Posted by: Redbeard | February 28, 2014

I normally try to keep these postings light in nature and at least entertaining from my point of view. This one is not. If you have a relative, or a good friend who doesn’t have an advocate, that becomes disabled in anyway, read this as a warning to pay attention to what is going on in their world. A world that has dramatically changed. You may not be able to change or alter anything that they do, but maybe you can provide some advice.

Some of you are aware that just before Christmas my brother had a stroke and heart attack. To say the least my brother has always been very, very independent. The results of the stroke however, have left him paralyzed on his left side and he requires qualified care 24/7. He has come to grips with the possibility he may never walk again, but there is always hope. My brothers hobby, so to speak, was his house. All alone he put on a year round sunroom and expanded his kitchen. He worked at his own pace and his work was always top quality. The next major renovation he was planning was to redo the kitchen. This would entail a complete gutting and rebuilt. The only appliance that would have to have been bought was a microwave, to be installed over the new stove. The only other new item would be a new sink and faucet assembly and flooring.

I had advised him that he needed three months with the new expenses of his medical condition to see how his money flowed. Unfortunately he ignored this advice and hired a contractor. Here are some of the round figures that this “individual” charged him. For the kitchen redo as described above, $39,000. For moving some brickwork, putting in a wheelchair ramp, installing five pieces of bead board, trimming five doors, and some paint, $27,000. Of the others I found a quote of $12,000 for the removal and replacement of his garage door. That’s one I had stopped.

Let me say right here that having caregivers who recognize when things don’t quite seem correct and advise you, are one of your most valuable assets. To know that they are looking out for your loved one beyond their assigned duties is rather comforting. Back to the story.

I said that my brothers decisions to hire these people without having them checked out was unfortunate. In addition it was costly. I believe that all the kitchen work could have been accomplished for under $25,000. Heck I would’ve demoed the kitchen for $5000 (not really, he’s my brother for goodness sake,) but you get the idea. $12,000 for a new garage door and opener? We are having a known company installing the latest and greatest for under $2500.

It was plain dumb luck, or a cosmic alignment, that I was out at my brothers the other day when this contractor happened by. Other than having a good visit I had earlier been looking at the contracts that my brother had agreed to. I was at one end of the table, he sat at the other end of the table and my brother between us. This was a good thing. I asked him about the charges on each one of these contracts. He thought that they were just fine. He said he didn’t understand what I was talking about. He thought he was being fair. And when I pointed out the $12,000 for a garage door isn’t even in the same ballpark as a major company I had already checked into… Four times the major companies price, he said I didn’t know what I was talking about. This guy knows me from no one. He knows nothing about my background with construction companies who know how to put a bid together and he knows nothing about the family history. We, like so many other homeowners, know what lumber costs and know what labor costs. We know what is fair and we know when we’re getting taken. I told them that he was to settle with my brother for what he is already done, clean up any debris that might be around, and to go away and never contact him or me again.  But the con continued.                     

Within hours of my departure later that afternoon, he called and wanted to apologize for any “miscommunications” there might have been on their pricing  and that they were going to offer to do the garage door for free. I was alerted to this fact and called him. I asked him what he was doing. “Did you not understand the instructions that I had given?” I asked and repeated what I had told him when we sat across the table. He said that everything was cleaned up that that he had been paid what was due him. I told him once again, not to ever contact my brother and that if I needed to, I would deal with his boss. Later, I talked to the caregivers and gave them instructions that if he ever returned or called that they were to call me immediately. I also thank them again.

The next day I received a phone call from a County social services representative. She had got a call concerning possible fraudulent contracting services in regards to my brother. We had a long conversation and she provided some instructions so that we could make a complaint against this contractor’s license with the State.

 

At the end of the day we all have to realize that elder abuse or abuse of the disabled can take many forms. For a strong-willed and knowledgeable man like my brother, who is used to making his own decisions, to now have to rely on outside input to those decisions is very tough. There has been a dramatic change in his world and it takes time to get used to it. Ultimately, with input from people who care, this con artist and the unscrupulous company behind him have been stopped without the use of cowboy justice. They will be reported so that maybe, just maybe they will not con another elderly or disabled person.

Posted by: Redbeard | February 9, 2014

Long Beards and Camouflage

Long Beards and Camouflage

I sometimes write at the beach, and today is an almost warm day with a slight, on-shore Southern breeze of about 25 knots. Perfect for letting moisture and sand permeate any electronic device I might have brought with me so that it will be tragically ruined, thus forcing me to buy the new, improved, quantum leap in functionality, all you have to do is look at it and it does stuff version. But that’s not why we are here is it.

Does it appear to anyone that there is resurgence of men with beards? And does anyone think it might be because of an enormously popular television show about a family that makes duck calls? They may have made it more acceptable but for some time men have been discovering that having a full beard, or other well groomed type of facial hair, is very natural and I might even say an important part of being a complete man. I might say that, but I won’t. Some guys, a very, very small amount of guys, just didn’t get the “beard” gene and that any type of facial hair they may attempt to grow just looks sad. Kudos to them for having the good sense to shave.

Mustaches always seem to be accepted and recently little “soul” patches under the bottom lip have become a fad. But the only type of facial hair you have seen in recent years, plastered around the fashion pages and on want-to-be-hip television shows, is the two or three day growth. These “almost” beards should, according to a recent survey of women, be more appropriately called the human version of 60 grit sandpaper. Either grow it or shave it guys. Our women take considerable time and money to make themselves pretty and soft…for us. What do we do? Treat them like of plank of rough cut cedar. Not very nice of us is it. The in between look is out guys. On an increasing basis though, and acceptable from the production floor to the board room are glorious, well kept, luxurious full beards. One note of course is that safety, takes priority. For example, a fireman needs a good seal on their respirator, and the food handler must wear a beard net, while the mechanic must keep their long locks out of the gears and rollers. Fortunately there are many ways for most of us to be safe and have a great beard.

Many of you guys may be thinking of sporting your own facial hair and wonder how it will be received by your spouse, family, or even your boss. Here is the way. Start it on vacation. Shave only the lower portion of your neck and a line on each cheek. Early shaping is essential to acceptance. Use basic soap, and some regular cream rinse to keep it healthy and soft. Then decide when you get home. It really is your decision whether to trim and shape it, to let it grow out, or succumb to..ah..pressure. You will continue to see more men with beards as barriers and prejudice or overcome. By the way, women with beards are not acceptable, ever.

Now to talk about camouflage. Hang on, wind blew my beard onto the keyboard. There, that feels better. Maybe, if I open my shirt and stick my beard inside. I’ll give it a try. Yes, it is a camouflage (camo) shirt and yes I have a number of them. Why? Because they come in a wide variety of patterns, colors, and fabrics, just like any other type of shirt on the market. The added benefit of blending in to foliage and trees has a limited use outside of the forest but is nonetheless something to consider with today’s environmental efforts. Just think of being able to water your lawn but not be seen. It would drive the neighbors crazy. I find it fun to dress from head to toe in camo, go to Cabela’s, and hide from the family. I’ve surprised a couple of sales associates as well. Wow, they jump really high.

I think it is part of the whole return to nature movement. We may do it in a 45 foot motor home nowadays rather than a canvas tent, but that’s technology and comfort rearing its head. Look, if we wanted to live off the land and off the grid we would. But you know what? Every mountain man that ever was, eventually comes to town for supplies of one kind or another. So wearing some camo gives us a little reminder of where many of us would rather be. Yes it is great to have easy access to shopping centers and grocery stores. It is even better to return to a home nicely placed amongst the trees.

Long beards and camouflage are not new and have never really gone away. Think ZZtop, most of our old ancestors, and military paint schemes.  Interest in hunting and fishing has never been higher due in a large part to conservation and management efforts by the users. Proper use and training of the equipment needed has as well made things safer and more acceptable to a wider audience.

At the end of the day I am as much inclined to take my camera into the woods as I am a shotgun or rifle. The majesty of a full racked buck in bright sun against a forest background is something to be photographed. Of course a nice deer steak isn’t bad either. Either way I like my beard to keep my face bit warmer and my camo to blend in a little, as well as remind me of the earth that provides a lot of what I need.

Now I’ve got to dump the sand out of this laptop. Hey, can someone help me up, I’m a bit buried in this sand.  Anyone?  Hey!

Posted by: Redbeard | December 20, 2012

Gun Owner Responsibility

I was going to write a rant about the fallacies of “gun control” as proposed by the President, a number of elected officials, and the usual groups of Second Amendment and gun haters. But I will not. There have been way too many pundits on both sides of the issue trying to out yell each other on newscasts and talk shows. In the end they all call for meaningful solutions to the problem. Assuming that the gun owner is properly trained, this is what I propose.

I have no problem with background checks either at a gun store, or at a gun show. It is illogical to require one at a gun store and not at a show. So if that is what’s happening at shows then that’s one step that needs to be corrected.

Secondly, I think that all weapons should be sold with an appropriate external safety device. If that means a trigger lock, okay. If that means a device that prevents  loading  a shell into a rifle, that’s fine as well.

So far we have an approved purchaser, who was sold a weapon by a FFL (Federal Firearms License) holder, with appropriate internal and external safety devices.

(Can you see where I’m going with this?)

The responsibility for that weapon has now left the manufacturer and seller, and resides with the current owner. What is the extent of that responsibility and is there a point where it ends. Being a responsible weapon owner is twofold. One part is to maintain the gun, the bow, or edge weapon properly. The second part is to properly secure that weapon against unauthorized usage. It is one thing to have the antique flintlock over the fireplace at the hunting Lodge and yet another to have a loaded .30-30 in the same place. Having a handgun or shotgun readily available at night or while you are home is fine but should you leave the house, you must secure weapons that you are not licensed to carry. By securing I do not mean that you stuff it into the back of a closet. It means putting it in a gun vault. I don’t mean cabinet. Those are not much better than a gym locker. The pricey gun case, made of polished wood and glass panels displaying the fine array of rifles that you own is even more easily breached. Why advertise?

Modern gun vaults or safes are not easily opened by those who do not have the combination. That may be the crux in many cases. You may say “He’s my son or daughter, they are responsible gun users, they have the combination to my gun safe.” Sorry that’s the wrong thinking. The combination to your gun vault or safe is something that no one but you should know. It is wise to place a combination in an envelope in your safety deposit box or with your lawyer and to be changed it each time you change the battery. Nobody should be able to see you enter that combination, ever. These sons and daughters may badger you, making statements like “I’ve taken all the courses and we have been hunting hundreds of times together, but you don’t trust me.”Or “When are you going to treat me as an adult? You keep telling me to grow up but I don’t even have access to my own guns.” My reply would simple “In my house all weapons are under my control. Any time you need access to your weapons all you ever have to do is ask.” It does not matter whether the son or daughter is 14 or 48. The weapon will be secured when not in use.

I am not just talking about rifles or shotguns. I’m also talking about handguns and hunting knives. For those who are trained in their use and safety, carrying a handgun in your home or on your property is not unusual. In most States though, having a CCW or Concealed Carried Weapon in public, requires a permit. To obtain that permit almost always requires special training, knowledge, education and ongoing proficiency documentation. It is a serious responsibility.

At the end of the day it will ultimately be the responsibility of the gun or weapon owner to properly maintain and secure the weapons in their home or business. The purchase of a gun means that you must control the gun. If we continue to do otherwise, then there will be further erosion of our Second Amendment rights under the guise of gun control.

Posted by: Redbeard | November 8, 2012

Be The Bear

     Today is Thursday November 8th, two days after the reelection of President Obama. It would be dramatic for me to say here that I have now calmed down and can write a coherent post, but that would not be true. I was highly disappointed in the results and continue my deep concern for the direction of this country under the current leadership. It’s not just him and the questionable experts that he surrounds himself with. It isn’t the fact that he’s gathers experts together and then never meets with them It isn’t the fact that he doesn’t consult with those that are making a success, but it is that he is not learned anything. But that is not what this post is about. It is about not giving up on what half the country believes is the right way to go. The correct path to take to get us out of the crushing debt that we have, and the correct path to bring consistent prosperity back to the United States that will provide the means to get rid of that debt. It just struck me that the more prosperous and successful the United States is from a manufacturing point of view, that the unions that so heavily supported Pres. Obama would actually have a substantial increase in membership and thus the dues that is the engine of those organizations. I wonder why they cannot see that. Yet again I digress.
Some have called the results of the presidential election a testament to a growing welfare mentality. Some feel that a large percentage of those receiving unusual government assistance, such as cell phones, are taking advantage of the generosity of this Country. I have to admit that something seems very unusual with the oddball giveaways. Those of us, however, that feel taking more of a hard-working and successful person’s money and giving it in cash or material to someone who doesn’t want to work or won’t take a job is wrong,  just got ourselves kicked in the teeth… again.
I firmly believe that the older I get the wiser I get. Now that’s not a pat on the back or self-aggrandizement, but rather an observation of the way I think today versus the way I thought 40 years ago. I think I have become more like a bear who adapts who their nutritional and seasonal needs food wise, but never wavers in the ability to do defend their family and territory with dominating power. We as a country must also be adaptable to conditions and situations around us. We must have the foresight for example to know that building the infrastructure to take advantage of our own natural resources will not only give us the ability to react in case of a serious global situation, but by its very existence would keep prices down. This same logic could be used in regards to floods. Being able to move massive amounts of water from one part of the country to another could help to save lives or at a minimum save the crops that help feed our country. Of course building in a floodplain over and over and over again doesn’t make any more sense than continuing to build your house of wooden sticks in a tornado zone.
Unfortunately this Presidential election was the second one that was based on emotion. In spite of not having a positive record to run on  this man had the ability to appeal to the emotions of his base, rather than to provide any substance to his platform. I am as disappointed in those that voted for him as I am in him . For those that feel happy in the outcome, please don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain. The great and powerful Oz will take care of you. The rest of us realize that it isn’t a certificate, a medal or the ruby slippers that have made us what we are. At the end of the day, it is ourselves. Government must never be the answer or solution. It must only be a servant of the people and by the people.
As long as we never forget that we must protect and defend our Constitution, our course if you will, from those who would destroy it, then” We The People”  will provide the direction which our country will take to keep or get us back on that course.

 

Posted by: Redbeard | October 23, 2012

It’s Just Us (Re-visited)

How busy we have made our lives is frightening. You notice I said how busy we have made our lives, not how busy our lives have become. We have allowed ourselves and our families to be so involved in ” activities”,  that we hardly give ourselves time to think. When was the last time you found yourself all alone in a quiet room or outside in your lawn chair, your mind totally blank. It really isn’t such a bad thing. We tend to try and think, organize and react immediately to every question or challenge in our lives whether at work or at home. I wonder if it might help our brain not to think. You may be saying ” why are you getting into all of this psychobabble. Are you going to ask me to get in touch with my inner feelings or start communicating with nature?”  Naw. Ain’t going to happen. You can get in touch with what ever you want. Personally, I recommend three fingers of Jameson Irish whiskey, but Fortino’s Burgundy Reserve will do just as well. As to communicating with nature? Recycle some paper. Save a tree.  My thought here is that when it comes down to it, we really do control our lives. We have the power to simplify it. Make our lives a little less busy. Give ourselves… time. The only reason that we don’t believe it is that we have been conned. We either believe that we are at the mercy of our bosses 24/7, or we have given up our free will and are part of some grand plan. If you resign yourself to the first item you may be building your career or are just trying to make it through the days. If it’s the second, you had better read more. The only divine plan is the one we are living. Everything else is hidden.  We do know that we have a responsibility not only to be good citizens of our countries, but good stewards of the earth on which we live.  We humans have the unique ability for critical thinking. We are the only ones who really can “think out of the box”. So far as we know, all the other species react out of habit or history.

When we allow others to do our thinking for us. When we let others make decisions for us. When we  abdicate unconditionally, the responsibilities for voicing our opinions to those that we elect,  we cheapen our citizenship.

If it sounds like I am saying  that today’s problems are all your fault,  you’ve missed the point. Or maybe I haven’t explained it well enough. How about this…At the end of the day, it’s just us.

We look across the dining room table, not at our elected officials but at those we love. Our ultimate responsibility then is not to some political party or boss, but to those across that dining room table, and ourselves.

Posted by: Redbeard | August 1, 2012

Refresh Yourself

It may surprise you to learn that you do not have to go on a fancy or expensive vacation in order to recharge your batteries. Regardless of how tough you are, or what you have been told by some business school professor, you do not have to forge ahead, never giving up, never letting up, never stopping to recharge. They think they are preparing you for the jugular grasping world of business. If you are in the business of hostile takeovers, then keeping up with your jugular grasping skills may be a good idea. For the rest of us, we operate on a slightly less Rambo charged pace. That doesn’t mean that we don’t put in our time in the high-pressure environment of modern business. No, what it means is that we get to work our 8 to 10 or 12 hour days and then go home and work 4 to 6 hours more. If we work it right, we can have all the routine things done during the week so that when our day or days off come, we can have some time to refresh ourselves. This doesn’t mean we have to go away for the weekend, every weekend. It means that we can find some peace working out in the garage, the garden, or even the kitchen. The plan could be that once a month you head to a spot near some kind of water. Find someplace where there’s a lake, pond, stream, or the ocean within a couple of hours of you. Plan to go there on a regular basis. Bring a book, go for swim, practice your fly fishing skills. You get the idea, do something that focuses your attention away from all the things that you do during the week. Oh yes, you’re sitting back saying “you don’t know my life” or “you make it sound so easy to get away.”  I suppose that I do, but when was the last time you tried. Okay, by one of those inflatable pools you used to get for your kid when they were three years old, fill it with water, grab a lawn chair, a book, and a glass of iced tea or scotch, and relax.

You see at the end of the day, we cannot allow ourselves, to burn ourselves out.  If you have been around computers at all for very long you have seen the message on the screen after you have updated a program that says something to the effect that you must  “reboot your computer to apply program changes.”  Why is it so difficult for us to realize that we have to do it for ourselves, the greatest computer ever conceived. So it is for our own health, mental and physical, that we make time to let our bodies and our minds…… reboot.

Posted by: Redbeard | July 11, 2011

Welcome

WELCOME TO MY BLOG! 

This is a place to read some thoughts not only on what has  happened during the past few days in this crazy world, but read some thoughtful observations of… us.  I will not get on my soapbox very often but rather will look at a variety of subjects and what they mean for our daily lives. Yes, there will be political subjects and yes, there will be religious subjects but there will also be  topics on music, computers, and photography. Your thoughtful comments are always welcome, but flames and attacks do not educate, inform, or change anyone’s opinions.

I named this blog  “At the End of the Day…”  and no doubt that phrase will find it’s way into the postings. I remember hearing it in comments such as ” Look, at the end of the day we can only use the tools we have at hand”, or something similar. It reminds us that we  make decisions and come to conclusions based upon that which we have in front of us at the time, or have previously learned. As you find yourself at the end of your day, check in and see what’s being talked about.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

David,  Aug 1, 2012

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