Fun And Games Off Duty

“Damn that George Bush!”

So, one summer, well before The Plaintiff revealed herself to be The Plaintiff, my younger sons were scouts, and summer camp beckoned. Off we went, and since I could swap days, and work weekends, well, I was one of the dads accompanying the boys to camp.

Everybody got up at around the ass crack of dawn, and the boys prepared breakfast, can cleaned up thereafter. Of they went to merit badge classes, or swimming, or other activities, and the adults either tagged along, or lolled around the campsite.

At the end of the day, one designated patrol prepared dinner, and another patrol was cleanup detail. Then the boys were free to run around, or do more scout stuff, before the evening assembly and announcements for the itinerary for the morrow. Then, clean up and off to bed. The adults typically sat up, chatting around the campfire.

Now, this was during the reign of Bush 43, AKA Bush The Younger. Mr. Bush was the recipient of considerable, let us say, “counsel” from the enemedia. Indeed, it appeared that he could do nothing correctly. From the insight that Hurricane Katrina “was Bush’s fault!”, to other revelations of how BushHitler was single-handedly careening the metaphorical American Ship of State onto the Rocks DuJour, well, dude couldn’t catch a break.

So, one evening, one of the scout leaders was reflecting on his previous weekend. “I washed my car. We live out in the country, so you all know it took a lot of washing!”

Murmurs of assent, all around.

“Then, I waxed it. Spent the entire afternoon getting it just right! Gleaming, shiny, clean! Hasn’t looked so good since it left the showroom!”

Again, murmurs of encouragement.

“Then a bird crapped on it!”. He paused, shaking his head. “Damn that George Bush!”

Guy next to him, joined in. “I finally got an afternoon free, and cut my yard. I swept up all the clippings, trimmed along the fence, weeded the garden. Got it looking like something out of House Beautiful! I was so proud!” He, too, paused. “Got up the next morning, and the freaking crabgrass was overgrown! Freaking Bush! That bastard!”

Next guy contemplatively contributed, “My wife guilted me into washing the dishes the other day. I shut up and did it, since she seemed happy I was in the kitchen, cleaning up. I was almost done, when this glass I was washing, broke in my hand, cut the crap out of me, I bled everywhere, and she wound up running me into ER for seven stitches! She cleaned up the broken glass, and all the blood, but, sheesh! That asshole, Bush! What was he thinking?”

Thankfully, NOTHING like that is happening, in current affairs America, Amirite?

Fun And Games Off Duty · Pre Planning Your Scene

Back From Vacation. I Have Stories!

I just got back from vacation (well, by the time you folk(s) see this, I will have been back for a couple of weeks, but, anyhow…) So, here are tow anecdotes, serving as a sort of “Cruise: after action report”

The elevator counseled “Patience!”

TDW-Mark II and I were on a cruise, earlier this year. I had worked considerable extra shifts, in order to avoid financing this adventure. So, TINS©, there we were, soaking up sunshine and living the life, and we were attempting to take the elevator from whatever deck that we were on (say, deck 3) to Deck 14 (which would be “The Serenity Deck”, relatively quiet as well as sunny).

There were numerous other people who had a similar idea (which, on a cruise ship with something like 2,000 + passengers, is likely to be unsurprising). So, when I pressed the button to summon the elevator, there appeared, after some time, to be no response. I again depressed the elevator call button, and was surprised to hear a typical robot like female voice emanating from the elevator, counseling “Patience!”

TDW was very, very amused.

Departure elevator lobby Hide and Seek

TDW-Mark II is, well, petite. At the end of the cruise previously mentioned, we arose early, got out crap together, and joined the lowing herd stampeding towards the gangway. As we were on a middle sort of deck, well, all the folks who had arisen around the same time as we had, and were on upper decks, well, the elevators were full up by the time that they arrived at our floors. (I, of course, lacked the insight that, should we enter the elevator ON THE WAY UP, well, we would ALREADY be on that elevator, once the upper floor folks tried to join us. Alas, THAT insight, however useful it might have been at the time of departure, did not occur to me until, well, just now. Good timing.)

In any event, soon there would arrive an elevator with space for one of us, but not both. After several such events, I directed TDW-Mark II to enter the next elevator, and I would join her downstairs once I myself became the room-for-one-more elevator passenger.

Great plan. Well, except for one issue. Recall that my wife is petite. Consider one readily foreseeable result of lots of people deciding that RIGHT NOW would be a good time to depart, luggage in tow. Yep, I arrived on the departure deck, waited for the crowd to move so far as to allow me to exit, and did not see my wife. She called to me, and I heard her, but could not place her in the lowing crowd.

I decided that this problem resembled the childhood swimming pool game of “Marco Polo”, wherein contestants were forbidden the use of their eyes, and had to find, and tag, other players. “It” would elicit calls from the other players, by calling out “Marco!”, requiring the others to respond “Polo!”.

I implemented my solution. “Marco!”, I called out.

“Polo!” responded TDW-Mark II. I placed her across the lobby, but still could not see her.

“Marco!”

“Polo!”. Ah, there she was, hand a-waving. We “swam” through the crowd, meeting just a little ways “downstream”, and therefrom making our way past checkout, and on to Customs. The rest of our trip home was uneventful, except for the guy who, in the left hand lane of the expressway, decided that he had to exit RIGHT FUCKING NOW!, and swerved, abruptly, across three lanes of traffic and onto the off ramp. Fortunately, it appeared that the other drivers had experienced this sort of shenanigans before, as they braked, and nearly seamlessly allowed Mr. Late Decider off the expressway, and out of our lives.

But, except for that, it was all good.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pre Planning Your Scene · Protect and Serve

Ham radio at Fort Custer State Park.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©…well, Ok, I wasn’t, really. TDW-Mark 1, our kids, and I were away on vacation, camping in Custer State Park, in South Dakota. TDW-Mark 1 had planned on a drive across the northern tier of states, culminating in a visit to Mount Rushmore, The Crazy Horse Memorial, and generally seeing the sights of Not The Un-Named Flyover State. So, there we were, cleaning up after dinner, and the air got surprisingly still, and felt, well, “heavier”. There had been thunderstorm warnings earlier in the afternoon on the broadcast radio, and I figured that a little visit to Ham Radioland was in order.

I turned the car on, powered on the amateur radio, and set the radio to one of the several Ham Radio repeaters in the area of the park. TDW-Mark 1 wandered over to see what her husband was up to.

What I was up to, was taking notes on the “weather net” in progress. There were reports of rotation on the observed thunderstorms, and occasional reports of funnel clouds. TDW-Mark 1 decided that it would be clever to get all the clean up done, and everything put away. She corralled the kids, and set them to work.

One of the other campers wandered over, likely thinking that I had found “The Game” on the radio, and appeared surprised that I did NOT have the broadcast radio on, in my vehicle.

“Whatcha listening to ?”

“The local radio amateurs are weather spotting, and calling their reports. Some of them have seen funnel clouds, others have seen rotation in some of the thunderstorms that they have seen.”

“What’s that mean?”

“That it is very likely that one of these storms may touch down, and the folks near there will have a tornado to call their very own!”

“That sounds like it could be bad!”

“Yep. That could be very bad.”

Right around this point in the tutorial on Weather Spotting In America, And Amateur Radio’s Role Therein, TDW-Mark 1 returned, both to inform me that our campsite had been battened down (or, as battened down as a pop-up camper was going to get, anyhow), and inquire as to what was my brilliant contingency plan in the event that all our little family was to be offered a trip to Oz, by Thor himself.

I had noticed, upon our arrival, that the bathrooms appeared to be very substantially built. Fine brick structures seemed well suited, in my estimation, to the task of sheltering my family from the storm. I so instructed TDW-Mark 1. “If it appears that we are going to get heavy weather, we will hit the showers, select a toilet in the middle of the building, and call it home for as long as necessary.”

“Any sign that things are heading our way?”

“Presently all the funnels, and all the rotation are to our east, and northeast, so we are unlikely to catch any of it. If they close the weather net in the next several hours, we ought to be clear.”

The other camper, overhearing all this, began to turn his head, just like at a tennis match, goggle eyed at our seemingly tranquil acceptance of the potential of holing up in a toilet against some tornado or other. “Aren’t you guys scared at all by this?”

TDW-Mark 1 had his answer. “What good would that do? He’s a medic and ER nurse, I’m an ER nurse, he’s keeping an ear on the weather for us. Tell you what: keep an eye on our campsite. If you see us scurrying to the bathrooms, gather your family and join us, because it is unlikely that we all will catch the trots simultaneously!”

The look on his face was nearly priceless.

Even better? The fact that we heard the Skywarn Net stand down, around a hour later.

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

The Bat Story

It must have been around 3 years ago: the animals are now due for their rabies booster.

So, TINS©, TDW-Mark II and I were lolling around in the living room, she was watching some program or other, I was reading. She nudged me, at one point, and directed me, “You ought to see what it is that has your fat cat running! You know that he never runs!”

She was referencing one of my two cats, that I had acquired as kittens, brothers, and had attached themselves to me. They would, of an evening, begin to direct me that it was time to go to bed, by sitting in the middle of the doorway to the bedroom, and yowling. If that failed to direct my attention where they wanted it, one or the other would sit on my lap, and head butt me, meowing plaintively. The one, Laurel, was, well, “calorically enhanced”, let us term it, and not the most active feline in the neighborhood. His brother, Hardy, well, he would direct me that it was time to play “fetch” wherein I would toss a yarn ball off a ways, he would retrieve it, dropping it at my feet, and then sit as if waiting for me to toss it again.

The night in question, once my Darling Wife had directed my attention from my book and towards my environment, I did, indeed, note the heavy galumphing footsteps of Laurel. She was right, he rarely ran for any reason. I got up, and found him and Hardy settled in, as if pointing, with their attention directed at a small brown furry thing huddled in a corner of our bedroom. Once it moved a bit, I saw the wings, and realized that we had a bat in our house.

I had been an ED nurse for decades at this point, and had the opportunity to administer RIG (Rabies Immune Globulin: an antibody rich solution, to arrest the ability of the rabies virus to infect you), as well as Rabavert (the vaccine, which allowed your own immune system to produce antibodies to prevent developing the disease. The protection provided by RIG is short term, only). I was familiar with the experiences of the patient receiving these medications. In most cases, an unprovoked attack by a dog “that was acting strangely” was the precipitating event. The rest were folks who had handled, been bit by, or had been asleep/intoxicated/helpless in the room with a bat.

Therefore, there was no way I was going to handle any bat for any reason. I left to retrieve my shop vac.

Upon my return, both the bat and my cats, now joined by TDW’s dogs, were collected in a different corner of the bedroom, with TDW providing over watch. I realized that KNOWING where the bat was, would considerably enhance our efforts at containing him, and so I retrieved my inspection camera. This is a camera on the end of a fiber optic stalk, such that you can twist it into a corner not readily visible, to see what is there. I had previously employed it to find, and avoid, wiring and pipes in the wall I was fixing to hammer a nail into. Now, it was my (sorry…) Bat Scope!

The animals appeared to be congregating around one end of our baseboard hot water heating radiator, so I peeked in there. With the scope. Yep, there he was! I handed the scope to TDW, and attempted to entrain him in the air the vacuum was sucking up, but no joy (for me…). I suggested that she poke him with the stalk, to see if he’d move, lose his grip on whatever he was clinging to, and wind up in the vacuum.

Well, once she did, he snarled.

THAT was unexpected!

She was ready to draw down on him, and send him to Bat Heaven on a 9 mm carriage, but I wondered if exchanging an intact (and possibly rabid) bat, for a haz mat scene of scattered bat bodily fluids, each droplet potentially rabid, was really any sort of improvement, at all.

She did not think so, either, after a moment’s reflection.

So, she poked the bat, again.

Of course, he snarled, again, but, this time, he was dislodged, and sucked into the vacuum.

Realizing that this was a good thing, I unplugged the vacuum, sealed the end of the hose with a baggie and duct tape, and secured our unwelcome guest out on the porch. In December. In The Un-Named Flyover State. Where it was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The next morning, I was off, and we took the critters (the ones we wanted to keep, that is!) to the vet. He listened to the story, and agreed that updating rabies vaccination was a good thing. He asked, “You did not handle the bat, at all, did you?”

“Nope!”

“You certain?”

“Yep, damned certain.” Then I regaled him with ED nursing experience on this very topic, and my lack of enthusiasm for recreating it in my own household.

“Do you have the bat?”

“At an undisclosed location, yes.”

“Can you bring it to me, for testing?”

“Yep. See you in an hour!”

One hour later, he returned from his back office, and regaled me with his assessment of things. “It’s a good thing you sealed the end of the hose, because I found him, frozen, about halfway up the hose, as if he was trying to escape.”

The bat was sent off to whatever lab The Un-Named Flyover State employs for this sort of testing, and, shortly thereafter, Things Got Interesting.

I received an anxious phone call from TDW, on the office line (because I shut off my cell phone at work), relating the fact that she had been the recipient of NUMEROUS phone calls from the state Dept of Agriculture, the state Health Department, the Local Veterinary University, our county health department, and those were simply the ones that she had written down the number for.

All these folks were evidently quite concerned that our friend, The Bat, had turned out to be, indeed, rabid, and every one of these folks asked, multiple times, if we had had any sort of contact whatsoever with said bat. TDW had explained multiple times that, no, we had not touched the fracking thing in any way, and elaborated my clinical experience with folks who had not acted from that sort of plan.

That was all cool. What got her wound up, was one soul who had stated that her cat, the one that she had inherited when her father had died, would have to be euthanized and examined for rabies, because she, TDW, did not have vaccination records at hand for this cat.

TDW explained that this cat was NOT going to be euthanized. The caller than directed that the cat would have to be quarantined for six months (or some such). We could do that, keeping the cat indoors (no problem, she was an indoor cat in any event, not going outside at all).

Nope, said TDW’s correspondent, said cat would have to be quarantined at the vet’s office. That meant boarding the cat, for six months. Lessee: that’s six months, at, say, 30 days each, leading to 180 days of boarding. Boarding a cat costs $30/day in our neck of the woods, so that would mean spending (lessee: carry the ‘nought, ‘nought goes into ‘nought, square root of eleventeen…) !!5 thousand, four hundred dollars!!

Holy stool! I suggested to TDW that contacting the vet her father had frequented might be a pretty good idea, long about RIGHT FREAKING NOW!, and seeing if vaccination records could be forthcoming.

She got right on it.

The Patron Saint Of Inherited Cats smiled upon us, as not only did TDW find her dad’s vet, said vet had vaccination records, and said records included vaccination for (Ta-DA!) rabies. Our vet received the records, The Inherited Cat got updated rabies vaccination, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I subsequently called a Bat Guy, seeking extermination (er, I mean, REMOVAL!) of all bats from my domicile. When I explained the urgency of the query (ie, RABIES!), I was told that “bats never pass rabies from one to the other.”

Rreeeaaalllyyy? So, bats do not groom each other? (uh, they do) Leaving behind spit? (uh, how would they avoid doing so?) And, saliva does not carry the rabies virus? (uh, THAT would be how humans acquire rabies from bats, ya know! Bat saliva into an open wound of any sort.) Therefore, he wasn’t worried about it.

Nice. That would be one of us, not him, developing rabies.

So, nobody developed rabies, animal or human. No further bats have been seen hereabouts.

Yet.

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

Insurance Companies and Purgatory

So, over the holidays, we were at a family gathering when TDW-Mark II’s niece (an adult) departed to go home.

Shortly thereafter she returned to inform us that, due to the poor lighting and TDW-Mark II’s petite vehicle, she, the niece, had inadvertently struck my wife’s vehicle, leaving a dent.

BFD, bent metal, no bent people, all good.

So, we went to our insurance company in order to get the bent sheet metal, unbent. We could, indeed, have our insurance pay for it, since our vehicle was parked, BUT!, we’d have a chargeable accident and likely would see our insurance premiums rise. From the currently affordable, reasonable, “Give us all the money and nobody has to get hurt!” levels we currently enjoy, that is.

THAT sounds attractive!

Or, our niece’s insurance company could foot the bill.

The niece made her report to her insurer, and shortly thereafter I had a conversation with one of their genius, script reading (Thanks, Beans on June 3 ’19), slack jawed, pompous personnel.

It seems that, let us call it “County Garden Auto Insurance”, requires that you take your broken vehicle to one of their adjusters for an estimate. In this area, the freaking capitol of the freaking Un-Named Midwestern State, the (insert pejorative here) adjuster only works freaking Wednesdays, and, into the bargain, Young Ms. Mensa informed me that, since mine is the name on the title, well, I would have to show my happy hairy ass up with the bent vehicle for the estimate.

Well, ya know, I work Wednesdays. 12 hours. Days. I told Ms. Mensa as much. “Ma’am, I will not be attending this estimate. I’m working, my wife will be there acting as my agent.”

“Reltney”, she replied (and, as an aside, I had been previously unaware that she and I were quite that chummy), “You have to be there, since the vehicle in titled in your name.”

“Well, Ma’am, I’ll be working, and so my wife will be there with the vehicle.”

“Reltney, you have to be there!”

“Ma’am, I will not be there. My wife will be acting as my agent.”

“Reltney, you have to be there for the estimate!”

“Ma’am, perhaps you should write this down. My wife will be there, I will not. She will act as my agent, and I will be working.”

“Reltney, if you are going to be hostile, I cannot continue to talk to you. I’m simply trying to tell you how this process goes.”

“That’s fine. So, tell me my options.”

“Sir, it you are going to be hostile, you will have to talk to another agent!”

(My thought, at that point, was along the lines of, “Sugar, if you think that I have been hostile, you really, really have a severe poverty of life experience, that, should you desire, I can remedy!” A thought that went unspoken.)

“Ma’am, I thought you were going to tell me what my options would be? I’m waiting for that information.”

“Please hold!”

(lengthy hold)

“Reltney, your wife can meet with our estimator, but we cannot hand her the check. Can we mail it to you, or to your selected body shop?”

“That will be satisfactory. Mail it to the shop.”

“So, Reltney, what arrangements would you like to make for a rental?”

“Ma’am, we have made satisfactory arrangements for a loaner with our body shop. I suggest that you phone them, and have that conversation with them.”

“I do not understand what you just said, Reltney.”

“Call my shop, you have the name. Talk to Bob. Tell him what you just told me about a rental. Make whatever arrangements you wish with Bob about a rental. Bob will fill me in. “

“Reltney, I do not understand that, but I will notate it in our file.”

(Correctly, I hope, but do not trust…)

“Outstanding. Anything else?”

“No, Reltney, have a nice day.”

And the call ended.

Perhaps, the anticipated cluster…er, hug (HUG! Yeah, THAT’S the ticket!) will provide fodder for a subsequent blog post.

My take home lesson, here, is that there are jobs for the dull witted, and I am fated to spend my time corresponding with them.

Damn it!

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

Camping with my family

One Labor Day weekend, TDW-Mk I decided we ought to go camping. I was off, the kids were off, and we could all get out for one more weekend before the grind of school and autumn activities sucked us in.

She had reserved a site in the unimproved area of one of the northern state parks, a “rustic’ site. That meant that we got to carry water from one of several faucets serving the campgrounds, as well as go to the bathroom in one of several pit toilets.

The wimmin folk were not favorably impressed.

We were the only ones in our section of the campground as we pulled in, which was of no concern to us. We set up our pop up camper, cooked dinner, cleaned up, and took a walk.

Once we were back at out site, we were inside the camper, organizing for bed time when another party arrived at a site, 2 or 3 away from our own. They were young-ish, and seemed high spirited. Whatever, live and let live.

So, several hours later, TDW and I were chatting quietly, when the noise from the neighbor site picked up considerably. I peeked from our window, and noted what appeared to be bottles of some sort of alcohol in hand, and our “neighbors” sounded to be involved in some sort of loud, animated, an not altogether amicable discussion.

When we heard the sounds of yelling, and breaking glass, I awakened the kids and had them lay on the floor of the camper. TDW called county dispatch on her cell phone, and I settled in next to the door of the camper, curtain ajar and Colt in hand.

One of the party, it appeared, felt the need to do some sort of work on the mirror of one of the trucks, and this seemed to involve attempting to wrench the mirror off of the door without using any tools. That maneuver elicited yet MORE heated words, and things were escalating, which made it convenient that that was the moment that the park ranger, a couple of sheriff’s vehicles, and a city cop arrived.

One of the officers approached out camper, and I took that opportunity to secure the pistol beneath one of the mattresses, seating TDW thereon.

I told the officer what I had heard, and seen, and he assured me that for this party, their camping weekend was over. “We’ll simply sit here, and watch them pack up and depart. We’ll circulate through several times over the rest of the night, and, if they return, they’ll sleep in the sheriff’s office. In the back.”

Then he added, “If you need us, call us back. Have a nice weekend!”