Short Stories

As the sun sets bringing an end to the day, so too does it bring the end of my career as a full time regional over the road trucker.  Yes, I quit my job of twelve and a half years.  After thirteen years and eight months of leaving the house on Sunday and returning sometime Friday afternoon I’ve decided it was time for a lifestyle change.  It is long since time that I’m at home and in bed next to my wife at night.  So what am I going to do now?  I’ve accepted at position with a local paving and excavating company as a dump truck driver.  I know that this is a dramatic change.  However, I think it’s exactly the change that my family has been needing for some time now.  Both Mrs and I are excited and nervous about the new job.  We have that flood of unending questions running through our heads… Will I like this type of work, will it be the money we need, how will it be with me in the house every day, how does the unemployment thing work during the winter, as well as a bunch of other things.  

Today was my last day.  The new job starts Monday morning.  I think I’m ready.  I guess we’ll find out if I’m ready or not.  I’m looking forward to sharing pictures of construction equipment and interesting things from a new line of work.  

The view from my former office on my last night in the rig.  This was a fitting final load as it was also my first load of oil delivered on my own.  

Our youngest daughter started asking me to take her fishing after she got back from camp early this summer. Well, weekends are always busy at our house and my standard reply became “maybe next weekend.” Her persistence increasing with each passing week. I figured I’d better get her out fishin before she exploded. Saturday morning after dropping our son off at work, I stopped to buy some crawlers. I stopped back home to grab a pole and our daughter and off to the lake we went.

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"Daddy this is boring. Are the fishys EVER going to bite?


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It wasn’t about five minutes later that her bobber went under. Now she’s all smiles and ready for more fishin, even if it’s just bullhead fishin.

After the discovery of a rotten floor in our popup tent trailer in late June, we made the move to something a little bigger.  This Rockwood Roo is a 23 footer with triple queen expandable beds. One drops out each end and the third out the side. This looks like it’ll have enough room for the family without stepping on each other if one needs to turn around.

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Vacation 2013
7/6/2013
Our plan was to hit the road sometime around 0500 Saturday morning to get a jump start on the heat. Unfortunately, the old fart (me) hit the snooze button and we didn’t end up leaving until about 0700. This delayed departure wasn’t a bad thing as we were really just planned to fly by the seat of our pants today as we had no reservations for Saturday. I decided to take the scenic route this morning which took us through Volga, SD where I topped off with fuel. We had a discussion on stopping by the Corn Palace in Mitchell or to drive access the Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson. We ended up stopping at the Dam where we made sandwiches for lunch and took a few pictures.

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I made another quick pitstop for fuel in Vivian and then on we pushed to The World Famous Wall Drug. I think the girls enjoyed themselves though I’m not sure if the boys would be able to say the same.
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I think the kids were happy to have a seat for a few minuets to take a picture.

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Oh man! Did I make the kids blush when the Mrs took this picture.

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We arrived in Rapid City and fueled at the Flying J truck stop. When I was paying for fuel at the fuel desk I asked if there was a place close that I could park for the night the might have electric hook ups so that I could run the A/C and refrigerator. We were fortunate in that there was such a place just down the service road about a 1/4 mile. This was perfect as we were all tired and didn’t feel like chasing all over looking for a place to stay. After we had checked in I went to move the truck and trailer to the appointed spot. I got a big surprise when I began rolling the truck forward to bring it around to slide into the assigned spot. The front end of our Yukon started making an odd popping sound. I managed to get the trailer parked where I wanted it before anything catastrophic happened. Once we got the trailer all set up I jacked up the front end and pulled the driver side wheel. Unfortunately,I wasn’t able to see anything wrong so I made arrangements to get it in to a shop to be fixed on Sunday morning.

7/7/2013
The day started out with our Yukon on a hoist getting checked out. We ended up having to replace a wore out wheel bearing. As bad as that is we’re all glad it held together as long as it did. Breaking down in Rapid City was so much better than being stuck on the roadside somewhere in near 100° heat waiting on a wrecker.

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After finishing the repairs we hooked up and made our way down to Keystone and to Kemps Camp where we had previously stayed and had reservations for this trip.

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Figured I might as well have my picture with Honest Abe.

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7/8/2013
After pancakes with bacon and sausage for breakfast we headed out for a little cave exploration at Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns. While this was a great time and something cool to go do I’m not sure that I’m interested in doing it again. Walking down the flights of stairs is one thing, walking up all those steps ia another.

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We decided to drive out to Sturgis to have a look around. The kids have heard about the bike rally held each year in Sturgis. It was interesting to see all the shops on the main drag already set up with merchandise for the rally.

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Since we were already as far out as Sturgis we decided to drive through Deadwood.

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Dinner tonight was at a great 50’s diner in Rapid City called Arnolds.

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The kids found a cool rainbow on our way back to Keystone.

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Ended the day with a little campfire.

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7/9/2013
Needles Highway is a fantastic drive filled with switchbacks and spectacular views. At one such vantage point we were offered a great long distance view of Mt. Rushmore.

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The wildlife loop at Custer State Park was a nice long drive as always. We saw a herd of Bison, prairie dogs and wild burros. The kids had fun feeding carrots to the burros. That was until the carrot supply ran out and the burros decided to pester the kids. Mr Stud Burro offered the kids a first hand look at the ways of the birds and the bees by having his way with Mrs Burro.

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Grilled dogs, watermelon and cucumbers for late dinner after another long day of fun.

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Wrapping up the day with a nice little fire wearing my sweatshirt.

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7/10/2013
After breakfast we headed out for Mount Rushmore.

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Early afternoon we had late lunch / early dinner and spent some time in the pool before spending the evening at Rushmore for the Lightning Ceremony.

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I setup the DSLR on the tripod before it started getting dark. We neglected to bring the tripod on our last trip out here a few years ago. (Use of a tripod makes a huge difference in low light image quality)

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After the Lightning Ceremony we ended the day with another fire and I popped up some jiffy pop on the fire. (Something I don’t recommend without using gloves.)

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7/11/2013
The youngest wanted to hike the trail up to the base of the Monument this morning. This was something I’d not done before. So, we off we went.

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Dinner was at the Firehouse Brewery in Rapid City. This is a stop I highly recommend. (I even got a to enjoy my food this time. On our last trip out I was suffering from a heat injury and didn’t enjoy the food much.)

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Our final evening was spent sitting around the fire visiting with a retired couple from Michigan. We ended up around the fire well past the 11 o’clock fire curfew. Oops!

7/12/2013
The Final Day Of Vacation
Alarm rang at 0600 of which I snoozed once before hitting the shower. The kids packed what they needed in the truck (read electronic devices, pillows & blankies) while I prepared the camper to move. (read dumped waste water tanks and generally packed up)

The decision was made to run up towards Rapid City and drive through Bear Country USA and then be back before official check out time.

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Just East of Rapid City we stopped at The Air and Space Museum at Ellsworth Airforce Base.

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And no trip through Mitchell, SD is complete without stopping at The Corn Palace.

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7/13/2013
Finally arrived home at 0100 with the trailer dropped and everyone fast asleep (for most of em… Again) by 0230.

Thanks for stopping by to share in the adventure of The QBall45 Family Vacation 2013 as seen through the lens of my Samsung Galaxy S3.
Until next time,

@QBall45

I have to tell you my two bird stories.
 
First off, there’s the crazy mother robin that decided to build a nest in the hanging pot by the front door.  She laid 3 eggs, but would fly off if anyone got close to the door inside and out.  So with all the roofing going on, it didn’t appear that she was on the nest enough to get the eggs to hatch especially when we had a couple of cool days in a row.  Well, last night I peeked in when I got up on the stone planter to water the hanging basket which is what I had to do so I wouldn’t get the nest all wet.  There was one baby still lying in its half shell but poking its head straight up at me with mouth wide open.  It was completely naked.  I just went now to get the vacuumn cleaner out of the front closet and it scared mama off the next so I took the opportunity to peek again.  Three little birdies with scraggly fluffy gray feathers sprouting and mama had kicked all the egg shell remains out of the nest.  So it will be fun to watch them grow.
 
Yesterday we noticed two blue jays hanging around the back yard and making all kinds of noise.  We’ve seen them some, singley, in the bird baths, but never two and just staying so long.  When I let the dogs out, they got dive bombed big time, but were ignoring the dumb birds.  I got busy watering new transplants and pots, etc.  When I looked up Tessa was about ready to nose a small moving thing in the dog yard.  Yup, a baby jay.  She backed off when I told her to and then herded it to the chain link fence that it was able to flop under in the most ungainly manner.  The adults kept up their dive bombing even after that baby was “safe” on the other side of the fence.  I figured they just didn’t understand fences and kept working.  Then I heard big squawking coming from where the tall phlox is planted (by the rain gauge) in addition to rustling sounds.  So parting the plants revealed another baby jay.  This one so deep into the phlox that he wasn’t hard to catch at all, but boy did that make him mad!  All the dogs wanted to “see” him, but I took him to show Bruce and tell him why the jays were being so bold right then before putting him under the fence also.  He flopped off to be under a lilac bush.  Now I wonder if I’ve totally missed them nesting in either the maple or birch right in the back yard!  So much for being retired and sitting on the deck all the time!
Mom

— Thanks Mom for sharing this story. I know it wasn’t necessarily intended to share however, I thought it needed to be.

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Life in America is always busy. There’s always something important to be done. Things always distracting us and keeping us preoccupied, preventing us from remembering historical events that have changed the World forever. This morning for me was no different. I was absorbed in my work and thinking about were I was going to find replacement headlights and a side mirror for the car when my wife sent a message asking “why are the Flags at half staff?” It didn’t take long to figure out the reason. Today is 9/11/12 the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. How is it possible for a veteran like myself to have had to pause for even a single second to figure out why Flags might be at half staff? I suppose this shows a small chink in my armor that reflects the possibility that I am not as infallible as I had thought.
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Where were you? I remember. Do you?
I can remember as if it were only yesterday the events as they occurred in my life on September 11th, 2001. I had been working on the production floor of the creamery in a sleepy rural Minnesota town just as I had countless days before. An unusual event happened, I was summoned immediately and without explanation to the conference room. I recall just how odd this was as we always knew in advance of all meetings. Walking into the room, I noticed three more oddities… All on duty veterans were present and accounted for, the TV was turned on, and deafening silence fulled the room. Not a word was spoken as I took an open seat. Only then did I become aware that the shit had hit the fan. SOMEONE HAD ATTACKED THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! I spent the next minutes watching the screen in utter disbelief and shock. As an active member of the Army Reserve at the time my brain with into overload mode… What just happened, why, where had I stored all my gear (certainly the call would come), did I have my personal affairs in proper order?, people jumping to their deaths from burning buildings live on TV. At the end of shift my wife called a greeting from the living room “did you hear?” I think by the time I had gotten home everyone on planet Earth had heard the news. The Towers fell.
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@QBall45

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“From my cold dead hands” is a commonly heard phrase uttered by firearms enthusiasts.  However, it has also been used many times by the hopelessly addicted mobile phone junkie.  I will include myself in both of these groups.  One is a civil rights matter, the other a matter of personal preference.  The passion and commitment of both is astounding. 

From the time black powder was invented man has held on to his firearms until death chills the body.  Charlton Heston made those five words a battle cry of unity amongst firearms enthusiasts during his speech at the 2000 NRA Convention.  I could go on all day about the Second Amendment and what it means to each of us as citizens of the United States.  I will save that for another day.  It is my personal opinion that Mr. Heston was making a statement about ideals, values and personal rights.  

Over the course of the past year I have noticed a trend toward ‘die hard’ brand loyalty among smartphone users.  It is not uncommon to read a message on a forum or a tweet on Twitter that reads something like “I’ll change from ‘xyz’ to ‘abc’ when hell freezes over” or “You’ll have to pry ‘xyz’ from my cold dead hands before I use ‘abc'”

I suspect this sense of brand loyalty to the extreme is rather funny.  Yes, I am personally guilty of it myself.  I have a list of firearms that I simply will not purchase even though I know they are fine brands.  There are certain hand tool brands that I will not stray from.  Not long ago I had the same opinion on smartphones.  I was completely against the thought of even trying another brand.  That was until I literally woke up one morning and thought to myself ‘Why are you being so hard headed?  Go look and see… You may just like what you find.’  And so it goes.  My eyes were opened to something new and different.  Better?  Well, that’s a matter of personal opinion. 

From my cold dead hands
I see there are only a few things to which I would justify using this phrase.  Those few things are the things that truly matter most in life.  Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  All these things are secured by the God given the right to personal protection afforded us by the possession of modern firearms, not smartphones.

While there are still certain brands I will not own, I will no longer be heard to say “I will give up my Android when it’s removed from my cold dead hands.”  A statement such as this makes me look both narrow minded and foolish.  I may have a preference toward one brand.  However, I will always remain of the opinion that a mobile device is a matter of personal choice.  This choice is not to be made fun of or looked down upon.  Each of us have different needs and financial means. 

Hi,
My name is Qball45 and I’m a recovering BlackBerry addict turned Android junkie.  It’s true, I have poked fun at some other BlackBerry owners.  Please accept my apologies if I have offended you and your choice in mobile devices.  Your decision was made for reasons which I may never know.

p.s. I regret giving up my BlackBerry every time I try and type on this software keyboard.  Well, ok maybe not.

@QBall45

Banner image thanks to @Adam80460

We have been hearing Obama give speech after speach on the economy and employment.  The deal is simple.  Government can not fix the problem.  Government is the problem.  Increasing regulations and increasing the corporate tax rates always have a negative effect on jobs and the economy.  I am just not certain why most liberals do not understand this concept. 

What steps do I think need to be taken in order to improve the National economic situation which in turn will cause job growth?  My solution is complex yet extremely simple.  The only thing that the Federal Government needs to do is make life easier for small business.  No, I am not talking about cash bailouts.  Thats the last thing that needs to be done. 

How can the Government make life easier for small businesses?  There are several things that can and should be done immediately.

Decrease Health Care Costs
One of the largest and most unpredictable expenses for small business is cost of health care coverage for employees.  I see there are a few factors driving up this cost.  Excessive malpractice insurance that all medical professionals are required to carry is extremely expensive.  Tort Reform needs to happen.  This is one of the factors causing increased MI costs for doctors.

Decrease Energy Costs
Reduction in energy costs does not equal “green energy.”  By properly utilizing domestic resources we reduce transportation costs which reduces the cost to the consumer.  How?  Cut the red tape.  Drill here and drill now!   Making common sense improvements to the nations refineries will improve productivity further reducing the cost to the consumer. 

Reduce Excessive Regulations
I think this should be self explanatory.  Excessive regulation burdens small business.  Eliminate some and things will improve. 
Abolish The EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency was originally a fine idea that’s run amuck.  Somehow the EPA granted itself the power to enact laws and regulations.  Odd, I recall this being the job of Congress.  It’s high time we show the EPA to the door.
Decrease Corporate Taxes
The concept is leave the money in the pockets of the people that actually do create jobs.  By decreasing the taxes corporations pay we leave them with more money that can and will be used to do what they do.  Which is create stuff.  In the end this ‘creating stuff’ actually does create real jobs that people want. 

These are my ideas foreign as they may sound to some.  Try it.  What do we have to lose?  It can’t be worse than what we have now.
@QBall45

Anyone who knows me well, knows all too well the struggle I have with spelling.  This is a fact of life which I have learned to overcome.  As a student, I detested reading and writing.  Papers, projects, book reports, I detested it all. Not due to laziness but rather a struggle with spelling.

My turn around began with a new (I’ll be darned if I can recall when.  Yes, it’s my ‘old timers’ kickin in.) interest in reading. Reading turned into writing, which naturally helps my spelling. Practice makes perfect with the assistance of a fine spell check application.

I recently began to notice that I have a strange problem while reading.  It seems that I no longer read, I proof read.  Structure, grammar and spelling errors leap off the page as if highlighted in yellow. However, don’t call me up to ask “how do you spell (insert word here).” My kids are all too familiar with my answer to questions such as this. “Pull out the dictionary and look it up.”

@QBall45

Dear Wife, I’m writing you this letter to tell you that I’m leaving you forever.  I’ve been a good man to you for 7 years & I have nothing to show for it.  These last 2 weeks have been hell…  Your boss called to tell me that you quit your job today & that was the last straw.  Last week, you came home & didn’t even notice I had a new haircut, had cooked your favorite meal & even wore a brand new pair of silk boxers.  You ate in 2 minutes, & went straight to sleep after watching all of your soaps.  You don’t tell me you love me anymore; you don’t want sex or anything that connects us as husband & wife.  Either you’re cheating on me or you don’t love me anymore; whatever the case, I’m gone.
Your EX-Husband

P.S. don’t try to find me.  Your SISTER & I are moving away to West Virginia together!  Have a great life! ——

Dear Ex-Husband,
Nothing has made my day more than receiving your letter.  It’s true you & I have been married for 7 years, although a good man is a far cry from what you’ve been.  I watch my soaps so much because they drown out your constant whining & griping Too bad that doesn’t work.  I DID notice when you got a hair cut last week, but the 1st thing that came to mind was ‘You look just like a girl!’  Since my mother raised me not to say anything if you can’t say something nice, I didn’t comment.  And when you cooked my favorite meal, you must have gotten me confused with MY SISTER, because I stopped eating pork 7 years ago.  About those new silk boxers: I turned away from you because the $49.99 price tag was still on them, & I prayed it was a coincidence that my sister had just borrowed $50 from me that morning.  After all of this, I still loved you & felt we could work it out.  So when I hit the lotto for 10 million dollars, I quit my job & bought us 2 tickets to Jamaica.  But when I got home you were gone.  Everything happens for a reason, I guess.  I hope you have the fulfilling life you always wanted.  My lawyer said that the letter you wrote ensures you won’t get a dime from me.  So take care.
Signed, Your Ex-Wife, Rich As Hell & Free!

P.S. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but my sister Carla was born Carl. I hope that’s not a problem.