A friend of mine was disturbed by all the bullshit news going around about banning symbols of history.

For future reference, this is about the fad in July of 2015 about trying to erase all vestiges of the history of the American War Between the States, more properly known as the War of Northern Aggression, and improperly known as a civil war, which it never was. But, that’s for another discussion…

This was my response to his concerns. I can only offer my perspective, and how that is used by others is none of my business.

You know me, I like metaphors. And I also like machines and stuff. So I’m more likely than not to make machine related metaphors. Hope it makes sense…

A radio antenna picks up every radio station, every cosmic pulse, every EMF from lightning, every electromagnetic wave there is. But when you tune to a station, it blows off everything but what it’s tuned to. It does this, not by ignoring all the other shit, but by taking it in and passing it through a filter that lets one thing to the amplifier and allows all the other shit to go to ground, literally.

You might see me post some stuff about “signal-to-noise ratio” from time to time, and this is what I’m talking about.
If a radio lets too many signals go to the amplifier, all you get is a confusion of noise. Waves start canceling out each other and some add to each other but in the end, none of it means what it was supposed to mean in the first place. Basically, you end up with a sense of chaos. But you don’t want chaos – you want the signal.
What you want is ‘The Reason’.
Some signals are chaos in their own right and should be filtered to ground outright. But, some signals are reasonable until they are counter-acted by other signals which MAKE them chaos. This is what we call a clusterfuck.

A broadband receiver takes up a LOT of signals and allows you to select the one you want to deal with at one time. And as a human, you can only deal with one signal at a time and that’s OK. Sometimes you want to listen to rock, sometimes jazz, sometimes classical. You might love all of these things but listening to them all at the same time gets into clusterfuck territory – it is non-productive.
You listen to one song and appreciate it, then you move to the other. Just because you like jazz doesn’t mean you hate rock, or any other permutation. And even if you listen to some of the bullshit Autotuned country now and then, it’s just to get a feel for the extremities of the outlying bullshit – not because you love it. It’s because when you want a signal, you want very little noise. Otherwise, it’s a clusterfuck.

OK, I’ve racked the balls and spotted the One ball on the dot. Lifted the rack and hung it on the hook next to the table. Now, let me position the cue ball…

I think you see where I’m going with this – The human brain is like a computer or a radio. It receives a million inputs and gives a select output. The problem is, sometimes we try to take all the inputs at once and the resulting output will always be a clusterfuck.
Here’s a fact of life – all the inputs will always be there, all the time. Discriminate. Differentiate. Tune to one channel and absorb what it has while throwing all the other bullshit to the wind in the process. Then, tune to another channel and absorb it, likewise – bullshit to the wind. Tune to all the channels you want and absorb all you want – but one at a time. Then compare all of them against each other and, more importantly, what you already know to be true.
This is an exercise in rationally and logically processing data. Even a sewerage plant has valves that only let so much shit in at a time, because it can only process so much shit at a time. Tell me that if a man-made sewerage plant can effectively regulate the amount of shit it has to deal with, then a God made human brain CANNOT?!
That is a logical contradiction, and there is no such thing as a logical contradiction. If you ever think you are faced with a logical contradiction – check all of your premises. At least one of them is wrong.
If your sewer plant is overrun with shit, you ain’t working your valves right.

Chill your tits, dude. Everything is there for the taking, but you ain’t gotta take no quicker than you need to.
I understand the world is going to shit. I also understand it has always been doing so.
I remember the threat of nuclear annihilation we lived in during the 60’s and 70’s. It wasn’t a matter of “IF” but “WHEN”.
…and it never happened…
I remember reading once that back in the olden days when the crossbow was invented, that the people then saw it as a threat of annihilation the way we saw nukes in the 70’s. Likewise – It just didn’t happen.

The fact is, every day of our lives there is a new Armageddon lurking over the horizon. There are whole industries built on the concept of worrying the hell out of people about every Armageddon, and yet, not a damn one of them have come to pass. Funny thing is, we seem to almost have a need to buy into the latest and greatest tragedy. When the biggest tragedy is us, focusing on the few things that go bad in the world, and not appreciating the millions of things that have gone right.

This racial bullshit going on today is a tempest in a teapot. There have always been some shit stirrers out there stirring shit – they didn’t just land on Earth last week. The only difference now is that they are getting press. The vast majority of the rank and file human individuals who have been alive for years and years didn’t give one flying fuck about them before now, and that hasn’t changed. What HAS changed is the industry of shit stirrers has found a new product to test market, and, as with most of their products, it’s not doing so well…

The world is always changing and that hasn’t changed. But it rarely turns upside down on a dime. Most people are good and will not be swayed by bad people and all this squawking and wing flapping will result, ultimately, in ZERO birds flying.

Appreciate the fact that you are alive in this time to see history unfold as it does. History is rarely a fairy tale, but full of the bullshit one can only expect of an Imperfect Man. Look at it this way – The whole idea of history is that some bullshit is going to go down – might as well be this bullshit because if it wasn’t, it would be some other bullshit.
Bullshit is the constant. How you deal with it is the beauty of life.
There is no alternative.


It’s easy to point out all the problems of the world, but impossible to solve them.
Hopelessness ensues…

We are told from the time we are very young that we can ‘change the world’ if we really try and that’s almost total bullshit insofar as it means one person can make a significant difference to millions or billions of people. A very few of us can, but most of us can’t, and we recognize that we’re not Jonas Salk, Louis Pasteur, Norman Borlaug, Bill Gates…
But we are who we are and nothing else. And, really, that’s enough.

There is a well told story about starfish and a little boy on a beach that illustrates that grandly. I case you’ve never heard or read it, let me give you a synopsis:

There once was a little boy walking down a beach after a storm the night before. Littered on the sand as far as the eye could see were stranded starfish that were washed ashore in the turbulent high tide of the storm and left to die as the tide receded in the bright sunshine of the new day afterward. An old man, wise to the ways of the world, was watching the little boy and noticed that the boy was walking along and bending down to pick up one starfish at a time and then throw it as hard as he could back in the ocean. The old man recognized in the boy the idealism of youth that he had lost so many decades ago. He smiled a sad smile and approached the boy.
“Son! What are you doing there throwing those starfish in the sea?”
“I’m saving them from certain death. They washed ashore in the storm and will die if I don’t help”
“Son, you realize that there are thousands of starfish as far as the eye can see both hither and yon and you’ll never save them all. For every one you save, hundreds will die. You’ll never save them all. What difference does it make?”
The boy reaches down and picks up another starfish, shows it to the old man, and says,
“I know I can’t save them all, but to this starfish, I make all the difference in the world.” and he throws it as hard as he can into the sea.
I have always been fascinated with people and the way their lives endlessly swing from fortune to loss. I recognize that I am no different except my fortunes and losses may be different than theirs at any given time. But, I’m lucky in that I know my purpose in the world (at least as far as it is possible to know such) – I am here to fix what I can that needs fixing. The problem is, that pretty much only applies to machines and systems and stuff. I’m useless as tits on a boar hog for fixing the affairs of man. Sickness, strife, death, anger, despair, betrayal…I got nothing.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a positive effect on things I can’t fix.

In social media and in real life, we get to experience, almost in real time, the sorrow and heartache of those we care about when they suffer. And, at the end of the year, we get to see it all brought back up as they talk about how much they have lost in the past year. At the same time, we are thinking about our losses from days, weeks, months, or years passed, and though our empathy for others may be genuine, it sometimes feels worn out and hollow. They want comfort and we know we can only offer well intentioned platitudes and then we feel somehow useless. There is so much suffering and so little I can do about any of it…

You know how when you’re struggling with something and you’re losing ground, a little rest bit can renew your strength to fight on? Sometimes, that’s all you need to keep trudging through the hard times – a little rest. A break.
I have found that when someone experiences an unexpected bout of laughter – no matter how short in duration, that it is impossible for them to focus on, or even think about, bad stuff. It gives them a break. Even a chuckle, if heart-felt lessens the load for a few seconds.
Sometimes, that’s all that is needed.

People say to “make someone smile” everyday. I’m good with that, but if you can make them laugh…even if you have to make them laugh at you, you are doing your part to make the world a better place. Even if you say or do something that someone may find offensive in some degree, someone else may find rest in it. I would never do anything with the intent to offend, but I’ll damn sure do something that needs to be done, regardless of the potential for offense.
Hint: You can ALWAYS find someone who will be offended by anything you do, so quit worrying about it.

Don’t be ‘in your face’ about it, but try to make someone laugh at least once a day. Even a chuckle. You will succeed here or there and, at least to one person in the world, you will be remembered as someone who helped when it was needed.

You are not going to fix the bad stuff in the world, but with a little effort, you can bring the good stuff to the top. And you can lessen a load from someone who desperately needs their load to be lessened.
The worst (and best) part of it is, you will probably never know when you have made the biggest difference you have ever made in someone’s life. You just have to have faith that you made a difference.

We know who came up with the concept of electrical power generation – Edison, Tesla, et al…

But what about the guy(s) that made it practical? The folks who decided to take metal and draw it into a wire, then coat it with an insulator. All the generators and batteries in the world wouldn’t mean anything if not for the wire that carries the power. But what were their names?

The wright Brothers are often credited with building the first airplane. But, who was it that said to himself, “If we enclose the cabin and make it possible to pressurize it, we can DAMN NEAR FLY IN SPACE!!! faster, and cheaper and people will live through it.” Who was that guy?

Who was the guy that decided to make grocery bags smaller and stronger and out of plastic? A friggin’ genius, that’s who. But I don’t know his name.

We will never know the guy that invented the wheel, but even so, the guy that said, “A wheel is great, but let’s build two of them and put a pole between them so we can actually USE them.” Inventing the wheel was a great start, but what productive work do you know of that involves just a disconnected wheel turning out in space? I can’t think of anything. But, now, the axle or shaft is a game changer! The guy that invented the wheel was visionary, no doubt. But the guy that invented the way to USE the wheel to make things happen was the real genius. The wheel was good – the axle was great. Who was that guy?

The bottle cap, plywood, corrugated cardboard, fiberglass, the rivet, the screw, threaded pipe, disc brakes, foamed insulation, concrete and fan blades – simple stuff, maybe, but they all had to be thought of and built. Some of those things were the life-long dreams of the people who came up with them and we now throw them out like so much rubbish without a thought of the blood, sweat and tears that went into them. Is that the ultimate measure of success? That your idea will be so good that people eventually accept it as the norm and disregard it as “simple”?

The next time you get a little upset that a web page doesn’t load in three seconds, think about this – there are a couple dozen switches that flick from one position to another for you to pull up a picture of “Grumpy Cat”. Without those switches, you wouldn’t even know who grumpy cat is. Who came up with those things?

There are 300,000,000 people or so in the US. I am one of them. So, in theory, that gives me a 1/300,000,000th’s say in what goes on.

In theory.

In reality, I’m not tied into the movers and shakers of what is REALLY going on. Even if I were, I’d be one of thousands, at best.
The somewhat rural county I live in has about 84,000 people in it. So, I’m 1/84,000ths of the power in the county – way better than 1/300,000,000. They still don’t do shit like I would like for them to do.

So, let’s look at my “town”. I live in unincorporated Walton County in an area known as Youth, Ga. I can find no population stats for it, but judging from what I can find of all the places in Walton where there is stats, we may have about 500 people in the general area. Still, I don’t get 100% of what I want. So I go smaller. Let’s get to Casa de Lazy – my house. Now THERE I have some clout, yo!

Everywhere else, I get to have a say, but no real pull. Only if what I want is what most of the others want do I even get to feel like I made a difference. But, really, I didn’t. I just supported the winning team. Oft times, I support the losing team. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. I’m an American – I’m used to it.

But I once heard that America is a nation of individuals. So, we pretty much run our own lives. We were told many years ago that political and religious and even secular organizations would try to gain power over us. We denied we would ever let it happen, but we let it happen. Right now, government and church and even sports teams and retail outlets tell us what we should do. Some use physical force or the threat thereof, some use guilt and the threat of damnation. Some use the threat of social ostracism. But if you rely on threats to “make” people do what you want, you are on the losing end of the stick. Threats don’t play well with individuals – only with sheeple.

Think about that – Who is telling you what to do? Boss? Preacher? Government official? Some guy in a commercial? You know, don’t you, that you can say,”No.”

When America was made of individuals we were strong. When it becomes a nation of followers, it will fail with the tide change. Are you ‘You’, or are you ‘Part of A Group’? God has taught you what is right, you don’t need to read it or see it on TV or the internet. You are as smart as any sonofabitch that thinks he can rule you. Don’t give in by default.

You are what you were made to be. Act like it, dammit. Quit your fatalistic whining.

I technically posted this on Facebook on 12/17/12, but that’s only because it was alittle after midnight. Not that it matters, but it was really late on 12/16/12.

A lot of people are really hurt by what happened in Ct the other day; and by “a lot”, I mean anyone with an ounce of human compassion. And people are still hurting. And they will for quite some time. And that’s natural. It’s human.
But I want to bring up something that events such as this seem to make us forget.

Every day before, during and after that tragedy, there were some really bad things that DIDN’T happen. Some, maybe, even worse than what did.
There was a child molester that didn’t molest and kill a child or children because he got locked up and is still in jail. There was a lunatic that didn’t walk into his place of business and blow the place up because he got help with a problem instead of a bunch of macho attitude from those who held sway over him. There was a madman dictator that didn’t execute genocide on his own people because brave men and women risked it all to take him out.
There was a terrorist that didn’t kill the innocent because someone brought him to a real religion of peace…
Several drunk drivers that didn’t kill families or rip them apart because of AA or a trip to jail that “brought it all home to them”. Brakes that didn’t fail and kill a mother and her kids on the way home from school because a guy at a tire store saw something that just didn’t look right.
Thousands or millions didn’t die from polio or small pox or just the freaking flu because of the marriage of compassion to brilliance of a few smart doctors. Millions didn’t starve because of the efficiency that modern technology affords food production.
A kid, in Oregon, I think, didn’t go to school and shoot the place up because someone saw the signs and acted.

We seem to think the world is going to hell in a hand basket when things like this happen and that fact alone makes me sad. We seem to have such a large capacity for anger and hate for those who do these things, but such a small capacity for gratitude and love for those that made so many more things NOT happen.

There is a time to weep, and a time to heal. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. Take your time. But never lose the capacity to celebrate the things that are beautiful and right. The things that DIDN’T happen. Never lose sight of the victories of good over bad.

I wrote this and posted it on Facebook on the evening of 12/14/12 – after the school shooting in Connecticut. I should’ve posted it here that day also, but I’ve kinda forgot about this blog. I think I’m going to just copy/paste some of my Facebook posts here and maybe throw in some other posts as well.

I quit TV news years ago for everything but the weather, and then only on occasion.
Today is illustrative of why I did so. I have not had a TV in on front of me all day, but I probably know as much about what happened as someone who watched a bunch of pretty idiots on TV talk this stuff up for ratings.

I’m not out to piss anyone off, but I do want to make a point – you don’t have to watch every second of “breaking news” on something like this to know what REALLY happened. As a matter of fact, if you want to truly get the best understanding of it, you won’t pollute your mind with the incessant drivel of ignorant speculation from pretty-faced TV personalities about it. You can wait until the facts come out and deal with that then.
Today was a tragedy for a lot of people. But every day, there are heinous acts perpetrated on the most innocent. Maybe not all in the same place, but it happens. And to the people it happens to; the parents whose little girl or boy was kidnapped and killed by a predator, Dec. 14, 2012 is no worse than whatever day they suffered their loss. THEY suffered just as much as any parent today. But it wasn’t “news worthy” so it wasn’t that big a deal to the rest of the world. That is sad. I’m not trying to diminish what happened today, I’m just saying that real compassion is a 24/7/365 deal. Whatever the events of this day arouse in you, any other day is the same.
Hug your kids. Not because of 12/14/12, but because you just oughta damn do it. Thank God every day for the problems you have, because they can damn sure be worse.
I sat on the side of the interstate for over four hours last week, broke down, waiting for someone to come help me. I could’ve bitched to high heaven, but I didn’t. I kinda laughed about it. Because I don’t know much about fundamental truths, but I know this: My biggest problems last week doesn’t mean crap to 20-something families this week. I had it easy. And I thank God the biggest problem I had last week was a broke down vehicle and a nine hour deposition.
I’d hate to think I missed and opportunity to be thankful for that when so many are wishing for something twice as bad right now.
What you do because of today, don’t do because of today – do it because it’s right.

A friend sent me a story about some totally effed up problem, industrial-wise, and I had a “response” It all follows here:

My friend’s post:

Got this in a letter, today. You may have seen it.

You don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate this story but it helps !!!!
A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube inside. This was due to the way the production line was set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timing so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time. Small variations in the environment (which can’t be controlled in a cost-effective fashion) mean you must have quality assurance checks smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down to the supermarket don’t get ticked-off and buy another product instead.

Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new project, in which they would hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too stretched to take on any extra effort.

The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution – on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. They solved the problem by using high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box would weigh less than it should. The line would stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box out of it, pressing another button when done to re-start the line.

A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project: amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share. “That’s some money well spent!” – he says, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report.

It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was 0 after three weeks of production use. It should’ve been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He filed a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren’t picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.

Puzzled, the CEO travels down to the factory, and walks up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed.

A few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes out of the belt and into a bin.

“Oh, that,” says one of the workers – “one of the guys put it there ’cause he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang”.

Darrel speaking here: This may or may not be true, but it is a perfect example of the management not making their wishes known and or appreciated by the very people who can do something about the problem. Lazy D has been there. Lazy D has done that. This struck a memory chord in Lazy D…

My response:


You know, I only get calls for my services when there is something wrong in a plant. I am always told to meet the General Manager or the Plant manager on a new call. I never do that. The first guy I look for is the maintenance man. I have done industrial shit for a long time and I know who knows what the deal is. The maintenance supervisor or just maintenance guy either knows what the problem is, or is the source of the problem.
By the time I meet mid- to upper level management, I know what the deal is.
Whoever wrote this may have made it up, but I can guarantee you I have seen this play out in much more dramatic fashion. The last guy they talk to is usually the first guy they ought to.

Lemme give you a perfect example of this. And it just so happens to be one I was a player in. Of course, it’s gonna be a long dissertation because I’m not known for my brevity, but here goes:

I got a job at a hospital once. Just so happens to be the hospital I was born in, but that’s a whole different story…

Anyway, they had just finished a major expansion on the facility that included a “Birth Place”, and Operating Room suite, and many of the business offices when I got hired.
As I came in, I heard some complaints about the hot water service in the “Addition” The OR doctors were complaining that they couldn’t get hot water to wash their hands with in the scrub sinks. Additionally, everyone on that wing complained there was no hot water coming out of the hot water side. The powers that be – from the CEO down to the maintenance supervisor were pouring over blueprints and berating the design engineers trying to figure out what was going on with that. As a new guy that didn’t have that much to do, I offered to look into it since it may involve some “above the ceiling” work and stuff. I was not only denied, but when I wrote up work orders as “Looking into the hot water problem in the OR suite” (because I didn’t have anything else to do), I was told to back off because the design engineers and the general contractor and subs were looking at totally re-plumbing the whole project because of a lawsuit brought by some doctor group. I didn’t know anything about that kinda stuff so I was all like, “What ev…”

I was out.

I worked the weekend shift. And one day I was on an elevator going to do my rounds and a doctor got on. He was livid. He asked me if I was maintenance and I said I was. He asked why the hell we hadn’t figured out how to get hot water to the scrub sinks “…AFTER NINE FUCKING MONTHS!!” and I said I had looked into it and was pulled off in deference to the engineers. He asked me if I thought I could really figure it out. I said, “I probably can, but I don’t know how long it will take me. The ‘Brains’ have been working on it for a while and they don’t have a clue. It can’t be too hard though, it all boils down to cold water mixing with the hot water. The hot water generator is set to 160 degrees. You oughta need a burn cream just washing your hands. Somewhere, cold water is getting in a taking over.”
He told me he wanted me to work on NOTHING but that until I figured it out. I told him that would be great but my boss told me what to work on and they had specifically told me to leave that alone. He asked my name and got off the elevator.
I went to the maintenance shop and a few minutes later the phone rang.
It was my boss’s boss. His name was Wayne Thompson. We called him Wayne Bastard (long story).
Me: Maintenance.
Wayne Bastard: This is Wayne Thompson. Director of Facilities Management. Who’s this?
Me: Hey Wayne. This is Darrel.
WB: Darrel? You’re new, right?
Me: Yep, pretty much.
WB: Did you happen to talk to Doctor Bigdick today?
(Gotta tell you I don’t remember the docs name but he was apparently THE MAIN surgeon there. I’ll go with Dr. BD)
Me: Yessir. Ran into him in the elevator as I was coming off my ‘B’ rounds. Seemed to be a bit high strung. Why? Wassup?
WB: Dr. BD said you told him you could fix the hot water in the surgical suite. Is that true?
Me: In a way it is, Wayne. I told him it was a simple problem but everybody was looking for a complex solution. All it takes is a complete look at the system as it is, not as it’s drawn.
WB: you had no business telling him that.
Me: He asked me a question and I answered it. If you have a dialogue you want me to use when talking to doctors, give it to me. Otherwise, I’ll answer a question as honestly as I can.
WB: You don’t know the position this puts you, Dane (my immediate supervisor), and me in. This is what I want you to do: You spend the rest of the day looking like you are trying to solve the problem. I’ll have the engineers all over the building Monday. Sneak out if you have to, but just buy us time until we can figure this out. Got it?
Me: And If I figure it out, can I fix it?
WB: You won’t. It’s too complicated.
Me: (knowing good and damn well it wasn’t complicated) But if I do, can I fix it?
WB: Call me first.
Me: OK.

So I get a clipboard, a pencil, some paper and I set out. The water heater (HWG – Hot water generator) is in the basement. Cold water comes in off the main (CWM) and goes through it and off to the hot water main (HWM). the CWM and the HWM run side by side though the basement “above ceiling” Overhead and branch off to the Birth Place and OR above. I look at the mains and the branches from the HWG to the end of the various branches downstairs. I note where they penetrate any wall, floor or ceiling and I trace them out downstairs. Nowhere do I see them tied together in any way.

I go upstairs and ‘dress out’ to go into the OR suite. I look at my map and check every pipe penetration there is. Nothing. One room I can’t get into is the Housekeeping Storage Room. There is a penetration in there. I call Wayne from the nurses station. Dr. BD is at my side wanting to know my progress…

Me: Wayne, I have checked all the pipes except for a couple I can’t get to. I need to get into Room O-XXX House Keeping Storage – OR. Can you get somebody to let me in. I don’t seem to have a key for it.
WB: There are chemicals in there. You don’t need to get there. Forget it. Look like you’re doing something and let the engineers and I handle it Monday.
ME: OK, Dr. BD is right here. I’ll tell him you have it handled Monday.
WB: Dammit! I’ll get the Housekeeping On-Call to meet you at that room. Don’t touch anything in there. You’ve put me in a bad position. I’m not happy.
Me: Dr. BD shares your concern, Wayne. I have told him we are on it like white on rice. So you say you’ll have someone here soon to let us in that room?
WB: Yeah <dial tone>

A harried housekeeping person comes from the Physical Therapy floor about 15 minutes later. She opens the door. All I see is a mop sink, a lot of chemicals on a rack next to the sink, and some random supplies.
Me (to the housekeeping chick – HKC): What are those chemicals?
HKC: Cleaners. Some are for floors. Some are for tables (patient contact), some are for everything else.
Me: What do you use the mop sink for? Why is there a valve manifold on it?
HKC: We have to use warm water. Not hot, not cold, That thing mixes the water and gives us warm water to mix the cleaners with.
Me: You always get warm water? Not cold?
HKC: Yeah. Why?
I look at the manifold. There is a hot water and cold water spigot. Someone has made a manifold that hooks to both and the correct water temperature is determined by the ratio of the “openess” of the hot and cold water supplies. But when the water is not being used in there, there is no check valve to stop the hot water from going to the cold water feed or vice versa .

Basically, The cold water comes in off the street at X pounds per square inch (PSI).
It runs through the water heater which drops the pressure on the hot water side. So if the hot and cold headers are somehow hooked together (as they were in that manifold), when you turn on the hot water anywhere in the building, the cold water runs through the cold water feed to the mop sink at X pressure and goes into the hot water header since it is open somewhere and at a lower pressure. You get cold water in your hot water feed. I turn off the hot water valve to the manifold and go back to the nurses station to where Dr.BD is and tell him to try to go wash his hands. He looks at me funny but does. He turns on the hot water and it is a bit cool. Looks at me,,, “give it a minute”, I say, and soon it is some seriously hot water. Really hot! 160 degrees, in fact.
Dr. BD tells me this is much better but we need to not scald the hands of the surgeons. He kinda grins. Says, “Can you handle that or should I make a call?” I tell him to go do his ‘meat carving and then make the call. That’ll give me time to go downstairs and turn the HWG down to a regular temp while allowing the CEO and WB to think they had some input. Meanwhile, I’ll tell WB I found a solution but he can bring his engineers in to check behind my country ass to make sure I didn’t screw up their billing cycle. <snerk!>

The take away: 15 engineers came out Monday and part of Tuesday. They measured everything but our bowel movements and pronounced there to be no anomalies outside design parameters. Billed us a couple grand and went home. I fixed up the OR manifold with a check valve and turned it back on. Everybody was happy except WB who KNEW there was no problem to begin with and the engineers confirmed it.
A year later, I got a 27 cent raise and told them to stick it in their ass and went to industrial maintenance – where the money is.
Good times!

So, what’s the big deal about lighting charcoal? Easy. While grilling is somewhat archaic and even primeval, it can benefit from modern technology.

I use an electric charcoal starter. Some folks like the “tower” method whereby you put some newspapers in what looks kinda like a flour sifter with holes all in the sides of the bottom and pile charcoal on top of that. Once the whole mess gets hot enough, you lift the sifter-looking can up and pile charcoal on what is burning. This is better than using lighter fluid but leaves some flaky ash from the paper that can get on your food. It is also not as convenient as the electric starter.

The electric starter is basically a 120 volt tubular heating element formed into an open elongated oval with a handle on one end. It has a piece of stainless sheet metal where the handle and element meet to act as a stand-off so that when you set the unit on a flat surface, the element doesn’t touch the surface but hovers above it a couple inches.

You put the starter on the fire grill, and pour charcoal on it. The stand-off will allow some of the charcoal to get under the element, some will be inside the oval, and most will be over it. You plug in the starter and let it do its thing for six to eight minutes. At the end of that time, you lift the starter out of the pile and stack the charcoal over the hot spot. It won’t look like you’ve got much going on there as only a few pieces will be hot. But trust the charcoal; you have introduced enough heat to push it past the “break-over” point. Those few hot coals will have the rest of the pile going in about 10 to 15 minutes – depending how you stack your charcoal. Meanwhile, lots of tasty smoke will issue forth like white wispy columns of God’s love. Now is the time to show your meat some of that love.

Put it on there! While the rest of the pile is getting good and hot, there is good clean smoke coming from it and it will cold smoke your meat for you. Remember, though – you are going for smoke at this point – not heat. So put the meat away from the charcoal and close the grill. Putting the meat over the charcoal right now is a mistake. There will be one little hot spot surrounded by a big cold spot. Some of your meat will start cooking, but not even one whole piece. This sux on many different levels. Grilling should be about even cooking. And one hot spot is NOT even cooking.

After the center of the pile is going good, then you can spread your charcoal out to how you want it. And by “how you want it”, I mean ”how it needs to be for what you’re cooking”.

There are four legitimate heat forms for grilling:
1) Direct heat
2) Muted direct heat
3) Indirect heat
4) Cold smoke
We’ll get into what all that means later but the two main types in a regular grill are direct and indirect.

Direct is for fast grilling. This means you want all your meat right over the heat and don’t really care how long the heat lasts since it’ll be longer than it takes to cook anything you can throw on the grill anyway. This is how most people grill and it works for hamburgers, hotdogs, brats, steaks, and most veggies and thin cut meats. For this type of operation, you want to spread the charcoal out to the area your meat will take up on the food grill. It’ll be hot and burn out relatively quickly but not before you have a chance to burn the hell outta everything there if you don’t pay attention and do stoopid stuff. DON’T DO STOOPID STUFF!

Indirect heat is for hot smoking and slow cooking. It is for parts of the animal that you can say, “Hey, I think that came from about here!” while pointing to inaccessible parts of your own body…or someone else’s  – that’s your business, leave me out of it. It’s also for things that take smoke better than sear. It is my preferred method of grilling.
For this, you can leave the charcoal piled up on one end of the grill while the meat is on the other end. In a kettle type grill, you have a choice as to spreading the charcoal around the edges and putting the meat in the middle, or keeping the charcoal in the middle and spreading the meat around the edges. Either way, the heat and the meat should not meet.
Ha! Did you see what I did there with the rhyme and alliteration?!? That, folks, is why I’m an unpaid professional and also why YOU should not try this at home.

Next time, we’ll talk about grills and smokers and junk.

People that know me a little know I like to do a little grilling now and then. And by “a little grilling”, I mean a lot. And by “every now and then”, I mean all the time. So I got the idea to put my grilling experiences here on the blawg. As I am a technical kinda guy, there is a lot of technical kinda stuff in these posts, but I’ll try to keep it easy breezy. And while I LOVE to grill, I am not a professional cook. There may be things I put in here that some real cooks out there will be all like, “WTH izzy talkin’ ’bout?!?” I welcome comments. But a lot of this stuff is about my preferences so don’t think I’ll be swayed too easily until you give me something new to try. I’m stubborn like that.

Enough about me, let’s talk about charcoal…

You take some wood and heat it up a LOT and what happens? It burns. The word “burns” implies oxidation. That means some stuff in it is combining with oxygen and giving off more heat than it is getting. So after you light it, it will supply enough heat to oxidize itself and continue “burning”. This is what we call a “fire”. So, what if we could heat up this wood without it oxidizing? This would prevent it from “burning” and allow it to cook out the stuff that would cause it to go into the cycle where it gives off a lot of heat really fast so that it can further burn and give off even more heat really fast. We can do this. We call it “Making charcoal”.

To make charcoal, you subject wood to heat that would otherwise cause it to burn in the presence of oxygen, but you don’t let any oxygen get to it. It then changes, chemically, to a state that is equivalent to a piece of wood that THINKS it has already burned, but still has a lotta goodies to oxidize – just not enough to go into an uncontrolled cycle of burning and making more burning. You have charcoal.

Charcoal is available in a couple of forms – briquettes and hunk. The briquettes are available plain and “Easy Start”.  “Easy Start” means it is already soaked in some nasty tasting lighter fluid – and by “nasty tasting lighter fluid”,  I mean “lighter fluid. It is ALL nasty.

“Hunk” or “Chunk” charcoal is a rawer form of charcoal that is made of hunks of wood subjected to the process to make charcoal without being changed in any dimensional way. I don’t think they make an “Easy Start” version of it, but if they do, it’s useless as tits on a boarhog so who cares.

Briquettes  are made by grinding up wood, “charcoaling” it and pressing it into little ‘pillows’ of even dimension, density, and composition.

I have friends who are gonna hate on me for this but I’m a man who lives in his own world and this is who I am –I like plain briquettes.

I tried hunk stuff and found it was not as predictable or consistent with the heat. Also, when clearing my fire grill, I run across a lot of “rocks”.  A big bag of hunk costs as much as a same size bag of bricks, but is lighter. Also, whatever in the hell those “rocks” are, they ain’t cooking my stuff so why da hellim I buying them?!?

People have always used charcoal to cook with because it releases the heat slower and lasts longer. It is more consistent. But you have to get it hot enough to start it’s slow cycle of “burning without burning” first. So folks usually douse it in some flammable liquid to get it going. Then they have to wait for the liquid to burn off because it tastes like ass if you cook over it. And all the while the liquid is burning off, the charcoal is giving off  tens of cubic feet of tasty smoke mixed with ass-tasting lighter fluid vapors. What a waste!

The Lazy D griller sees no point in wasting all this good, sweet smoke. It has been my experience that charcoal just getting hot gives off WAY more smoke than some that has all the lighter fluid burned off. Also, meat seems to ‘take’ smoke better raw. So if you get your raw meat on the grill as the charcoal is giving off maximum smoke, you are getting the best off both worlds.

Next, we’ll look at how to start the charcoal and how it should be placed for different types of cooking.

Whenever you are talking to someone about politics, pay attention to what they mean – not what they say.

Modern day liberals claim to want people to have equal opportunities as everyone else, but typically they want to use the power of government to make this come about. Government by it’s nature is force. Why do you need to use force to give everyone opportunity?

One reason is because one person (Person A) is in a position to deny another person (Person B) to take advantage of opportunity. That is all well and good, but unless A actually denies B his liberty, then A has done nothing wrong. To bring sanction against A preemptively is an over-reach of force (government). If A actively denies B of his liberties, then A should be stopped and punitively damaged so as to set precedent to discourage similar future acts by A and anyone else who decides that what A did was a good idea. Otherwise, let people have freedom of association and deal with each other on the merits of their own situation. Punish the bad guys who do bad things, but leave the good guys alone. Also, assume everybody is a good guy until they prove themselves otherwise. Innocent until proven guilty, and all, ya know.
The modern day liberal is against this idea. The modern day liberal wants to convict you because of where you ARE, ignoring what you did to get there. Because of what you HAVE, ignoring how you got it. Because of what you take, ignoring what you give.

If you have more than they think you should have, they want to use force to take it and transfer it to those who have less. Forget all the physical or mental work you did to get it, there are people out there who need it and you have more than what they determine you need. Bring in the guys with the guns.

If you have plenty, should you, by some moral compass, decide you should give to those who don’t? Sure, but YOU are the one who knows what you need and what you want to give and who you want to give it to. The modern liberal doesn’t trust YOU to do with what you have earned what they want you to do with it. They only trust the people who can lie well enough to the requisite number of people in order to get the sanction of the populace to use force to hopefully do what they want. See, a modern liberal DEPENDS on forcing others to do what they want done. They’ll condemn you for not “giving to the less-fortunate” then take your money so you can’t. They depend on force; not freedom, not choice not compassion. They want you to do what THEY want, not what you or somebody else wants. So they co-opt the only legal use of force available – government.

Many modern day conservatives do the same thing. Where the liberal wants the state to enforce his fluid definition of right and wrong, the theological conservative thinks he has God on his side and wants the state to enforce his idea of what God says is right and wrong. Both sides have lost sight of the fact that it is not a legitimate function of government to determine morality. The only legitimate function of force is to prevent or punish illegitimate force. In other words, government is supposed to protect the citizens’ rights to life, liberty, and property.

Determining who a citizen freely gives property to is not a protection of liberties. Determining if one citizen owes another property by contract IS a protection of liberties. By the way, Property = Time, Labor, Money, Goods, and/or Services.

Determining what one citizen charges another for goods or services provided is not a protection of liberties. But making sure one person delivers what they promised for what they charged IS a protection of liberties.

Telling one citizen that he cannot freely choose who he associates with in commerce or trade is NOT a protection of the freedom of association. Making sure one or more people do not interfere with the ability of someone else to freely associate with whom they choose, IS a protection of the freedom of association.

Preventing a person from expressing religious beliefs or mandating that religious beliefs be expressed is not a protection of religious freedom. Preventing someone from mandating or suppressing the free expression of religious beliefs IS a protection of religious freedom.

Mandating who one person can or cannot marry just flies in the face of freedom on every level. I have no idea what the anti-gay marriage folks think they’re doing to further freedom by trying to prevent two people who want to get married from getting married. That being said, it shouldn’t matter to the government whether you are married or not. In a legitimate government, what business of theirs is it if you claim to be married or not?

Mandating what a person chooses to ingest, drink, smoke, or whatever is not a protection of freedom. Preventing an intoxicated person from presenting an unreasonable risk to others IS an protection of freedom.  Also, determining which days or times a person may purchase or indulge in those behaviors falls right in there with the rest of it.

It is natural to want to prevent people from doing what you think is wrong. But before you get on some bandwagon and start calling for a use of force against that person for their choices, ask yourself, “Does his choice present an unreasonable danger to the rights of anyone else? Is he engaging in a fraud that will cost someone else their time, labor, or property without some agreed upon recompense?” If the answer is “No”, then feel free to speak out against what that person is doing. Criticize him and ostracize him if you will, but don’t fall back on the use of force to stop him.

Because pretty soon, he and a bunch of like minded people could possibly gain political power and bring sanction against you for doing things you do that doesn’t hurt anyone but that they don’t like. And they will use the precedent YOU set against you.


Typical blog format - chronologically, bottom to top. You are welcome to comment, but read "Da Rulez" first.

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