Monday, August 22, 2016

The perfect storm

This hasn't been a good year for me.

In April, my mother died.  I wrote about it earlier, but it's had a bigger impact on me that I would have anticipated. That may seem a strange thing to say, but she was in her 90s, and death is clearly around the corner at that age, which isn't to say, quite frankly, that death isn't lurking around quite a bit earlier than that.  Indeed, it's always there in the background somewhere.  But I haven't adjusted really well to it, for some reason.


Added to that, I have a family member that's been ill, and that's created some huge stresses, but I'll omit the personal details of those, even though its on my mind all the time, and it impacts me in ways that are extremely stress laden.

And, added to that, my son graduated from high school this past spring, which is a joyful event of course,  but which dredges up all the angst associated with the passage from youth to young adult, and all the recollections of your own time at that age, which at least in my case tends to remind me of the numerous errors committed by me then and later, and how I often knew that they were mistakes but wondered (not charged) into them anyhow. It also emphasizes, I think, just how poor of father I have been in comparison to my own father, to whom I compare very poorly in ever sense.  Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

When I was small.

I didn't take any time off, I couldn't afford to, when my mother died, and it's been catching up with me a bit.  Indeed, I didn't take time to trail cattle this year, again, which is not a good thing.  Added to that, I have to deal with her estate, which isn't a huge problem, but it does mean that we (my wife and I) now own the house that was hers.  For some reason, this is proving to be a bigger chore than I thought it would be, but I'll omit those details.

I don't intend to sell the house as I figure that it can be retirement income for my wife and me, and unlike a lot of lawyers I hear say "I intend to keep working" (there are many that don't say that), I don't intend to be practicing law in my 70s, assuming I'm still living at that age, which is very far from a safe assumption.  Indeed, I question the motivation of those who do that really, or rather I question the wisdom of it.  They say it keeps the mind sharp, but do we so become our jobs that that's all  we can think to do?  I hope not.

Anyhow, as was the plan before my mother died, somewhat, my son has moved into her old house as its located just a block from the college and is an ideal location for college students.  A high school friend is sharing the tenancy of the house with him.  So far so good, it would seem.

Well, it was pointed out to me that a house built in the 1950s will lack three prong plugs, so after a two day ordeal with the whole topic, I learned about gfci outlets and how they worked, and installed a set.  I don't like doing electrical work at all, and I didn't want to spend a lot of money at the house, but I did it as it seemed wise or necessary. So far so good, I thought. All upgrades finished.

 The GFCI outlet.  Any electrician could do this in seconds, but for me, not so much.

Well, then there was a plumbing incident, followed by a second one.

The second one came last Thursday, and resulted in an after hours plumbing call.  Okay, that'll happen. Well, the diagnosis was not anticipated.  The sewer line is wrecked and has to come out.


Well, not only does it have to come out, at about the time my mother started to fall ill some concrete men who were working next door convinced her that they should poor a new pad of cement.  And, boy, did they.  I stopped the project before it ended up covering the entire basement, but the long and the short of  it was that they really went to town and poured a pad a freakin' two feet thick. Two feet.

Indeed, that may have been the source of the sewer line failure, or may not be.  The house always had problems with tree roots and a neighbors line failed the year before last.

I got this news late at night, the day before I was to run up to Cody for a hearing.  It's a 210 mile drive.  I tossed and turned all night long, and then the next day got up, got dressed, and headed out.  I got up really early, I was up anyhow.

I'd agreed to take my son as he had the day off and it'd make for a nice trip. We determined, and in fact did, stop by the museum in Cody.  But he's one of those people who simply cannot wake up.  That's the opposite of me, and in fact it drives me crazy as I really hate waking people up. Waking people up is one of my least favorite things on earth to do.  It's awful.

Well, all the lights in the house were dark, and I thought, we'll, I'll drive on.  Particularly after I called him twice with no answer. But, I thought, we'll, I'll knock on the door.

By this time, I had my truck turned off.

Now, I've been driving a stick shift vehicle since I was about 10 years old, and I've never, ever, left one in neutral so that it would roll off. And I instinctively set the parking brake.

But I failed to do both of those things.  And while I was at the door ringing the doorbell, the truck started to roll off.

I'm amazed that I made that failure. Fatigue?  I hope so.

I tried and did catch it, but I couldn't stop it, and it rolled away from me down the street, right towards a house.  I was sure it was going to go into the house.  But, in the intersection, the unmanned truck made a backwards right turn.

Modern trucks, mind you, don't make turns by themselves.

Well, this one did.

So, it didn't hit the house, Thank God. And I mean that in the literal sense.  But it did hit the Subaru Forester those folks had parked in front of their house.  And it destroyed it.

It didn't do my own truck any favors, and it'll go into the body shop as a result, but it's still drive-able.  Indeed, I did drive it to Cody as planned.

 As an experiment in mass, it proves to be true that the heavier object is the one that is less likely to be badly damaged.

Well of course the police came, as they should and must for such an event.  And of course, it was a policeman we'd had experience with.

When my son was first in high school, he accidentally backed into a vehicle at the high school.  It was not a bad collision, but we told him to call the police, as everyone is instructed to do.  The policeman was a jerk to him, and way overcharged him in the bond schedule which we ended up having to take care of in court.

Well, we got that policeman.

And he was, once again, a total jerk.  A second policeman came as well and was very nice, but the first was quite a jerk and indeed did some things I think are inappropriate.  I'm thinking of filing a complaint regarding him with the department.  I took full responsibility for the accident and didn't deserve the treatment received.  Nor did my son deserve to be awakened by the officer who refused to provide substantive details.  Nor did the basement dwelling fellow renting the basement who wasn't given any reason for why a policeman "wanted to talk to him."


Now, there may or may not be an added element to this, albeit one that we have nothing to do with.  A couple of years ago, a cousin of mine who was employed in law enforcement got in trouble with the law himself.  I have had no professional or personal involvement in the situation at all, but I will be frank that based upon my outside observation, there was a "not passing the smell test" element to it.  That is, what I think the real story is, is one of a moral failing, but not an actual violation of the law.  I may, of course, be all wet, but the degree to which his former employer turned on him was impressive and I think made defending himself pretty difficult.

As noted, that has nothing to do with me, but my last name is distinct here and every single one of us who carriers it is usually related (there are occasional exceptions).  As it was big news at the time, I sort of wonder, but have no real reason to believe, that this sort of marks us all in the eyes of some.  At least I wonder.  And when the jerk cop went up to the house and got my son up, he asked "Is there a X here?"  Now, that may be the only way to ask it, but it does come across like being asked if a member of some other species lived there, of which I'm part.

Indeed, as a total aside, I'm one of those folks, I'll quite admit, who sympathize pretty heavily with blacks when they claim they live in fear of the police.  I don't live in fear of the police, and I'm friends with some members of the law enforcement community, but I get it.  If I were black and undergoing this experience I'd frankly be afraid of the police at this point.  I'm mad enough about it that I'm extremely tempted to go to the department and ask what's up with this guy.

Well, anyhow, I've had just about enough of 2016.

But it's probably just me.  Death, stress, illness, not being able to get out and take time off.  It's been a bit much.

It's particularly odd for me, in a retrospective context,  as I'm just not that ambitious of guy.  Indeed, some years ago I found a letter or maybe a diary entry of my mother's written when I was a little boy, wondering what would become of me as an adult, as I just flat out lacked the driving ambition that so characterized her family growing up.  She was concerned.  People who know me professionally regard me as a workaholic, but I sure don't see things that way myself.  Maybe it's the case that people who live that way are consumed less by ambition than they are by an overdeveloped sense of duty.  Who knows.  Anyhow, thinking back on it, I think was really tired the other day and I wasn't really in the best state of mine to end up driving 400 miles in a day, by the time the day was over.  But I couldn't do anything about it.

Well, it's been a rotten year so far.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:
2Who is this who darkens counsel
with words of ignorance?
3Gird up your loins now, like a man;
I will question you, and you tell me the answers!
4Where were you when I founded the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5Who determined its size? Surely you know?
Who stretched out the measuring line for it?
6Into what were its pedestals sunk,
and who laid its cornerstone,
7While the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God  shouted for joy?
8Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb,
9When I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
10When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
11And said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves stop?
12Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning
and shown the dawn its place
13For taking hold of the ends of the earth,
till the wicked are shaken from it?
14The earth is changed as clay by the seal,
and dyed like a garment;
15But from the wicked their light is withheld,
and the arm of pride is shattered.
16Have you entered into the sources of the sea,
or walked about on the bottom of the deep?
17Have the gates of death been shown to you,
or have you seen the gates of darkness?
18Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell me, if you know it all.
19What is the way to the dwelling of light,
and darkness—where is its place?
20That you may take it to its territory
and know the paths to its home?
21You know, because you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!
22Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
and seen the storehouses of the hail
23Which I have reserved for times of distress,
for a day of war and battle?
24What is the way to the parting of the winds,
where the east wind spreads over the earth?
25Who has laid out a channel for the downpour
and a path for the thunderstorm
26To bring rain to uninhabited land,
the unpeopled wilderness;
27To drench the desolate wasteland
till the desert blooms with verdure?
28Has the rain a father?
Who has begotten the drops of dew?
29Out of whose womb comes the ice,
and who gives the hoarfrost its birth in the skies,
30When the waters lie covered as though with stone
that holds captive the surface of the deep?
31Have you tied cords to the Pleiades,
or loosened the bonds of Orion?
32Can you bring forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or guide the Bear with her children?
33Do you know the ordinances of the heavens;
can you put into effect their plan on the earth?
34Can you raise your voice to the clouds,
for them to cover you with a deluge of waters?
35Can you send forth the lightnings on their way,
so that they say to you, “Here we are”?
36Who gives wisdom to the ibis,
and gives the rooster understanding?
37Who counts the clouds with wisdom?
Who tilts the water jars of heaven
38So that the dust of earth is fused into a mass
and its clods stick together?
39Do you hunt the prey for the lion
or appease the hunger of young lions,
40While they crouch in their dens,
or lie in ambush in the thicket?
41Who provides nourishment for the raven
when its young cry out to God,
wandering about without food?Do you know when mountain goats are born,
or watch for the birth pangs of deer,
2Number the months that they must fulfill,
or know when they give birth,
3When they crouch down and drop their young,
when they deliver their progeny?
4Their offspring thrive and grow in the open,
they leave and do not return.
5Who has given the wild donkey his freedom,
and who has loosed the wild ass from bonds?
6I have made the wilderness his home
and the salt flats his dwelling.
7He scoffs at the uproar of the city,
hears no shouts of a driver.
8He ranges the mountains for pasture,
and seeks out every patch of green.
9Will the wild ox consent to serve you,
or pass the nights at your manger?
10Will you bind the wild ox with a rope in the furrow,
and will he plow the valleys after you?
11Will you depend on him for his great strength
and leave to him the fruits of your toil?
12Can you rely on him to bring in your grain
and gather in the yield of your threshing floor?
13The wings of the ostrich flap away;
her plumage is lacking in feathers.
14When she abandons her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
15She forgets that a foot may crush them,
that the wild beasts may trample them;
16She cruelly disowns her young
and her labor is useless; she has no fear.
17For God has withheld wisdom from her
and given her no share in understanding.
18Yet when she spreads her wings high,
she laughs at a horse and rider.
19Do you give the horse his strength,
and clothe his neck with a mane?
20Do you make him quiver like a locust,
while his thunderous snorting spreads terror?
21He paws the valley, he rejoices in his strength,
and charges into battle.
22He laughs at fear and cannot be terrified;
he does not retreat from the sword.
23Around him rattles the quiver,
flashes the spear and the javelin.
24Frenzied and trembling he devours the ground;
he does not hold back at the sound of the trumpet;
25at the trumpet’s call he cries, “Aha!”
Even from afar he scents the battle,
the roar of the officers and the shouting.
26Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
that he spreads his wings toward the south?
27Does the eagle fly up at your command
to build his nest up high?
28On a cliff he dwells and spends the night,
on the spur of cliff or fortress.
29From there he watches for his food;
his eyes behold it afar off.
30His young ones greedily drink blood;
where the slain are, there is he.
 The LORD then answered Job and said:
2Will one who argues with the Almighty be corrected?

Let him who would instruct God give answer!
3Then Job answered the LORD and said:
4 Look, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5I have spoken once, I will not reply;
twice, but I will do so no more.
6Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:

7Gird up your loins now, like a man.
I will question you, and you tell me the answers!
8 Would you refuse to acknowledge my right?
Would you condemn me that you may be justified?
9Have you an arm like that of God,
or can you thunder with a voice like his?
10Adorn yourself with grandeur and majesty,
and clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
11Let loose the fury of your wrath;
look at everyone who is proud and bring them down.
12Look at everyone who is proud, and humble them.
Tear down the wicked in their place,
13bury them in the dust together;
in the hidden world imprison them.
14Then will I too praise you,
for your own right hand can save you.
15Look at Behemoth, whom I made along with you,
who feeds on grass like an ox.
16See the strength in his loins,
the power in the sinews of his belly.
17He carries his tail like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are like cables.
18His bones are like tubes of bronze;
his limbs are like iron rods.
19He is the first of God’s ways,
only his maker can approach him with a sword.
20For the mountains bring him produce,
and all wild animals make sport there.
21Under lotus trees he lies,
in coverts of the reedy swamp.
22The lotus trees cover him with their shade;
all about him are the poplars in the wadi.
23If the river grows violent, he is not disturbed;
he is tranquil though the Jordan surges about his mouth.
24Who can capture him by his eyes,
or pierce his nose with a trap?
25Can you lead Leviathan about with a hook,
or tie down his tongue with a rope?
26Can you put a ring into his nose,
or pierce through his cheek with a gaff?
27Will he then plead with you, time after time,
or address you with tender words?
28Will he make a covenant with you
that you may have him as a slave forever?
29Can you play with him, as with a bird?
Can you tie him up for your little girls?
30Will the traders bargain for him?
Will the merchants divide him up?
31Can you fill his hide with barbs,
or his head with fish spears?
32Once you but lay a hand upon him,
no need to recall any other conflict!
 Whoever might vainly hope to do so
need only see him to be overthrown.
2No one is fierce enough to arouse him;
who then dares stand before me?
3Whoever has assailed me, I will pay back—
Everything under the heavens is mine.
4I need hardly mention his limbs,
his strength, and the fitness of his equipment.
5Who can strip off his outer garment,
or penetrate his double armor?
6Who can force open the doors of his face,
close to his terrible teeth?
7Rows of scales are on his back,
tightly sealed together;
8They are fitted so close to each other
that no air can come between them;
9So joined to one another
that they hold fast and cannot be parted.
10When he sneezes, light flashes forth;
his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
11Out of his mouth go forth torches;
sparks of fire leap forth.
12From his nostrils comes smoke
as from a seething pot or bowl.
13His breath sets coals afire;
a flame comes from his mouth.
14Strength abides in his neck,
and power leaps before him.
15The folds of his flesh stick together,
it is cast over him and immovable.
16His heart is cast as hard as stone;
cast as the lower millstone.
17When he rises up, the gods are afraid;
when he crashes down, they fall back.
18Should a sword reach him, it will not avail;
nor will spear, dart, or javelin.
19He regards iron as chaff,
and bronze as rotten wood.
20No arrow will put him to flight;
slingstones used against him are but straw.
21Clubs he regards as straw;
he laughs at the crash of the spear.
22Under him are sharp pottery fragments,
spreading a threshing sledge upon the mire.
23He makes the depths boil like a pot;
he makes the sea like a perfume bottle.
24Behind him he leaves a shining path;
you would think the deep had white hair.
25Upon the earth there is none like him,
he was made fearless.
26He looks over all who are haughty,
he is king over all proud beasts.
 Then Job answered the LORD and said:
2I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be hindered.
3“Who is this who obscures counsel with ignorance?”
I have spoken but did not understand;
things too marvelous for me, which I did not know.
4“Listen, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you tell me the answers.”
5By hearsay I had heard of you,
but now my eye has seen you.
6Therefore I disown what I have said,
and repent in dust and ashes.
From the Book of Job.


Neil Waring said...

Maybe the next year will be your best ever, sounds like you need it. I know it is a tough job but all police officers need to act with respect toward citizens. Like in all professions, one or two bad apples ruin the barrel. Your profession and mine. before retiring, are constantly in the news, but almost always, unfortunately, for the few bad apples. Hang in there, I love the Book of Job, much inspiration.

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

Indeed, our respective professions aren't getting much positive big press anymore. Mine rarely has, but the switch in the news on teachers is new.

Teachers are in the public eye, as are lawyers, which is why I suspect that the occasional bad apples get so much press. Chances are high that the same transgressions exist in ever occupation, but most simply do not get noticed.