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

 

The (Not so) Thin Blue Line

So, have seen the video from DC yesterday?

Reports say the driver crashed the barricade at the beginning and then led police on a pursuit toward the capitol. Well, OK. But it looks to me as if she didn’t crash that barricade very hard, given that I see little damage to the car. Not as much, in fact as hitting a deer at 20 mi/hr would cause, and the airbags didn’t go off either, which would put the speed at <5 mph.

miriam

Here’s the driver. She was the lady on the right of the picture. She was a 34 year old dental hygienist, with a history of mental issues. The one-year-old child in her backseat was unharmed. That’s all I know. I doubt we’ll ever know much more.

But to tell you the truth, I see little in that video that couldn’t be someone who took a wrong turn in DC, which is a maze of security barricades any more and bumped one of them. And perhaps panicked when no less than half a dozen police officers pointed guns at her. The pursuit didn’t look all that proficient either, by the way. Not that I’m any expert, mind you, it’s not my field. But it did look to me that if one of those officers had sauntered over and talked to her, they might have been able to defuse it, but I could easily be wrong.

At the end of the chase they ran her off the road, and as she was exiting the vehicle (I presume against orders) they shot her dead. As far as I can tell from the reports she wasn’t armed, for whatever that’s worth. I’m inclined to think they could have waited a second or two before firing the volley but, it seems American police don’t do that any more. They seem to be quicker on the trigger than Wyatt Earp on one of his nasty days.

And another thing

Just how many thousands of police are on duty any given day in Washington, I mean, I know there are a bunch of different police departments and all but, that short video showed at least two dozen cruisers. Every time a story like this happens it looks like enough police to shut down the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. Seems to me Washington has some crime that some of these officers could be working on when the aren’t chasing dental hygienists across town.

Nor does it really say anything good to me about our government that this incident shut down the entire capital city for at least an hour, including the Congress, which got to “shelter-in-place” . While I don’t think Congress should be out fighting crime in the street, it seems a bit extreme to shut the whole place down for what was pretty quickly shown to be a fairly minor incident. But that’s just what I think.

On the other hand

This is completely nuts, from Fox News

A police officer who dropped off his daughter at her Phoenix elementary school was asked by the school’s principal not to wear his uniform to the school because other parents were concerned that he was carrying a gun, MyFoxPhoenix.com reported.

Scott Urkov is a police officer for the Coolidge Police Department. The department told him not to comment to media inquiries, but immediately after he received the no-uniform request, he posted on Facebook.

“Nothing like your kids school calling and asking if I could not come to pick up my daughter in uniform cause parents were concerned when their kids came home telling them there was a man at school with a gun, “ he posted. “Are you freaking kidding me?”

A district spokeswoman told the station that “some parents” voiced concern about seeing a fully armed police officer on the school’s campus. The spokeswoman apologized that Urkov perhaps took the discussion the wrong way.

“It was not the intent of the principal to offend him,” the spokeswoman said.

It may or may not have been the intent of the principal to offend him but, he did, and he offended me as well.

Some day we are going to have to figure out that police officers are people, not automatons, they have a very tough job, and mostly (overwhelmingly, really) they do a very good job. Like anything else, we talk about it when they do something wrong, or stupid, and somebody gets hurt. And often, like all of us, they are simply doing what they have been trained to do, if it not the right thing, it’s not their fault but the fault of their leaders, and us.

And speaking of defective training

Yep, it’s that time again, when cops start holstering and unholstering Glocks, and bad things happen.

Let’s see, 1 century of training police to keep their finger on the trigger (on DA/SA revolvers and pistols), plus 1 “trigger-safety” or Save Action™ (meaning, “no safety”) pistol, plus 1 retention holster that expects the user to keep his or her finger in or near the trigger, plus,  one cop who failed to pay attention in safety briefings = about 1200 feet per second you can’t call back.

Coatesville, PA (Valley Township PD): Do I wrestle the suspect, or draw?

The police officer decided the answer was “both,” and learned to her pain and suffering why that is not the “school solution”. The original headline of the story said “Police officer shot,” and now it has been updated to reflect that she shot herself.

Continue reading  Cops and Cauterization

Just another day in law enforcement: Some good, some bad, and some who knows.

 

 

 

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

Competence and Safety

I know a lot of you (and some of our employees) think I’m a terrible harda** about competence, and I suppose I am.

Today, I’m going to tell you how I got that way. You know that my first certification was as a power lineman. What I may not have told you is that my dad was also a lineman who got promoted to general manager of a REA. As he was the first of my heroes (like most boys, I suppose) that’s relevant.

This is, too. On the day he retired, I was sitting in his office and we were talking about his career, and mine, and I asked what he thought his greatest accomplishment was. There were a fair number to consider. He had been the project superintendent for most of the REMCs in northern Indiana, he had started with this one when it consisted of a shoebox with some papers in it (his employee number was 1) and was now a multimillion dollar business, he had testified to Congress and a bunch of other things. He was also a pretty damn good dad.

All he said without hesitation was, “Come with me”. He took me out in the lobby and pointed to a plaque on the wall and said, “This is”. What that was (and in my minds eye, I can see it like it was last night) was a plaque from their insurance carrier certifying that the company had worked 1,000,000 man hours without a lost time accident. He also taught be me the difference between a chargeable accident and a preventable accident and that neither was acceptable.

That tells you several things about him. First, he cared about his employees, more than anything else (many more employers today should follow that example). Second if you were going to work for him, you were going to do it right, every time. Yes, he was the hardest boss I have ever worked for.

What it doesn’t tell you is that he was a driver  and expected every body else to work as hard as he did. I can still hear him saying that anybody in operations that didn’t make more money than he did was a slacker and he expected production. Most of the systems were on the same radio frequency (by plan) and his was the biggest in the area and had only a fraction of the radio traffic on a normal day. Why? Planning and competence.

Anyway, today I was looking at some videos from Nebraska PPD and they have one up which I really like (and wish they didn’t have the material for)

Here  it is:

My Safety Story-Chris Overman from Nebraska Public Power District on Vimeo.

Chris (and especially his buddy) got lucky. In my experience they both made mistakes. Chris should have called his supervisor’s attention to that corner. No surprise, he said that, too.

His buddy violated several rules, at least in the companies I’ve worked (I’ve never worked for NPPD). First he didn’t ground the line: “If you can’t physically see the ground, it’s hot.” Second and dependent on the first is: If you haven’t verified it is grounded for your self, you work it like it hot. And he should have checked before coming to contact with it.

But the real problem here is the supervisor. I think on an earlier occasion he might have given Chris some grief about asking questions and Chris didn’t want to be called stupid again. I’ve had that same experience and the same reaction. The thing is it is always the supervisor’s responsibility to keep everyone safe, and he failed. Dad would have fired him on the spot.

That is the reason we start every day with a tailboard safety and planning meeting.

But, all in all, they got lucky, they all lived to tell about it. Doesn’t happen that way all the time.

And now you know how keeping the people safe (and productive) gets passed down through the generations. You also know why I have no tolerance at all for incompetence, in my experience, it kills.

That is the key takeaway here, if you are depending on luck or you make haste any way but slowly, one of these nights you will not be coming home from work. In the last analysis, no matter who did (or didn’t) do what, Your safety is your responsibility. God doesn’t take excuses, either.

%d bloggers like this: