Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day! So what is the cost?

Well, it is finally Election Day.  I purposefully put off writing this until now; I just returned from the polling place in the quaint Village of Clyde and I assume all of you who are inclined to vote, have already voted.

I didn’t want to impose my political beliefs on you, but there is a huge dilemma that I have been pondering.  This has been like no other presidential campaign in modern history, in fact, as Greg Gutfeld said the other day, “This has been more painful than a prostate exam with unclipped finger nails.”

So here is my thought:  This election has been fraught with derisive personalities, rude accusations, and belittling comments hurled toward the electorate (you and me).  But the bottom line is that it is the ideology behind these two disliked candidates that will govern this nation.  In the next few hours, either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be named President Elect (although the election will not be over until January 6 when Congress counts the Electoral College votes).  In any event, one ideology is going to win out over the other.  But at what cost?

I invite each of you to set aside the aversion you feel for the other side and carefully consider the faults and criticisms of your own candidate.  What cost are you willing to expend to see your ideology win?  This is something we all have to answer over the next few years (or generations if you consider the Supreme Court).

So if you believe that half of the U.S. population is an irredeemable basket of ignorant deplorables, led by an unpolished, bigoted, sexual predator, hot-head bent on war, or that the Utopian promise of progressive liberalism will be as successful and effective here as it has been in Venezuela and that Secretary Clinton is above the law despite being steeped in decades of dishonesty and corruption, be prepared to pay the cost if your side wins.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

To See or Not to See

As Shakespeare said: 
To see or not to see
(or something like that) 

The week before I moved from Florida to North Carolina, I had my eyes checked and prescription updated.  Because it was convenient (and they had a sale on) I went to JC Penny’s and bought my glasses.  In the course of unpacking here in North Carolina, I set my glasses down and inadvertently picked up a pile of bubble wrap (and my glasses) and threw it away.  I went back to Penny’s where a rude optician said he could look in the computer and replicate what I had done in St. Petersburg (at full price of course).  When my new-new glasses arrived, they were in the wrong frame.  The grumpy optician said he would re-order the glasses and that I could keep the mistake until the replacement arrived.  (I never gave him back the mistake; he was just utterly rude.)

Some time passed by and I came to realize that my vision was again changing.  This time I went to Vision Works.  The glasses came in and I couldn’t see worth a damn.  I returned to the store wherein they told me that they were built to the script.  I went back to the doctor who agreed that they were the right prescription.  He rechecked my eyes and confirmed that I should be able to see fine.  I, in desperation, wrote the corporate headquarters and surprisingly received a phone call from the president of the company.  He asked me to again revisit the store on a particular date.  There a corporate optometrist took my glasses into the back and came out announcing that the frames contained two different lenses, both cut to the correct prescription, but due to the variance of their shape, that is the reason I was having trouble seeing.  I got new glasses and a total refund.

Time again passed and I decided to shun the drive all the way to Asheville and attempt my new glasses in my quaint adopted hometown of Waynesville.  I got a new prescription, had the glasses made at Walmart Vision Center, and guess what, I couldn’t see.  Back to the store, back to the doctor, the script was wrong, another new pair glasses (this is getting old -- hey, watch it -- I meant the routine).

The next script was pretty much uneventful, but that was the time that I realized I needed one pair of bi-focals to drive and a different pair to see the computer.  A real pain-in-the-butt switching glasses all the time, but at least they were right the first time.

Well a week-and-a-half ago, I went and had a new script made.  I dutifully waited the seven days for the glasses to be made.  I picked them up, and you guessed it, I can’t see.  Back to the store, back to the doctor, another script mistake, and my new lenses should be in by the end of next week.  What was that quote from Matthew 5:29?  Nah, I think I’ll wait for the newest replacement before I go plucking anything out.

David Kent

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Don't you love the smell of early morning mountain air

As most of you know, I keep odd hours; I awaken very early in the morning and go to bed early at night.  I have often joked that I was born in the wrong time zone.  That being said, what most of you don’t know is that I do not use an alarm clock, and never have.  My body knows when it is time to awaken, and when I have important tasks at hand, my mind never goes fully asleep so that I won’t miss the needed morning hours of work. 

Last night I went to sleep knowing that I had an “overnight” job due in that needed to be completed very early in the morning.  I slept as peacefully as a mature man can.  (Don’t you hate middle-of-the-night pee breaks?)  My last interruption was about 2:30 am.  As I climbed back in bed, I recalculated how much time I needed to finish the job and figured a 4:00 am arousal would be fine.

From the depths of a deep REM sleep at about 3:30, all hell broke loose.  The dogs were barking and running through the house as if someone was here.  I couldn’t imagine I had missed the driveway alarm, but in the fog of sudden consciousness, I was uncertain if I had or hadn't heard a sound out on the deck.

Trying to shake off the last of my sleep, I grabbed the secreted machete from its hiding spot and headed towards the front door.  I threw on the outside lights to be sure there was no one standing in ambush as the dogs circled and barked at the unseen intruder.  Seeing no obvious danger, I opened the door to meet an odoriferous affront equaled only by a sun-baked platter of rancid meat served with a generous nose of Pont L'Eveque cheese in the quaint surrounds of an uncleaned dog kennel.

Yes, one of our Carolinian Pole Cats (How did Shakespeare put it?  “A skunk by any other name would smell as sweet.”) had traversed my property, and whether by merit of its defensive spray or its unrelenting residual fortification of odor, the trespasser had transformed the pleasant predawn mountain air into one of nature’s most offensive olfactory insults.
So how did your nose start the day: Perhaps some fragrant coffee (or tea) brewing, the aroma of an oven-fresh pastry, maybe the allure of bacon frying?  I still haven’t eaten anything, and yes, like the BO left in Jerry Seinfeld’s BMW by the unbathed valet attendant, the morning visit still lingers in the air.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Strange Thursday Morning Excitement

I stayed up way too late last night talking with friends, so my morning has been a prolonged struggle to stay awake.  I have made numerous self-promises that if I manage to get my work done, I can have a really special treat: an afternoon nap.  As I muddled my way through some entirely uninspired text, the quiet of my mountain home gave way to what at first I assumed to be an airplane cresting the mountain.
I continued my toiled conflict between obligation and fatigue only to realize that the noise did not subside as quickly as it would if a fixed wing aircraft was passing.  Also the temper and texture seemed to modulate in unusual patterns.  I continued working until the racket took on an odd, almost “lawn equipment” sound, and it sounded like it was on or very near my property.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I ventured downstairs and out on the upper deck to investigate.  Once I was outside where the sounds were not muffled by the walls of the house, it was obvious that the source of the disturbance was a rotary-wing aircraft, and one that was very near.  I surveyed the sky and the valley floor below wondering if one of my neighbors had been hurt and in need of a medi-vac. 
Suddenly the noise crescendoed and a helicopter rose from behind the near ridge across the valley.  I began to wonder if it was perhaps another search and rescue operation (we have hikers go missing as a regular part of life in the Smoky Mountains), but as I watched I realized that there was a long tether hanging from below the aircraft.  As it rose further, I saw that at the end of the tether was a 10 to 12 foot long, what can only be described as a hedge trimmer.
The helicopter, obviously piloted by a steady hand, was trimming away trees that were encroaching on the power lines that keep us “up landers” connected, warm, and fed.  I watched with fascination as this massive clipper swung just feet from live electric wires.  I kept thinking that a single gust of wind or an errant yaw of the controls would shear those power lines easier that it was lopping the limbs from the trees and what the potential consequences would be. 

The noise has gone now, as the aerial arborist has moved down the other side of the ridge tracing the utility corridor across another valley and rise.  I have often pondered the skill and ingenuity required to get lines to some of these home sites.  My own electric line is fed from a pole on a grade so steep that it would be nearly impossible to stand there and would require rappelling ropes to get to.  Yet someone dug the hole, erected a pole and strung wires on that ridge in a place too far from any road or flat land to enable even the longest truck rig to reach.

The next time the power goes out, I won’t swear quite so loud or long.  Those guys have a particularly complex job. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

The brave little dog

For those of you who have dogs, you know that they are an important member of the family.  Like little children, they have diverse personalities with mood swings that range from one extreme to the other.  They can be affectionate or aloof, protective or frightened, remorseful or stubborn, smart or clueless, cunning or naïve, forgiving or vindictive, and at times, funny as all heck.
This spring, April is turning out to be more wintery than December was.  In deference to the weather, I have dutifully planted my herbs and started some early tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but the arctic air keeps blowing and every night as the afternoon sun begins to wane, I have to carefully bring my tender plants into the house.
My four-legged son, Sebastian, a constant companion, great protector and watchdog, the first bold sentry to man (or dog) his post and sound the alarm if he even dreams someone is approaching the house, was quietly asleep in my bed this morning.  About 3:30 AM, I heard him stir, and I did my best to remain as still as possible cherishing the warm blankets and some much needed rest; it was below freezing and I really didn’t want to take him out.  My ruse didn’t work and soon he was up kicking his back feet like some Spanish fighting bull about to charge the matador; it is his signal that he needs to go potty.
I swung my legs out of bed and put on my warm slippers.  Cory, deducing what the early morning ruckus was all about, darted into the kitchen to pounce on the basement door; that is his signal that he needs to go potty.
I stumble into the predawn darkness wishing I had the luxury of emptying my own bladder before bracing the morning cold.  Down the stairs and opening the back door that leads into their run, I realize that Cory is the only one with me.  From the base of the steps I called Sebastian to follow, but the only answer I got was a weak, pathetic whimper.
I panicked thinking he had hurt himself or something.  I flew back upstairs and turned on all the lights.  Sebastian was sitting in the bedroom looking totally perplexed.  I invited him again to come “go potty.”  He approached the bedroom door, looked into the hall, and retreated stealthily back into the bedroom.
Apparently, the two planters that have been stored in the hallway every night for a week, today looked menacing beyond any canine fortitude my little boy could muster.  I scooped up my vicious watchdog and carried him to the basement steps. 

We all remember the nightmares of a monster hiding under the bed or the boogeyman in the closet, well, I guess to Sebastian, two yellow planters in the hall are just as terrifying. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

White lies: relationships, politics and sports

I am curious:  Do you suffer from cerebral echoes?  I do, and sometimes there just is no relief to be found.

Case in point:  I was talking with a friend of the other gender last week and an innocent subject breached the conversation to which her response was “a little white lie.”  She would have no way of knowing this, but I knew that her little fib was an impossibility.  I left it unchallenged, but her words continue to echo through my head without decreasing in intensity.

Why is it that people so readily expect dishonesty to be a beneficial foundational choice in relationship building between people? 

For those who are sports fans of any genre, we have all been in the situation where a member of our preferred team commits a foul that goes uncalled.  Do we stand and scream at the officials?  No!  But let an uncalled foul happen on the other side, and we don’t stop complaining for a week.  This disingenuous nature runs rampant throughout our society.  Our perception that what benefits our here-and-now outweighs the long term consequences is dangerous and foolhardy.

I could quite easily correlate this concept to the current presidential campaign and point to the innumerable lies and broken promises that has led to a divisive “none-of-the-above” candidate to be leading in the polls, but I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t let this stray into politics.

On the outside, we habitually cloak ourselves in garish costumes and stage makeup to present our best appearance, and a significant part of that charade is pretending to be someone or something other than the raw truth that hides beneath our faux façade.  How many times have we seen or experienced relationships grow apart, when in reality, the people just gradually dropped the pretense and showed themselves as they have always been?  “You aren’t the person I fell in love with.”  Maybe, maybe not.

In the Biblical sense, I am in no position to “cast the first stone,” but I do think and consequently strive to live my life with honesty as a forthright requirement in all of my relationships: business, casual and romance.  The dénouement to this piece could easily circle back to sports or politics or relationships, but I’ll leave the reverberation of the consequences of actions to echo around in your cranium bouncing off of all those indiscretions committed, ignored and forgiven, and then for you to decide whether those white lies made your relationships, you, or for that matter, anyone else, better or worse. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

That was an interesting weekend

That was an interesting weekend.  Some of you may remember a week-and-a-half ago my power went out for about four hours.  When it did come back on I noticed that I had lost about 50% of my water pressure.  I figured there was an air bubble somewhere between the house and the wellhead and it would eventually work its way out.

I grudgingly lived with a weak shower and barely enough pressure to wash the truck, but I did notice that at times the pressure would be better suggesting a cure was inevitable.  Thursday afternoon, I was cleaning up the kitchen and decided to go check the pressure gauge on the tank.  The pressure was holding, but I thought, I wonder what would happen if I cut the power.  As soon as I pulled the disconnect, I heard the water start to siphon back to the well (that isn’t supposed to happen).

Later that evening while getting ready for bed, I flushed the toilet only to realize that I had NO WATER.  Fortunately, I am still in prep mode for winter storms that can at times disrupt the power (and consequently the well pump), so I had a bathtub full of flush water and several gallons of drinking water stored up for emergencies.

Funny aside: While looking through a drawer to find the paperwork on the well, I found this neat book.  The pages were all yellow, so it might have been old.  Inside was the name, address and phone number of every business in the county, and they were categorized according to the type of business.  I found the phone number to the well company without looking at their invoice or even turning on a computer.  I don’t know who invented it, but what a neat thing:  Business phone numbers printed up in a book!

Friday morning the well company said they would be right over to get the water flowing again.  Four hours later, the truck pulls up.  (I had temporarily forgotten that everyone here works on mountain time.  Four hours is actually early; good thing it isn’t hunting season, it could have been four days.)

After an hour-and-a-half of studious diagnoses, he determined that he had to pull the well (exactly what I had told him when he arrived).  He next discovered that 6 small pine tree saplings had grown up near the wellhead, and they had to be cut down so he could get his crane in there.  He said he would find someone with a chainsaw, and if nothing else, would come back “after work” and do it himself.  He left with the promise that I would have water in the morning.

I started calling about 10:30 AM (allowing for mountain time), but never reached him until about 2:30 PM.  He said, “Oh, I thought you had worked something out.”  HUH???  “Let me find someone to help me, and I’ll be right out.”  Nope, never heard from him again.

After returning from the store with my truck bed full of clear plastic jugs reminiscent of an episode of Moonshiners, I settled in for another night no running tap water and the certainty that if he didn’t come on Saturday, there was no way he would come on a Sunday.

To my surprise, he called me about 8:30 in the morning and said he had finally found someone to help him.  He was going to meet him over at the business, pick up his truck and would head out my way.  2:30 in the afternoon, he starts up my driveway.

In the end, he found a busted coupling about 300 feet down, replaced that and by about 6:30 last night, I had a hot shower.  Today, well it’s a Happy Monday, so I better get to work, just give me a few hours, it is mountain time after all.