Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sorry - Not Really

To the gal in the black S10 Blazer who I apparently put into the median today on I69 north of Indy - maybe you shouldn't try to beat me to the left lane I clearly was signaling to move into. When I looked back, the lane was clear and I started over. Seeing how I also need to actually watch where I'm going, too, I didn't see you try to force yourself in that lane to try to "beat" me to it. I looked back, saw the tire smoke, and you coming to a stop in the edge of the median.

I do try to drive to avoid this sort of thing. It wasn't my intention to put you in the median. But, if you are foolish enough to try to race me to a spot and I don't happen to see you - you lose. End of story.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


My blogfather, Kim DuToit, has decided to hang it up. This is the comment I left:

Well, day late and a dollar short, but oh well.

Kim and Connie, I just want you to know how your efforts affected me. I joke a lot about being an ex-liberal, but it really is true. When I found your corner of the interwebs, I had a lot to learn. I don’t always agree with you, but I find myself on your side more often than not. You and your forum winkled me out as a lurker and made me participate, which has been a very rewarding experience.

When you and the Mrs. hosted your 9/11 remembrance, I came to your house and found you both to be charming, well spoken and very smart. The others there (The Layabout Sailer, Airboss, and Kevin, among others) provided very stimulating conversation and disturbed my worldview. I’ll never forget Airboss starting a round table discussion about who should vote. I had no answer for my position. I’ve discovered that a lot in the past.

I’ve also always felt that if there was to be a time when the nation needed rebuilding that your house contained some of the nation’s best constitutional supporters, and that the country could be rebuilt on the foundations of the minds there.

I’ve also appreciated you as a friend over the years. I’ve known you as an honorable man who’s word is without question - a rarity in today’s world. So, when you say you are gone, I believe you. If you decide to come back, my opinion of you would not change.

So, to paraphrase Douglas Adams - “So long and thanks for all the fish.” I’ll miss you, but I’ll also never forget yours and Connie’s efforts. Take care and may all your wishes come true. Y’all deserve it.

I meant it, too. One other thing I have taken from Kim and Connie is that if something is to be done, it must be done properly. Eating, traveling, reading - you should be devoting yourself to something better than the rest. I'm afraid I fall short of this goal, because my tastes are fairly pedestrian. There are many issues I disagree with the DuToits on - for instance, they are atheists and I am not. But, they are a tolerant couple who don't try to foist their religion or lack thereof on others, and they require the same from the rest of us. A fair exchange.

I truly wish Kim the best in his endeavors to return to his writing roots, and hope he becomes a successful writer. He certainly has the talent and the will.

So, when he says "I'm off to the range" for the last time, it will be a sad day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fire On High

Fire on High has been on XM's rotation recently. This is probably my favorite classic rock instrumental, by one of my "desert island" bands. Were I marooned and had the option of bringing along a limited selection of music, ELO would be on the short list. This song still gives me chills when I crank up the volume - which is something I don't do that often anymore.

This is being posted from Pontoon Beach IL - a couple of us are headed to southeastern Michigan, and I'm sure not counting on internet access where we're probably gonna land tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sorry I Wasn't Much Help

While perusing my referral logs, I found this question. It's a legitimate question if you aren't very familiar with older tractors.

Case Model 930 tractors were produced in LP and diesel versions. The diesel version has the fuel controls all on the throttle handle. When the tractor is shut off, the handle should be in front of the throttle stop pin. This position tells the fuel pump not to send out any fuel. To start the tractor, the throttle arm must be lifted over the idle stop and then pulled towards yourself to allow the pump to work. To shut it off, the throttle has to be lifted over the idle stop and placed in the "kill" position. Shutting off the key won't do anything other than ruin the alternator if it is left running for a time. If following these procedures still doesn't shut the tractor off, then the next step is to check the linkage. G_d knows how many hours these old prairie warriors have on them, and things like linkages wear. It may be the linkage has worn enough so that merely placing the throttle in the kill position doesn't move the throttle arm on the fuel injection pump. Since it's mounted on the side of the engine in plain view, all ya have to do is step off the tractor and rotate the throttle lever on the pump. If this shuts the tractor off, then you will either have to adjust, replace, or rebuild the yokes and pins in the linkage. If it does not, then you have an internal pump problem, which is beyond what I know about.

I've never run a propane 930 or even sat in one. It should work just as a gasoline powered car from that era - the key should shut it off. If it doesn't, the motor needs a tuneup. This means points, plugs, and setting the timing and dwell. Newer diesel Case tractors have a fuel shut off knob that has to be pulled out to kill the fuel, and pushed in to allow the tractor to start. As I recall, the LP tractors I've run just had an old fashioned choke knob - pull it out to choke the motor and help start it in colder weather. Maybe some of them might have a fuel cutoff knob - I just don't know. I doubt it, though, because if it's in tune, shutting off the spark is the time honored method of shutting off that kind of motor. LP tractors use carburetors very much like gas cars, and shutting off the fuel to the carb would still allow the motor to run for a while until all the fuel in the system was burned off.

We did have a propane tractor for years - it was a John Deere model 720, made in 1958. It was very finicky about tuneups - it liked 'em regular and often. Points might not last a season. It just wouldn't start or run right when things were rotten - it had no trouble shutting down.

Different kinds of old machinery require different starting methods. Some old tractors have a compression release. The starter wasn't stout enough to spin the motor with full compression, so you had to "help" it out. Lots of old Cat dozers actually have a separate gas motor you have to get running to start the big diesel. So, you have to be a small engine expert to get one of the old Cats up and running. Some old trucks use compressed air powered starters. If you've ever been around trucks with air brakes, one of the hallmarks is that they do develop air leaks. So, you could wake up some morning with no air, and no way to start the motor to build it back up.

I found this picture here. Ours was a '67 - this one is a '68. Ours had the smaller fenders with a single headlight in the leading edge, an Ansel cab built locally in Liberal KS, and a Great Bend (GB) loader (built, guess where - Great Bend KS). We did have duals mounted - they were clamp-ons. Dad was warned that the axles wouldn't take it, but he was concerned about stability on some of our steeper terraces with me operating the tractor. So, we replaced both axles when they snapped.

We had a water cooler mounted on top of the cab, and thought we were defecating in tall cotton. On rough ground, the water in the trough would slosh into the fan, and blow muddy water all over our heads. We came home digging dry mud from our hair, but it beat not having any protection from the heat at all. There were fender mounted radios available, but you'd never have been able to hear it over the noise in that cab. The first air conditioners were unreliable, expensive and not very effective, so a water cooler was a legit alternative.

I mentioned the throttle was pulled rearward to open it up. When Dad had me climb in and run the ol' sweetheart, he'd slap me on the leg and say: "Pull 'er ears back son, and let's go," shut the cab door and send me on my way. It was Wide Open Throttle all day long.

So, thanks, Lincoln NE, for jarring some good memories.

Ya Think?

Ol' Ted is less than taken with the Obamamessiah?

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Charged, Baybee!

386 WATTS Body Battery Calculator - Find Out How Much Electricity Your Body is Producing - OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

This is 54% MORE wattage than the average person
  • You could light up 4 light bulbs
  • You could power 97 iPods
  • You could power 2 Xbox 360s
  • 3 of you would be needed to keep a refrigerator running
Don't tell the Goracle - he'll be wanting to put me on "the grid."

Ripped off from Wyatt

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Ripped These Off

From Steve H. For those of you who don't read him, the "cookbook" featured at the top of the sidebar is his work. He's a lawyer who decided writing humor was his calling. I've got the book, but also have no time to read it - for now. I recommend his site - he's a good guy as well. Leah can attest to that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Hate to Admit It

But I get a kick out of this song. Focus - Hocus Pocus. XM 46 or 49 has had it on their rotation for a while now. It sure sounds better now than it did on AM back in the day. You know, when Moby Dick was a minnow and dirt was new.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thank You G_d!

My alarm at home has one time set at 4:15am, and during the summer, that is when I have to get up to get to the job and leave by daylight. So, this morning I woke up at 4:08. I decided to go ahead and get up. In attempting to turn off the alarm, I discovered I had not turned it on in the first place.

Thanks, G_d, for sparing a fool....

St. Louis Bound

Rest area about fifty odd miles east of KC on I70. That is a 12'x35' fiberglass tank destined to hold liquid fertilizer at a coop. That trailer is a "double drop," which means there is a drop behind the front deck and the rear deck. The "well" is the area that holds the tank. The whole rig is every bit as long as a "large car" with a 53' trailer. See how the rear axle is at the very rear? Going around corners with these trailers really can be an adventure.

But, the height of the load is usually 14' or so. Since the normal legal height is 13'6", this is a great advantage as far as routing goes. We either get temporary permits or buy annual oversize permits for certain states. The state issuing the temporary permit uses the load data we give them - height, width and length to determine how we can get where we want to go. With these trailers, we can get under just about any underpass that a "normal" semi can. Our other trailers - not always. Higher loads mean longer trips away from the interstates.

Another interesting thing about this trailer - it was originally made to haul boats. The frame has been lengthened and rails to set the tank supports set in very low, so the tanks will ride very low. We have several trailers just like this one, and similar trailers as well. We have a couple that are tandem axle and extendable.

The other problem with these trailers is ground clearance. High railroad crossings are out of the question, as is rough or uneven ground. So, there are tradeoffs no matter what.

Tomorrow morning is our appointment for a crane to unload us. My crane can handle the weight ok, but it cannot set one of these babies. They are just too tall - the boom would hit the top corner and not center, possibly severely damaging the tank. I may have to "tail" the tanks. It just depends on the crane and the operator. The tanks have to be picked off the trailer using two cables on the crane, or have it hook to the top of the tank and me to the bottom, both picking it up. The crane would gradually take the tank vertical, while I would move the bottom underneath the crane's cable. The tank wouldn't touch the trailer after it was lifted. We've had some crane operators damage tanks trying to stand them up on the trailers.

Just another day in trucking paradise!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another From the Email Inbox

Yeah! The bobcat kicks some snake a**!

My Hot Rod

Today was the first day in the "new" truck - it still lacks chicken lights on the air cleaners and a tire chain rack. I've got a few rattles that need tracked down, but overall I'm very pleased with the ride, how it drives, shifts and the power. Here on the flats, power is relative. The true test will be in the mountains. I can wait - been there done that.

I'll have to break out the "real" camera and take some pics of the specialty equipment this truck (and all our other trucks) has/have. This picture doesn't have enough fine detail to see....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some Family Heirlooms

Our family is both German and Irish on both sides. My mother tended to celebrate her family's Irish heritage more than their German ancestry, but my father's side had no problem with it. There was a lot of good German canning and cooking going on with that bunch. Of course, all farm families canned to help "make do with what they had." But, I dunno if quilt making is as universal. Dad had a pretty decent collection of family heirloom quilts, and Sis is keeping them in good shape these days.

That is the my family's main quilt manufacturer. Not the baby - that's me - but rather the white haired lady pictured. That is my dad's Grandmother Minnie. This picture dates to 1960.

Grandma Minnie made this quilt for my Dad when he was a baby. It was "my" quilt as a kid as well. I loved the airplane design then as I do now. So, this quilt is at least seventy years old.

These two quilts are probably older. We've lost track of who they were made for specifically. Sis and I have the idea that these were made before the airplane quilt. The bottom one in particular shows some wear.

This quilt is a different design - notice the edge follows the shape of the cutouts. The bottom picture shows the detail. All of these quilts have some pretty fine needlework in them, but this one has just a bit more.

We think my dad's sister made this one. It's the biggest and newest specimen. It's probably twenty or thirty years old at least, and to my aunt's credit - the craftsmanship is just as good as Great Grandma Minnie's efforts.

The sheer amount of time that it took to make these quilts is stunning to us these days. The level of patience and determination required to crank these babies out is daunting as well. It's not like Great Grandma Minnie had nothing else to do, what with all the cleaning, canning, butchering, baking and just generally raising a family going on. Granted, she probably made these after she had raised the kids and sent them on their way, but still.

It's a shame I had to grow up a bit before I could see the level of commitment my predecessor had to raising and keeping the family well, and thank her for it. My memories of her are mostly rest home and hospital visits, when she wasn't at her best, and somewhat scary for a young boy. I remember her being frustrated because she couldn't talk properly and say what she wanted to say - there was a fine mind trapped in that aged body that really wanted to say things to me.

At any rate - if you can hear me now: Thanks, Grandma. I loved you, too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Things I See

Yesterday, coming down US75 from Nebraska City NE to Topeka KS, we saw a couple of the cars entered into the American Solar Challenge. The first pic is of Brasidius, the University of Michigan's entry. It has been the dominant car in past competitions. How did I know it was Michigan's car? The black and white Tahoes with nineteen dozen lights and huge lettering with University of Michigan Escort Vehicle emblazoned might have given me a clue. I think the next car we saw was Auburn University's electric hotrod. The escort vehicles weren't as easily read going by.

Of course, there was no way to get a decent picture. It was cool to see them, although from the looks of things, the drivers were probably sweating their patooties off.

Then, today on US50 east of Kendall KS there was a gentleman traveling on inline skates. I've seen bicyclists, joggers, guys dragging crosses on wheels - well, I've seen a lot of different kinds of human locomotion. But, I gotta admit, I never thought I'd see a skater in the desolate wildlands of Western Kansas, out in the middle of nowhere.

Just when you think you've seen it all, well, yer proven wrong.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Recognize the Skyline?

ptg and dadgum kinda have home field advantage....

This Morning's Chuckle

Monday, July 14, 2008

This Woman Votes

I'm in beautiful downtown Le Mars IA tonight sitting in front of the tube with the Discovery Channel on. Dirty Jobs was on, then one I hadn't seen: Verminators. One of the stories was about a couple's dream house infested with rats and mice. The wife was adamant - she wanted a no kill policy. These little creatures hadn't hurt her, so she said, and she didn't want to be a killer. The show did bring up hantavirus and why droppings are so unhealthy. Apparently she was singing La La La when that part came up.

They had a pretty serious infestation. The stovetop continually had droppings, and the exterminator even found turds in their shoes. They had all the access points sealed up and the vermin trapped in the house had to be eliminated. Ms. No Kill was adamant - live traps only.

Well, it was a losing proposition. The rodents can outbreed the catch and release program, and did so. Hubby was invested in the idea of killing the filthy things, but wifey, well, she was pretty weepy and upset. She finally gave in, and the battle for their house was won.

The Discovery Channel didn't show their car or any bumper stickers, but let's just say I had some ideas of what kind of car it was and what was written on their bumperstickers.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's Sunday and I'm Lazy

So, here are a couple of tests:

How to Win a Fight With a Liberal is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Conservative Identity:

You are a Free Marketeer, also known as a fiscal conservative. You believe in free-market capitalism, tax cuts, and protecting your hard-earned cash from pick-pocketing liberal socialists.

Take the quiz at

And.... says I'm a Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

I'd say the first test has my politics pretty well covered - even though I'm a hypocrite when it comes to farm programs. But, a Cool Nerd King? Far out, dudeness!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ethics, Conservation, and Farming

That's a pretty big subject - but I'm gonna try to cover what little I see and understand. Disclosure: I've never claimed to be a farmer. I am a landlord. The gals at the .gov office call me and tell me when to get my butt in and sign. The two farmers who have leased my ground took/take care of the rest.

But, I do live on the old farmstead, and my life is intertwined with farming and cattle ranching. While my truck driving job brings home the bacon, the growing of plants and animals remains near and dear to my heart. What started this was a blog post that Frank W. James (Farmer Frank) made on his blog. Basically, he covered why he is against the pending release of CRP acres. After some research, I find I am in favor of releasing CRP acres for forage use for cattle. Several years ago, my neighbor, friend and farmer who leases my ground probably had his business saved by a similar release. We were in an extended drought, and pasture was non existent. Feed was in short supply as well. Some of his cattle were put on CRP ground to graze, and both he and they survived. Now the CRP shows no sign of the grazing, and he is still in business.

The program as it stands is supposed to allow producers to bale or graze CRP acres in afflicted areas - in the flooded areas where the feed was destroyed, and in southeast Colorado, where they have been suffering from drought conditions. I am totally in favor of this. There of course have been lawsuits:

Even so, Judge John C. Coughenour of Federal District Court in Seattle was right to issue an injunction blocking the release pending a hearing next week.

Several environmental groups in Washington State had sued, arguing that releasing conservation lands imperils important habitat — for sage grouse, among other species — and that a fuller environmental assessment was required.

The farmers certainly deserve sympathy, but the potential environmental damage caused by taking these lands out of conservation is far too great. It would push cattle onto marginal lands that were set aside, in part, as wildlife habitat, and turn the Conservation Reserve Program into a subsidy for cattle growers.

Using ground that probably should have been pasture (instead of farmground) as pasture in the first place isn't going to put a major strain on the ecosystem. The release is contingent on the timing of the primary bird nesting - the local birds will have completed nesting before the grazing will be allowed.

As to releasing CRP ground for grain production - I am against that. The ground in this area is marginal, and I think the long term effects will be harmful for both the environment and the financial health of farmers. Most farmers view most of the Farm Bills as a cheap food policy - the consumers and food stamp recipients are guaranteed cheap food while farmers are barely kept alive. Most farmers have had to increase the acreage they control just to stay in business. Mr. James covers this very well in his post: Economies of Scale and Cash Rent...

Releasing CRP acres for grain production isn't going to make farmers more money in the long term. Fuel and fertilizer prices are going to require some similar prices for grain. Growing far more grain than demand requires will bring prices down. Not good for farmers. Besides, the cost of food is fairly well removed from the cost of the commodity these days anyways. It is said the bread wrapper costs more than the grain in a loaf of wheat. I've given my opinion on the issue of food shortages and alcohol production already.

We all tend to try to argue that keeping the family farm alive is good for the United States because letting large corporations control the farming will hurt both food prices and the future of our farmground. Complete vertical integration of food processing will eliminate the need for a grain and cattle market. If you own the ground and the factories, then there isn't much sense in using a grain market at all. You can charge what you want for your products if there isn't any competition, and you control all aspects of production.

I'd like to illustrate just what some poor farming practices promoted by larger businesses have done here in this area. My father was a board member of the local Conservation Board for years. He felt it was his civic duty, and he also believed in the idea that the soil needed to be tended. He was a caretaker. One of the ways he did this was to terrace the ground he farmed. Most of the ground he had terraced was rental ground, controlled by a large farming trust. He also left the "draws" in grass to help control erosion. The terraces were partly funded by government grants as well - so he, the trust, and you, the taxpayer, paid for these terraces.

In later years, the management of the trust changed to someone who was concerned more with the bottom line than being a caretaker. Dad was forced to break out some ground he had in grass - the grass he had to help control erosion. He argued against it to no avail, and eventually he lost that ground to someone who would do as they were told. I'm not belittling the people who farm the ground now - they are just doing as they are told.

The above is a picture of the bridge "downstream" from some of the grass Dad broke out. That bridge is almost completely silted in. There was actually a need for that bridge twenty years ago, now, not so much. The terraces have been worn down due to farming over the tops - rather than farming on the contour. The terraces have not been rebuilt. There is no financial advantage for either the landowner or the farmer to do so.

These two shots are of the same "draw" or "cut." The top dates from 1991 and was available online, and the bottom is the latest shot from Google Earth. The data in Google is outdated, as we will see in a bit. Dad was farming the ground in '91, and had been told to work up the grass in the bottom. The draw in the top picture runs to the north and is slightly to the left of center. The white is what we used to call the "chalk bluffs." The ground was on a hillside and was so chalky grass barely grew. The bottom picture shows the same ground with the erosion even more evident. See how the "draw" is cut deeper into the ground? Look at the fenceline to the north. See how the pasture to the north is filling with silt? The ground is being farmed - again - over the tops of the terraces and not contoured. You can see the outlines of the terraces from the air, but their usefulness is pretty well shot. The chalky ground is still bare in the bottom picture. The silt buildup on the south side of the property line is full of weeds. At least something is growing there.

Now, lets change up a bit:

This is an aerial view of a little conservation area where the farmer put in a bunch of trees and grasses. You, the taxpayer, paid for the trees, and the farmer was paid for putting them in and planting the grass. There are payments made over the years for the upkeep of this kind of area. One of my friends has a little area I'll cover in a bit, and told me what was involved. The farmer who owned this little area declared bankruptcy, and another large farmer bought the ground.

These are pictures of the trees now. The top picture shows the center pivot installed behind the pile of tree stumps and the corn, which is burning up and isn't going to do well this year. The big farmer bought that ground and paid an exorbitant amount for it - in the opinion of most of the other local farmers. In order to make the ground "pay," this big time farmer decided to rip out the trees and grass, and bring in earth movers to allow the center pivot to be able to run over the rough ground. He also had to drill that well. I don't know if he hired the earth movers, or owned them himself, but I'd bet the fuel bill alone would knock yer socks off. I took the top picture pointed northeast, and the bottom directly east into the pile.

Now we are looking at some of my family's land. The ground in question is the southeast corner of the half section The Poor Farm is on. The top pic shows a chunk of grass that has the "hook" following the draw to the northwest. I took the middle picture of the tree from slightly north of the crossroad - if there really was a road there - pointing to the west/northwest. The bottom pic is of the tree from the south. The same tree in the top picture is in the west half towards the south edge. I was hoping to show the depth of the little valley and how rough the ground really is.

The point of me showing these pictures is that I could have this ground worked up and try to grow wheat/milo on it. If the ground had been in production when we tried to get it into CRP, the balance of poor soil would have gotten it into the program. Since the poor soil was already out of production, there was a higher percentage of "good soil" that disallowed the quarter to be put into the program. So, by following good conservation practices, the ground was not accepted.

I promise - those on dialup - I'm done with the pictures. Above is my buddy Scooby's little wildlife refuge, just south of his abode. He's won several awards for this little corner. He was given the trees, and some payments for keeping it up, but overall has not come out ahead on time and labor, or opportunity cost for farming purposes. It looks like he is farming two parts of it, and yes, he is planting in those areas. Food crops - for deer and pheasant. He had to have special permission to do it, and the ground is regularly inspected. CRP ground is inspected as well - if the farmer is allowing too many weeds, or it is damaged in some way - he is required to tend to the problem. Most take care of whatever comes up before it's a problem with the .gov.

So, why did I show you all of this? CRP is a good program in a macro kind of way, but not so much in a micro sense. What good would it have done for me to work up the thirty five or forty acres that I have in grass, only to plant it and all the rest of the quarter to the approved mix for the CRP program? What good does the CRP program do for the erosion evident in the examples I've shown above?

I don't fault the farmers or landowners for trying to maximize their investments. The idea of planting fencerow to fencerow is hardly new. If I paid close to $2k an acre for dryland ground in this area, and turning it into irrigated ground was possible, well, I'd be looking into it for sure. There are payments associated with keeping the little reserve areas, but they have been diminished. My buddy Scooby stated that if the .gov stops paying him, he'll continue to keep the little area he tends. He's losing money on it now, even with the payments.

These are examples of economies of scale hurting the local ecology in the long run. Most family farmers are caretakers. Large corporations are not. They are beholden to their stockholders and profits in the short term, not to the tending of ground kept in a family's trust for generations. This is why family farming is important. The farmer who wants to keep ground in the family is invested with the idea of keeping the farm ground in good condition for generations to come. The future of our nation's ability to feed itself is dependent on our abilities to preserve the tillable acres for the future.

Which brings me to another point. If those of us who tend these acres don't care for them in an ethical manner, I guarantee you Joe Taxpayer will not be a happy camper, and the .gov will be sticking their noses further into our business whether we like it or not. We already have the Sierra Club and other .orgs messing with our livelihoods more than we care for. Why keep poking the hornet's nest?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Quote of the Day

From The Dilbert Blog:

The experts say we are not supposed to pick up the puppy and hold it. If the puppy pushes itself out of our arms, it will try to brace its fall with its front legs, and they will break. Apparently this happens a lot.

Instead, we are advised to keep the puppy on a leash if we pick it up. That way, if the dog jumps out of our arms, we can save it by holding the leash, in much the same way the Iraqis saved Saddam Hussein when he fell through the trap door. Sounds safe to me.

As they say, RTWT.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Have Some Fun!

Make your own!

H/T Ace


Even the liberal editorial cartoonists are noticing flaws in Obama's campaign:

Of course Ted Rall is marching to the beat of a different drummer. I like the beat, though.

I think Rall probably is closer to the zietgiest than the others - Obama's supporters seem more like a bunch of early sixties screaming horde of young girls waiting to see the Beatles than responsible voters.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I don't care who ya are, that is just wrong.

Mmm, Ham

You Are a Ham Sandwich

You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.

Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.

And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.

Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Aaaand, it's pork, too. We have a winna!

ripped off from RT

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Raiding the Email Inbox

No inspiration today, so once again I'm raiding the ol' inbox:

Have you ever heard that a dog "knows" when an earthquake is about to hit?

Have you ever heard that a dog can "sense" when a tornado is stirring up, even 20 miles away?

Do you remember hearing that before the December tsunami struck Southeast Asia , dogs started running frantically away from the seashore, at breakneck speed?

Do you know that dogs can detect cancer and other serious illnesses and danger of fire?

Somehow they always know when they can 'go for a ride' before you even ask and how do those dogs and cats get home from hundreds of miles away?

I'm a firm believer that animals - and especially dogs - have keen insights into the Truth.

And you can't tell me that dogs can't sense a potentially terrible disaster well in advance

Simply said, a dog just KNOWS when something isn't right .. . when impending doom is upon us . . they'll always try to warn us.... !!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Didja Ever Bend Over

and have yer brain fall out? I'm sure that's what happened to me.

I've got a Motorola V710 cell phone. It's picture taking ability is certainly questionable, but it does have a data port that comes in handy, since it plugs right in to the holder connected to the booster amp in my truck. It's an older model that still transmits in analog (instead of exclusively digital), which has saved my bacon in the Panhandles in the past. Another of it's features is a memory slot that takes MicroSD memory cards, AKA Trans-T flash memory. The tiny slip of metal and plastic can be removed and placed into a Secure Digital (SD) sized holder to plug into most laptops, lots of new pcs, and some printers to transfer photos and/or songs, or whatever, without burning up a bunch of data minutes.

So, one late night at a motel after I had pulled the chip out to transfer some pics, I left it out next to my laptop. Later that day, I checked the memory slot and hey! No chip!

Dammit. So, the next time I was online, I started looking. It had to be 512megs, and I really didn't need the adapter. I found one on eBay for less than ten bucks shipping and handling. In the meantime, I had to email my pictures to myself.

Soooo, the new chip showed up. I opened the lid to the slot and tried to push the memory in place. No luck.

You can probably see where this is going.

It wouldn't fit because the original memory was already in place.

Perhaps I should use my bifocals more frequently.

Prairie Dog Medicine

This is a Colt Model CR6724 - Colt Accurized Rifle. The lower is engraved "Colt CAR-A3", which means it is a (again) Colt Accurized Rifle with a flattop upper. A3 uppers are flattops, which makes mounting a scope much easier than the A1 or A2 carry handle uppers. It has a match style trigger. I've got a riser block mounted between the upper and the Bushnell 6x18x50 Banner Riflescope. The bipod is a Harris HBLM - the legs have notches and it doesn't swivel. The rifle is of course chambered in .223. A 24" stainless steel barrel with a 1:9 twist is covered by a free floated aluminum handguard. The buttstock is a standard A2 style with a trapdoor. This is my primary prairie dog gun.

To a hoplophobe, this rifle looks like a sniper's wet dream. However, the stopping power of the .223 even with 60gr softpoints (my favorite load) is in doubt. It is perfect for varmints. The long barrel makes it front heavy and unwieldy in tight places, so Tommy Tactical wouldn't care for it at all. I'll never be taking on any urban assaults in my future anyways, so a M4gery is largely useless for me. I've got one of those, too, but mostly because it came with the four position buttstock. That rifle is another story for another time, though. My "urban assault rifle" is a Winchester 1894 large loop carbine - it's leaning near the door now, it's handy in tight situations, stopping power is good, and I don't have to worry about overpenetration. I'd think the snick of the lever action might be a deterrent as well. I'm not gonna get into a "tacticool" rant at the moment, but it's enough to know I think a bunch of the gewgaws are like custom hubcaps - nothing but eye candy.

I've had this rifle for close to ten years. It was purchased used at the Chisholm Trail Gun Show in Wichita, KS. As far as I know, it's the largest and best show in Kansas . It came with some sort of cheap Simmons scope that broke on a different rifle. I bought a big Tasco for it that had problems as well. This Bushnell isn't a Leupold by any means, but it has served me well.

Were I to buy a different bipod, it would be the Harris model of the same height without the leg notches. Most prone positions aren't perfectly level, and hoods on pickups slope down to the grill. A bit of digging is required when on the ground to level the rifle - it just has to be lived with on a hood. The medium height is perfect. The shorter benchrest versions wouldn't work for this rifle, and the taller version wouldn't work in the prone position with the extra height, unless one was shooting at an upward angle. Rabbit ear rifle bags work well shooting out a window - just roll the window up to the correct height, and put the bag ears down over the edge. Voila - the glass is protected from recoil.

Also, 30 round mags are too long - they hit the shooting surface and even suspend the bipod. Twenty rounders are the "thang" in this application. The eight and nine round Colt factory mags work well, too, but the twenty's supply obviously last longer. Milsurps that aren't dinged up with good springs work well. I've tried Thermold and Orlite mags, too. The Thermolds seem to work better than the Orlites, but to be fair the Orlite mags I have were obviously battlefield pickups that Sarco sold many moons ago.

So, how does it shoot? I've not saved any targets for years, but I can tell you tales of shooting horseflies on the paper at 100 yds. If I sandbag it up on a bench, and do my part, it will almost put the shots in the same hole. If the wind isn't blowing. That is probably the worst thing about the .223 - out on the prairie the wind is generally blowing pretty good, and gusts will cause the bullet to drift a bit. .220 Swift, 25-06, .243Win, and even .308 and 30-06 don't have that problem with the normal 'dog hunting range, but they are all a lot more expensive to shoot, too. I'm sure the .270 Win meets the same criteria - but I've had some experience with the aforementioned calibers hunting 'dogs. I've shot a .270, but only at paper.

Most of the 'dogs around here have been conditioned to rifle shooting. This means if they see you, and they will, they will hide in their holes within a hundred plus yard radius of your position. 120+ yard shots are the norm, which is a bit beyond the norm for .223. Yeah, I know, it is accurate out to a lot further, but when the wind is gusting 30mph, not so much. This is why I prefer the 60 grain softpoints - they stabilize in the wind better than 55 grainers. The heavier bullets - many of them hollowpoints - are target bullets. Penetration and expansion are basically the same as ball ammo. In My Humble Opinion the target bullets aren't as humane as softpoints or expanding hollowpoints. I've seen 'em suffer with ball and target rounds. Besides, ya don't get to see the red mist.

I'd go out on a limb and say any .223 prairie dog gun should be a semiauto. My 25-06 was a Ruger Number One, and it generally didn't require me to "walk in" the killing shot. You just hit what you aimed at, without the need for a followup shot. The same could be said about the other calibers mentioned in bolt action. A bolt action or single shot .223 would require too much manipulation to be effective in real world Western Kansas hunting conditions. We all do quite a bit of "ranging" and use "Kentucky windage" frequently. Sometimes we get lucky and shoot at a cluster, and quick shots score more.

And I'm no Colt fanboi, either. This gun has worked well for many years, but is it better than the others just because it has the Rampant Colt stamped on it? Not really. If I want a different upper, I've got to get a different pin. A new trigger won't interchange with the other variants because the pins are sized differently. The lower was made to prohibit an autosear, too. I have no use for a full auto prairie dog gun, but the politics behind the manufacture of this little tidbit piss me off. It's the principle, not the actual execution that irks me about the blocking of auto sears. Minor quibbles to be sure, considering none have affected the primary function.

Is it worse than a Wilson Combat, Les Baer or Fulton Armory gun? I don't think so. The ability to punch small holes in a small circle might be incrementally better with those guns, but at twice the price? Not so much. I'll envy those with such guns, but if they are shooting with me, they'll be walking their shots in as well. That extra cost doesn't cover reading wind and distance. Do I need a better scope? Not really - I don't necessarily need the extra light capability of a Leupold, since the 'dogs retire before the light goes out. This Bushnell is clear and repeatable. A graduated reticle could prove to be more useful, but I've survived without one for some time now.

So, I heartily recommend this sort of rig for this sort of hunting. The various goodies work as intended, and work quite well. It's due more to the platform than the manufacturer. I've sure enjoyed this example.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Kansas Super Modifieds

A post by Dadgum of the Plains Feeder got me to reminiscing today. Some years ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was a racetrack at Wright Park in Dodge City called McCarty Speedway. A race promoter named Jack Merrick put on the shows there. Late Model Stock cars and NCRA styled modified racers were the main draws. This class of racecar was a type of sprint car - I don't remember the rules and the differences, other than the mods had full roll cages, and the sprinters did not. These cars raced every Saturday night at the aforementioned McCarty Speedway, the 81 Speedway in Wichita, special events at the Hutchinson Fairgrounds (such as the Merrick promoted Hutchinson Nationals during the State Fair), Topeka, Wakeeney, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Muskogee, Liberal and more in Nebraska and Colorado. It was a pretty loose confederation. If one of the tracks had a big money night, the event might draw quite a bit of "outside" talent. Dodge had it's regulars, but there was always an outsider hot shoe there to spoil things.

My dad was a fairly avid dirt track fan, so I got to go along. Mother wasn't the least bit interested, and the noise scared Sis. So, it wasn't always an every Saturday night event - it was a "treat" after all, but we went quite a bit. One of the attractions wasn't even anything to do with racing - one of the racetrack supporter's wife, a Mrs. Gladden, liked to dye her hair in some pretty wild colors. It was with some anticipation to see what color her hair would be that week - electric blue, phosphorescent orange, or whatever shade she and her stylist could cook up. We generally went out into the pits after the race as well.

Of course, we had our favorite:

David (Davey) Ross of Jetmore - The Flying Farmer. He's still around as the top pic attests - that is him next to a restored racer that was shown at the latest Merrick Memorial at DCRP. He built his own cars and was pretty successful on a shoestring budget. For there were cars with a lot of money behind them:

These were the "famous" 6 and 8 duo sponsored by Everett Isaac. Isaac had - for it's day - a huge cattle truck line. There was also a 6&8 Speed Shop that sold performance parts to the general public. Dale Reed piloted the 6, and Herb Copeland drove the 8. Dale raced mostly at the 81 Speedway, so we didn't see him very often, but Herb drove at Dodge quite a bit.

This is another major bit of Super Modified and even Sprint Car History. It's one of LaVerne Nance's development cars. Nance operated Nance Speed Equipment of Wichita KS until he closed it down due to failing health in 1992. Many of the cars I saw during the late sixties and early seventies were Nance built or copies.

Of course there were other legends:
Harold Leep

Frank Lies

Plus there were some of the local hot shoes:

Larry Dewell (pronounced Duel) of Fowler

Terry Uehling of Ness City - another of my favs.

Of course there was "Fast Fred Hembree of Ness City. Check out the Halibrands on the bottom pic.

Alan Herbert (97) under Jim Selenki (4) at Hutchinson. Selinki was a big name in sprint car style racing, and Alan raced in Dodge for years. He used to work at Graves Truck Line as a local delivery driver, delivering to the discount chain I worked for some time ago. I got to know him pretty well. His son Brian worked there as a young teenager, and is now one of the local hot shoes at DCRP and the racing area.

Of course, I cannot forget Jimmy Harkness of Ness City. I believe the tribute photo at the bottom is of the car he bought from The Flying Farmer. An old race car fanatic who owned a pizza joint in Minneola bought and restored it to it's former glory. It and a car Alan Herbert saved appeared at a Merrick memorial several years ago at Jetmore and were the class of the field. Of course, they were the "newest" cars out there as well. Jimmy died in 1976 during wheat harvest. He was taking a load of wheat into town when someone pulled out in front of his truck. Most of us thought his best years were ahead of him, but it was not to be.

All of these guys had a "day job" of some sort, and a lot of expenses were out of pocket. Just like today for many racers. This particular class of cars is but a memory - predecessors to today's sprint classes. I'll never forget the sound of the small blocks on high test gasoline. They had some pretty aggressive cams which gave them a lumpy idle. When they were wide open going down the straights, their song would send chills down my spine. They'd really roar coming out of the corner, and you could really hear them pick through the corners as well. Most were Chevys, as today's are, but there were the occasional Ford or Chrysler blocks. Today's alcohol winged cars just stay on the horn all the way around if it's set up right. The sights and smells are still awesome, but different. One of my best friends sponsors a 305 Sprint car, and helps crew it on weekends. The driver is a Kansas Highway Patrolman - Keef Hemel. So, dirt track racing is alive and well on the plains. It's just more advanced these days.

One of the things that is gone is the trophy girls:

They were usually attired in something sexy, but not too revealing. They were usually kissed in a spectacular fashion by the hot, sweaty, dirty and weary driver. Some drivers were shy, but most laid on a kiss to put on a show. These days, the trophy girl doesn't get kissed, and is generally someone out of the stands.

Dad, I hope you can hear me when I say "Thanks for taking me to all those races." I had a great time, and a lot of good memories, both of the races and my father.

Pics from Racing In Kansas and Racing From the Past. There are a lot more pictures and info at those sites - Racing From the Past in particular. Go and see!