The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Someone is out to get me!

I avoid the banana only to be covered in ink. If only I could find the jet pack!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I mow lawns and contemplate local activism

I think all of you tune in to read my adventures in Groundskeeping. But, I fail to realize how many local readers I have. I checked a hour ago. People from my hometown are reading this blog as I write.
Not sure how I feel about that. If I was really enthused I'd use my real name. In the early days of this blog it was all people on the other side of the country and the world. I was not really hiding, I just have never used my real name on the internet.
But, I digress...
Groundskeeping at my little slice of heaven can be a bit frustrating.
I'm not sure how to say this politely...
So here's the way it went.
There are key places that need to be mown. (or is it mowed, as in he mowed em all down with a Tommy Gun ratatatatata....)
But I digress again...
I suspect the "key" to the key places is the proximity to the person on the staff with seniority. Here is how it works.
I am told I need to make my own decisions about groundskeeping since I really don't know what the heck I am doing.
This means that they hope that I will groundskeep exactly like the person telling me I need to make the decisions but that they will not tell me this because if you love something and you set if free if it loves you it will return, (when it is hungry)
So I wanted to mow what was dry and get it done since I lack seniority and I'm stuck with this ancient mower that no one else can figure out how to operate that is bulky and inefficient.
This is fine as long as the ladies with seniority are using the good mower. In fact, they can use it on my day to run it, because all my ground is wet, but the second they are done with it then my ground is of course quite dry.
And they bring me the mower out of gas...
So someone reports me to the supervisor and he shows up. But, I have preempted this by appealing to the person authorized to train me and we are looking at the lawn in question when the supervisor shows up.
What happens is that I spend an hour waiting for the mower and moving things around while the person that most likely ratted me out finishes up her very important section.
I remind myself, it all pays the same, I go home at 5 p.m.
I didn't go home at 5 p.m. because the work study student who volunteered to wash the mower didn't get it clean enough (He volunteered and he tried and he is a really good guy and I like him) and I had to clean two mowers and take one back the main building for service before going home. People love to pass off mowers to me at 3 p.m. when it is time for their service so that they don't have to wash them.
But, as I said before, it all pays the same...

At 6 p.m. the neighborhood had a meeting to discuss how to stop the country from putting in a park on our road. This is a whole post in itself.
1. The fellow across the river who is mobilizing us knows what he is doing.
2. My neighbors want to complain about the park and convince each other how terrible it will be.
This is great for them because it gets them all emotional and they get to see that their other neighbors care about them. We got to talk about how much we care about each other as neighbors and how perhaps we should have a BBQ. This is kind of BS. Several of them don't like me and I don't like them. I don't want to hang out with them. If I wanted friends I would advertise on craigslist or go to farm meetings or wave at people. They would do the same. They don't want to be my friend they want to commute home from work and not be bothered.
3. Everyone wants to impress each other about what they have done but no one has the balls to really stick it to the county.
Meaning: It's a Mr. Smith goes to Washington group. They think that if they really care about an issue and if they make a good speech with lots of facts and studies and photographs and impassioned and tearful statements the county will give a rat's ass. The county doesn't care. They want a park somewhere and they don't care if anyone visits the park or if it is a good idea or if it is infested with tweekers. They have followed procedures and they have built a park.
On the the next project or next job or whatever....
Sure they well remember you when it comes time for a building permit and then it is "screw you..."
4. No one will commit. I decline the offer to be president. I should have accepted.
The organizer left. The guy who already sold out to the county starts talking about compromise. The ladies start talking pain and suffering, we accomplish nothing.
5. Nothing will get done unless we follow or advisors instructions. I tuned out for part of it but I think it is as follows, Organize a political acton thing, elect a president, secretary, a treasurer and something else. Have regular meetings. Contribute money and buy a newspaper ad stating our position.
Wait for repercussions...

These folks don't understand politics. It is not about right or wrong it is all about pressure.

In conclusion, two things:
1. I don't give a rip about the park but I hate the dump. Since everyone I respect is dead, I'd open a RV park and sell beer at my Uncle's Store. But, I'm not really part of that operation so I'll just go to work at my local college and hope traffic has thinned out by the time I go home.
I think the biggest farmer on our road is a total arsehole and I think it is funny if his 15 combines back up 10 tour busses. Or if his big tractor gets in an accident with a busload of school children. (as long as my child is not on the bus) But on the other hand I don't want a park at the end of the road just because I don't want one. I'm opposed to any compromise and will happily follow Pickett.
2. I think I will have to make my blog an invitation only or you have to email me to belong or I will lose my job.
3. Have a nice evening... I'm going to bed and I'm not proofreading...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I finish building a tractor

Thanks to MuddyValley who gave me a new tractor for Christmas.
It was a rather tedious process. I've been building it during my lunch breaks.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A well equipped groundskeeper

It is my goal to carry every essential piece of groundskeeping equipment allotted to me in my cart at once.
I'm getting better at it.
(Note how cleverly I have obscured anything that would identify which local private college I work for.)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Today at work

Someone said it will be a,good year for the roses.
I replied, "the lawn could stand a little mowing, funny I don't seem to care."
Everyone just stared at me.
I guess they thought I had low morale.
It would seem my fellow grounds crew members do not have the same cultural influences as I.
To change the subject a bit. I pruned a plant called winter creeper," last week.
For the life of me I can't remember what the plant looked like, I just think of yoga pants...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I rant about oppression and groundskeeping and not really respecting authority

I got so angry today I had to go take a walk.
I was raking leaves outside a classroom with an open window. I was trying to be quiet so as not to disturb the class and so I kept catching snippets of the lecture.
The Professor was talking about ethnic groups (of course) which helped to build America and how they were exploited.
Of course most immigrants were exploited and treated poorly. Migrant and foreign laborers were mistreated. We all know that. Everyone looked bored.
I wandered off and started pulling weeds.
The talk continued on to the exploitation of those said ethnic groups and the terrible indignity of the mislabelling of ethnic foods and their absorption into "American" ideas of what certain ethnicities would eat even though they don't. An example of given of how adding one spice and a label made something an ethnic food even though it was not. This was met with the appropriate laughter.
I got to thinking...
Chalupa's at Taco Bell. I mean really. If that is high enough on the list of cultural indignities then we really don't have that much to be offended about.
And that is when I started to get annoyed.
I've been working with Mexican immigrants who actually went through a lot to come to America. They had to learn English, they were exploited by their employers, they suffered racial bias but they are not victims. They are working to better themselves and their families in spite of odds which are against them. They are succeeding.
My family and I watched a show on PBS last night about black people moving into Portland. They worked hard, they built a community, they were exploited, treated poorly, but they built their houses and business and they were not victims.
The city of Portland did its best to treat them poorly. The old folks who did all the work are not victims but their kids seem to be.
So now that we have had 40 years of affirmative action and countless improvements in the social structure, in awareness of race issues, of discussions about race, why now are all the second and third generation people feeling exploited?
Chinese laborers were treated very poorly but they came here for opportunities they didn't have at home. Irish immigrants were treated like slaves, some were slaves, the prejudice remains to this day. The stereotype of a drunken Irishman is racist.
Of course people suffer hardship and injustice. Live is cruel and unfair. Look around the world and see the absolute racism and intolerance in other cultures. America (unless you were a Native American but that is another subject) has been about a chance for self betterment.
What we are supposed to do is to band together and focus on our commonalities as Americans and move together. People will not ever get along perfectly, life will never be perfectly happy or equal or fair. You just do the best you can do and put one foot in front of the other and if all else fails riot.
But I digress...
Those kids in that classroom are the ultimate in entitlement. They are given preference based on race, they are given scholarships, they come from money, they all have some kind of advantage. That teacher was given advantages because she is female.
But, yet they laugh and bite the hand that feeds them. They are setting in the classroom being taught to feel oppressed or feel guilty for have an ancestor that they have never even met who oppressed someone.
Meanwhile, I'm out there raking flowerbeds. There is such a lack of priority for things that really matter in the country that a farmer can't make a living raising food but has to work for the entitled classes so that his kid can go and get a piece of paper that grants her access to a higher social class. And in the process be programmed against everything her father has ever worked for.
Made me so mad I got in my golf cart and drove around parking lots picking up trash..
AND then I realize what I was doing... Picking up trash thrown carelessly down on the ground by kids who are programed with words such as sustainability and they won't even pick up a Starbucks cup. I'm not feeling victimized I'm feeling angry enough to start a mild revolt.
The only thing that keeps me sane is my work study students who are not entitled and have had to work for a living. I have a girl, a white guy, and a black kid who was the only black kid in a hicksville high school. They are awesome kids. Perhaps there is hope for humanity.
I like to point out that we are sweeping the President's path in the rain. I ask them if they think the President could do the job they are doing. I tell them that he has to take a crap every morning just like they do. I suggest that manicuring lawns so that a bunch of stuffed shirt academics won't trip on a pine cone is a pretty good incentive to study in school and get a good job. I point out that the Professor who is lecturing them about things they already know probably couldn't make it driving a truck and that they can be better than that.
They can live their lives on their own terms, make their own decisions, find their own sources on information.
Then I get distracted and start quoting the lyrics to old country western songs and realize their eyes have glazed over long ago.
But, I digress...
And one more thing,
I probably know as much or more about any random non science subject as any one of those Professors and even if I didn't know that much I bet I could teach their class for a week and they kids would enjoy it more. I'm not sure they could do my job for a week.
I do feel better now.
I suppose more educated and philosophical people can now feel free to find the flaws in my own confused ideology.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What I drive

I was asked what I'm driving at work. It is an old Gator painted school colors. It is pretty gutless and has no power dump.
It also is not much of a hill climber but does pretty well in the mud.
I don't care. I'm not in mucj of a hurry.
The motorbike is what I've been riding in nice weather.
I need to fix the brakes on the Honda.
(I have obscured the college logo to cleverly hide my identity.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sounds and ADD familes and valentines day and the Georgia Satellites and randomness

My family left me...
They went to visit someone. 
It was a worthwhile trip.
I have things to do but I'm not doing them.

I microwaved can of can of chili and found an old album to listen to at high volume.
Sometimes I like the cover version better than the real thing...

"I listen for you footsteps coming up the drive..
I listen for your footsteps but they don't arrive..
Just a waiting for your knocking on my front door.
I listen but they don't arrive..
I hear the clock a tickin' on the mantel shelf..
I hear that clock a tickin' but I'm still by myself..."

So we took separate cars to church this morning.
I discovered rediscovered that I am unable to sit still for an hour without pen and pencil. I started playing with my phone. My daughter took my phone away and and sat on it.
Then she pretended she what scratching her butt with it.
Then we all laughed.
The pastor was talking about Christ being central in one's life but it was a quarter till twelve and none of us could concentrate. This has not as much to do with the pastor who was preaching his little heart our but rather with our inability to concentrate. I am not allowed to jiggle and I had no pen and paper.
It is torture...

Wife and I went to a Valentine's dinner at the church last night. A very sincere man got up and talked about all the bad things that had happened to him and how God had pulled him through it all and how he just needed to give up self and accept God's will and how everything was so much better now.
I attempted to balance a spoon on top of a knife.
I suppressed the urge to think, "but someone also won that lottery," and "can you be a motivational speaker without tragedy" and "could I make up a tragedy and sell motivational CD's"

It lasted a long time and people got tears in their eyes.

"But, there ain't nothing like my sweet baby,
there ain't nothin' like my baby,
there ain't nothin' like my sweet baby in this world..."

Fantasy is so much better than reality.

My cousin's son posted on Facebook that his mom had not paid the water bill and it was to be turned off and could his favorite older relatives help him out. 
His dad passed away two years ago and his Mom has found a friend on has not time to pay the water bill. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)
I went by their house with $200 to give him and then I saw a new boat in the driveway and a camp trailer worth more than my house and I turned around and drove away...

"I was out the other evening and I decided to take myself a little stroll through the park,
I was young and I was feeling' no pain...

"Well I introduced myself myself and I said nice thing for a walk/but I couldn't understand I thing she said when she talked.

We sat ourselves down on a little park bench and her skirt rolled up and I could see she was french and..."

I love poetry. But only bad redneck poetry with obvious rhymes and uncertain pentameter and lots of really loud guitar accompanyment.

I'm listening to the Georgia Satellites. I had myself a bowl of chili.
I've been waiting for some time alone.
I finally found an Audio Technica AT155LC like the one I lost (along with Grandpa's Bible) when we moved. I've been waiting with nervous anticipation to once again hear the crisp high range from vintage vinyl that I can no longer hear due to loss of hearing in my upper registers.
But... of course it was not what I expected.
It sounded a bit harsh so I swapped it back for the Sure V14 type III with the Jico Stylus which has much warmer sound.
I need to get a cartridge alignment protractor and give it another try.
Instead I decided more volume is the solution.
In addition to my ancient Baby Advents and Harman Kardon (or is it Harmon Kardan?) 330B,
I hooked the venerable Scott 299B Tube amp and the Dynaco A25 speakers up for a four speaker experience and turned the volume up till it distorted. Then backed it down a notch.

"She looked right at me and said"
"You're the moth and I'm the flame..."

Getting old is kind of a bummer. One must make adjustments.
What is a damn shame is that all the good, strong Christian sorts who were supposed to provide the rest of us folks with an example and inspiration have all sold out to money, sustainability and diversity and have left us weird and uptight folk with problems of belief, cynicism, and attention deficient issues to carry on.. I am not up to the task.

"hash browns and coffee make a man feel fine...
hauling big long loads and little white lines..."
Sally take a sip from this bottle of wine...
Sally take a sip from this bottle of wine...
Get back to your dunk and dine
Get on back to your dunk and dine..."

So instead of being productive I have found an album from a totally forgotten rock band from the previous century to ear-splitting levels and published a silly blog post after Church.
And alienated some relatIves. Probably never will get that invitation to Sunday dinner. Darn...

Perhaps now I'll go outside and get the drill ready to plant, fix the brakes on the Honda Ascott and get a few minutes older.
The preacher this morning noted that medication fixed his chemical brain imbalance and that he was a totally different person.
I just sat there and jiggled...

It always sounds better if you throw in a "yeah" at the end...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Two new holes in my belt

After carrying a leaf blower since September I've had to punch new holes in my belt!

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Beautiful Day At School

A collection of jumbled thoughts...
It was a beautiful morning and there was a promise of a beautiful day. The sun came up over the neighbor's big white barn, or as we call it, the movie screen, across the road.
There was a hint of frost on the grass but the promise of sun and the weatherman claiming highs in the 60's prompted me to button the liner in my leather jacket and ride my motorcycle to work.
It wouldn't start.
Well actually, it started and when I took the choke off it died.
I should have walked out to the shop and kicked over the Triumph. Two kicks, well... two really good kicks, would have brought that old girl to life. However, it was not properly polished and I do hate to ride a dirty Triumph.
I took the car.
I spent the day cleaning flower beds.
I really don't get my job.
I pruned a "weeping white pine" into an interesting shape. Actually, it looks like a scarecrow. I think I'll prop a face on it tomorrow.
I found a slightly flat basketball in the shrubbery.
I discovered you can make a basketball levitate with a really powerful leaf blower.
I discovered that if you buy low thread count leggings in the fall when you are skinny and then continue wearing them when you have put on a few extra pounds in the winter, people can tell if you are wearing underwear.
Finding out the girls were wearing underwear has been a great relief to me. I worry about things like good hygiene.
I watched kids go by with backpacks who looked like they were concentrating and I kept thinking of this song lyric.

"Jammin' our heads full of figures and angles and tellin' us stuff that we already know"

Two of my work study students went by and waved at me. I was wearing headphones and attempted to make a joke by "duckwalking" with my rake as a fake guitar but the guy turned away just as it did it so I just looked silly.

A girl who I don't know caught me throwing the basket ball in the air and trying to catch it with the air from my leaf blower. She thought this was hilarious.
I hope no one reports me.

I'm not very good at my job but I wave at everyone and am always happy help when I'm asked. I suspect this will be adequate. 

I read up on robbing banks at lunch time. I don't think I would make a good bank robber. I'd probably feel guilty and want to give the money back...

I came home and worked on the grain drill. I wish I made enough money I only needed to have one job. I would have really cool hobbies.

I would love to turn the pieces of the BSA 250 I bought years ago into a mini Cafe Racer. I won't.
I want to build a Plinth for my Dual 1019.
I figured out how to machine bearings for the old Fairchild tonearm I got from MuddyValley. I think I can cut down a tiny drill bit for the bearings and turn out a mounting spindle on the lathe. 
I'd hook the lathe I know how to use, back up to a line shaft.
I'd sell my grain drill out of state. Or give it to a young farmer.
I'd get rid of a lot of junk...
I'd eat the goats...
I'd ride my motorcycle...
Anyone with a spare 1.2 million dollars may contribute. This blog would be interesting!!!
(for a change)

Friday, February 5, 2016

3D Tractor progress

It is called a metal earth 3D laser cut model made by
It's a bit tedious.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A rainy day and I get un-jimpacted

A short post because my MacBook pro won't start up. I call it semi-pro, perhaps I should downgrade it to amateur
But I digress...
It is raining, actually pouring.
We discussed diversity for an hour at the morning meeting.
So far, every other grounder has either texted me or thanked me in person.
One hour out of the rain is taking happiness where you find it.
So... I'm working on a flower bed in the pouring rain. I get mixed up on a simple pruning situation. Because my brain is failing. So I get in the passenger side of my cart and attempt to look it up on the internet.
Of course the phone won't work because my fingers are wet.
I look to my right.
My supervisor has walked across the grass and around the building to ask me what I'm doing.
I show him my phone.
I say, this looks bad doesn't it...
He says yes, someone will complain to me later.
I look at him. He is soaking wet.
I think I am no longer "Jimpated"
Later I told the Hispanic guys who have been training me and they laughed at me, then the whole break room laughed at me and started giving me info on secret warm and dry places to play with my phone...

I could add that the plant I was looking up was Oregon Grape and it's a weed. I wanted to see if I could get it to go up and not out and if it would do bushy at the cuts. This is a dumb question and I did not want to reinforce my incompetence to other groundskeepers.

Now it will be brought up by the super in morning meeting and everyone will laugh at him for not knowing what to do with the plant.

The joys of a real job...

UPdate: and then I heard the blare of a car horn. I jumped. It was my wife with a metal water bottle of scalding hot coffee and chocolate. A handwarmer.

I felt loved...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I 've been "Jimpacked"

Personal Development day has arrived at last and my life has been changed for the better!
There has been excited talk in the break room about this event for weeks. Everyone wants to be challenged, encouraged, and just generally feel really good about the school and the whole core values concept that we all support and care about.
Sustainablity and diversity are much better than tired old catch phrases like "Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity" or "Give me Liberty or Give me death," or even "Old Tippacanoe and Tyler Too," although I do have a soft spot for 52-40 or was that "54-40 or fight,"  or was it "if I were 52 I'd be a deck?"
But I digress...
This is a year of no raises, short budgets, and no field trips so it was a wonderful break to get Mr. Jim Smith Jr. as a motivational speaker. 
Mr. Jim, who claim's "Energy" is his middle name, gave us a rousing pep talk and encouraged us to broaden our horizons.
The "if you are afraid of height's then jump out of a plane," school of motivational speaking has long been a favorite of mine.
It is a lot better than that old 1948 book, "How to stop worrying and start living," by Dale Carnegie that I've listened to on MP3 three times but then lost when iTunes upgraded and I can't find again...
See, I'm kind of negative guy and being told four times (after three close family members died in two months) that bereavement time is not vacation time, I may have been just a little on the peckish side.
But, just knowing that the college was spending top dollars to make us all feel good about ourselves (and reinforce core values of Diversity and Sustainability) made me forget my woes and shake everyone's hand that I could find.
I even did a couple hi-fives. I tried to hug a couple co-workers but they said they were not quite ready for that one yet. I said, push your horizons and show vulnerabilty and I'm thinking they will come around soon.
I'll trying hugging more people tomorrow.
But I was challenged. I'd even go as far as to say I've been "Jimpacted," (unless that phrase is trademarked
Here I was thinking that if I would have wanted to take risks and challenge myself I would have taken a high paying sales position, or driven truck, or done any number of jobs that would have given me more stress and higher pay. Frankly, I could have stayed a farmer and just borrowed more money.
But no, I opted out, I wanted a steady paycheck, free tuition for my daughter, insurance, retirement and a simple job close to home. I expected to work hard and to learn what it takes to do a good job as a groundskeeper. I wasn't thinking about getting much of a raise, I never expected the opportunity to be in management (even if I wanted to) and I thought I really don't need to talk to anyone outside my fellow groundskeeping crew members.
Now, I know that I've been holding myself back... The sky is the limit baby! In fact, that is even wrong, why set a ceiling? To Infinity and beyond. Heck, I'm ready to sell AmWay, Conklin, and Metaluka (or whatever the vitamin sale company is)
I picked up a lot of great catch-phrases like "Jimpacted," and a little bit of that watered down American Christianity with a faint hint of evangelicalism that we all do love. AND I got to hear him mention each one of his books which were of course, "on sale at the back table..."
As he ran around the room and challenged us to share our goals and dreams and be part of a team I just felt my whole world expand. I see my job in a new light.
I don't see weeds and leave blowing and lawn mowing as job, a task, a drudgery, NO! it is an opportunity, today grad green tomorrow the world!
I was able to reveal hopes and dreams to random strangers because being vulnerable and sharing and I do feel special, and boy howdy! we all are special.
The day was capped by the individual training classes. I had a good one one on conflict management which I needed to rationalize myself though the next JIMmpacted session and avoid another trip to HR. I wish I would have saved the speaker's handout but I drew rude cartoons on it and had to throw it away. He had a good acronym which gave rules for presenting and communicating about conflict. I am kind of frustrated that I can't remember half of it cause it was useful.
Lunch was healthy sandwiches with not much meat. I sure hope it was all non-GMO. I should have looked more closely. I got to meet a few more people which was nice because I wasn't required to talk about anything awkward and I could just get to know them in a natural manner.
After lunch we got diversity programming.
I'm so inspired by that section that it requires a whole separate blog post. Perhaps I will have calmed down a bit by then.
I tell you what...
I thought that being a groundskeeper and spending the day with full ear protection would just give me a little peace and quiet and give me a break from interacting with annoying people. After all, the secret to happiness is not telling all your personal information to every Tom, Dick and Harry you run into on the street but rather, CONTROLLED ACCESS...
But, I have been re-educated.
(I'm so not ready for the corporate world...)
(Another stream of consciousness post. You can proof read it yourself)

Here is a link so you can buy a book for yourself or for a friend, or get the whole set!!!

And now for some depressing news. I'm pretty sure my very favorite inspirational speaker has died. Click on my Zig Ziglar link and cry.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tractor progress

I only have the patience to work on it for  a half hour at a time.
It occupies me ar Lunch.

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