Monday, May 09, 2005

Thunder and Bullshit

I have a couple of things that may seem disconnected at first. They are not.

My State Senator, Tommy Kilby, voted against a bill that would have made it a fifty dollar fine for riding an ATV on private land without permission. "There's too much regulation, already," he said. I am open to Senator Kilby's suggestions as to how I should deal with this problem.

I thought it should have been $250 and confiscation of the stupid machine for the second offense.

Either that, or let's have a well regulated hunting season, with fees and permits and Boone and Crockett points...That should work!

I have complained about ATV's before...well actually, it's not the ATV's that are the problem.

Much like nuclear weapons are no problem whatsoever, it's just that some moron has a red button that will set them off...that's the problem! A red button that fires a nuclear missile...a red button that fires up an ATV...not much difference except for one of degree, I think.

Atv's tend to set me off. There is no need for this to happen, but it does. I worked hard, got lucky, made some money, bought some land. I paid all the fees and taxes and put up some signs that said, "No Motorized Vehicles". I have put these signs up over and over but they keep getting ripped down. I don't want people to stay out...I just want them to be quiet and quit tearing things up.

I have been told that atv's can be used responsibly, and I assume that this is possible...I've just never seen it.

Saturday morning, my son and I walked up the creek to check out a campsite for his friends and him to spend the night at. We had put up our signs just two weeks before. Within minutes, here they came. Four of them. We watched them come to a large puddle in the road. The first atv had a man on it. He rode too fast through the puddle getting wet as the water climbed the front of his machine and into his lap due to the speed at which he tried to travel. The next atv had a very large (read: wide) woman on it. She had no trouble with the puddle because she just turned up through the woods and made herself a new road, knocking down saplings as she went, spinning her wheels and creating a new set of ruts for the next woman on her atv to follow...which she did. The last atv was ridden by a man who went slowly into the puddle, easing along with no problem until he was almost out the other side...then he gunned his engine... spinning his tires and slinging mud and water ten or fifteen feet high and thirty feet behind him onto the road, a greasy looking black mess of leaves and muck.

Pleased with themselves they continued toward us. As they came up in front of us, the leader looked surprised when I didn't get out of his way, and signaled him to cut his engine, which he did after a moment or two. We had a civil discussion.

"All we want to do is ride down beside the creek and then we'll turn around and go back" he said. "We didn't see any signs." (BS alert)

"You're all welcome here, and I'll be glad for you to go down to the creek," I said, "but you'll have to walk."

They stared at me. "We are responsible riders," he told me. (BS alert)

"Well I can't tell which ones of you are, and which ones of you aren't, and You're all welcome on my land, but you have to leave you machines somewhere else... Simple as that."

They all turned around and left. Riding through the newly rutted woods or slinging mud out of the puddle, depending on whether or not the atv carried a Y chromosome.

"Responsible riders"

We walked on up to one of the spots where we had put the signs. Apparently asking politely doesn't work, so we pcked up a fallen pine log and placed it across the road, and nailed up another sign:

"Hiking Permitted

No Motorized Vehicles"

As we put the last tack in the sign, we heard the thunder and roar of more ATV's. Lot's of them. We sat on the bank above the road and watched. Now when I say "road" I mean a one lane old logging road, entirely on private land, carved out through the woods years ago, and going nowhere anybody anybody has any right to go without the landowners permission. The Landowner...

That would be me!

Here they came, at high speed wearing their colorful helmets, spinning their wheels and revving their engines, so that the noise they made could be heard for miles. Some of them ran up the bank beside the road and into the edge of the woods, spun around st the top and dropped off the bank back onto the road slinging dirt in all directions. I thought about the money I had spent last summer creating the turnouts for water to leave the road so that silt would not flow into the creek after a rain, as I watched them cut ruts right through the berms we had built. They didn't go past our pine log sign, which they could have easily. Small thanks for that.

Instead, they spun their machines up the road branching off to the left and as they came to a downed pine lying partly in the road, they took off through the woods, carving a new route for the "Responsible riders" to play on.

When I leave this morning, I plan to head out to the Farmer's Co-Op to look at gates.

Now for the things that appear unrelated:

There is a new book out that speaks to America's number one problem today:

...A professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton, Harry G. Frankfurt, recently wrote an entrancing little book called, simply, "On Bull****" (without the asterisks). Its introductory sentence: "One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bull****." Hardly anyone would argue, but few have thought as clearly as he has about the subject. He does so in the abstract. He treats no personalities -- or political parties.

He argues that the liar and the BS-er both represent themselves falsely as telling the truth. The liar, though, must know the truth, and "is responding to truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it." On the other hand, the BS-er "may not deceive us, or even intend to deceive us, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily intend to do is to deceive us about his enterprise . . . the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him."...

Now this excerpt (Thanks, Prairie Weather):

Macdhubhain was riding his Suzuki motorcycle in Riverside County on a recent Sunday when he was stopped by sheriff's deputies while he was on private undeveloped land. He said it wouldn't quell his love of the sport. "I go off riding really hard and get it out," he said. "It's adrenaline."

He said he tried to avoid riding near peoples' homes, but sometimes strayed. On some occasions, those encounters led to yelling matches with property owners — even though Macdhubhain said he tried to treat unhappy residents with respect if they did the same with him.

Mr. Macdhubhain is a criminal tresspasser. He will treat you with respect, but only if you respect him?

Is your Bullshit detector going off?

Here is the entire piece:

offroad story

Peace and quiet,



  1. Anonymous12:17 PM

    My father always used a sign to protect his house from intruders - "This door is boobytrapped - enter at your own risk." To top that off, his reputation arounf town was such that the threat was credible. I, on the other hand, have a target filed several years ago that shows ten shots (out of ten) in the x-ring. That has always functioned quite adequately as my own security system. Methinks you must increase the transgressors awareness to the consequences of their actions. But first there must be some consequences. Piano wire comes to mind. And I speak this as the owner of an ATV - which serves here in the north country as a snowplow, not a toy. Perhaps this concept of consequences for transgressors has wider application in our society. Just a thought.

  2. I have been told of people who booby trap their land and I understand the sentiment. I can't, first because I just wouldn't (though I can fantasize...), secondly I might do what one person I know did and forget where he had put the spiked board and step on it himself.

    I am in the difficult situation of trying to maintain an open land policy with respect to canoers, kayakers, and hikers. This is harder than I thought it would be. Even the cable gates I have put up are easily gotten around because I may not be available to give enforecement and rescue personnel the combination at a needed time. I do what I can to educate but it's getting harder to be generous. We'll see.

  3. Oh yeah...I have an ATV, too. It's big and green and has a front end loader and a scraper blade on it. Say's John Deere on the side.

  4. Anonymous3:10 PM

    I like the sign that I saw in a Mad Max Movie one time, It read,
    “Trespassers will be violated”
    Of course the offenders have to be able to read the sign to understand it. Thanks for letting me and my kid enjoy your property, on foot.

  5. Howdy, Puddinhead,

    A friend jokes about me being the guy who choreographed the love scene from Deliverance. So Id guess I'd better say that Trespassers will have to violate themselves out here...

    "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

    I hope you and your little puddin' will stop by soon. She should be getting big enough for a real kayak. Got one sitting around if it helps.

  6. I don't know whether ATV'ers are aware of this, but one of the first thing one learns here in TX is that ranchers own guns and have the right to use them on intruders without asking any questions. Thus when some Bible thumpers breached my gate and slogged up the 1/4 mile to my house, and then -- and then! -- opened the gate to the yard and walked in, I gave 'em hell and called the sheriff. (To verify that they weren't supposed to do this and to suggest that he give them a heads-up before someone pulled a gun on them.) I'm going to ask around and find out whether these internalized prohibitions about trespassing are still in force or whether a new generation of Texans don't know "the rules." We've certainly seen a lot of vandalism lately (road signs with graffiti, mail boxes shot up, and a lot of litter in this formerly impeccable county).

    Your description of intruders, Steve, makes my blood boil. It's so typical. I hate these goddamn airheads who live their lives thinking other people are on earth just to get in their way. The national narcissism disease. Who are the parents of these creeps?