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Esot's Trenches

True tales (Trigger Warning!)

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If life's like a box of chocolates.. sometimes there's a chocolate coated rock or two... watch out for them teeth!

(Previously 'From Nerd to Criminal in Seven Easy Years'... let's hope that's over)

As often as I've thought this tale to have reached an end, it rears its ugly head.

It's time to write a friggin' novel. Here it comes (in unsorted pieces):

We'll start with the first legal-encounter, way back in highschool (was it "The Year 2000"?)...

Back in those days I might've been deemed amongst the nerdliest of nerds. I took Japanese not because I was interested in Anime nor Pokemon, like the majority of my classmates, but because it was a good move for business relations in the tech-fields; I'd been doing electronics circuits since I was 6y/o, began working in IT (with full district-wide network-admin privileges) at the school-district between my Sophomore and Junior years of high school and continued to do-so for nearly a decade thereafter.

I'd skipped a grade in math back in middle school, then my middle school math teacher "followed me" to my high school (cool?). In my Junior year of high school, I started taking college classes. My day was split between math with my ol' pal the math-teacher and classes at college (a full college load being three classes). I bussed between these two campuses, each day, taking nearly an hour each way, three trips total (home was somewhere in the middle), three hours a day spent on busses.

The first thing I noticed about that (community) college environment was that people were there because they wanted to be there to learn and better themselves, not because they were forced to by some system, nor by the expectations of parents or others. I felt astounded, to say the least... Here people actually cared about their (and others') educational experiences. And lo-and-behold [most] teachers/professors respected that, nevermind the grown-up decisions of their students, enough to not even bother taking attendance.

I got sucked-in to that level of dedication almost immediately, and as soon as I'd started, I had no intention of continuing with the partial-days, planning to switch to full-days at college the following semester (which, was a bit difficult since high school worked on the semester system and college was on the quarter-system).

Now, I'll take a step back to have an ol' throw-back to my grade-school (K-10) experience... I can't recall *ever* skipping a day of class in my entire grade-school-[only] experience. In middle school I was often called out of class to work in the computer lab (where I was responsible for setting up the image used on all the computers). This was definitely permitted, and I still managed to pull A's and B's in all my classes. (I even came in on summer-vacation to wire-up the building with ethernet, crawling through the crawl-space with only two boards preventing me from falling through the ceiling tiles!)

I was sick, one day, in middle school, wherein I asked my dad to let me stay home, and he said essentially if I was well-enough to ask, then I was well-enough to attend. That day I was sent home by the school nurse as contagious, and caught a bit of guilt for the call's having interrupted ol' Pa at work. From there-on I never bothered to even try to "call in sick" nor was ever sent home again. Raised somewhat "mind-over-matter" I seldom got sick in the first place, and only that once to the level of contagious. The only days I missed were those of dental/vision appointments and pre-planned family vacations. Meanwhile, who knows what my classmates/friends had been skipping class for: mall-trips, movies... Seems there were days everyone knew was a skip-day, some even seemingly-sanctioned by teachers, and yet I was somehow left-out of all of these. I knew of a bush near my middle school where some of my closest friends hid inside to smoke weed instead of attending class, and I know of others who literally smoked weed *with* the security-guards (we went through three guards in three years!). One Time I tried smoking a cigarette in that bush, went immediately home and showered and brushed my teeth for hours on end for fear of what guilt I might be given for something my...

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  • Another Tree!

    esot.eric06/09/2018 at 08:09 4 comments

    Sheesh! It's been, what... half a year since the tree fell on my hood?

    Today a thigh-thick branch, about the size of a fifteen-foot tree, apparently fell a good 60 feet, landing right in front of my hood. 

    If it hadn't landed butt-end caught on the sidewalk's edge, it most likely woulda toppled onto the car, and one of *its* branches woulda done in my windshield. Instead it toppled the other way, leaving my van, again miraculously, unscathed.

    Luck, again, I guess. Although, I've been getting to know many folk who've lived in these places for probably nearing a sum total of 20ish 'man-years', who've never experienced similar, and here it's happened to me twice in a year. Hard not to take that personal.

    And, again, a comment from another saying they'd assumed (for how long now?) my hood-damage was from my *hitting* a tree. Nope.

    And THAT is a pretty damned apt analog for damned near everything of the likes in my life, and there's quite a bit of it.

  • Car 'n Cat

    esot.eric06/07/2018 at 20:00 2 comments

    The Cat seems to be doing much better. THANK YOU to several great folk for their generosity and thoughts, both here and "IRL."

    Similarly for several considerate folk in the latest scenario with The Car:

    I couldn't imagine lucking on a better place for that sorta thing to have happened, excepting maybe in one's own well-equipped garage. Still, it's a bit odd these things *keep happening* in a town I spend only a small fraction of my time. Three Times, now; all recent car issues. Four+, if you don't limit it to car-related-oddities. Not sure whether I should avoid the place, thus plausibly avoiding the issues, or to visit after payday each month to have a reliable/friendly place expecting to fix-up whatever issues mighta otherwise cropped up ten+ miles from anytown. Maybe the Twilight Zone should be entered from time to time? Helps to know where it's at!

    Anyways, folk were very considerate. A bit weird being the guy living in and working on the van in a one-street well-groomed largely-tourist-town where the locals all seem to know each other and the goings-on... they coulda run me off with pitchforks, instead they were really helpful and friendly, again.

  • Cat in hospital -- getting better

    esot.eric05/24/2018 at 21:49 10 comments

    CAT IN HOSPITAL, need fundage so i can take her home and buy meds/healthier food! Well-wishes and/or Donations would be incredibly awesome! Please! paypal ericwazhung@gmail.com

    ----

    Update: Cat's home early on good behavior(?). Many Thanks to be given. Still, not necessarily 'in the clear', yet, but helps, I suppose, that we spend 24/7 together, so I can keep a close eye on her recovery.

    Sorry for the short post, earlier, was pretty worried. Blocked urine-flow; she literally sat on the litter-box with nary a tinkle for nearing 10 minutes in the parking lot before I finally picked her up and took her in the clinic... "OK, Cat, you've made your point."

    Interesting outcome: Cat is, in fact, a male... despite 5 years' thinking otherwise. Hard to tell under such long fur... and this is our first vet-visit.

    My friend, years ago, had a similar cat, with similar confusion. One vet claimed female, years later another claimed male... guess it's easier to be certain in a case like this, hard to mis-sex a creature while inserting a tube you-know-where.

    ---

    Update 2:

    Thankya to some great folk 'round here, for fundage of, and well-wishes for, my best-friend's well-being!

    Yesterday, a bit of a scare upon realizing she'd not "done a deuce" since before the visit, two days prior. Was afraid it--combined with the life-threatening symptom which wound her (him!) up there in the first place--was indication of something far worse than treated.

    Thankfully woke up this morning to a "shitty" blessing. One of the few times those two words can be put together in the same sentence and actually be positive. ;)

    And #1 has gone from 10 minute-squats resulting in nada, to 5 minute squats with great "outcomes", to, latest, less than 2 minutes, and a bit of the ol' feistiness--that earned her his name--regained. Seems quite promising.

    But still keeping a close eye...

  • growing fond of this 'rolling death trap'

    esot.eric03/29/2018 at 00:20 8 comments

    tire blowout avoided, just barely. you wouldn't believe it if you saw it... probably *seconds* left to full-blowout. should take a photo. managed to slide over to the shoulder, then inch a ways to a wider area.

    first tire-change was much easier than expected, even on the shoulder in a 70mph zone. and now it drives so smooth, I didn't think it was accelerating. makes me wonder how long it's been going bad... I first saw steel cables over a month ago. yeahp. but it's had a strange 'limp' at low speeds for as long as I can remember... and 'turbulence' between 60 and 70mph since at least my 900mi trip back from cali at least 5mo ago... which seems to be gone now, with the spare.

    so, many thanks on that front should probably be given to a higher power, or luck, or something. seriously... steel cables exposed for a month+. don't follow my lead! change that tire ASAP.

    and many thanks to countless folk who've been tremendously helpful on countless other fronts, this past month, especially.

  • heat! mobility! electricity!

    esot.eric03/24/2018 at 04:17 5 comments

    new fuel pump installed!

    great story, but no energy to write it now.

    buddy apparently got home, his mother was looking for him, guess I reached the right people. but I guess they're mad, maybe justly, 'cause they didn't call back to let me know he's home.

  • whoops

    esot.eric03/16/2018 at 04:08 5 comments

    no one to blame but myself.

    although, we mighta been ok, on that front, if it weren't for what appears to be a dead fuel pump.

    so aside from what could be some serious/life-altering trouble in my near future (though many have called the offense something along the lines of 'piddly'), there's also the fact I'm stranded 90ish miles from 'home', trying to figure out how to repair a fuel pump on my budget, nearest store being miles away, nearest auto-store much further, and whatnot. 

    AND I brought a buddy, who... is also stranded, lacking a personal-phone or net access, and broker than I, and now towns away... I was able to let his family know where he's at... but now I wonder if he'd'a wanted it otherwise. oy! the joys of an era where phone numbers are seldom remembered, and internet unavailable.

    on my front...

    lots of very thoughtful and helpful people to thank, so far, including the madre, who, if you read earlier 'trenches' you might think I've no relationship with... but that'd be a mistake. She's been quite helpful through this.

    the impounder took my cat to the humane society, and a really nice gas station attendant took me to pick her up. two days basically all I could think about was that I killed her... but there she was waiting for me!

    Many thanks owed on many fronts. many which may never be stated.

    A bit terrified about the future, but between trying to get the van running and trying to make sure my buddy is OK, haven't really had time to think too much about that.

  • Now THIS Really blows

    esot.eric02/16/2018 at 00:35 4 comments

    would you believe that over 1200 makes/ models of vehicles from 1980-2001 use the same mounting pattern, nevermind shaft-length, and quite a bit more, for their blower-motors?!

    The entire blower-motor assembly I needed was sitting on a back-room shelf across the street from the gas station I frequent... $33 new.

    With many apologies to my brother-in-heating-crisis, I couldn't wait another night for our 40mi(?) and potentially-unfruitful junkyard run, without at least seeing whether the part was across the street. i figured the odds were low they had it, and lower that i could afford it. Instead it would seem i coulda been cozy a week ago. I installed the thing at midnight in the rain under a lighted eve that was just long enough to cover my hood at a clinic that didn't open for another six hours, and a bit nervous as my battery had to be removed for the entire process, making me a sitting-duck in an unknown neighborhood while circled at least four times by the same car. But an hour and fifteen minutes later... Cozy.

    I've since flaked twice on the junkyard-run, which would hopefully get my friend both warm and moving... I'm not a great friend. :/

  • This kinda sucks

    esot.eric02/13/2018 at 07:27 8 comments

    ...and... it's already falling apart, less than an hour later.

    I'm definitely no aerodynamics expert... but I first tried a cone, tightly-wraped, and, well, it only kinda blowed. Then some experimentation led to the conclusion that most of the suckage comes from the *side*. Thus the boxy front 'mushroom' and surface-mount.

    A little better.

    suffice to say, the reinsert-connector-method failed almost immediately after the last log-entry.

    Today, dug out the motor with every intention of soldering, to instead discover that it worked when starting from some positions, but not others. The commutator was badly corroded in some spots, badly worn in others, and copper shavings everywhere.

    Did some filing and cleanup of the flecks inbetween... and it eventually worked *every* time. Actually marked all the starting-points I tried, until probably 40 roughly evenly-spaced all the way around. Perfect, really. And just enough time till sundown to put it all back together and bask in the warmth during sunset.

    As soon as I finished a guy asked for a jump-start... turns out his starter was fried... smoke pouring out, and... inaccessible by the likes of me. So while watching sunset in warmth, counted my blessings, and stuck around while he waited for AAA.

    Went for 'breakfast', finally, and the blowage decreased on the way until... nothing, by the time I had to open my window at the drive-through.

    Thus, the 'mushroom' fan at my vent.

    Also weird: when this first happened, I ran into an friend, car-liver, who on the same day became without heat... actually had an engine-fire. pretty gnarly, a several-day repair for the likes of car-dwellers, especially considering the new lack of mobility. But, looks like the damage is mostly limited to wiring, so hopefully things'll get running soon. Anyways, he's an elder gentleman, with elder-pains, in a car, not a van, so could probably benefit more from some 'good vibes' sent his way.

    and the night prior, ran into another elder-homeless-friend, sans-car, who's lost more sleeping bags than he can count... so, I guess there's alotta folk who could benefit from warmer days.

    as to the commutator; it would seem the brushes have worn down to the copper mounts, thus the shavings everywhere. It was luck, really, I was even able to see inside, let alone do some cleaning. There's a cooling-port on the side. But if it is the brushes, then accessing them (let alone finding replacements) would be quite difficult...

    There's talk of a junkyard trip for the engine that caught fire, so might have to do the same for my blower, and maybe my rear window.

  • This blows

    esot.eric02/11/2018 at 00:46 4 comments

    yay!

    I ran through the fuses and switches and relay with a multimeter and came up with a schematic... and it's not too strange, except for the part that: the fuse is 50A!

    I don't think that ground wire is rated for much beyond 30, but... ok.

    There was 12V at the motor connector, so the motor's dead, right?

    Started to remove it, but was thwarted by another engine part in the way, and removal wouldn't'a done me much good anyhow, nothing to replace it with, and otherwise don't want air coming in from the engine... so sealed it back up...

    But then a few ohms across the motor.

    Well, WTF?

    Surely not internally-shorted, otherwise fuse... right?

    Connect the dang thing back up... and it works.

    Reseat the battery tray and.. it doesn't work.

    Battery (and tray) in, out, in, out... because it blocks the fan...

    Finally figured out to leave the battery out and use jumper cables...

    Finnicky little bugger.

    So, it seems there's a lose connection. A 30ish Amp loose connection. Not going to think about that.

    The pins at the motor-connector wiggle a bit, so I think it's inside the motor, which, of course, is darn-near welded shut.

    So, I guess, for now, wiggle the pin, reattach the connector, repeat until it kicks in.

    Thankfully that connector is accessible with the battery in! It's a tight squeeze,but accessible.

    30ish Amp loose connection. Fully-made or fully broken. Weee!

    But my feet are warm, again, so, whew.

    Wonder if it was damaged in the tree incident.

  • Now with less blowing

    esot.eric02/10/2018 at 07:34 0 comments

    last night I was watching a movie,  ish since i'd already seen it several nights in a row, and was mostly spending time with the cat, thinking about things... so at some point I took a few minutes to acknowledge just how well-off we are, considering... and a big point was about how we have heat... yahknow, the sorta thing one might do on Thanksgiving... giving thanks for having heat.
    So, on that note, it had cooled down a bit since the last time I ran it, so I got up to turn the engine and heater on... and no heat.
    Friggin' blower doesn't do anything.
    I guess that's what I get for expressing gratitude?
    Not the fuse, not a relay... everything else is burried behind the console or in the tightly-packed engine compartment... 
    Friggin' weird how just about everything that's gone wrong with this vehicle is related to the heating/cooling system. First the heater-core leaking antifreeze on the floor under the cat's litterbox... the radiator sprung a leak after the heater-core was bypassed... countless coolant fillings... the bypass exploded one day filling the cab instantly with steam/vaporized coolant... the tree that fell on my hood... well the only *functional* damage was to the radiator, which I fixed with a hammer and epoxy... and now... the blower-fan just conked out within twenty minutes of its last use with no warning... not even a sputter.
    So, I bought a fan and have it blowing on the reexposed core, which is barely staving off the chills, but better than no blower. But WTH happened?!

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jlbrian7 wrote 04/20/2016 at 01:09 point

I still have your address, and half a mind to mail you a six pack.

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:01 point

Hah! That's a brilliant half-a-mind you have, there :) Thanks, yo!

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:21 point

Hey, you already succeeded in contributing toward a six-pack, just by liking! Thanks!

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davedarko wrote 04/19/2016 at 07:18 point

The like on this is a moral support like. At least for me. Your country can get weird :(

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:16 point

Danke Shen, DaveyD! Great help, that moral-support! 

Sometimes it's got its weirdnesses, probably has something to do with its youth. When I get to writing/posting "chapter 4" there will surely be a portion mentioning that the release-defender and the cell-block officer had hearty laughs while reading the police-report, saying they'd never even heard of someone jailed for it. I was foolish not accepting the course-of-action the police-officer tried *repeatedly* to recommend and for believing him to be exaggerating about jail as the only other option. So, obviously, it's not something they look to jail people for on a regular basis.

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RoGeorge wrote 04/19/2016 at 06:19 point

Amazing story, please continue!

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:26 point

Haha, thanks. I'll continue writing the story, but I think I've had enough living of it for now ;)

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esot.eric wrote 04/21/2016 at 07:23 point

Hah, appropriate user-icon, as well :)

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Roman wrote 04/19/2016 at 02:49 point

I had no idea you could get a criminal record for that. I wonder what else could get you a black stain on your record. Weird.

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:25 point

I think the/a lesson is, when a cop is considerate enough to give a warning, one should listen to the cop... But I agree whole-heartedly, I'd been having nightmares and waking in cold-sweats/swears nearly every day since it happened, fearing exactly your concern.

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cyplesma wrote 04/18/2016 at 16:33 point

1. I'm not a lawyer, 2. welcome to prison planet, but that is another web site.   3. constructively speaking do what you can to find a good lawyer, look for one who's parking lot is full not one that has an empty parking lot, their clients are in jail not out and about. If you are under 18 you'll have a hard time chatting with politicians about this, but try, and find someone to help, aclu maybe. spread the word on facebook even. go to the state police or even feds about it.

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:33 point

3 sounds like good advice I hadn't considered, the parking-lot thing is an interesting observation. I had to go the court-appointed route, due to finances... They're busy, understandably, but she's been very patient/helpful explaining things, etc.

As far as the rest, we'll start with this telling-of-the-tale and see where it goes. But you can bet the sum-total of such experiences have taken a toll on me that some might be able to place large monetary values on.

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cyplesma wrote 04/20/2016 at 16:28 point

I certainly understand, I got the parking lot observation from a college instructor who's day job is a lawyer, and this was back in '96.  Do your best not to take any deals, once you do that you will be treated as being guilty,  and you cannot appeal. There are some things you can get expunged from a record but that is a very short list and it is very expensive to do that as well. There are some legal websites where lawyers answer questions. I haven't have need of them but I know they are out there.

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Fernando wrote 04/18/2016 at 13:32 point

Yes, it reminded me the story of  Ahmed Mohamed ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Mohamed_clock_incident

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esot.eric wrote 04/18/2016 at 13:57 point

Judging by the utter terror I've experienced in my comparatively minor experiences with "The System" I have no doubt poor Ahmed, and many others, must've had horrendous absolutely horrendous experiences.

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j0z0r pwn4tr0n wrote 04/18/2016 at 16:12 point

Reminds me of my own delinquency. I got charged with shoplifting because I saw some riding mower batteries being thrown out behind a store. When the police officer showed up, I didn't even try to run, I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I plead guilty because I didn't have the money for a lawyer and couldn't afford to miss work for a lengthy court battle. I served 10 days in jail, did 40 hours of community service, 1 year of probation, had to attend a moral therapy class to tell me stealing was wrong, and I had to pay restitution. It still makes me angry to think about it, but I didn't have it as bad as most. And oh yeah, good luck getting a job whenever they see that shoplifting charge come back on the background check

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esot.eric wrote 04/18/2016 at 17:47 point

jesus.

Maybe I should put an image of "trigger warning" on this page...

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esot.eric wrote 04/20/2016 at 03:57 point

rereading with a clearer head... 

yikes! "Moral therapy" sounds a bit oxymoronic to me, especially based on the overall punishment's moral-value as to suiting the alleged "crime".

Reminds me of... oh, I think I was six, and my dad's bank had just changed names and was disposing of a shitton of office-supplies with their old logo... Most of the stuff was brand-new and still sealed in shrink-wrap. It was literally spilling out of the dumpster in a huge pile in their parking-lot, so I said "hey, free office supplies!" and we picked out some three-ring binders and some other things... Next thing we know the manager comes out yelling "We're calling the cops!" and accusing us of stealing, etc... That was terrifying to a six-year-old.

Thanks for that reminder!

In this case, my court-appointed attorney (and nearly everyone I've talked to) made it very clear that if *nearly any* other option was available than pleading guilty, to accept it. It seems to me in a reasonable world I might've kept 10 people awake for 2 hours, so spending twenty hours in jail should've been more than enough punishment, in consideration of fairness/balance, so I figured a judge might think similarly, but my attorney informed me that A) the record/background-check job/rental applications thing is a big one, as many won't bother to ask/look into the details of why you have said-history (won't give the benefit-of-the-doubt), and B) the sentences, usually, contain requirements exactly like your "moral therapy" class... e.g. if alcohol is even alleged to be a consideration, then something like rehab is usually a requirement. Yikes.

Sounds like you're a considerate/fair/reasonable dude, so your expecting a considerate/fair/reasonable/comparable sentence seems entirely reasonable to me. Sucks people have to find out the hard way for basically little more than a misunderstanding. On the plus-side, I suppose for some, the graph isn't linear from our experience, otherwise joy-riding for a couple hours in a stranger's car would be a death-sentence. Utterly terrifying.

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Roman wrote 04/18/2016 at 13:10 point

It sounds like a beginning of a novel.

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