Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A Bankhead Story

For those who aren't familiar with Alabama....we have one mega-sized national forest....Bankhead National Forest.  In relative size....it's the size of an entire county....maybe more.  It's the kind of place that if you walked in without a map or compass.....you could be in serious trouble in just an hour or two.

Well....this mornings news from the region indicates that we've got a guy.....Jim Nunn (age 40)....who hasn't been seen since early Tuesday afternoon.  Jim had gone out on a hiking expedition to check out a possible trail for members of his church.

The problem with Bankhead is that you could walk around for twelve hours, and never see even a unpaved road.  Add to the misery....you've got wild boar which will hunt you down, and there's always water-moccasins and rattlesnakes to mess with.

The positive here?  Jim is apparently former military....although the local news didn't make it readily apparent if he were Marine or Air Force (there's a ton of difference on survival skills between the two).  Marines could survive for months in the wild....an Air Force guy would be asking about the nearest Krispy Kreme within thirty minutes.

If he did have a compass and simply went in one direction....he'd eventually find his way out.  Toss in the fact of dozens of streams within the forest......so he's got plenty of water potential.  Jim might actually make it to a road and things would be fine and dandy.  So you have to have some hope for the guy.  And for folks with no hiking experience at all....some advice....Bankhead is not the place to start out.

UPDATE: Jim walked out of Bankhead Forest this morning at 7AM.  He was smart about this.  He declared himself a safe area when it got dark....built up a fire....and just waited until daylight.  Luckily, he didn't get bit by any snakes.  I'm guessing he picked a direction and just kept walking until he hit some road. A truly lucky guy.

I'm In The Wrong Occupation

My co-worker had issues with two trees in the front yard...both were candidates for falling over in a major wind storm.  So he went out and got quotes on cutting them down.  Remember.....this is the Arlington area.  So the best deal he got....was a guy who wanted a $2,500 check several days before the cutting, and $2,000 on the day of the cut (in cash preferably).  The requirement here that made the steep cost?  The guy had to be bonded.

The guy shows up with three helpers, and a cherry picker.

He started at the bottom on one tree....climbing limbs as the picker raised him up, and then cut the tree down in four-foot chunks. The helpers would drag the pieces off to the side and then cut them in half, and cut the limbs off. This all took around six hours total.

You work out the math, and figure $250 for each helper for their effort, with maybe $25 for the gas used for the day.

If a guy only did three of those a week....he'd easily clear $100k a year.  After storms in the local area....he'd probably have fifteen days straight of work before peaking out.

I think I'm in the wrong occupation.  I should have moved up here at 18, and I could have been retired at age forty as a mega-millionaire....cutting trees.

My Day

Today, I had this odd day.

As most of you know....I work in the bowels of the Pentagon.  I won't admit the organization but it's safe to say that it's military related.  We've had this project going on....to put up new door "swipes".  To get into our offices....you have a card and a pin....you swipe the card and toss in the pin to enter.  We needed to modernize....so along came this team to "fix" our issues and put us into the modern era.

We have this curious light on the swing-side of each door.  So as you punch the button to allow you to exit.....this tiny light....the size of your pinky fingernail....goes red for 3 seconds.  This is your one warning....on the outside....that this door is about to swing and could knock you on your ass.  Naturally, for Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen....this is your warning before you get knocked down.  We've had this warning light on the wall by the door for a decade.  So folks generally watch as they approach the door....fearing for their life in some manner.

Well....as the maintenance guys put in this upgrade....they disable the light.  We came to realize this in the morning and talked to the gal who manages the installation team.  It wasn't their job....to make the light work....as we were told.  We thought about this for an hour, after they all left, and then my associate made up an analogy and then started sending emails out to demand the light to return.  He's the facility manager and I kinda fell into his analogy.

The thinking?  If you walked into a dentists office to have one tooth pulled and noted two gone at the conclusion....there's something wrong.  I responded that if you pulled into a gas station and had your tires changed and only came out with three at the end....it'd be the same thing.  We were tempted to continue on....with an analogy duel....but figured it wasn't worth it.

So I have these maintenance guys fighting back and claiming that they may have disabled the stupid red light, but it's not their job to hook the light back up.  Meanwhile, I'm waiting for some guy in my organization to be standing near the door, and gets whacked.  The Colonel will ask me what the heck is going on as we gurney the kid to Pentagon clinic for a possible concussion, and I'll have to relate this whole red light episode to him.

Frankly, I'll admit it's all kinda crazy, and that I'd like to put a Navy portal "hole" into each vault door.....letting you see the guy at the door and just forget this whole red light business.  But naturally, you can't run around the Pentagon and tossing Navy portal-holes up on doors.....folks start getting nervous that we might be turning the whole building into a battleship.

And so it goes....another day at work.