Saturday, January 31, 2009
I haven't seen Babs in a week. I figure she's passed on.
She hadn't been eating much lately. By itself, that was no big deal - she and the neighbor's terrier would alternate eating here and at their place. For several days, the dog dish couldn't be filled often enough, then it would sit full for several days.
It wasn't unusual not to see her for a couple days - often she was visiting the neighbors when I got home late and she was off asleep in her doghouse when I left early - like 5am-ish. She wasn't always here waiting for me to get home.
Winters seemed to be getting to her more each year. She never did her happy dance this winter. She didn't want to climb the steps to the porch for her treats at times. I could never tell if she was in pain - she hid that very well. I felt her joints and there was no indication - which didn't surprise me. She might well have been in severe pain, but just refused to show it. She was the same way with some infected bites she received over the years - they had to hurt, but I never was allowed to know it. Her pain was manifest in her lack of trust for humans - she had no problem showing that.
Last weekend, the last time I saw her, I had to hand deliver her treats. She wagged her tail, and ate one. Again, no obvious signs of pain, just that she apparently didn't feel well. Lackluster would describe it pretty well.
There was no way I was going to get her to a vet. She had never ridden before, and had absolutely no interest and in fact a great deal of fear regarding a pickup ride. She never wore a collar. Anything "new" like that sent her running for cover. Whoever abused her did a good job - she was basically scared of just about everything. Babs liked things a certain way and the same way all the time. Familiarity was her friend. New experiences were to be avoided.
She was a survivor, though. She wasn't afraid to eat a lot of things that disgust us - like cat turds, cow pies and such. She had been on her own for quite some time before she landed here and I started trying to gain her trust.
My neighbor hadn't seen her, either. Her doghouse is empty. The spot in the bushes where she liked to nestle is empty.
My heart is empty.
I think maybe I should have tried to get her to a vet, but then I remember how she was. I'd have had to hold her and let someone else drive just to get her there. I'm not sure how she'd have reacted if she was panicked and trapped.
She had an air of privacy around her all the time I was lucky enough to know her. Going off to die quietly and without bothering me would fit the way she seemed to act all these years. It wouldn't have bothered me. I wish I had found her in her doghouse or another favorite spot. I could have buried her with the other family pets out by the shelterbelt. I hope the coyotes haven't molested her. I hope I did enough for her over the years - that this was a happy home for her.
She was such a quiet, unassuming dog with a big, scarred heart. I really have no good ending for this, so I'm just gonna quit now.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
And why am I sitting at home? Snow, that's why - too much for us "special" haulers. Perhaps special=short bus. Ahh, well, I'll be busy enough tomorrow.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Well, I have my suspicions. Anecdotal evidence and "feelings" as to the various causes. So, the .gov hasn't funded a study to pay me for this opinion, so as they say, Your Mileage May Vary.
First is the training and requirements for drivers. Turnover is pretty high at some companies, so the bottom line is they need a body behind the wheel that gets a load down the road without costing them much money. The image of the professional is really given lip service and not much else. Lots of trailers have toll free numbers so you can call and complain - but rarely does this result in any sort of disciplinary action on the part of the hiring company. Drivers are cranked out on an assembly line - they are trained how to back into a marked spot on open pavement, the essentials of the pre and post trip inspections, techniques designed to allow the student to pass the driving test, and the resident safety guru's requirements. For instance, when we "drop" a trailer, if the landing gear is in good shape, you can twirl the crank with a couple fingers to speed up the process. Swift will fire a driver who does that - if you aren't careful, you can hit your face with the crank while it's rapidly turning. It's a safety hazard.
The training must meet certain standards, and most schools seem to cover the basics. Driver professionalism? Not really. They might cover some things, but it becomes clear to a fresh driver that manners are pretty much optional. My "training" was on the job. I was placed with an experienced driver and he taught me his philosophy and "showed me the ropes." Of course, for a major company, this sort of undocumented unsanctioned experience doesn't count at all. The years of driving since then do, however. Most drivers I know were "trained" in a similar manner. We were taught not to intimidate the four wheelers, pass only when it's a sure thing, and all the other little things that make the driving public feel comfortable around us.
I got into an argument at the Petro2 in Salina one day with a couple of large company drivers. We were all in line at the Wendy's, and a driver and I struck up a conversation. He was in his uniform (as was I), and he was bitching about how his truck had just been turned down again. This was at the start of the fuel price bubble. I allowed that most of our trucks are limited - but to eighty mph. His was down to sixty three. Another driver behind us joined in. He also worked for one of the big name companies, and his truck was limited similarly.
I was commiserating with them about their pain. I would find it hard to work for a company that would do that to me rather than trust me to take care of their equipment and try to get mileage balanced with gettin' er done on time. I kind of started it when I asked why so many of "you" guys pull out to pass someone just a tick slower and cut me off? When you could clearly see I'm coming at a far greater speed? How is that safe and courteous?
That pissed both of them off. "Everyone does it to me." Oh really? I don't. "Well, I get tired of getting passed all day." And you are making this my problem why? Yeah, your professionalism is really shining through here. So, being resentful and jealous fuels many of their actions. They just don't care if what they do pisses you, me or anyone else off. They're not gonna get fired if you call their dispatcher. They've abandoned any sort of "driver morals" a long time ago.
I've liked this line from The Shawshank Redemption - James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen: The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. Society has changed in the last twenty years. The motoring public has changed. I don't stop for vehicles in trouble unless I see they are elderly. For one thing, cell phones have made it largely unnecessary for anyone to stop - chances are someone is on the way. Plus, this ain't my Grandpa's world - there are animals out there who plan to hand out harm, and this is one of the ways to do it. A hitchhiker on I70 gave me the evil eye the other day because I didn't stop and pick him up. First of all, my company says no to hitchhikers. Secondly, I have no room. My passenger seat has a denim cover with pockets full of various paperwork, the floorboards are covered with a cooler, my travel bag and laptop, an extra heavy coat, and various other deitrus. Thirdly, I don't owe a hitchhiker a ride, period. I don't trust 'em. Sorry. I don't travel if I cannot afford to go, and I'm not gonna depend on the kindness of others (beg) to get to where I want.
Society has changed in other ways, too. I can remember as a child, riding with my father. We might be stuck behind a truck coming out of town, waiting for the trucker to build speed. "Why don't you pass him, Daddy?" I asked. "Because, son, he'll have that thing wound up in a little bit and he'll walk off and leave us behind." Sure enough - the truck was traveling faster than us. Now tell me that the average person has that kind of patience these days. With our wide loads, one of the safest places to be on a big city interstate is the fast lane. We can hug the jersey barriers and stay out of the other lanes - where if we have to be in the right lanes the load hangs over both sides. I've been flipped off more times than I care to remember, and nearly collected several cars that made that extra special effort to cut me off as well as let me know I was number one. These idiots try to intimidate me, and they do, because I know the law of physics is on my side. I really don't want to kill some road rage asshole who ignores the mass times velocity equation. Many cities have banned trucks from using the fast lane in certain areas. Does it help traffic flow? I dunno, but it puts us out in the mainstream where we don't always have the ability to see the traffic. Y'all be the judge - would you rather I be able to guard my left side and concentrate on my right, or take the chance I won't see you when I'm in the middle or right lane?
So, it's really not important to society that the goods are delivered with a friendly flair - it's all about the bottom line. Traditional driver manners aren't regulated by the .gov, so they aren't required. Trust is a two way transaction, and both sides have eroded their credibility.
But, I'll continue to flash my headlights to trucks that pass me - I get passed quite a bit, and that doesn't bother me. I'll not cut someone driving faster than I just to get around someone slower. I'll honk for little kids that give me the "pull the horn" sign. I won't try to intimidate someone in a car by following too close, or squeeze into a lane to move someone over that upset me, or whatever. If someone tries to provoke me, I'll sure do my best to be above escalating that situation. It's all part of my job satisfaction - I do it old school, and am proud of it.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
It's gonna be interesting, for damn sure.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I've been pretty remiss in not responding as quickly as I should have to some meme tags, so here goes. Earl of Just the Library Keeper tagged me for two awards - a Lemonade award and a Kreativ Blogger award, and RT of RT's Ponderings tagged me for a Freeze Tag meme. The Lemonade is given to those who make lemonade out of lemons, the Kreativ is pretty self explanatory, and the Freeze Tag requires the respondent to tell six non important things/habits/quirks about themselves, plus all require the requesite return linkage and picking further participants.
The whole meme thing is a fun way to learn more about others and let others get to know us. I've said before how the blogging universe is pretty ingrown - it's more like a small town as far as atmosphere and the "yeah, they're friends with so and so" kind of relationships. We all travel in a fairly small circuit, compared to the hit counts of say - eBay or even the gradually dying New York Times. We've defined an even smaller subset of our little slice of Algore's Intertubes - most of the bloggers I visit and who visit me support the 2nd Amendment and are conservative to a degree. A meme, when followed, allows us to see other blogs with similar leanings that are recommended by the people who nominated us, and those we nominate. Thus, our horizons are expanded somewhat. I'm certainly not gonna start reading The Daily Kos or DU, but the choices our compadres have made do stretch the envelope a bit. I've "met" quite a few people in this fashion, and I follow their trials and tribulations with a great deal of anticipation and enjoyment.
I'm gonna change some of the prerequisites of these memes. I'm going to concentrate on two bloggers I know. Y'all might not realize how much they mean to me, so I guess their lives and general welfare are some of my quirks or traits I'm gonna tell you about. Both bloggers are Kreativ in the sense that they put their lives on the line to post much of their content. And, if there were any that make lemonade out of lemons, well, they certainly do that. The Internet justified it's existence for me when I met these two.
I first "met" Leah when I was hospitalized for my bypass surgery. Steve H. Graham of Tools of Renewal (ex: Hog On Ice) put up a post asking for his readers to pray for me. Leah responded. At that time, Steve nor I really knew who she was. Extraordinary really doesn't begin to cover it. Eighteen at the time, she had lived a pretty rough life. She's had numerous heart surgeries, and she had a heart stoppage that about killed her. She is still partially paralyzed on her left side. At the moment, she is in a coma recovering from further heart surgery - a new valve and pacemaker. She has frequent seizures.
But, she doesn't have time for all that, because she is too busy. She's quite the activist, our Wee Princess (she's a tiny thing). She is a Jew in Israel who supports gay rights, Erez Israel, and her brothers and sisters in arms in the IDF. You can imagine how well this sits with the followers of Mohommed. Her two roommates - UriCohen and Marc Ben-David plus her father have been called into service during Operation Cast Lead. Her boyfriend was killed in the 2007 war with Lebanon. She has been receiving death threats and even a few phone calls from the members of the Religion of Peace. To my everlasting shame, most of the crap comments she receives are from the US. She lives with bars on her windows. She's had to be moved several times before this latest hospitalization.
All this, and she's found time to stop by and pray for an old fat trucker, and leave encouraging comments for me.
I met Mish Weiss through Leah. Mish is one of Leah's friends who posted thank you notes on this blog for my encouraging comments for Leah. Mish is an ex Jersey girl who immigrated to Israel and volunteered for the IDF. She is a sniper. But, it turned out she had leukemia, and traditional chemo and radiation didn't help. She ended up on a treatment regimen centered on arsenic. Yep, you read correctly - arsenic the ancient poison. She finally ended up getting a bone marrow transplant after having all her bone marrow killed off with chemo. So any minor infection or cold might kill her.
She's also had to deal with a personal moral quandary. As a practicing vegan, she felt she couldn't drink Ensure because of the dairy content. Steve seemed to finally convince her it was okay to take it, since it was likely that malnutrition would kill her before the rest of her troubles could do it. She's caught and mostly defeated a cold (not without some drama), and is growing her hair back. She's not back to what she was, but she's getting there.
So, in between health crises, they both post news video clips about what is really happening in Israel, with an Israeli point of view. They have made friends with some Arabs who are risking their lives to even post supportive comments to their blogs. These two have actually made a difference in this world.
When I consider that they have actually accomplished something, I have to contrast what I and all of us do. Some of our circle fight the good fight for the Constitution. I see a lot of like minded individuals voice opinions on forums - what is your breaking point, what do you keep in your SHTF bug out bag, will you fight when they come for your guns, take my guns from my cold dead hands, etc, etc. Mostly all I do here is tell stories. Baby Boomer navel gazing.
But for these two, the S has HTF. There is no bugging out to a secluded mountain cabin in the Rockies with fresh trout every day and a large amount of dry goods. There is no bike or four wheel drive with a small carry bag with enough survival gear to get to this hideout. They are already there. The enemy is dropping rockets on them daily, and burrowing under walls to smuggle arms and munitions to destroy them. There are suicide bombers training to take out any and all civilian targets even as we speak. There are research labs going full steam looking to produce nuclear weapons to turn their land into glass. Like vermin, the girls' enemies never quit. Everyone they know, everyone they meet on the street, is involved directly in this struggle for existence.
Lemonade from lemons? Kreativ blogging? Yeah, I'm for thinking these two have those angles pretty well covered.
So, if y'all have the time, drop on by and leave a positive comment for these gals. When you hit your knees, mention them to The Big Guy. They're featured in my conversations with Him, and I know they pray for me as well. Once they know you, they'll be praying for you, too.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
A US Coast Guard camera caught it all. The crash is around the two minute mark. By four minutes, the ferry boat is almost there. The camera has to keep following the action as the plane drifts downstream.
And yeah, that plane comes to a rather abrupt stop - you can certainly see how someone broke a their legs. It's a wonder more people weren't hurt. The flight crew had the passengers out on the wings and the front slide in a hurry, too. Impressive all around.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Mary had a little pig,
She kept it fat and plastered;
And when the price of pork went up,
She shot the little bastard.
Mary had a little lamb.
Her father shot it dead.
Now it goes to school with her,
Between two hunks of bread.********************
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To have a little fun.
Stupid Jill forgot the pill
And now they have a son.
Simple Simon met a pie man going to the fair.
Said Simple Simon to the pie man,
'What have you got there?'
Said the pie man unto Simon,
'Pies, you dumb ass' !!
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the kings' horses,
And all the kings' men.
Had scrambled eggs,
For breakfast again.
Hey diddle, diddle, the cat took a piddle,
All over the bedside clock.
The little dog laughed to see such fun.
Then died of electric shock.
Georgie Porgy pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
And when the boys came out to play,
He kissed them too 'cause he was gay.
There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very, very good.
But when she was bad........
She got a fur coat, jewels, a waterfront condo, and a sports car.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed.
So, I got out the next morning and got the tank delivered. I'm sure we've all seen sights like this hapless semi before, along with a variety of four wheeled vehicles in compromising positions. In winter weather, I'd frankly prefer an eighteen wheeler with a heavy load (for traction) and not much wind resistance. Odds are that semi in the median was lightly loaded, if at all. Plus, having an eight to nine thousand pound crane mounted behind the cab helps with traction. However, the tanks and their attendant wind resistance more or less erase that advantage. But, all that is pretty much academic, because of the laws involving extra dimensional (oversize) loads.
The rules vary from state to state, but as a rule of thumb, anything a few inches over 13'6" tall or 102" wide is going to require a special permit to move, period. There are several ways to get these permits - there are agencies that can get them for your company, or more commonly applied for online with a route request. The idea is that the state will route you around any low underpasses or road construction too narrow for the wide load. Some states offer annual oversize permits - they allow up to certain width and heights - once they are exceeded, a permit with the measurements must be issued.
All have the caveat that the ultimate responsibility belongs to the driver. If I hit an overpass the state routed me under - not their fault. That would be my fault for trusting them in the first place. Michigan is particularly bad about this issue - we have to get permits from an agent, and the State of Michigan also has the caveat that the route must be surveyed. This means a pilot car equipped with a height pole set at slightly above the actual load must drive the entire route and if the route has to deviate more than a couple miles, reapply with the proper data. Keeping track of their bridges is beyond the State of Michigan. Most of the other states are at least halfway competent. You can probably tell what I think about going to that wonderful state.
Another caveat is that any accident involving another vehicle will be the oversized driver's fault. So, while motoring through Denver, if some rice burner on a mission from hell cuts me off just a tad too quickly and clips me changing three lanes at a time - hey, it was my fault. Hours of operation are generally limited to one half hour before sunrise going to one half hour after sunset. Some are just sunrise to sunset. Colorado allows loads under a certain size to move at night if the projecting points of the load and the front and rear have flashing yellow amber beacons. So, we all carry battery powered flashers and have some variety of permanent rotating amber beacons on the cabs of our tractors. Quite a few of our trailers have built in flashing lights beside the brake and turn signal lights. Illinois requires flashing beacons on the front of the truck and the rear of the load during the day, along with headlights and marker lights. Wyoming just requires marker and headlights. Most drivers run their beacons whether they are required or not. I actually was pulled over last month by a Kansas Highway Patrolman because I wasn't running my "blinky" lights - even though they are not required by Kansas law. I told him so, but turned them on anyway - the time saved was worth more than being proven right if he decided to write me up and find the appropriate section and article that I violated, since that would be impossible. Not even the enforcers are completely conversant in the laws they are supposed to apply.
Then there is the caveat of adverse weather conditions. The majority of the language just states that movement will not be allowed in adverse weather conditions, with no exact definition of said condition. How much snow is too much? What speed must the wind be blowing before we stop? It's all up to the whim of whatever officer is out and about. Certain states have really started cracking down compared to just a couple years ago. Colorado is now notorious for not allowing movement when there is any snow on the road. We have to carry tire chains in Colorado - but the only way we get to use them is when we're empty and on the way home. By definition, the roads are too hazardous for us to move if the chain laws are up.
Nebraska has a thing about rain. Apparently, with the right law enforcement personnel, if windshield wipers are required, it's too wet to move. In Kansas, it's the wind. Wind speeds including gusts of forty mph and above seem to get their attention.
So, Monday when I was caught in a blizzard, safety wasn't the only reason I was looking hard for a place to land. Any deputy or highway patrolman who caught me out there could give me a ticket with a hefty fine for being stupid. I really don't know what their policy is on day cab trucks - if they would allow me to proceed to a motel with truck parking, or make me stay in the truck on some offramp.
I'd really rather not find out the hard way.
Star Trek's Khan Noonien Singh
Ricardo Montalban passed away today at the age of 88. He'd been in pain and basically a paraplegic since a less than successful spine operation (9 1/2 hrs long) in 1993.
Of course, for most people, he was Mr. Roarke of Fantasy Island and the spokesman for the Chrysler Cordoba - "fine Corinthian leather." But, for me, he'll always be Khan Noonien Singh from the episode Space Seed from Star Trek (the original series) and Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan. The Wrath Of Khan is considered by many to be the best of the Star Trek movies, largely because of Montalban's portrayal of the uberman Khan.
Godspeed, Mr. Montalban.
Monday, January 12, 2009
That's the Mighty Binder in the middle with a 12'x35'
If you like a world that looks like the inside of your freezer. I should have stopped earlier, but the NWS on my radio did not say blizzard conditions were waiting for me. Guess what. I was spinning out going up hills. I originally planned on stopping in Stuart, IA, but I feel pretty lucky to have made it to Walnut, IA. The internet connection is spotty here (I've spent about twenty minutes trying to catch it working to upload these pics), and the only place to eat is a Mickey D's, but I'm just pretty tickled the Mighty Binder isn't in a ditch or sitting on an offramp with me sleeping in the driver's seat.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
The bottom pic is one of my second set of wheels. It was a 1977 Chevrolet Monza with the Mirage package. The top pic is a better look at what one looked like. They were supposed to kinda sorta look like this:
This was an IMSA race car - the fender flares and spoilers were less dramatic on the factory Mirage, but the resemblance was intentional.
At any rate, you could see this car coming a mile away. There weren't many of them, so meeting one on the road was fairly rare. Of course, back in 1977, most cars were more about show than go - and this was no exception. A two barrel carb on a 305 V8 didn't make this much of a drag racer. It had a single exhaust that was siamesed flat under the body tub. If headers were installed to let it breath a bit better, the driveability was right out the window - they easily bottomed out. But this particular car had a hell of a top end. The speedometer went to all of 85mph, but it did keep winding past. It just wasn't marked. I caught a friend's big block Vette one day - it was only running on seven cylinders and could only manage 120mph. Like I said, I caught him - easily. So, no telling how fast this thing really was.
I had just had some sixty series tires (on 13" rims - hoo boy!) mounted on the rear (70's on front) - according to Hot Rod magazine, this would cut down on top speed because of the extra drag. I was on my way to Oklahoma City to see my mother and sister, and it was really really late. I was on Oklahoma State Highway 33 between Watonga and Kingfisher - eastbound. I hadn't met anything in quite a while, so I opened 'er up.
The speedometer ran out at the same spot it always did, so Hot Rod was wrong as far as this car went. I just kept my foot in it - I was really making time. As I flashed into Kingfisher County, a car suddenly appeared in my rear view. I thought, but I wasn't sure, that it was a Ford sedan. The headlights looked right. Plus, I wasn't real sure, but I swore I saw a tiny red light flashing.
But, I wasn't sure, so I just kept my foot in it. The highway goes through some fairly gentle curves before emptying out into a tree lined memorial lane on the west side of Kingfisher. Fairly gentle curves at 55 aren't so much at 120+, so I backed off and rode into the memorial lane running 55mph. As soon as I hit the city limits, I met a deputy sheriff who flipped and ran right up behind me - right on my ass. The jig had to be up, but all he did was ride my butt - through town and all the way to the county line on the other side of town. I still wasn't sure about the first car, but the behavior of the deputy seemed pretty strange. Later, it occurred to me that he thought I might nail it and try to outrun him, too.
Fast forward a few months. Much earlier in the evening, but still completely dark. I was on my way back to OKC, and there was traffic. I had been running 65 - and remember, this was in the 55mph days. I'd get one car passed, catch another, and so on. After I hit Kingfisher county, I noticed a car gradually working it's way through the traffic I'd passed until it caught me and got right behind me. It was a Ford sedan.Suddenly, a tiny red light started turning on the dash. It was an unmarked car. I pulled over at an elevator's lot, and the sheriff, for that is who it was, told me to get my paperwork and come to his car. I sat in the passenger seat, and there was a guy sitting directly behind me - not saying a word but he sure looked unhappy with me. The sheriff wasn't very happy with me, either.
"When you're in my county, you slow this go&#@$#n car down!" It was either pay the fine on the spot in cash, which of course I didn't have, or surrender my license until my check cleared. The ticket would serve as a temporary driver's license. Of course, we both knew what he meant - he obviously remembered me but wasn't going to say anything about it directly. This was his first look at that car. Which is what saved my ass - had he a good description - the deputy in town would have nailed me.
I've never figured out why they didn't search my car. They'd have found a few things, too. Things that would have me getting a striped tan from the bars shading my skin. I know I looked the part - long hair, beard, and I'd been toking up as well. I had to reek of the ganga. I just don't think law enforcement back then was very knowledgeable about such things and really didn't know what to look for. Now that they can make some serious dough by confiscating anything remotely associated with the drugs, they have an incentive to pay attention.
So, picture this: I come ripping through there probably at around 130mph. Since it's one or two in the morning, all the sheriff sees is a streak go by. If his car ran 150mph - it's gonna take him at least a mile to get wound up, while I'm still cruising along at 130. I'd still have a several mile head start, and I'd get to town before he'd catch me. Of course, his car didn't run that fast, and he had no description of my wheels. It was pretty obvious who it was when I hit town, but there was no proof that would stand up in court. They had to let me go, but they damn sure remembered me, and not in a good way.
The sheriff had told me as soon as my check cleared, they'd send me my license. So, about a week after I had the canceled check in my hot little hands with no license appearing, I called the county clerk to see what was up. I was informed that they had to keep my license until the court appearance date. If I wanted it right then, I'd have to be there to pick it up. I informed the "nice" lady that was not what the sheriff had said, but she rather haughtily informed me that was policy. I informed her that the ticket expired as a temporary license on the time of the court appearance, so one minute after made it useless. Her county was putting me in legal jeopardy by holding my license, particularly since they had their money. Didn't matter, was policy. I informed her if I got into any trouble because of this, they would hear from my lawyer. Of course, I was blowing smoke from my butt - I couldn't afford one on a good day. They were just taking that extra little step to screw with me for outrunning them.
And, for years after that, I'd slow down hitting the county line. The county cops liked to sit on the side road and set up speed traps. I haven't seen one there in some time, not even today when I drove through (which reminded me of this story).
Would I do something like that again? Are you kidding? I'll probably never win a lottery or contest because I used up all the luck in that little deal. When I see Christmas lights go on behind me - it's pull over immediately if not before, what would you like to see first, officer? "They" say "you can't outrun radio waves" and that is true - I'm for thinking the deputy was off somewhere else and I got to town a tad bit quicker than they had anticipated. I just had a lot of factors going for me that night. Plus, driving that fast at night scares me these days. I know I'm not immortal. Back then, not so much.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
At any rate, I looked to find the author of the text below and couldn't find it. I did find a site that posted this text on Jan 7 - but since there are forum postings with the same text dated back in October 2008 I really doubt they wrote it. So, if the persons or persons responsible for the pictures and text wants correct attribution or removal, my info is on my About page.
Oldest Boeing Airliner In Flying Condition
This is as it should be - passengers in a closed cabin, pilot in open cockpit so he will stay awake. The airplane is in
and is the oldest flying Boeing in the World. Spokane, WA
After 8 years of repair and rebuilding and 8,000 hours of toil the Boeing 40C rolled out last winter as a finished airplane. They had to wait a few weeks for the snow to melt to fly this baby. They received their Standard Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA and completed the engine pre-oil and fuel flow tests for the first of the taxi tests.
Facts for the Boeing 40 project:
221½ gallons of dope/reducer and 120 yards of 102 ceconite fabric. 12 gallons of poly urethane paint for the sheet metal. The wings have 33,000 individual parts in them. The airplane weighs 4080 lbs empty, has a gross weight of 6075 lbs. It is 34 ft long and 13 feet tall with a wing span of 44½ feet.
Wing loading is 10 lbs per sq ft and power loading is 10 pounds per HP. It should cruise at 115 mph using 28 GPH, and 32 GPH at 120 mph. It carries 120 gallons of fuel in three tanks.
350 - 2 inch brushes were used to apply 6 gallons of West Systems epoxy, and 181 rolls of paper towels for cleanup.
There were a total of 62 volunteers who worked on the project to some degree. 21 of the volunteers did a significant amount of work, and 9 of the volunteers worked continuously during the 8 year project.
Apparently the thinking at the time was that the pilot needed the wind in their face to stay alert and awake. They couldn't be enclosed, or be too comfortable. I'm sure the phones were used to communicate to the pilot.
Leather and wood, fabric and "dope," polished aluminum - what's not to love?
Monday, January 05, 2009
I've mentioned my little Jack Russell neighbor before, and how he is a jacked up bundle of nerves. Any little thing will set him to barking, often when I was under the impression I wanted to sleep. Last night was no exception. I heard him bay - as much as a tiny dog can - on the front porch, then I heard some thumps and the unmistakable sound of the old hibachi grill dog dish being shoved around.
So, when I was getting ready to leave this morning at O Dark Thirty, I found it tipped on it's side and some dog food spilled. I refilled it, and noticed something odd among the kibble. Luckily, I didn't pick it up. It was a severed mouse head lying upside down.
The thought crossed my mind that it should be on a pike, displayed to dismay further predations by the mouse community. Well, maybe a toothpick.
Avast ye scurvy mice, or the beast with the voice from hell will finish ye off!
I'll just bet y'all are disappointed that it was too dark and I was in too much of a hurry to take pictures.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
direct link to website
I couldn't afford the tires to do this, but it sure looks like fun!
Edit: Ok, I see this player is oversized for the space provided. Someday I'm gonna read up on how to widen the width of the postings - the stuff on this page only takes up half of the real estate available.
Okay, edit number two - that was simple enough. Let me know if ya don't like the wider look.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Farm Girl has a post up about using a horse to sort cattle that isn't fully trained, and may toss her on her butt. She is Farm.Dad's daughter, who farms and ranches in southeastern Colorado - an area that if possible, is even dryer than here...
At any rate, they are pretty much old school as far as horses go. Farm Girl's continuing education is devoted to horse training. Now, I gotta tell ya, what I know about horses is basically this - it hurts when you fall off, and they eat a lot. I got this attitude from my father, who did not keep any horses. His thinking was that we didn't have enough cattle to keep one busy, and if we did have one, he didn't particularly care to work the kinks out of it every time we needed to move cattle. This thinking was shown to be pretty wise (as far as I was concerned) because one of our neighbors demonstrated the lesson. He had a horse called "How 'Bout That" who spent most of his days lazing in the sun, eating his fill and hanging out with the cattle. He didn't appreciate being put to work once every several months or so, and my neighbor generally went tail over teacup every time How 'Bout That got saddled.
So, we just used pickups to move and work our cattle. Once we got them into our corrals, then we'd work 'em on foot, which could get lively at times. I had a trail bike that I'd use to put stray cattle back in occasionally - it usually involved moving them a fair distance along the fence line to a gate to let them back in. The bike was screwed when we got to a corner and the cattle decided to go back the way they came rather than turn. A pickup quickly thrown into reverse (or a horse, of course) could cut them off, but the ol' motor sickle had issues. Cattle can be pretty obstinate - if they think they are being driven, they might just decide they don't want to go. On second thought, make that a near certainty. Since the cattle that were outside the fence were by definition the social deviants of the herd, you could be guaranteed that your frustration levels would be high and the air would be blue.
But ATVs have changed this equation. Just about every farm has at least one. The most favored are four wheel drive with and automatic and reverse. John Deere makes a five wheel version with a bed that is a specialty version - it can haul more than the average four wheeler, the bed has an optional dump kit, and it's more comfortable to ride. It's slower and far less usable on rough terrain.
But, it's the ubiquitous four wheeled ATV that everyone loves. Make up a box with some staples (pronounced "steeples"), hammer, fence pliers (pronounce "plahrs"), some scrap wire (pronounced "wahr"), and a come-a-long (pronounced "fence stretcher") and you have a mobile fence repair system that doesn't involve a seven or eight mile to the gallon pickup. The same goes for a trip checking water in stock tanks, or irrigation circles. Mount a small plastic tank and a short spray bar plus an electric pump and you have a spot herbicide application rig - one that doesn't require a trip to the bank to finance the fuel to fire up and run (versus a tractor). When hunting season arrives, you have a mobile butt placement system that places said butt in some pretty remote areas without actually having to walk through all that rough ground. The guys that take soil samples for farmers to determine what their soil lacks (around here, think Servi-Tech and Crop Quest) all have ATVs in the bed of their pickups with a set of folding ramps to off load anywhere they park. In fact, pickups with ATVs in their boxes are a constant presence anywhere in this area - at the resturants, bars, post office, convenience stores, .gov offices, banks, grain elevators - wherever you find the elusive farmer/stockman and his main mobile office - the pickup - you will find the ATV.
ATVs have not replaced the horse completely, just yet. Most of my cattle keepin' neighbors have a horse or three and the associated necessary accoutrements - saddle, tack, horse trailers, - all the goodies. They haven't separated from their roots completely, nor will they. Horses are a part of their lives, and a good cattle handling horse is a joy to behold.
The ATVs are just so much more convenient. Just step out, check the oil and gas, fire it up and go. Horses require chasing'em down, saddling up, and work the kinks out if it hasn't been ridden in a while. Just try to put a spray rig on a horse. Horses generally aren't wired for twelve volts so much, either. Horses will always have a place on the prairie, but it's obvious how the trend is going. Remember, most of the ground out here was broken out with horses pulling plows. Not many want to go back to those days. I'm not even really trying to rag on horses here. I've never been around them much, but I can appreciate them. I've never ridden a four wheeler much, either. My experiences were with the now obsolete three wheelers - the ones that would eat a leg when you, the original motorcyle rider, dropped a leg to help in a corner, rather than leaning away, which would totally wreck a two wheeled contraption. They weren't all that great chasing cattle, either.
So, some of the romance is slipping away, again. Somehow, I don't see songs written about the sound of a putt putting four wheeler in the early dawn as the cattle moo and snort. Poems will not be written about the loyalty of a Kawasaki or the steadfast nature of a Polaris.
Oh give me a home
Where the Hondas do roam
And the Deeres and the Artic Cats play
Nope, that ain't gonna cut it.
Friday, January 02, 2009
These three seem to hang out quite a bit - they are often found catching some sun snoozing together when the wind isn't blowing too much - or they are holed up somewhere fairly close when it is. The black dog is Babs - the stray that wandered here about ten years ago. The Jack Russell terrier is my neighbor's hound - there were two, but we think a coyote or some such got the other one. The remaining terrier is the "shy" creature, as shy as an overactive bundle of nerves can be. He is shy in the sense that he won't usually come to me if I have a treat, and if I toss it in his general direction, he yelps as if he's been struck in punishment. Of course, the fact that I occasionally step out and yell at him at 2am to get him to shut up may have something to do with that.
He and Babs have become quite close. At times, I fear Babs is getting old - particularly when she creaks around, sluggishly answering my call for a treat or to get petted. It seems the weight of the world is on my poor hound's shoulders. However, when the little rascal is around, she's pretty active. I suspect it's because she's jealous and afraid she'll miss out on some attention.
This cat slays me. She loves Beneful dog food, as do the dogs, the mice, the birds, and apparently any other creature except man that wanders by. She is obviously tamed. My neighbors picked up a bunch of barn cats several months ago, and I'm for thinking this one decided to check The Poor Farm out for a while. She won't let me pet her, but if I call the dogs, she comes running. If I step out with a fresh load of Beneful, she's right there, Johnny On The Spot. I think she has her preference of certain colored bits. The birds sure do - they'll pick out anything but the brown bits, and I think she's partial to the red ones. She'll run and leap onto the porch, and if I get too close, she'll jump off, then flop to the ground, to lie on her side and check me out. She's just not ready for me to pet her yet. I've taken some of Rooster's treats to her, so I think I'll win this one eventually. She obviously isn't afraid of the dogs, which is a surprise considering that I had to rescue my first cat Duke from Babs. Maybe the ol' dog is mellowing in her dotage.
And yes, that is an old hibachi grill. Lady had the bad habit of carrying away her food dishes, and this cast iron chunk was too much for her. It's been the dog food dish ever since.
And speaking of Rooster - this cat drives him nuts. I can't keep my old VHS tapes in order on my entertainment center - he has to bull his way through them to get to the window behind to see the interloper. He goes into show off mode - running the length of the house pounding his paws, thumping the screen door and crying about it as well. This sets well with me in the middle of the night - I generally just shut the front door so he has to look out the other window. At this moment, he's stalking the house piteously mewling, because she is taking some sun on the porch.
But, I've seen how he plays, and it's not nice. He's attacked a different cat I let in once. He acts like he wants to play, but he's just too rough. He's half again as big as his potential yet impossible playmate. He's just gonna have to deal with it, and I with his tantrums.
It's just kinda neat to have this unlikely trio greet me. They are characters, fer sure.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
My first exposure to “drugs” was when I was a senior in high school on a trip to another town to watch the girl's basketball team play. I expected beer, but I was kinda shocked to see a joint fired up and offered by my friends and classmates. What the hell – I puffed on it and caught a buzz. So much for my earlier vows not to do any drugs. Frankly, the beers had more effect.
Later that summer, I fell in with a different group of friends around Independence Day. Again with the beer, which I was well acquainted, and then the joints. I had a blast – literally – because we shot bottle rockets into the local body of water – The Sand Pit. I discovered that smoking marijuana didn't automatically kill me or cause me to rape and/or pillage. It seemed all involved had a good time, and there was very little after effects, unlike the hangovers associated with drinking. The dangers associated with drug usage didn't seem to apply.
And, if a little experimentation was all that went on, I'd have been ok. But, as time went by, I tried some other things – hash (really just another variant of pot), speed and cocaine. Coke never really “did it” for me – yeah, I felt the effects, but they seemed pretty esoteric for the money it cost. What really pushed me over the edge was my parent's divorce. I certainly didn't think that at the time, and I don't blame them for it, either. If I were less of a self indulgent type, none of this would have happened in the first place. I just was in an emotional turmoil that I couldn't handle.
I discovered LSD and downers – Valium and Quaaludes, in particular. I smoked pot all day. I also started skipping classes at college. I had moved out of the dorms and off campus, and my increased drug use alarmed my roommates enough that they moved out. I lost more than those guys as friends as well – it seems that drug users are a lonely bunch and require conversion of those who are not. The quality of people in my life really took a dive. I had gone from salt of the earth types to junkies.
So, I blew off college and entered the workforce. I managed to keep it sort of under control for several years, even working my way up to consideration as management material at that particular job. I started back to school part time, and ended up quitting that job and going back to school full time.
But, I got into partying again and my class attendance dropped to nothing – again. I ended up working for a harvest crew (they got high, too), and eventually found myself driving a truck for a local harvester (who didn't and does not get high, drink, smoke or curse). I had pretty well dropped the “hard stuff,” finding my life much easier to manage without that burden. I still smoked the weed, though, just not like I used to.
Finally, rumors of mandatory drug testing in the near future scared me into quitting altogether. No resupply – I scraped the resin from a pipe made from air line fittings and when that ran out, I was done. It was very difficult. I had weird dreams and nightmares, and I'm quite sure I was a bitch to get along with. I persevered.
I've smoked it a time or five since then, and I don't enjoy it much anymore. I get too paranoid to enjoy the high, which is a good thing. The stuff is stronger these days, too. I'm not even sure when the last time I did “burn one” was – it's been years, for sure.
When the “Just Say No” ad campaign came out, I just laughed. Sure, just saying no works – nothing else needed. Yup. Right up there with flapping my arms and flying to the moon. There are all kinds of things at work when temptation knocks at a potential abuser's door. First, most of us have grown up with the vision of eggs frying - “This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs.” However, the young person sees their friends acting normally – they aren't brain damaged zombies or out of control. They hear that maybe, just maybe, all that they have been indoctrinated with might just not be true – Look At Me – I'm Not Robbing Liquor Stores Because I Got High. Plus, they see these people having a good time – actually having fun, rather than suffering death and destruction. So, trust in what society claims is eroded, and trying other more “dangerous” things does not seem that severe anymore.
This is what I try to explain to kids nowadays. I've had my little talks with some of my friend's kids, and I tell them the truth – that the death and destruction thing is overplayed. Not that it isn't true – just overblown. What they were not told is how it seems the cool kids are having a good time, and at first, they do. They do have a good time.
Up to a point. We used to have a thing called “LP records.” Most of us with any sense of decorum at all had a belt drive or direct drive turntable that might be semiautomatic – which meant when we played a record, we'd have to place the needle on the record. When it was done, a semiautomatic table would return the arm to the side. A manual one would just run in the inner groove.
Most of us would have the television turned on but with the sound off (this was before remote control was so ubiquitous). So, we'd get high, listen to a side of a record, and be so stoned and lazy that no one would want to get up and change the record or turn up the volume. Yeah, those were some good times.
It was also good times when people you hardly knew stopped by to get high in the middle of the night - “Hey, I'll give you a buck for a joint.” Oh yeah, lovely, but you were all brothers in arms, right?
Once ya start lying for survival, your quality of companions and life in general go down the tubes with your morals. I understood Wolf Larsen's world view better:
"I believe that life is a mess," he answered promptly. "It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move. The big eat the little that they may continue to move, the strong eat the weak that they may retain their strength. The lucky eat the most and move the longest, that is all.
Strip the veneer of civilization away, even moderately, and you can find just how self serving your fellow man can be, and how little he can be trusted.
Getting back to the good times, nothing beats being paranoid all the time. Ambulances going by cause a sudden effort to hide the paraphernalia – just in case it's the cops sliding screaming into your yard. Not that they wouldn't find it in the lousy hiding place you just chose, like say, under the couch. Nope, not gonna find it there. Or hiding it when someone knocks on the door – you just can't be too careful. Naturally, if a traffic cop fell in behind you for a short distance, when you got home, it was time to “clean house.” Yep, that sure is a great way to live.
Another common thing to do was to deal a little as well. Back then, a quarter pound of pot cost, oh, let's say $120. It was cheaper further in the past and far more expensive later on, but this figure will work for our purposes here. At that time, ounces went for $40. So, if you bought a quarter pound (four ounces) and sold three ounces, you could have one ounce for free! Whee!
But, often you'd have the product in question “fronted” to you. Which meant you didn't pay for it. Which meant if the product didn't sell, or if you were stupid enough to spend the money on something else, you'd have a higher level dealer after your sorry ass. I saw a lot of people get into trouble this way with coke – it was much easier to run through an “eight ball” and not get any sold than it was a quarter pound of pot. Just what you want – people who “know people” pissed at ya.
So, let's check on the positives here – yer a lying liar who can't be trusted, a paranoid, jumpy freak whose antisocial tendencies draw attention from the wrong sort of people. What about health issues?
The facts are that the ol' ticker can give up the ghost without warning when one is dabbling in cooking one's brain with modern chemistry. Cocaine is notorious for that. Another little practice we tried was mixing downers and industrial strength booze. There's a heart stopper fer sure. And LSD? As far as bang for the buck goes, it wins. Ya know when you have a high fever, and everything has that surreal feel to it? Turn that feeling up to eleven, and you're tripping, baybee. Yeah, you too can watch the paneling drip. For hours on end. Woo Hoo.
And let's not forget finances. Just how are you gonna pay for all this fun if you can't hold a job and require some pretty high dollar brain entertainment?
When I quit, I had to abandon most of the “friends” I had at the time, which was really not a great loss. I just couldn't hang out with people who thought I was passing judgment on them because I was trying to quit. They can't help feeling that way – it's all part of the addiction and denial. Luckily, I was able to get hooked up with far more “normal” people. One of my “party buddies” also quit, and we found we were still friends. We'd “gone through the fire,” come out the other side and still had something in common. We'd “seen the elephant” and survived. There are those who are still on the other side, who think we are the one's who are burning. Some have a measure of control over their lives, if they never have to pass a blood or urine test.
So, I tell the young charges that their indoctrination is partly true – death and destruction are possible, but not likely at first. I try to convey just how their lives will change, and not for the better. I tell them of the siren song of peer pressure, and how their education didn't warn them that they would have a good time – but only for a while and at a very steep price. And not everyone can manage quitting like I did - most require some sort of help. Which is fine as far as I'm concerned - any way that works.
Do I regret my past? Sure I do – mostly I hate that I let my family down. I started in pre-med. I am certainly not the same person that I would be had I taken a different fork. Would I be happy being a doctor? I am not the person who would have been a doctor, so I don't know. The person I am now – probably not so much. How about a mechanical engineer? That is what I went back to school to be. I think I'd have made a better engineer than a doctor, frankly. Am I happy with what I am now? More or less. I hate that my health problems have presented me with more bills than I can cover for quite some time. I've fought hard to make my word worth something again, and that frustrates me.
But, my health problems are self inflicted. I gotta take responsibility – I can't in good faith cry to God “Why ME?” I know why, and it all points back to my decisions in the past.
I'm not much of a joiner these days, either. The cool kids can do without me just fine - I'm hardly necessary to their continued coolness.
I am pretty tickled with my extended life, as it were. I'm not ready for the long dirt nap. Life is pretty simple, yet rewarding. I like my friends. I like my job, and enjoy the days off as well. I like talking to God more these days. I like shooting the ol' shootin' irons, and the camaraderie involved with that. I like being a bit of ferment, trying to eat a bit better.
And what are my views about decriminalization or legalizing lower tier drugs like marijuana? I'm not really sure. I think the “War on Drugs” is overdone – why should people whose only crime was to possess a certain amount of pot do more time than a far more physical criminal? Why should law enforcement get to confiscate property that may or may not have anything to do with drugs?
And, I don't think I have the moral authority to stop someone from trying what I did. It's already illegal. How can I make it double plus ungood? Just because I can't handle it doesn't mean no one should ever be able to. All I feel I can do is relate my experiences as far as that goes. Anecdotes don't make evidence.
Then there is the whole Prohibition argument – the War On Drugs is basically a failure. As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. End of story there, for sure.
But, I'm uncomfortable with making it legal, too. Pot is a gateway drug, and comparisons with alcohol and Prohibition fail because of the different substances and their strengths and side effects are considered. Everclear and beer are the same thing when it comes to the drug involved, THC, LSD, cocaine and so many others are completely different.
Nope, Pandora's Box has been opened. There is no going back, and I'm not certain about the steps to the future. But it is a New Year, full of expectation of something better. Perhaps.