A Tale of Two Cities (or the City Richard and the Country Richard)

Today was a long and strange day. I’m really not sure which part was the strangest. But in any case, I went from being a country boy to being a city boy once again over the course of the day.

First, I woke up about 12:30 am to what appeared to be a flashlight outside the cabin. I reached under the pillow to activate my security system. It wasn’t armed, or even there. It was at that point that I realized I was not at the cabin but at my mom’s house and that the light outside was the neighbor’s yard light. Relax – I’ve never shot anything that didn’t need to be shot.

Secondly, I woke up at 4:30 am because I had to. I hadn’t set an alarm; I just knew it was time to start a long and arduous day.

After letting the dogs out, showering, and helping Jen load our stuff up, we set out for the cabin to take care of our animals. We made a stop at McDonald’s in Clinton for a biscuit and a caramel mocha. The caramel mocha was excellent, by the way. Just thought I should say that since I bitch when I get a bad one, like the one I got in Morrilton earlier in the week.

When we pulled into the “driveway” at the cabin, we saw the only animal which is unwelcomed on the homestead – a rattlesnake. I’m really not sure of which particular species that this one belonged, but it had fangs and rattles.

This time the security system was armed, but a little less than adequate. I retrieved it, but we tried to get the snake in a bucket before taking drastic action. It turns out that it is impossible to get an almost 3 foot long rattlesnake to stay in a bucket – even if it is for its own good.

I regret having to kill the snake. I tried to get it to relocate itself. I tried to relocate it myself. It just wasn’t happening. The snake was big enough to eat the birds and cats and to kill the goats, the dogs, and me and Jen. It had to go. It didn’t go to waste. We took it to our neighbor who seemed appreciative. If we had killed the snake a week earlier, we would have consumed it ourselves. We just didn’t have the time to properly attend it presently.

We fed the animals, hooked them up with plenty of water and headed out for Springfield. We knew we didn’t have any place to stay. The person who we had been dealing with in regards to our potential apartment had dropped the ball and left us without an apartment. We stopped in Harrison and used apartmentfinder.com to get a list of places for Jennifer to call while we finished the rest of the trip.

Jennifer ended up talking to the woman who messed up our first and second choices in apartments. Then she called at least 5 other places. After talking to Jocelyn at Chardonnay, that’s where we were headed.

Chardonnay turned out to be one of the better choices we have ever made. The process was very smooth.

I’ve made the transition from country boy to city boy in less than 12 hours. It may take Jen a little longer. Of course, I found a grocery store that is a whole lot like Whole Foods, so that helps a whole lot. And we have free wifi that is advertised as “blazing” in the speed department. And the apartment complex is really cool and has an awesome security officer to help protect our “stuff.”

So, in the course of the day, I went from getting chewed on by the dogs, to sipping on mochas, to 4 wheel driving down a 45 degree, washed out two rut road down the side of a mountain, to shooting rattlers with a 20 gauge shotgun, to living in an apartment complex with a couple a hundred of other, presumably civilized people and drinking a rather awesome Imperial (or double, depending on who you talk to) IPA. We did end up going to Walmart about 98,347 times, so maybe that cancels out a little of our “forced” civility.

It really was a weird transition. I was cleaning gunpowder off of my glasses while signing the paperwork for the new apartment.

Jennifer and I, and therefore, the baby, will make it. I’ve heard it said that you can take the boy (or girl) out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy (or girl). I guess we will see. We’ve been here before, but ended up back in the country.

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My Bike Won’t Start!

I have a 97 Yamaha FZR 600. When I parked it 2 years ago, it was fully functional. I’ve started it once or twice since then, even though it required a jumpstart.

When I tried to start it today, nothing happened. Nothing at all. Even with a jump, nothing is happening. There are no lights, horn, turn signals, brake lights, warning lights, and most depressing, no turning of the starter.

I’ve checked for power up to and out of the main 30 amp fuse. It has power at that point. The secondary fuses are getting no power. I guess I will pull the ignition switch and see if it is getting power. I’ve also checked for obvious wiring damage, but so far have found none.

I would appreciate advice. The weather’s perfect for a ride.

Moving Up

Looks like we are moving up. Or at least moving on. Up or down has yet to be determined.

Actually, if going strictly by the map, we are moving up. North is up, right? So I guess we are definitely moving up.

I’ve been a little busy in the past few months. Since Jen lost her job, I had to get one. The job that I took in Clinton just wasn’t working out. My particular set of skills didn’t allow me to thrive there, so I had to move on.

Now, I’m writing this instead of getting my stuff together. I’m supposed to start the new job Thursday in Springfield, MO. I found an apartment, but we hit a snag – in order for them to lease the apartment to me, I have to have a job there. But I don’t start the job until Thursday. I’m working with my new supervisor to resolve the issue, but to say it is a little stressful right now is an understatement. It’s a classic Catch-22: I can’t get a place to stay until I start working but I can’t start working until I have a place to stay. Them’s the breaks!

There’s plenty to do here on the homestead before moving on. We will be keeping this place and maintaining it from a distance. Jen has her doctor here, so she will be staying behind until the baby comes along. Then she and the baby (and the dogs and cats) will follow.

That leaves me with a couple of days to get things in order here. First and foremost, the truck has to be reactivated. It needs 3 new tires and new ball joints. I have the ball joints, just not the knowledge to install them. And I don’t have the $400 or so that we have been quoted by a few places to get them installed. Guess that’s just something that we will have to work out.

Then there is the cleaning up around here. It was a hard winter. There is trash everywhere. We still haven’t planted a garden. Does it really matter? I’m sure that we won’t be able to care for it anyway.

Speaking of trash, when I was building a trash receptacle Friday, I heard something coming through the woods. The sound kept getting closer but I couldn’t see the critter that was making the noise. It finally came into view. See if you can find it in the picture!

There is also packing to do. Of course, I’m moving into a studio apartment, so I’m not really taking a lot with me – just a bed and some cooking utensils. I guess I will also take something to augment my apartment’s security system, and maybe a TV. Wow: TV. That seems strange. After 2 years without one, why do I feel the need to drag a TV along?

Yikes! What about the wine? I’ll have to bottle it soon. It’s still a work in progress, so I don’t want to bottle it yet. But I’m afraid that if I don’t do something with it now, I never will. How about a wine drinking party? That’s an idea that I can get behind.

There’s also the problem about what to do with the birds, goats, and cats until Jen makes the move to Missouri. Guess that will take a little planning as well.

And what about all of the friends we have made here? LOL!

The truth is that we haven’t really made that many friends in the local area. The friends that we have made are dear to us, and we hate to move away from them. The problem has been that we haven’t met many likeminded people since moving here. We have met a few people that are into personal liberty. We have met some people that are open minded enough to understand that people don’t and won’t always see eye to eye on every issue, and even though we see some things differently, we can still be friends. Unfortunately, those people have been few and far in between.

What we have found plenty of are people who think either left or right. They are either Ford or Chevy kind of people. Coke or Pepsi. Democrat or Republican. Cowboys or Saints. Bud or Bud Light. Baptist or Church of Christ.

What we were looking for is those who think for themselves, those in the middle of left or right. Tesla kind of people (not because of the $89,000 luxury sport electric car, but for Tesla’s business model). Water. Libertarian. Neither Cowboys or Saints because sports really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. How about a beer that has a personality? We’re looking for people who can see past a person’s spirituality or lack thereof and see the person for who they are.

The truth is that if the only choices are Ford or Chevy, Coke or Pepsi, Democrat or Republican, sports or sports, Bud or Bud Light, Baptist or Church of Christ, then there really is no choice. Take Bud or Bud Light. There is no choice. Give me a Raging Bitch, please. What? No Raging Bitch? How about a New Belgium Rampant? How about a 420 IPA? There are about 100 different IPAs alone floating around out there at any given time. But can I get one? Not within 50 miles of here. In fact, I can’t even get a 6 pack of crappy Bud Light in this county or the next, but that’s beside the point

The point is, with all of the options out there, why settle for one of two options? Why vote Democrat or Republican? Just because your parents do? Why not see what else is out there? Believe it or not, there are people out there with political ideologies that don’t involve telling you who you can love or marry, what you can smoke, or what you can carry to protect yourself. Some people don’t care what you do as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Try getting the Democrats or Republicans out of your religion, your marriage, your bedroom, your wallet, your personal protection, your child’s education or your healthcare.

We knew that our time here was short when Jennifer was fired from her job. Jennifer lost her job because of a closed minded group of individuals who have, unfortunately, a lot of power in their little kingdom. They believe that it is perfectly ok to dictate what one puts in one’s body, regardless to one’s moral or philosophical beliefs. This group of people can see no farther than Baptist or Church of Christ. To these people, there is Christianity and no alternative. There is blind obedience, and no alternative. Thinking for one’s self is not permissible. “Somebody said it so it has to be true” kind of people. The government says that we should ask you to submit voluntarily to a vaccination that is little more effective than washing your hands, so, by god, we will force you to do it. It must be ok, because the government says to do it. Oh? The government doesn’t say you have to do it? Oh? Nobody actually knows if it is safe, not even the people who make what we say is safe for you? Oh? There is a system put in place by the government to pay you off if you get injured by the procedure that the government says won’t injure you? Oh, the vaccine industry rakes in about $6 billion a year – just on flu shots? There’s no way that there can be any corruption in an industry so large! Surely we would have heard about that kind of corruption by now. Never you mind that the head of the largest vaccine producer in the US was last employed as the head of the department of the government that tells you to take your vaccines. That’s not corruption. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit of a motivated person and a patriotic company.

Well, vegetarianism isn’t a religion so you have to take the shot, you conspiracy theorist. Pay your taxes and eat another slice of white bread. If your doctor says it isn’t safe, then you can be exempted from the procedure. If he thinks you shouldn’t take it, then you don’t have to take it. Your doctor won’t say it’s unsafe? Too bad. Ours says it is safe. Never mind that we pay the guy (or gal) who says it is safe. If your pastor says it’s against your religion, then you can be exempted. You don’t have a pastor? Too bad. Don’t have a religion? Too bad. We do, and our pastor says we should all get a flu shot. He also says that sex outside of marriage is a sin, so I’m not sure why all of these children are born out of wedlock. Come to think of it, divorce and remarriage is a sin, so why are there so many stepchildren running around here? Anyway, I digress. God gave man the knowledge to create vaccines so vaccines must be good. God gave us the US Constitution which created a perfect government of Democrats and Republicans who act as checks and balances against one another. That gives the government the power to force you to submit to any procedure the medical industry deems necessary, and therefore it must be good. I know our government is good because the word “God” is in our Pledge of Allegiance.

Ok, so nobody actually said any of that. That was a conversation which I conceived and articulated entirely in my head. Maybe I should consider some mental health care? However, I do think that Jennifer’s former employer discriminated against her because of her belief system.

What their human resources department actually said is “We checked with legal. Vegetarian isn’t a religion.” Accent deleted by author. Intelligence deleted by the HR department. This was from the HR department of arguably the largest employer in the county. They actually said that they would consider an exemption based on a letter from Jennifer’s doctor or Jennifer’s pastor. Never mind that finding one of the former is like finding an insurance salesman who will tell you that whole life is a bad deal. Never mind that finding one of the latter is impossible, as Jennifer has no pastor – or religion for that matter.

Never mind that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that sincerely held moral and philosophical beliefs are the same as religious beliefs under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Never mind that there is legal precedence for people who have a moral and philosophical objection to consuming animal products to be exempted from mandatory vaccinations. “Legal” said it, so it must be so. The funny thing is that I’m not sure that the HR department was intelligent enough to accurately convey Jennifer’s objection to the vaccine. I can only base my opinion on the “We checked with legal. Vegetarian isn’t a religion,” statement to which I referred earlier. If they merely asked “Legal” (whoever that is) if vegetarian is a religion, then that alone should prove that there is a certain level of intelligence that is lacking in that particular organization.

No, vegetarianism isn’t a religion. I don’t think anyone would say that it is. However, for us, it is a moral and philosophical belief that goes much farther than whether or not we eat meat. It has to do with our belief that we should respect animals enough to not hurt them for our own pleasure or for uses that are no more effective than washing one’s hands and setting the thermostat a little higher. The flu vaccine reduces one’s risk of getting the flu from 2 out of 100 to about 4 out of 100. Wanna bet on those odds? That’s what you are doing every time you take a flu shot. You (or someone) are paying a flu vaccine manufacturer about $12 on average to lower their odds of getting the flu by a little less than 2 out of 100. The manufacturers make about $6 billion a year on the vaccine, and we still get the flu. Go figure.

Whew! That felt good to get off my chest. I’ve needed to say that for some time, but didn’t because I didn’t want to piss anyone off.

There are other issues that come along with living in a small town. Limited income potential is one issue. Limited job opportunities is another. Lack of non-sporting related entertainment is another. Living in a dry county is an issue for us.

But the biggest issue we have in this community is the lack of free thinking people. I never realized that so many people refuse to think for themselves. There are so many people here that believe what anyone in authority tells them. They are Christians because their parents are. They are Methodist because their parents are. They don’t drink because their pastor says it is a sin. They teach their children that if they lose a fight on the playground that they will get a whipping when they get home. They don’t teach their children the skills necessary to avoid physical altercations, instead they celebrate fighting. They don’t challenge their supervisors at work when asked to do something unethical or dubious because they were raised to do what their boss says. They want to keep their jobs, so they don’t buck the system. They eat what their parents eat. They support their children when asked to sell candy bars for a band trip. They never question why they send their children to public school. They fight against common core, but not for vouchers. Gambling is wrong, but selling lottery tickets (or buying them for that matter) isn’t. They fight the legalization of marijuana and alcohol, then go to the local smoke shop and load up on cigarettes. They don’t like the idea of methamphetamines, but they have to have their caffeine in the morning, and sometimes they just need their sugar fix. It’s ok to alter their minds as they see fit, but they don’t want to allow others to do the same.

If you want to smoke, I don’t care as long as I don’t have to breathe your smoke. If you want to drink 128 ounces of soda a day, knock yourself out – just don’t make me pay for your dialysis when you get diabetes. If you want to drink coffee every morning to wake up, go ahead. Eat fried meat at every meal. Have that cocktail after work or that 6 pack on the weekend. If you want to smoke a joint when you get home, then by all means do it. Watch all of the football you want. Wanna smoke crank? Go ahead. It just means more opportunities for those of us who don’t. Take a flu shot. Hell, take two if that’s what you want to do. Do what you want to do so long as it doesn’t create a victim other than yourself. Allow me to do the same.

I guess you can see that maybe it’s time that we move on. I’m not sure that this little corner of the planet would be able to take much more of us or us of it. Free thinking is contagious, and that could be detrimental to this community.