By Col. "Tip" Stinnette, 39th Air Base Wing commander
/ Published April 06, 2007
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
Daniel and his friend were practicing their marksmanship by shooting at targets in a farm field. But instead of the usual choices of mice, bottles, or birds, they selected a more worthy adversary: electrical insulators. These pear-shaped glass or plastic devices are intended to hold electrical wires aloft. But after the men shot six insulators off two utility poles, the shattered targets were no longer up to the job. A high-voltage wire fell to the ground and Daniel, attempting to prevent a serious fire, seized the sizzling wire in his hand, and was electrocuted. An Allegheny Power spokesman advised people not to shoot at electrical insulators.
Outside a camp for troubled youths, sneakers dangled from the electricity line, presumably tossed there by campers who enjoyed the challenge and notoriety. But the sneakers were an eyesore to one 20-year-old employee. They must be eliminated! He stood in the raised bucket of a front-end loader, and chose to poke at the sneakers with a device consisting of a fourteen-foot copper tube with a pocketknife taped to the end. The determined employee had nearly removed a pair of shoes, when the knife pierced the insulation and made contact with the electrical wire. He was knocked out of the bucket and landed on the hood of the loader, with burns on his hands, a foot, and his buttocks.
Shooting at electrical insulators and poking an electrical line with a knife at the end of a copper pole kind of strikes me as foolish electrical choices. Free-will, we are all blessed with it. The by-product of free-will is choice. In nearly everything we do we get a choice. It is the great age-old human condition ... eat an apple, mess with electricity, get drunk ... we get to choose. The problem with this condition is when we choose wrong, we want a do-over. In some cases we get the do-over and in other cases we don't. In some cases the cost of a foolish choice is finite and other cases the cost is infinite. The trick to mastering free-will and choice is to consider all the potential outcomes and weigh the risks and benefits before making a selection. And when we make a poor selection, we need to learn from the choice and determine what we are going to do next time. This all presupposes the cost of the poor selection was not infinite. Choices ... you got to love being a grown-up because we get to make them. For me, I choose to make responsible choices so that I can ensure freedom's future ... how about you?