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I Got Fired Today

Okay, it wasn’t actually today. I got fired two weeks ago. But, my boss, my former boss, we’ll call him Frank, decided that since he would like to be given two weeks notice, he’d extend the same courtesy to me. Of course, he first offered to make December 2nd my last day and then decided he’d shorten that to today.

Does it make much difference? I mean other than a couple of weeks salary?

Well, yeah, kind of does.

Insurance. The way that works is that your insurance benefits continue through the last day of the month you are employed. If your last day is November 21, your benefits last through November 30. If your last day is December 2, your benefits last through Dec 31.

My lovely wife works for a medical provider. She will get insurance. We were going to switch to hers in January. Fortunately, me losing my job counts as “life event.” So, her insurance will start December 1. No harm, no foul right?

Again, not really.

We’ve paid our out of pocket maximum on my insurance. That means for December we have no co-pays. No deductible to be met. Her insurance, also has the requirement for meeting the out of pocket maximum. So, for the next month we will need to pay for co-pays, and the deductible. Oh, and those amounts reset in January. So, if I get cancer, insurance will cover it. But, my sciatica? We’re going to pay for a lot of that.

Even another couple of days would have been worth a week. Thursday and Friday are company paid holidays. Had he given me to Wednesday, it would have been as good as giving me to Friday.

Still, I can’t complain too much. Utah is a right to work state. Technically he didn’t have to give me any time at all.

I’ve been fired in worse ways. His exactly statement was “It’s not working out. . .Are you surprised?”

No, I wasn’t. I’ll talk more later this week about why.

In the mean time, what’s next?

I’ve given a lot of thought to that. Writing is coming next. I’ll still look for a full time job with benefits. Our family is pretty well prepared for this setback. We have a storeroom full of food. We’ve paid off all our debts except the house, and that has an absurdly low interest rate.

So, tomorrow I’ll wake up without a place to go. I’ll come down to my home office. I’ll apply for some jobs. I’ll write a short story called “Suicide Ship” to submit to an anthology. And I’ll write another post here about getting fired.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I Intend To Live Forever

Inheritances are a weird thing. I mean if you think about it, if you are the one who is going to leave your estate, it might seem like they are just waiting around for you to die. And if you are the one who will inherit, well, it might seem like you are waiting around for them to die.

Inheritance can be a touchy subject. Do you leave your money to your kids? Do you expect your parents to leave their money to you?

When I left home, my parents were pretty typical middle class. At least I think they were. They shielded most of the money talk from us kids. But, my mother made something clear when I was headed off to college.

Don’t plan on an inheritance. I’m going to give all my money to the battered women’s shelter.

My thought? Good for her. It’s her money. She earned it. She can spend it or give it away. I’ve told her that I hope she lives to be 100 and dies broke surrounded by those she loves. May your last check be to the undertaker and may it bounce.

When my grandmother passed away there was a modest inheritance for my mother and her three siblings. My father suggested that my mother take the money and buy something she wouldn’t otherwise have purchased. Something impulsive. Something that would help her remember her mother.

My mother took the money and bought a $10,000 dining room table. And my father was right. My mother loves that dining room table. She’s even asked that I keep it in the family after she’s gone. (She’s in fantastic health and well on her way to living to 100.)

She made a modest amount of money in her career. Most of it after her kids were raised. She ran a CPA firm and an investment firm. She sold them and retired shortly before my father passed away. That was years ago. She’s remarried a wonderful man. She met him on a cruise. And that’s what they do with much of their time.

His children, technically my step-siblings, are concerned that he is spending their inheritance. I, and my siblings, on the other hand, let my mother know that we aren’t expecting any inheritance.

It’s your money. Spend it how you’d like.

But, despite everyone’s assurances, there will most likely be some inheritance. I recently talked to my mother about it.

When you pass away, if any inheritance should come to me, I think I’ll do the same thing you did with your mother’s inheritance.

Buy a dining room table?

No. If any inheritance comes to me I think I’ll buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

In that case, I intend to live forever.

And, she just might.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

What A Pain In The Butt

Still dealing with sciatica. Chronic pain makes it hard to sit. Hard to stand. hard to lie down. Hard to sit up. Hard to think. Hard to sleep. Hard to write.

I started using a cane today. It’s not a prop. I used up all the steroids. I’m 1/3 of the way through the muscle relaxers. I’m charting my Advil and Tylenol usage. Driving 30 minutes is a sick form of self induced torture.

If I were better able to manage pain, this post would be longer.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Just A Few Drugs To Get By

Anti anxiety drugs

Drugs I take to reduce anxiety

I have anxiety.

Probably means I get stressed, right? A little nervous? Maybe an occasional panic attack?

I’m not sure when I developed anxiety. I didn’t have an anxious childhood. It was chaotic. There was plenty of upheaval. But, we learned to get through it. Kids are resilient, right? As a kid, not much scared me.

Somewhere during the course of growing up, I developed anxiety.

My mother has anxiety. Her’s came on late in life too. I’m her biological child. (An important distinction in a family built through adoption.) Will my issues follow hers? Has she laid a roadmap that I will invariably experience? Or, are we each a little crazy in our own way?

I’ve had two episodes especially that I remember anxiety becoming almost overwhelming. Both involved airplanes. I like planes. I’ve been all over the world for business, pleasure and adoptions. I don’t get nervous on a plane. Why? Because if something is going to happen to the plane there is nothing I can do from seat 23F. Why worry then?

That’s a great sentiment; like telling someone to calm down they are acting irrationally. That ALWAYS works, right?

I was in seat 23F one time, or there abouts, and we were sitting on the tarmac waiting to taxi out and on to our destination. Someone mentioned there was a plane on fire. Not OUR plane, fortunately. But, a plane elsewhere at the airport. It was not an emergency, although the airport firetrucks were dealing with it. The problem was that I couldn’t see it. From my seat I couldn’t manage to get the angle right. The window and the seatback were in the way.

And I REALLY wanted to see. I needed to see. It was VERY IMPORTANT THAT I SEE!!! I had to take a breath. I had to convince myself that I didn’t really need to see. That my life wasn’t going to be changed if I could see the plane or not. I was successful. . .mostly.

The second time I had a full on panic attack. It was years after the first episode. In fact, I didn’t even remember the first episode when the second occurred. And the second time there was no fire. In fact there was nothing out of the ordinary at all. I got on the plane. It was a big plane, as I remember. I was in a center section of seats, on the aisle. And I suddenly needed off. . .RIGHT NOW!

It made no sense. There was nothing wrong. I was safely in my seat. The doors were closed. We were all set.

And I couldn’t control my breathing. I was terrified, and I didn’t know why. I couldn’t name my fear so I couldn’t contain it. I couldn’t control it. It took everything I had to stay in that seat. To try to take deep breaths. I took some Benadryl and hoped it would have a calming effect. It worked. . .eventually.

I’ve never been a big fan of drugs. I think they are useful. And I’ve seen them have amazing things. I take drugs for my anxiety. I have one set of drugs for long term anxiety. I recently added a second set of drugs for short term anxiety. By that I mean that one type is more effective when taken for a long time. The second drug is more effective for calming anxiety that I might have right now.

I read an article today that said that meditation has been found to be as effective as drugs for anxiety. That’s probably true. But, I think about that time on the airplane when I couldn’t control my breathing. Not sure how I would be able to meditate.

There may be a time I no longer take drugs for anxiety. I hope so. But, in the meantime, I’d rather take drugs than sit on a perfectly safe airplane and for an unknown, unknowable reason feel a compelling urge to get out.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Wrapped Around The Axle. . .Literally

It was only supposed to take 60 minutes. Ninety at the most.

It took eight hours and twenty minutes over the course of two days.

My son-in-law asked me to help him replace his brakes.

How do you know your brakes need to be replaced?

Because they are soft when I step on the brake pedal.

Okay, I’ve had worse diagnoses. Brakes are easy. I had all the tools. He had already bought all the parts. I loaded up my 1/2″ socket set. Threw in some 3/8″ sockets. Jack stands. A floor jack. Wheel blocks. Torque wrench. Gloves. Grease. A “C” clamp (really important!) A heavy mallet. A couple of screw drivers. A battery powered impact driver.

The hardest part was getting it all in the back of my BMW. My lovely wife needed her Suburban. It was okay. . .mostly. The jack handle hung out the window, but the weather was only in the low 40s. He lives in Payson about 30 minutes from our home in Pleasant Grove.

Thirty minutes there. An hour for the job. Thirty minutes back.

But, honey you promised to pick up the new shower doors at Home Depot today.

No problem. Once I get Julian’s brakes done I’ll have him pick them up and deliver.

(Spoiler alert: The shower doors don’t appear in this story again!)

I get to my son-in-laws house and the first thing I notice is that although he lives in an apartment, he has A TWO CAR GARAGE! And since they just moved in, it’s not full of junk. LOTS of room to work and we don’t have to be out in the 40 degree weather.

SWEET!

Okay, no worries. We pull the tire off. Easy peasy. And the rotor. . .(That’s the big plate that your brake pads press against). . .it was literally the worst rotor I had ever seen.

They are NOT supposed to have a lip around the outside.

When was the last time these brakes were changed?

Well, the people I bought it from got it new in 2006 and I don’t think they ever changed the brake pads.

Like ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THOUSAND MILES AGO!

Brakes should typically be changed every 40,000 miles or so. Okay, no worries. He’s already bought the new rotors. I disassembled the caliper. (And gave him the good news that he was going to get back the $300 he spent on new calipers.) Then, I took off the brake bracket.

See these two brake pads?

Yeah, they aren’t supposed to be shiny. That brake pad had worn through the padding and down to the metal and then THAT metal rubbed on the metal rotor and wore it down.

Okay, No worries. Now we just have to take off the rotor.

Just one problem. On a car the rotor sits on the OUTSIDE of the hub. The hub is what holds your lugs. On a car the rotor has holes for the lugs to fit through. Not on this.

On the 2006 Chevy Colorado the rotor sits BEHIND the hub. So, what do you have to do? You have to remove the hub to get to the rotor. This SOUNDS simple enough. Unfortunately, it’s not. To get the hub off you have to first remove the axle nut. It literally holds the hub onto the axle. Without it your wheel would fall off.

Well, not THIS wheel, but we’re getting to that.

The axle hub is torqued to about 190 ft/lbs. As a comparison, most lug nuts on a car are at about 100 ft/lbs. So, imagine how hard it is to take off a lug nut and then double that. The problem is that the hub is free spinning. (Remember we took off the brake pads already.

So, how do you secure a free spinning disk? Fortunately, there was plenty of construction material around. I grabbed a piece of rebar (long piece of steel.) And I secured that to the hub, locking it in with the lug nuts.

And I discovered that

  1. My son-in-law and I are strong enough to bend steel
  2. One piece of rebar isn’t enough

We literally wrapped it around the axle.

We strapped a second piece on and managed to finally get the axle nut off.

Hurray! We’re on our way.

Nope.

The axle nut technically holds the hub to the axle, but after 26 years, there’s plenty of rust holding those two parts together. The axle has a set of spines and the hub has a corresponding set that slide onto the axle. You have to “break” the bond between the two.

We tried crowbars first. Not a hint. We hit it with the big mallet I brought. Nope. We sprayed PB Blaster on it to loosen it. We sprayed A LOT of PB blaster. Nope. Finally we went to the auto parts store and rented a hub puller. It’s a device that fits over the hub. You secure it to the hub using lug nuts and then you put a screw through the middle of the puller and as you screw it in it pushes against the axle. Since the puller is secured to the hub, something has to give if you crank hard enough.

Well, most times. We bottomed out our center screw and I don’t know what was bending, or flexing, but the hub puller wasn’t working.

By this time it was late in the evening and we had attracted a crowd. We had three men, two women and my two year old granddaughter all in the garage offering advice.

We can’t do anything else tonight. All the stores are closed. I’m coming back tomorrow. And I’m bringing the heat. It can’t be stuck if it’s liquid.

Okay, I wasn’t ACTUALLY going to melt the axle, but heat is typically the last resort for stuck bolts, or in our case a hub.

I headed home to face my unhappy lovely wife who was not getting her shower doors. On my way I stopped into Home Depot just before closing. I got a torch. I also bought some bolts for a crazy idea I’d seen on a youtube video. But, the torch was the main thing.

The next morning, after church, I loaded up my fire extinguisher, a really long breaker bar that the same son-in-law had given me, asbestos gloves, face shield. I wasn’t coming back defeated again.

Back in Payson I got all my tools ready. Before we lit up the torch I decided to try the crazy screw idea. The bracket that holds the brake pads attaches to the car on the back side of the rotor. The bolts are 21mm. And there are two holes in the frame to fit the bolts through to secure the bracket. With the bracket removed these holes were right next to the BACK of my stuck rotor/hub assembly. I put a bolt through each hole. Then, I added a couple of washers and a nut to secure it. As I cranked on the bolts, they were pressing on the back of the rotor. Theoretically if I pushed them hard enough it SHOULD push the rotor/hub off the axle.

I didn’t have high hopes. I was sure we were going to have to go to fire.

I tightened down the first one until it got really tight. Then, I inserted the second one and did the same thing. I went back to the first one. . .AND IT WAS LOOSE! That possibly means that the rotor moves a little. We went back and forth. At one point we spun the rotor around 180 degrees to get even pressure.

Tighten one until it won’t go anymore. Switch to the other. Switch back. I lost track of how many times I did that.

And then the whole thing came loose.

DID YOU SEE THAT!?!

YEAH, YOU SAW IT TOO!

It was off.

After six hours. And we didn’t have to go to the torch. At that point it was all down hill. As in easy, not bad. We replaced the rotor. We reassembled the hub on the axle. We put our rebar back on. We put the axle nut on and torqued it to. . .as much as we could, my torque wrench only went to 150 ft/lbs. We then realized we missed the axle washer, so we took the nut off again, added the washer and replaced the nut.

Finally we were to the point that we could actually do the brakes. Replace hardware. Put on grease. Fit the brake bracket over the rotor. Depress the caliper piston. When you use your brakes a piston inside the caliper presses the shoes against the rotor. You have to manually push that piston back into the caliper. That is what the “C” clamp was for.

Replace the caliper. And then put the wheel back on.

Eight hours later. . .we were half done. We had only done one side.

We switched sides and pulled the second wheel off. And the rotor looked nice. No scoring. No lip. We didn’t need to pull the hub and replace the rotor. . .even though we now knew how and had all the tools.

This is what doing the brakes is normally like!

Twenty minutes later I had the removed the caliper, removed the old brake pads. Greased and installed the new ones. Depressed the piston. And put it all back together.

Ah, Rodney, what’s that leaking out of my truck? Is that water?

Nope. That’s oil.

Is it serious?

Check your brake fluid reservoir.

It’s full to the top and overflowing.

That’s the problem. When I depressed that piston it pushed fluid back into the reservoir. Throw some kitty litter on the spill and in a week you won’t notice a thing.

We replaced the wheel and while I cleaned up my tools he drove it around the parking lot.

Feels great!

Sometimes a job takes 20 minutes. . .sometimes it takes eight hours and twenty minutes

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Chronic Pain Is More Fun In The Movies

No, chronic pain is not fun. It’s not really fun in theory OR practice. But, it’s a classic trope none-the-less.

Ever notice when the hero gets hurt in the movies? He (or she) grunts in pain and then walks it off. In fact, the worse they are hurt, the more they move the faster it gets better. I read a news story once that gang members in Los Angeles were surprised when they got shot by how much it hurt.

We’ve all played games as kids where we get shot, or injured and we have to “power through.” We grit our teeth and act like we are in serious pain and then go out and do whatever we need to do. (Okay, maybe that was just me, but, you get the idea.)

But, in real life, pain isn’t very fun. My scaitic nerve started hurting about a week ago. That’s the one that starts at your hip (okay, it’s the butt, but “hip” sounds better) and runs down your leg. The pain feels like someone is stabbing the join with a very small, very sharp needle. Sometimes it’s a sharp pain. Sometimes it’s a dull ache. But, it hurts ALL the time.

You might wonder if pain medications help. You know, like Tylenol or Advil. I don’t know. Oh sure, I’ve been taking them like clockwork, along with some muscle relaxers that I don’t technically have. But, I have no idea if they are helping or not. Why? Because it still hurts. Would it hurt more without the meds? Probably. Maybe. But, I have no idea. All I know is that it hurts.

And as much as I try to do that whole movie “walk it off” tactic, I just can’t. I can’t focus on work. I can’t focus on writing. I struggle even to sit. Driving is excruciating. (The problem with driving a BMW sedan.)

I also discovered something else: I’m kind of a baby. Seriously. I’m not very brave. I’m not very tough. I whine to myself constantly.

If only life were a little more like the movies.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Great American Experiment

Yesterday was election day in the United States. It happens regularly. Second Tuesday in November. Americans have been holding elections since shortly after we told the British we didn’t want to be British anymore back in 1776. Some elections are more important than others. We typically consider presidential elections as the important ones. That election cycle is every four years. Our next one will be in 2024.

Senators are elected for six year terms. The senate is made up of 100 members. Every two years about a third of the senate is up for reelection. This year there were 35 senate races.

Members of the House of Representatives are elected to two year terms. There are 438 members of the House. They were all up for election yesterday.

The Democrats held control of the House and the Senate going into yesterday’s election. But, it was a slim majority, especially in the Senate where it 50-50, with Vicr President Harris being the tying vote. Because we were not holding a presidential election, yesterday’s vote was called a mid-term election, as in mid-way through the president’s term. Typically the president’s party does poorly during the mid-terms. And going into yesterday the prediction was for a large Republican wave.

It didn’t happen. The pollsters will be analyzing it for at least the next two years. As for control of Congress, it looks like the Republicans will gain control of the 438 member House, by the slimmest of margins. Probably no more than 5 or 6 members.

Several senate races are still too close to call. It will likely come down to a senate race in Georgia. None of the candidates got more than 50% of the vote. So, they will hold another election on December 6. The winner just may determine who controls the senate, the Democrats or the Republicans.

This beautiful experiment has been going on for nearly 250 years. May it continue for 250 more.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Hanging Out At The Facebook Barbershop

Despite so many services moving online: shopping, dining, work, getting your haircut is still something that you have to get in your car and head out to your barber.

Oh, I am a little barber
And I go my merry way
With my razor and my leeches
I can always earn my pay

— Man of La Mancha “The Barber song

My barber, fortunately, doesn’t use leeches. But, I’ve been going to the same barber for the past 25 years. Mary is the name of my barber. She owns Dean’s Style Shop in Orem, UT. I’ve never met Dean. Mary bought him out years ago. When I go for a haircut, Mary asks about my kids. We talk about hunting or the weather. She had a recent water leak in her house. Insurance covered it, but it was a pain to live with the renovations.

Barber shops have been a gathering place for centuries. In many places the barber shop is where you go to not only get a haircut, but to exchange information and pleasantries with the other patrons.

It occurred to me that Facebook has become our modern day barber shop. You can’t get your hair cut, of course. But, you gather to discuss politics or religion. You gather around the same group, often in your discussions.

Today was election day in the United States. My friends come from across the political spectrum. We have each posted and commented on each others posts. We argue. We discuss. We each have our positions.

But, like any group of friends gathering to discuss, at the end of the day we go away friends. So, if you see me online, feel free to come by and talk politics.

Just don’t expect you can get your hair cut.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Worse Than The Coming Snow!

Over the weekend I raked leaves. I raked a little and then a bunch of kids showed up for a church service project and raked a lot.

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I have a lot of leaves.

My 1/3 acre property has eight 40′ maple trees. They generate a lot of leaves.

We planted them when they were bare root twigs. They were three feet tall. My boys helped plant them. One 12 year old son asked,

Will we be able to climb these trees?

Well, your kids will be able to climb them.

I hate delayed gratification.

That same son, the first year went out with a fork and a sandwich baggie to “rake” the three or four leaves that fell off the tree. This year there were probably twenty bushels of leaves. We dumped them all on our garden. The soil here has a lot of clay. I’ll rototill the leaves into the soil and they will help it be better for plants next spring.

We’re going to get plenty of snow this year. Some might come this week. I have a very long sidewalk that borders my house on three sides. Plus I have a driveway that can park six cars. And 16 steps up to my front door. When it snows there is a lot to shovel.

Do you know what happens if you don’t shovel the snow off the driveway and sidewalks?

It turns to ice and sticks around for a long time. It makes it hard for people to walk and can be dangerous. So, we are pretty good about shoveling the snow right away.

But, not raking the leaves is much more serious than not shoveling the snow. Shoveling snow is ALMOST a choice.

Raking leaves is a necessity.

If I don’t shovel the snow the city might get after me. Or someone might slip. MAYBE.

If I don’t rake the leaves? My lawn will die.

Not MIGHT die. Not MAYBE die.

If I were to miss raking the leaves just one time, my entire lawn would be dead next Spring. I’ve spent years getting grass to grow on my property. I’ve invested thousands in a sprinkler system. I buy fertilizer. I aerate.

And if I got lazy one year, that work would be gone.

Snow? Snow will eventually melt. If I don’t shovel it, it’s an inconvenience.

But, leaves? They are serious.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Remember The Alamo? Let’s NOT

I watched a movie tonight. It was an old movie about the Alamo. It had a young Alec Baldwin as the heroic Col Travis. An aging James Arness of Gunsmoke fame, was Jim Bowie. Brian Keith, also older actor played Davy Crockett.

The story was the one we all remember, 179 heroic Texans hold off thousands of evil Mexicans at a small mission in San Antonio. I didn’t like it. The movie was done well enough, despite being a made for TV movie. But, I was not able to sufficiently suspend my disbelief.

I love, or rather, I used to love the story of the Alamo. There’s a Johnny Cash song about it that I know by heart. I actually got a chance to visit the historic site in San Antonio. One of my favorite stories is the story of the Marriot hotel in San Antonio. Marriot wanted to build a 20 story hotel, but it became clear that the shadow of such a large building would, at times fall on remains of the Alamo mission. Since it is now designated as a war memorial, the hotel had to be shortened. It’s against code for anything to shadow a war memorial.

Walking through that historic building was moving. The floors of the chapel are stone. The same floors that Bowie, and Travis and Crockett walked. The floors that ran red with their spilt blood. Blood spilt for betrayal and slavery.

Wait, what?

Yes. The story of the Alamo is not exactly like I remember it. And I can’t think about it the same way again. The movie rightly pointed out that in 1824 the Mexican government (who owned what was then Texas) invited Americans to come to Texas. They were given land and opportunity. There was one pretty significant restriction: No slaves.

Mexico had outlawed slavery and they insisted that Americans coming to Texas had to abandon the practice of slavery. It was a condition of their immigration.

The problem? The Americans weren’t ready to give up their slaves. Forty thousand of them came to Texas and many brought their slaves. In fact, the movie even made reference to Jim Travis’ slave. The character, based on a real person, survived the attack on the Alamo.

Why was Santa Anna attacking Texas? Why was he attacking the Alamo?

Because the Americans refused to abide by their agreements and abandon slavery.

The fight wasn’t about freedom. It wasn’t about an oppressive dictator trying to kill Texans. It started and ended with the desire by the Texans to keep and encourage slavery. That’s what Santa Anna was fighting them over.

It’s said that history is written by the victors. The Union won the Civil War. The North got to write the history. And it was simple: Slavery was bad and we fought a war to end it. (Okay, it wasn’t that simple, but it also wasn’t a lot more complicated.)

Mexico lost the war with Texas. So, the Texans, got to write the history. The brave Texans held off the mighty Mexican Army. Then, they were massacred. (Ever notice that the winners in history never massacred anyone? It was always the losers who were the murders.)

History wasn’t quite that simple.

I’ll never be able to listen to the story of the Alamo the same again.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

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