Monday, February 20, 2017

Washington's Birthday 2017

George Washington
I've been posting this -- or posts very much like it -- for over a decade. And I'm gonna keep doing it until everyone gets it right. Because it's important.

What's the problem? Some people call today "Presidents' Day." Those people are wrong. Don't be those people. Today isn't Presidents Day. It's Washington's Birthday. At least, that's the holiday. His real birthday is actually coming up on the 22nd, but today is the federal holiday honoring Washington's Birthday. Check out 5 U.S. Code § 6103.

When George Washington was born, the date was February 11, 1731. You see, the United Kingdom of Great Britain was using the Julian Calendar back then. There is an issue with leap years with the Julian Calendar, so the calendar was always slowly getting more and more inaccurate. Also, in England and the colonies, New Year's Day was on March 25. Go figure.

Anyway, in 1750, the U.K. changed to the Gregorian Calendar and fixed things. New Year's Day was now in January. The calendar dates were adjusted 11 days, which meant that, retroactively, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But that was only the first time people screwed around with his birthday.

The federal government did try to do right by Washington in 1879 when they added a fifth national holiday. Washington's Birthday, February 22nd, was added to the list of New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as national holidays. Other holidays were added later, until we have the ten we have today.

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, moving many of the holidays to Mondays instead of the proper or traditional day. Washington's Birthday was one of those. And, just like the government, they made it so it would never be right. The holiday falls on the third Monday in February, which means it can be as early as the 15th, and as late as the 21st. It will never be on the 22nd, which is when it actually is.

Some states used to celebrate Lincoln's Birthday on February 12th. Around half the states have state holidays honoring both Lincoln and Washington today. And, states can do that. Still, the federal holiday is, and has always been Washington's Birthday.

If your state celebrates more than just George Washington today, fine. Honor Lincoln and the other presidents that your state recognizes. But, there is a reason the federal holiday is simply Washington's Birthday. Don't forget to honor the man without whom we might very well not have this great nation.

George Washington. February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799. First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vlad the Impala

After 178,000 miles, I've retired Vlad, the Impala. And, yes, we actually called it that, because, well, it's funny.

I bought the car new in late 2007, and took care of it as best I could. Serviced it on schedule, tried to be a responsible owner, and I feel pretty good about the miles I put on it. Lately, though, it's begun to have issues.

A year ago, it developed an oil leak, and the dealership did some $2400 worth of work on it. Well, whether or not it was actually worth that much for the work, I can't say. That's what they charged though. But, to keep the car running, I had the repairs done. Well, recently, the oil leak returned. Took it back to the dealer, and they wanted $1800 to fix it, with the work being rework of most of what was done a year ago. Which, to my ignorant mind, wasn't a good thing. I figured if the car took 150,000 miles to get the leak in the first place, it should have been a while before the same leaks reoccurred. Silly me.

There was also some damage to the vehicle over the years. About five years ago, some clown backed into me at a gas station in Peachtree City, GA. He had picked up a waitress from a nearby restaurant, stopped at the store next to the restaurant -- where I was gassing up Vlad -- then backed straight into the car. His insurance wanted to give me some crap, but they never were able to refute that my car was turned off and I was out of the car, fueling it when he backed into me.

Around a year ago, I had an incident on a stretch of highway near Baxley, GA around 4:30 one morning. Slightly foggy. 65 MPH stretch of road. Four lane divided highway. Two deer, one in each northbound lane. Hit the brakes, swerved to the left (I was already in the left lane) and did a 180 in the median. Lots of superficial damage to the bumper from all the growth in the median.

Then, a few weeks later, near Brunswick on that same US highway one night, a large dog, one of two running beside the road, decided he wanted to cross the road instead. I was in the right lane this time, and he met the bumper on the driver side.

I kinda feel I was lucky in both incidents. The deer thing could have gone horribly bad. So could the dog thing, if he had gone under the car, since he was a large dog and the Impala sits pretty low to the ground. I've been in a vehicle where that actually happened, and don't recommend that experience.

Apart from those incidents, I always enjoyed my time in the Impala. It was a comfortable car, and the best car I ever owned. But the fact it was needing major work every year meant it was about that time. That or the dealership does crappy work. Still, 178,000 miles.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a new car. Well, not a new new car, but a newer car. Didn't trade the Impala. They wouldn't have given me anything for a 2008 Impala with 178,000 miles on it and an oil leak. So, I kept Vlad and added Abe to the stable.

I turned Vlad over to my son to oversee selling it. I have all the receipts for services, repair work, tires, and turned all that over to him so he can show the history of the car, along with the details of the current issues. Maybe it'll sell. Maybe it won't.

I'm missing Vlad, but Abe is a nice ride. I hope I can get many miles and many years from Abe. Vlad set a standard that'll be hard to beat.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Aunt Martha

We buried Aunt Martha yesterday. She was my father's little sister. Not his youngest sister, but younger than he was. And, she wasn't a very tall person. She was on the short side, much like her mother, my grandmother, was.

Aunt Martha was always a hard worker who loved her family and loved her garden. But, Aunt Martha hasn't been the same for the last, oh, nearly nine years. That's when Uncle Dave passed. Some time after that, she moved into her son David's house.

Her later years were impacted by Alzheimer's. She knew it, of course, and it frustrated her. But one of the saddest things is that two of her grandchildren, David's children, may not be able to remember her as she was. They're not small children, but their last several years of knowing their grandmother were years of her being affected by the disease.

She was okay on some days, but was really dependent on David -- and David's wife, in particular -- for, well, just about everything. Even if it was nothing more than being right there. My last extended conversation with Aunt Martha was actually a pretty lucid affair. But, she was always checking to make sure her daughter-in-law was right there, or at least close by. She knew what the disease had done and was doing to her.

It is s shame that some of her grandchildren, and all of her great grand children -- her daughter's grandchildren -- won't be able to remember Aunt Martha at her best. Because she was one of the best.

We miss her.