Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Tai Chi: You’re Doing It Wrong!

I recently purchased a new pickup truck. I had been pining for this truck for several years. It took me several years to drop the hammer, because I wanted to thin the herd of my indebtedness, as well as build up my “rainy day” fund again.

Having finally made my purchase, I had several accessories that I desired, and was not about to finance over 6 years. I wanted a “headache rack”, planning to mount antennae for my amateur radio (“HAM radio”), a CB, and other radios that TDW-Mark II and I employ when traveling, or weather spotting, and thereby avoid drilling holes in my shiny, new, truck. (I DID mention, I have a new truck, right?)

So, TINS, there we were, turning off Main Drag in Nearby Bigger City, preparatory to pulling into the lot of The Truck Accessory Place, when we (TDW and I) noticed a disheveled looking adult male approx age of mid twenties, standing in the second driveway of The Truck Accessory Place (hereinafter referred to as TTAP), swinging his arms, and having an animated conversation with person or persons unseen by us.

Nice.

We pulled up to TTAP, entered same (locking my truck in the process), and hailed the counterman. “So, has homeboy here been boxing with dragons very long?”

I received a puzzled look in response. “Huh?”

“See the guy out there, boxing with person or persons unseen by you and me? How long have the dragons in his mind been attacking him?”

He walked around the counter, gazed out of the window, and opined, “He doesn’t look like his mind is quite right.”

I concurred. TDW-Mark II stood nearby, hand concealed in her purse. Her purse wherein she had her sidearm. She stood so as to not obstruct my strong side draw, should that become A Thing.

Mr. Counter returned to his side of the counter, and dialed police dispatch. He described his observations, and asked for an officer to respond. I watched as the boxer bobbed, weaved, punched at unseen adversaries, moving himself toward the neighboring business.

Soon, he crossed the street (startling several drivers on that street, in the process!), and wandered off into the thicket there, not to be seen again.

It has been told that Colonel Jeff Cooper, of Gunsite and Modern Technique of The Pistol fame, was once asked, “Colonel Cooper, if you knew that you were going to a gunfight, what gun would you prefer?”

He is quoted as saying, “If I knew that I was going to a gunfight, I’d stay home!”

I like avoidance. I’m tickled that Mr Dragon Boxing, did not present a lethal force threat.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

PRE REQUISITE OF THE MONTH CLUB AT BHSU

As I had mentioned previously, I pursued, and earned, my BSN some time ago. Oddly enough, THAT is another occasion for one of my stories.

Living in Da Blue Hive, I elected to attend Blue Hive State University, here in The Un Named Flyover State. They had a nursing school, and, indeed, I, myself was a nurse! How convenient! In addition, I lived a mile or three away from the campus.

I therefore hied myself to the admissions office, applied, got accepted (with none of that “we don’t allow our nursing students to work” idiocy), and picked up a copy of the prerequisite courses for starting my journey to BSN-dom. Easy-peasy, I signed up for a class.

Having completed that class, I signed up for the next on my list, secure in the “knowledge” that I was making progress towards my goal. Then I attended some meeting or other that was required for prospective BSN students.

Once there, I picked up a copy (another copy, or so I thought) of the prerequisite list. Idly perusing it as the speaker droned on about whatever, I noticed a course on the required list, that I did not recall being on that list previously.

Once home, I dug out my old list, and compared the two. Yep, sure enough, the list had changed. Indeed, one of the classes that previously (like, 4 months prior) had been required, was now elective.

Fast forward a year, another two classes in my repertoire, and another “prospective nursing student meeting”. To my disappointment, there was ANOTHER evolution in the required list, and, indeed, one of the classes that had been required, that I had indeed taken and passed, was not on the list at all, any longer.

I made an appointment with the dean of the Nursing school. The secretary inquired as to the topic I wished to discuss with the dean. “Career counseling” was my reply. “I’m considering earning my BSN, and I want to discuss it with her, please.”

Okey-dokey, appointment made.

I showed up at the appointed hour, introduced myself, and made my opening conversational gambit. “Ma’am, I’m presently a medic with Da City’s EMS. I’m considering earning a BSN, or else earning a bachelor’s in chemistry. I’d like you to help me make that choice, please.”

“What sort of things are driving you to one election or the other”, she inquired.

“Well, ma’am, I enjoy science, and like knowing how stuff works. On the other hand, I enjoy health care, and seem to pretty well at it.”

She asked, again. “So, what drives you to chemistry as a major?”

“Well, ma’am, one of the attractors is that it appears that chemistry pre-requisite course list is static, in contrast to the seemingly dynamic, changing-every-semester nature of the nursing pre-requisite list.”

She pulled a catalog or something off a shelf, flipped through it, and mused. “It appears that we have changed our list a couple of times in the past couple of years. How is that a problem for you, Mr. McFee?”

“Well, this past week I learned that one class that I took last year, as a required course for entry, is no longer required. Now, I don’t really care one way or the other about your pre-requisite list. What would be very helpful would be a static required course list. Maybe something like, ‘Here’s our required list. If you start on this date, and complete the list by that date, you will be held to this list, right here, for entry to our program’. Because, to tell you the truth, the next time you folks change the pre-requisite list, I’m going to become a chemist.”

I sooner or later completed the required coursework, with satisfactory grades, and completed the program at Blue Hive State University, being awarded my BSN, and living happily ever after, fighting disease and saving lives.

And our school cheer was “Buzzzzz!” Even before marijuana legalization.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

Clem, Cletus, and Why Heavy Equipment Operators Require Functional Partners, Too

Many, many years after I had left the employ of Da City, I came to live in Small Rural Town. Our little slice of Heaven featured, among other things, a municipal water system. The town had been built out shortly after the Second World War, and the infrastructure was contemporaneous with that construction.

Apparently, the engineering lesson of corrosion occurring at the junction of dissimilar metals, had not percolated to the individuals who built the house in which we lived. This epiphany developed after I noticed one Friday morning that there was water pooling in our front yard, between the door and the street.

Side note. NEVER! call the water department with that sort of observation on a Friday. They will shut off the water. It turns out, the service line from your home to the main is YOUR problem. You will NOT get that problem resolved late on a Friday. Or on a Saturday. Or on a Sunday. Not having running water makes for a long weekend of work.

Monday, I was again working, but TDW-Mark I had successfully contacted the Knob City Excavating Company to respond and repair our service line.

This involved excavating my front yard, and, having accessed the service line, replacing it.

It appears that professional excavating practice involves having one individual operating a back hoe, with another standing by, inspecting the back hoe’s progress, apparently in an attempt to avoid engaging the service line with the back hoe’s bucket, reefing thereon, and using that service line as a leader to abruptly extricate all the plumbing from your home.

So, about that. Clem was the back hoe operator, and Cletus, evidently, was tasked with leaning upon his shovel so that neither he, nor the shovel, fell over. In that, he appeared to be successful. Clem DID notice the entanglement of his back hoe bucket with my plumbing, but only after he had begun to extract my plumbing from my house. Fortunately he had only JUST begun to do so, before he determined that Things Were Not Right, and stopped. That was about the point at which I returned home from a day of fighting disease and saving lives.

Things were at a standstill as I entered the house. TDW-Mark I was standing there, gazing into the hole adjacent to our foundation, looking decidedly unamused. Clem was there as well, while Cletus was a’holding that shovel, determined that it was NOT going to fall!

TDW pointed into the depths of the hole, calling my attention to the copper stretched out from the foundation to it’s junction with the iron pipe that, evidently, had been our service line. Another vehicle pulled up, disgorging a worthy who was, is seemed, Bob The Knob, owner and operator of Knob City Excavating. TDW beckoned me inside, where she showed me where the service shut off on our domestic water feed, formerly near our ceiling, was now located at the floor. I suggested to Bob The Knob that he might want to get somebody with plumbing expertise in to review the situation, and effect such repairs as seemed needful. On his dime. And, RFN. (Right Fucking Now)

He did not appear to think that this was particularly unreasonable, particularly if he were to consider the alternative, which would involve court, attorneys, attorney fees on both sides, and much bad Ju-Ju.

The next day, I returned home from work, and TDW-Mark I informed me that Some Dude had arrived, crawled around in our attic, and had pronounced everything shoreward of our shut off to be intact. This worthy had then replaced our shut off, and the associated piping, and Knob City Excavating had replaced our service line with copper, had installed a bimetallic junction (TDW-Mark I had asked/insisted) at the main, backfilled everything once the city building inspector had signed off, and we Now! Had! Water! (cue the rejoicing)

It turns out that Bob The Knob was satisfied with my check in the original, estimated, amount as payment in full. We did not have any leaks subsequent to this adventure, and we all lived happily, ever after.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Life in Da City! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Splinting a Cat, And the Lesson I Learned….(Not What I Had Expected!)

A long, long time ago, in a Blue Hive not so very far from here, I was a street medic for Da City. (Gasp, NO! Say it isn’t so! I…I..never suspected!) I was working nights, attending nursing school days, and attempting ti triage my weekends between school projects, studying, sleep, and having a social life. Oh, yes. AND working.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and, having concluded a rollicking night of same, I entered my apartment. The building in which I lived had been built circa 1910, and had seen sporadic maintenance since then. This is particularly relevant given that I observed my cat, imaginatively named Mr. Cat, seated at my front window.

It was summer, and I had left my windows cracked. My cats had taken to lounging in the window, both to take in the scenery as well as to bask in an intermittent breeze. This was OK, until in one particular window, in which Mr. Cat had been loafing, the sash cord, which held the window open, failed, sending the window crashing closed.

Mr. Car’s “catlike reflexes” were sufficient to enable him to avoid being entirely trapped by the weight of the closed window, but he wasn’t quick enough to entirely extricate himself. His one front paw was held as if in a bear trap, and he greeted me with a look as if to say, “I say, old man, could you assist me? I appear to be stuck, and it is becoming tiresome.”

The cat-length semicircle of destruction spoke to his efforts to resolve his problem on his own.

I opened the window, and he promptly removed it, and began to clean his paw, as if dust were the only problem. When I observed that he did not appear to want to walk on it, I corralled him, sat down, and began my secondary survey.

I could not palpate any discontinuity in his bones in the affected paw, but he was very reluctant to have me confirm that appraisal with a repeat examination. His breath sounds were clear, and his heart sounds were rapid, but regular with no murmur. (Of course, how much “rapid” was kitty baseline, versus pain versus irritated cat, was difficult to discern.)

He continued to limp, and so I gathered up materiel, and set to fabricating The McFee Cat Splint. I cut out cardboard from a box, wrapped it about the injured limb, and secured it (or so I had thought) with roller gauze.

He, unimpressed, shook his injured limb until the splint went that-away, and he went this-away, and he limped off. Sigh.

I re-corralled him, and we wrestled him into The McFee Cat Splint Mark II. This version featured several wraps about his torso, so as to slow the shake-this-thing-into-next-week response that he demonstrated once I had released him. Good news? It did not head off into a far corner. Bad news? Well, howzabout YOU attempt to explain the concept of “no weight bearing” to a cat, and let me know how well that works?

Sigh.

So, we collaborated (for certain values of “collaborated”, particularly if those include one handedly immobilizing a non-compliant cat, placing a New! Improved! McFee Cat Splint Mark III upon said cat, and then, again, single handedly, securing same upon the same non-compliant cat) in splinting his foreleg, again. This version extended beyond his paw, so that, crutch like, the weight that he would usually place upon this paw was transferred to his chest wall/”armpit”.

Kinda like rodeo, without the clowns. Unless you included me, that is.

I began to put my crap away for the morning, but he persisted in not bearing weight upon the formerly trapped paw, and I soon determined that it was time for an assessment by someone who knew their way around a cat. Against Mr. Cat’s protestations, off we went to the veterinarian.

I had not, in all the excitement, changed out of my EMS uniform that morning. So, there I was, once I had registered Mr. Cat, and requested a “walk in” visit (“Be patient, no telling when a slot will open up.”), seated in one of the chairs, cat in lap, uniformed, sleepy (although, that was kind of my ground state in those days), next to a grandmotherly Black woman at the vet.

She asked me what had happened to my cat, noticing the splint he still wore, and (score!) pretty much as I had designed it. I told her the tale, truncated a bit for the waiting room retelling, and she made sympathetic noises. We conversed a bit about pets, and how they fare in our absences, and so forth, passing the time.

Her name was called, and she looked at me, and at the vet tech summoning her, and then she performed a no shit act of Christian charity. She said, “His kitty has been injured, please take him before me, I can wait a bit longer”.

If you have read more than a couple of my posts, you likely realize that I am generally a cynical bastard, a curmudgeon. I commonly have low expectations of people, and they commonly fail to meet them. This tale took place something on the order of forty years ago, and, retelling it now, I am tearing up. This woman, who I had never met, showed herself to be more giving, more compassionate, than I was. She showed me that individuals can be beacons of community, of respect, of sympathy, for folks that do not look like them. She took pity on a white guy, and his cat, because she could.

Because she was capable of empathizing with another, not of her “tribe”. And, being capable, did so.

My cat recovered from what the doctor determined to be a sprain, and lived a long and (cat) happy life.

I moved out of Da City, married, got divorced, remarried, watched my children grow, and have families of their own.

And, today, I offered a prayer on behalf of that woman, my neighbor-in-fact, who bathed me in her compassion, and for whom, today, I cried.

Ma’am, thank you for that lesson.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Revelations

Recently TDW-Mark II was perusing Facebook, and noticed that Number Three Son, and his wife, had posted a couple of pictures. In the first, he was dressed in a nice suit, she in a nice red dress, posed all nice and proper.

In the second, SHE was in the suit, HE was in the red dress, and they were, again, posed soberly and portrait like.

TDW-Mark II called this to my attention, allowed me a couple of seconds to deliberate over this vignette, and then opined, “He loves his wife way more than you love me! You would never do that sort of clothing swap with me!”

I considered this, and observed, “Well, now you know!”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Drinking in the Heat

When my boys were young teens, they were scouts. I was the assistant scoutmaster, and the troop required two adults to accompany the boys to camp. Since I worked weekends and off shifts, I could finagle a string of days off, and, therefore, I could take the time off for scout camp.

Being of the medical bent, I was de facto medical officer. Therefore, the scoutmaster and I (the only fellow, ever, who was more conservative, politically, than I!) got up early the first day, and, observing the hot, humid nature of the morning, and the weather forecast promising even more of the same for the day, assembled the boys for the morning briefing.

I observed that it was hot and humid. (for am I not, after all, a man gifted with a firm grasp of the obvious?) I next observed that this provided an opportunity for some preventative medicine, to whit: DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! If you (the scouts) are under the misapprehension that you are drinking enough water, you are wrong! When you stop, drink water. When you are moving, drink water. If you are wondering if you might be drinking too much water, drink water.

There appeared, among the boys, some skeptical looks. The Scoutmaster, Tom Swift, admonished the troop, that I had schooled my self for a long time, and delved ever so deeply into the mysteries of the functioning of the human body. Therefore, I likely I knew whereof I spake, and they ought to attend to my counsel.

We broke up for the day’s activities. I lingered in camp, being “on vacation”, until I roused myself to wander the camp. I eventually caught up with my partner Tom, and the gaggle of our scouts. One of these worthies appeared unfocused, with a bit of a bobble to his walk. One of the scouts took note, and directed my attention his way. I poured this scout a tall glass of ice water, and commanded him, “Drink up!”

He demurred, reporting that he was not thirsty.

“I do not recall asking if you were thirsty or not. Drink up!”

He did so. As I poured him another glass, I asked him, “How much have you had to drink since breakfast today?”

“Uh, not much?” Another scout, who had followed this scout’s schedule, chimed in, “I did not see him drink anything today!”

Finishing the glass, another poured. “Drink!”

He had just about polished off an entire liter at that sitting, and Scoutmaster Tom and I conferred. Our scout still appeared unfocused, and so we elected to change venues to the first aid cabin, wherein he could benefit from air conditioning, as well as a place to lay down.

As an oasis, the first aid cabin certainly fit the bill. Kevin, the tottering scout, appeared to like it, and slurped down several popsicles under the camp nurse’s supervision. An hour of hydration as well as temperate environmental conditions certainly seemed to perk him up.

That evening, we held a review of Heat Injuries, And The Scout Population. Using Kevin as an object lesson, for some reason the boys appeared considerably less skeptical than they had that morning.

Weird.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Duck Butter

So, TINS, there I was, sleeping my ass off, and NOT saving lives, because my employer had laid me off due our low (read: nonexistent) census. As had become my routine, I awakened promptly at the asscrack of noon, and stumbled to the kitchen, blearily admiring the Hot! Coffee! Pot! That TDW-Mark II had whipped up. As I was preparing my offering to Saint Arabica, Patron of the Sleepy, she was saying something, probably related to planning for activities later in the day. I was not paying much attention, grunting affirmatively from time to time, when a lull in her soliloquy indicated the need for some sort of response from me.

I had completed mixing my coffee and replacing the fixings, when she observed that she had included on her list, and I swear that I am not making this up, “…and we need some duck butter, so that’s on the list.”

THAT captured my attention. “What? Duck butter? Why do we need duck butter? What is duck butter, anyway?”

As is likely no surprise, she gave me “THAT LOOK”, the one learned in wife school, and generally displayed when the husband displays some new peak of stoopid.

“Duck butter? I said ‘cat litter’! How on earth can you get ‘duck butter’ from cat litter?”

I deliberated on this question for a moment. “I dunno. Squeeze it really hard?”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

“Social distancing”, before it was KEWL!

So, TINS ©, TIWFDASL ©, working midnights in a little ED in a little hospital, Up North. One fine day, I awakened at the crack of noon, only to find that TDW-Mark I had my afternoon planned out for me. Our little town had a poverty of grocery options, so every so often, TDW-Mark I would venture over to the next county (or two), shopping in the Mega Mart found there.

This was a sort of yin/yang experience. Yin: inconvenient drive, dragging young children along, considerable time devoted to the expedition. Yang: better selection, better prices, and Family! Bonding! Time!.

So, off we went. TDW had a list, of course, and she was mission focused. That left me to corral the kids, and prevent them from adding unauthorized items to the cart. (“No, Adam! You cannot get marshmallow cocoa sugar treats for breakfast! No, I do not care what all the other kids eat, you are not all those other kids, and your parents are ogres, who insist that you eat something in the same phylum as wholesome, when you eat!”)

As I hovered, redirecting my children, I noticed that this particular store seemed infested with bovine obliviots. I reached this conclusion after several near collisions wherein Obliviot A would nearly run one or the other child over, and then look at me irately when I intervened, and noted that striking my child with a cart would result in severe injury. To the obliviot.

Whatever. I figured it ranked up there with a “beware of dog” sign. Likely, my jury would think that I had an obligation to warn the lowing masses that there was a ravening dad about, and they might want to take suitable precautions. Before I did.

So, after several near misses, I decided that I had had enough. Most of the traffic went this way up this aisle, and that way down that aisle, a fact that I capitalized upon. I settled myself, straddle gaited, in the very middle of the aisle, upstream from my wife and children. Yes, I effectively blocked the entire aisle. That, was, in fact, my “plan a”. My intent was that, succeeding in “plan a”, I would not have to implement “plan b”, which would be accompanied by shrieking and blood, both emanating from the inattentive obliviot who succeeded in striking, and hurting, one of my children.

So, there I stood, colossus like, and, of course, one of the bovine meandered down the aisle. Finding me in her way, she spoke. (surprise!) “You are blocking the aisle!”

I smiled, a smile that in no way reached my eyes. Indeed, most of my teeth showed. “That is correct.”

She advanced, as if to strike me with the cart. I smiled wider. “You have to move! I cannot get past you!”

“Yep! That’s sort of my plan!”

She was not taking in the entire picture. “But, you have to move!”

More teeth on my part. “Well, ma’am, why don’t you just move me? If, that is, you think you will survive that encounter, uninjured?”

Unwilling to take that bet, she continued her protests. I glanced over my shoulder, noted that my charges were rounding the corner, and clearing this aisle. I waved, cheerily, and made my way to the next aisle, which I then blocked.

Soon, TDW-Mark I asked me what I was doing. I replied, “Have you noticed the folks who nearly struck the kids with their carts?”

“Yes! That is so rude!”

I agreed. “Yep. Do you know what is successful in preventing that?”

“No, what?”

“My convincing them that, yes, I am crazy enough to put a beat down on them, should they successfully strike my children! It turns out, if I look crazy enough, they shop in some other corner of the store, and my children are not gonna get struck by an idiot with a shopping cart!”

Fun And Games Off Duty · guns

Op Sec and The Belt

My charming and talented youthful Darling Wife, Mark II (hereinafter TDW Mark II) is both short statured and full figured. Holding a CPL (license to carry a concealed pistol), she is presented with challenges that I do not face. She employed the gunbelt I had purchased for her, but found that it hurt her back. She resolved that problem by carrying in a much modified appendix carry, but the buckle of the belt I had purchased interfered with positioning her pistol. She and I went to the store, in search of a belt that would function for her.

She found a candidate belt, but, wanting to be certain it would fit and function, wanted to try it on. Doing so in the middle of the store would make unmistakable the fact that she was carrying (no longer concealed), so she thought to use the dressing room.

The employee supervising the access to the dressing rooms asked why she needed to use a dressing room to try on a belt. Thinking quickly, TDW-Mark II informed the employee that “I have an apparatus on me that I would be embarrassed to show everybody, and if I pull up my shirt it will be fully revealed.” The employee, saying “I’m so sorry”, ushered her into the dressing room, where she found that the belt in question fit and performed suitably. We made the purchase.

After she regaled me with the details of her conversation, I told her that her response was perfect: absolutely truthful, not overly informative, and completely misleading.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Customer “service”, and Why I Grind My Teeth.

Conversation with XM customer service:

“I want to cancel my service with you people.”

“You can’t. You have a contract that lasts a year”

“Well, I’m not going to pay you. We agreed you’d bill me at the ‘new customer’ rate for each of the next 12 months, yet this bill is nearly twice that. I will not pay it.”

“If you do not pay us in the next 5 days, we’ll cancel your service.”

“Why don’t you think about what you just said. Can you explain the difference between what you just said, and what I want to happen?”