Thursday, December 16

Hunker down time

I doubt that many of my readers live a life that even comes close to what Karla and I experience. In the first seven years after we got married we followed the 9-to-5 urban routine, five days a week. When we lived in Hollywood we got up in the morning and drove for ten minutes to our office, at first in downtown Los Angeles, then later to the mid-Wilshire district. At roughly 5 PM we returned home. After building our business and reputation, we had all of our clients trained well enough that we could close down and head for the hills for a week at a time. We eventually ended up taking six weeks off every year. Sounds positively European!

Currently we have a 12-to-14-week busy season during which we have to work seven days a week. In the off-season we can relax a bit but we still have to keep up horse care and email and telephone correspondence, plus spend an ungodly amount of time satisfying government requirements for the Forest Service, the Park Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Board of Equalization, the Franchise Tax Board, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and more—all the agencies that want their piece of the action (and our MONEY). To keep everything on the up-and-up we have to hire legal and accounting services. They take their portion of our money also. It seems that so much of our time and resources are dedicated to supporting a very large contingent of non-producers. Imagine how many lawyers and accountants would be out of work if worthless givernment (as my brother-in-law calls them) agencies and jobs didn’t exist.

If private companies ran some of the agencies now run by government, we could save so much money! One very recent example is the launching of an earth-orbiting rocket by SpaceX. Their Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon capsule which made two orbits before returning to earth. When it was discovered a few days before launch that there was a flaw in the rocket engine, SpaceX fixed it on site. NASA would have, following policy, removed and replaced the entire engine at great expense and missed the launch schedule. (A NASA engineer told the SpaceX people he envied them—policy directives won’t let NASA guys do stuff like that.)

Years ago I remember reading about a NASA engineer who was given the job of designing a laser reflector to be placed on the moon by the first astronauts to land there. It was to be deployed so earthbound astronomers could measure much more accurately the distance between earth and moon. The engineer bought some mail-order parts from Edmund Scientific, a company in Barrington, New Jersey that specialized in selling to hobbyists. He hired a local machinist to make a lightweight frame to hold the retro-reflectors. It ended up costing $2,500 for two of the finished reflector arrays. He delivered them to NASA, ready for launch. They informed him that he had not followed procedure, and that they would take the project from there. The result? A duplication of his work with a price tag of $500,000. They probably had to spread the job to sub-agencies in all 50 states.

It’s going to be a very rainy several days here; five to ten inches of rain is the prediction. We have lots of food and firewood. We don’t need to go anywhere. If power lines fall, we have our own electricity. If roads flood and there are rockslides, we don’t need to drive. We are very lucky. We simply hunker down and spend more time fulfilling state and federal government requirements.

5 comments:

HHhorses said...

While it rains and our location-based business loses business because it's raining and we can't move away, I can work on filling out all the Park Service bull$#!% that's required of us, including a re-write of our liability form that puts their name on it and makes us follow their format. Whether it may or may not cover our own particular liability requirements doesn't matter—it's their form or nothing.

I hope, that while you're hunkered down, you'll blog a lot. At least you have a wood stove on which to cook soup. I'm sure it will get windy and our power will go out and we'll be left in the cold with our electric stove, electric teakettle and electric heating.

Tom Hurley said...

And your electric wit, of course. I forgot to mention that our liability insurance at the high country ranch names the US Government as the insured.

If your power goes out, even if you use a charged-up laptop, you won’t have Internet access, so you may as well stay in bed.

HHhorses said...

If the power goes out I'll just go ride my horse. I guess. If the wind isn't blowing 100 miles per hour, that is.

Susan said...

Commiserations to you both on the Federal forms you have to fill out while it is raining and windy. I hope your power doesn't go out, Hil.

Do you all get much lightning there while it storms? I don't know if it will cheer you up at all but the Brisbane area had a few super cell storms with plenty of wind and lightning this week and more are expected.

If only we could harness the lightning to power houses!

Tom Hurley said...

It’s rare that we get too much lightning here. But when it comes, it’s absolutely astonishing! I understand people are working on harnessing it for power. Hope it works!