Thursday, July 16, 2015

Talking Survival Works! Silver Doesn't


With all letdowns I’ve dealt with this week (at the end of the post) I was really thrilled to hear about the 16 year old girl who walked through the mountainous woods for over two days after her grandparents planed crashed.  Her parents said that one of the things that they did as a family was watch survival shows and also talk about survival issues.  It’s the same reason I talked with Boy about walking 200 miles home from camp if a big earthquake struck.  I don’t expect that he’d really have to walk even ¼ of that distance ever.  These discussions and small challenges we give them give the kids the strength to KNOW that they can take care of themselves and get themselves to safety.  This 16 year old girl proved that.  She set her mind to it and didn’t give up on herself even though she couldn’t rescue her grandparents. 

I got thinking about silver.  You know we are all told to save silver and, if we can afford it, gold.  Don’t forget to save nickels too since they are worth more than a nickel.  I have about a month’s worth of take-home pay in silver and small bills sitting in the safe at home.  What good is the silver really?  When we read all the survival books they all use silver coins for payment when they aren’t bartering.  When will this need really happen where silver coins need to be used rather than dollar bills?  Not during Katrina.  Not during Sandy.  Not in Greece when the banks were closed for a couple of weeks.  Only if the entire country completely collapses.  If China succeeds in having world’s oil bought and sold in their currency rather than in U.S. dollars would this destroy our economy so bad that we’d be paying in silver coins?  Would the price of silver skyrocket?  I decided to do a little research.  Most of the websites that show silver prices don’t give a full picture.  I found one that gave me just what I was looking for. 

This chart shows the price of silver for the past 100 years.  This is not the price with inflation included, just the price.  What do you see?  Twice in the past 100 years has the price of silver skyrocketed.  In the late 70s through 1980 it was caused by a frenzy spurred by political issues and investors clamoring to get into the market.  Industrial use during that time fell about 25% although everyone was told that there was a shortage.  What about just a couple years ago? Do you remember that spike?  I do.  People were standing in line to buy silver.  Silver dollars were all sold out in my area and 1 oz. silver coins were all that was available.  I bought some and felt really happy that I bought it for $26 an ounce.  Industrial use wasn’t causing a shortage. It spiked because of political frenzy.  But isn’t the political frenzy the reason hold silver?  The state of Utah will take silver value as payment.  Some stores, mostly survival minded stores will take silver and bit coin.  I can’t find any place that has reverted to a silver economy during disaster, have you?  So silver just sits and waits along with the storage of survival foods.  At least with the foods we rotate the stock!

The bug-out place didn’t close escrow and the reason was because the buyer worked too far away.  Imagine that!  The bug-out place is not close to San Francisco!  According to the lender, and I got it straight from his lender, they can only consider it a second home rather than his primary residence because of the distance.  This means that we may not have enough money to put up the barn/apartment this summer.  I think we still do, at least the barn part.  The apartment portion can be completed once the building is weather-tight.  It also means that I have to put more money and time into the bug-out place.  It doesn’t have a kitchen or any flooring and the bathrooms still need repairs.  I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have to spend any more money on it.  Oh well.  Am I thinking about selling some of the silver?  It’s weighing on my mind. 

New property has the permits for the septic and also has the arrangements for the electricity.  It’s going to cost $17,000 to put the electricity in.  The county has an interesting program that if anyone, within the next five years, uses the additional line that we are having put in then we will get a refund for their portion.  Does that mean I want to hope we get more neighbors?  No.

Girl has been really obnoxious around her brother.  Boy was home for one day before heading back to camp and Girl was with us for the four hour drive.  He couldn’t say one sentence without her telling him to be quiet.  He was sitting in the back seat entertaining himself quite nicely by reading road signs out loud.  She was really annoyed because he was “stating the obvious,” as she put it and that he should be quiet because nobody cares.  As soon as I dropped him off her attitude completely changed and she was happy and cheerful.  But guess what?  I wasn’t in the mood to be happy and cheerful back.  She started doing the same thing that he was doing to keep herself entertained.  I told her she should be quiet because she was “stating the obvious.” She said she thought it was perfectly fine.  I told her she was a hypocrite. She said that people have told her that before. It’s not something to be proud of.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

And How Would Boy Get Home?

Boy spent the last two weeks at camp in the Bay Area (San Francisco area for non-Californians).  Today I picked him up, drove 400 miles round trip in the process and get to repeat it tomorrow.  Why?  Because he asked if he could go back for another session and being the wonderful grandparent that I am, I said yes.  Before I told him he could come back I explained that the two sessions of this camp costs about the same as going to Fresno State for half a year.  He offered that neither he nor his sister should get anything extra bought for them for the rest of the year. Why your sister?  I'm not spending all this money on her.  He said he was sure she would want to pitch in.  Right...

Unfortunately there wasn't going to be anyone at the camp who could keep him for two days.  The camp really starts Tuesday afternoon but I told the head of the camp that I could not get him there then since I had a mandatory meeting each Tuesday and two weeks ago I missed it because I brought Boy to camp and last Tuesday I missed it because I was sick.  I'm sure work would not be happy if I missed it again.  The head of the camp said that I could bring Boy back tomorrow afternoon since the counselors would be back at the camp the evening before the next session starts.  So 400 miles today and 500 miles tomorrow, including driving to work.  It's a good thing I have the Prius.

Each time I drive up there we go past the PG&E substation that was hit in the terrorist attack a year or two ago.  Very few people remember that one or the one just last spring down in southern California where "someone" loosened the main bolts on quite a few transmission towers, hoping that the towers (and electrical transmission lines) would fall in a domino effect. 

On the way home from camp today I started quizzing Boy.  What happens if a big earthquake hits and you have to leave camp but I can't get there to pick you up?  We figured it would take him 5-7 days to walk home if he had to walk the entire way.  Fortunately, crazy panic wouldn't set in the city until a few days past the disaster and he'd be out of the city by then.  But does he know how to get home?  After all, he's 12. 

The first thing he said was he'd go buy a map.  You can't buy a map.  The stores are all closed.  Pretend you can't look at a map on a cellphone.  The phones may not work in or near the disaster area.  How would you get home?  Which way would you go?  He said he'd walk along the 280 freeway.  Where is that?  How do you know which direction to head when you leave camp?  Look at the mountains.  The mountains are west of you.  If you are facing the mountains your left hand will be the direction you will want to go - south.  After he was able to verbalize that he told me which other roads he would follow.  He got all the freeway numbers right.  The 85, or if he couldn't walk there then just continue onto the 101.  Go South!  Once he got to Gilroy he'd head east on the 152.  Once over the Pacheco Pass he could continue on the 152 all the way across the Great Central Valley or he could head south on the 5 and head east at any time.  But, he concluded, the 152 is a good highway and if I was trying to find him we should have the main plan all squared away.  He figured that he would be somewhere along the 101 or the 152 by the time I was able to reach him. I did remind him that he would probably be able to call me once he got out of the bay area. His last remark was that he should pack his life straw so he could get a drink anywhere along the way that he could find water.

He also has a small get-home bag in his suitcase.  It's filled with snack foods.  He knows that he's not supposed to eat these at camp.  They are for an emergency where he has to come home.  He has a little blanket in his bag.  He doesn't need it for warmth, but if he has to find his way home, having something to wrap himself in while he sleeps is good for the morale. 

I was really pleased that he was able to figure out how to get home and smart enough to realize that we needed to work together on the plan for me to find him and also that food, and more importantly, drinking clean water was necessary.  There's more to disaster planning than just preparing for an earthquake and how to escape from the city but getting a child comfortable by filling him up with the knowledge and ability of being able to do this on his own is really important. 

Am I not going to worry, now that he has a plan?  Of course I'm going to worry.  He's a 12 year old in camp in the Bay Area, 200 miles from home. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Disorder and debt - how to not be at peace

Today is just a complaining session.  I will get back to updating on the new property and going through everything here on my next post.  It's really a fascinating process to go through boxes of "treasures" and figure out which ones I actually want to bring to the new home.  Of the things that I've collected over the years as a prepper, what is really needed?  Am I overstocked on things of little importance and things that are really necessary I am lacking?  Yes, that's for another day.  Today I really have on my mind how much damage you do to your peace of mind when you live your life in a disarray.  And how thankful I am that I try to keep order in my life because Boy and Girl, especially Girl give me enough stress.  I don't need to be my own cause of stress. 

Army daughter and family moved out today and into an apartment across town.  It's a nice area across the street from a family park.  They should like it.  Littlest granddaughter was in tears when they left.  She has enjoyed being back on the farm and seeing me everyday for the past couple of months.  I will miss her too.  She is a very messy four year old but the only one in the house who continuously offers to help out with farm chores. 

I will not miss their greasy cooking and never having fresh vegetables, nor the mess they would leave in the kitchen, bathroom, and every room they occupied.  I spent this afternoon cleaning and straightening.  Not the little things, the big things.  I cleaned and defrosted the big freezer in the garage and I cleaned the freezer in the house. AD didn't like using any stored food and would spend about triple or quadruple the amount I normally spend on food each month.  Much of it would go to waste, or it would get put into the freezer never to be seen again. I am pretty organized, meat on one shelf, fruits and veggies on another, flour and rice on the next etc.  (I always freeze flour, rice, and cereals when I bring them home from the store.  Even dog and cat food gets frozen.  I do that to kill moths that may be in the food.  After  they are frozen for a week I repackage them and then don't have problems with my stored food.)  The freezer was such a mess that I couldn't find anything.  After I just straightened out the house freezer, without getting rid of anything, somehow the freezer was about half full, yet when everything was shoved in you couldn't get anything else in and things would fall out when you opened the door.  That's not a good home storage method.  

 I didn't get to the refrigerator yet.  It's just as bad.  I can't see anything because it's all jammed in and in such a disarray.  Left overs get put into storage containers but if I don't take it to work for lunch then it gets lost as it's shoved further and further back on a shelf. AD and son-in-law buy lunch out each day so they don't often eat the leftovers unless we eat the same thing for dinner for two or three days in a row.  I have a feeling when I clean it tomorrow the chickens are going to have lots of food to eat.  The way AD and family keep the house and refrigerator and freezer is pretty much the way they keep their lives.  In a constant disarray.  The way I see it, when they live their lives that way it adds a bunch of stress.  They both are stressed and are taking meds to keep themselves "normal".  They don't see the connection between the house and everything else being a mess and their mental stress. 

Another stress they have is debt.  I don't mean house debt, which they do have because they bought their house in Texas, nor do I mean car debt.  They have a lease on their car so when they are done paying for it they will still owe a bunch of money or they will have to turn it in and buy something else.  But that's not the debt that is stressing them.  It's that they are living way beyond their means.  They owe credit card debt on top of credit card debt plus student loans to boot. 

When they sold their house here in the Great Central Valley prior to moving to Texas for six months, they came out with some extra money.  They told me they paid off their debts. Then they said the debts were paid except for the student loans.  OK, when you get to Texas just rent and live within your means!  They lived with son-in-law's family for two months and then rushed out to buy a house.  I advised against it until they had some money saved up and they knew they were going to stay.  Instead they put less than 5% down, including all the closing costs.  Then they decided that their jobs weren't satisfying and they needed to come back to the Great Central Valley.  Fortunately they have a renter in the house because if they sold it, they would have to come up with money out of their pocket to pay the closing costs and realtor fees.  Money they don't have. 

Now, they are making almost double what they made when they left six months ago!  That should be a blessing and they should get their debts paid off.  They aren't going to be able to because their cost of living is so high that they are still broke and still racking up more debt.  They rent movies almost every day.  They have gym memberships.  Dry cleaner bills, manicure bills, new clothes almost each week, and even the four year old gets her hair trimmed every month. They go out to eat one or two meals per day, including weekends, and they buy lots of prepackaged food...yes she still buys egg whites in the quart carton even though we get a dozen eggs a day from the chickens.  AD tells me she likes convenience.  I tell her I like not having debt and being able to sleep at night without the aid of Prozac or sleeping pills. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

4th of July and Gaining Independence and missing Tylenol

Every year I read the Declaration of Independence to everyone who shows up at our home to watch fireworks.  This year it's just Girl, Army Daughter, Son-in-law, and Cutest little granddaughter. The rest of the family is off at the public fireworks shows.  Boy is at camp for two weeks. I doubt they read the Declaration of Independence at camp.  I doubt most people would recognize most of the Declaration.

It is interesting when people get into the debate over God and how society is being destroyed by a Godless group, or by those who skew God's word. It just all depends on whose side you are on. People debate whether God is part of our country's history or not.  So, I'll start this evening off with this.  God, the creator, was mentioned four times in the Declaration of Independence (that 4th of July document).  In the Constitution God isn't mentioned.  It is stated in the year of our lord.  So God isn't mentioned but Jesus is, just not by name. God shouldn't be included in our laws?  I don't believe that at all.  The Constitution was built on the Declaration. Much of the guidance for writing the Constitution came from the bible. 

The problem comes when we want to use the bible word for word in our laws rather than using the concepts.  What do I mean?  Let's take the 10 commandments for example.  They are the 10 commandments, we all know them right?  Wrong.  Protestant and Jewish commandments 1 and 2 are different.  The Jewish version starts one line in the bible earlier.  3-10 are the same.  The 10th is split in two for the Catholics as it is 9 and 10. Same document, just read differently so when we want to quote exactly we fight.  Stupid.  

But what about money and the pledge of allegiance?  In God We Trust and Under God were added in the 1950s as our answer to the growing concern of communism. Or at least that is what you would be led to believe if you believe everything you read on the internet!  I've included an interesting article from the US Treasury, which provides a history of In God We Trust on our money.   http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx  In God We Trust was first included in 1864 on the 2 cent coin, 90 years earlier than most websites will tell you. 

The pledge of allegiance was changed in the 1950s to include Under God. It was due to a push by religious leaders and groups.  I think by associating it with anticommunism it was able to get pushed through.  I just don't believe that was why it was added.  

OK, enough of that, I just had to throw some of that in.  People get so caught up in this that they don't think about the big picture.  Future Spouse stated it really well on the 4th of July during our daily phone call.  What do we celebrate on the 4th of July? Independence!  Our independence from England because we didn't like the lack or representation and the extreme taxes.  So how about now?  FS says we as a family are declaring our independence from our own government because we don't like the lack of representation and the extreme taxes.  Because so many people are getting something from the government, rather than contributing to it, the government is perpetuating the desire of more and more people to just let the government take care of them. 

FS wants to be as self sufficient as possible so we don't have to rely on the government to help us out.  Stay out of our life!  OK, not total independence from the government, I have to pay my taxes or I go to jail.  But I will try to pay as little as possible.  I can't ignore the fact that they are there, and at times I wouldn't want to not have them around.  I like the local sheriff to be there when I need them.  Same with the fire department.  And the schools (just not all their curriculum).  And the military.  Those things I don't mind paying for.  On the other hand, just today the county government took over $500 of my money in fees for my new property.  A fee to put in a culvert, a fee to put in the septic tank, a fee to put in a road... Now these fees are cheaper than in California but fees nevertheless.  And after they saw the thoroughness of the paperwork for some of these items they said that they weren't going to come out an inspect.  Yes, it was just a money grab, with more to come. 

With moving next year, my normal thoughts of prepping are changing.  I am still trying to stay as independent as possible.  Trying to stay as prepared as possible while cutting back on some of the things I've collected over the years.  We sold most of the chickens. I still have enough for all our egg needs and will butcher the extra roosters.  The broody hen may still raise another clutch or two of chicks.  I could have butchered the extra and put them into the freezer but instead I am trying to clear out the freezer.  All while still keeping a good stock of food on hand.

I got sick yesterday and found a hole in the prepping while I was trying to self-medicate.  A hole due to theft?  I had a terrible sore throat and ear ache.  It hurt to swallow but worse than that was the pressure in my ear.  I gargled with salt water and took some aspirin.  It's interesting because my medical guidance book says to take aspirin for a sore throat, not Tylenol or Advil. That wasn't enough so when it was bedtime I decided I was going to take a Tylenol with Codeine.  Went to the medicine cabinet.  No Tylenol with Codeine.  Went to the drawer, none there either.  Went to the safe where I keep some of the strong stuff.  It wasn't there either.  Nowhere could I find the Tylenol with Codeine.  I know that I have plenty.  Or at least I had plenty.  Who swiped it?  Mrs. Bug-out renter hasn't been here for a long time.  I always had to put all the meds into lockup because she would "borrow" some because she needed it.  Adult grandsons have been here.  Did they get into it?  Son-in-law hasn't had a drink since he's been here.  Is he compensating for lack of alcohol by downing the Tylenol with Codeine?  Is it Girl?  I have no idea where it went.  I took 1500 mg. of regular Tylenol and went to bed.  Fortunately when I woke up this morning the ear ache was gone and the sore throat much better.  I'll continue with the gargling with salt water but next time I see the doctor I need to get another prescription and into the safe it will go.

Life is an adventure.  We will be fine.  After all, it's life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that we strive for, not the government providing for us.  4th of July, Independence Day from England in 1776 and in 2015 from the overreaching arm of our own government.  I think I'll go pick some fruit.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Leaving the State

All my family knows, so now I will post it on my blog.  Why are we moving to Colorado when I was planning on staying here in the Great Central Valley forever?  I could say that it's the politics, or the weather, or the lack of water, or the taxes, or lots of things, but those are not the reasons.  I am getting married. I have been divorced for 10 years and next year, summer of 2016, that status will change.

The person I am marrying lives in Colorado, and while future spouse (FS) has lived in California, FS doesn't want to return to California.  I agreed to Colorado but only if I can have farm animals.   FS, who hails from the city, agreed.  We now own 35 acres outside a very small town.  I have no idea what I am getting in to as I've never really experienced the cold.  OK, I have been to Antarctica, but even then it was during summer so the temperature during the day most days was in the balmy 40s. 

Both Boy and Girl are excited, which is good.  In fact, Boy thinks it was his idea.  They like the idea of the country schools on a four day per week schedule.  School starts at 8 and ends at 4, Monday through Thursday.  No more 1/2 days every other Wednesday like they have now.  FS skis so both Boy and Girl are looking forward to that, plus learning how to hunt, as well as getting better at fishing.  Yes, I am going to marry someone who likes useful outdoor activities, winter and summer. 

It's funny because FS does not want to admit being a prepper or more hard core survivalist, but FS is. Where FS has lacked is on food storage.  FS always figured that shopping once a month will always be available and if things got bad, one can just hunt and fish.  I've pushed the gardening, chickens, goats, and food storage for years during our phone conversations.  This past spring FS called to ask how to can peaches.  I had to explain canning jars, boiling water bath, and other things - over the phone.  But they came out fine...at least FS hasn't killed anyone from botulism.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

After 18 Years In One Place...

So many months of not writing.  Way too much going on in life and sometime it's just overwhelming.  But I now have time dedicated a couple of days per week to writing again.  I am looking forward to it.

The biggest news is that next summer we are moving to Colorado.  That means I have one year to sell the two properties and bigger than that, figure out what I get rid of and what makes the 17 hour trek to Colorado.  No, I’m not getting rid of Boy or Girl…

I have been working on the bug-out place, going there about one or two days a month.  Things go slowly when you aren’t there much.  I got the entire place cleaned out.  I had the windows replaced, all 23 of them!  I would have done it myself but none of the windows were a common size so each one needed to be special ordered.  I got them ordered and had the window company install them.  It took 4 workers two days to complete the job of taking the old windows out, putting the new ones in, and trimming the inside and outside around the windows.  It looks good. 

I put five new interior doors in.  I put standard height pre-framed doors in, which meant I had to tear apart the old framing.  It wasn’t the quick and easy project I was expecting but still only took a couple of days to do.  But on our timeframe, a couple of days meant a month until the next project could get started.  Boy and Girl had to figure out how to put the doorknobs on.  I patched all the holes in the walls.  I completely tore out the kitchen down to the walls.  Everything was painted.  I was ready to purchase the carpet and flooring and had just gotten an estimate.  Glad I didn’t put in the order. 

I was out at the house on a Sunday and one of the neighbors and their cousin came by and asked if I was selling the place.  Sure.  I gave them a tour of the house and said if I walk away now, without a kitchen or any flooring, nor updating the bathrooms, then I’d sell it for X price now.  If I finish the place, I’ll add another $50,000 to the property and also list it with a realtor.  The cousin said he wanted it.  I guess I’m selling it then!  It is supposed to close escrow next week.  So we will see how that goes.

Bigger issue is our home that we’ve been in for 18 years.  Since I had intended to stay here forever I accumulated a lot of forever things plus extra.  I have to figure out what should stay with the property or what I take with me or what I sell.  Will it add value to the property?  For example, I have about 250 cattle/hog panels.  These are 16’ panels that work better than any wire fencing ever could.  There are probably about 50 that I am going to take down to open the place up and make it look better.  These 50 cost about $1250.  They won’t add $1250 to the price of the property.  Do I sell them for $500?  Do I take them with me, which would fill up the trailer?  But will cost $500 round trip just in gas to drive the truck.  Sounds like I sell them and buy new (or used) ones once I get there. 

What about the food and household supplies?  It’s an interesting dilemma.  If I want to keep a supply of at least one or two years of food and household supplies on hand, do I move them?  Do I use them up and start stocking up in Colorado on each trip I make out there?  What if TSHTF when I am in the middle of using up these supplies yet due to whatever circumstances, we can’t head to Colorado?  Then what?
 
Where are we headed?  Our new home, which is now just an empty plot of land with a good well, is just a hop, skip, and a jump from a fellow blogger’s place who I’ve communicated with quite a bit over the years.   It wasn’t planned that way but it is nice to know there are like-minded people in that community.  While many people use the area as their second home, it will be our permanent, full-time place.  The barn will be built and should be finished this summer.   The house will be started but probably not finished by the time we are ready to move. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dangerous and Stupid Driving Incident Today

Today I had a meeting in the city.  We were all to gather at a restaurant for lunch then head to the meeting afterwards.  Since I was in the city I decided to visit a friend that I rarely see.  This friend doesn't live in a great part of town but I figured during the day wouldn't be bad.  I visited for an hour then had to head out to the lunch and then the meeting.  Not wanting to be late for lunch, I made a couple of stupid decisions.  Fortunately all ended up alright.

After leaving my friend's apartment I headed towards the freeway.  I try to stay away from this part of town.  It's not the drive-by shooting during the middle of the day area, but it's still an area with a nefarious crowd.  If you observe the people during your two mile stretch prior to getting on the freeway it you will notice lots of people just wandering: the drunks, drug deals, prostitution, gang members signaling to each other, etc.  It's not a place that I would ever be at night...daytime is bad enough.  But I was there.

On my way to the freeway there was some construction going on along the road.  The two lanes in my direction were moved into one.  The signal at the corner was not working which meant it became a four way stop sign.  This was a very busy corner as the other three directions all had two lanes going straight and one lane turning.  Couple that with the jam of the two lanes in my direction being squished into one lane, it was a very slow process getting through that intersection. 

I should have turned right to take a side street but I didn't.  I figured that even though the traffic was slow at least I was on the main road.  A better place to be when in the bad area of the city.  About four or five car lengths before coming to the intersection is a railroad crossing.  This railroad track is very busy with a train coming every ten minutes or so. 

Today I figured I'll just drive the Prius.  I'm going to be using the truck this weekend, so the truck didn't need to be exercised.  Now I know what I think of a lot of Prius drivers, even though I am one...I remind myself that my "real" vehicle is my pickup!   As I was driving down this road, a large pickup pulled in front of me.  Get on in there, mister.  You are bigger than me, I'll just get behind you.  Doesn't matter to me that I'm one whole car length behind where I would have been. 

We were all in the line of cars.  Slowly the first car would go through the intersection and the rest of the line of cars would creep up one space.  I'm almost to the intersection!  The truck in front of me just crossed over the track.  I'm next and was waiting patiently for the next person in line to go so I could cross over the track.  I don't want to get stuck behind a train.  Knowing my luck it would be one that takes 10 minutes to go through rather than 30 seconds!  

After what seemed like forever the first car went through the intersection.  All the cars in the line moved forward.  I crossed the railroad track then slammed on the brake.  The truck in front of me stopped.  He had lots of space to move forward.  He just didn't.  I honked my horn.  He didn't move.  And there was my car with the back end on the track! Can't back up.  I looked to the right and to the left.  No train.  How am I going to get out of this jam? 

There was no where to go on the right.  But on the left was the very beginning of the turn lane.  I found a way out.  Get into the turn lane and make a left turn.  But no.  I decided to be stupid.  I don't want to turn left.  It will take me out of the way. I want to go straight.  I see the freeway entrance just past this intersection.  Instead, I will make a plan.  If I see a train I will pull into the other lane and make the left turn.  Then it crossed my mind that maybe the left lane will fill up and I won't be able to get into that lane.  Maybe I should just get into the left lane now.  No, I don't need to, I decided.  Since the lane was just starting, if the train arms were coming down then the traffic would stop and I would be able to change lanes and not get smashed by the train.  

Finally, after what seemed like forever of being parked on the train track...no the train didn't come...the front car crossed the intersection and all the vehicles moved up a bit.  Including the jerk in the truck.  Yes, I'm sure he had a good laugh.  Finally  it was my turn to cross the intersection.  As I was crossing I look in my rearview mirror.  There's a motorcycle cop behind me with lights on.  Surely he's not trying to pull me over...there must be an accident ahead or something that he's in a hurry to get to.  So I pull into the right lane to let him pass.  He pulls behind me.  Busted.  I knew right then that I was getting pulled over for getting stopped on the train track. 

He gets off the motorcycle and walks up to the window.  Before he even asked for my license he started lecturing about how dangerous it is to stop on a track.  YOU are responsible for making sure that your vehicle will have enough room to cross the track.  Great, I thought.  He knows the jerk in the truck caused me to get stopped on the track and he's going to give me the ticket anyway.  But polite I was.  He was right and I had been stupid. 

Not only did I cross that track without knowing for sure that there would be space, when I did come up with a good way to put myself into a safe location I chose not to.  I would have been inconvenienced by not getting to go directly onto the freeway.  As he was writing up the ticket a train did go by.  He made sure to point that out to me.  He handed me the ticket and said that I needed to make sure I read the bottom line.  Warning Only - No Court Appearance. 

He had me sign the warning ticket and then told me that they keep track of warnings.  If I do it again they will give me a ticket.  Don't worry.  I won't do it again.