There’s a reason why they call it complex.
In the aftermath of Lockheed Martin’s announcement of massive layoffs, there has been a ton of hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth and finger-pointing. It’s starting to resemble a circular firing squad in some ways.
In one corner: Peaceniks and (some) fiscal conservatives who believe we’re spending entirely too much money on the U.S. military, lining the pockets of billionaire fat cats and wasting money on $600 hammers, funding unnecessary wars in far-away places that many Americans (still!) can’t find on a map.
In another corner: Conservatives who refuse to budge on Capitol Hill regarding the sequester, which slashed funding to many sacred cows, including the Pentagon. They blame Democrats for not budging on the budget.
In another corner: Liberals who refuse to budge on Capital Hill regarding the sequester. They blame Republicans, particularly the Tea Party, for not budging on the budget. (See a pattern here?)
In another corner: The military-industrial complex itself, which has a lot at stake when military funding gets chopped. Especially vulnerable is Lockheed Martin, a vast military contractor, much of it in aerospace, which expanded dramatically in the 1990s. A lot of people, including its own employees, say the company simply got too big to be sustainable.
The bubble popped.
In yet another corner: Roughly 4,000 workers, including about 500 in Akron, whose jobs are on the chopping block. These include machinists, welders, assembly workers, software engineers and more. Them’re some good paying jobs, hard to replace in an era of crap service industry jobs. This is not the first time Lockheed Martin has experienced major reductions. Since 2008, it has cut its workforce by 30,000.
Still another factor is the slow scaling back of the Great War Machine of the past decade. We’re all but out of Iraq, and Afghanistan is not far behind. Barring some misadventure in Iran or Syria (or God forbid, both), there’s not a great deal of urgency to gear up for another costly (yet profitable for contractors) war or two. After two bloody and (eventually) unpopular wars, they’re all on their own. Unless Israel picks a fight with Iran, or vice versa, but that’s another matter altogether.
So, what to make of this? Where do we go from here?
Akron officials are looking for a silver lining in all this (See Akron link above). A lot of prime real estate is suddenly available, and local bigs say there are potential suitors lining up to grab it. But replacing 500 jobs (not to mention 4,000 nationwide) won’t be easy, especially jobs of that caliber.
There are precedents of other communities rebounding from traumatic losses of military entities. Akron has bounced back before.
And I experienced first-hand the closing of the air force base in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the early ’90s as part of a widespread reduction in military base operations. Yes, the initial impact was devastating. On the flip side, I was able to buy a house on the cheap. But by 1995 the local economy experienced a phenomenal boom fueled in part by the availability of cheap land (this was far from the only factor; Myrtle Beach has long been a boom-and-bust town). But I turned around and sold the house in 1996 at a tidy profit. This was before “flip that house” was a common concept, and selling was really precipitated by my move to the Akron area, which is neither here nor there, to quote a former colleague.
So, again, what to make of all this?
As much as I resent some of the excesses of the M-I complex, simply shutting it down or cutting back drastically has far-reaching consequences.
Jobs are lost. Suppliers and subcontractors and their employees take a big hit. Local real estate also takes a hit. The local tax base takes a big hit. Hundreds if not thousands of families are hurt.
Lots of national pundits have had their say about the standoffs in Congress over the last few years.
But as the old chestnut goes, all politics is local. Nowhere is that more true than here and now.
This has been a warm fall, so the colors are a tad behind schedule. I hope the leaves don’t all suddenly go brown and fall off. Color foliage is the only thing that makes falls bearable, especially considering the prospects of yet another crappy winter.
I came a way a bit disappointed today at the Nature Realm (happy to see they finally came to their senses and stopped calling it “Naturealm”) in the valley, although there were a couple of interesting images to be found; beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
And without further ado or unnecessary blathering:
Got back this week from Fripp Island, SC, a swanky resort near the southern tip of South Carolina. Credit Matt Potkar and Dan Pubal for finding this gem. We did the requisite activities: beach, golf, fishing, the latter two with little success. But the scenery was spectacular and the weather unusually mild for July in SC. The ride home was a 15-hour white-knuckle ordeal featuring a two-hour truck wreck delay in Virginia and three solid hours of rain on the West Virginia Turnpike. Rain and lightning: Check. Speeding truckers: Check. Darkness: Check. Road construction with barely perceptible signs and cones/barrels: Check. But we survived, and that’s what counts.
Anyway, here are a few of the 300-plus photos I shot. Enjoy! Or don’t. I won’t mind either way.
And now for a couple more sunsets …
WARNING: This post is not for the squeamish.
So I was moonlighting as a wedding bartender during a lull in the action when a wave of nausea hit me. I knew what was coming next: that curiously tingly feeling in the jaws, and the race was on to find the bathroom in time. I got there (barely) and did my business, emptying my recently eaten chicken and not much else. It couldn’t have been the chicken: It hadn’t been in there long enough, and nobody else showed any ill effects. Food poisoning usually takes a bit loner to take hold. Anyway, I composed myself and got back to the bar (I was solo, so going home was not a good option at that time).
Got through most of the shift, but as the last of the crowd was started to file out, another wave hit. How could there be anything left, I wondered as I raced to the bathroom again. Full heave again. This time it came out in an alarming purplish hue. Which looked suspiciously like coagulated, dried blood. Well, this can’t be good, I thought. Where did it all come from? Shaken, I again tried to collect myself and try to finish cleaning up shop to return to the caterer. (Again, I have to emphasize that the food was not the problem — I wasn’t feeling terribly well to begin with but thought I could gut it out. Pardon the pun.) I contemplated telling the crew leader I didn’t feel well but decided not to.
I managed to get home, and my stomach again started to feel oddly full despite it having been fully emptied. I’d taken a few sips of water to wash out the putridity but nothing more. After sitting at home for an hour or so, fretting about this disturbing experience and feeling queazy again, that disgusting wave of nausea struck again and I raced to my basement bathroom but didn’t quite make it. Ugh. Reddish brown gunk all over the bathroom. As if I weren’t sick enough already! I hurriedly wiped up what mess I could manage as visions of massive hemorrhages and gaping ulcers danced in my head. I don’t know why I hesitated at all, but I mulled it over for about an hour before deciding I couldn’t wait for another puke attack to get help. Mrs. AkronDave had just settled into bed when I told her needed to go to the hospital. Are you sure? Yup, I said. You gotta understand, when a guy says he needs to see a doctor, he REALLY needs to see a doctor. I could have a foot turning purple and I’d say it’s fine.
We debated whether to call 911, which would have noisy and I didn’t especially want all the attention. Then we debated which hospital to go to, and we are blessed with several excellent choices in the Akron area. We (I) decided to stay close t o home at the Summa Western Reserve Hospital. I think it was the right choice. Smaller hospital than the others, but with access to the same excellent care.
We arrive d to a nearly deserted emergency room. Imagine that! At 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night!
I was in a bed within a half-hour, getting the requisite inquisition and IV needle stick. The entire staff, from admission to discharge, was attentive and professional.
Here comes the fun part (Again, not for the squeamish)
After I described the events leading up to that evening’s Puke-athon, the attending nurse and tech told me, Good news! We’re gonna run a tube through your nose and down your esophagus into your stomach to pump out the rest of that stuff! Guaranteed one of the most unpleasant experiences ever! And they lived up to their word — it’s right up there with falling out of a tall tree and eating each branch on the way down, only more drawn out. But they praised me for getting through it like a champ.
Want to know the particulars in case someone ever wants to pump your stomach? OK, here goes.
First, you may or may not get a numbing spray in your nostrils and the back of the throat. Then a lubricated catheter-like tube is shoved into a nostril (pick one, any one!), then threaded down your throat as you’re instructed to repeatedly such and swallow from a straw in a glass of water to aid the tube’s path. And yes, now that I see it in type, that sounds vaguely obscene. It was my first time.
Oh, did I mention the puke that came up as the tube went down? Yes, two-way traffic in my esophagus. The evidence allowed the medical professionals to confirm that, indeed, it was blood. The good news is that the amount was considerable less than the previous two deposits.
They praised me for doing so well and for not crying like a baby, which would have been impossible because there was a tube jammed in my throat. Surprisingly, you can still talk, although it’s uncomfortable.
After a relatively short wait (this is a hospital ER, after all), I was wheeled off to my room upstairs. I spent the next 60 hours tethered to an IV line and its attending pole, which I came to call the Old Ball and Chain.
Another group of nurses and techs came along, asking a similar battery of questions: medical history, when did this all begin, are you in pain, etc. I wasn’t so much in pain as I felt like crap. Aside from a few cramps there wasn’t a great deal of pain. Another good sign. Acute abdominal pain would have been a tad more ominous: Pancreas, spleen, appendix, liver, all that good stuff.
The details get a little fuzzy from this point (lucky you!) because of the drugs and my exhaustion. A various team of doctors, nurses and techs stopped by to gather vitals, take blood samples (Oh, boy! More needles!), and more general poking and prodding. Once the patient (that’s me) was stabilized, they could take a closer look at what was going on down there. This meant, of course, running a scope down my throat (this time under anesthesia, thankfully) to see what’s going on.
Two things they found: a hiatal hernia, which is a bulge in the stomach near the esophagus, which apparently may or may not be serious. The other is a mallory weiss tear, which again may or may not be serious. I don’t know who this Mallory Weiss is, but she’s a bitch! The tear was the most likely source of the bleeding, which if my fuzzy memory recalls correctly, is exacerbated by violent vomiting. This could explain the bloodless first hurl and the subsequent bloody mess.
The next 24 hours consisted of pills, pokes, probes, a little more puking and general in-and-out drowsiness.
My biggest complaint about the hospital stay itself is you rarely get a chance to sleep more than an hour at a time — it’s kind of hospital policy, because especially with patients in serious trouble they really need to be watched closely. They told me early in the admission process if certain conditions hadn’t been met, I’d be in the ICU (intensive care). Which is never good.
So between the intermittent rest-and-probe cycle and the drugs, I was groggy much of the time. I think this might be by design. Makes stay go quicker. Evenso, it was one the longer 60 hours of my life. I didn’t eat or drink anything for the first 20 hours or so, which wouldn’t have stayed down anyway, then a liquid diet (broth, juice, jello, ice cream and the like) for the remainder except for Tuesday’s lunch, which allowed solid foods.
And in all fairness, the food was pretty decent.
I was discharged with a drug prescription to help keep my gut calm, and instructions to continue with a solid food diet but don’t go crazy with it. And, of course, follow-ups with various doctors to see what else, if anything needs to be done.
I’ve been to the ER several times as the attending parent or spouse or son, but this was my first first-person experience. I hope it’s my last. Those who have spent a considerable amount of time in emergency care know that even with the best of care, it’s no day at the beach. I can confirm this.
Took a short road trip to capture a bit of color. The trees are still hanging on to their flowers (although the weeping cherry in my front yard dropped most of its white petals in small-scale snowstorm), but they won’t for much longer. I took advantage of the evening light to highlight the colors. In fact, I had to tone down the color saturation because it looked kinda fake. Could be Operator Error. Anyway, I give you:
Tulips in my front yard. A colorful distraction from a garage overrun by kittens.
This weekend provided a new experience to me: I’m the de facto “dad” of a young litter of kittens. Yes, I had kittens. I left the garage door open one too many times and mama cat picked a spot amid the clutter in the back to make a nest. (Nest?)
I’m not a cat person. For one, I’m allergic to cats. Two, I don’t trust them. They’re sneaky. Deviant! I don’t especially dislike cats, although I once had a cat stir-fry recipe posted on the side of my computer monitor at work. But I wasn’t about to let them starve or freeze to death.
So not being a cat person, and certainly having no experience with new kittens, I turned to the Facebook community for advice. They came through big time. I posted a photo (Oooh! Cute! Kittens!) and a question to my FB friends about what to do about the litter and got lots of advice and several offers to donate food for the kittens, including one from someone I haven’t seen since high school. And good advice about what to feed mama and to deal with the kittens. I’m still going to call the Humane Society to see if they can help find homes for the kittens.
So, yeah, it all started with a picture of kittens. But it turned into something more. If you think social media have no redeeming uses, I have news for you. I’ve re-established connections with people I haven’t seen in 15 or 30 years, even making road trips to visit some of them. News travels at the speed of light thanks to Twitter and Facebook (OK, not always a good thing – lots of bad info gets out). Think about the Boston Marathon bombings or the Arab Spring.
True, the social media can be a time-suck and includes dumb stuff (I loathe-hate-despise Farmville), but in the end I think social media offer more than they take away from our daily experience. Plus, kittens. Here’s the original photo and thread.
Spring is in the air and a reptile’s thoughts turn to, ahem, turtle love. Consider this a PG-13 posting. With the sun mostly shining and temps creeping up near 70, it seemed like a good idea to head down to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, seeing as it’s virtually in my backyard. Spring got a little later start than last year, but last year was a bit of a fluke. Things are just starting to green up in the Valley.
And now on to some tamer material:
Today was a fabulous day to hit the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With semi sunny skies and temps creeping into the 60s, no excuse for not getting out of the house. I trucked my bike up to bucolic Peninsula — no, I am not biking up that hill from the valley. Way too much work for this lazy old fart. The requisite visit to the heron rookery was the second stop of the day’s tour.
Is that a tree branch sprouting out of the moon?
I missed the initial moonrise because I was on the road, but snapped this as soon as I got home. This is from my driveway through my neighbors’ porch with that sprig of tree branch encroaching. No tree on the moon, so no need to write home about it. Wish I had a bigger lens so I could really fill the frame with that sucker, but they are way too expensive to justify the cost. Unless I get a lot better and go pro. To prevent overexposure (in auto-light meter mode), click down your f-stop by about 2 f-stops. Otherwise the moon will wash out into a round white blob. This was shot at f 6.3 and shutter speed was 1/1,250th second. No special filter or color correction.
Apparently winter just got the memo, a month or so late. That’s OK. I hope it leaves before it overstays its welcome.
But given my distaste for winter, it’s already overstaying its welcome. In the meantime, there’s a wind chill advisory in effect until Wednesday, with more snow on its way.
Again, a week late. But I’ve been busy.
This Christmas was a fairly low-key affair, but really nice and relaxing. Grammy and brother John jetted up from Columbus and made a couple of stops in NE Ohio. Then we hopped over to visit niece and nephew Logan and Scott (and ex sister-in-law).
Yes, I kinda snoozed for about a week on this, but you know how goofy the holidays are. So here ya go, if anyone cares!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.
This ferocious dusting of snow is new evidence that the world will come to an end today. Repent!
Cousins on Thanksgiving day. Which, coincidentally, was also my 50th birthday. I know, shocking!
And now a series of Mother-Daughter photos.
A certain maple in my backyard refuses to shed its leaves. It only started to turn colors a week ago. The bright yellow stands in stark relief to the forest of gray bark. Chances are we’ll have snow before these leaves drop. And they’ll sit till spring because as a matter of policy I don’t rake in the snow.
Firestone edged Cuyahoga Falls in a Division I sectional soccer match in double overtime Wednesday, one of the best games I’ve seen, and I’m not just saying that because my kid’s team won. The game featured some physical play that the officials generally let play on, an ejection of a Firestone player and some spectacular saves by the Cuyahoga Falls goalie, save the last game-winning shot by Firestone’s Evan Johnson.
Alas, my boy didn’t see any playing time, having spent the season splitting time between JV and varsity. The playoff win-or-go-home setting and the return of some injured varsity players meant Matt was not likely to see much if any playing time. That and the fact that the game was a 0-0 tie through the first overtime meant the A-team had to stay on the field. Still, he came home after the game seriously amped and it was great to see. The energy was palpable during the game and afterward.
Took advantage of the brief period of sunshine today and snagged some pix of fall foliage. Under the midday sun, the colors weren’t great, so I tweaked the color saturation of some of these. Truth in advertising, right?
The lines wound around the block to see the Romney/Ryan campaign in Cuyahoga Falls. I got in line for a while, but gave up after the line didn’t move for 20 minutes. When I checked back, the rally was already over. So here are some crowd scenes. No Romney. Oh, well.
The Romney juggernaut is blowing into town today. Big Bird awaits.
Got an old house? Lots of plumbing issues? Bathub/shower drain clog a lot? Hate to snake out the drain? Hate to pay a plumber big bucks to snake out a drain? Don’t want to use caustic chemicals (Liquid Plumr, etc.)?
I have a secret.
And I’m going to tell you what it is.
If you’re struggling to get the bath water to go down the drain, bring it up instead.
I know, crazy, right?
Here’s how you do it:
1. Procure an old wet-dry vacuum that won’t make you suicidal if you ruin it. Mine is an old Sears beauty (pictured here) that has already paid for itself many times over in helping undo water damage.
2. Allow clogged drain to mostly drain out (bail water if necessary — chances are the commode is nearby).
3. Ventilate room well. You’ll learn why shortly.
4. Plug in wet-dry vac, turn it on and apply vacuum hose to drain opening, making as complete a seal on the drain as possible.
5. You should notice an increased strain on the vac’s motor and perhaps some “chunking” in the hose as it sucks up water and other unsavory matter. It will probably stink.
6. Watch carefully for overflow in the vacuum. Shut off immediately.
7. Drain vac into toilet. Eeewwww! Nasty!
8. Test tub with fresh water. If it flows freely, you’re done! If not, repeat steps 2 through 8.
This unconventional technique is one I came upon in desperation after wrestling with our annoying, cramped bathroom tub/shower for years. See previous experience with the dread tub. We have a love-hate relationship, which truthfully is mostly hate.
The reason it worked, and I’m totally guessing here, is all that hair and gunk was building up against downward pressure. So the reverse pressure had much less resistance from the gunk and up it came. Just a theory.
So there you have it, an unconventional way to unclog a stubborn bath drain with (if you’re lucky) less mess than the old snake or chemicals. Professional plumbers will probably tut-tut this, say it’s a terrible idea and all that, but tell that to your haranguing wife.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional plumber, nor do I have aspirations of becoming one. I mean, have you seen the gook that comes out of those waste lines? Or ever had to install a kitchen or bathroom sink? No thanks! My point is this may or may not work for you. And if you’re not careful, there is a risk of electrocution. Make sure you use a vacuum designed to handle water by the gallon.
Twas a lovely, sun-splashed early October day. How can anyone resist getting out for a little fresh air and fall foliage? They aren’t quite at peak color yet, but there was color enough to earn a few shots on my Nikon D7000.
And now to steal a lyric or two from R.E.M.
Buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky
And ask the sky and ask the sky …
Fall on me
Mrs. AkronDave and I took a stroll along the banks of the mighty Cuyahoga River the other day. Nice to have such pretty scenery in our backyard.