Sunday, September 30, 2007
John Cox and Allen Forkum have decided to hang it up. I can certainly understand their reasons, and Allen stated that they might not be able to resist putting up a new cartoon once in a while.
Thank you, gentlemen, for making me laugh about the politics of the day. Y'all will be missed.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
With apologies to the Taz!
My first job that was not agriculturally related was at a discount store, one of a chain managed by a local family. They have since gone the way of many such ventures, thanks to the inability to compete with WalMart.
Note: I'm not bashing WallyWorld - many other chains learned not to compete directly with the leviathan.
At any rate, I was a student at St. Mary of the Plains College - another entity no longer with us. I needed a part time job. One of my classmates clued me in that he had just quit his job at the discount store and there was an opening. This store was within easy walking distance from the dorm. I immediately applied and was hired about as quickly. My job was to stock the food aisles and keep the stock in the back room in order. My immediate supervisor was an old school tough guy - he informed me there would be shoplifters, and capturing them would be part of the job. He also recommended immediate physical confrontation if things got a bit iffy. He didn't quite put it that way, it was more like "Kick their asses before they can kick yours." He did have a colorful command of language. I enjoyed working for him a great deal. For one thing, I learned a lot about the retail trade. Paul was a tall, bald, hard working sixty year old with heart trouble. He ate nitro pills like candy when he was pushing too hard. My size and strength got me the job - handling cases of coffee and canned tuna got pretty sweaty. He regaled me with a few tales of shoplifters past that he had to beat to submission. One wouldn't tangle with him, but instead was suspected of shooting the glass out of the entrance and stealing some trees from the gardening center. His name was "Tommy."
I'd been there about two weeks (and it was Paul's night off) when one evening one of the head checkers came running up to me and told me about a fight in sporting goods. It was the boyfriend of one of the girls in sporting goods and Tommy. They had clashed at a local burger joint - The Buzz Inn. Tommy wanted to write a check for more than the purchase, and it was against company policy. The high school girls behind the counter refused, and Tommy was threatening them. Boyfriend took up their cause. After much cursing and insults, they both left, one to pick up his girlfriend at the store, and one to buy a gun at the store to shoot the girls and the boyfriend. Since Tommy was an ex-con, that wasn't going to happen. He was usually pretty plowed on booze and drugs, so clear thinking wasn't his strong suit. The two had continued and escalated their disagreement. Of course, I didn't know any of this, all I heard was "Jeff, they're fighting and someone has to stop it!" That would be me.
It was halfway across the store - I had to run to the rear and turn a corner. When I rounded the corner, I saw Tommy had his back to me, and Boyfriend was facing me. I knew he wasn't the problem. He did see me coming, and didn't let on I was on my way. I took off my employee badge, tossed it on a counter as I went by, and I laid the best tackle I'd ever done on this guy. I put my head in the small of his back, wrapped my arms around him, and drove him into the linoleum. I bent the crap out of my watchband when we hit the ground. Tommy never knew what hit him. He let out a whoosh of air, and tried to get up. He had polio as a child and his right arm wasn't as strong as his left. I held on.
Then, literally out of the woodwork appeared some supervisors. They had been hiding. What a shocker. One told me to let him go. Tommy got up and staggered towards the front entrance. I was impressed that he got up - it took a bit, but he got up. I was a hero.
Then, I found out more about my tackling victim. The police, when they knew he was the subject of a call, were more than tardy arriving in many cases. He liked to fight cops, and they didn't like fighting him. When the railroad overpass on the east side of town was being built, there was a report of someone driving dangerously there. The cops arrived to find Tommy (and friends) driving a car to the top of one of the dirt mounds, rolling his car, and if it didn't land on it's wheels, finish rolling it over. He'd drive it to the top and do it again. He wanted to see what it was like to roll a car. He and a buddy crashed into someone's front yard, and sat in the car drinking and smoking pot. Finally, they drove away. The police showed up about an hour later.
He was famous for reading medical journals so he could fake symptoms to get drugs he wanted from doctors. If that failed, he forged prescriptions. He mostly enjoyed getting stoned and fighting! This, of course, somewhat concerned me. I could just imagine him waiting for me in the dark after work, walking home. I fretted for about a week or so, but nothing happened.
When Tommy had come into the store, the police were called. About forty five minutes passed after Tommy left before one showed up. He took the report and left.
A few months later, I was at one of the local watering holes. It was two dollar night - all the beer you could drink for two bucks. Naturally, I was a regular. Tommy and a younger guy came walking in. He didn't seem to recognize me. I knew who the other guy was, so I cornered him. Turned out, he was Tommy's nephew. When I told him about the incident at the store, he laughed - "Oh, so that was YOU!" He told me not to worry, Tommy had no idea what even happened that night. However, since I was the biggest guy in the bar, Tommy would want to arm wrestle me left handed, and for money. I was to avoid this at all costs, because it would turn into a fight. Sure enough, a wobbly Tommy challenged me to an arm wrestling match. I declined (heh!).
I heard of a few of his exploits in later years. A judge banned him from the city over one escapade. I don't know what happened to him, but considering his lifestyle, I would be surprised if he were still alive. Of course, in today's litigious society, he'd be a multimillionaire from the lawsuit he'd have surely filed against the store. Oh, and the jewelry repairman at the store fixed my watchband. Paul was proud of me. I told him about the other guys hiding. "They're all a bunch of p***ies" was his response. Paul was PO'd that he'd missed the whole thing.
Yeah, it was like a sucker punch - he never saw me coming. I've sure wondered what would have happened if he'd have turned around. I think I had enough steam built up and the last football season for me hadn't been very long ago. I'd have still creamed him, but I might have been punched. He was gonna get laid out no matter what.
Ya just didn't want to get caught shoplifting or fighting at that store!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
From the Daily Globe, Dodge City KS:
Max M. McColm, 77, died Wednesday at the Indian Meadows Health Care Center in Overland Park, his family said.
McColm was staying with his daughter, Beverly Volz, in Greensburg while recovering from shoulder surgery when the tornado hit. Volz, 52, died May 5 in Dodge City.McColm’s grandson, Ross McColm, of Lakewood, Colo., said his grandfather suffered brain damage after he was hit in the head with a large piece of metal. He fell into a coma and was taken to a Wichita hospital. At the end of June, he was moved to the long-term acute care center in Overland Park. He regained partial consciousness in mid-July and was told his daughter had died, said his son, Matthew McColm, also of Lakewood, Colo.
One thing the story doesn't mention is Beverly's husband. The reason she and her father were injured was because he was fairly slow, and she and Norman were trying to get Max to safety. Max was staying with the Volz's. They weren't fast enough.
I met Norman when Greensburg was still "closed." I had to deliver a couple of fuel trailers my company makes. An evil oil company (rhymes with Phonoco/Cillips) bought them for Mr. Volz, who owns a fuel distributorship in Greensburg. They thought the trailers would be pretty handy in the sort of crisis the citizens were facing.
I took US54 into town. On the west side, about a mile or so out of town, is the US183 junction. The Kansas Highway Patrol was manning a traffic stop there. Anyone with business in town had to clear them. I informed them of my delivery, and they let me through when traffic cleared.
Yes, there was traffic. Every orange state dump truck in the area must have been there, hauling debris to the landfill north on 183. There were also trucks from the Wichita, KC and Topeka area there as well, all in a steady line running to and from the landfill back into town to a loader somewhere. Debris was strewn all over the north side of the road - the prevailing southern wind was blowing trash from the loads. No one was cleaning that up - yet. They were too busy.
Then, I was in town. What was left of it, rather. The big implement dealer had a few damaged machines lined up and flatbed haulers were loading some to haul off. Across the street was the temporary hospital - tent city. What really struck me was both places had temporary flagpoles up and flying Old Glory. These people - well, they amazed me. Flying Old Glory was very important to them. This act alone made me feel fairly inadequate - could I bear up so well?
The whole west side of town was just gone. There used to be a convenience store I stopped at - gone. The motel next door - gone. Even the traffic lights at the lone stop intersection were gone. As I went further east, I could recognize some businesses - the Dillon's store (grocery chain owned by Kroger), and a Kwik Shop - they had a semi-trailer there selling some groceries. The park was full of tents - that is where the residents were staying. I got to the bulk fuel business - the pumps were manned by police. That day, they were from Topeka. There were also KS Highway Patrol and Wichita City Police there that day as well.
Mr. Volz turned out to be an interesting man. His main topic of conversation was that his business had been taken over by "the feds." When they found his facilities were mostly undamaged, and powering up his pumps would insure a fuel supply - they shut him down. The pumps were guarded, and vehicles stopped by to fuel the entire time I was there. The police had a clipboard and kept track of it all. He couldn't even get his own gas for his pickup for several days. He told me he had lost his wife and one of his "hired men." He told me how he had lost his wife and his father in law was severely injured. We talked for a while - inconsequential things , mostly. He was in pretty good spirits, overall.
I asked him - "How do you do it?" He knew what I was talking about. He said he felt lucky. Lucky that the tornado came when it did. If it had come far later in the night into the morning, he would be burying even more of his friends and relatives. They would have been asleep when the warnings were issued. He felt fortunate in the larger scheme of things. I shook his hand, offering my meagre condolences.
I left, going back the way I came. I didn't feel like taking pictures. I was there on business. I wasn't there to rubberneck and be in the way. I had to dodge debris all over the highway - one of the pitfalls of the rescue efforts was the high rate of flats on vehicles. The devastation was surreal in a WWII sort of way - I almost expected to be seeing in black and white. The trees were stripped. A hay baler was deposited on the ruins of the second story floor of a building with two walls left, spilling it's contents onto the sidewalk. A couch with a coffee table sat at a corner - someone set them there so they could rest and watch. A semitrailer with a banner "Free Water and Food" sat on an empty lot surrounded by tables laden with supplies.
I blended in with the stream of dump trucks headed out of town and headed for home.
I was pretty shook up over the whole experience. There was no evidence of human physical injury or death, as in a war zone, but the whole tableau screamed "People died here." I was going to write about this a lot sooner, but I just couldn't. Hearing about Max finally jarred me into writing this.
I had to drive through there earlier this week. There are no traffic lights at the intersection. The stripped trees have a carpet of leaves on what is left of the large branches. The Kwik Shop is back in business. The implement dealer had a large shed up and is doing business. The tent hospital is still there. The trash along the highway has been removed. Life is returning to the western Kansas town, albeit slowly.
I've helped the Mennonites clean up after a tornado - at a single farm. I was already impressed with how much damage they can do. This was almost beyond comprehension. I hope to never see anything like it again.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
If you have been under a rock and missed out:
Reports: `Brady Bunch' girls had sex with each other
Despite the wholesome image the cast of "The Brady Bunch" projected on screen, it has been well-documented that the scene was quite the opposite backstage.
In the latest salacious story about sex scandals on set, Maureen McCormick (otherwise known as Marcia Brady) reportedly will reveal in a new book her more-than-sisterly relationship with Eve Plumb (aka Jan Brady).
Details of "Here's the Story," due out next year from HarperCollins, have been leaked to the always reputable National Enquirer. The New York Post is also reporting the story.
McCormick's tell-all would be more shocking had co-star Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady, not written "Growing Up Brady," in 1992. In it, Williams described how he dated not only his on-screen mom, Florence Henderson, but engaged in several romps with McCormick as well.
Well, it was the '70s!
McCormick, 51, is married with an 18-year-old daughter. Plumb is divorced and working as an artist.
But wait! The publisher claims:
The book publisher for Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady on the 1970s sitcom "The Brady Bunch," is shooting down rumors that she had a lesbian on-set affair with co-star Eve Plumb, who played her younger sister Jan.
The story of the alleged lesbian affair started circulating the Internet Friday, and was picked up by at least one newspaper on Saturday.
The reported source of the story was McCormick herself in her new tell-all book, "Here's the Story," slated to come out next year.
But the book's publisher said, though there are plenty of other revelations in the book, a lesbian affair is not one of them.
"We are verifying that it is not true," said Debbie Styer, senior vice president of group publicity at William Morrow, the book's publisher. "The real story of what happened in [McCormick's] life and behind the scenes of the show will all come out when the book comes out."
It should no longer be a revelation to fans of the show that life behind the scenes was not as wholesome as the scripted half-hour plots.
Barry Williams, who played oldest brother Greg Brady, revealed in his 1992 autobiography, "Growing Up Brady," that he had been romantically involved with both his TV mom Florence Henderson and with McCormick.
But, according to a press release, there is still more dirt to dish.McCormick describes being put in "dangerous situations" and being "exploited." She also discusses struggles with eating disorders, drug addiction and depression. Though I may never completely win this battle," she writes, "I will never lose. … I have arrived, for the moment at least, in a solid and secure place, which is allowing me to visit my past without fear. Writing this book has been such a cathartic experience. I hope it will not only shed light on who I am and how I got here, but more importantly, remind the readers that there truly is a light at the end of any tunnel."
McCormick is 51 years old, married, and living in Southern California.Dern. One fantasy blown out of the water. Maybe Susan Dey will write a tell all book. Or, even better, Judy Jetson. I don't really want to know about Wilma and Betty.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
My blower motor was out of balance. It was getting pretty loud, and there wasn't much air flow. However, I couldn't see where it was located. Google-fu didn't turn up anything - 1998 and older Silverados have theirs mounted on the firewall. My 2000 obviously didn't. Google did let me know that 1999 - 2003 require the same motor and squirrel cage. OK fine, just let me know how to get the thing out. No such luck
All my mechanic buddies had no idea, either. So I called the dealership in Garden City - you might as well know who, as you will see. The guy who answered the phone told me it was underneath the instrument panel, and went through some of the procedures - I was to take out the pillar trim, the surround around the instrument panel, and so on. I fired up the fan, and it was definitely on the right side - not the left.
These trucks also have cabin air filters, which I had changed before. There is a large tray underneath the dash on the passenger side that covers the bottom of the HVAC system. Here is the procedure to remove the fan motor and change the filter.
You need a 7mm socket, a 6mm socket, and I assume a 5mm socket - which I nor any of my trusted associates had. A 7/32 will work. A mechanics mirror is useful here as well. I also shut off the passenger airbag - who knows what could happen with my meaty paws rooting around the wiring under the dash! There are three 7mm screws that hold the tray in place. Remove the right and center screws, and just loosen the left one. If you take it out, good luck getting it back in. The tray can be lowered and rotated out of the way. The fan motor is to the far right - it is above a plastic cup with two 6mm screws. Good luck with the back one. The air at the shop was blue before I got the damn thing out. The cup is lined with foam, apparently for noise reduction. It didn't get put back on. After you remove the cup, you might notice there are no screws holding the motor in place. There is a two wire lead and quick connector into the motor, but no screws. A call to the Dodge City dealership netted me the information that there was a tab that needed to be loosened, and the fan motor could be rotated for removal. This is where the mirror is damn handy - you can actually see what you are looking for. This was also the correct procedure - kudos to Magouirk Chevrolet's service guy.
Apparently I have a mouse in the Poor Farm Mobile. The squirrel cage was full of cigarette butts, shredded cigarette butts, and shredded paper towels. After it was finally cleared of all the trash, the motor proved to be just fine. Next - the filter. To the left of the motor, next to a step to a larger partition is an L shaped latch - on one end is a 5mm screw, the other is a locking tab. Remove the screw, the latch rotates out of the way, and pull the filter out. I ran the fan for a bit to clear out any trash before installing the new filter. It should have a arrow pointing towards the air flow, in this case it should be pointing to the left. Push the filter in, and replace the latch and screw. Then, swing the tray back over, replace the two screws, and tighten all three. Ok, done.
Now I'll tell you what not to do. Removing the glove box does no good what so ever. Okay, fine, don't listen to me, just try to take it out. Yeah, see that little rubber tab to the right? The one that catches the glove box? Flip it out of the way, and the glove box flips over, dumping the contents on the passenger floorboard. Okay, you say, but it's on a hinge! See the three screws? So don't listen to me, take the damn things out. The hinge seems to be stuck. Wait - it's pop riveted to the trim piece! So, let's try to take the trim piece around the glove box out! Okay, see the two screws to the right, and the one above the latch? Yeah, get those. Now you have a stressed trim piece probably costing a couple hundred bucks - there is the wire to the glove box light, and the chunk o' plastic is still firmly attached to the dash on the left and probably to the center console as well.
I was considering professional help at this point - I had found the fan, but had no idea how to get it out. None of my professional advisers had any ideas, either. As I said before, Magouirk's saved my hiney. I was pretty frustrated that something seemingly so simple was turning into a cluster.
The tab on the motor broke during removal, too. Since getting the motor to rotate to the proper spot for removal is pretty hard, I'm not going to lose sleep. If it falls out, I'll buy a new one and a new squirrel cage - the new one should have a new tab.
I'm just hoping that this might help someone out someday - as many Chevys that are out there, someone is going to have similar problems and be unable to find anything on the web. Hopefully the future audience finds this before going on a complete teardown of the interior, like I was. So here it is, Google! Note, the pic isn't of my truck, but it's pretty close.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
And another scene that gave us a great quote:
Then here is something more recent:
OK, that is plenty of video clips for one post - I think we all get the idea.
Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.
I believe he meant it, even if it was in a movie. He refused to work for Dreamworks when Steven Speilberg flew to Cuba. On Hollywood political activists: "They should keep their mouths shut." The man will take a stand. I respect that.
I'm not a doctor - I was in pre-med back when dirt was new, though. I've seen this email several times, but it still makes me laugh:
I heartily recommend the SeeFood Diet as well.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Whether women are said to be flat-chested or big-busted, ordinary bras fall short when it comes to supporting bouncing breasts, a new study claims.And during exercise, women's breasts bounce more than previously estimated, moving a vertical distance of up to around eight inches (21 centimeters) compared with a past maximum measurement of six inches (16 centimeters).
The bouncing, in some cases with breasts weighing 20 pounds or more, can prove painful and damaging to the limited natural support system.
While brassieres have evolved throughout history from body-binding corsets to cleavage-enhancing "miracle" bras, only recently have researchers injected a dose of science into the design of undergarments that go beyond conferring a more "perky" look, the researcher says.
"It is only recently that bra design has turned to science," said study author Joanna Scurr, a biomechanics professor at the University of Portsmouth in England. "There was no research. It’s like designing a car or kitchen equipment without first thinking 'what is the purpose of this?'"
Scurr will present her research this week at an annual meeting for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences in Bath.Okie Dokie! Heh. Hee hee. Ho ho! Snork!
Ok, all joking aside - I'm not qualified to judge this. I worked with a lady who had breast reduction surgery just because she got tired of carrying the extra weight. I'm quite sure bra design sucks - I've sure heard a lot of women complain about the subject. Ive heard "Men designed bras" more than once! Maybe something will come of this rather than to be the butt of jokes all over the intertubes. Besides, the study was funded in Great Britain. Just be glad I didn't post pictures.
Now maybe a man-girdle - I could probably use one of those to hold in my gut! On the other hand, I'll consider myself "liberated" and just let it hang over my belt! Yeah, that's the ticket.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I really don't care to write about politics. I read what other people write and either nod in agreement or turn red in the face. I don't research the news enough to make write an informed opinion - and picking through what our news media chooses to cover can be problematic.
However, I can reminisce about the day I heard about the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. I got up late - I didn't have to go to work until the middle of the afternoon. I fired up the computer and got online - dialup back then. I subscribe to the NYT headline edition - it's free - and they had seen fit to send out a headline email. I don't recall the Times doing that before or since. The coverage was just for the first plane. I turned on the television, and got caught up.
The next few days were surreal. The weather was just like it is today - a fine sunny cool fall day in Western Kansas, with an unlimited view of the sky. Today, there are vapor trails crisscrossing the blue firmament. Then, not so much. The Postal management wasn't sure what sort of effect the attacks would have on the mail, and our safety. Confusion reigned. Everyone seemed to agree - we would be at war. We were united. We were in shock at the audacity, the total barbarism of the terrorists. This was not going to go unanswered. When the eventual death toll came out, everyone mourned the loss of so many fellow citizens.
Now, it seems the idea that we were united was a total illusion. Politicians on both sides of the aisle use the event to further their political careers. However, the "Left" has chosen to ignore the attacks. They use moral equivalence for their arguments - oh my, several of our troops crossed the line by "torturing" terrorists - so this justifies them killing us wantonly. If we only have a dialog with them - ignoring the statements from our adversaries that they don't want to talk - they just want us dead. They aren't even our adversaries, according to the apologists. The terrorists are misunderstood, considering the social context of their lives. Then we have the truthers and their complete devotion to totally illogical beliefs. "Fire cannot melt steel" indeed. Perhaps we have dwarves underneath the surface of the planet, making chunks of steel into handy shapes we fortunately find and are able to use. It makes as much sense.
Bah. I don't want dialog with our enemies. I want them to pay, and pay so dearly the idea of trying to interfere with our lives is an anathema to them. I want our troops to have real support - not being told they are too young to make a decision about their life or death, while out of the other side of the same mouth comes an argument that teenagers should have life or death decisions about unborn babies. Support means not publishing articles that demean or threaten their safety. Support is more than just sending equipment. Not being a traitor would help.
I fear for our country's future. I do not have the answers - I wonder if I even have the correct questions. I do know we are in a continuous loop of self destruction. This cannot abide.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Dad and I had worked out a bit of non verbal communications before - if he couldn't answer me, I would expect him to wave at me with his arms - once for yes, twice for no. He'd come close to choking a few times before, and always managed to cough it up.
Not this time. He was seated at his easy chair with a TV tray watching television, and I was sitting in mine. He was eating some minute steaks with all the trimmings for supper. Suddenly, he leaned forward, trying unsuccessfully to cough. I asked him if he was choking. He waved. I got up and moved his tray away, and told him to stand up. I pulled him in front of me - he let me direct him. I wrapped my arms around him, made a fist with one hand, and used the other hand to drive it into his solar plexus.
I got a lot of my size from my Dad - in his younger days he was 6'3" with a barrel chest. It was stretching things to get my arms around him and have any slack at all. I thought I had really popped him, but obviously I hadn't. So, I took a breath, reared back and really laid into him, driving the fist in and squeezing him hard. I mean hard.
Holy crap! Here my Dad is going to die, and I'm apparently not strong enough to jar the food loose! Dad was still standing there patiently awaiting my rescue.
So, I summoned all the strength I had. I pushed my fist away from his chest to take a run - which wasn't far, because of his chest size. I gave it all I had.
Success! Dad started coughing and the food came up - but only after a lot of coughing. In the movies, they show the food flying across the room. I don't know if that really happens or not, considering the movies I'd say probably not. I also wonder about someone with shorter arms than mine would have even been able to apply the maneuver to Dad with any hope of success. I'm thinking Shaq would work nicely, but who's going to help him out?
Dad sat down, and finished his supper. Life went on.
You're The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!
by Douglas Adams
Considered by many to be one of the funniest people around, you are
quite an entertainer. You've also traveled to the far reaches of what you deem possible,
often confused and unsure of yourself. Life continues to jostle you around like a marble,
but it's shown you so much of the world that you don't care. Wacky adventures continue to
lie ahead. Your favorite number is 42.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Don't forget your blanket!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The West
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?|
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
High results for Boston? Are you kidding me? "I had a flat tahr on the cahr so I didn't get very fahr" don't sound like nuttin' from 'round here.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Faces look ugly when you're alone.
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted,
Streets are uneven when you're down.
When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain.
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange,
When you're strange,
When you're strange.
All right, yeah!
People are strange when you're a stranger,
Faces look ugly when you're alone.
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted,
Streets are uneven when you're down.
When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange
I hear this song on the way home today and it reminded me (for some odd reason - maybe I'm strange?) of some of my neighbors out here on the lonely ol' prairie. Maybe it's just the water - and it's damn hard water, I'm telling you (but it tastes good). Strangeness tends to run in families here - maybe some of the kids turned out alright, but what is left are some off the wall characters.
One woman I barely remember farmed and lived by herself. She really wasn't that odd of a character, but she sure was distinctive. Her name was Gussy Peach. She didn't farm much, and she didn't have much equipment - but she sure took care of herself. She farmed until the eighties until she was just too old. As I remember her, she was a pretty tough old bird in overalls, cussing with the best of the other farmers.
Across the Buckner valley from my farm is the Ziegler place. Ol' Ziggy had been a teacher, but was mostly a hermit. He had cattle - but he had overgrazed his pasture so badly they were always nearly starving. His solution was to let his fences deteriorate. Let the neighbors pasture and wheat feed his cattle. Ziggy didn't process his calves, so he had a bunch of bulls. His cattle tended to be highly inbred as well. I can remember my Dad being highly PO'd at him because we'd have to chase Ziggy's cattle out. Dad "backgrounded" heifers, and the last thing he needed was to have some pregnant feeder weight heifers to take to the sale. His farm was a collection of ramshackle buildings where various poultry fended for themselves, old broken down farm machinery strewn about, and junk scattered everywhere. His mother lived with him.
He also had pigs that ran wild. I gave permission for a hunter and his son to hunt some of my ground, and within an hour they were back with a tale of pigs attacking their hunting dogs. Apparently, they had shot at a sow with their shotguns, but failed to kill her. They had managed to save their dogs, and came to me.
I loaded up a .308 semiauto and my .45, and went up there. Sure enough, there was a herd 'o hogs there, and when I drove up, they took off running for home - across the Buckner valley to Ziggy's. I drove to the barn where the hunters had shot the hog, and there was a pretty good sized sow rooting around. If she was hurt, she wasn't showing it. I finally got a clear shot at her without a hunter or dog in the line of fire and dropped her, but it took a couple .45s to the head to finally kill her. I ended up killing two other of his hogs over the next few years, and most of my other neighbors did as well. Yes, I did try calling the sheriff. Since Ziggy was in another county, apparently I needed to call that LEO. I did. Since the trespass happened in my county, I needed to contact my LEO. I got the message.
Ol' Ziggy had prairie dogs - a bad infestation. I sucked up to him enough to get permission to hunt them on his ground. I felt bad sometimes because when hunting on farmground, you don't drive on planted ground. I could go into his fields as much as a quarter mile before I realized I was on planted wheat ground - the 'dogs had eaten everything else. I have no idea what he was out in a combine in those fields for - there was literally nothing there. For several years, I did get in some good hunting, though.
One of my neighbors had enough of the cattle roaming the country, so he gradually took in the cattle that came his way, penned them and fed them. Ol' Ziggy didn't seem to mind until they were hauled to the sale barn, sold, and the feed bill deducted. He groused around about how they were registered cattle and needed to bring more, but my neighbor held his ground and told him to produce papers. Ziggy couldn't do that - if he'd had them, they were from twenty or thirty years ago. Ziggy was out of the cattle and hog business.
Then, a couple years ago, Ziggy died of a heart attack in his chair. His mother (90+) was an invalid - wheelchair bound. He had shut off his landline and just used his cell phone. It was in his trouser pocket, and his mother probably didn't know how to use it even if she could find it. She died of thirst. A salesman who was looking to get a bill paid stopped by and found them. It wasn't pretty.
Another family had three strange ducks. The most normal died when I was in college - there has been a persistent rumor that his brother did him in, but who knows? He tried to date my mother before she married dad, but she didn't want any part of his act. He blackballed my dad from the Masons some time later as his revenge. The other brother - heh.
He farmed alone. His equipment is still scattered all over the family property. When he was done with a truck or tractor - there it sat. It still sat if it didn't run anymore. His yard is overflowing with old, worn equipment, so the pasture across the road, the pasture next to the house, and all over in forgotten corners. He had an old trail bike he'd toss onto whatever implement he was using in case he needed extra wheels. Harvest was him running a junk combine, filling an junk truck, and hauling the load to town. No tarps. His road vehicles were alarming rattletraps. He broke down in town several times, and would call one of my neighbor's brother who ran a parts house and repair shop to come get him - but he tended to not use his services - he just wanted a free ride home. Did I say he had guns? He'd have to empty the old pickup or car of his carry collection to go home. Did I say he was spooky? If you went on his place - you generally had a gun trained on you, even if he knew who you were. He would refuse to answer the door. He might speak up, and tell you to leave.
There used to be a B1 wing out of Wichita that flew low level training missions out here. He thought they scared his sheep - oh, did I forget to mention he had sheep in cattle country?
He took several pot shots at the bombers, which gained him a visit from the FBI. Luckily, they came to our sheriff before they went out to his place. Our sheriff, bless him, refused to let them go out - he went out himself and explained to my spooky neighbor that one just didn't shoot at those boys or one might find one's self in the pen. The potshots stopped.
I stopped by once to try to get permission to hunt prairie dogs on his ground. He was working on some old truck in the pasture across the road from the place. I had just purchased a Yugo SKS, and thought he might be interested in seeing it. "Can you kill coyotes with it?" was his comment. I allowed that you could, but that isn't why I bought it. "Not much use then, is it" was his response. I didn't get permission to hunt 'dogs, either.
My farmer had sucked up to him to be able to rent his pasture - he's a big cattleman and needs pasture the way the rest of us need air. He did favors for ol' Spooky, and probably saved his life once. He noticed a bad gas smell in the house that ol' Spooky had missed - the thermocouple on his propane stove had failed. Lucky he didn't blow up. My farmer eventually ended up farming his ground because - it's rumored - his sister (strange duck number three) tried to poison ol' Spooky. He was sick for a long time, and one of his more normal sisters in Florida took him in. Apparently, he's not well, but he's surviving.
Ahh, his sister. When I worked at the Post Office, we'd get a visit from her once in a while. She'd need to get something postmarked after the window closed, and would drive all the way to Dodge to get it. Picture an woman in her early sixties, bundled up in a woolen cap, a threadbare coat, what looked to be sweatpants, and what appeared to be house slippers. She came in one evening worried that her envelopes were over an ounce. She used one of our clerks for about a half hour messing with cutting the envelope down and using our tape because she didn't want to spend the extra forty six cents on postage. Our supervisor finally had enough of this and told her she needed to be coming in during business hours like the rest of the world, and if what she was mailing was overweight, she could buy postage, or go to WalMart and buy the scissors and tape. We weren't responsible for making weight on her letters.
She went off on my neighbor (who now farmed for her) a couple years ago - she got it in her mind that he was stealing her wheat. She would count the trucks leaving the field as the wheat was cut, and call the elevator manager to make sure they got there. The manager would assure her that the loads were delivered. She wanted settlements on each load. He refused. He didn't have time to divide up each load and cut a check every time a truck with her wheat arrived.Things were pretty tense for my farmer that year. He doesn't farm for her anymore.
I last saw her about a year ago - when I was driving by, she was having trouble getting some sheep that were out back into her pasture. I helped her. I am surprised she even talked to me, considering my association with her nemesis, the wheat stealing farmer. As far as I know, she is still there - the last time I drove by, her car was in the drive.
This is just a minor sample of the characters in the ol' 'hood out here. These are the ones within a five mile radius from my house. There are others out there, a bit further out. There used to be even more, but they all got old and died. I may even be one. After all, I'm single, forty eight, never married, and am a bit of a hermit on weekends when I'm off the road. I may even be gay, I've heard. After all - I'm single, forty eight, never married, and exhibit hermitlike behavior on weekends.
Y'all come on out someday - maybe we'll go hunting! Have a glass of good old country well water, too!
Sunday, September 02, 2007
I thought I had fallen in love. She was a coworker, and we went out several times. We were even considered an item. We didn’t “get it on” - it was primarily my decision at the time. She wanted to one night in the worst way, but I was kinda scared. A few days later, she informed me (rather nicely, really) that she was seeing someone else. I fell apart. I wrote a weepy letter telling her she would regret this decision, and what else I said I don’t remember, other than it was very maudlin. I dropped this letter through the sunroof of her car, and instantly I realized that was a mistake. She had told me I was still a friend. I stopped by her house once to see her - and she was very uncomfortable with me there. Me a friend? Not so much. The raw truth was that since I didn’t sleep with her, I wasn’t any use to her. Not that I learned that right away or anything - it took a while for that knowledge to percolate through my consciousness.
I couldn’t let go. I drove by her house several times a week to see who she was sleeping with. I never called her, or bothered her at work, but I damn sure drove by her house a lot. She had to know - how could she not see me drive by? Sheer chance would dictate she would see me. It took about a year, but I finally quit. I realized this behavior was doing nothing but hurting myself and healing nothing. I had learned one of the dating rules the hard way: “Thou shalt not dip thy quill in the company ink.”
I violated that rule again - another coworker wanted to go out with me. I told her that dating coworkers wasn’t such a good idea, but she insisted. Well, who was I to refuse? This one didn’t turn out well, either. When we went out, we always had to take along her best friend. I never got any time alone. I had been hearing rumors about her having an affair with the boss as well. Another guy at work started claiming she had gone out with him, and he had scored. So, we had a come to Jesus meeting. I told her if our relationship was going to work, it was going to have to be without a continuous escort, and that it wouldn’t hurt if I at least got some time alone, and even a goodnight kiss once in a while. I also reminded her that this was all her idea, that if she wanted me, she was going to have to change a few things.
This went over like a lead balloon over the Grand Canyon. There were no more dates, to say the least. What made it worse was working with each other - when I was in a good mood and wanted to cooperate, she wanted to be catty. I was hurt, and retaliated when she wasn’t expecting it. Work wasn’t always a positive experience.
I also drove by her house. I was looking to catch my boss there, but I never did. I never saw the “other guy” there either. However, her best friend told me that she was sure there was an affair with the boss. I think it took about six months of driving by before I got smart and quit.
Does this qualify as stalking? I think so - more a mild case rather than the full blown bombardment by phone or other harassment - but still unwanted attention. Today, I cringe when I think about those days. I’ve also learned another rule: "The Law of Diminishing Returns". It is a law of economics I’ve applied to the dating scene. If you are putting more into a relationship and getting less back as time goes by, then you are wasting your time. Pure and simple. It is hard to see this at times, but if you are the one bearing the load of maintaining a relationship, and you aren’t getting much or anything back, then it is truly a case of diminishing returns. Lessee here - when the first girl told me she just wanted to be friends, then that should have told me any further efforts on my part would be wasted. I realized the second relationship was a bust, and exited accordingly. Except I couldn’t completely let go.
Now, as a far more worldly and scarred traveler in this old world, I’ve certainly learned a thing or three. If someone doesn’t want me around - great! I’m gone. No sense in wasting my time. I see the younger me agonizing over these two relationships and I know that I wouldn’t listen even if I could go back in time and tell myself this wisdom. That version of me was going to have to learn the hard way. I’ve got some great friends who I don’t get to see or visit often enough. I could be talking to them, rather than torturing myself.
So, when I read of a stalking case, I can feel a tiny bit of empathy for the stalker - but that stops when laws are broken and women are violated. I can understand the frustration of not getting your way, but when some idiot starts threatening or beating women, I’ve no sympathy. Let it go, for God’s sake. Apparently, a lot of these guys are control freaks who become unhinged when they lose the whatever control they thought they had. Too bad. You’ve got to be able to control yourself before you are worthy of a decent relationship, and that is true in all facets of personality. Gambling, drinking, drug abuse - whatever - if you cannot control yourself, it’s gonna be tough on any relationship.
I’ve got to laugh a bit sarcastically - I basically have a hundred percent failure rate in relationships, and here I’m giving my opinion. I’m certainly not so hot on the dating scene anymore - I’m not the optimist I was. Plus, I’ve learned to enjoy my own company, and I’ve become set in my ways. The tooth paste tube needs rolled up. Toilet paper over, not under. The dishes will get washed in their own sweet time, and the bed will be made when it’s laundry time. And, I’m damn sure not wasting three buck a gallon gas driving by someone’s house mooning over them.