Saturday, August 27, 2016

I Don't Want To Brag, But .....

Sometime in my early life, probably while still in high school, maybe even grade school, someone told me that I had an IQ of 127.  

I didn’t know what it meant nor was I particularly interested in it.  But the numbers stuck.  I never followed up to see what it meant, but when I joined the Army in February of 1960, I was told by an Army processing person in Dallas that my Army aptitude scores were quite high. He asked me if I had taken an IQ test.  I told him that I remember taking lots of strange tests, none of which seemed to be related to classes I was taking in school, but the only time I ever heard of IQ when someone told me I had an IQ of 127.  He said, well that explains why you scored high on the Army’s tests.

He went on to say that I qualified to go into the Army Security Agency.  And by that evening I was on a bus headed to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  It was February 29th, a Leap Year, and there was snow on the ground from Dallas to Missouri.  And it was cold.  I was dressed for Central Louisiana weather.

Somewhere about the third week of basic training, I was told to report to a building on base.  No reason was given other than just be there, people are waiting to see me.

I arrived promptly at the time I was told to be there and found three men in civilian suits hovering around a coal-burning pot-bellied stove.  They showed me their FBI badges and told me to sit down, that they had some questions to ask and that I would undergo a polygraph test.  I didn’t know what a polygraph test was, but I figured it was just another of the Army’s endless battery of tests to find out what I was suited for in the Army.

Although these tests were similar to some I had taken in High School and during the early processing of my joining the Army, they were a lot more complex.  Some of the questions didn’t make sense at all, nor did the choices of answers to select from.  Plus, it was a timed test and they made me stop immediately when the timer bell went off.

They didn’t grade the test or even look at it, just stuffed it into an envelope.  Then they explained the polygraph to me and that it would be used to see if I was lying about any of the questions they asked me.  In fact, they made it sound like they would not only know if I was lying in my answers to their questions, they would know if I had ever lied about anything ‘ever’ in my life.  I just knew they were going to ask me some highly personal questions that I preferred they not ask.  But I told them I was ready because I was also a bit curious.

A strap was placed around my chest, a cuff around my upper arm and a small device was clamped to my finger.  I also seem to recall there was a small flat coin-like device to hold in the palm of my hand which would detect moisture.  (Apparently your palm sweats when you lie)  Each was explained to me as to what happens when I answer a question.  Simple questions, such as “are you sitting down?” would probably not excite any of the devices and therefore would not excite the polygraph machine’s chart needles.  But more complicated “think type” questions might and probably would generate more excitement and therefore cause the needles to record on the graph that excitement.

But if I was lying, or deliberately being deceptive, the excitement would be detected in my increased breathing, blood pressure or pulse rate, and recorded on the graph.  Simple enough to understand now but to an 18 year old small town boy in the 1960’s, it was ‘Rocket Science.’

As with the earlier written test, they just looked over the chart and stuck it into an envelope without saying anything.  Then they told me to report back to my unit. 

After I returned to my unit, I really didn’t give much thought to the whole process I had just gone through. 

About six weeks later I was in Fort Devens, Massachusetts, assigned to the Army Security Agency's Morse Code 058 MOS classes. It took our class six months to get up to the expected proficiency the Army needed.  

Meanwhile, some of us were ahead of schedule and added Voice Intercept 055 MOS training, before the entire class graduated and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

I can’t recall ever once being asked for my IQ after that.  Until yesterday when I suddenly remembered it and decided to look it up using Google.

The very first thing that came up said, “127 IQ sd 15 means your IQ is at the 96.4 percentile. That means your IQ is higher than 96.4% of the general population. Pretty darn good.

Well, that made me feel good about myself, at least until I read the next one that said, “It means that you have been tested and that the result of that test is that you have an IQ of 127. Other than that it means nothing at all in real life.”

Well Pooh!  I thought I could brag about my IQ, but it’s nothing but a ‘so what!’ number.

Now I know…

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another Theft in the Neighborhood

When you hear of someone reporting their home or car was broken into, or a bike stolen off the front lawn, or a million other such incidents of theft, you think, “Those poor people must have forgotten to lock the door or take necessary precautions to protect their property.”  Then you just dismiss the information as ‘just another criminal act in the neighborhood.’  That is unless you are the victim.

We just became the victim.  This time some low-life stole two cordless drills from our garage:

An old but very powerful Porter-Cable drill

And a Makita 18v Drill and Impact combo with case and accessories:

It probably happened during the night because we rarely leave the garage door open for long during the day unless we are in the garage.  Our garage is detached and set back 90’ from the street in a very small cul-de-sac, so it’s not likely they did their thievery during the day.  But if we were home, we may have not locked the side door because we go in and out of the garage many times a day.  No, it had to be at night.

Nothing else was stolen or damaged that we can see.  And one of the drills was so old that it has no useful value unless someone purchases very expensive replacement batteries for it.  But the other 2-drill set will require at least $200 to replace.  And even that’s peanuts compared to what all could have been stolen or damaged.

The greatest loss we incurred was the security we felt in our home and neighborhood.  That is now gone forever.  We will always feel venerable to the infection and many faces of crime.

What have we done about it?  Well, we reported it to the Constable’s office, and shortly thereafter a nice Deputy Constable came by so we could file a Police Report, the first step in any criminal investigation. 

Surprisingly, providing the necessary information about the loss isn’t as easy as you would think even though it is something you own and use on a fairly frequent basis.  For example, I use one of the drills at least five times a week, yet I could not instantly recall if it was a Ryobi or Hitachi or Makita, and I certainly could not recall the serial number, something ultimately needed to confirm that I am the true owner of the drill.

Nor could I produce the exact model number or even an exact description because the Operator’s Manual was inside the handy carry case along with the drills, which I also failed to clearly mark with my name, driver’s license number or some other ownership information which the Police could legally use to retrieve from a pawn shop.  To me it was just a cordless drill, but it was ‘my’ cordless drill, not some lowlife’s opportunity to lower his status as a human by yet another notch.

Anyway, I learned a lot about the legal process after the fact, but a lot more about what I can do to protect my property, and for that matter, myself and my family.  Most of what I learned is actually just good old common sense which sometimes needs a reminder, such as becoming a victim.

I’m also reminded that criminals do not operate by the same rules the rest of us do, nor or they treated any differently as citizens until they are actually arrested and convicted of a crime.  No matter the crime, they continue to benefit from a system of justice that can be harsh or lenient, often with the weight of forgiveness to those who truly deserve it.  I can’t say I will ever forgive the criminal, but I’m not going to let him or his actions affect my belief that most people are inherently good.

Our home security company will be here tomorrow to install additional security features that may or may not prevent a re-occurrence of a criminal act with us being the victim.  But it’s a start.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sewing Machines

My Sweetie learned from her Mother at an early age how to sew on a sewing machine.  She even inherited her Mother's sewing machine but never could get it to work.  So we bought a new one, a Singer Inspiration.  It's portable and has pretty much all the features necessary for most day-to-day sewing.

But after a while, she couldn't get it to work either.  Something to do with the bobbin.  So it sat unused for a long time.

Then, her hairdresser asked if she wanted to buy an older Singer Touch & Sew machine that even had the original sewing table.  $50.  And it worked.  So we suddenly had two sewing machines.  But then a problem developed in the older machine.  It was obviously some stripped gears. %&$#

Sweetie took the machine apart herself and figured out which gears were stripped and ordered them. But when it got time to put it all back together, she asked for help.  I jumped at the chance to fix something I've never worked on before.

I figured that since I'm mechanically inclined, have probably all the tools necessary to fix most mechanical things, I'm personally challenged by things that don't work, and I'm bored to tears, I should be able to figure it out with the help of YouTube videos and downloaded manuals.

Well, after about 40 hours of trying, I finally threw in the towel.  I fixed about 98% of it, but 2% was still not working right.  So it was finally decided that we should take it to a sewing machine repair person.

We took both of them thinking they are worthless if they don't work but valuable tools if they do work.

Surprisingly, the guy called later in the day saying they were both ready.  We went back and got them, paying something over $200 for getting them restored to excellent working condition, cleaned and oiled, along with a couple of replacement parts and answers to a lot of questions.  We think it was a good investment, so much so that I'm thinking I might learn how to sew.

I seriously doubt that I will attempt to repair any more sewing machines, but I've gained a whole new respect for those who can do it well.