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)

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. Incidentally these comment streams that Jessica promotes are one of the wonders of the world, if you haven’t, you really should join us. 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 of 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 the 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 3 θ 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, the 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 others 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 six 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


For the most part, I think that the blog awards we pass around are silly but, politeness compels accepting. And there is another thing. When you have huge respect for those that nominated you it sheds an entirely different light on it.

The point of this diatribe is that I just got nominated twice, for two awards. Both nominators are extraordinary bloggers themselves. They carry the highest recommendations from me. They are The Catholic Nomad and All Along the Watchtower.

Commentator Blog Award

Inspiring Blogger Award

Now I am required to tell you 7 things about myself.

  1. I’m Lutheran
  2. Although I don’t pull punches, I try not to hurt feelings
  3. I’m divorced (and not enthused about it)
  4. I’m a decent cook
  5. For all my love of the military, my only service was two years of ROTC. I guess it took.
  6. Although I’m a Purdue Alumni, I didn’t graduate
  7. I like college football far more than pro. Boiler UP

And so to my nominations:

Public Catholic: The blog home of an incredible Oklahoma Legislator who will tell you more than you really want to know about our political process.

Montana Corruption: An exceptionally brave blogger in Montana waging  what has to be a lonely war against corruption, and crony capitalism, in the justice system.

Hump Day Report: My favorite Hawaiian Buckeye runs a superb political compendium.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast: A fascinating site. watch as Brett and Michelle convert Belle Grove Plantation, which is the birthplace of James Madison, into a stunning bed and breakfast. History and wonderful photography, too.

All are very worthy of your attention.

Three Decades Of Federal Delay – Mr. Longwell’s Odyssey:

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...

Image via Wikipedia

This is from the Montana Oil Report, which comes out of Fairfield, MT. Just for adding a fun fact, I lived in Simms (about 15 miles from Fairfield) for about 6 months back in the 80’s. I was doing contract work for the Rural Electric Coop in Fairfield, it’s pretty neat to wake up and look out the window in July and see the glaciers in the mountains.

This is a story of a man who has a lease to drill for oil up there and how the government has been stalling him for 30 years.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE – Just some of the redactions in the study done at taxpayer expense.

Mr. Longwell’s Odyssey: An Editorial

By Darryl L. Flowers
Sun Times Publisher

One of the fascinating aspects of covering the oil and gas industry in Montana has been the fact that I’ve been able to see just a little bit of what is happening around the world when it comes to energy discoveries.

And, there is a lot happening. Far too much to cover with any adequacy in this newspaper.

Daily, reports cross my desk showing new discoveries of oil and gas in every corner of the globe.  Even in places that are the very definition of poverty and despair, such as Somalia, new technologies are locating massive energy deposits.

And, closer to home, in Montana, oil and gas deposits are ready to be tapped. The deposits have long been known, and now the extraction technology is proven.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get this state, and this nation to work.

I am heartened in this by the bipartisan efforts as elected officials of every political stripe have, in recent weeks, taken to the record to express their support for energy development in the Treasure State.

Only weeks ago, Montana Senator Jon Tester issued a statement in support of “…responsible energy development as a ‘powerful’ tool to create jobs and spur economic growth in Montana’s Indian Country.”

In the same press release, the state’s Junior Senator described the delays encountered by Native Americans as they worked through the government bureaucracy in pursuit of minerals under Federal Lands.

Continue reading, you’ll be amazed at the tortuous course of drilling in this country.


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