Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gun Registration

I wasn't going to write about this, because in a way, it's a "well, duh, what did you expect" sort of occurrence, but it finally hit home and pretty well had me POed.

Some time ago, I bought a Kimber Custom Classic 1911 from Rusty's in Wichita. I really wanted a Kimber, and no one in my area had them. I had to go to Wichita, buy the gun, and come back after the "cooling off" period to pick it up.

Fast forward several years - I buy a Kimber Eclipse (yeah, the one with the external extractor, but it hasn't given me any problems). I didn't really want to trade off the Custom - it was running good and I liked it a lot. However, one of my best friends was suffering from brain cancer. The local docs gave him under six months to live. He had always wanted a 1911, but with a wife and three young boys, plus this coming on, there was no way he could even begin to afford a decent one. Nor was he going to buy any gun at that time.

I felt like he deserved to have that Custom. He'd enjoy it, and there was a very high chance it would be the last time he could. He ended up getting treatment from the Cancer Treatment Center at Tulsa, OK. They opened up his skull, and removed most of the tumor. What was left was radiated and chemoed. It's been close to six years now, and he has shown no signs of remission. It is still a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, but life has been good for him and those who love him.

His oldest boy, my godson, really screwed up a couple months ago. He was arrested with his Dad's Kimber in his possession. Dad hadn't given permission, and had no idea his gun was with his son. The "trace" ran to me and ended. My friend either needed a notarized statement from me stating he was the owner for him to pick up his gun, or I needed to pick it up.

4473's are to be kept by the dealer for twenty years. If the dealer goes out of business, the ATF takes over the records. I have found no information on how long they can keep this data, if they are required to purge it at all. Rusty's went out of business some years ago. So, no matter what happens to that gun, it is "mine" to the ATF, and to law enforcement agencies everywhere.

I was not notified of any of this. Obviously, I've now become someone who has had a criminal investigation pointed my way. You can bet this incident is on a file somewhere with my name on it. If someone steals a gun I've sold years ago from the buyer, I'm gonna be on the hook for it. If this happens again, how long will it take for someone from the ATF to think "straw buyer?"

The case against my godson was thrown out of court. Did this make any difference to the authorities holding the evidence? Nope. My buddy was notified that he needed to take care of this situation, because the gun was headed to the shredder otherwise. So, off we went to Finney county.

I was (and still am) somewhat peeved. I really felt like giving the evidence clerk a piece of my mind, but sanity prevailed. That is not the hill I want to die on - giving some clerk a bunch of trouble in the county law enforcement building. My buddy, while sympathetic, also just wanted his gun back with no more drama. So, I presented my driver's license, the clerk handed me the gun case they had confiscated, and I asked if I could give it back to my buddy. "It's yours, do what you want to" was the answer. Really? It's mine? Maybe in your eyes, but not the real world. My buddy is the owner of that gun, not me.

So, when the debate about gun registration swirls about us, and everyone gets foamy at the mouth, keep this in mind. Registration is already here, it's just not as widespread as they want.

Big Picture Types

Hah! This seems to be a familiar strategy, meeting with reality - somehow.......

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mistress Mandy



Sarah Palin


Others around the blogosphere have said it far better than I. Ace has a pretty good running analysis of several angles - what the left is saying, strategies, her qualifications and so on.

I won't be holding my nose with both hands come election time - I'll have at least one free to mark the McCain/Palin ticket.

Smart Car Body Kits

So, you decided to go whole hog into the fuel saving mode and bought a Smart Car. Yes, you, the former sports car affectionado. The only problem is that you have to leave your 'nads at the curb to drive one. Now, for a limited time only, offer due to expire at any time, you can regain your manhood. You can go from this:

To this: The Smorevette!

Or perhaps the Smaudi A3 AWD!

The Smamborghini!

The Smorsche!

The Smorsche Targa!

Last but not least, the Smerrari!

Break out the gold chain necklace, Gladys!

Too bad they're not real.......


is her birthday. Sigh.

It's Movie Time!

Am I entertained? Been home for a week and DirecTV's offerings have become pretty bland, so it was time to break into the DVD library here at The Poor Farm.

Did I decide to watch something educational and/or worthy? Perhaps a study of Fellini, for film technique? Perhaps something historical, like World at War? Maybe a Ken Burns documentary?

Oh, crap no. You don't know me very well.

Tonight's entertainment was the cultish movie The Warriors, directed by Walter Hill in 1979. It was supposed to depict gangs in NYC and it was

Loosely based on Xenophon's "Anabasis", the account of an army of Greek mercenaries who, after aligning themselves with Cyrus the Younger in the battle of Cunaxa (401 BC) in his attempt to seize the Persian throne, found themselves isolated behind Persian enemy lines.

Okay, so maybe there was a bit more culture involved here. Sorry 'bout that, apparently my gratuitous violence is of a higher order than I thought. The story involves a gang leader (Cyrus) who calls together ten representatives each of all the NYC gangs at the Bronx zoo to discuss taking over the city. Cyrus is a member of the Grammercy Riffs, the largest gang. Luther (portrayed by David Patrick Kelly and perhaps better known for his role as "Luther" in 48 Hours),leader of the Rogues, shoots Cyrus on a whim and blames Cleon, the leader of the Warriors, for the killing. So, the story is about the Warriors trying to get home to Coney Island without being killed themselves, since all the gangs are looking for Our Hapless Heroes. The Riffs want them, and want them badly.

The various gangs are mostly from Walter Hill's imagination. The Baseball Furies were apparently based on a real gang - Second Base. They, however, do not run around in whiteface looking like mimes dressed like Yankees. Wikipedia says they were created because of Hill's love for baseball and the rock group KISS. Another notable gang was the all girl "Lizzies." Actually, most of the gangs were very stylized.

I can remember when this movie came out - the media was expecting violence at every theater it was to be screened. If I remember correctly, it was on the cover of Time. Of course, nothing of the sort happened. This scene is the fight between the baseball Furies and the Warriors:

direct link

I really enjoy the music score here - that is the main "theme" song whenever trouble is brewing for Our Guys. The character Ajax (James Remar) also has one of the movie's best lines in this scene - I'll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle. Actually, Remar has a lot of kewl lines.

Hill used a lot of relative unknowns in this movie, and unfortunately for them, most of them are relatively unknown now. Mercedes Ruehl, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Michael Beck, and the aforementioned David Patrick Kelly would be considered the "stars" today. This movie just didn't elevate the unknown ensemble.

Of course, Luther and his Rogues need for the Warriors to be dead, since they know he was the guilty party responsible for Cyrus's death. They, too are searching the city for The Running Men (and one woman, as it turns out), plus they know where the Warrior's home base is. The Rogues find the Warriors just as they reach the boardwalk at Coney Island, and Luther calls them out:

direct link

Oh, man, the bottles clinking and the singsong Warriors, come out to play eee aaay! Thar's movie writin' that'll stick to your ribs. I'll not spoil the finish if you've never seen this show, but I thought it ended rather well.

This particular movie probably isn't going to make a one hundred best list thirty years from now. It is about as far from being a chick movie as is possible. It is a weird sort of fun, kick ass, stylish for the late seventies flick that really has no "message" preached at us, or any really redeeming characteristics for a serious film buff. It's a greasy hamburger in a world of gourmet cooking. I happen to like greasy hamburgers, thank you very much! Call it a guilty pleasure, or call it genius disguised as camp, I don't care. I just get a kick out of it.

Someday, I might even review Circle of Iron or even Army of Darkness, both right up there with Big Trouble in Little China and Escape From New York. French fries and milkshakes to go with greasy hamburgers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Wally has never heard of Gold Bond?

Edit: It appears I have a formatting problem here - just click on the strip to see the whole thing.

Casper, the Hereford Calf

Circa 1965

That is my cousin Stephen in the middle, Casper the calf on the left, and yours truly on the right. For reasons I cannot recall at this time (seems like I've slept since then), Casper's mother died. He became my responsibility, and a pet. He became a "bucket calf" which is our term for a calf that has to be fed milk and is too young for solid feed. I had to mix his milk a couple times a day, and naturally, he was tame and had the run of the yard. When he got older and too big to be a pet, Dad turned him out with his contemporaries, and he eventually ended up in my college fund (and on someone's plate, but I tried not to think about that too much).

Yep, I was actually that thin at one time. Would that I could be that thin now!

At any rate, thinking about Herefords and cattle breeds in general reminds me of a pet peeve of mine, "Angus" beef in particular. These two breeds and mixes thereof comprise the majority of beef cattle in the US. Most beef cattle are mixed breeds. When you see a black baldy - it is a black animal with a white face. It has elements of Black Angus and Hereford in it's ancestry to arrive at that coloring. Sometimes, you'll see an animal with the characteristic shoulders of a Brahma, or the light yellow, tan or white coloring of Charolais. Polled cattle are without horns - some by genetics, and some by removal. The old Longhorns aren't much for beef production anymore.

Most of these breeds were crossed looking for certain characteristics for good beef production. Dad liked long frames on his calves. Some shorter cattle could really pack on the weight, but Dad felt like a larger framed calf would put on more weight far more economically. He looked for wider hips in his cows, for easier birthing. Most of the time when you buy cattle, you don't get to pick and choose out of a herd. You get a lot, and some will have culls. So, you look to buy cattle that need to gain weight, but aren't sickly, and with the majority having the characteristics you desire.

In later years, Dad got away from the cow/calf pairs and went to "backgrounding." This practice is where the cattle rancher buys calves weaned off the cows, pasture them during the good weather, and feed them during the winter, until they reach feeder weight. That is the weight that feedlots want to buy for their operations, because at that age, cattle can really put on the pounds in a feedlot. The average farmer doesn't have the equipment necessary to take advantage of that point in their cattle's development. Dad preferred buying heifers, because they were more docile than steers. When purchasing a load of male calves, they haven't been "cut" yet, so that must be done as well. Steers tear up more fencing than heifers, and are just generally more onery. They cost more, and brought more at selling time as well, but Dad felt he made the same money without as much headache. We had less Rocky Mountain Oysters as a result, but oh well. When the calves arrived, we had to process them. This meant branding, removal of any horn nubbins, castrating any little bulls, and giving them a variety of drugs. Some, like the sulfa pills, were shoved down their throats with a "balling gun" where the sulfa pill was placed in the bell end, shoved down their throat, and a pushrod ejected the pill. Other drugs were injected. Most were broad spectrum antibiotics. Now, most cattle are marked with ear tags, which have an annoying tendency to fall off. Branding was truly an art, because you had to seat the hot iron properly. If you smeared the brand, the calf would have to be rebranded and cause it more pain, plus it might get infected. If the brand was done properly, it healed better and was permanent.

Anyways, a cattleman is always checking his charges, sometimes several times a day. They mostly monitor their health, looking for various problems. We don't get as close to our animals as a dairy farmer does, but you do see them as individuals. "Yeah, that's the one that we had to unwind the barb wire from - she isn't happy unless she's trying to get out." "That's the one that was snakebit and had the huge pus blister on her right shoulder."

So, the reality of cattle and breeds are that they are a huge mishmash. Purebreeds exist, of course, but mostly for breeding purposes. It's pretty hard to tell just what breed or most of a breed an animal is after the hide is removed. So, when I see someone advertising "Angus" beef, I have to laugh. I really doubt that Burger King is buying purebred Angus cattle to make hamburger. I also don't understand the power that "Angus" apparently has on the American consumer, either. Hereford tastes just the same, and it's probably what they are eating, anyhow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Joe Checks Out a Coal Mine (or three)

Some of you may recall me talking about Joe before - he had posted some pictures on his Facebook account about his summer custom harvesting. His captions explaining what we were seeing really added to the enjoyment of the album.

He had just graduated high school and was enrolled for fall classes at Wyotech in Laramie, WY, one of the premier schools for aspiring mechanics in the Midwest, or even the US, for that matter.

Well, our intrepid student and erudite writer is on a job hunt, and Rio Tinto Energy America is interested in him. I'm sure Schlumberger (pronounced slumber jay with a soft "j") and the evil Bushitlercheney Haliburton wants this young man as well. He's done well, has our young Padawan.

Do go and check out his album and read his descriptions. Joe's album speaks for itself, and really doesn't need a bunch of hype from me, so I'll be quiet now! (except to say if you want to go to the first picture and then just hit "next" you can go here)

Klingon Bat'leth Scares British Cops and Media

Lethal Star Trek blade seized in knives amnesty

Force for evil: inspector Mac McGarry with the blade, believed to be a lethal Star Trek replica

This horrifying five-foot weapon has been recovered by police during a knife amnesty.

The three-handled sword with a blade at either end, designed to be swung like a paddle, shocked officers who took custody of it.

They are using it to publicise a five-week amnesty during which they hope around 30,000 weapons will be handed in, mainly from youngsters.

A spokesman for police in Gloucester, where it was surrendered, said: "It is a particularly nasty weapon that can, literally, take someone's head off. We are very glad it is off the streets and we want more weapons handed in."

The blade is believed to be a stainless-steel copy of a Klingon weapon used in the science fiction series Star Trek. "It's an extremely dangerous weapon," said a martial arts expert last night.

Can you say "Over The Top?" I knew you could.

It's a freaking replica of a fantasy Star Trek weapon that would be largely useless as a combat weapon in the real world. Yeah, I'll bet the "martial arts expert" would just love to go up against someone with a katana with this baby. Plus, it's so concealable, well balanced and handy. Why I'd bet the Star Trek writers who came up with this blade were all hand to hand combat veterans who thought there just might be a better way than the traditional blades used in combat for centuries. No one had stumbled upon this design in all those years.

I'm reminded of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones shoots the scimitar wielding assailant rather than try to fight him with a blade. But, this is Britain we're talking about here, so Indiana's Webley (manufactured right there in jolly old England) can't be used by the average person, not even a world renowned college professor.

Hopefully we can arrest the nanny state here in the States before it gets to the dangerous parody stage that Great Britain finds itself in.

Seen at Ace of Spades

Coupla Barack (Hussein) Obama Videos

Direct Link

Didja ever notice how Barack's head tilts waaay to the side when he drifts away from his script? Geez, he looks so sincere and all.

Direct Link - first seen at The Plains Feeder.

There's yer hope and change right there. If you are a committed socialist and believe bombing public buildings plus killing people are acceptable means of political expression. No mere flag burning from this crowd!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day by Day

I've certainly enjoyed Chris Muir's work for several years now. He's going pro and needs our help.

15,000 Concealed Carry Permits Issued in Kansas

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

You're Kidding Me

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

HFPS - The Humanitarian

Humanity, Foreground, Big Picture, and Shape

You perceive the world with particular attention to humanity. You focus on what's in front of you (the foreground) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the shapes around you. Because of the value you place on humanity, you tend to seek out other people and get energized by being around others. You like to deal directly with whatever comes your way without dealing with speculating possibilities or outcomes you can't control. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You prefer a structured environment within which to live and you like things to be predictable.

Wellll, maybe. Stolen from Dustbury.

The Comics Curmudgeon

I've made it no secret that my simple mind enjoys reading the daily comics. Well, I've just discovered The Comics Curmudgeon - a snarky blog about the daily comics. Wikipedia has a pretty good writeup about the blog.

Apparently, the author, Josh Fruhlinger, also blogs about political cartoons for Wonkette in a weekly feature called Cartoon Violence. So, I'm sure I know his political leanings already, but I do enjoy the heavy snark factor. One of his continuing diatribes is against For Better Or Worse, which truly has declined in quality in the past few years. An example of the snark:

A lot of my readers have been appalled by Ellie and Phil yukking it up as their father lies dying, but I think you’re missing some vital context here. This is For Better Or For Worse, where all emotions are expressed over three to five panels in the form of puns and wordplay. Making a little verbal jest, as our worried siblings do here, is the highest form of concern that anyone can express in this universe’s culture.

Ha ha, just kidding, they’re obviously terrible heartless monsters. Phil would probably be angry, but as his eyes in the final panel indicate, he’s completely baked. It’s a good thing he had time to freshen up his mustache wax before he got there.

Fruhlinger also goes after the soap opera comics like Mark Trail and Mary Worth. Oh, yeah, I like it even better! Apparently, the blog attracts some professionals in the comics world as commenters on the site. Wading through hundreds of comments to see if Chris Browne has something to say doesn't necessarily start my motor, though. This guy gets a lot of traffic - but I didn't see an open link to Sitemeter or any other counter. Yeah, I know, I could "view source" and look for one, but I'm not that interested.

So, if you are a comics affectionado and a sarcastic so and so like me, you might enjoy this site as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eight Track

It seems eight track tapes are a source of derision these days, right up there with bell bottoms and leisure suits from the seventies. "Oh, eight tracks - so yesterday" would seem to sum it up. Actually, when cassette tapes supplanted the ol' cartridges, I didn't mourn their passing other than to consider the investment in my collection.

One has to wonder why we put up with all the problems, for there were problems galore. The tape was too tight. The tape was too loose. The more it was played, the muddier it sounded due to deterioration of the tape from constant friction. We all learned how to be mechanics.

Lets turn the wayback machine to - oh, about 1973 or so. What were the listening choices for teenagers in their cars? There was AM radio - the sound has not improved much over the years, and most of the stations teenagers tuned in stopped transmitting at sunset. The formats were limited - in my neck of the woods - to Top 40, country, and a sort of country/adult contemporary (remember the time period here) that included a lot of Eddie Albert, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Big Band and whatever else got lumped in. Beatles? Not so much. FM was mostly a wasteland. We had a station that played elevator music. Doctor's offices loved it. At night, we could pick up KOMA from Oklahoma City, but not consistently. We knew we'd been out long enough when they played the same song for the third or fourth time that night.

There were some failed attempts to put records in cars. The medium was just too bulky and motion resistant. Reel to reel tape had inherent portability problems as well. Enter Bill Lear, founder of the Lear Jet Corporation and general inventor/tinkerer. He and a consortium including Ford, Motorola, and RCA Victor came up with Stereo 8, which eventually became universally known as the 8-track.

The tape had eight tracks available for recording. Generally, this meant two were used for stereo output, and gave the tape four "programs." The play head had to be shifted to pick up a different set of tracks. This was accomplished by a foil or conductive surface placed at the splice. When Program One came to an end, the endless loop tape had run all the way around to the splice, and the material passing over the solenoid coil would trip the head mechanism to shift to the next set of tracks. At the end of Program Four, the heads would be moved to pick up Program One tracks.

When the cassette was inserted into the player, the capstan was tripped to engage the roller, pinching the tape. The capstan pulled the tape, and the tape was held against the coil and playback head by some sort of spring pressure, generally a chunk of foam. The tape was always pulled from the center of the hub and replaced on the outside.

There were a lot of shortcomings to this design. The first and foremost was that the tape was always in a state of friction. The more the tape was played, the more it wore out. Tapes were engineered thinner so more content could be put into the cartridge, so they became more fragile. The tape would both stretch and bind. Excessive tension would cause the tape to "drag" or play slowly. One quick solution was to pull the tape from the cartridge until there was a foot or two of slack, then pull quickly on the outgoing end. The slack would be drawn back into the spool, often without the binding tension. Otherwise, you might have to cut the splice and unwind a round or two, then splice it back together. The cartridge had to be taken apart for this operation. Tin foil and Scotch Tape worked - but of course there were "kits" for all of this.

Sometimes the tape would be stretched too far. The excess was sometimes drawn into the pinch roller and capstan - "eating" the tape. If you caught it in time, and the tape wasn't too wrinkled, the cartridge could be saved. Generally, you'd take it apart, and "tighten" it up - adding a round on the spool.

The tape was designed for the friction - it was coated with graphite or similar material. Of course, this built up on the playback head. There were special cleaning cartridges available with special cleaning fluids - all proprietary. Supposedly, Qtips and alcohol were hard on the surface of the head, but I'm for thinking that was just propaganda churned out to sell cleaning supplies. A cotton swab would damage something that had a semi-abrasive tape dragged over it for hours at a time? Mmmkay.

There was even a quadraphonic option - there were only two programs, but with four discreet channels. One of my friends had a player in his Charger. For it's day, it sounded pretty dern good. Another problem was if the playback head became slightly misaligned. It would pick up faint signals from the adjacent tracks, called "ghosting" because it was usually pretty low level. Sometimes, it was the cartridge rather than the whole unit.

As time went by, the quality of the cartridges declined. If you ever hold an original Lear cartridge and a gas station special side by side, the difference in quality is very evident. The Lears were built thicker and stronger, and they were comparatively simple to take apart and repair. However, they were more expensive, so the more cheaply made examples began to take over the market.

It didn't help that the Compact Cassette format came along during this time. It was a superior format - smaller and longer lived. It meant switching over to a new format, but we'd see far more of that in the future when Compact Disk arrived.

When I was a junior in high school, one of the classes I took was welding. The teacher required that we enter Lincoln Arc Welding's contest for high schoolers. We had to write up a paper on a welding project, showing our design, and talk about the relative success of the design, and so on. I made some car ramps, and during assembly I discovered several problems with my design, which I duly reported. I figured I had screwed up, but they felt differently. I got a $25 cash reward, which I received close to our graduation the next year. So, the new group Boston had their debut album out. I bought four or five 8 tracks of it to give my friends as graduation presents.

Now that was a wise investment.

How Rare Is Your Personality?

Your Personality is Somewhat Rare (ISFP)

Your personality type is caring, peaceful, artistic, and calm.

Only about 7% of all people have your personality, including 8% of all women and 6% of all men

You are Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving.

Rare? Moi? Surely they jest.

Ripped off from MoK.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Laugh I Thought I'd Die

This was too good not to share. Ripped off totally from Steve H.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Suffer From This Malady

Yep, I suffer from CRS and sometimes even worse - CRAFT.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hoo Boy

Well, I'm down for two weeks. Yesterday, as I was stepping up on a trailer, I heard/felt a pop in my right foot. Something had given, and I could barely walk. I managed to herd my truck home and saw a doctor today.

Apparently, I've got arthritis in my feet. It was a freak (how apropos) accident that caused a chunk of a deposit to be broken from one of the bones, and cause me so much discomfort. That is the doctor's theory at this time. Xrays did not show any broken bones nor were there any indications of torn connective tissue. Hopefully, I'll be good to go in two weeks. I can walk - I am the proud owner of one of those big "bootie" things with the air bladders. Driving sucks -when acceleration is called for, the right leg has to be pushed into the throttle. Likewise with the brakes. Feathering and fine control are a new art to be learned, apparently.

Oh, well.

"Local" Artist

Some of you may have heard (no pun intended) of Stan Herd. He's noted for being a commercial artist who uses large tracts of land for his canvas. Originally from Protection, KS, he's made a name for himself making portraits that can only be seen properly from the air, as well as some pretty nice murals on buildings scattered around Kansas.

This is his latest:

This is near Longmont CO, and was strategically placed so airline passengers flying into DIA could see it. The portrait is meant to promote Papa John's new whole wheat crust.

Herd really made his name with this one:

For Absolut Vodka, of course. This one put him "on the map," as it were.

But, I prefer his "native" portraits:

The top picture is a portrait of Saginaw Grant, a Native American actor. The bottom is historical Kiowa Indian chief Satanta.

Mr. Herd is also known for his large murals with historical themes on various buildings in Kansas.

The old First National Bank building in Dodge City - owned by Bank of America these days.

A mural in Inman.

On the Kingman County Historical Museum in Kingman, KS.

He also painted a huge mural on the side of the old HyPlains Beef packing plant in Dodge. It is now owned by National Beef - and I don't remember if the mural is still there or not.

So, yeah, we got art on the prairie. It may not get the attention that Christo's does, but we really and truly don't care.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Squatter's Rights

I swear, once I think I've seen it all, then something like this happens. Today, four of us were on US36 in eastern Kansas headed for St. Joseph MO. We had 14' diameter tanks, which are a bit larger than we usually haul (12' normal). So, three of us had some double drops, which had us around 15' tall. One of us had a single drop, which had him close to 16' tall. There were a lot of overpasses we had to go under the closer we got to Missouri. Some, my buddy could "ramp." That is where we get off on an exit and jump back on, not even trying to get under the overpass. It is supposed to be a general rule that all underpasses under 17' clearance are posted, but clearly some of these weren't.

So, for the ones he couldn't ramp, he had to do a bit of agricultural driving. He had to take the shoulder and half drive into the ditch, thus leaning the tank over and dropping it enough to clear the overpass. My job was to guard his "six" by blocking traffic from the rear by being right in the road with my flashers on. This was working swimmingly well until we got to one overpass.

A hitchhiker had himself and his belongings parked at the edge of the pavement. Exactly where my buddy needed to drive. He told the guy he was going to have to move, because he needed to drive there, and explained about clearing the overpass. The guy didn't move, and M got tired of the waiting game. He eased forward, I watched his clearance, and I told M he was clear and to go on. I then saw the rail thin, dirty, gray haired and scraggly bearded hitchhiker running downhill into the bottom of the ditch. M had also ran over his bedroll or whatever it was as well. He wouldn't look at me when I drove by.

I don't know what the eff his problem was. He sure didn't have title to where his butt was parked. M couldn't tell where he was or if he hit him. I think M might have bumped him and sent him sprawling down the ditch. He had plenty of time to move his stuff and get out of the way.

I think he was just being stubborn and foolish - no one was gonna make him move. We had heard earlier there was a county cop talking to a hitchhiker under an overpass. Another trucker, apparently having traveled through there several times today, said the old man had been there all afternoon.

I'm sure this guy was probably mentally ill and really should be institutionalized. If you think you can stake your claim to a public right of way and no one is gonna make you move - well, the laws of applied physics vis a vis trucking just might come out ahead.

So, another story is entered into our trucking lore - it will be recounted wherever some truckers meet and get to talking about weird things that have happened. I'm sure I'll be giving M some crap about rousting homeless people in the future.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I've mentioned that I have a cat in the house. I may be the ultimate party responsible for this animal, but the ownership roles tend to be reversed with domestic felines. In other words, he owns me.

I never thought I'd want a cat, but one fine day Sis called me up. She found a kitten under her deck, and he was suffering. She took him in, and realized he needed to go to the vet because he was too young. She wanted me to take him in. I did.

I called him Duke. He obviously had Siamese heritage, even though he was mostly white with faint yellow circles on his tail, and a yellow tint at the tips of his ears. He certainly talked Siamese - his yowling could be grating. I never had him "fixed" which was a mistake.

To punish him for transgressions, like clawing furniture, I'd toss his butt outside. As he got older the female feral cats became more attractive, and it was no longer punishment. He'd escape out the door when I was busy. Then, a couple days later, his plaintive yowling signaled me he wanted back in.

Duke got into the habit of climbing to the top of the window A/C and yowled for me to come get him. He was scared to come back down on his own. Didn't stop him from climbing up there. I'd go out, and he'd generally claw the crap out of me when I'd try to get him past Babs the dog.

Naturally, that got old. One day, I decided he could climb down on his own and come to the door when he was ready. I never saw him again.

He'd come home all chewed up, so he was fighting it out with the local tom toughs. I regularly find coyote scat in my yard, and they have no problem with a menu that includes kitteh. A white cat is bit more of a target. So, I should have had him fixed, and kept him inside.

Well, it was kinda lonely at the catless ranch after that, so I went to Dodge to the animal shelter to adopt a cat. I didn't want a kitten again - it felt like the scratches and bite marks had just healed. I wanted one at least half grown. There was a beautiful long haired lady patrolling the area - they let her out to roam the facility because she was so personable. But, she had been declawed. No way she'd survive if she got out in my rough and tumble world.

There were kittens galore, but the one that caught my eye was a half grown Garfield in the making. One of those orange tabby types. He seemed to take to me right off. I decided to go with Rooster as a name - in keeping with the John Wayne theme. I put him in my truck enclosed in a cat carrier, but he wasn't happy about it. I let him out, and he was all over me on the way home.

Rooster has turned out to be a bit of a 'fraidy cat. He likes to look out the windows, but when a door is opened the desire to go out just isn't in him. He did get out several months ago. Some of my buddies dropped by one night while I was cooking supper. My front screen door doesn't have a "closer" on it, so if you don't close it, it, like other doors, doesn't close itself. My buds were a bit lubed, so the concept of a non self closing screen door never occurred to them. Rooster took this opportunity to explore. I saw him a couple times that night, and he was not interested in coming back what so ever.

I didn't see him at all the next day. I was still home recuperating from my heart surgery, so I had time to keep an eye out. The next day, I checked my old "well house." Years ago, the windmill pumped water into a couple holding tanks in the little building to keep milk cool before the water flowed on out to the stock tanks. It's a great shelter for mice and stray cats, plus some birds. Rooster had hidden himself there. It took some convincing for him to decide to come to me, but he finally did. I got him inside and he ate everything in sight, promptly hurled it up, and slept for about three days. He doesn't want to go outside at all these days.

He also isn't much for playing. He'll play with toy mice and other cat toys, but if I tie a string to one of the "mice" he isn't interested. He loves laser pointers, but he gets lazy and when he decides I am to just play it around his feet so he doesn't have to move at all, well, I put it away. He has a cat pole with three levels that reaches the ceiling. The carpeting has been re-stapled to the cardboard tubes many times. Rooster was initially afraid to go to the top level, so another buddy thought I should put his cat treats up there as an incentive. Now that is the only way he will eat them. He'll run at the pole from across the room and smack it, causing some treats to fall to the floor. If he doesn't see one fall, it doesn't exist to him anymore. As a rule, the floor is littered with cat treats he won't eat. If I pick them up and put them on the top level, suddenly they are fair game again.

Speaking of fair game, he's a decent mouser. This house is nearly one hundred years old, and the occasional mouse finds it's way in. He's captured them all. They are coming in around the pipes under the kitchen sink - if I would stuff some more steel wool in the gaps, that would stop. I hate going into the dirt cellar, though. I usually find fresh skins from snakes, the cobwebs are incredible, and it's a pain to crawl to where the pipes go into the kitchen. So, Rooster is the last line of defense.

Only he has gotten a bit jaded about the whole thing. The mice used to be killed promptly, then used as toys. Now, the chase is the big thing. He'll let them run and try to hide somewhere, so when I'm trying to snooze, I may have a mouse hunt going on.

Rooster is far more vocal than any Siamese as well. His little mewlings and plaintive cries are really endearing at 2am. No telling what he wants, other than attention. He is primarily a lap cat. I'm surprised he hasn't pissed all over my laptop, considering that is his competition. I've got him trained not to jump on my chair unless I call to him - I kinda meow at him, and he knows permission is granted. He really doesn't need a lot of petting - it only lasts a couple minutes until he wants to take care of his ablutions and then nap.

He's also figured out fairly well what he can destroy and what he can't. The cat pole is his to destroy. There is a sisal rope plank hanging from the kitchen door knob. The rattan clothes hamper has not fared so well, but that is about the only thing he has torn up.

He's a puker, too. I've found cat hurl all over the house, and he had climbed to some pretty remote spots to be able to place his stomach contents where he has. I particularly like finding it in my dish rack, or on top of my entertainment center. He sheds like a long haired cat - my vacuum cleaner is always full of cat hair.

But, I can put out several days worth of cat food and it takes him several days to eat it. He likes the treats and the occasional wet cat food. He isn't a picky eater. When I make sandwiches to carry in the truck, he really likes tidbits of lunchmeat. He gets tuna when I make mac, cheese, tuna and peas for supper.

Plus, Mr. Stealthy, heir to the kings of the jungle, must wear invisible combat boots. That is the only explanation for the clomping noises he makes while running through the house, showing off. I like to call it "throwing it into four wheel drive" because his claws are out when he's on the carpeting, stomping around. This is usually when he throws himself at the cat pole to dislodge his treats.

He'll never dial 911 to save my life, nor will he inform me that little Timmy fell into the well, but that isn't a job for a cat anyways. He must be a union animal. I do get a kick out of him and his antics, and miss him when I'm gone. I know he misses me, and he knows when I'm leaving, I may not be back for a while (The neighbors feed him and Babs when I'm on an extended trip).

So, I never thought I'd be a cat person, but there you have it.

Sunday Funnies

Egads, how I miss this strip!

The continuing adventures of Danae, her pygmy Clydesdale Lucy, and her family have kept me entertained for some time.

Jeremy is the epitome of teenage angst.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Top Ten Concept Albums

The concept album has been mostly a fixture of the rock arena dating from the sixties. It can be argued that they existed earlier, but the idea definitely crystallized in that period, most notably with The Beatles. Yep, they're in this list, so don't be worried about that.

I picked these and put them in this order mostly on a whim. I either felt it was a great example of the concept album (in my opinion) or just because I like listening to it (definitely my opinion). I have had no training, classical or otherwise, in the field of music. I cannot play any musical instrument. I just know what I like. Not a musical expert what so ever. Not me.

So, without further ado:

10) Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

It was intended mostly as satire against some of what they felt were the more pretentious bands, and a jab at the news media as well.

9) Rush 2112

Man, this was some spacy stuff when it came out. Naturally, we all zoned out to this and A Farewell To Kings. I liked this one better, so it's on the list.

8) Styx The Grand Illusion

Styx was a pretty popular band during my high school days. This album came out in 1977, the year I graduated. My eight track tape was worn out both in my car and at the dorm the next year in college.

7) The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

This album is often considered to be the pioneer concept album - at least in the popular rock arena. The music is definitely user friendly, and the boys from Liverpool had a lot of fun with the album cover. The collage of celebrities include W.C. Fields, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Laurel and Hardy, and Sigmund Freud among others. One of my college pals was a Beatle freak, affectionado, and he claimed the crashing car (to the right of the "S") was symbolic of the Paul Is Dead legend.

This album has a lot going for it - great music, great album cover, lots of mystique, but it isn't necessarily a coherent concept album. The White Album isn't as good, in my humble opinion. You can only listen to Revolution 9 just so many times.

6) The Who Tommy

Another pioneer. Tommy can be considered the first rock opera, even though it really isn't an opera per se. It is for sure a concept album - the story of Tommy, the deaf dumb and blind boy, is told from beginning to end. I can listen to this album any time, any day.
5) Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here

I didn't really get into Pink Floyd until college, so this album had been out a while before I'd given it a listen. It was worth the wait. "The Floyd" really made a name for themselves by releasing a whole string of concept albums. In my humble opinion, this is one of their best efforts.

4) Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds

Now this is a concept album - H. G. Well's The War of the Worlds set to music. If ya like classic sci fi and rock, this one is right down yer alley. Richard Burton narrates, and Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues is one of the singers. The haunting melodies match Hayward's mournful tone - if you've never listened to it - well, ya just gotta.

3) Horslips The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony

Oookay, this one is pretty obscure. I'm pretty much meat and potatoes when it comes to music, but here I'm touting something less than mainstream. Back in the day, when local radio stations had local disk jockeys (rather than someone owned by Clear Channel and broadcasting from across the continent), I heard this on a little Sunday night show that showcased obscure music the DJ wanted to play. This was one of the albums. A trip to the local head shop/music store and hey, there it was.

Horslips was a seventies Irish rock band that based their music on traditional jigs and reels. I could tell you this album speaks to my Irish heritage, but that would be a big load 'o crap. I just like it, period.

Thank you, Steve Dino.

2) Electric Light Orchestra Eldorado

The story follows a Walter Mitty-like character who mentally journeys into fantasy worlds via dreams, to escape a mundane reality he can't tolerate. Besides all that, I've been an ELO fan for years, and this is one of their best albums, period. Out of the Blue was also a pretty cool album, and it came with a cardboard cutout model of the ELO flying saucer, which was doubly cool. Eldorado is better, though.

1) Alan Parson's Project Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Ok, this one really and truly is a concept album - it is based on short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Thus spoke the Raven, nevermore nevermore nevermore. 'Nuff said. The "Project" put out some serious albums, including I Robot and Eye in the Sky. I like this one the best, though.

Pink Floyd The Wall

Okay, so I lied. I've got eleven on my list. I don't care. One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. Whoops, wrong genre. Turn the volume up to eleven. Okay, still in the wrong genre. The Wall is probably the most extravagant example of a concept album, ever. I anxiously awaited it's release, and had to see the movie. I've listened to this album stoned, and tripping (well in my past, I guarantee you). It still wears well. It didn't need those "enhancements," even if I thought they were at the time. Nearly thirty years later, I still enjoy listening to this album. It would be one of my "desert island" choices.

Yeah, I kinda like it. So, what are your favorite concept style albums? My choices pretty well stop in the early eighties, as has my musical tastes. Why do you like your favs?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Best Live Album

I remember hearing Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive is the best live album ever made. I beg to differ.

I'd never even heard of Little Feat when I first heard Waiting for Columbus. I'm not even that big of a fan of jazz rock or a New Orleans kind of sound. This album was just pretty damn good. Somewhere I've even got an Original Masters Recording (or their competitor, which I've forgotten). The CD version available now is politically correct - the song Don't Bogart That Joint isn't on the brave new world's version.

Roll another one
Just like the other one
You've been holding on to it
And I sure would like a hit

Don't Bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me
Don't Bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me

Don't get me wrong - I had to quit that shit a long time ago. But, I can listen to this song and laugh. And the album is a quality performance. Very little "new" music sounds as well crafted as these guys did, so long ago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tim Richmond

Nineteen years ago today Tim Richmond died due to complications from AIDS. He was one of Nascar's stars - but he definitely wasn't cast in the mold Nascar wanted. He was born wealthy, unlike most of the hardscrabble drivers of that era. He was a playboy - wearing Armani, and giving autographs with his drivers suit open to expose his hairy chest. In the group photo for the 1987 Winston, he exposed himself as a prank. This was airbrushed out in later prints, but the originals that slipped by are collectors items.

He particularly enjoyed competing against Dale Earnhardt, and Kyle Petty was probably his best friend among the drivers. As it became clear that Tim had AIDS, Nascar disowned him. They wrongly banned him from driving due to a supposed positive on a drug test. He was singled out for the test as well - no other drivers were required to take one. Nascar later admitted that the only substances they found in Richmond's blood were Sudafed and Advil. He sued, but Nascar countered, wanting him to release all of his medical records. He basically went home to die after that. To this day, Nascar has not apologized nor acknowledged Richmond's racing accomplishments.

In 185 Winston Cup starts, Tim Richmond scored 13 wins and 14 poles. He was one of the first drivers to use a fire suit and gloves. Derided for it at the time, they are required equipment now. He also preferred full face helmets. To this day, no one is sure how he contracted the disease. A Charlotte woman who said she had been engaged to Richmond, publicly announced in 1995 that she was also HIV-positive. Former model and actress LaGena Lookabill said she met Richmond in 1980 when she was Miss World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Doctors told Lookabill she had six months to live when she was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, but thanks to a better understanding of the disease, she is still alive today.

The movie Days of Thunder is (very) loosely based on Tim's life. The character Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) is Tim, Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) is Harry Hyde, and Rowdy is Dale Earnhardt. In the great scheme of things, Days of Thunder is pretty crummy. But, for those who know, it is a tribute of sorts.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What Was Old is New Again

Link, and better version

I've been hearing this song quite a bit this last month. Foreigner's first album came out while my compadres were in high school, and we used up the eight track tapes listening to them. I'll never forget my best friend and I cruising around town after a less than successful foray into the dating scene, singing Cold As Ice at the top of our lungs when it rolled around, along with the Eagles Already Gone.

This was in a '68 Javelin SST with the 343 four barrel and auto. That was a fun car, and M had an eight track installed in the center console with Kraco speakers (no doubt). Quality audio for sure - heh.

But, we tended to have more money in our performance parts than audio components in those days.

It's good to hear Foreigner again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Haulin' Butt on the Big Road

To the driver of the red Freightliner who successfully passed a Swift truck today west of Burlington CO on 170:

Man, I tell ya, you are a lucky driver. The powers that be at Swift and your company (sorry, I missed the name) decided that your respective onboard computers limit your top speed to the same limit. However, either you had more tread on your tires than that "slow" Swift truck you passed, or your speedometer reads a tad slower. Either way, you definitely had the speed advantage, and it showed. You also had the extra power needed to pull right on by that Swift truck, too. This was no back and forth battle up and down the rolling hills - it was clear you had the more powerful machine. Everyone lined up behind you knew you would be the victor in this life and death struggle on the Interstate hauling America's goods. You were able to gain at least 100 feet on ol' Swifty every five miles - since that is how far you had to drive to get past him. At that rate, in your eleven hours of driving time, you could actually be 2.5 miles ahead of that dern Swift driver at the end of the work day. Look at the advantages, dude! If ya pull into the same truck stop, you'll beat him to the fuel line, showers and supper - always a huge advantage!

But, alas, when I was pulling out of the Kansas port of entry, I merged in front of that Swift truck. You should have gone by as I was working my way to the entry ramp. Wait - there you were - at the end of the line of trucks waiting to clear the port. Swift popped for PrePass, and either your company didn't, or the State of Kansas called you in to check ya out.

Oh, the humanity!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Paul Newman reportedly has weeks to live

Paul Newman has reportedly told friends and family he wants to die at home after being told he only has “a few weeks to live”.

The Hollywood superstar – who is thought to be suffering from terminal lung cancer – has now finished his chemotherapy sessions and has told wife Joanne Woodward and the couple’s three daughters that he wants to spend his final days at his home rather than the New York cancer hospital where he was being treated.

A close family friend told the MailOnline website: “Paul didn't want to die in the hospital. Joanne and their daughters are beside themselves with grief.”


Ohh, man. Yeah, he is 83, but I'm not liking this news. He's been one of my favorite actors from The Hustler to Cars. I've particularly enjoyed his racing endeavors as well. He's been married to Joanne Woodward since 1958 - rare enough even outside Hollywood. They just don't make 'em like him anymore.

H/T sondrak

Aaand the Answer

to the age old question is definitely "yes."