General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Good grief, Throwing an alternator through pub window.Possumblog. The thing had to be Lucas product so this is much more serious than it first appears. For those not familiar with Lucas Electric, the company was formed by Joseph Lucas, also known as the "Prince of Darkness" because of the quality of his automotive electrical products. The alternator incident was obviously intended to call satanic forces down on the patrons of the pub. Although I have a few Lucas products in my garage, I had never thought of using them in that way. I have been saving mine until I could use them as an anchor. Now I wonder if I could stop the Kudzu and the squirrels by judicious use of Lucas starters and generators.

This post is a little about education and a little about the military. The Army personnel system is dedicated to ensuring that no one becomes truly expert at anything, so Commissioned Officers all get assigned to what we used to refer to as the Three R’s: Recruiting, Reserves and ROTC. My R turned out to be recruiting. I had made the mistake of insisting on being assigned to the Southeast and the personnel system insisted that the only job was in recruiting. So a very hot July day, we loaded up and headed out of New Jersey to our new assignment in North Carolina where I reported in as the Commander of a Recruiting Company of sixteen Sergeants. These fine soldiers had possibly the highest stress job in the Army outside actual combat. Each had been selected because he was a top performer in his specialty and a very good NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer). Given six weeks of “sales” training, they were then sent to the towns and cities of the US to convince young men and women that life in the Army was desirable. The Company was given a recruiting quota that I distributed to the sergeants and they worked an average 14 hour day, at least 6 days a week to meet the quotas. Each recruit was precious to the recruiter.

As the Commander, I had the authority to release recruits from their contract up to the day they reported to Basic Training. I used this authority sparingly since any losses were added back to the recruiter’s quota. Late one Friday, I was closing up the office for the day when a young man appeared almost in tears demanding that I release him from his contract. He said that he did not want to go to "U-rope-ee". Not understanding what he was talking about, I called his recruiter who told me that the kid had said he wanted to travel and had signed up to go to EUROPE. Returning to the young man, I asked him why he wanted out of the contract since he had said he wanted to travel. He answered that he had just discovered that "U-rope-ee" was not in North Carolina and, although he wanted to travel, he did not want to leave NC.

I voided his contract since I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Ft. Jackson SOUTH Carolina, where he would go for Basic Training, was also not in North Carolina.

Monday, August 12, 2002
My Weekend or How I Spent My Vacation

Saturday: Went to breakfast, had an omelet made with mostly hot peppers. Read the paper. Decided to install ceiling fan in bedroom. Now this was no ordinary fan in a box from the manufacturer, but one of several I bought for a total of $10 from my neighbor who was moving. Really good fans, but his Realtor suggested he make all the fans in his house match. Great deal for me as I needed some fans for my workshop. The fan in the bedroom worked fine, but it made a low hum so I decided to switch it for one from next door. Right away, I noticed that the old and new hanger hardware were not the same. Off to Home Depot to buy new hanger hardware and new light fixture. Home again lickety-split. Hang fan. Discover three-way switch doesn’t work. Remove switch from identical model fan. It has half as many wires as defective switch. Brilliantly determine that problem with defective switch is that it has too many wires. Install new three-way switch that turns out to produce only two speeds. Decide to tell wife that the fan is only a two speed.

Install blades on fan. Turn it on. It wobbles so bad that the house shakes. Spend twenty minutes looking for balance kit. Go through balance procedure, step two of which is determining when the least wobble occurs when the plastic balance test device is installed on successive blades. There is no least wobble. Follow directions and move blades around. No change in wobble. My arms start to feel like rubber from being over my head for three hours. Change blades to every position several times. Finally notice that one blade seems to be lower than the others. Cast blade mount arm is bent just a little. Replace arm. Absolutely no wobble. Total installation time: four hours.