The Extreme Mistaken Identity

brokeI spend a fair share of time buying and selling miscellaneous things on Craigslist and on eBay. Much of the stuff I hunt for is what I call local meaning I can get there within 3 hours or so. I have buying and selling like this for years and tend to travel a bit to pick different items up. Rarely, if ever, do I have problems with anybody because the people I buy and sell with are doing the same thing I’m doing which is buying stuff to fix/repair and then resell more often than not. I try not to get myself into deals that are too far away because then that just becomes more expensive in the end.

This trip would lead me to Lake Charles Louisiana to pickup a 40s Ford pickup (pictured below, picture provided from Craigslist ad) which I thought would be a good truck to finish off my 4×4 bastardization truck using my restored 70s Bronco chassis (pictured at bottom). Anyway, I had spoken with an older gentleman (spoke with a heavy Cajun accent) twice about the truck and a price of $1100.00 cash was agreed on by both of us. He told me that his nephew would contact me with the address and a good time to meet. Yesterday, Thursday, ended up being the day. I pushed for Saturday or Sunday but the nephew was hell-bent it had to be when he said. So be it, right.

The trip from my house to Lake Charles is about 2 hours so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad of a trip during the week to make. I loaded up my truck and trailer and set off to Louisiana. I wasn’t familiar with the address I was given but I did know the area of town I was going. When I arrived at my destination (as said to be correct by my GPS and the GPS in my cellphone) I was presented with the house (pictured above). Thinking there was a mistake I reset my GPS. Apparently I was at the address I was given. Thinking there was a mistake I took a picture of it and sent it to my wife to let her know I was sent on a wild goose chase. She wasn’t happy with me to say the least and explained to me I needed to figure out what in the hell was going on.

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After 20 or so attempts I was able to get ahold of the nephew who explained to me that I sounded like a white cop on the phone. He further explained that they didn’t do business with white cops. I was given the address to the abandoned house so I could be checked out by friends of his. When I asked if there was a problem with me being white he told me no as long as I had the cash and wasn’t a white cop. He told me he was sending his friends over to the house to check me out in person and if I checked out then they would escort me to his uncle’s house to pick up the truck. He informed me two of his friends would be there shortly and I was to give them the cash. Once they had the cash I would get a call that it was okay to follow his friends. I was warned I better be legit because this was the wrong place to be a white cop.

Once I hung up with him I decided to just leave. In my head I ran down the scenario and it ends up with me being robbed and killed, leaving me to rot in the abandon house. Even though I did have my twins (Desert Eagle .50AE x2) accompanying me on this little excursion I was not prepared to be in an ambush gunfight with an unknown number of people. I headed out shortly before sunset to return home. I will never know who showed up for the meet and greet last night. Tell you the truth I really don’t care. I haven’t heard from the man with the heavy Cajun accent or the nephew and I don’t suspect I will either. Sad, if you ask me, that this all played out the way it did. Perhaps my wife was right, the deal just was just too good to be true. Apparently so.

I have had some time to analyze this whole thing. Since I was troubled with heavy concern that allot of assumptions were made, inaccurately I might add, about me. Okay, they assumed one thing that was right, I am white. I won’t do them the same disservice by assuming I know what race my new friends are because I never met any of them in person. Accents, slang, and how someone talks are not tell signs of one’s race. Being I was bothered still by the events, I contacted the local sheriff’s department for that parish in Lake Charles where I was given a very hardy “yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll look into it when we get an officer freed up”. Who cares, right? No harm no foul, right? Sure, I guess so.

Now that this bullshit is over all I can think is how sweet that old beast would have looked when I go done with her. So, my hunt will continue and sooner or later I will get the body I was always looking for. I think what pisses me off the most is that I never would have guessed that junk sellers would be scamming people or trying to roll people for that cash. Makes re-think how I will do business in the future for sure. What a stupid reason to get killed. But, my optimist side has thought that perhaps I drove away from a fantastic deal and there was nothing to be worried about. My realist side says I made the right choice.

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The Annual Neighborhood Yard Sale

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No matter what I get involved in it always seems that I get asked to drag my smoker out and do what I do best. Some people cook, some people grill, but only the best can smoke. For those of y’all new to The Sting Of The Scorpion all I can do is recommend that your do a category search for “Smoking” and catch up. For everyone else this in just another day in my life. I’m not sure if I have ever posted pictures of the “other woman” (as it is called by my wife) so here she is. I have more smokers but this one is my oldest and my favorite. I built this trailer smoker back when I was in high school in the year 1985 based on a smaller project I had completed in shop class earlier that year. My smoker was built-in my parents garage using leftover metal from other projects. The trailer was bought at a yard sale and then modified and beefed up to make sure it was up to the task at hand. Since its conception and completion this smoker has been in my family ever since. When I joined the United States Air Force in 1988 I made sure this smoker went with me all over the planet, wherever I went, she went. Anyway, back to the present.

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This past weekend was the annual neighborhood yard sale. Around 200 houses and businesses participate and it is generally a real big deal for this community. My baby sister happens to live here in this small country town southwest of Houston and they participate year after year because she invites all of the family and in-laws to participate. I always have two specific jobs, I smoke and I play cashier. This year was a little different because I actually brought some big things to sell like a leather living room set, dining room table with 8 chairs and three 2 foot leafs, two different Arachnid (brand) electronic dart boards that I had restored (circa 1982), an adult go-cart, washer & dryer, and an ass-load of clothes. When I pulled up at 5am with my trailer-load and smoker in tandem tow I was greeted by my parents, my sister, and some early morning “shoppers”. In the end, the only thing that made it to be sold in the yard sale was the clothes. I had made $8800.00 before it ever began. I unloaded the trailer onto 4 different pick-up trucks and I was basically done. I wasn’t expecting it to be that easy, but it was, and it made the rest of the day a breeze for me. Over all, selling 90% of the clothes brought in another $413.50 making my grand total for the day $9213.50 which wasn’t too shabby in my book. I got a whole lot more money like this than I would have seen using Craigslist. So, I had a great day. The rest of the clothes were given to my mother to donate to their local Goodwill.

I would like to discuss the people who came here to buy “other people’s junk” because the range at the yard sale was better than I could ever find at the mall. There are three types of people I saw that really stood out. There were the “lookers and fondlers” that basically had to see everything, did through everything, yet bought nothing. Then there were the “hagglers” who wanted to get a better deal than the best deal offered. These are my favorite because they have the most money to spend and they are trying to get as many deals as they can for their buck. Luckily, for me personally, I only had to drop off my price for one item which was the adult go-cart, I was asking $3500.00 since I paid $3500.00 for it. It was ran hard and I know it, but it was clean and well maintained, we settled on $3400.00 and the old man thought he got a bargain on the 5-year-old cart. I guess it is time to go buy me more toys for Christmas. The last group was the “in a hurry” people because they move at high speeds hoping one won’t see something or something will get missed. Are they scamming, probably not, but if something was overlooked they wouldn’t say anything in my opinion. But, they never haggle, just pay how much they owe, which is super easy for me. When I price something I always go high with it because I know people will want to work the price down, which is the game we play, but everything has a bottom dollar they won’t budge from.

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Pictured above was load number two of the meat that was smoked, ribs, brisket, and sausage. Earlier I had smoked 80 sausage links and sold them for $3.00 a piece as sausage on a sticks. Since the meat was provided (donated) by my sister’s father in law, he wanted all proceeds to go to the “kitty” and divided up between the 6 families that were there, so we all got an extra $40.00 to boot plus I basically snacked on whatever I wanted all day long so I didn’t go hungry. In the end it was a good day, I went home with an empty trailer, a pocket full of cold hard cash, and a full belly. Anyway, that was my Saturday what did yours look like.

Observations In Weekend Ramblings

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I spend quite a bit of my time in my shop doing different things that need to be done. I don’t think I have ever shown any pictures of where I do so much. I had run to the hardware store to get a few things I thought I would be using Saturday. When I came back my attention was drawn to my driveway. I wondered to myself when it started looking so bad. Why it looks so bad I can answer because I drive allot of heavy stuff across it on a regular basis. I never thought I would be needing to re-do the driveway anytime soon. I have had repairs to it done earlier this year because my truck was wider than the drive in spots. I made the mistake of getting by with what I needed versus spending the money and getting what I wanted. Why do we do that? I actually took the picture to send to my wife to let her know I was going to get quotes to have the drive redone. She replied with whatever I want to do is fine with her and she doesn’t see any problem with the way it is. But, when it was a gravel road she hated it and now that the asphalt is getting tore up she is fine with it. This is an area where we always disagree and probably always will. Sadly I let this conversation with my wife distract me from what I was actually on my way to do. It happens on occasion, I see things I want to get done, they get put on the “list” and sooner or later might get done. I try to keep my list in check but there are times it gets blown out of proportion. The purpose of this particular weekend was to just relax, stay off my foot, and continue to recover. But, eventhough my wife and kids were out-of-town I just couldn’t sit still and do absolutely nothing, it’s not who I am and it’s pretty much impossible for me to be still.

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When I got out to my shop I was reminded again that I need some kind of pad around the building because it gets a little messy getting in and out at times. Trust me, it’s on the list. This weekend was no different, we got a fair share of rain. Luckily for me, the ground around the building drains pretty well and really fast. Maybe that is why it is always on the back burner. I figure I will probably take the time to grade it out and do it all in gravel sometime this winter. I could do it now but my clutch foot is still full of stitches. I found it was sort of a mistake to drive something with a clutch when I took my truck in for an oil change before running errands to get what I needed. I never knew how much I depended on being able to use my left foot. It’s a challenge to drive but also a challenge to walk. Forget picking anything up heavier than a pillow as I found out. Maybe I should have just planted my but on the couch in front of the television this weekend. There’s time for that later. I’m here now. I’ve returned from the hardware store. I have what I need now and it is time to focus and get it done.

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At the beginning of the summer I was given some re-claimed cypress planks from an old house that was torn down a few miles from here. I accepted the wood as payment for helping out doing a bit of tractor work for the guy doing the demolition. He got his truck stuck and he had walked to the back of my property and noticed I was down by the creek and asked me to help him out. There wasn’t much of the cypress wood to salvage but there was enough, I found, after cleaning it all up, to make two doors. This picture does no justice to the size of them since each one of them are 36″ x 84″. They were actually purpose-built, I had the full intention of using them here on my building to replace both of the single person entrance doors which are metal. However, as I get them done I wonder if it is what I really want to do with them. Do they deserve to be more than just shop entrance doors? I took the picture and sent it to my wife for her opinion and she asked me what in the hell I was doing working and why I wasn’t resting. That wasn’t the answer I was looking for but it was the answer I received. So, there they sat for the remainder of the day, staring at me in a way that I could feel the doors asking me if I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do then why did I do it. Valid question I guess, even if it was from the doors. Perhaps the fumes were getting to me. They aren’t finished yet anyway because I don’t want to completely finish them until I know what they will be used for. Maybe I can just cut my losses of indecision and just sell them, I’ve done it before, made things for the house and decided that it wasn’t what I was looking for. I have began to ask myself why I do it in the first place. Still waiting on the answer by the way.

I spent the rest of the day straightening up my shop, putting things away, and sweeping the floor for the most part. I tried not to move anything because I really don’t want to muck up my foot after 2 1/2 weeks of nursing it back to health. All I know is the sutures come out Wednesday morning if the surgeon “feels” they are ready to come out.  Anyway, I happened across some boxes I had put out in the shop over a year ago that should have made it into the attic but ended up in the corner instead. It goes to show I get sidetracked very easily. There was no need to look into the boxes because I knew what was in them. Fortunately they weigh about 100 pounds a piece so they get to stay where I found them. I piddled around in the shop for the remainder of the day. Around dark-thirty I get a text from my wife letting me know they where home and that the gate was stuck open again. So, I closed up shop, jumped on my ATV, and headed up to the gate to see what was up. As I suspected, the linkage had become undone again. I guess it is time to go ahead and replace it this time instead of the band-aid repairs I have been giving it over the last year. Quite honestly I had completely forgot about having it fixed since I personally haven’t had problems with it. But, I had to do another band-aid fix this time and will mess with taking it off tomorrow to have a new one made at the place I bought it from originally. On my trek back up to the house I decided to skip going down to the shop to put my tools up. As I rode up the asphalt drive it hit me again that I didn’t put on my list to get a quote for the replacement of it. Pretty soon I think I need to chuck the list in a bucket and set it on fire. I don’t know why I do lists anymore because I don’t follow what I can’t keep up with. Well, I figure that sooner or later it will all be done. When I get to the house I was informed that I need to light the grill, which was good because I was beginning to wonder what was dinner.

And, by the way, I have decided to sell the doors. I decided this while I was cooking and thinking I was not looking forward to doing a swap out. I will put them up on craigslist later. Meanwhile, if anyone is interested just shoot me an e-mail. Price? the price will completely be based on who is wanting to buy them. Amazing how a little smoke can clear the clouded mind!

The Art Of Communication In 2013

In my daily ritual to observe my surroundings I often forget to look in the mirror and take notice. In this day and age it would seem that everyone has a cell phone of some sorts and isn’t afraid to use it. I have mentioned before that I often have to make times in my house that are cell phone free just so some live people time can happen. Some examples of when a person in my house is forbidden from even looking at their phone for any reason. The number one time is if we are talking to one another, if I’m talking to you I take precedence over anything that could possibly be happening on your phone. If we are talking and you pull your phone out I will assume the conversation is over and walk away. The second time is when everyone is assembled at the dining room table for a meal. The only person I allow exception to this rule is my wife. Why? Only because she is a manager for multiple doctor’s offices and a handful are open 24/7. So, if her work cell phone goes off she will check it to gage the importance. If it is important she will excuse herself from the table to take care of her business and then return. I listen while we eat because I hear the message tones, I hear the ring tones, and I hear the vibrations happening. My kids know if they even glance in the direction of their phone they will lose it for a bare minimum of 24 hours. Friends, family, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, games, calls, and texting can wait until we are done eating. Third is family time when we all get together to watch a movie or play a game. I refuse to pause either so someone can take a text or call. Plus, I treat that time like being in a public theater because I don’t want to hear the ringtone or somebody jacking with their phone.
 
I have spent some time talking with my family about all of this and they seem to take my wishes and desires into consideration most of the time. I asked each one of my children and my wife to give me an estimate of how many texts they send and receive a day. I broke this down into 3 basic categories which were family, friends, spouse/significant other, and work. The results were kind of interesting and I thought I would take a moment and share them real quick before moving on.
 
Son, age 12
Friends 5 texts
Family 25 texts
Girlfriend n/a
Work n/a
 
Daughter, age 17
Friends 25 texts
Family 50 texts, 2-3 calls
Boyfriend 100+, 4-5 calls
Work n/a
 
Daughter, age 23 (lives in Utah)
Friends 25 texts, 4-5 calls
Family 25+ texts, 4-5 calls
Fiance 40+ texts, 4-5 calls
Work 3+ texts, call occasionally
 
My wife
Friends 25+ texts, 1-2 calls
Family 25+ texts, 4-5 calls
Spouse (me) 50+ texts, 2-3 calls
Work 75+ texts, 25+ calls
 
Me
Friends 30+ texts, 1-2 calls
Family 5+ texts, 1-2 calls
Spouse 50+ texts, 2-3 calls
Work 0 texts, calls occasionally
Work 30+ e-mails
 
What did I learn from all of this? First, I doubt my wife and daughters were being 100% honest with me or themselves. However, there is much more going on with everyone’s smart phone than meets the eye, the texting is only a part of it, and for me personally it isn’t really the big part of the time spent on my phone. What do I mean? Well, as some examples, my kids also use their phones to view Youtube videos, my daughters are constantly on Instagram and Facebook, and everyone plays at least one game regularly. But there is much more, at least for me, since my phone serves many purposes for me personally. Let me explain. First, lets start with my work. My work extension is forwarded to my phone because I’m rarely at my desk. My work e-mail is forwarded to my phone because I’m rarely at my desk to check and/or reply. My actual work is done remotely on my phone and later downloaded onto the server at the end of the day. Allot of actual “work” is done from my phone. Luckily, since it’s my personal phone, my employers reimburses me $150.00 per pay period because I use it for work purposes. Which is great because it pays for all five lines I have thru Verizon, all with unlimited talk, text, and data. But, what they don’t know is I pay under $100.00 a month so I pocket the other $200.00 for my “troubles” and “services”. It is also the easy way for me to take my work home with me paper free and work remotely when needed which is only about once or twice in a three month period.
 
I do a whole lot more from my phone. Let’s start with this blog and my five (5) other blogs, all done from my phone. Yes, there are (6) of them that I keep updated primarily from only my phone. You weren’t aware there were six (6)? Take a moment and see the links section. I’m also pretty active @ Blogcatalog, or at least I try to be active there. I’m pretty active on Pinterest as well. Plus, I use Facebook and Google+ to promote my blogs, which actually doesn’t take up much time at all, but I do have a presence. I buy and sell a buttload of things on eBay and Craigslist so I have to monitor that always. That is where most of my actual phone calls are generated from. My phone is my hand allot during the day but I tend to not be on it much at all once I get home because I don’t want others around me on their phones. Additionally, I have a home phone number, but no home phone, so all calls that come to that number get forwarded straight to my cell phone. The nice thing about that is that nobody knows it is happening unless I say something. Also, I can make calls where my home phone will show up in the caller i.d. as well. Eventhough I do not have an actual “smart home” I do have many of the features associated with it. If it is electronic and plugged in I can operate it from my phone. I have my security routed through my phone which includes a handful of cameras and the intercom system so I can see people at my gate and talk to them while I am at work and they think I am up in the house. Since I drive quite a bit for work and personally, I use the GPS feature on my phone always. Since I am outdoors so much either at home or on my Goldwing I also like to have the weather at my fingertips.
 
By the end of any given workday I’m tired of my phone, being on my phone, and just plain seeing it. If you are thinking I spend allot of time on my phone you are right, I do. I often wonder what it would be like not to have my phone. Well, life would be simpler that is for sure. My evening time is reserved for what I want to do and the family time we have. You never get that lost time back. Weekends are about the same, we spend much of the time at home doing a variety of things. My time is mostly spent outside doing one thing or another. I have a hard time just sitting on the couch and staring at the television. I think this family survey was beneficial because it has shown each one of us what we actually are using are phones for. Take this post for example, the entire thing written using my phone and published from my phone. What about you, what do you do with your phone?