Along the Line

English: Cameron, LA, 11-10-05 -- Lineman Mari...

English: Cameron, LA, 11-10-05 — Lineman Marion Chappell from Utah repairs a damaged power line from Hurricane Rita. FEMA is helping Local governments get Roads, Bridges, and Utilities back in operation so residents can move back. MARVIN NAUMAN/FEMA photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Audre says all politics, all the time will not only make Neo a boring old curmudgeon but won’t do his blood pressure any good either.

She’s right, and while I try to wrench my mind out of the excrement fouled trenches of politics for a few days at least, here’s a post of mine from 2012 about what I used to do for a living. I left the link to The Watchtower in because it is a very good article from Jessica, which is just as relevant now as it was then, followed by an even better comment stream. So enjoy, and I’ll try to remember some more stories.

The other day over at The Watchtower we started off discussing relevance as applied to the church, and as often happens with that brilliant group of commenters we wandered a bit off-topic. In this case, Jess’s co-author and I had a quick aside on teaching theory. We were talking about the generation raised in the ’60s for context.

ChalcedonThere was much folly in that generation and its response to ‘student rebellion’. If you let the young think that they know it all, you are not telling them anything they do not already know. If you tell them they don’t, you stand a chance of teaching them something. In 40 years of teaching that has stood me in good stead. Probably explains why they stay away.

Me: To amend a bit, if they stay away, I would bet that you can be quite intimidating, I suspect SF and I also have the knack, it cuts down on the nonsense. Those who want to learn will persevere. 🙂

Chalcedon: Neo – in relation to your comment, I have always found that the students who stayed away were most welcome to do so; those who came seemed to learn something. University is meant to be fun as well as a place of learning; too often people forget the second part of that.

Me: I agree, although my teaching is of another kind entirely, those who are too busy skylarking to pay attention are better off elsewhere, and so are the rest of us, they cause accidents and injuries. I’ve sent a couple home on foot.

Jessica: In your line of work, not paying attention can be rather serious.

Me: Indeed it can. I need to write a post on some of the stupid things that happen when attention isn’t paid. The funny ones, not the deadly ones.

This is the result.

A line crew is a team, I know that’s very trite but, it’s also very true. every man is important as is his job. It doesn’t matter whether your the grunt running the shovel, the operator on the digger, the lineman up the pole, or in the bucket, to be safe and effective it has to be a smooth functioning team. one of the key parts of that is that you pay attention. About 25 years ago I was working for a contractor, replacing poles, hot, of course. I was the second lineman on the crew so most of the time I was playing grunt, backfilling, tamping, framing poles, all the stuff you do learning the business. It’s in some ways the hardest job on the crew because you can really screw up production if you’re slow or get things wrong. Physically, it depends on conditions. I enjoyed it then, and probably still would, at least sometimes. We had a great crew, if we had the proper soil type and pole selection we could drive up and change out a pole in 15 minutes, hot. And we had fun as well.

Anyway, I got jerked off this crew about the 4th of July because one of our tree trimming crews got caught without a hot qualified lineman on it, (most linemen detest tree trimming but it’s part of the job). So, I spent most of the rest of the summer out in Montana screwing around with a mess of trees (which mostly seemed to be Russian Olives, which are ugly as sin itself) after the cottonwoods bloomed, with so much seed that we were cleaning radiators every half hour on our chippers. Anyway, that contract ended Labor Day and I came back and worked with Art’s crew again through about Thanksgiving, and then a week in North Dakota’s Bakken field. And then I got laid off for the winter, as is normal.

Shortly after New Year’s the office called and asked if I wanted to head down to Kansas for a job they had running, and liking money, I said yes, and again hooked up with Art. The point to all this is that when I was playing grunt for Matt, our senior lineman, or him for me as well, the framing was nearly perfect and because we both knew the sequence to follow, the next part needed was always hanging on the handline, ready to go. We paid attention to what we were doing.

A few weeks later, they asked if I’d come up here because the new kid lineman they had on vegetation management (as we call tree trimming now) thought he was too important to do it and wanted to build line. So, that’s how I got to Nebraska.

A few months later, Art’s crew was doing a job a few miles away from us so one Sunday we popped over for a few beers with them. By then I had heard the story but wanted to hear what Matt and Art said.

While they were still down in Kansas we had heard the had energized a 3ø extension without deadend insulators (Bells we call them, that what the insulators in my Gravatar are) which of course burned the pole down, nobody got hurt but it’s expensive and embarrassing. Knowing who was there, I thought I knew what happened, and I was right. After I left, they had a couple of new graduates from lineman school assigned. Like so many kids in the trades, they were too busy screwing around, skylarking we call it, instead of paying attention.

What Matt told me that day is a good lesson for us all. This is very nearly a direct quote.

If you had been there, Neo, it would have never happened because even if I forgot, which I did, when I reached for the assembly on my handline, the bells would have been there, and if I had tried it you would have stopped me because you always paid attention to what we were doing.

He’s right and it’s also true that if I had been in the bucket, he would have caught it for the same reason. We are professional linemen, and because we are professional, we know we’re not perfect and so we check each other’s work. Doesn’t matter if your a 60-year-old lineman, like Matt and I, or a 22 year old fresh out of school. The first thing you need to learn is to pay attention. The Devil’s always in the details, like insulators, because a piece of southern yellow pine slightly bigger than a 4X4 eight feet long isn’t going to stop 13,000 volts for long. I bet it was pretty spectacular though, somehow they didn’t get any pictures of that one 🙂

OK here’s the quiz for today.

Mary’s father had five daughters, the first was January, the second February, the third March, and the fourth April. What was the name of the fifth daughter?

And here’s your reward

 

A Remembrance of Freedom

This will be likely the saddest post seen in many days on NEO.

I think you all know by now, that I am very definitely an Anglophile, I love the English nearly as much as I do the Americans but, it is increasingly becoming a dysfunctional relationship, as Britain sinks into being simply another European province, and sells its heritage of freedom for a mess of European stagnation. Still, it’s their country to do with as they will. For all that it troubles me greatly.

My co-author and editor here, Jessica, has taken her blog, All Along the Watchtower, private.

It was not by choice but because pressure was applied, and as we have several times noted here, free speech does not exist in the United Kingdom. While I grieve at the development, I would have made the same decision, it was a matter of loyalty and honor, and I would have had her do no other.

Understand this, my American readers, when you say, “It can’t happen here.” You are wrong, It can, and it has, happened here, and it will again. I also pray that you remember, as I do, that our rights come from English law, and as we move toward the 800th anniversary of Magna Charta, ours are in more danger now than they have ever been before as well.

Here is her announcement, in its entirety (if she doesn’t like it, she can sue me!)

From Saturday 16 August, this blog will be accessible only to registered readers with a WordPress account. I will be sorry to lose new readers, and anyone who wants access to it or to existing content can do so by requesting it.

Our thanks to all our readers, but it seems increasingly difficult for some of my contributors to combine free speech and employment, and I cannot be responsible for harm coming to others.

Thank you for your company across the last two and a half years, and God bless you all.

Jess xx

AATW has been one of the most stalwart Christian blogs in the UK, representing all Christian viewpoints. I have been honored by the friendship of my fellow contributors there, nearly since the blogs beginnings, and I shall miss the fellowship, the friendship, and the sharing of knowledge that has meant so much to me. Through it also, Jessica, herself has become my dearest friend, and I must say that this contretemps angers me greatly. It is indeed a tawdry end for a wonderful vision. I note that Jessica, herself, will continue to write here, and that is nearly the only ray of good news involved.

From Tennyson, one of Queen Victoria’s favorites

A happy lover who has come
To look on her that loves him well,
Who ‘lights and rings the gateway bell,
And learns her gone and far from home;

He saddens, all the magic light
Dies off at once from bower and hall,
And all the place is dark, and all
The chambers emptied of delight:

So find I every pleasant spot
In which we two were wont to meet,
The field, the chamber, and the street,
For all is dark where thou art not.

Yet as that other, wandering there
In those deserted walks, may find
A flower beat with rain and wind,
Which once she foster’d up with care;

So seems it in my deep regret,
O my forsaken heart, with thee
And this poor flower of poesy
Which little cared for fades not yet.

But since it pleased a vanish’d eye,
I go to plant it on his tomb,
That if it can it there may bloom,
Or, dying, there at least may die.

 

An all too “brief and shining moment”, indeed. I will carry its memory to the grave.

For truly, it has been my second home, and I would give anything, save honor, to have it continue.

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