The Second Rule of Holes

The last load of mail has been collected from the decrepit plastic mailbox across the road from our driveway, and just now, in a feat of herculean strength, I took it down with my own — er, gloved hands.

Turned out an ant colony had taken up residence in the ground the anchor post was sunk in, and softened the soil enough that I only needed to twist the box and post about 90 degrees and lift it all out of the ground.

This project came in what appears to have been the nick of time; a bad storm or a distracted driver could have uprooted that old box any time. Heck, if I’d lost my footing collecting the mail and tried to catch my balance on the box, I could have done it.

The new box, set (as mentioned previously) in a bit of Quikrete next to our driveway, is on a metal post and ought never to be plagued by the detaching-door syndrome that caused the old one to be covered in duct tape.

And there won’t be any more worries about delivery people looking for us on the wrong side of the road (it really only happened once twice, but still…).

I am proud of Mrs. McG for taking the lead on this, and grateful to neighbor Cathy a couple of houses down for working the phones to make sure everyone who stood the benefit from this let the postmaster know they wanted it and would move or replace their boxes. It was nice seeing all those mailboxes appear on our side of the road as the day approached.

And of course our postmaster deserves a note of thanks for responding to the need and handling the necessary changes on the post office’s side.

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…and to the banana republic…

One down, fourteen to go — assuming only Cabinet secretaries are accorded the privilege of decorating the outgoing caudillo.

Addressing a room of men and women from the various branches of the military, Obama praised their service and sacrifice. He said there is “no greater privilege and no greater honor” than serving as commander in chief.

“As I reflect on the challenges we have faced together and on those to come, I believe that one of the greatest tasks before our armed forces is to retain the high confidence that the American people rightly place in you,” Obama said. “We must never hesitate to act when necessary to defend our nation, but we must also never rush into war because sending you into harm’s way should be a last and not first resort.”

Prior to his remarks, Defense Secretary Ash Carter presented Obama with the Medal of Distinguished Public Service as a token of appreciation for his service as commander in chief.

Letting a subordinate pin a medal on you is not only a bad look for an American president, it’s literally a repudiation of the republican values on which our government is based.

And the worst part? You know damn well Trump will ratify the precedent when he leaves office.

The military uniform covered with gold braid may take a little longer.

He’s Too Much

It remains to be seen whether his hothead of a brother lets it happen, but Snow Miser may be taking aim on this part of subtropical west Georgia this weekend.

I’ve little doubt about the temperatures — I’ve seen cold here that I never saw in three decades in Sacramento — what’s in question is the moisture.

In fact it’s the greater chance of moisture here in the South that has made snow so much likelier here than in Sacramento. Despite being so close to the Pacific Ocean, the Sacramento Valley tends to be much drier than here for a couple of reasons: the Coast Range, a modest barrier but a barrier nonetheless; and the cold waters of the California Current as it passes southward along the northern California coast.

Cold water doesn’t saturate the air as effectively as warm water such as is found to Georgia’s south and east. Though thousands of miles apart, the Gulf of Mexico (Heat Miser) and the Canadian Arctic (Snow Miser) often cooperate to bring frozen precipitation to Hotlanta and environs.

Here’s hoping they will this weekend.

Update: All we got was a light coating of ice on trees. No significant damage here but a few hundred lost power elsewhere in the county.

If the First Rule of Holes…

…is to stop digging, does that mean the first rule of postholes is to stop posting?

One of the neighbors who will also benefit from the mailbox moving project volunteered himself and his son to dig the postholes for three new mailbox posts — for his place, us, and the neighbors in between — and now all I need to do is set the new post, pour in the Quikrete, add water, and hope the stuff sets before it starts raining tomorrow.

We still haven’t been given a date for when the new mail delivery route goes into effect, but that’s supposed to be the only remaining formality.

While it did take some time for the request to reach the postmaster in charge of our area, once she got the request she responded with alacrity. It’s a common jape that the U.S. Postal Service has two speeds, neither of which is Fast, but on this occasion at least it’s far from accurate.

Update, a few hours later: The post seems pretty well set but I’ll give it some more time, probably until morning, before covering the concrete with dirt.

The hole originally was a few inches too deep, compared to the old box across the road, so I grabbed a spare rock and dropped it into the hole. That boosted the post just enough to put the bottom of the new box’s mail slot at exactly the same height as on the old box, and the mix braced the post just fine all by itself.

I’ll wait to mount the box until it’s almost time for the route change. It’s already got nice big reflective numbers on both sides, which will make the numbers on the cheapo wooden posts I pounded in a few years ago superfluous. They’re already trying to peel off anyway.

If the Montana Move Happens…

There are little “casinos” all over the place out there.

To my knowledge they don’t have any big resort casinos, just little places that frequently have gas pumps out front. And it seems almost every place with gas pumps out front has gambling on the premises. It’s like Nevada would be if Bugsy Siegel had never been to Vegas.

Mrs. McG and I have enjoyed a sojourn or two at the slot machines in our day, and we have a system: we decide before we go in what’s the most we’ll play during our visit. In the long past when I lived in Sacramento and work sometimes took me over the mountains to Reno or some such place, I could limit myself to a half-roll of quarters because the time would be limited between finishing the job and having to head for home. It helped that I was satisfied with single-coin plays.

Once in Carson City I was not far into my playable funds (a whole roll of quarters!) when I hit a couple of really good wins. I took enough out of the winnings to replace what I’d initially staked myself, and spent the rest of my time there risking the house’s money instead of my own. And I ended up taking some of it with me.

Obviously the convenience of dropping coin at a Montana “casino” carries some additional risk. You really can’t have fun at it if you only play however many quarters you got in change for your store purchases, but if you run through five extra bucks every time you stop for gas it’s going to add up fast — even if your car gets really good mileage.

It would be an interesting challenge to work out a viable adjustment to my system, though.

A Gentle Reminder

It’s not about Santa Claus or “a season of peace.”
 
It’s about a great gift and sacrifice that God gave, to show his children a way back to Him from this world of sorrow and venality.

We don’t exchange gifts because of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We exchange gifts in echo of His gift, which is our salvation.

Christmas is a season of hope, symbolized in the light of the star that led the wise and the humble to Bethlehem, as Christ’s message is a light to lead us all to God.

We Disinterrupt This Background…

I’ve decided to bring back the Wyoming background image I was using before. The excessively warm colors in the windmill pic only served to emphasize that I’m in a part of the world that almost never really gets winter and, when it does get it, doesn’t “get” it.

Update, a few days later: Still no bad news. The sadists.

Let’s Get a Few Things Straight

Donald Trump is not yet President of the United States.

In fact technically, he is not yet even President-Elect of the United States.

The process of electing a President only begins with the votes being counted on the night of the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Those are unofficial totals. They don’t become official until the Secretary of State or equivalent official in each state and D.C., where the 51 separate elections for President are conducted, certifies them.

Once the totals are official, each state’s slate of Electors is notified, according to the laws of their respective states, which will be called to cast a vote for President. Maine and Nebraska apportion Electors both statewide and by congressional district; all other states and D.C. go winner-take-all. Since the Constitution empowers state legislatures to decide how Electors are to be chosen, either option is legitimate — as would be letting the sitting legislature at the time name Electors without consulting voters at all.

Once the 51 slates of Electors have been named, they are called to their respective state capitals (or appropriate venue in D.C.) to cast their ballots next Monday, December 19.

Once cast, the votes are then sent to Washington to be counted before a joint session of Congress, which is set to occur on January 6, 2017.

For all but two weeks before the Inaugural Ceremony on January 20, there is no “president-elect.” There is a presumed president-elect, and given the stability and predictability of the process over the centuries we have grown accustomed to acting as though the presumed president-elect is, in fact, the president-elect. So far it has worked out that way.

Only after the President of the Senate — in this case Vice President Joseph R. Biden — announces the result of the Electors’ votes will Trump (barring some surprise) actually become President-Elect. As a result, at 12:00 noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2017, he will become President of the United States.

Under the Constitution as amended, the term of the incumbent President ends at precisely that instant and he loses the powers of the office immediately; there is no circumstance under which, constitutionally, he can retain them. His successor cannot take up those powers until he has sworn the Inaugural Oath, but he already holds the office.

If the shit hits the fan and there is no President-Elect by noon on January 20, there are provisions in place dictating who shall exercise the powers of President after that time, and what must be done, if anything, to finalize the succession. Again, the outgoing incumbent can’t continue in office if he is not the President-Elect.

One of the more contentious elections of recent times took place in 1960, in which Senator John F. Kennedy, Democrat, ultimately defeated his Republican opponent, Vice President Richard M. Nixon. Despite mutterings about election fraud favoring Kennedy, Nixon solemnly carried out one of his last constitutional duties on January 6, 1961, announcing his former election opponent as President-Elect of the United States.