Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bobo - Part 1

This is a story about an Indian dog.  At least that's how our family always thought of "Bobo".  He was "Indian" to us.  And in a sense, I guess he was.  But not in the way it sounds.  Given to us by our maternal great grandmother, who was a married halfbreed Indian living most of her life in Escondido in the midst of the most diverse group of Indian tribes one could possibly imagine.  We never could actually confirm which tribe claimed her, but most of the family in later years settled on Navajo or some other southwestern tribe, and that probably makes no sense at all.  But give us "Bobo" one particular day she did, and that changed things for our family forever.

"Bobo" was apparently a cross between a philandering mongrel mutt and a woefully fickle rat terrier cur.  He had a few tiny islands of white scattered throughout his coat, but he was pretty much brown and liver colored as far as anyone could see.  If I ever find a snapshot of him I will update it here.  As a puppy he endured the long trip back from Escondido to Los Angeles late one night in the backseat of our car by mostly "smelling like a dog", according to my long-suffering Uncle Wade, who was forced into the backseat along with us kids and Bobo..

Once at home in the Hyde Park neighborhood where we lived the new dog pretty much took over the outside of our home.  He learned to give us warning when ice trucks were delivering on our block, so we kids could score free ice slivers from the delivery guys to suck on in hot weather.  And he also watched out for the street repair guys so we could catch the dripping hot tar from their portable broiler to form up chewable "tar balls", which, except for the terrible flavor, were - due to the difference in cost - much preferred at the time over Wrigley's.

So all the neighbor kids loved Bobo.  My cousin Aub, who lived in the next block but played with us whenever he was allowed outside [which due to either his health or my Aunt's mothering nature wasn't that often]; my baby brother David, who was a brat but fun anyway; Paul, Roger. and Eddie - all part of neighborhood gang [I might mention those characters further in a future offering] - relied on Bobo for everything.  Because he was available.  He - unlike all the other neighborhood dogs - ran free.  Other dogs were backyard dogs.  Fenced in.  Don't think Bobo ever found a fence or gate he couldn't thwart, so he pretty much had his run of the neighborhood.

Current view of the front porch and lawn on which Muggy crawled and played almost 75 years ago, and where Bobo ruled whenever she was present.  Our house was in the center of the block.  Downhill was to the left, and cousin Aub lived that way in the third house on the right past the corner.  Eddie lived 2 doors downhill from here, and Paul and Roger lived in their own homes across the street, behind this view.  Graphic courtesy of Google Map "Street View"®. all rights reserved.
Ordinarily that would have been a big neighborhood problem, but Bobo had another calling.  One that all the neighbors appreciated and caused them to "cut him a break" on the staying in his yard thing.  Bobo was my sister's self-appointed "protector".  My sister, Muggy, was about five years old at the time, and has been afflicted all her life with a form of palsy that left her with the sense of balance of a sailor in the last hour of shore leave.  But she was still  stubborn enough - a trait she retains to this day - to want to play outside, on the front lawn, in sight of the "other kids".  And so to relieve us kids of the duty of  "watching her" - [how many times over the years have I been told to do that?] - Bobo ended up delegated as her faithful companion and substitute big brother.  .

From the day he arrived, if she were outside we never had to guess where Jodi was.  She was always about 12" from Bobo.  Just look for him.  Or call him and he would "bark" back.  She would drag herself out the front door, crawl across the porch and down the steps and Bobo would have heard her at the door and placed himself by her side even before she wiggled down the first step.  From then on he would never leave her side.  She might be out there an hour or 2 minutes, but she was "job one" as far as he was concerned.  Other - strange dogs might wander by and look at Jodi curiously but one glance at the raised hackles on Bobo's neck and his bared teeth and they turned away, suddenly more interested in less antagonistic critters and climes. 

If passing strangers on the sidewalk considered approaching Muggy - for any reason, helpful or harmful, - forget it!  Bobo's presence and intentions would immediately be heard throughout the neighborhood.  All the neighbors would look out their front windows or come out on their front porches.  The strangers quickly would wave off and briskly walk away.  Will never understand how so much noise could emanate from such a small frame.

When my sister was present Bobo had the heart of a lion.  But if she was elsewhere, he was nothing, nada.  If he'd had a tail it would've been between his legs.  Absolutely a different animal.  And the strange thing is, we didn't "get" Bobo to be her protector, we got him to be be a play companion.  The protective side of him was totally unexpected, a hidden benefit.

Looking back on those years I'm amazed at the stuff I don't remember.  For instance, where did Bobo sleep?  Was he an inside dog part of the time?  Maybe at night?  I don't remember.  But he became a fixed part of our family for better part of the next two decades, and Muggy still sees a little bit of "Bobo" in every dog she comes across.

The timing on this was just before WWII, at the tail end of the great depression.  We were dirt poor but dad was working and we had no idea there were others with more than we had, or less.  We just were living life as it was being thrown at us.  Bobo's biggest adventure was still to come.  And that will be grist for a future post.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


OVERLENGTH ALERT:  3 flag rating.  This might be the perfect time for an Oallaberry scone.

UPDATE:  See "Eagle Mountain" post for further information.

 Aware I

Today, even when one closely studies Google Earth, it's well nigh impossible to determine the exact location of the former Kaiser Steel Company's big dormitory and dining hall at Eagle Mountain. An extended administrative complex was built there back in the "olden days", the late 1950's, and for quite a number of years that area was a beehive of activity. Then, after mine operations were shut down someone thought that property would be a great place upon which to build a prison, so everything before that was ripped out and today only the remnants of the prison seem to be left.

Recent aerial view of Eagle Mountain.  Working mine was entire gray area in center.  Company town subdivision layout is still visible below mine.  Prison/former admin area is cluster of tiny white buildings at left upper edge of subdivision.  Several tailing ponds to recover heavy metals separated in mining process are shown on right.

But that prime area of high, level ground adjacent to the upper end of the rail line used to be the center of Kaiser Steel's Eagle Mountain "Iron Chief" mine's administrative and governance area, and for quite a time hosted several bachelor dormitories and a giant "mess hall" serving all the food a worker could handle, up to four meals a day, all for the outrageous daily cost of $1.25. So virtually everyone that ate in the hall, or lived in the dormitories, was a Kaiser employee or dependent thereof. There was also a large residential area in town for married workers and their families, but this story is about the dorm area.
At the time, Grandpa Dwight was the only non-Kaiser employee in bachelor housing. And that's because I was "the law".   As a deputy sheriff of Riverside County normally assigned to the Indio station, in 1958ish I was given the special duty assignment of Eagle Mountain Resident Deputy*. Which means I was the only lawman for an area that went north and south to the San Bernardino and Imperial county lines, and east and west from Cactus City to twenty miles the other side of Hell, California. That area was larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. To perform this assignment I had to either live at Eagle Mountain or risk taking from 50 to 90 minutes extra to respond to each call emanating from the "camp" and its environs. Since Eagle Mountain generated about 75% of my workload in that area, living elsewhere was not practical. So I found myself housed in a VIP apartment near the company dormitories, in a 2 bedroom street-side unit that doubled as my "office". It was the only private non-Kaiser space at Eagle Mountain available to an outside resident, and it gave folks living in the camp with Sheriff's office business a way to contact the deputy discretely, without coming to the unnecessary attention of "camp management' - supposedly.

And it came to pass that while I was there I was assigned to serve a routine civil process notice, called a "Summons and Complaint", on an unfortunate - I supposed - resident of one of the dormitory rooms. An "S&C" is a legal notice the person being served is being sued. Sometimes people are expecting the service, sometimes not. So each service attempt is a tiny thrill all its own.

At any rate this particular service was for a divorce. I timed my contact for about an hour or so prior to shift time for the guy and was not surprised when he promptly opened the door and calmly stood there while I "served" him, handing him the many-paged document as I did so. To say he was surprised is an understatement. This was the early part of the week, and I later found out he had spent the past week-end with his wife having a great time, and now he was being served a notice of pending divorce prepared by his wife's attorneys three or four weeks earlier. In fact, he had spoken with her by phone that morning and had - he said - absolutely no inkling anything like this was afoot. I believed him.

Aware II

I haven't mentioned until now the guy in question was a world class body builder. He stood about 6-5, weighed close to 280, and had shoulder's out to Reno, Nevada. The guy was built. In a word, "brawny". Have no idea what he did up "on the hill" at the mine, but he could have pushed around the loaded ore cars to make up outgoing "trains" as far as I could see, he was that buff.

So the dynamic of Grandpa Dwight standing there wearing a badge and a smile to ward off the wrath of a fellow that size being served with bad news seemed overly optimistic, if you see what I mean, but I was trying to do a world-class SRIWPDWUS move, you know, supportive-but-remaining-impersonal-while-professionally-dealing-with-an-unfortunate-situation peace officer impression. The one I'd seen in movies so often portrayed by Stewart Granger or Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper or Gregory Peck. The strong, silent type. Perfect typecasting, by-the-way. At any rate,  by now I am sweating bullets.

So the humongous guy is looking over the papers and I can see realization dawning on his face. He now understands why his wife was so nice to him recently. Why some of their disagreements no longer mattered to her. It dawns on him he has been played. And that "breaks" him. His spirit just wilts. I can literally see him throw in the marital "towel". Smack dab in front of me he turns into a bucket of mush. He is no longer fearsome. At least for now.

Each "S & C" contains explicit instructions as to the "defendant's" [ie: the poor sap in front of me] legal rights and responsibilities, which are - in order - scant and myriad. He has a certain number of days and ways to respond or the suit is assumed by the judge to be OK with both parties, just the way it was written up. Law suits are prepared by lawyers. Lawyers have a legal duty to fiercely represent their client's interests. To a lawyer that seems to mean go for the money. All the money. So anytime a suit is filed it's always in a defendant's best interest for another lawyer representing the sued party to promptly intercede.  Else someone's goose is probably well-cooked.

Here I can see that's not gonna happen. In fact, the guy starts saying very quietly, "She can have everything". He is an emotionally whipped puppy and spends most of his time in a remote mining camp, so I can see the chance of him running into a lawyer-type person to represent his interests in the time available is nil. He has given up on life and I can sense he intends to go into a lengthy emotional slump. It being a mining camp, beer might be involved.

So what happened next took me by surprise. For some reason I was aware of his sudden potential victim-hood and began to "counsel" him.  I don't know why.  Call it a character flaw.  But I urged him to make the effort to speak to a lawyer. I went on for several minutes about a few of the justice miscarriages I had heard of, world traveler that I was, and explained about his wife's lawyer's duty to go after EVERYTHING the couple had so his own lawyer could earn a fee by getting a little bit of it back. And after several minutes of that kind of "encouragement", wished him "luck" and took my leave, still under the impression he probably was not going to "respond". That was the end of it, or so I thought.

Aware III

Except that several months later it also came to pass I received one of those dreaded calls lawmen of all ages and climes - think of "the bobbies of Tottenham" - hope to never hear:
"333, Indio"
"Report of 415~ numerous subjects Eagle Mountain mess hall"
               "Is there any backup available?"
"Negative. Your ETA?"
"Indio copy"
And that's the very low-key way in which I began my very own "twin towers moment". I got out of the car outside the building and prepared to enter the noisiest, rowdiest mess-hall-that-could-pass-for-a-wild-west-saloon-on-payday scene one could possibly imagine. Crockery and chairs were criss-crossing through the air. About - and this is only a guess - 120 or so miners were attempting to settle some type of issue by causing mayhem and bloody trauma on the persons of their multiple fellows. It was a madhouse. I had no way of telling how long it had been in progress, but the fight was still apparently far from over. One could barely hear oneself think for all the din.

As I peered through the open doorway I tried to come up with a plan, any plan, to quiet things down and keep me from being battered and beaten when these guys eventually turned on me - which I knew they would do as soon as they became aware of my presence. About this time one of the cooks noticed me in the door and ran over, seriously demanding that I "stop them". [pause here for several laconicly mirthful moments].

I realize the Texas Rangers have a policy where they only send one ranger per call. But Riverside County hadn't issued me a horse or spurs, so in my mind I was not properly equipped to singlehandedly calm this storm. And although I didn't burst out laughing at the cook, I sure wasn't impressed by his application of logic and common sense.  However, there I was. And just as when some fool burns out at a stop sign right in front of a sheriff's car and literally forces a deputy to pull him over and write him up, I was there, a riot was in progress, and I had to do something.

Have I mentioned I have a loud and compelling "command voice"? I'll talk more about it sometime, maybe, but for some reason I have the ability to project my voice over and above other voices and noises in a manner that usually compels, at least for a moment or two, attention. And so, throwing caution and common sense to the wind I stood just inside the mess hall door with my back to a wall and using my command voice said something like this:
  • "By virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of California and the County of Riverside I hereby declare this to be an 'Unlawful Assembly'. I order forthwith that all occupants immediately leave these premises. Cooks, you are hereby ordered to lock and secure all doors, except for the two main doors from this hall. After five minutes those two doors shall also be locked and anyone remaining in this hall who is not on duty in these premises shall be arrested and charged under the full extent of the law."
At least that was what I think I said, but who really knows?  I may have added a "cease and desist" or two in there.

Well sir, my command voice worked just fine as far as grabbing the attention of the fist-swingers and chair throwers, but I could sure sense a hundred or so sets of eyes swiveling my way in the next few moments, so before much else could happen I moved from the wall next to the doorway - through which I had just foolishly ordered them to leave - to a side wall and corner spot nearer the serving line that seemed a little more defensible. Faint hope as it was.

It was there I had chosen to meet my Waterloo. To take my final stand. To go out in a blaze of crockery. So I drew myself up to my full 5'11¾", put my hand on my holstered weapon, and prepared for the worst. From the look of things and the crowd beginning to move my way, I hadn't long to wait.
Except I suddenly sensed another person next to me, facing the rabble. Lo and behold, it was the humongous body-builder. He of the divorce papers. And then a few other hefty types separated themselves from the riff-raff and joined the two of us with our backs to the wall - facing down the crowd. The "body builder" yelled to the crowd, "This cop is a friend of mine. Anybody thinks they're going to take him on has to come through me". In no time at all he and his weight-lifting pals, because that was indeed who they were, had formed a picket line of sorts around me and suddenly the "disturbance" was over.

Within ten minutes the hall was empty and the cooks were cleaning up the mess. Fifteen minutes later the mine superintendent and four of his security agents arrived to take charge of - what was by now, nothing. The next shift came on less than an hour later and couldn't tell anything had happened. Nor did the company want to press it. Since it was their stuff that had been trashed, their employees who had black eyes and cuts and bruises, and no other public harm had occurred, I closed everything out as "No Complaint".

The "body builder" had indeed contacted an attorney and it turns out had provided quite liberally for his now ex-wife, but had still managed to retain ownership of two classic cars inherited from his grandfather, and a few other family heirlooms. He told his lawyer in Indio what I had said and how I had encouraged him, and that contact paid off a second time when the attorney - who was known to be a nasty bulldog when opposed to officers in court - cross examined me almost gently on a major case a couple of years later.

Two other things about this call were sort of neat. Indio station personnel were aware of how bad the call was thought to be and several deputies - including two former Eagle Mountain resident deputies - had loaded up three cars of back-up cops and were even then on the road, leaving Indio to come to my aid at the very time I called back in.

And when I did call in, I merely said "10-98" which means "finished with assignment" but offers no explanation. That was good "stuff".  Since the deputies were aware the call had been of a large scale riot - they knew the office had received multiple calls and the one from the chef had included loud riot noise and voices yelling in the background - they were extremely puzzled as to how I had "calmed the troubled waters" so quickly and "effortlessly".   And until I explained things many, many days later, I was well on my way to developing a reputation of being a go-to guy for future violence calls of that type. This is not a reputation, by-the-way, a fun-loving peace officer wishes to encourage.

MORAL: See "Stones" for further explanation of the "Morals" section.
A.1    The thinking individual will remain aware of all that goes on even though one's primary mission seems completed.
A.2     It is never unseemly to take a moment to encourage the discouraged.
A.3     Somehow the "impossible" usually becomes "possible" if one but tries. Conversely, if one gives up the probable will never be accomplished.
A.4    Courage is overrated. Duty is more important and provides higher job-security.
A.5    Treat individuals as you wish to be treated.  Someday that "idiot" might be your boss.

*This is marginally interesting because the only other Resident Deputy in the county at the time was Brady B., of Idyllwild, who had been the resident deputy up on "the hill" during my teen years and had lost most of his hair dealing with the wilder activities of the kids I hung with less than a dozen years earlier. To say Brady was less than happy one of his "hill" kids had become an officially recognized compatriot is to understate the issue by hundreds of magnitudes of peevishness. But after I made sergeant - and when he was still only a detective - he seemed to learn to live with it and eventually survived, or so they say.

   ~415="big hairy fight"
~10-97="arrived at scene"

Monday, August 8, 2011


OVERLENGTH ALERT:  2½ flag rating.  This might be a good time for a Lemon tart.

 Stones I

The topic for today is "Stones".  Building stones.  Recently, one of my favorite bloggers wrote of his youth and the gathering of stones.  In California for some reason stones are usually called "rocks".  And that reminded me of a mostly true story in which some of the names have been changed to protect the occasionally innocent.

Back in the "good ol' days", during Grandpa Dwight's teen years and just after WW II, big Grandpa Dwight commenced building the massive - at the time - three story five bedroom family home in the San Jacinto mountains of Southern California my folks would eventually call "home".  The building site was in Fern Valley on the bottom slope of a mountain that led uphill directly to the towering Tahquitz Peak fire lookout, more than two thousand feet overhead.  From there a spur of the main ridge of the mountain ran northward and downhill slightly to form Tahquitz Rock - an edifice of nature that overlooked Strawberry Valley and much of western Riverside County, and when viewed from afar gave the appearance of a heavenward facing visage of the face and ceremonial headdress of an American Indian Chief - similar to the one featured on the radiator noses of pre-war Pontiac's - but this one supposedly resembling Chief Tahquitz of the Soboba Indian tribe,
for whom it was named.  It probably could have resembled hundreds of Indian chiefs, but that's not important.  Depending on the weather and sunlight the distinctive rock could be clearly seen at certain times of day from various spots in Southern California, sometimes more than 50 miles distant.

There's much more to the basement tale, but that's enough for now.  Back to "rocks".

The lowest [basement] floor of the house, and half of the first floor was constructed of "rock".

There were three types of "rock",  actually.  River rock, red rock and field rock.

White and black speckled river rock was used for the interior walls of the basement great room, which by volume took up about one-half of the total basement.

An extremely distinctive local red rock was used for the exterior of the house on all four sides up to the "wainscot", or lower window sash level.

Building with rocks is a slow process.  As the rocks went up, since  the wall was over 2 feet thick, the space between the outer and inner walls was filled in with junk rocks, "mistake" rocks, broken rocks, chunks of concrete, odds and bits, and left over mortar.  When complete, those walls were SOLID.

Later, after the rest of the house was completed, Dad built the huge two-and-a-half-story-high double fireplace and chimney structure entirely from simple old-fashioned field rocks.

Each variety of rock had to be explored for and located in the wild, harvested - which usually meant digging up and freeing them from the earth that wanted to hold onto 'em, and then lifting 'em up and loading 'em by hand into an old 4WD "deuce and a half" surplus GI army dump truck somewhat similar to the one shown.  These were trucks which had somehow made it through the war and were now being palmed off on the public.  They were cheap, none too reliable, underpowered and universally known to have severe under-braking issues in the mountains.  But again, that didn't seem to be too important.

Once loaded, the rocks were hauled 20 to 30 miles from the back-country watercourses and byways of the national forest where they had been discovered.  Upon delivery to the building site the rocks were carefully unloaded by hand and stacked/stored nearby in segregated and classified piles.   Apparently, one doesn't want to scratch pretty rocks, or break them into smaller "gravel" through rough handling, I was reminded about a thousand times - so the unloading segment was not a quick process, either.

Thinking back across the years, I believe the piles were probably labeled:  River Good; River Mixed; River Bad; Red Good; Red Mixed; Red Bad; Field Good, Field Mixed and Field Bad.  Plus another pile for Junk rocks.  Dad was nothing if not organized, I thought at the time, but looking back at it now that was exactly the proper thing to do.  Dad was right?  Go figure.

 Stones II

So at about this time of my life I became committed (a reluctant form of volunteering) to harvest, load and haul rocks almost every week-end, it seemed, for an entire fall, winter and spring, and for what I thought at the time was the best part of a summer.  Sometimes two or three of us went rock gathering, sometimes it was just Dad and I, and sometimes I was trusted enough to go by myself.  Of course when I went alone those turned out to be the shortest trips.  I usually harvested the easiest rocks to dig free and load.  And somehow those rocks seldom passed muster with the master builder,  Dad.  Therein lay conflict.  The various Good piles were always too small.  There might be a barely adequate supply of Mixed rocks, and the largest piles always seemed to be labeled Bad or Junk.  I don't know why that was.  Maybe it was just a coincidence

At any rate, one load I brought home - in record time, I might add - was completely rejected by the head of the house, and I ended up hauling it back and dumping it from whence it came.  That was not a good day.  Talk about difficult employee-employer relations around the table that evening.  If it hadn't been for the patience and intercession of the power behind the power on the throne I think there might have been open warfare, but for whatever reason this was at about the time I was given parental encouragement to try my hand at a spell of commercial fishing out of Newport Beach, and then on my return home to consider enlisting in the Air Force.  The Korean War had just come along at what turned out for me to be a fortuitous time.

But to get back to the "rocks", these days I have scant recollection of harvesting and loading those humongous babies.  I see the house today and understand the math but my body and mind can't remember lifting and man-handling that many rocks.  Or even my fair share.  I know they didn't jump out of the ground and leap up into the truck on their own, but the human mind and body tends to mercifully "forget" torturous things of that sort. Or it's early onset senility.

What I do still vividly recall is the "hauling" portion of the operation.  It seems like I can recall well over a hundred separate trips going uphill in second gear at 5 miles an hour on blistering hot days in a bakery oven disguised as a truck.  That memory is forever indelibly etched in my brain.  I can hear, smell, see and feel it happening in nightmares over-and-over low these 60 plus years later.  Just as if it were yesterday.   Grind, grind, grind, grind.  Truck barely moving, not even going fast enough rid itself of heat radiating from the floorboards.  Feet on fire.  Boring. Boring. Grinding. Grinding.

And then the truck finally crests the summit, the engine speeds up and everything starts to roll along so much more smoothly.  This is the life.  Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.  Floorboard cooling off.  Rolling along.  Things are so much better.  Boredom erased.

Except on one particular trip, as I reached this phase of the haul, things changed.  Just as I was rolling along, enjoying life, the route - as usual- began going downhill somewhat.  So I was rolling a little smoother, even, if that were possible.  Still rolling, rolling, rolling.  Past 45 MPH this time and all's well.  Tree's are going by the window pretty fast now.  Life is sweet!   Now I'm at 50 MPH and lightly "testing" the brakes, just for reassurance purposes.  OK, they are there but not the healthiest ever felt, so better back down on the speed a little.

Suddenly it dawns on my teen-aged brain a crossroads village is about two miles ahead, and I should already have been preparing for that, so I begin slowing down a bunch.  Concerned but not in a panic. Now I'm down to 40, then 35, then down to 30 and thinking about "downshifting".  The act of thinking about "downshifting", though, is as about as far as I can go, because I've never really learned to downshift something this big and heavy, and besides, the transmission on this clunker has "square gears" - whatever that means - and only successfully downshifts about three out of a thousand tries.  Not encouraging odds.   So I try slowing this hunk of iron and rock down even more, to 25 MPH.  At about this time I realize that the brakes must have become quite warm, because they are either hot, completely worn out or gone on vacation.  At any rate I am standing on the brakes and very, very slowly gaining speed.  Life has ceased being "good".

Now, in desperation, comes a downshift.  Concentrate.  Double-clutch.   Feel the vibrations.  Slight rev during clutching.  Ahhhh.  Picture perfect!  What could be smoother?  In third gear now and down to a controlled 22 MPH so off of the brakes for a bit, give them a chance to cool for the moment,  and let the engine compression control the load.  Still a couple of curves to go before the village.  Life is a little better, speed is still at "about" 22 MPH, but the busy village is looming ahead.

Suddenly realize the last 100 yards before the village crosswalk will be much steeper downhill than I'm currently doing.  Alarm, alarm.  What to do?  What will keep me from speeding up just as I'm at the crosswalk?  I have got to stop now!  Time to downshift another gear.  Third to Second would probably do it.  No time to think about.  Just do it again, like the first time.  Concentrate.  Double-clutch.  Vibrations.  Slight rev - what's that?  UGH!  The shift lever caught on my lunch box and I'm now rocketing along in neutral, terminally out of gear, the village crosswalk in sight, rushing toward me, people crossing!!!!!!!

Honk, honk, honk [It's the sickest horn honking noise I've ever heard.  Why hadn't I noticed the weakness of the horn before?]  Brakes are jammed full on and I'm standing on 'em.  Grabbed emergency brake handle and pulled that huge lever full on.  Shrill grinding noise now coming from the parking brake turns out to be much louder than the horn.  Now pedestrians hear me and are a-scattering.  Whoosh!  Sailed right through the crosswalk - and village - at 18 MPH plus.  People yelling, or something.

Finally got her pulled to the side of the road at the start of the next uphill and into enough of a ditch there would be no danger of rollback.  Standing still.  No movement.  Everything still attached.  Missed everybody.  Whew!  Sat there a couple of minutes, shaking.  Shut her down.  Got out, walked back to the village Pizza place and called home.  Realized afterward if I'd been older my whole life would have flashed before my eyes as I went through the village, but I was so callow at the time there was nothing there yet to flash.

By the time dad got there a half hour later the stupid BRAKES HAD COOLED DOWN and were working fine.  Except for the fact the parking/emergency brake band was worn out and had to be replaced - about $12 for a new band at the time - nothing else was visible to support my claim of disaster averted.   Life is not fair.  That was the last time we used the dump truck, though.  From then on drove the pickup truck and utility trailer.  Rocks needn't be picked up nearly as high off the ground for those two.  That dump truck bed had to have been at least 40" high.

Never did finish hauling all the rocks dad needed for the house that year.  Went into the service that September and he hauled the rest of them himself, or hired it done as I recall.  House wasn't finished for another three years.  I got out of the Air Force in four.  Good timing.  Mama didn't raise no fool.

MORAL:  All life's lessons contain morals.  Callow youth today don't seem to put much store in morals, though, and are thus doomed to travel through life repeatedly undergoing unfortunate circumstances and bizarre catastrophes they could have easily avoided except for the naive "belief" peers are "wise beyond their years" and parents aren't.

As a service to grandchildren Grandpa Dwight enumerates a few of the morals from this story:
S.1     Callow youth never really plan ahead.  They think they do, but they are too callow to do so.
S.2     The faster one is moving, the harder it is to stop - or change direction.  Think about it.
S.3     Just because parents allow youths to "do it their own way" doesn't mean parents agree with it.
S.4     All youth are callow [look it up].  Those that think they aren't are even more callow.
S.5     Most "callowness" is temporary.  It usually begins to fade when girls reach 30 and boys 40.
S.6     Your friends are even more callow than you, if that's possible, but they don't know it.  No sense bringing it up, either, 'cause they'd never believe you.

From Grandpa Dwight, who - a tiny bit like God - loves his grandkids in spite of everything.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

There may be something wrong with your mouse. Really.

Grandpa Dwight wouldn't mislead you about that.  Something could be wrong with your mouse.  It might be you've chosen the wrong cursor.  Or something else.  I can't tell from this far away just what it is, but to help you out I've furnished a test graphic for you to check it out for yourself.  Over on the right, where you see the "Mouse Test Graphic", simply move your cursor in small circles inside the graphic.  If any of the red fish figures begin swarming toward your cursor it means you need a new mouse.  The one you have has had too many nanofactures in it's quorent and is beginning to give off an electronic "odor" that's a dead giveaway to impending failure.  The more fish that react, the sooner the failure.  And if you stop moving the mouse and the fish "freeze", you only have hours left.

While checking out new mouses you might want to make certain your new one is ambisinistrous.  Many newer operating systems will be requiring that feature next year.  Seriously.  Or, I could be kidding.