Friday, March 4, 2016

When I was young and dumb...er...dumber

Check the video link. Swinging in  the air."

It reminds me of when I was a boy. One summer when I was around the age of 12 two of my cousins and I found a long steel cable lying alongside the gravel road one of them lived by. (I also lived by a gravel road but not that one.)

Being industrious and having time on our hands, the crops being laid by and all, we dragged it home. (It never occurred to us that it might have belonged to the county road department and used with the road grader parked near by.) We worked diligently for several days climbing up this huge oak, pulling the cable up, looping it over a limb and then securing the loop with a clamp we borrowed from one of the dad’s work shop in the barn.

It dropped straight down to a ledge and could be pulled back to a higher point and then released and it would swing out and over this creek bed across and up and its arc it would go and then back and forth. The creek was only a foot deep or so and we were too smart to think we could drop into it.

For comfort we took an old tow sack, filled it with leaves and tied it to the cable. We could pull the cable back, jump on the sack as we released the cable and give our very best imitation of Tarzan swinging through the jungle.

Man, it was just soooooo cool.

Then one day I pulled it back, jumped on and swung out…and just kept going. Briefly down and then up and then on a downward path through small tree limbs, grape vines, bushes and landing in a patch of black berry bushes.

There wasn’t a spot on my arms and face that wasn’t skinned or scratched. But to say I was lucky is a world class understatement.  No eye was put out. No bones were broke. No doubt about it. The Lord was looking out for me that day.

We then looked at the limb now laying on the ground and  marveled at what friction can do. The limb had been “sawed” through by the pressure and back and forth movement of the cable.

Along about then my “wounds” were starting to hurt so we ran home where momma washed off the dirt with soapy water and doctored the worst ones with iodine. Which hurt worse than the scratches.

Of course we had violated what was the most important rule of our childhood. We had attracted the attention of the adults. They viewed the scene, passed out a world class shaming and scolding and dictated that we return the cable. Which we did. The road grader was still there patiently waiting for its annual use of smoothing out the gravel and filling the ruts. What the use of the cable was, outside of being an unwilling participant in our attempt to kill ourselves, I do not know.

Looking back I can see what other valuable lessons we were taught.

First, how to “cumshaw” necessary material. The cable and clamp. This training was very valuable in my Navy days.

Second, gravity pulls things down. Even me.

Thirdly, friction cuts. And does so quicker than you think.

Finally, teamwork. None of us could have been so dumb by ourselves.

 "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." - Karl Popper 

 “It’s the presumption that Obama knows how all these industries ought to be operating better than people who have spent their lives in those industries, and a general cockiness going back to before he was president, and the fact that he has no experience whatever in managing anything. Only someone who has never had the responsibility for managing anything could believe he could manage just about everything.” - Thomas Sowell in Reason Magazine