Thursday, October 29, 2015


Sourcing the original intent of this blog, I wanted it to relate some of the events of my life so they are recorded for my kids. Recently, I have come to the realization that my memory of the events are, in most cases, the only remaining version.

Haven't we all heard one person's version of an event, only to hear the other side and wonder if they exist on the same planet? Every parent I know can commiserate. I can only tell the stories as accurately as my memory will give me the details.

Here is one that is fairly straightforward:


Stanley was one of the typical employees at the oil change business I helped turn around in Omaha. A bit older, in his 30's, not addicted to heroin, but otherwise similar. Low to medium intelligence, little in the way of responsibility. Smoked.

The smoking was always a problem in that we worked in a facility that was filled with petroleum products. Banned in all areas, of course, but still a problem. I was reminded of this event today as I filled my car with windshield washer solution and saw the "Good to -20!!" on the container. That means the fluid won't freeze and break the reservoir in the car, but it also means that it is not plain water. We could have purchased pre-mixed fluid, but that meant buying a lot of expensive water. To reduce our cost of operation, we purchased 55-gallon drums of ethanol, mixed it with water out of the tap and delivered it to the work stations.

Now, ethanol is the stuff they add to gasoline, so pretty flammable. I had mentioned to Stanley that the drum was empty and needed to be changed, so I was not surprised when I walked into the back room and saw him working on the drum/pump/plumbing...but I was surprised when I saw the cigarette hanging out of his mouth. 

Another surprising thing about ethanol is that its flame is nearly invisible, maybe a bit of blue at the tip. But it sets everything else on fire. What I saw was a spray coming out of the drum/pump/plumbing and the fire climbing up the wall. So far, Stanley's face and hair were not on fire, but it was inevitable. Unlike most times when you go, "Where the hell is the fire extinguisher??", this time it was right in front of me, I sprayed Stanley first, the wall second and the drum, etc. last. He survived with minor burns.

Then I proceeded to have nightmares for years. Decades.

Who can verify that story? Probably, nobody. Stanley was younger than me by a good bit, but most of those guys were not destined to live long lives, in my opinion. To borrow a phrase used by another of the guys, "Does it hurt to be that stupid?"


Everybody has heard this story--riding calves. We were surrounded by large animals, the rodeo in town was good entertainment, and it was only natural to see if we could imitate some of the heroic activities of the rodeo cowboys. 

We were specifically forbidden to ride calves, probably out of respect for the calves rather than any concern for us, but that didn't stop us from rigging up a chute, wrapping a cinch rope around the calf and around my hand and nodding "OK" like the real guys. My brother only opened the chute a little bit, the calf lunged through the opening and my legs were immediately scrubbed back such that I was laying stretched out on the top of the calf. I could not get my hand out of the glove, the calf bucked, I flew up and inevitably down. The calf was then coming up again and its tail head, that bony structure at the base of the tail, hit me square in the solar plexus. 

I eventually disentangled, fell off face first into the baked clay and buffalo burrs of the barn yard, face first. The blow to the solar plexus had stopped all kinds of essential functions, including breathing, so my brother thought, "I've finally one it, I've killed him!"

It took me over an hour of trying to regain normal functions, but I came out of it with fairly bruised and scratched face, but no other injuries of consequence. Ready for the next time. 

Again, my version, my memory is the only one since my brother is gone. Hopefully, I tell it like it happened.


If you don't know how much I despise the typical elite columnist, you haven't been listening. The use of the word "chute" above reminded me of reading something recently by one of them who spelled the word "shoot." And, probably calls the leather leggings used as protection "chaps" to rhyme with "chap stick" instead of the correct pronunciation so the initial sound is like in "shack." But they are still superior to us, aren't they? By virtue of their Ivy League "education?"

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