Thursday Bag o’ Balls

Latest project: weaning myself off ibuprofen. I’ve been taking it on days I know my new knee’s going to get a workout, Tuesdays and Thursdays when I hit the gym for example, bicycling Saturdays, and Mondays, when I know I’ll be walking and on my feet all day at the air museum. Everyone says ibuprofen is bad for the kidneys (maybe the liver, don’t quote me), so I’m going to try to get along without it. I hit the gym this morning clean, sober, and ibuprofen-free: stretching and bending a little longer than usual before getting on the stationary bike, suffering sharp twinges at the top of each pedal stroke for the first few minutes, gradually loosening up.

Another year almost; yesterday, another birthday. A good one, the birthday anyway (we’ll withhold judgment on the year, since it—and the mid-term elections—is not over yet). Mr. B and I took a long walk first thing in the morning, and Donna made me a lovely breakfast. I’ve dropped a couple of pant sizes, so her present to me was a new pair of Levi’s. They fit, smaller waist and all, but they’re a young man’s cut, form-fitting and low on the butt. It’s going to be a while before I’m comfortable in them, so used to flappy old man pants I’ve become. Friends and kids and relatives sent greetings, and I made a trip to the butcher for steaks to grill for dinner.

More trick-or-treaters show up at our house every year; we almost ran out of goodies last night. The dogs watched out the window and ran barking to the door every time a new group of goblins approached, but I note it was our shy dog, Maxie, who’d venture out onto the porch to sniff every kid’s costume, while the brave one, Mr. B, would hide behind Donna, warily watching the witches and wizards from the safety of the entryway.

Speaking of the butcher, I’m heading back. I’m going to smoke a pair of ducks for Thanksgiving, and they have to be ordered beforehand. We tried duck eight years ago, and it was a great accompaniment to the traditional stuffed turkey. I’m also getting spareribs to smoke next week, when friends from Virginia are coming to visit. Crouton’s Fortress of Smoke™ is going to get a workout this month.

My friend Ed and I are waiting for one last motorcycle part (I hope it’s the last, at least for a while); with luck it’ll come today and we can put the scooter back together. It’ll be good to have it back, now that it’s riding season in the Southwest. Fingers crossed.

Is there an epidemic of drivers hitting and killing kids at school bus stops? Google News just now: yesterday a lady in Indiana killed three siblings and maimed another kid as they crossed a road to board their bus. Today a hit-and-run driver in Pennsylvania struck and killed a seven-year-old boarding a bus and is still at large. Also today: a driver in Tampa struck several people at a school bus stop, sending seven to the hospital, and the article mentions this is just one of five such incidents this week alone.

I drove buses for my local school district a few years ago when I was between other high-paying retirement gigs. In our district at least, we tried to minimize the danger kids would be exposed to. Crossing residential streets to get to the bus stop was okay, but not main roads, so wherever possible we drove into residential areas to pick up and drop off the kids. Which seems to be something the school district in Indiana should have done; the residents of the mobile home development where those kids lived have been asking the school district to move the bus stop from the main road to a point inside the development for at least three years.

Airlines, railroads, and trucking companies have a long history of not making safety improvements until there’s blood on the ground. I’m afraid the military is guilty of the same thing, so it’s no surprise school districts follow the same policy.

When I was a school bus driver, having a kid injured or killed on my watch was the thing that kept me up nights. It wouldn’t have mattered whose fault it was, whether it was a drunk or distracted driver blowing past my extended stop sign and flashing red lights, or a lightning bolt out of nowhere … I’d still have felt responsible. I can’t imagine what the school bus drivers from this week’s carnage are going through, never mind the families of the children who have been killed or maimed. The drivers? Their lives are ruined, and that’s only right. I don’t give a fart in hell why they were distracted. It was their fucking job to pay attention behind the wheel. And the hit-and-runner? There is no punishment severe enough for that.

Damn, I could use some cheering up now. This always helps:

That’s the haps at Paul’s Thing. More soon.

© 2018, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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