We had a nasty winter this year.  Because of snow and ice, my brother Brent’s garbage truck couldn’t make it up the hill to his house. Brent decided to ice mail his trash down the hill. His wife Kashann videoed and narrated the unexpected speed and fun.

 

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Midnight Saturday night moon light presented me with a big problem.

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As we drove home late last Saturday night I saw the moonlit glint of a row of freshly-planted galvanized fence posts appear. These posts were between lots owned by me and my longtime adjoining neighbor in the Basin City Industrial Park area.

Or I should say they were supposed to be between the two lots.  I was instantly pretty sure they were 10 or 12 feet inside my lot, even in the darkness. 20 or 30 years ago I kinda knew where I thought the boundary was, somewhere close to the power pole shown in the foreground.

I was filled with dread. This neighbor speaks poquito English, is almost as old as I and is even balder. Just like me, he tries to do a lot of the work by himself. I knew if his new metal posts were cemented in the wrong spot, he was going to have to dig them all up, dig new holes in the correct spots and replant the posts. Not an easy job.

I’ve never locked horns with this guy but I figured this was about to change. I almost hoped I was wrong in my assumption of the property line just so I could avoid the confrontation.

But it wasn’t something I could overlook. I grabbed my long-distance tape and my short-fused wife and we went a’measuring.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I’m actually the dynamite stick with the once-in-a-while short fuse. She’s the being with the longer fuse and even far longer long-suffering.)

Michele struggles just a bit when it comes to doing man-jobs that she has never done before but when I absolutely insist, she unwillingly tries to assist.  This is especially true when doing man-jobs in the dark.

I’ll skip the hilarious and vexing property-surveying exercise we experienced that night. But at this point I’m wondering if the after-hours survey party has anything to do with the late and cold dinners I’ve had every night since.

Bottom line, his posts were in the wrong place. All 24 of them. The correct line is shown in yellow in the picture above.

If I didn’t set things straight immediately and left the poles in place, at some future date he would assume ownership of the extended ground his fence was marking.

The land isn’t worth that much right now but if MicroSoft or General Motors moved in and started buying up ground, I would be out a bundle. I did some quick calculations and figured out that this little slice of soon-to-be-disputed ground would be worth approximately 2.3 billion dollars.

This was the point when it dawned on me that I absolutely had to talk to him. I feared his reaction because of the great amount of extra work this was going to saddle him with. I worried about my personal safety and thought about at least taking my paintball gun with me.

To my surprise,  he was fine. Agreeable. Amiable. He said he had gone by the stakes the old owner of the property had planted before he bought it.

He helped me measure both ends of the property and happily drove stakes into the new boundaries. I apologized about all the wasted work I was causing him but he kept saying “No problemo. It’s ok.”

He was fine with the 2 or 3 days of hard labor I had just handed him. Because of MicroSoft and General Motors, I was very grateful he was so agreeable.

Many people, myself included, would have responded on a bright red scale far in excess of what he did. Santiago is a fine human being, a fine man and a good example. I would do well to be more like Santiago.

I just hope my measurements are right.

 

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My friend Doug just sent me this. After where he’s been, I can see I’ve got to get out more.

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A slot canyon in Utah has been carved out for ten’s if  not hundreds of thousands of years with water and wind.  He said “lit up with sunshine it simply dazzles the imagination and there are no adequate words to describe the place.”

Other stuff and the quotes he’s sent me…

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The highway from Mexican Hat To Monument Valley.  Looked sort of like that highway in the Roadrunner cartoons where Wyle E. Coyote works on his frustrations.

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I found this sign in a toilet in Canyonlands Nat’l Park.  Don’t know the
nationality it was aimed at.

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Thirteen thousand cubic feet per second of Washington/Idaho snowmelt, rainfall and rich Palouse loess soil plunge over the falls, creating explosive reactions by the mist as it contacts the reservoir below.

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Another view. Snowmelt and rainfall from the western foothills of the Rocky Mountains and eastern Washington wheat fields thunder over Palouse Falls at 6,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Spray from the 185’ falls resembles a large cotton ball rising nearly 100’ upwards.  I used to think God created Palouse Falls just for me, and although I have never told anyone about this place, the parking lot was full of muddy SUV’s and even one of those small plastic jobs that should stay on the go-cart track.  February 1996 still holds the record flow (in recent memory) of 25,000 cfs; overlooking the multi-cubic mile (cms) flow from Lake Missoula 15,000 years ago.

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I hate to break into Doug’s stuff but we also visited Palouse Falls during the winter thaw. This is a wide angle view of the scenic falls. I’m throwing it back to you Doug…

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One of those wintry moments I remember from my youth is that squeaky sound my shoes make while walking through snow when the temperature drops into the single digits.  I try to carry that into the heat of summer, but somehow it’s never the same.  Much like trying to get your mind thinking about those sweltering days of summer while -10 degree wind chill is assaulting your nose, cheeks, and ears.

After nearly a week of temps in the teens and single digits it was time to visit Palouse Falls and check on the ice build-up before tomorrow’s chinook sends it four miles downstream into the Snake River.

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Some days when rain is predicted and hoped for, but passes us by, we have to
make our own rainbows.  (An i-phone photo through a dirty pickup
windshield).

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My favorite spectator sport is driving the back roads of America.  Just me &
Rambo, and sometimes the little woman, we become immersed in the rolling
hills and roadside flowers of whichever trail we come across.

This particular road bypasses Colfax, Pullman, and Moscow, before reaching almost
to the front door of Northwest River Supplies.  Took a bit of trial and lots
of errors to find it, but the Palouse loess hills, Kamiak Butte in the
distance, borrow pit poppies, green wheat fields and occasional biker chick
with dogs makes the drive worth every dusty, bumpy minute.

It sometimes makes you feel like a small frog in a big pond, but it’s free except for a
few dollars of diesel fuel.  May your next journey be as pleasant.

(Photos and commentary by Doug Smith)

I’ll post more of Doug’s photos another time. Thanks Doug!

Dashed hopes

IMG1We dropped off our companions at the end of a whirlwind trip to Seattle. Just so they feel safe, I’m not showing their faces. Anderson Cooper wanted to interview them but they declined as they don’t want their image made public. I don’t blame them.

They are a great family having a rough time they don’t deserve. After getting death threats and beat up by the Taliban because he helped the US Army for 11 years, the father brought his family to the United States to be safe. The authorities here are trying to send him back to be killed. Here’s the unbelievable LA Times story about the family we spent the last two days with…

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ln-afghan-family-detained-20170306-story.html

They have nothing. They are given barely enough to live on while they go to school to learn English and look for a job. These families had never seen frost before, let alone the long and snowy winter they slid into upon arriving in the Tri-Cities. Our first task was rounding up some warm clothing, gloves and boots for them along with a few other necessary items. Many people in the area were generous with their help and donations.

Since last fall we have gotten quite close to these folks. I even know their names. This is a tremendous feat since I usually can’t even remember my own kids’ names. Far different than most of my work, it’s been a rewarding assignment.

The father of one family is in his thirties and has never driven a car. I could tell that someday he would like to own one. He asked how much cars cost after riding in our 2000 vintage Honda van. “Do they cost like…three million dollars?” he asked. I told him if he could find somebody to buy our van for that amount, I’d give them a 33% discount but I had to have it in cash.

I hope he is successful in this car selling venture. If he is, I’ll give every one of my friends a hundred dollar bill. (That means it’ll cost me three or four hundred dollars. It’s lucky I don’t have more friends.)

They are a sweet and humble people. They have seen immediate family members gunned down by rebels right in front of them. They are missing fathers, mothers, husbands, brothers and sisters. We have seen great sadness in their faces when they speak of departed loved ones.

What an experience it has been so far! We sing a song in church called “Count Your Blessings”. The song has taken on new meaning.

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We got word last week the support group we work with that helps these refugees needed someone to haul a family that was from Afghanistan to Seattle for a couple of days. They needed to meet with an attorney named Talia and have a court hearing so they could stay in America. That’s all we were told.

We volunteered since we had already been approved by the support group to drive refugees around in my high-priced roadster from Japan. I really had other stuff to do and didn’t much feel like driving to Seattle. However, I knew somebody needed to help them. I told Michele to offer our services if no one else volunteered. Now I’m glad they didn’t and we did.

I gotta say here that I voted for Trump. I like some of the stuff he is doing. I have a few concerns about some of the other things he is up to but that discussion is for another day. Anyway, suffice it to say since the Donald has taken over, being a new-comer in this land of amber waves of grain is becoming more difficult.

This particular family is Muslim and being a newcomer to this fresh set of circumstances, I was a little wary as we traveled to pick them up at their apartment. I didn’t want to end up with my throat slit before we got home from Seattle.

My concerns were unwarranted. Vastly. Like many Americans, I’ve had great concerns for years about radical Muslims and their agenda. We didn’t know this family’s story until we started driving down the road with them. And then, WOW!

In a nutshell, here’s what we learned:

  • The couple are in their 30s and they have three little boys.
  • The father worked for the the US Army for 11 years as a translator and information source.
  • His life is at risk from ISIS the Taliban. He and his family are dead if returned to Afghanistan.
  • He had several friends in his same situation move to the US on recommendation from the Army. No problem. They and their families are here, settled and happy.
  • A month ago, this family flew in to LAX. The cops at the airport handcuffed and shackled him, stamped ON PAROLE on his passport and threw him in jail for three days.
  • No law enforcement person could give a reason why. When this guy asked them why he was being jailed, they all said “I don’t know, that’s not my job.” They told him they were going to send his wife and kids to a detention camp in Texas. A judge ended up taking the wife and kids to a law office where they lived and slept until the father was released. This is a guy who risked his own life and had helped US forces for the last 11 years.
  • It appears that with Trump’s hard line on immigration and the way most  government minions toe the line, anyone from the Middle East is toast, whether they be friend or foe.

So a nice immigration attorney named Talia from LA flew up yesterday to help this family. While we helped babysit the kids, Talia spent several hours with him to review everything she needed to know. Later that afternoon, they got word the feds were asking for a continuance on the court date that was scheduled for the next day.

I suspect employing continuances is a legal ploy to extend the agony of the victim, justify their job and drum up a little more pocket change for the lawyers and judges.

We spent the night with the family, hoping the judge wouldn’t accept the request but like all things (namely common sense) seem to turn out in the legal world, it was not to be. We walked out in the Seattle rain, got in my three million dollar Honda van (No, it hasn’t sold yet) and drove home.

The attorney headed for the airport to fly back to LA. I guess we’ll be doing the same exercise next week including her flying back up. Hopefully, this will be the last legal hearing in the matter. I’m not sure how many more trips to Seattle our worn-out van has in her.

This is a sweet family. The boys, a nine month old, a six year old and a seven year old, were friendly, content and cute. Throughout the entire sojourn, they were perfectly behaved. Heck, my wife and I wouldn’t mind adopting them. We might have to if their mom and dad get sent back to the war zone.

The only time I saw them even look a little cross was when we took them to Red Robin and Michele tried to get them to order hot dogs for the kids. I guess she wasn’t aware of the Muslim’s stance on eating pork. They ended up eating veggie burgers.

I’ve got to admit that I have seen the other side of the refugee crisis in the last few months. It’s easy to have a hard-line attitude of indifference concerning everyone outside and even inside our borders. But most of these people are innocent and simply trying to survive in this world. Again, I count my blessings. There but for the grace of God go I (and you).

http://abcnews.go.com/US/afghan-family-visas-held-california-attorneys/story?id=45936736

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“Hey Dawg #2, I’m Dawg #1. This is MY territory. Now scram!”

Dogs are great unless you end up on the incisored and business end of a K-9 unit. They’re man’s best friend until Fido mistakes your pant leg for a tire that he wants to mark. They’re fun to have around until they get a taste of blood and start attacking 40 or 50 of a guy’s uninsured baby calves. I’ve endured two of the three experiences listed. Which would you guess?

I’m a cowboy who learned the hard way. Trying to chase down a pack of blood-thirsty mongrels with a 12-guage shotgun while hobbling along on crutches and a full-length leg cast is something shared in the book that I never want to experience again.

So what’s your other guess?

A blog is so much easier to deal with than a cop and his growling German Shepard, a wet pant leg or expensive and primo livestock getting torn up by rabid dogs.

Unlike all the other enterprises I’ve tried, if people don’t like what I blog, I don’t have to grovel and apologize. The customer is no longer king. Free at last!

Blogging is different. N0w, I don’t have to give my readers their money back when they’re not completely happy! I just press the post button and walk away.

A blog? You run it. A business? It runs you.

I plugged away at the tire business for 25 + years. Running your own tire business had some positives but the down side was always present in spades. At least the way I did it.

Admittedly, a few of these problems were my own fault…Ok, most of them were my fault. I guess the basic problem was the fact that I am just not all that good of a manager. I’m more of an idea guy and just don’t have the organization skills to keep all the loose ends tied up. We all have our pros and cons. I do much better now that I’m out of the tire store.

I haven’t even talked about the biggest problem of all when working on tires. And I don’t think I should take any of the blame for this one. What is it?

It’s the dreaded marking of each tire on  every vehicle that rolled down the road and into my tire store parking lot. The problem is so out of sight, out of mind, most folks have never considered this aspect.

Millions of tires are marked daily. Again and again. It is dogkind’s way of paying us back for making them eat table scraps and always ride in the back of the pickup.

Among other things, a tire guy’s gig requires him to check air pressures, rotate, change, balance and repair a literal ton of customer tires each day.  In the span of my tire life, I have probably rubbed up against a hundred thousand or more tires, usually with a customer-friendly smile on my face since the customer is always king.

But looking back, if I had really thought about this at the time, I wouldn’t be smiling. Busy and multi-tasking, I invariably forgot about the fact that approximately 100% of the tires I was airing, changing, and repairing had been peed on by multiple dogs trying to mark and remark their territory. Unmarked tires became extinct the moment Henry Ford pulled his first Model A out of the garage and parked next to the dog house.

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“Can you rotate my tires before you go to lunch please?”

I had a lot of pressure and stress back in those days. The workload often caused me to skip meals or eat on the run. Consumed by the job, I often forgot or didn’t have time to wash my hands before devouring lunch. Therefore, portions of Lassie and her friend’s liquid relievings rubbed off on my contaminated digits which were then transferred directly to my vittles during chow time. Perhaps this is why I often found myself barking at my employees.

For some reason, as soon as I got out of the tire-handling business, Michele’s sandwiches began tasting different. They were almost kinda bland, like she had forgotten something.

Easing into Ben’s Tire in 1977, trying to ease out of Ben’s Tire at the beginning of 2004 and finally terminating it with a bang and a whimper at the end of that same year, I haven’t touched a tire since.

There are pro’s and con’s to my situation. Lunch is not as tasty as it once was. My hands seem less yellow. My wife doesn’t recoil every time I get around her now. (In fact, in retrospect, it’s pretty amazing that we had 6 kids, all while I was in the tire business.) The old immune system doesn’t have to work nearly as hard as it did back in the days when Fido was putting his two cents on every GR78x15 I sold. One last effect I’ve noticed: I no longer feel like barking at every stranger I meet.

So now I do nothing but write. My hands are clean and my sandwiches are basically blase’.

Speaking of former nasty meals, I had a once-in-a-lifetime mouse doo-doo snack attack a few years back. It’s recounted in the book if you want documentation. And because of this singular event, I always enjoy the following video that might entertain you with a click on the pic…

This vid is especially great at the 1:13 mark.

Animal, Mouse, Nager, Case, Mousetrap

My goal with this blog is to be more brief and succinct. That’s all for today. Michele is calling me for lunch. Woof Woof!

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