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Category Archives: driving

DUI—the final solution—tough love, zero tolerance

From Wikipedia:

What is the legal drinking limit for drivers in Texas?

The blood alcohol limit in Texas is a 0.08 BAC ( Blood Alcohol Content), unless you are under the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 and your BAC is 0.02 or higher then you are legally intoxicated. Additionally, the legal limit for commercial drivers is a BAC of 0.04 or more.

What are the terms used for drunk driving offenses in Texas?

A person arrested for drunk driving in Texas will be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”). Moreover, the definition of Intoxication, under Texas DWI law, includes both drugs and alcohol. However the term used for a drunk driving offense for a driver under age 21 Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol By A Minor (“DUI by a Minor”).

What happens if I refuse to consent to a Chemical Blood or Breath Test when pulled over for DWI in Texas?

According to Texas’ implied consent law, once you receive your driver’s license you automatically consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine to determine blood alcohol content or the presence of drugs. If you refuse the test, your driver’s license will be taken away immediately and you will be issued a temporary drivers license until your court hearing. During your hearing the refusal may be used as evidence against you and the court may rule to suspend your driver’s license.

Those are the rules, and what follows is my analysis and my recommendations—tough love and zero tolerance.

If one is driving on San Antonio’s freeways, whether day or night, one needs to be ready to dodge some damn fool coming towards one against traffic, sometimes weaving across lanes at a slow speed and sometimes at high speeds. Alcohol is the cause of most of our wrong-way drivers—they have entered the off-ramp thinking it was the on-ramp to the freeway.

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Our city is one of the worst in the nation for such violations, and our police officers do everything they can to prevent accidents and save lives by controlling and stopping the wrong-way idiot before someone dies because of stupidity. The police often resort to placing spike mats across the lanes, a dangerous action for the patrol officers and for regular traffic and dangerous even for the traffic offender. Some times the spikes work and sometimes not.

In virtually every incidence, the wrong-way driver is DUI—driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances. Our daily paper, the Express-News, faithfully reports such violations, the police faithfully arrest the offender and the judge faithfully sentences the driver to prison and orders probation along with community service.

If the DUI results in the death of another driver and/or passengers, the offender is given the option of having a jury decide the punishment or places his fate in the hands of a judge. The judge almost always orders prison time and the juries almost always punish with probation and community service. In San Antonio we have drivers with as many as a dozen DUIs and still driving.

When drivers are stopped and are suspected of DUI, the routine  tests are administered, including having the suspected offenders walk a straight line or at least make the attempt, close their eyes and touch the tip of their nose, take the breathalyzer test and/or submit to having blood drawn to determine blood alcohol content. If the alcohol content meets a predetermined level, the driver is charged with DUI and the court process begins.

Our local paper tracks the offenses, and sometimes the story is that a particular citizen has been charged multiple times with DUI and is still on the loose, on probation. I believe that if adopted, my suggestions will change that.

I recommend two processes to be made law. The first is to implement zero tolerance. If tests show the presence of alcohol, regardless of the amount, fine the offender and strip the driver’s license to drive for six months and impose a financial penalty. Subsequent offenses should escalate in severity to include longer periods of loss of license including loss of driving privileges for life, higher financial penalties and extended terms of incarceration. Community service should never be a sentence for violation of DUI, whether it be the only punishment or an addition to other options—community service is a farce.

My second suggestion is to require that any person, whether male, female, adult or juvenile that intends to imbibe alcohol beverages or indulge in using substances that affect driving skills, whether legal or illegal substances, must utilize a designated driver. With that protection, the drinker will be able to ride in comfort to the various venues that feature alcoholic beverages and have no fear of being charged with DUI violations. That person may be a drunken passenger, but in the absence of other violations such as mooning people, for instance, or riding while naked or barfing out of the window and splattering the windshield of the vehicle behind thus obscuring the driver’s vision and causing an accident, that person should be safe from our dedicated police officers. I have no recollection of anyone having been charged with RWD—Riding While Drunk.

What follows now is a not-so-brief bio of my mother’s youngest son in respect to liquor consumption. I hasten to say that having driven various motor vehicles over more than six decades—almost seven decades—I have never been cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. I lost count over the years for citations I have earned for minor traffic offenses, but none for DUI. Yes, luck was on my side many times, and I take no pride in that. I will, however, take pride in being truthful, at least in this instance.

In my teenage years I was a confirmed introvert—an introvert, however, only until I consumed my first alcoholic beverage, whether straight shots with or without a chaser, a mixed drink or wine or beer. Immediately after that first drink I became a confirmed extrovert, and I hit on everything that even remotely resembled a female, homo sapiens of course. I never desired nor was I ever involved in an intimate sexual relationship with non-homo sapiens whether large or small and whether animal, vegetable or mineral—well, there was just one time I was briefly involved with a sun-warmed watermelon (hey, lighten up—that’s a joke, damn it).

My hit lines were delivered regardless of the target’s race, political affiliation, religious beliefs, education or lack thereof and physical features whether heavy or slim, tall or short, whether brunette, blond, red-haired, streaked, short hair, long hair, curly hair, dreadlocks, bangs or bald. I was not one of those for whom “all the girls get prettier at closing time,” a claim made in a song by country singer Mickey Gilley. The girls went from drab to pretty immediately after I took that first drink and kept getting prettier as the hour neared closing time.

In my teenage years and extending to today’s tender accumulation of years, I have never seen nor do I ever expect to see an ugly woman. In my estimation every member of the female gender is attractive—it’s just that some are prettier than others, and in many instances much, much prettier—I mean, like you know, a lot prettier, like, you know, drop-dead gorgeous. Of course, I must remind the reader of a hoary adage which tells us that  “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Yeah, right!

PeeEss:

I—meaning the author of this posting—am a teetotaler and have been for a significant number of years. The only downside to being a teetotaler is that I can’t respond to wine-tasting parties, many of which are free. I eschew alcohol in all its forms except one. I do not subscribe to the statement that “Lips that touch whiskey will never touch mine.” In this one exception I embrace the saying that “There are exceptions to every rule.”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Old joke—A guy in a bar approaches a tall female, one with unusually striking facial features, and says, “Ubangi?”

She replies, “You betcha!”

Click here for photos of Ubangi women, and please remember the premise that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a truism to which I subscribe with very few exceptions.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
 

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Watermelons, shotguns, Red Sovine, Patsy Cline & Viet Nam

This is a sequel to my original post of 13 January 2011. That story involved the theft of a watermelon by a brother-in-law, a born again Christian, and my confession that I had been guilty of a similar offense, but I furnished few particulars. This posting expands on my unlawful actions considering watermelons, namely stealing them from a roadside field a few miles from the South Georgia Air Force Base where I was stationed a lifetime ago—way, way, way back in 1952. Click here for the original post. It’s well worth the read, then come back here for this story of the farmer and his firearm—it’s also well worth the read!

Almost fifty-nine years have passed since then, but my watermelon memories are as fresh as the first seasonal load of melons being off-loaded at my local supermarket, and for good reasons, primarily because my last foray into purloining watermelons involved the farmer, a shotgun and the thoroughly trashed rear seat of my 1951 sky-blue chick-magnet Ford convertible.

On that eventful Saturday night I and my two co-conspirators wisely waited until a late hour in the evening to ignore Georgia law and also ignore signs that many of the local farmers posted along roads bordering their fertile fields of crops. We were of the belief that the farmer would be safely ensconced in his easy chair listening to the Grand Ole Opry on radio, a Saturday night not-to-be-missed event in those days.

As our method required—a well thought out method of stealing watermelons and one highly successful on previous Saturdays—I lowered the top on my chick-magnet 1951 Ford convertible and drove slowly as we neared the field and my two buddies disembarked—jumped over the side of the car—and disappeared into the cornfield on the right side of the road.

Yes, cornfield—this was a combination corn-and-watermelon crop, a common practice in the area. In fact, some farmers added a third crop, that of pole beans, with the corn stalks serving in lieu of the poles that the beans require for climbing and maturing properly. Pretty neat, huh?

I continued down the road for several miles, then turned around and waited a few minutes to give my team time to gather watermelons and place them in the roadside ditch preparatory to transferring them to the rear seat of my Ford chick-magnet convertible.

At this point I must digress to explain the ditch—road building, Georgia style. There were no freeways in the area nor in that era, just two-lane roads graveled or paved with asphalt—the interstate system was in work, but years would pass before multiple lane roads came to that area. The depressions that border both sides of South Georgia roads are called bar ditches by the locals, as in, Muh tar blowed out an’ muh car runned off in uh bar ditch.

I puzzled over the term bar and queried several local natives for its meaning and its origin—natives of Georgia, of course—and was told Ah on oh, interpreted as I don’t know. Having heard the song and seen the movie about Daniel Boone and his bear-slaying ability—kilt him a bar when he was only three—I figured it had something to do with bears—bars—but I was wrong. I learned from one of the more educated and articulate natives—a rarity in that area—that it was a borrow ditch, so-called because soil was borrowed from the roadsides and used to build up the roads to prevent water accumulating on the highway during the rainy season. Thus borrow ditch in English became bar ditch in Georgia-speak.

Now back to the farmer and his firearm. As I approached the drop off point—now the pickup point—I flashed my headlights three times to signal my criminal associates of my approach, then turned off the lights and coasted to a stop at the proper point, and the watermelons began to take flight, sailing over the side of my chick-magnet and landing indiscriminately on the seat, against the side panels, window sills, window handles, on the floor and on each other. Speed was of the essence because we planned on a watermelon party for our barracks-bound buddies the next day, a Sunday watermelon fest to be held in a secret location in a wooded area near the air base, and we needed a lot of watermelons for that crowd.

The blasts from that farmer’s shotgun on that night, on that quiet and peaceful rural road in South Georgia, resounded seemingly with the force of the explosions at Nagasaki and Hiroshima that ended World War II. Well, maybe not quite that loud, but it was at least as loud as the time a certain brother-in-law left me sitting in my car while he disappeared into the woods to go to an unnamed location, saying only that he would return in a few minutes. Click here to read about the explosion that resounded several minutes after he entered the woods.

At this point I will conclude my digression and return to the tale of the Great Watermelon Heist, and hold my brother-in-law’s actions for a later posting, one for which the wait is well worthwhile.

In addition to the sound of the shotgun blast, we could detect the sound of lead shot pellets tearing through the leaves of corn stalks, a sign that the shotgun was not aimed skywards when the pissed-off farmer pulled the trigger—or triggers—judging by the sounds it may have been a double-barreled shotgun, or perhaps an semi-automatic shotgun that held five shells and the trigger was pulled so fast that the five explosions blended into one fearsome sound.

As an aside to this subject, I know that such a sound could have been made, and here’s proof. Many years ago while assigned to duty in Washington, DC, I was privileged to be present at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC when one of the agency’s top guns demonstrated his dexterity and the power of his weapon by firing it six times in succession. The sound of those six shots of .38 caliber ammunition exploding was absolutely continuous, just one smooth roar. When the agent pulled in the silhouette target, it showed that the rounds were all closely grouped in the chest area of the target, a group that indicated the location of the heart.

That’s enough of my digressions and my asides—okay, more than enough. I will conclude this posting by saying that I and my companions in crime escaped unscathed, and our depredations were never made public. That was not our first watermelon heist, but it was definitely the last—we never even considered another, neither in that watermelon season nor in subsequent seasons.

However, the rear seat of my 1951 sky-blue chick-magnet Ford convertible did not escape unscathed. Several of the large melons, tossed in the rear seat under extreme distress—the throwers, not the melons—burst open from impact with the car and with each other, and the faux leather rear seat and side panels were covered with watermelon seeds and juice, as were the combination rubber-and-felt floor mats. I worked half the day on Sunday cleaning up the mess. However, enough of the melons escaped destruction for us to have a watermelon party, albeit somewhat truncated because of the losses we suffered. Ah, those were the days!

This story is true—I know it’s true because, just as was the protagonist in that popular song Deck of Cards, sung variously and in various years by T. Texas Tyler, Tex Ritter, Wink Martindale and Bill Anderson—I was that soldier! If you like, you can click here to read the complete words of the song. It’s clever—I wish I had thought of it!

I know I promised no more asides or digressions, but I must do one more aside. The last time I heard Deck of Cards sung was in 1969, it was rendered by country singer Red Sovine before a raucous, rowdy and unruly crowd in an NCO Club at Da Nang Air Base in South Viet Nam. That in itself is worthy of a separate posting, so stay tuned. If you like, you can click here to learn everything you ever wanted to know, and even more, about Red  Sovine.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Postscript: In reference to that so-called chick-magnet auto—I never knew whether it would have drawn girls into its magnetic field because my future wife and I were already going steady and the subject of marriage had been broached, albeit ever so lightly, when I traded for the convertible, and we married just four months after we met, a marriage that lasted for 58 years. As for the convertible, it was traded immediately after our first daughter was born—so much for the chick-magnet characterization.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2011 in driving, friends, Humor, Military, Uncategorized

 

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Listen up, Toyota—relocate the brake pedal!

Listen up, Toyota—relocate the brake pedal to save lives!

This is my suggestion to Toyota and to all the world’s automakers. The first company that accepts my concept and converts its models in accordance with that concept has a unique opportunity to make a quantum leap ahead of every other automaker in the world. There should be no more sticking accelerators, and claims that the accelerator malfunctioned and contributed to an accident should be reduced or completely eliminated. Also it is my sincere belief that my suggestion, if adopted by all the automakers, would significantly reduce the number of rear-end collisions.

Move the brake pedal to the left side of the steering post, just as the gas pedal is to the right side of the steering post, then institute the go, no-no concept for controlling automobiles. Color the pedals red and green, with dashboard lights prominently reflecting the use of each—the brake pedal red for stop and the gas pedal green for go, just as traffic is controlled as directed by red and green traffic light signals.

Simple, huh? Make those dashboard lights prominent enough to alert any driver that the wrong pedal is being used. If you want to stop or slow down an auto and the green light is on, you are using the wrong pedal, and conversely if the red light is on and you want to go, you are using the wrong pedal. And car makers perhaps should consider adding a warning horn system and voice announcements similar to those used on commercial planes to alert the pilots in situations such as landing gear not down and locked, or airspeed is too high for landing.

And on the subject of airplanes, in the absence of an autopilot system the pilots of those conveyances use their hands on the controls to manipulate the ailerons left or right to tilt the plane to one side or the other. They also use their hands on the controls to manipulate the elevators, pushing forward to push the nose of the plane down and pulling back to put the nose of the plane up—can you guess what they use to manipulate the rudder to make a turn, either to the left or the right?

If you guessed that they use their feet to manipulate the plane’s rudder, you win the stuffed teddy bear. Yep, they push in with the left foot to turn left, and push in with the right foot to turn right. I feel that we can equate the functions of foot pedals on a plane to an automobile’s brake and accelerator pedals.

Our government apparently believes at least some of such accidents were caused because the driver confused the accelerator with the brake, and accelerated the car’s forward motion instead of slowing it, a conclusion that in my opinion appears valid.

One needs only to observe the proximity of the accelerator and the brake pedal. In a case of a runaway automobile, the first instinct is to get off the accelerator and hit the brake. In such cases the driver gets off the gas and goes for the brake, but because of the proximity of the brake pedal to the gas pedal, the driver simply hits the accelerator again and thinking that the foot is on the brake, holds it firmly on the accelerator up to the point of impact.

The error is caused by the fact that the right foot is used both for slowing and stopping and for achieving, maintaining and reducing the vehicle’s speed. In a case of a runaway auto, the driver takes the right foot off the gas pedal to change to the brake pedal then, under extreme stress, simply returns the right foot to the accelerator instead of the brake.

And at this point I must note that throughout all this action, the left foot is available but doing nothing to help out—oh, if an accident is imminent the left foot is probably exerting tons of frantic foot-pounds (get it?) of energy against the floorboard but it’s energy wasted, and that pressure will probably result in major damage to that stiffened left foot, leg and hip of the driver if a major accident occurs, plus extra stress on various related internal organs if a major accident occurs.

I am passing my suggestion on to the automakers in an effort to bring the auto industry into the twenty-first century—yes, it’s still in the early twentieth century.

Before I continue let me establish my right to speak on this subject. I began driving at the age of 12 and have been driving motor vehicles of every size, weight, color, horsepower and style including personal cars and trucks, US military and US Civil Service government vehicles for the past 66 years. For the first eight years of that 66 years I used my right foot to accelerate, maintain and reduce speed and to slow and stop vehicles with manual transmissions—the left foot was reserved exclusively for the clutch operation.

For the past 58 years I have used my right foot for go and my left foot for no-go, and I intend to use my feet in like manner for whatever number of years I retain the privilege of driving before being curtailed by old age—or otherwise.

In those 58 years I have never had an accident involving an attempt to occupy the same space as another object, whether the object was mobile or immobile. Conversely, in the first 20 years and in my first automobile, I had a head-on collision with an immovable object, namely the corner of a concrete retaining wall on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida.

I was alone and the hour was late and the night was dark and I was in strange surroundings, and I missed a turn and found myself on the beach. And on that dark night and at that late hour on a beach I learned an immutable truth of physics, namely that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. I had a head-on collision with the corner of a concrete retaining wall on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida.

Traveling along beside the high concrete retaining wall that overlooked the beach, I saw a break in the wall ahead and I started a right turn in order to leave the beach and return to the highway. In retrospect, I don’t believe I reduced my speed before beginning the turn, and I saw the 10-foot high wall rushing toward me at a high rate of speed. As I went into the turn my lightweight high-center-of gravity 1948 Chevrolet coupe raised up on its two left wheels, so I spun the wheel left to get all four tires on the ground, intending to stay on the beach instead of turning over or hitting the wall. Yes, spun—my steering wheel boasted a suicide knob, an add-on that enabled young punks such as I to spin the wheel swiftly with one hand. Read on, and you’ll learn why it was labeled a suicide knob.

I was partially successful with my spinning the wheel to the left. I managed to avoid rolling over, but I hit that wall right at the 90-degree point. Whatever my right foot did, whether it hit the brake, stayed on the accelerator, or left the brake and returned to the accelerator was not enough to avert significant structural damage to the auto and to me—the  retaining wall suffered only minor scratches.

I struck the wall at the corner point where it came down to the beach from the highway, and there the wall made a 90-degree turn to the right. I would have been satisfied—nay, happy even—with side-scraping it, either to the left or to the right but preferably to the left, so the contact with the wall would be on the opposite side from where I sat.

The only other part of my anatomy that could possibly have been instrumental in preventing the accident or reducing the damage wrought was my left foot, and I have no recollection of any helpful action taken by that worthy. I had a habit of resting my left foot on the clutch pedal and may have been doing that just before I hit the wall, so the only action the left foot could have taken would have been to push the clutch pedal to the floor, thereby disengaging the gears, decreasing the drag of the transmission and thus increasing the speed of the car en route to the retaining wall.

My 1948 Chevrolet business coupe with a vacuum-shift manual transmission survived the collision. Both the coupe and I suffered front-end damage, major damage to the coupe but relatively minor to me. I unwittingly— and unwillingly—used the bridge of my nose against the steering wheel to slow my forward motion, and managed to break both the wheel and my nose on impact. I suspect that chest impalement and other significant—perhaps fatal—injuries were prevented by my habit of leaning to the left while driving—when everything stopped moving my body was wedged between the left door and the steering column with its broken steering wheel.

A few weeks after eliminating my paltry accumulated savings to recover the Chevrolet coupe from the body shop, I immediately traded it for a sky-blue 1951 Ford convertible with an automatic transmission, and a whole new world opened up for me. I quickly learned that rather than using the time-honored and time-wasting two-part action of lifting the right foot off the accelerator and placing the same foot on the brake to slow or stop the car, I could use my left foot on the brake and needed only to reduce the weight of my right foot on the gas.

Yep, that’s my suggestion. Simply move the brake pedal to the left and teach drivers to use the left foot for braking and the right foot to control speed. As Sophia of Golden Girls fame would say, picture this:

When an accident is apparently imminent the driver must lift the right foot off the gas, move it over to the brake pedal and push hard, and perhaps avoid an accident. But what if the foot when lifted is not lifted high enough and moved far enough to the left, and the sole of the shoe hooks on the side of the accelerator, or the sole of the shoe is not placed squarely on the brake pedal and slips off to the right and back on the accelerator? Disaster is imminent, and even milliseconds saved could mean the difference between life and death.

In summary the crux of my suggestion, and this rambling post in support of it, is that the left leg and foot do nothing to assist a driver in operating a motor vehicle. It remains idle while the right foot is constantly at work, moving from gas pedal to brake, and from brake to gas pedal, ad nauseam.

If the left legs and feet of drivers could speak, they would probably say that they would like to be involved in the vehicle’s operation, and would probably claim that they could do a better job than the right, much as the political left in our nation feels about the political right.

And furthermore, I’ll bet that an atrophy study of the legs and feet of drivers would show that the left is far more susceptible to the disease than the right caused by lack of use, simply because it is allowed to stagnate while the right does all the work—and there again it appears that a parallel can be seen in our political parties.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: There’s more to the story, including my involvement with a sheriff’s deputy, the US Navy’s Shore Patrol, the people that returned my 1948 Chevrolet coupe to service, and what happened in Jacksonville the night I recovered my car and entered the city over a high bridge and lost my brakes on the way down to street level, and I’m even less proud of that than I am of my bout with the retaining wall. However, I’ve rambled on too long already, so I’ll save the rest of the story for a later post—stay tuned.

 

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Adrift uncertain, on a sea of sadness . . .

A small boat drifts on the massive swells of a broad expanse of ocean, without direction, moving aimlessly among groups of land masses, each island offering vistas of white beaches, grassy slopes and forested areas, each a mirrored image of the others, with nothing to distinguish between one island’s attractions and the attractions offered by any of the others.

The vessel is fitted with a small motor, adequate to move the boat and its occupant from water to land, but the engine is silent, the motor tilted up—nothing on any island appeals to the drifter, nothing that would cause him to lower the motor and aim for land.

Each island beckons equally, and although the lone occupant of that small vessel has no preference for any particular island, he longs to land on one or another, just to quell the aimless roaming and find some footing more substantial than that furnished by the unpredictable forces of wind and waves.

The previous three paragraphs are meant to introduce the author of this blog, the king of Texas, a king that embarked on a lonely voyage following the death of his wife late in November of last year. That king is now drifting aimlessly toward the end of the third month of his voyage into a void, a place that is completely foreign to him. For the past 58 years he was anchored firmly, albeit in many different locations, by the love he received and the love he gave to the young woman he married in 1952.


That anchor held firm through fair weather and foul, through gales and ice storms and tsunamis caused by volcanic upheavals generated and fostered by long separations. In one instance over the years the anchor broke loose from its bottom moorings but the chain held fast, and the anchor eventually found its former firm grip and returned the marriage vessel to a normal keel, and for that I thank the anchor, God and all the angels in heaven.

On Thursday, the eighteenth of November 2010 at precisely 9:15 in the evening my anchor—my wife—broke free from life’s anchor chain and returned to her Maker. Her earthly body is at peace—she lies in her casket in Section 71, Plot 47 in San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, and her soul is free in heaven. Her faith in God and her love for me are voiced on her headstone:

Cry not for me—I wait for thee

Some viewers may find this posting, these thoughts and the thoughts that follow sacrilegious and perhaps doubt my sincerity, but if they could see the tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this, they perhaps might feel differently. Should anyone have doubts concerning my sincerity, I will state positively, unequivocally and irrevocably that on the night my wife died I found God—I felt God’s presence and I believe that I witnessed some of God’s handiwork, and I am now in search of Jesus to complete the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. You can click here for the story of my finding God by witnessing His power.

As an aside to this post, I believe that I found Jesus yesterday on February 2, 2011 at 9:00 AM as I was driving on Loop 410 West in San Antonio, Texas. That belief will be the subject of a future posting—please stay tuned.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2011 in death, drivers, driving, freeways, funeral, Military

 

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Redux: Today’s youth vs yesterday’s . . .

I found this post among those relegated to the dustbin of previous posts. I enjoyed it so much that I rescued it, dusted it off, added some images and now I am presenting it to those that may have missed it back in March 0f 2010. I confess that I did not create the original, but I can say, without a tinge of blushing, that I improved it before offering it up on my blog. I explained all that in the original post, and included a disclaimer concerning my additions to the original—read on, and enjoy.

Today’s youth vs yesterday’s

A special note: All the italicized passages in this posting are my thoughts—they are separate from the original e-mail, but some of the un-italicized passages in the posting are mine—see my disclaimer below.

I received this item in an e-mail from a friend, and I felt it was well worth posting on Word Press. As always, the e-mail contained faults caused by its wandering around the internet and also as always, at least almost always—well, let’s say sometimes—the writing was seriously in need of attention.

With the most honorable intentions of making good writing better—the best, actually—I took the liberty of tidying up the e-mail. For starters, I removed an estimated total of 250 exclamation points. I did not actually count them, so my estimate may have been a tad high, but there was a huge bunch of exclamation points. It appeared that the keyboard had a mind of its own, and for whatever reason it sprinkled a plethora of exclamation points that appeared randomly throughout the e-mail.

The original teller of this tale vacillated among first, second and third person perspectives so I corrected it. The story is now told by a person aged 30 years or more and directed to persons that have accumulated fewer than thirty years of age. It is specifically directed to the youth of today.

A disclaimer: I must now, in the interests of full disclosure, admit that my efforts to improve this posting were not restricted to exclamation point removal. No, I added my own thoughts here and there—mostly there—adding or taking away as I saw fit, and I can state, unblushingly, that my contributions, whether they involved addition or subtraction, improved the missive in a literary sense and added significantly to the plentiful humor evinced in the original e-mail.

Hey, it’s an internet e-mail—it’s not copyrighted. It came to me unbidden and now it’s mine—I can massage it and manipulate it anyway I desire. I consider it comparable to a whole banana tossed from a speeding auto. It may be a bit the worse from its contact with asphalt, earth and the prickly pear bush in which it landed, but if it isn’t peeled—if its skin is unbroken—one may retrieve it, peel it and consume it with no fear of lessened gustatory effects or legal retribution. In that vein, I cheerfully yield to viewers that may wish to interpose their own thoughts.

Here I will apply a phrase often used, in some respects too often, by Sean Hannity on Fox News, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

And now on to the posting—the original e-mail was untitled, so I seized the opportunity to title it:

Today’s youth vs yesterday’s . . .

If you are 30 or older, you should find this hilarious:

When I was a kid, adults bored me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up, what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning—uphill—barefoot—both ways, yadda, yadda, yadda.

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in you know where that I would lay a bunch of stuff like that on my kids about how hard I had it then and how easy they have it now. However, now that I’m past the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t resist looking around at the youth of today. They have it so easy. Compared to my childhood years, theirs are Utopian in every respect.

I hate to say it, but you kids today? You have no idea how good you have it.

When we were kids we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves—in the card catalog.

There was no email. We had to write a letter by applying a pen or pencil to a piece of paper. We then folded the paper and secured it in a paper enclosure known as an envelope, and we sealed the envelope by licking the sticky side of its flap, and then we licked a postage stamp of the proper denomination and placed it on the envelope, and then we had to walk all the way to the sidewalk to put it in the mailbox and raise the flag, and it would take a week or more to get there and another week or more to get an answer.

Nowadays envelopes are pre-licked. In the unlikely event that you need to write a letter, you simply remove the safety strip and press the flap to seal the envelope—after first placing the letter in the envelope, of course.

Today’s postage stamps are also pre-licked. You only need to peel the stamp from its backing and affix it to the upper right corner of the envelope. We consider those advances—from licking envelopes and stamps to the present pre-licked systems—high tech.

Child Protective Services was unborn, and nobody cared if our parents beat us. In fact, the parents of our friends had permission to also kick our butts.

No place was safe.

There were no MP3s or Napsters or iTunes—if we wanted to steal music, we had to hitchhike to the nearest record store and shoplift it.

Either that or we had to wait around all day to tape it from the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and screw up the recording. There were no CD players—we had 8-track tape decks in our cars. We would play our favorite tape and eject it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. But hey, that’s how we rolled, baby—can you dig it?

We didn’t have fancy stuff like Call Waiting. If we were on the phone and someone else called, they heard a busy signal—that was it.

And we had no cell phones. If we left the house we could neither make a call nor receive one. We actually had to be out of touch with our friends. Oh, my, God—think of the horror of not being in touch with someone 24/7.

And today there’s texting—you kids have no idea how much you annoy us with your damn texting.

And we had no fancy Caller ID either. When the phone rang we had no idea who was calling—it could be our school, our parents, our boss, our bookie, our drug dealer or a collection agent—we had no way of knowing. We had to pick up the phone—the one tethered to the wall—and take our chances.

We had no fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high resolution 3-D graphics—we had the Atari 2600 with games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids. Our screen guy was a little square, and we actually had to use our imagination. And there were no multiple levels or screens—we had only one screen—forever! And we could never win. The games just kept getting harder and faster until we died—very similar to the game of life.

We had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on television, and we were screwed when it came to channel surfing. Remote controls had not yet been invented—in the good old days we had to get off our collective butts and walk over to the TV to change the channel.

I can hear it now: No remotes? No REMOTES? Oh, no, that’s impossible.

And we had no Cartoon Network—we could only get cartoons on Saturday morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait all week for cartoons, you spoiled little rat finks.

And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove—imagine that.

And our parents told us to stay outside and play—all day long and far into the evening. No, we had no electronics to soothe and comfort us, and if we came back inside we were forced to do chores.

As for car seats—oh, please—our moms threw us into the back seat and we hung on. If we were lucky we got the old safety arm across the chest at the last second if a sudden stop was required, and if we were in the front seat and our head hit the dashboard—well, that was our fault for riding shotgun in the first place.

Do you see it?

Can you dig it?

That’s what I’m talking about—you kids today have it far too easy. You’re spoiled rotten. You guys would not last five minutes in our day or at any time before our day.

Best regards,

The Over 30 Crowd

Time is a gift given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life—Norton Juster.

 
 

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I never owned a snowsled . . .

As a teenager I spent two winters in Suitland, Maryland and there were heavy snowfalls in both years, heavier than any snowfall I remember in my hometown of Columbus, Mississippi or in any other location in which I spent time in my teenage years. The lack of snow in our winters was just one of the three reasons that I never owned a snow sled. The other two reasons were that we had no hills in Columbus worthy of sledding, and even had there been mountains, my family could not have afforded a sled—after housing, food, clothing, transportation and even a slight attention to health, there was nothing left for winter pleasures such as sleds or skis or mukluks or hot toddies. The only sleds I was familiar with were the wooden-skidded sleds drawn by mules on the farm, sleds used to move heavy items such as bagged fertilizer, wood for fireplaces and kitchen stoves, and to move corn and watermelons and pumpkins from the field to storage. No, we never tried sliding downhill on those sleds—never even considered it!

I arrived at Union Station in Washington, D.C. in December to live with my brother and his family in Suitland, Maryland and a heavy snow fell early in the spring. I had no sled, but some of my new friends in Carry Homes where my brother lived had sleds, and all were generous in sharing them with me. My brother’s duplex sat at the top of a long and fairly steep hill, and most of the sledders in the neighborhood favored that hill for sledding. I quickly became adept at sledding—it seemed to come natural to me—not that sledding is difficult to learn, because gravity does most of the work. The sled operator needs only learn to steer the sled by the sled’s handle grips and body movements and learn how to avoid anything that might impede the sled’s race to the bottom of the hill.

Yep, sledding came easy for me and I reveled in it, but I learned, late one evening on a cold and still night after the other sledders had gone home, that I still had a lot to learn about sledding. One of my playmates abandoned his sled at the top of the hill near my house, and I appropriated it for some late night sledding. There were several cars parked on the hill, but only one on the right side—keep that one in mind—but the center was open and I made several speed runs to the bottom, exalting in the bitter cold, red cheeked and nose running faster than I could keep it licked off, and I felt really happy and alive—too happy for the feeling to last.

During the day I had seen some of the kids sledding backwards down the hill, and I decided to try it. Got the picture? Can you guess what happened on my first try? If you guessed that I slid under the only car parked on the right side of the street, you win the stuffed gorilla. At the beginning of my slide I kept an eye turned over my shoulder, but as the ride progressed I became careless, feeling that I had already mastered backwards sledding.

The sled had no trouble clearing the underside of the sedan that it went under, the only auto parked on the right side of the street. It continued its journey under the rear bumper, the muffler, the transmission, the engine and the front bumper without slowing and thence to the bottom of the hill, but its successful trip did not include me. I stopped abruptly when my head hit the rear bumper.

I don’t know how long I lay on my stomach under the car, but I know that when I awoke I had a huge goose egg on the back of my head and a headache—no blood, but the mother of all headaches. I remained there for awhile, speculating on whether I should turn myself in for needed medical attention—for a concussion, perhaps, or loss of memory, or the possibility of broken speech and uncontrollable movements indicating severe brain damage. The more I considered it the longer the list of adverse possibilities became. At one point I felt that I was the victim of all those problems, but after awhile the headache began to subside and the goose egg, although still very large, was a bit less sensitive.

I crawled out from under the car, wandered around in the cold night air for awhile to get my bearings and finally trudged home, entered the house and announced to all that sledding was very tiring and that I was going to retire early. I never told anyone about the time I stupidly slid downhill backwards on a sled and had my ride interrupted by a car bumper. You, the reader, are learning about it at the same time my children are.

Eventually the goose egg disappeared, and in that winter and the following winter I had ample opportunities to go sledding—for some unaccountable reason I never sledded again. Once was enough for me—in that slide downhill with me facing uphill, I learned everything that one should do and not do while in that position on a snow sled speeding downhill. And as for skiing? Forget about it!

Oh, concerning the sled I left at the bottom of the hill that night—I’m guessing the owner found it, but I have no way of knowing that he did—at least none of the kids came around asking if I had seen a lost sled.

That’s my story about sledding and I’m sticking to it!

 
 

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The Chesapeake Bay ferry . . .

The Chesapeake Bay ferry . . .

This is a story of beagles, a bachelor and a bridge, a Crosely convertible auto, Chesapeake Bay, a ferryboat and deep sand. It’s a story of an overnight business trip my brother and I took to Salisbury, Maryland in 1947—yes, that’s some 63 years ago but I remember many of the details, and I promise to tell the story with no embellishments.

My brother was in the trucking business in the Washington, D.C. area in those years. He returned from overseas duty in World War II, acquired two 1946 two-ton dump trucks—a Ford and a Chevrolet—signed up several other independent truck owners and secured various contracts for hauling. One contract was for hauling coal to federal buildings in DC, buildings that were steam-heated in those days. Other contracts included hauling sand, gravel and asphalt for road construction in the Washington/Baltimore area. I acquired my first traffic ticket at the University of Maryland while driving one of his trucks loaded with ten tons of hot asphalt—I was fourteen years old, and the fine was $17.95, immediately paid in cash to a sharp-eyed Maryland state trooper. I’ll hold the other details for a future posting. Stay tuned!

The trip to Salisbury was to discuss a possible contract, and I went along on the trip from Suitland, Maryland to Salisbury near the tip of the Chesapeake peninsula. There was no Chesapeake Bay bridge then—that bridge was completed in 1952—in 1947 a ferryboat provided access to the peninsula. We made the trip in a 1941 Crosely convertible—yes, an auto made by the same people that made refrigerators and radios, autos that initially were sold through hardware store outlets.

Our Crosely was a two-door, four passenger convertible with an air-cooled two cylinder engine that moved the car 50-60 miles on one gallon of gasoline. It was lightweight, about 1000 pounds. I remember us changing the left front tire by loosening the lug nuts, then my brother holding up the left corner of the car until I could remove and replace the wheel and tighten up the lug nuts.

We were the first in line to board the ferry, and we were the first to debark. We had a problem because the rise from the ferryboat floor was too high for us to climb without making a running start, and we were jammed between the incline and the car behind us. After several tries, the driver behind gave us a not-so-gentle bump and bounced us up onto the dock. Our trusty transportation would face another problem late in the evening that day.

My brother’s business was completed late in the evening and we were traveling through dense fog trying to return to the ferry dock for a return the next morning. We made a couple of wrong turns and wound up in deep sand on an unpaved road out in the boondocks. Our Crosely tried mightily to best the sand but finally gave up the effort. We abandoned the car and trudged through the sand towards lights in the distance.

The lights turned out to be the home of an aged life-long bachelor, one that sported a bald head and a full beard and raised beagles—a bearded bald beagle-raising bachelor—just a little alliteration there. Our host was a gentle and talkative soul that bade us welcome, served sandwiches and milk soon after we knocked on his door and invited us to spend the night, saying that at daylight he would use his tractor to haul our car out of the deep sand and on to a paved road.

Whether the beagles were raised for commercial purposes or show was never made clear, but please know that there were lots and lots—and lots—of beagles there. They seemed to come and go, so a true count was impossible because they all looked alike. They had the run of the house, and shared the dining table with us as we supped—every chair around the large dining table was occupied by at least two beagles, all quiet, well mannered  and evidently well-fed because there was no begging. They simply sat and watched us in silence, obviously and politely acknowledging us as guests.

They also shared our sleeping quarters. The single bedroom had a standard-size bed and a cot—I slept on the cot and my brother shared the bed with our host. I had several beagles at the foot of the cot, and several more shared the bed with the bachelor and my brother.

Our Crosely was extracted from the sand with the tractor without mishap, and we were hauled a short distance to a paved road, with our benefactor of the previous night giving instructions to the ferry landing. I don’t recall whether  my brother offered to compensate him for the food and lodging, but I don’t believe the offer would have been accepted—of course I could be wrong about that.

Just one more memory of our trip:

Have you seen the mud flaps on commercial trucks with the name Fruehauf? I met the man—he was elderly, he drove a 1942 Lincoln Continental with a 12-cylinder inline engine and he wore long-handle underwear, the type with the flap in back. How do I know that? There was snow on the ground and I was in my shirt sleeves and complaining about the cold. He first turned up his sleeve then pulled up his trouser leg to show the underwear and said, “Thon, you thud wear thith, and don’t give a thart about how you look.” Yes, he spoke with a lisp.

And that reminds me of an incident involving a girl with a lisp and a request for Super Suds washing powder—I’ll get back to you later with the details. Stay tuned!

Hey, here’s a boat joke: Have you heard about the little tugboat that was unhappy because his mother was a tramp and his daddy was a ferry? Think about it—the joke is there—it’s politically incorrect but it’s there!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2010 in bridge, bridges, drivers, driving, Travel

 

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