his mid to late fifties) who carried a couple sheets of plywood up a extension ladder before I could help. I told him that when I got to be his age I hoped I was in as good a shape as he was and smart enough not to do what he was doing. He told me that I had to pick one or the other. It strikes me that Sippican subscribes to the same school of thought.

3. I am such a wimp. Just looking at the pictures that Sippican posted brings back bad memories and makes my stomach feel a little sick. Cowardice is something I always have to fight.

Edit: Fixed spelling. Don’t know why I always want to add a another “p”.

How could you deal with stuff like this?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Over the years, I have read a lot about so called “chav” cultural. Most of the time, it all seems unreal. It is easy to read stuff like this post from Inspector Gadget and get disgusted. But it is hard to read it and imagine yourself dealing with those types of people.

Yet when you watch videos of everyday normal people having to deal with “chavs” it becomes all too real for me. I see these things and my guts just twist up. I can’t imagine how I could live in an environment like this without becoming a murderous madman. And the two clips below represent the best case that you could possible expect when dealing with “chavs”. I would hate to think how I would feel if I saw a pack of “chavs” going after someone who was helpless and alone. And yet, that is a far more likely outcome then what you see below.

A double standard

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Today I read another “poor men” post. This particular post struck me as a bad example for all sorts of reasons. But it got me to thinking about how I react to these types of arguments even when they are better done.

I have a double standard for these types of arguments even when they are well done. I tend to have a strong negative reaction to them when they are written by men for reasons that I explained here. But when woman write them, I am more tolerant. This double standard stems from my personal gut reaction rather then logical reason.

I personally don’t have any use for the idea that the anti-masculine ideals held by America’s intelligentsia are harming America’s men. To my mind, the damage done by the woman who enable men and the men who fail to be proper fathers makes the opinions of the chattering classes moot. So I think that crying about how poorly men are being treated is to detract from the real issues. And when me men are doing the crying it really disgusts me.

But at the same time, one common trait of females that really bothers me is their peculiar brand of hypocrisy. So I can’t help but enjoy it when a woman is willing to take aim at this hypocrisy.

In my opinion, woman tend to have a greater desire then men to appear virtuous. Because of this, they are far more prone to passing off their selfish desires as being some kind virtue then men are. This is particularly true when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

A woman will tend to define virtue in interpersonal relationships as being anything that makes them feel comfortable, loved, and valued. Anything that impedes on such feelings is by definition evil in their book. A man is more prone to saying “I am such a pig” and then giggle and snort like it is such a joke.

I would not claim that the pride men are prone to show in their failings is a good thing. But I find in more bearable then listening to a woman pass off her selfish desires as being the standard for what is right and good.

Confession Of A Part Time Snake

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Today I did not accomplish much of note. In fact, it could be argued that some of what I did was actually harmful.

Remember the friend of mine who was in danger of getting fired? Well, I have been embarked on a campaign to push back against those that I think are unjustly head hunting him. And today I just took it another step further.

This is unwise, unproductive, and generally unjustifiable. But I can’t help myself. I am one part sheepdog and one part snake. And I might be to charitable to myself when I claim that I am one part sheepdog. Regardless, I have never been very good at staying out of fights that did not belong to me.

My gut instinct is to always act as if any trouble that afflicts “my people” as being my business. And by definition of “my people” is quite broad. I am not sure that all of “my people” even know that they are “my people.” But that does not stop me from minding their business.

Only, I don’t mind their business in a very straightforward way. I am not one of those people that reacts the minute that someone says something negative about my friends. On the contrary, I always listen when people start badmouthing my friends and I generally only voice my opinion when it will be well received by my listeners. Often I will even try to draw them out and get them to say more then they originally intended.

Then I go off and launch a campaign to thwart everything they are trying to accomplish.

Autonomy of a snap decision

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Yesterday I was tasked with figuring out what method to use to install radiant heat for a planed renovation. I also have to come up a with a complete cost for the entire installation and the amount of man hours it is going to take. In addition I have to provide a price for installing a new boiler and hot water heater and the labor to install them. I have until noon on Tuesday to get the whole thing together.

In once sense, this is not so hard. For one thing, I have help. Most of the boiler pricing and research is being done by others. I just have to pull it all together. And the scope of the project is not that large. It is just a small remodeling project after all.

The thing that makes all this tricky is that I don’t have any practical experience with radiant heat. Nor does anyone else in the organization. And the nature of renovation means that we can not use any of the most common methods of installing radiant heat.

That is to say, I can’t bury the tubes in concrete and I can’t strap tubes to the underneath of the sub flooring due to the nature of the construction that the planed remodel will take place in. This pretty much limits me to the more exotic systems for putting in radiant heating. And I really hate to have to chose amongst the more exotic methods of doing something when I don’t even have a good understanding of the basics. Especially when I only have a few hours to research the issue before I have to get to work pricing out the components of the project.

But sometimes you don’t get to pick your battles. My solution was to go with a product called Warmboard. It was a snap decision based on three things.

I had heard about the product before. I knew it was the gold standard for doing radiant heat in a non masonry applications. And it seemed like the easiest of the exotic systems for a bunch of noobs to install.

I expect to be crossed examined on this choice. I don’t think the powers that be are going to like the costs. But it was the best snap decision I could make. And I still have to figure out what kind of controls I am going to use so I don’t have any time to second-guess myself on the system I’m going to use.

And that is what makes life exciting.

I spend too much time reading

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Today I was discussing with someone why I will never make a really good tradesman. I said that all the really good tradesmen that I know spend a lot of their free time making or fixing things. It’s the thing that they enjoy doing more than anything else. Their idea of variety is to fix or make something that they don’t normally have to fix or make on their day job.

But I am different. When I had the job of putting up steel frame commercial buildings (i.e., I was an iron worker or at least that’s what they hoped that I would turn into), the part I hated the most was not having any time to read (because of all the travel time). And the part that I like best about my present job is the fact that I have plenty of time to read.

Today was a light reading day because I got home late and I have other things that I need to do.

But I still read this report from calculated Risk about FHA is delaying its fiscal report because they don’t like the results they got from their audit. The audit implied that FHA is going to need billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

I also read this account of why the often quoted 36,000 Deaths from Seasonal Flu is wrong. It always did sound awfully high to me.

And to top it all off, I read this essay from a former member of the Marine Force Recon and a former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Regan who argued that US conventional forces in Afghanistan need to change how they conduct firefights. I also watched the video that he made to demonstrate his point.

And those are just the highlights of what caught my attention. It doesn’t even count all the things that I just skimmed and decided I wasn’t interested in.

No Replacement To Be Found

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Yesterday I helped out hobbit with an attitude. Whenever I get to help her out, it always brightens my day and make me think that maybe I am not totally worthless.

This particular hobbit happens to be a short woman who is in charge of her own department. She makes more money then I am ever likely to make. And of course she has college degree and all the other associated accreditations that go along with such a position.

All that is par for the course for a professional woman at her stage in life. I know lots of professional woman with a similar resume. But after you eliminate the ones that I don’t like, and the ones that I can stand but don’t respect, and the ones that I don’t know enough to make a judgment, all you are left with is the hobbit.

She is the only professional woman that I actually enjoy dealing with. It goes with out saying that she is smart and hard working. But what really sets her apart is her bluntness, sense of humor, her utter lack of pretensions, and her willingness to try to solve problems herself that other woman would decided were “man” problems.

The fact that she does not play helpless is a big part of what makes helping her such a joy. Since she has tried to do it herself, she understands what it takes to do things for her. So she does not have unrealistic expectations and she really appreciates what you do to help her. That alone makes her unlike 90% of the woman out there.

Unfortunately, she is retiring in 10 months.

Missing the light

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Today was a nice day for November. Truth be told, we have had a lot of nice days this fall. I am still a little suppressed by how warm it has been. I was bracing myself for a really cold fall and winter but it does not seemed to have come to pass yet. But I guess we could still have a bitter winter.

The thought that we might get a cold winter does not bother me all that much. But I am already dreading the forever darkness that seems last for the whole winter. Its not just the shortness of days, it is also the clouds that are always overshadowing us. I think that I could take the short days of winter better if more of them were sunny.

But there is not much hope of that in this area regardless of how hot or cold the winter is. So I guess I will have to spend most of this winter wishing that I was in bed. My body considers bed the only proper place to be when there is little natural light.

I wish that I could make my body feel some other way. I always think about how much indoor stuff I could get done in the winter if only the dreariness did not make we want to turn into some kind of bear. But I guess you have to deal with the cards that you been dealt with in life. So I have stopped trying to convince myself that this winter I am going to be very very productive.

Instead I dream of becoming a bear who does not have to go to work when it is dark out.

No reward for virtue

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Today I tried to be safe and do all the right things, but it still seemed like everything was conspiring to go wrong.

For example, I was trying to fix an outlet that had suffered physical damage. Not only the was the outlet itself damaged, but the wire-mold box that that outlet was in had been smashed hard enough that it was no longer attached to the wall. Using a circuit tracer, my partner in crime and I located that breaker that powered this outlet. We turned the breaker off and verified that there was no power going to the outlet.

Having done everything more or less by the book, my partner in crime left to get some parts while I began to remove the outlet. To make a long story short, I got shocked. It was not a really bad shock. But it woke me up.

How did I get shocked when I had made sure that power was off to this outlet? Simply put, the people who wired this building used the same neutral for multiple circuits.

Now, I have been told that a long time ago this was accepted practice. But even granting the people who wired the building that, I still would like to know why they had to make the connection between the two neutrals in the outlet itself instead of pig tailing off a junction.

At any rate, if you have a big enough load on a circuit, you can get shocked off the neutral. And if you share a neutral between several circuits, you will have a big enough load on the neutral to shock someone.

But the load that was on that neutral was nothing compared to the load on a neutral that I came across while working on another outlet later on in the day. I made sparks fly big time and caused various other problems.

And I was still trying to do everything right.

Breaking The New Guy In

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Today a man was told by our HR department that they made a mistake when the hired him. They were kind enough to tell him that they would try to figure out a way to save his job. But they made no guarantees.

Seeing as he was only hired two weeks ago this was a bit of a shock to him. Considering he left a previous job when he was offered the one he holds now, he had reason to expect that his employment here would last longer than two weeks. And regardless of what he gave up to come here, no one would be thrilled to find out that bureaucratic mistakes might cost one’s job before one had time to learn the names of one’s co-workers.

One would imagine that they will find a way to save his job. They have lots of practice at fixing these kinds of mistakes. But if they don’t, one has to think that he has reasonable grounds for a law suit. Granted, it was probably made clear to him when he was being interviewed that they could fire him for any and all reasons during his first year. But he could still make the argument that he was falsely lead to believe that our wonderful human resource department had the authority to hire him. And given that he left his previous employment, it would seem that he could make a good case that he suffered personal loss as a result of this false representation.

But all of that aside, this was a good way to break a new guy in. Some people have to work here for a year or two before they get that kind of education.

Of course, that valuable learning experience will be wasted if they don’t figure out how to save his job.