Sunday, July 18, 2010


Just when you think you can put a little trust in people...WOOSH they pull the carpet right out from under you.

I woke up the other Sunday very early in the morning to a loud crashing noise.  As my wife recalls, "You know it had to be loud; it woke Kipp up.  Once he gets to sleep he is like a bear in hibernation."  The noise turned out to be a large limb that had fallen from our neighbors nearly century old oak tree and hit our roof.

Turned out it was daybreak.  I walked outside around 5 AM to see most of the tree in the neighbors yard.  The fence between our yard and the neighbors seemed to have taken most of the damage.   There was a large limb that appeared it could have done some damage to my roof, but it was difficult to tell because of all the leaves and small limbs.  

I was afraid it may have hit my AC unit.  I walked around to the front yard to get a better look at the AC unit.  The tree limbs had just missed the outdoor AC unit.  So at first sight the only damage was the fence. 

Later that day, after church and lunch, we see the neighbors out cutting limbs from the tree.  I walked over to check if any damage had been done to their backyard.  "Hey Kipp did you see what happened to our tree?"
Yes I was seeing if you guys fared OK.  Molly (pet dog) was not out when it happened was she? 
"No, no.  We did not know it happened until we woke up to let her out.  It destroyed our old deck, but we were planning to replace next weekend anyway.  Nothing that cannot be repaired.  We walked over and checked your house Kipp and it looks OK.  We cut the limbs from around your AC unit, looks like it is fine." 

She went on to tell me about how she had already called her insurance guy.  He told her she was not responsible for paying for any damages to my property.  But the more she talked she finally said "on the other hand we like you Kipp; if you have any damages we will pay for them."  I told her that was nice of her.  We have a guy working on the roof now, I will let you know what he finds and what he charges.  She tells me this is not the first time she has had to deal with a fallen limb from this tree.  She was telling me how rude the neighbors behind became after a limb fell into their pool. "Kipp they were just so rude about it, I refused to pay for any damages." 

We did some chit chatting about the guy working on my roof, who she knew.  The guy that recommended him to me, she knew.  We were getting pretty involved in conversation about the people we both knew when I noticed her grumpy life partner went inside.  I was there another 15 or 20 minutes chatting it up.  The life partner did not return.

I called my insurance agent when I got back to my house just to check on protocol.  He asked me a few questions: "Did the wind cause the tree to fall?" Not that could tell; I was asleep.  "Was the tree diseased?" Have not seen the tree doctor over there lately; no.  "Then any damage incurred to your property will be your responsibility.  She is not responsible for paying you for damages."  I thought...whew I am glad she told me she would.

...about two weeks later...

The tree removal and fence repair was completed on her side.  All the repairs to my roof were complete.  My roof guy added an extra $100 to the entire bill for the repairs he had to perform due to the falling tree.  I walked over again on a Sunday afternoon to give the report of the damages and the charges. 

I knocked on the door which started Molly barking.  House dogs are better than a doorbell.  My friendly neighbor answered the door.  "Hey Kipp" as she is holding Molly back barely opening the door.
Hey what's going on with you?  
"Making some blackberry jelly this afternoon.  What's going on?"
I will not keep you long, I started explaining as she is trying to keep the dog inside the house with her foot, I just wanted to let you know Mr. Roofer had to make some repairs to the roof shingles and the like from the tree falling.  His charges for the repairs came up to $100.
"You will have to call your insurance company and take that up with them, bud."
Slightly stunned at the change of heart and being moved from 'We like you' to 'Rude' status on the neighbor scale, I responded cross eyed with the first thing I could think of, OK...did uh...did you get your backyard taken care of?
"I paid my $1,400 in deductibles for over $3,000 worth of damages, but we got it cleaned up." Then she closed the door. 

There it was.  The WOOSH sound of the carpet being pulled out from under my feet.  There was no good bye, see you later, go away before my partner sees you over here again, nothing.  She was the one that gave me the song about how much she liked us.  We were the best neighbors on the street.  We had not demanded she pay for the damages like the other neighbor.  We had not given them any trouble since we moved in.  She was sorry the tree fell.  She was willing to pay for damages.  I thought she was being sincere.  I had envisioned us chatting again for a few minutes then as she went to get her checkbook I would tell her not to worry about it.  We were having some work done anyway, the roofer guy was here, do not worry about it.  It was nice of you to offer but you don't have to pay for the damages.   Then it hit me.

The life partner.  The life partner must not like me.  It had to be the partner that made her change her mind.  She was doing this because the life partner must have been hiding behind the door.  She probably was watching the whole episode.  My sweet chatty neighbor friend was probably scared of what she might do if she did not run me off.  Dang it!

As I walked across their driveway, behind their vehicles, a few steps into my yard, in my dazed state I nearly walked into the large tree in my front mind jump started.  I thought if I understand insurance companies correctly, if a tree in my yard falls (not due to wind or disease) on a neighboring property, I am not responsible for any damage it causes.  Hmmmm.  It is still Sunday. "Lord, this is Bud.  I have a request..."


Monday, July 12, 2010


I was talking to Dad the other day about how technology and the Internet is changing our lives. He was reminiscing about the days before the Internet (B.I.).  The things he told me sounded like something out of a twilight episode.  No not the new vampire twilight movie craze.  The old black and white twilight zone episodes.  The show where nothing was ever what it seemed; the bizarre was the norm. 

He was telling me about how he used to chat with his friends.  Get this, he had to walk to his friends house, knock on the door, wait for somebody to come to the door, ask if his friend was home politely (whatever that means), then wait for the adult that answered the door to question his motives before allowing his friend to chat with him.  That had to take like five or ten minutes.  

I asked dad about this term "polite".  He said it was being nice, like this: "Hello Mrs. Smith how are you today? Mom wanted me to tell you the cake you made for the Church fellowship last Sunday was delicious.  If it is not a family secret she would like the recipe.  But I was really here to see if Bobby can come outside and kick cans down the dirt road?  Yes maam my mother said it would be fine as long as I was home by supper."  LOL dad is so funny.

He went on to say if your buddy was allowed outside, it was a good day.  He described times when nobody would come to the door!  He said it would be like not being able to logon to the Internet. :(  If this happened he had to walk back home without talking to anybody!  Bizarre, I know.  Too weird, I know.

But think how far we have come.  Everywhere I go now I see people with an electronic device (cellphone or ipod or iphone or droid or ipad stuck in front of their face or in their ear). You are reading this on your iphone now aren't you?  We can talk to or text our friends anytime.  We can even keep up with them every minute of the day on Facebook.  Imagine not being able to know what your friends were doing or where they were.  Sorry do not panic it was just a thought.

Wait a minute, that gives me an idea.  Let's test your survival skills.  If you are out in public right now try something radical for, just for 10 minutes.  Set the timer on your phone to countdown from 10 minutes, there is an app for it.  Better yet, find the on off switch to your electronic device and power it off. You can't find the on off switch can you? Never used it have you?  It's OK just go back to the timer.  OK, if you are still in a public place (airport, restaurant, work, waiting room, Sunday school) put it in your pocket or purse for 10 minutes. 

Now raise your head and look around. Those are called other people. Find one of these other people with an electronic device stuck in their face or in their ear. OK one thing you need to know about these other people that you may not know. If they see you looking at them, look away quickly they want to steal your electronic device. Just kidding.  Observe how they are in their own little world. Notice how they stare at this device. They talk to this device. They do not realize others around them exist. Watch what happens when they have to interact with others.

There is no eye contact.  There is no emotion icon on their face, is there?  I know I know it reminds you of that awkward You Tube video you saw one time.  Watch how they protect their electronic device. They keep it away from liquids and edges of the table.  They keep close to their body.  They keep it away from small children, sorry did not mean to panic you again.  They even have a protective case for it.  If they put it down, it will only be there for approximately 3 to 5 seconds, typically it is by their left hand.  OK stop watching. Weird huh? 

You want to go the next level?  This could be dangerous.  This stage is only for the most skilled.  You made it this far, you survived 10 minutes without your electronic device.  It's like the time your battery died, tragic I remember.  OK you can do this, this is radical. Try driving to work without your radio, sorry had a dad flashback, a radio is what my dad was telling me about he listened to years ago.  Try driving to work without using your electronic device.  Resist the urge to hold your iphone or blackberry or whatever you have.  You will see some very scary things.

Quickly glance at a few cars.  Most likely the driver will be talking even though there are no other passengers in the vehicle.  Yes his car is equipped with the bluetooth feature you want, don't give up your dream, but focus with me for a few more moments.  One of the more common sights you will see is the texting drivers. These drivers will have their head down, the device in their right hand, the blur you see hovering over the device is their thumb punching the buttons.  Ease back on the gas pedal and let them go their way.  These drivers consider themselves experts and will cut off less skilled drivers in a heartbeat. Beware of the texting driver.  

The rarest of all sights is the two passenger car.  Two passengers riding in the front of the vehicle.  I have witnessed this only on a few occasions.  There are times when apparently people have to ride together to get to work.  Used car salesmen fear this phenomenon more than anything.  Most likely you will see the driver and passenger using devices individually.   I spoke to one such passenger and found they were texting each other. "OMG trffc is a nghtmr c u @ wrk." "lk OMG i no i mght b lat 2day."

You may think this is crazy talk, until you look around.  When was the last time you spent a day without cable TV or the internet or your cell phone?  How many of you have seen WALL-E?  I am beginning to think the writers of WALL-E were on to something.