Wiser’s Wramblings-Untrained or Unthinking-Don’t Hide Your Flag

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By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

In a recent column about a driving experience where the car ahead of me stopped abruptly when the driver was confused as to whether to proceed, not being certain about the flag persons signaling. It really wasn’t his fault but his less than clear motions were a little confusing. In that article I suggested that their safety equipment include lights on their stop sign. Yesterday, I had a near avoidance with a similar experience, and it too involved the flag person.

Let me back up for a “Middle-lude.” My new Wiser Word of the week sets middle ground between Prelude and Epilog. It is not uncommon, unfortunately, to travel a road where they have Roadwork Ahead signs posted, some including the Flagman warning. As you continue your journey the work crew is neither in the vicinity, sometimes within miles, or maybe they are “on break” somewhere. After several experiences with this, you may tend to forget about the warnings having been posted several miles back.

My experience yesterday occurred when returning home to Scio from a gas fill up at the Cuba Lake Reservation. Signs were posted advising of road work ahead. After traveling 4 or 5 miles down that road and not seeing any road work going on I quit looking for the road work. As I got closer to Friendship, traveling at the normal speed allowed, nothing otherwise having been posted, upon cresting a knoll, at speed, suddenly, there was a flag person and the work crew, not visible to me until cresting that knoll. I slammed on the brakes, fortunately not dumping or spilling the three, 5-gallon gas cans, in the back of the car. As I came to a near stop, the flag person turned their sign, changing it from Stop to Slow. I then let off the brake and continued past him. Had he been any further out into the road he would have sore toes today.

This same type of incident happened to me while traveling Short Tract Road heading toward Rochester. My wife was first to mention how stupid it was for the flag person to be situated where they were “hidden” by the road characteristics or location. When I arrived home yesterday, telling her of that day’s “adventure”, she commented that, “Now you have something for your Wellsville Sun article tomorrow.”

The motivation for me is not so much to complain, but rather, to ask the question: Are the flag persons, or the site crew supervisor, trained or educated, as to the flag persons “placement” or “procedures?” If not, they should be. I would think that it would include something of the nature of: “If you cannot see an oncoming vehicle any closer than 100 Yards (or some logical number), then, they can’t see you.”

Related to that, I have wondered if local fire department “Fire Police” receive similar training regarding setting up traffic control at the site of “Emergency” activities. On numerous occasions I have seen traffic being directed (or not), often with alternate turn offs or routes not covered. Unwanted traffic gets through, only to eventually need to be turned around and re-routed to another route, occasionally miles back.

Ok, enough of my Wrumblings and on to the mundane Wramblings.

Men, this is more relevant to you, the cause being obvious. Have you noticed that trouser zippers are now much shorter than they were in the past? I suppose, as a “cost savings,” along with lack of belt loops, watch pockets, or other apparel amenities, zippers made shorter are less costly. On a related issue I purchased a pair of sweatpants a couple of years ago that, unnoticed by me until putting them on and wearing them, they had no pockets. They don’t get worn often, as that is a terrible “lacking” feature. I can’t think of any work or casual activity where you wouldn’t need at least the front pockets. I love “Cargo” shorts, as the extra pockets give you a place to carry things like your phone or glasses in a case, for people that only need glasses when they need to read something.

On the glasses issue, I am now going through a “trial and error” period, trying to find contact lenses that I can wear allowing me to see/read simultaneously at events, like choral music reading, where you frequently need to switch between longer distance vision versus up close reading or viewing. These are available, and through a series of using different “trial lenses,” we are now approaching success. My vision problem is exacerbated by significant “Dry Eye” issues. I now carry a small vial of wetting solution to be used occasionally, as needed, especially when reading music as I sing.

Grammar Groan(s): A recent column, or Facebook comment, mentioned my play on words using “avenue” verses “a venue.” One of my favorite cartoon pair is Frank and Ernest. Given their content and humor it is right up my alley. Ironically, I just caught the connection and subliminal “message” of using the words “frank” and “earnest” as their names. Here is a recent cartoon that they obviously created after having read my latest Sun article.

In the traffic control section above, I was tempted to use the word combination “On scene” versus “Unseen.” I guess either would be appropriate for the topic discussed.

I have now re-joined “church going activities” at the Grace United Church in Wellsville and have joined the choir and “Praise” music groups. When I began teaching at Alfred State College in the early 80’s, I was overwhelmed with learning and preparing lessons on subject matter not yet known to me. It literally consumed most of my “free time”. I have mentioned previously having had to sacrifice “enjoyment” reading and other activities, even attendance at many children’s school activities.

The Genesee Valley Choir

In my re-discovered choir/chorus music singing and learning process, I typically find, and download, a performance recording of a song we are preparing. One excellent source of music I use to learn from is YouTube. Many, or most of, these performances are recordings of High School choirs or ensembles. They are very good, but an obvious difference between the youthful performers voice characteristics and that of “Adult” singers is the sound, even of the same “sung” notes. I often used the term “Timber” (timbre to be exact) in describing the difference. My instinct told me that was correct, but to be sure, I looked up the Wikipedia definition (and spelling) and it describes it exactly as I intuited it.

Timbre” “…is what makes a particular musical instrument or human voice have a different sound from another, even when playing or singing the same note…”

Young voices have a “brightness” to them, and of course a “developmental,” pre-pubescent, male voice range is often significantly higher than that of an adult. A youthful choir may have the males singing the highest notes as would an adult female, singing “soprano,” or, highest voicing part.

I must be making up for my late life involvement in singing and, compensating for the time away from singing (in public) following my 24-year hiatus while teaching. In addition to the joy of singing again, it also allows me to exercise my oft mentioned desire and ability to learn. Barbershop music is readily available in recorded “Learning Tracks” which are available for each of the four singing parts: Lead, Bass, Baritone and Tenor. Unfortunately, they aren’t as commonly available for SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) typical for a mixed choir or chorus. My practicing extensively, or obsessively, as my wife says, often needs to take place either in another room remote from anyone else in the house, or notoriously in my car, in the driveway. I may not be good, but I am persistent, and diligent. Learning music and singing is an obsession making up for lost time as I wasn’t involved in musical activities until joining, uninvited, the Bicentennial Chorus for the celebration in 1976.  

Always having taken pride in my vocabulary and spelling it might be a sign of my age, but I now must occasionally use a Merriam-Webster dictionary, Google, Wikipedia or some other such source. I even sometimes pay attention to “auto correct and auto suggest,” to verify the now uncertainty, of words with doubled consonants like “cc” or “ss,” or words that end in “ent” versus “ant”. The sound isn’t always distinguishable intuitively. Good thing I don’t have difficulty separating sound alike words like verses as opposed to versus. Distinguishing the use of Illusive, is Elusive. I sometimes need to stop and think about which would be the proper “usive.

Disclaimer! I never said that I wouldn’t be “Corny,” but this is certainly the season for it.

I wonder where the once standard vehicle components like “parking brake”, on floor “dimmer switch,” “wing window”, and “standard” on the column shifter went. Come to think about it, the “on-floor” dimmer switch was a lot safer than the current standard, even including “auto dimming.”

Also missing now are standard Newspaper features like: Engagement/Wedding Announcements, Poetry Contests, Hospitalizations (I know, but they were optional) and Family celebrations.

Public Service Annoucement: This is prompted by the numerous scanner calls related to the subject. The telephone option of dialing 988 provides a direct link to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. (This was formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). This is a free call from either a “land line” or “cell phone,” and is now routed to the nearest area code link to trained health care professionals, who can offer life saving support and assistance.

I pray that you will never need this, but please do so if you are contemplating life threatening actions or activities.

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