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A Cautionary Tale
By Mike Besemer, WM4B.

the author

I saw this posted on the Yahoo Amateur-repairs Group on Monday Oct 4 2010 and emailed the author for permission to repost it on the site. His reply was:

"Brian,
Yes... please share it. If my stupidity can keep somebody else from doing something stupid, it'll (almost) be worth it!

73, Mike WM4B
".

Thanks Mike (pictured right, courtesy of his website).

Okay, we all know that nothing good ever happens after somebody utters the words "Hold my beer and watch this!".

My story isn't exactly like that, but it does start off with "Hey, the wife is gone and I'm all alone. I think I'll hurry up and get my Inverted-L back in the air".

Nothing too it, right? Let some slack in the far-end (already did that last night), fire a line over two tree branches, pull the wire back over, reattach to the feedpoint, tighten up the far-end and call it a night.

Everything went well up until it was time to tighten up the far-end. Between the feedpoint and the far-end I have a drainage ditch, shallow but wide and filled with large (18" - 3') rocks. If I walk around, it's an extra couple-hundred yards. Going across, it's maybe 30 feet.

Needless to say, I took the shortcut. I've done it many times. (I did it last night.) Yeah... the rocks might have shifted when it rained hard last week, but they're big and I'll be careful.

Well, about the third rock I stepped on shifted. Luckily I had nothing in my hands. I knew I was going to fall. It took somewhere between half-a-second and 30 minutes to actually complete the fall. I remember thinking "this is gonna hurt" and "I'm probably going to break a bone or two". I was half-right. It HURT. That much I knew right away. I wasn't as sure about the broken bone part until I tried to get up. Everything seemed to work okay, and I managed to get the rest of the way across in a hurry (hoping nobody had seen me).

Getting to the far-side, I assessed the damage. Knee hurts pretty bad and is bleeding. Same for the left arm. The rest of my body was hurting already too. Nothing major... first-aid can wait.

Got the far-end tightened up.

WALKED AROUND THE BLASTED DITCH ON THE WAY BACK.

Did you catch where I first went wrong? Anybody see the words "alone" and "hurry" in the second paragraph?

It's an hour after my little tumble and the wife still isn't home. I did not have my cell phone with me. The neighbors live a good distance away. If I'd broken a bone, I might still be there. If I hit my head as hard as I did my arm or my knee, I'd be unconscious or dead.

Before I took the step onto the first rock, I clearly heard the little voice in my head saying "I wouldn't do that if I were you."

I know better. I've been a ham for over 35 years and spend the last 29 years in or around the military. I know safety and I know stupid.

Tonight I was fully into the realm of stupid.

We all think about electrical safety, tower safety, lightning safety, etc., but all I was doing tonight was pulling a wire over some tree limbs and I could have easily wound up dead.

I've committed this stupid act so you don't have to. Please learn from the errors of my ways, because this is really gonna hurt tomorrow!

73, Mike WM4B.

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