Sunday, August 30, 2009
This video shows that Michael was still alive after his dead body was transported to the Los Angeles Dept. of Coroner I checked the license plate number and it looks like the King of Pop is jumping out of the same van, his dead body has been in. I got the original video tape from a trustworthy source. I know him for years. And I am sure it´s real and Michael is alive.
I was kinda hoping our culture was done with MJ - as far as I'm concerned, he's had more than his allotment of fame. Silly me. We're gonna be seeing him on tabloid covers for years - Elvis and MJ spotted together in Borneo, or JFK, MM, and MJ living in a super secret home for celebrities hiding from the public, or some other such nonsense.
Lord, give me strength.
H/T Dave Barry
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Of course, this is a scene from Animal House - where one of the good looking girls from a float was launched into the young boy's room just as he was perusing Hugh Hefner's contribution to our culture. His dream came true.
When I was eighteen, it was a milestone. I could buy beer. Wowee. Legally, at any rate. Naturally, I celebrated. The twenty first birthday was a blowout. I had a big party at the house I rented with some other guys. A couple kegs and "Jet Fuel" were mixed up. Jet Fuel is all the clear liquors you can imagine (why we didn't just go with Everclear I don't understand, but that was the recipe), concentrated orange juice with oranges, lemons and limes cut into it, and maybe some other juice. That part has kinda faded over the years. At any rate, some complained that it was too stout. I didn't think so because I'd been mixing it up, diluting it for some time, and sampling the results for excessive bite. Apparently, the rigorous testing regimen had unduly influenced the "bite" tasting ability I may have had at one time or another.
So, this sort of attitude didn't exactly serve me well. When my thirtieth birthday rolled around, I was pretty depressed. I'd pissed away a couple college educations, and I was "just" a truck driver. Woo hoo. Woe was me. I had a laundry list of things I could point to and say I could have done better. Never trust anyone over thirty rolled around in those thoughts. I was depressed, but not paralyzingly so - it just bothered me at the time.
By the time I hit forty, the ol' attitude had improved. Getting a bit older had taught me that I was a decent guy in my own skin, and I really was contributing to society. I was working for the USPS at the time - eventually becoming desperately unhappy there - but I was a cog in the machine. A good cog. Decent pay and benefits.
The next decade was full of major milestones in my health - and none of them were good. Working at the Postal Service was actually causing poor health - the heart attack was a clue. So I finally quit and tried a different job - the "tech" guy at a car dealership. I had no certification, but I'd taught myself quite a bit. I found selling cars was not my calling, and found my way back into a truck. While I was "under" during a kidney stone zapping, my EKG alarmed the staff, so I ended up getting shipped to a heart hospital. Four bypasses later, and a five month recovery period trying to regain feeling and use of my arms and hands, I ended up back in a truck.
So, I find myself at fifty today. Am I gonna cure the common cold? Not bloody likely. Am I gonna be rich and famous? Equally unlikely. More importantly - do I want all that? Not really. I'm working for a company that treats me quite well - the pay isn't up to Postal Service standards, but I'm not just my Social Security number to them. There are other less tangible benefits to a job like I have. It's a good job.
I've found that living in this area might not be "cool enough" for some - it lacks a lot of what more urban areas offer. However, that strikes me as a plus rather than a loss - because many of the associated problems with larger populations avoid us out here in flyover country. If I want to see a cross soaking in urine, well, I can always go to the big city. Otherwise, not so much.
I've learned quite a few things, really. It is a cliche that the little things in life matter, but there is truth in that statement. The songs of the chickadees over the hot gusty winds - yeah, it's blowing out, but there is something there to be appreciated. The smile of a friend - a neighbor - genuinely glad to see you. Livestock frolicking in the cool of a morning. Running some farm machinery (or a truck) - enjoying the challenge and the music made by well engineered parts working together.
Plus there are other little things that show us we matter. The eulogy I wrote a few days ago was read yesterday at the funeral. One of my best friends read it, since I couldn't be there. Sid's family called to thank me for writing it, and asked if they could use it. Of course I was honored and agreed wholeheartedly. So, even in this small manner, I made a difference.
And I couldn't have written that twenty or thirty years ago. I didn't have the life experiences necessary to read people like I do now, and appreciate the motivations that drive us all. What makes us tick. I'm certainly not claiming to read perfectly, no, far from that. Enough to get by, and enough to tell if someone is real or not. That is sufficient, I think.
So, on this, the half century mark, I find myself more thankful and grateful than pretty much any other emotions. I'm tickled I'm still here, for one thing. Who knows what tomorrow brings? I'm not worried about it - it's gonna come with or without me. I'd prefer that tomorrow involved me, but if it doesn't, I'm comfortable with it.
I'm saddled with an ironic brain. Every time I think: "Thank you, God" I hear that kid pictured above, and wryly consider how I, too, wouldn't have minded having a glittery babe drop into my bedroom. Actually, I still wouldn't mind. It would be like the dog that finally caught the car - what would he do with it?
But, another thing I've learned is that just because a thing is possible doesn't make it probable. The moments in the margins where the world shakers can't see - that's where I'll be. Stay tuned, it's only ten more years til I hit sixty.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
My current project is a 1/6th scale Chevrolet 327 cu in V8. Based on a 1964 365 hp Corvette motor, measurements have been taken from an actual engine as to be most accurate. The head and block began as billet aluminum that have been painstakingly machined on a Bridgeport-style mill. The 5-main crank has real babbit bearings, while the cam is a scale 30-30 Duntov.
Dies were developed for stamping out the front cover, oil pan and rockers. The pistons and water pump housing are cast aluminum, and the valve covers are going to be investment cast.
Since this engine is a runner, there is spark ignition, a pressurized oil system and a cooling system just like its big brother.
Right now the engine has been completed to the point that it will run for brief periods of time. However, several things have yet to be finished including the water pump/radiator, valve covers and carburator to make this a full time running engine.
I don't care who you are, that right there is just plain cool! It's the Moyer Made 1/6 Scale Chevrolet V-8. Many pictures and another video there - the workmanship is stunning!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Western Kansas is typically referred to as flat - and yes, it is. But, little creeks, or draws as we call them, have cut into the prairie over the centuries resulting in some fairly rough country. Often, you can see across, but not have any idea what is in front of you until you about fall in. Most of these areas are not tillable, so they automatically become pasture ground. One such area is behind my house - the Buckner "crick" - lies at the bottom of a pretty decent "cut." It's also part of a path that wildlife follow from the Arkansas River to Hodgeman County - the path goes through a lot of pastures (remember, the ground is too rough to farm) with windmills - so there is fresh water every few miles. This little area is a bit deeper and rougher, and there is a bend in the crick that has undercut the bank - with a rock outcropping - that has been a coyote den off and on over the years, among other animals.
So, it was time to call coyotes, and this little area was as good a place as any. I parked my pickup about three fourths of a mile on the north side, and started walking in. Arrayed in camo, with my Model 10 Savage in .243 on a high bipod, a small set of binoculars, and a couple calls - I was up for some action. I found a slight knoll with a little scrubby tree and some weeds. I pulled up some nearby weeds and settled into the scrap of cover. The wind was blowing from the south, so that's the way I watched. It wasn't blowing very hard or gusting much - just enough to have plenty of fresh air. It was strong enough to make the nearby trees sigh and wave. The sky was a light blue with a few scattered clouds marching to the north.
Pretty idyllic, if ya know what I mean.
So, I started my wounded rabbit call. I'd do a few calls, and go quiet, waiting to see if any 'yotes would show themselves. I scanned the trees, and I had a fairly decent view of the draw for about a half mile - so if one or more popped around the bend, I'd have 'em scoped out. Rifle at the ready, I'd call again, and wait.
I tried for about an hour or so - I'm not really sure, because time does pass differently when you aren't concerned about it. Apparently, there were no curious coyotes within listening range, or I just sucked at calling. I had given up the north country, because my odor was surely being wafted to the north. I'd turn around once in a while, but not very often. Little movements and all.
But, all of a sudden, there was a sound like car doors slamming behind me - car doors at a distance. Or maybe pickup doors at a distance - and there was only one that I knew about back there. Was I getting robbed?
I eased around to look. I found myself staring at a mule deer buck and his little harem of two does. Curiosity had driven them to me just to see what was up with all the noise. They stood about fifteen yards away, inspecting me, wary, yet relaxed. The buck sprang forward a bit and his hooves slammed the ground. I'd heard them sproing into position behind me - my pickup was safe. He turned and regarded me again, he and the wimmen folk. They were magnificent, up close - the vitality of their breathing - expanding ribs, shimmering leg muscles under tight skin - I watched in wonder.
I had a perfectly good deer rifle in my hands. It is my deer rifle, as a matter of fact. But, it wasn't deer season. I always get whitetail permits anyways. But to be honest, I couldn't have shot one of them even if all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed. They finally decided I wasn't much of anything at all, and, bounding to the west and then gradually south, they disappeared into the kinks of the draw, streaming across the ground with leaping bounds.
I guess my wounded rabbit didn't suck after all.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
That's it in a nutshell, but Sid deserves so much more. He had been fighting cancer, and it wasn't pretty, so as in most cases like this, it was probably better for him to return to the Creator rather than suffer. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a citizen of Cimarron who didn't owe some sort of gratitude to Sid, because his actions over the course of his life influenced us all.
Sid was one of the "big" farmers. His family also owned several insurance companies based in Cimarron, so he was responsible for employing a large portion of the population of our little town, plus the neighboring communities that commuted. Unfortunately, the tightening farming economy has even managed to pull down some of the best, and Sid was one of them. A lot of people claimed that it was because Sid insisted on "the best" when "just good enough" would do. An example often floated was the construction of new cattle pens and loadouts scattered across his pastures. They were always welded pipe set in concrete. The best. Instead of wood and wire or boards, or whatever - just good enough.
Nope, Sid wasn't all about the "best.'' His thinking was more for the future. Those pens he had built all over the place will still be there functioning with little maintenance fifty or more years from now. Sid built to last, and "just good enough" wasn't good enough. He also set aside a lot of ground for little wildlife conservation areas. He was the person responsible for the little area another farmer destroyed to gain more tillable ground mentioned in this post.
I say this because of how he lived, too. Sid could have afforded a whole series of expensive, showy cars to drive, but that wasn't what he bought. Nope, he had "field cars." Sid didn't drive a pickup because he needed a car more. Visiting landlords and family, various executives and dignitaries, and more apropos to me, Scouts - needed chauffeuring around. Pickups didn't have that kind of passenger room. So, for years, Chevy Biscaynes with six cylinder power and three-on-the-tree-dog-dish-hubcap-black-sidewall-am radio models were his choice. That was enough, they met his minimalist requirements, why waste money on flash? When Biscaynes were discontinued, Impalas were his choice (rather than Caprices, the higher cost trim level). He was quite upset when Chevy dropped the manual option so that automatics were the only game in town. If Sid needed a pickup to get somewhere inaccessible to his cars, he had a veritable fleet of four wheel drive Chevy pickups equipped with flatbeds, all forest green, with perhaps the Warner Ranch brand logo welded on the headache rack (shop made, by his welders in his "shop"). Nothing ostentatious, but functional. He finally succumbed to the SUV revolution - but only because what was basically a four door car with four wheel drive met his needs.
Sid always paid the help a bit more than the going rate. This included a legion of high school boys who helped drive his fleet of tractors during the summer. I was quite envious of the hours and pay they got - a lot of my classmates were able to buy pretty decent cars for themselves and have spending money all year long (if they managed the money properly, of course) working for Sid. In contrast, my dad didn't have that many hours or pay for me. There were a lot of college educations that probably wouldn't have happened if not for Sid.
Sid also gave back to the community in countless ways, but for me, the two most visible were his affiliation with the Democrat Party and his devotion to the Boy Scouts of America. Sid was the party in Southwest Kansas. He stood apart in a sea of Republicans. He had a lot of influence in Topeka, no matter the party in power. There were countless little things he did and expected no publicity or exposure in return. If there was some sort of community effort to raise money for, say improvement to the local library, well, the organizers could always count on a significant check from Sid. He didn't want the fanfare, he was all about results.
He was also the community Scoutmaster for years. He hauled me (and so many others) to the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch several times in his "field car." Riding with him was a pleasure, because it was always informative, and he listened to us no matter the subject or how inane the conversations became, as is the wont of young teenage boys. He was adamant about keeping the campsite clean, even cleaner after we left than before we got there. It used to drive us to distraction when he'd announce it was "time to police the area." Sid would find the most insignificant shred of paper, kick it with his toe, and have one of us pick it up. Naturally, we thought this was indicative how he was better than us, but we were wrong. He was driving home the idea of responsibility - unflinchingly delegating the task at hand. He didn't care what we thought in that case - he was all about results. Results being young men with high moral standards and skills to meet the challenges of the world. Leaving the world a better place.
Sid was at home in a suit or Boy Scout duds, but his everyday uniform was pretty basic. Cotton blend button shirts, blue jeans, comfortable leather lace shoes made up the bulk of his wardrobe. That outfit served him during harvest, climbing on a combine or a truck to check his wheat, or meeting a dignitary at the airport. The custom harvester who employed me for so many years cut most of Sid's wheat and all of his fall crops, so I had occasion to interact with Sid quite a bit over the years. He and my father's younger brother were roommates at Kansas State, too. I'd see Sid at the local cafe - when I actually go - and he always - always - spoke to me and asked about my family, and what I was up to. That was his way.
This was something he passed on to his children - Sara and Charlie - as well. Were you a casual observer watching the social interactions of the younger set, you'd have never guessed that those two were the "richest kids on the block." Some time after we'd all graduated, I ran into Sara at her dad's feedlot. I was there unloading grain, and we hadn't seen each other in years. The incongruity of our stations in life and how most people deal with that sort of thing struck me, so I mentioned it to her. The money she represented could have bought and sold me or many of my classmates with higher opinions of themselves with ease. The "stuck up" types. Farm kids, even in farming communities, often are seen as lower on the social scale than the "city" kids.
But not with those two. I complimented Sara on that fact, and she was pretty tickled about it. She informed me that her parents had raised her not to think she was any better than any of the rest of us, and she had tried to live her live accordingly. Both she and Charlie are very active in the community and the Democrat party as well - carrying on the tradition. Leaving the world a better place.
I wish I could list all his achievements and honors over the years - I know he picked up a bunch of plaques and framed citations for this'n'that over the years. But that isn't the sort of legacy he was interested in. Just driving around the town, seeing the houses of his former employees, the families raised, the countless educations of the town's children, the enduring landmarks cast in trees, grass and durable, functional structures - well, that's more his speed. Results.
Sid, you left the world a better place, and I and many others owe you a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid by continuing to do the right thing, live a moral life, and leave this old world a better place for our descendants. I hope I have the strength to achieve a tiny fraction of what you managed to do. Au revoir, and rest in the bosom of the Lord.
And Thelma, Sara and Charlie - should you read this - you all have my deepest sympathies and condolences.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Three hookers were talking
The first one said:
"I had a Fireman last night"
The second one asked how she knew he was a fireman, and the first one replied:
"I saw his badge"
The second hooker said:
"Well I had a policeman"
The first one asked how she knew he was a policeman
The second hooker replied:
"I saw his gun"
The third hooker then joined in and said:
"Well, I had a farmer last night."
The other two replied:
"How do you know he was a farmer?"
The third hooker replied:
"First he said it cost too much,
then he said that it was too dry,
then he said it was too wet,
and when we were through he asked if I had any free hats!
Not that this is the only weakness in GM's armor - quality of the product, the product being several years behind the competitors' curve, and poor management leap to the mind immediately if not before. But, it would surely help if the designers weren't lost in Chris Bangle La La Land (It ain't just GM that has this problem...).
So, perhaps, just maybe, the idea that GM has just opened up it's design studios to the public in the form of a blog has at least warmed me up to the possibility of success for the "New GM." It's called The Lab. The designers are letting us see some of their works in progress, and are soliciting comments on same. At the moment, there are two projects that are displayed - the Bare Necessity Car and the Bare Necessity Truck. Both are presented as vehicles stripped to their basics:
We knew from our research that people wanted an extremely efficient vehicle that was also low-cost and green. But what was really eye-opening to me was that people seemed to desire extreme efficiency even if it meant making small sacrifices/trade-offs. The idea of a back-to-basics, bare-necessity approach to designing a vehicle made sense. So I had two questions:
How can we design an optimally efficient vehicle? I mean really, what does that even mean?
What are people willing to trade off for efficiency’s sake?
One answer would come in the form of our first “big idea”: Design a car with the lowest cost per mile of any four-seater on the road!
So if people are willing to make some trade-offs for efficiency, maybe then the first trade-off would need to be size. It would need be a very small car – having said that, it would need to be really flexible in terms of space.The question of making trade-offs is difficult. “Bare necessity” in vehicle terms has a unique meaning to different people. The idea of offering people only what they need and nothing more became an important focus. Ok, but it can’t feel cheap or limiting, it has to be flawlessly executed. As designers, we had to think in terms of designing in the ability to eliminate non-critical features, based on unique customer needs. We were calling this the “Basic Plus Approach.” This approach would help us deal with the conundrum of one man’s crap being another man’s essential.
Beyond the basic plus approach and functional flexibility we needed to design a vehicle that was simple with minimal parts and sustainable materials. That’s what we began to explore.
What is Bare Necessity to you? What is essential in your vehicle?
So, here are external views of the concepts they are considering:
Composite outer skins, minimal "luxury" (read heavy) options, various powerplants - all are up for discussion. The comments are illuminating - there are the usual suspects who gripe that the current offerings are overweight and over optioned, and "If you sold something without all that stuff I'd buy it" statements. Of course, any dealer will tell you people say that all the time, but when it comes to actually purchasing said "stripper," they buy the one with the options - leaving the bare boned loner on the lot for a super clearance sale at a loss. Some of the commenters want complete option customization - which runs counter to the option package strategy - where options are distilled into a few "packages" to save manufacturing costs. I don't see how having individual options - like it used to be - would save costs. But, the design staff is listening.
This is their Bare Necessity Truck concept - notably furthering the rear bulkhead concept introduced with the Avalanche. Instead of a flat partition, the bulkhead is reversable so that either the bed has more room, or the cab has the room. Easily removable rear seats would be part of the setup. One thing some commenters suggest is using a small diesel for power - something that really hasn't been marketed here in the States. If it's a good motor, durability and low end torque would be the advantages - and most who desire a small diesel look to durability as their main concern. Kinda flies in the corporate idea of planned obsolescence for more sales, but GM is supposedly trying to be "green" here. Maybe it'll come to pass.
Of course, neither vehicle starts my motor. I need a full size truck, preferably four wheel drive, for reasons previously elaborated. The roads out here eat small cars for lunch. Somehow, I don't see this truck with a Deweze flatbed and bale fork installed for the discriminating farmer/stockman. I doubt it would be able to pull a fifth wheel trailer, or much of a trailer at all.
No, these vehicles are aimed right at the heart of urbanites. I have my doubts that GM will convince a soccer mom in her Suburban that this little truckster will be as safe and stylish as her current ride, or the urban off road poseur with the H3 Hummer that this is as capable looking and piss off the hippies quite like their present choice. The car has to compete against the admittedly better constructed Japanese offerings, and the Koreans are closing that gap. Korean manufacturers have pricing covered, even as the Chinese and Indians move in.
I'd have a lot more hope if GM wasn't saddled with the union labor costs, but alas, they didn't listen to me then. Or you, if you're part of the normal bunch around here. But the fact that at least an influential part of GM is listening brings some hope. I'm a GM guy at heart, so I'm rootin' for 'em.
After all, as GM goes, so goes the country. Right?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck and Lt. Fred Booker marvel at a throw-back of a weapon - the Thompson submachine gun, made famous, or infamous, in one of a score of movies about mobsters terrorizing American streets during Prohibition.
This gun was one of almost 1,700 guns which were turned in to the LAPD over the weekend as part of a gun buyback program. Residents could turn in their weapons with no questions asked and receive a coupon for $100 worth of groceries.
Hey - it's evil looking - got that round mag hanging out below, what's the diff, right?
H/T Clayton Cramer
Update - Just for grits and shins I looked at the page again and there were (0) comments. Ok, I'll help 'em out - let them know they screwed up. Submitting and previewing comments on that entry take you to an error page - so, they've closed comments but without showing they have. LaLaLa I can't hear you! Heh. Now they can still be righteously wrong without consequences! No corrections here!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
War GamesThe country is fighting two very difficult wars. It needs a secretary of the Army, and President Obama has chosen Representative John McHugh, a Republican, for the job. Yet Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts have selfishly put a hold on his nomination along with nine other appointments to the Pentagon and the Justice Department.
The two Kansas Republicans are demanding that the White House rule out Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as an alternative detention site when the Guantánamo prison is to be closed next January. They are trying to stoke hometown anxieties with the ludicrous argument that detainees present extraordinary dangers beyond the 1.2 million convicted felons in prisons across America.
“We don’t want them here,” said Senator Brownback, who happens to be running for governor next year. “They should be treated with dignity and humanely, but it shouldn’t be here.” Senator Roberts calls the Guantánamo prisoners the “worst of the worst.”
The prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the abuses committed there, are a searing symbol of shame and a rallying point for international fury — in other words, a true threat to national security. President Obama was right to commit to shutting it down. That means that the 229 detainees must be sent elsewhere — either to prisons in the United States or abroad, or released if warranted.
Federal officials are reported to be focusing on Fort Leavenworth — site of the military’s only maximum- security prison — and another maximum-security penitentiary in Standish, Mich., that is slated to be closed.
This jingoism got its bipartisan start in May when Congress barred financing for shutting the Guantánamo prison and demanded a detailed resettlement plan from the White House. No one bothered to mention that convicted terrorists are already safely housed in prisons inside the United States.If there is any common sense in the Senate (the self-proclaimed greatest deliberative body), the honorable members from Kansas should be forced to yield to the Army’s and the nation’s overriding need. They have already gotten their parochial headlines.
It's clear that the citizens of Kansas don't want Guantanamo detainees in the state. Period. End of story. The Senators are using their positions to do the will of their constituents. They are playing hardball with the White House, and the Times has it's panties in a bunch over this. To them, my Senators are grandstanding for the home crowd, and now that they have made their point, they should give in. After all, it's parochial, and they are bucking the will of Teh Won. So, for order to prevail in their universe, Brownback and Roberts must give in.
I don't use this sort of language online here very often, so I apologize in advance for my indiscretion.
To the NYT and Teh Won: Fuck off.
Obama campaigned on Hope and Change - and one of the things he really stressed was how he would cross the divide, cross the aisle, reach across the political minefields to work with his partisan opponents. So far, all I've seen from the White House is "my way or the highway - I won, so there." Pretty simplistic, but that's the way it appears from the cheap seats. In order to actually "reach across" requires a concept called "Compromise." This means both sides have to give up something to reach a common goal. I know y'all knew that, but I just wanted to repeat it, just in case someone might send this in to firstname.lastname@example.org* - the White House apparently missed that day of instruction back in grade school.
Brownback and Roberts are experienced politicians who know there is a quid pro quo - and they will negotiate if they get something for something. No Guantanamo prisoners in Kansas, hey, you get your nominees confirmed. If the White House is committed to an autocracy without any compromises, were I the Senators, I'd say for them to pound sand where the sun don't shine. Which is pretty much their stand at the moment.
As for the editorial staff at the NYT, I hereby invite them to go hunting with Dick Cheney. Then they should hang with The Nuge for several weeks. Drastic, I know, but maybe they'd keep their noses out of our business for a time. Well, probably not, but one can always hope.
*yeah, I know it's a snitch line for the health care debacle, but I'm for thinking any transgression against Teh Won's agenda should be sent there.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I was in Lamar last night, but there was no internet. Woe be upon the Tubby Trucker - he don't do well without his fix. Ahh, well, it seems I survived.
This morning I heard about this tidbit on the news:
If you want to buy booze here, hand over your handbag.
Colorado’s Liquor Outlet issued a “no purse” policy, plastering warning signs in front of the store with the sobering ultimatum: Leave your purse in the car or at the door -- or else.
“If they try to shop, we won’t sell to them,” head cashier Laurae Langello said.
No exceptions, ladies. No sweet talk. Workers at the door are no-nonsense purse enforcers.
This isn’t a shady part of town, this is Briargate, by golly. It’s across the street from Chapel Hills Mall.
I figured the store was in a bad neighborhood, but apparently not.
The total purse ban was implemented three weeks ago to combat the increase of thefts this year at the store.
Shop owner Wayne Harris said inventory reports were showing a loss of $2,000 a week due to shoplifters. Big purses were a big part of the problem.
“We decided we had to do something to protect what is ours,” Harris said.
Traditional security measures weren’t working in the 18,000 square-foot store.
Cameras are everywhere. A live feed plays on six big flat-screens TVs. At the checkouts, LCD monitors flash images of shoplifters photographically caught in the act who are still at large.
As if the store’s exterior isn’t forboding enough, steel grates cover the windows — the aftermath of an April break-in when thieves made off with liquor haul valued at $17,000. Adding to the fortress effect are the row of concrete barriers to keep cars at bay. A driver smashed into the wine section last year.
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I have never seen it like this,” said Harris, who opened the Briargate store 12 years ago.
Harris blames the economy for the rise in thefts, which increased at his wife’s store, Springs Liquor Outlet, 6010 N. Carefree Circle, where purses also are banned.
That makes sense to me - financial pressure can make people justify doing all sorts of things that are a bad idea.
Harris said he filed a few shoplifting reports last year. “We used to handcuff them until the police showed up,” he said, but he got in trouble for doing that.
Now, he said, he almost never files reports because it takes too long to deal with the process, and cop cars in the parking lot are bad for business.
“It’s not worth the trouble and the effort. If we catch them, we let them go. We get our bottle back and tell them don’t ever come back in the store again.”
The purse ban started out targeting big bags. “It made the women carrying the large purses upset because we were still allowing women with small purses,” Harris said.
So, medium purses were banned. The purse war raged on.
“It made the women carrying medium size and large purses mad at us. We thought, ‘What the hell, if we got 60 percent mad at us we might as well get 100 percent mad at us,” Harris said.
Man purses and backpacks also are not allowed.
So far, the purse ban has paid off for Harris. “I think we probably cut it (shoplifting) in half,” he said.
Customer count is down about 5 percent. Some storm out. Some toss their discount cards in the trash. “One woman threatened to call the state attorney general,” Harris said.
Most shrug and shed their purse after the initial disbelief.
“I didn’t really think they were going to actually not let me take my purse in,” said regular Briargate customer Jaime Hilligrass, a 21-year-old college student buying peach schnapps for her girls’ night book club. “I was kind of like, ‘Um, it’s a purse, it’s personal.’ It was kind of weird they wouldn’t let a woman take her purse in the store.”
The only vessels left for the five-finger discount are coats and baggy pants, but Harris has no plans to ban those.“We can’t make people leave their pants outside,” he said.
The reporter I saw this morning has a blog, and she posted her opinion:
Is the liquor store owner in Colorado Springs justified by instituting a no-purse/no backpack policy in his liquor stores?
First, the store owner has every right to prevent shoplifting in his store. However, I have a problem with the premise that even before I go into that liquor store, the policy assumes that I am going to steal. It says to me, I am guilty and untrustworthy even though I may have been a loyal customer for 20 years. But since I am not "sue-happy," my inclination as a consumer would be to take my business elsewhere. In short, I would close my mouth and let my money do my talking.
Second, if a person wants to steal liquor (or anything) bad enough they will put it wherever it will fit. So, if purses, backpacks and man purses are out...shop owners everywhere better start thinking about a new policy ban on pants, shirts, skirts and underwear! Pretty soon we could all be shopping naked...and that would no doubt hurt the economy!
She also said in her report that she was sure there would be lawsuits.
I'd say she's right.
I dunno, I've gotta go with the store owner on this one. He's got video proof that the purse ban works. He's got plenty of experience with the law enforcement and justice systems. Both have been no help. It would seem he's under siege - cars hammering his building to break in - $2k/month shoplifting losses - he's obviously tried to reign in the hemorrhaging with more traditional means.
I don't think he's trying to discriminate against women - it's just that women are the largest subset of the demographic he's affected with his purse, backpack and manpurse ban. It's very similar to business establishments banning concealed carry - they have the right to do so, even if it discriminates against gun owners who carry. And, the analogy isn't the same, because the odds are that the people who carry concealed are "safe," regardless of the prejudice the store owners/managers and hoplophobe customers might think.
The solution is what second amendment supporters would say - "I won't spend my money there" - and that is what Gloria Neal recommends. Were I a woman who carried my gun in my purse, this would really concern me.
But, overall, I guess I don't completely get the uproar. Either you leave the purse in the car and bring your billfold, or just don't go.
So, what do y'all think? Am I all wet - why? Convince me. I'd really like to get some feedback here.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Trust a lawyer to ignore the elephant in the room and put the onus on medical pros - geez, do ya think maybe protection from lawsuits might just be the cause of "excessive" tests? Tort reform would take a bite out of that, but it would hurt his fellow ambulance chasers back in the 'hood. Right in the ol' pocketbook. Better to have all us taxpayers fork over the big bucks.
Treat the symptoms and let government do it. I just love it already.
And, I'm not horking on all lawyers, I happen to know a couple of ethical ones. Just the ones that supposedly represent us, when they're not too busy getting filthy rich at our expense.
Monday, August 10, 2009
They're gonna shove ObamaCare down our throats whether we like it or not. They've turned the rudder of our economy hard left with no Constitutional authority. They're printing money by the trainload. And they're scared of our guns. Hide and watch if you don't think this isn't on the agenda.
H/T Ant Gail
This covers an issue just barely covered with all the other distractions.
I'm feeling pretty frustrated these days - my elected reps are against Teh One's asinine schemes. I already voted for my two Senators and Representative, and my voice is like a fart in the wind - because their votes are nothing.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
1975. I was listening to this on KEDD out of Dodge City - broadcasting from 1550 on your radio dial. I'm sure the song sounds better on my laptop speakers. Two of the original four members have gone on to the great Ballroom Blitz in the sky.
Boy, do I ever need some of those silver high heeled boots to totter around with. Plus, if ya root around much on a floor creeper, ya learn about long hair and creeper wheels. Just sayin.'
I had planned on a bit of editorializIng: "Y'all gonna deduct today from my bill? If I don't go to work I don't get paid. You haven't even bothered to call in sick."
Probably just as well the inbox was full.
On the other hand, this situation prompted me to download Opera Mini. If this post "takes," the Blackberry browser is blown out of the water.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
This commercial kicked some serious butt. The figurines weren't actually GI Joe, Barbie or Ken, but we all knew who they were supposed to be. Plus having Van Halen (with David Lee Roth, in the most fun iteration of the band) as the background music was genius. Unfortunately Mattel didn't see the humor - they sued to have the commercial removed and won.
I'll bet it was the "Ken" doll that convinced Mattel to sue. He didn't look very happy.
You can find the commercial on YouTube, but whom ever owns the rights to Van Halen's catalog had not approved the use of the music, so it's been turned off.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Since we conservatives are being labeled as a mob, we might as well get ourselves some Mob nicknames. You can do this here.
If I put in my middle name and my last name, I become "Two Fists." But, if I put in my full CB handle, I'm Frankenberry. Oh well. "The Ox" works for moi.
So, what's Tony gonna call you when he needs someone capped?
Seen at Big Dick's Place
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
When conservatives protest, it's bad, bad, bad. Code Pink? PETA? Everything they do is understandable and newsworthy, plus they deserve our sympathy. But people upset over the health care debacle, particularly after the TARP boondoggle and other wastes of money, well, they are obviously nuts, haters, and racists. TEA parties - racist. Anti Obama? Break out the long sleeved white jackets that tie in the back. Wonder why Obama has spent a ton of money hiding a legit birth certificate? Well, we need to get FEMA to set up a camp for your kind, sonny.
Just remember, dissent is patriotic, but only when you agree with the correct progressive thinkers! Power to the people!
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
So what, you say. Welp, that's what I'm here for, to enlighten y'all with minor trivia. Differences in wheel tracks don't manifest in any problems under ideal conditions - such as on dry pavement. When things get sloppy, then the fun begins.
We'll look at my Chevy - it's a 2000 Silverado Z-71 extended cab, so it is a 4x4. Front track is 68.1" and the rear is 67 even. Seemingly insignificant - only 1.1 inches narrower at the rear. But, this means the rear wheels do not follow exactly in the front wheel tracks. This makes a difference on muddy or snowy roads - the rear wheels must cut out a half inch on the insides of the tires. But it's an equal amount - how is that gonna make any difference?
Lets imagine we make a very gradual arc to the right - until the right rear falls perfectly into the front track cut. But, now the left rear is out of whack over an inch. So, the forces aren't in balance - the rear of the truck now wants to pull to the left, while you are steering to the right. This will induce oversteer - where the rear of the vehicle steers more sharply than what you, the driver, had in mind with your inputs at the front. Combine this with the normal severe understeer that occurs when the road gets messy - well, you might just be in for a ride into the ditch if yer not careful.
Roads aren't perfectly flat and with perfectly composed snow and mud, so just keeping the damn thing straight becomes a challenge. I like to drive fast and look serious in those kinds of conditions - I'm usually a day late and a dollar short and don't have time to mess with a muddy road. So, I find my truck drifting and sliding like I'm some sort of rally driver. Not that wheel track differences are completely responsible for that phenonemon of course, but it definitely bears some responsibility. I can feel how "nervous" the rear is while cruising up and down that road (Mercury not included).
Dodge trucks aren't any better - the 4x2 front track is 68", 4x4 is 68.1", and both rears are 67.5" - which is closer, but in your scribe's humble opinion - sorry, no cigar. Since Fords have abandoned the Twin I-Beam, they've managed to get it right (something I did not know until I did the prerequisite Googling for this post). 67" front, rear, 4x2 and 4x4 - all the same.
You'll notice that most of the stats are pretty similar - so this results in another muddy farm road characteristic. Since most farmers drive full size trucks, the ruts that are formed are best suited for similar wheel tracks. I say this as a former Nissan Pathfinder owner with a far narrower track. When driving through a rutted, sloppy mess, one side falls into a track while the other is actively trying to fall into the other side. But, that pulls the first side out. Worse yet is when the opposing corners fall into the tracks, making the mini truckster's forward progress a decidedly "sideways" proposition.
The full size trucks with odd tracks feel nervous, but the smaller, narrower vehicles seem to have a death wish under those conditions. I loved that Pathfinder - I drove it for thirteen years. Until it rained or snowed. Then, it was a Pain In The Ass. Which is why I decided since I wasn't planning on moving, I'd better fall in line and get what everyone else out here on the prairie had, just so I could relax a little when things got sloppy.
I've always been a Chevy guy - particularly a fan of the small block V-8. I've had a version of that motor in four vehicles and enjoyed listening to the music of each one. Were I in the market for a new truck, I can tell you I'd be looking at Fords very hard. Dad always drove Fords. I admire the company for not going the "bailout" route GM and Chrysler went - that's enough right there to make me want to support them. I've always believed that rewarding a company for the best product at the best price was the best way to go, rather than worry about politics or how well they recycle beer cans. So finding out Fords have matching wheel tracks is a plus.
Note: The Titan and Tundra both have matching wheel track figures in the 67 to 68" range as well. I'm not against imports - having owned several. Plus, these trucks have about as much imported content as the supposed domestics. When it comes to full size pickups, they kinda leave me cold. Perhaps I'll learn better in the future. Heh.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Heavy and most medium duty trucks all use air brakes. Why you ask? Most cars and trucks use "hydraulic" brakes, with a majority being vacuum assisted. What does this mean? When you push on the brake pedal, it pushes on a piston that tries to compress brake fluid, which is a very light oil. The fluid's properties include very little compression, so the force is transmitted to brake cylinders, where the pressure is converted back into mechanical motion to drum brakes, or a piston directly pushes on a brake pad - disk brakes. Engine vacuum is stored in a chamber at the end of the master brake cylinder to add a multiplying effect to the force of the brake pedal - if you've ever driven a set 'o wheels without power brakes, you will know and appreciate the vacuum assist.
However, this system has it's limitations. The braking force has it's limits, and the fluid can heat in a hurry. So, for heavy vehicles, vacuum assist hydraulic braking isn't the best option. So, what is?
The answer is air brakes. Air is the force conductive substance. However, the system has considerable differences compared to hydraulic brakes. Rather than using vacuum generated by the engine sucking for air, an actual air compressor is required, and storage tanks to hold the compressed air. The brake pedal (foot valve or treadle, as it is termed) does not directly pressure the air going to the brakes - it merely meters more air as the pedal is depressed. The more travel, the more air pressure will be applied. The treadles have some resistance, so "feathering" the brakes by feel can be simulated. Make no mistake, there is no feedback from the pedal like the hydraulic systems have - just changes in the environment that the driver has to observe. Mostly through the butt planted in the seat. The more you stomp, the more you slow down, and possibly lock up a wheel or eighteen. It just takes practice.
And the air from the treadle doesn't actually go directly to the brakes - it's merely a signal to several valves to release a correspondingly larger amount of pressure. Trailers have air storage tanks, and this "signal" goes to the valves using the air from those tanks to brake.
This is a diagram of s-cam drum brakes, probably the most common hardware trucks use. The brake pod transfers air pressure into rotational motion through the slack adjuster and turns the s-cam. As the cam turns, it spreads the brake pads against the drum, causing friction and therefore (hopefully) slowing the truck. The pods are spring loaded, so when the brakes are released, the pod retracts it's rod, and the cams return to rest. As the linings wear, the geometry changes, and the brakes become "out of adjustment."
This is the standard manually set slack adjuster. It fits on the splined shaft that has the s-cam on it's end. The brake pod rod attaches to one of the holes in the arm. This adjuster is made for three different applications - thus the three holes. A 9/16" box end wrench is used to push a locking ring back to expose a hex head for adjustment - it turns the splined insert to tighten or loosen the tolerance of the linings.
This is an self adjusting slack adjuster. It's set up to adjust to a certain torque - not enough torque means the linings are off the drum too far. So, as the brakes are applied, the adjusting mechanism constantly measures itself to keep the brakes tight.
This is a single chamber brake pod. As the air pressure pushes on an enclosed diaphragm (slang - pancake), it in turn pushes the threaded rod out - then to the slack adjuster and so on.
This is a double chambered brake pod. As a safety measure, air brakes are required to have these. If you run out of air for whatever reason, you still have the need to stop. The emergency circuit is designed to cut in at sixty pounds or less air pressure in the pressure tanks. It's all mechanical - there is a very strong spring in the pod that the separate air circuit has to compress before the truck can move. This retracts the rod, loosening the shoes from the parking position. Then when air is applied to brake, it must overcome the spring and the "backup" air to move the brake rod out.
So, if your truck is parked overnight and loses all it's air, it ain't gonna go nowhere without "building" air pressure to a bit over sixty pounds of indicated air pressure. There are actually two separate storage systems for safety and redundancy, and most trucks have two air pressure guages to show the levels in each. If, for whatever reason, the truck loses air while driving down the road, it will stop. Maybe not under complete control, but you can count on it coming to a halt in a hurry. Most systems recommend limiting the onboard air pressure not to exceed 120lbs.
I'm sure you've all seen the blue, red and black lines running from the tractor to the trailer. The electrical umbilical cord is generally black - but that may vary. It may or may not be coiled. The brake lines are sometimes black or gray without being coiled, but usually they are color coded. The air lines have "glad hands" on the ends.
They are designed to "break away" if you forget to unhook them when dropping a trailer, for instance. Sometimes they are color coded - you can see one is just anodized and not painted. The red line is the "emergency" line. It charges the emergency system on the trailer, and fills the trailer's air tanks. The blue is the "service" line. It carries the air that actuates the brake system.
Maximum braking no matter the system is achieved using "threshold braking." This entails keeping the brakes right on the threshold of locking up. One thing I did learn in college was the difference between static friction and sliding friction. Static friction is a higher figure than sliding - so as far as brakes are concerned, if you keep the tires from sliding, you have better braking power, not to mention directional control. Threshold braking is far easier to achieve with hydraulic braking systems because of the non compressibility of brake fluid. Air brakes, not so much. Anti-lock brakes on a car can adjust the braking power several times a second, but the air brakes have a natural delay due to the air compressing - there is a delay when the brakes are first applied until the necessary air gets to the brake pods, and there is a delay if they lock - it takes a bit to bleed off the necessary air pressure. Trailer brakes always have a time delay under severe and sudden loads.
So, generally, when threshold braking a semi, ya stomp on the pedal until the wheels lock or nearly lock, release quickly to keep directional control - if your drivers and steer axle wheels lock up, you have no control of where the rig is headed. Then, ya stomp on them again. Too much of this will run the rig "out of air." Also, this technique virtually guarantees the trailer brakes will be locked up continuously because of the delays involved. While the tractor brakes are released and you are starting to stomp on them again, the trailer brakes are just beginning to release. Stomping on the brakes stops that, so the trailer brakes stay "locked." Which is what starts jackknifing. Antilock brakes are supposed to take care of this in a perfect world, but we don't live in one. Lightly loaded or empty trailers have far more braking power than traction, period. The ideal braking situation has a truck loaded - but not to capacity. This brings up the static braking force the tires have on the surface without the full momentum of a heavy load to overcome.
Plus, antilock brakes don't work very well under certain conditions. One is on a gravel road. The vehicle burns off more kinetic energy if the wheel locks up and digs into the gravel, creating a wedge in front of the tire as it slides. The vehicle has to climb over that continuously renewing wedge of road surface. Of course, the brakes have to be released a bit to keep directional control, but electronically managed threshold braking is far less effective.
And, I've noticed that truck antilock brakes leave something to be desired on slick surfaces as well. It seems that the brakes lock up just like the old systems did. How do I know this?
We were going north on I285 on the west side of Atlanta during intermittent showers. One of the guys noted that the little bit of rain didn't seem to be staying on the road - but that was on the porous looking pavement. We crossed over a concrete surfaced overpass, and I noted how slick it looked - it had a shiny look I didn't like at all.
Rain slick roads are the most dangerous when the rain first starts. The accumulated grime - dirt, oil dripped from thousands of vehicles, particulates from exhaust, you name it - gets wet and turns to slime. Continuous rain washes all of this off and traction is better. As the rain starts to end, the crud washed from the thousands of vehicles starts to accumulate again, and it gets slicker.
But the worst is intermittent rain. The crud never gets rinsed off, and more is added by traffic.
Anyways, we had seen a couple of accidents and traffic tie ups in the other lane already. Suddenly, I saw dozens of brake lights in front of me. I had been shadowing a semi, and his trailer was fishtailing across another lane. I was in the lead, and hollered back to my buds that we were coming to a halt. We all had plenty of time to get shut down. A small box truck with a small trailer spun out, seemingly without hitting anything or jackknifing. He got 'er pointed in the correct direction and off we went.
I'm not one of THOSE PEOPLE who tailgate and switch lanes willy nilly like I've just got to win the race to wherever. I keep a big distance between me and the traffic. I generally have a bunch of Andrette wannabes cut into that space (including trucks), so I just back off and let them have it, and I get my safe space back. This drives some of my compadres nuts, because I don't bull my way through traffic. I don't care.
So, I'm back behind the clot of traffic without much going on around me - just like I like it. Once again, the interstate started turning into a parking lot ahead of me. This time, it was slightly downhill on concrete. I was having trouble getting 'er whoaed down. I had time to holler back about the situation, plus my traveling companions got to hear my running commentary about whether or not I was gonna get 'er shut down. My trailer was fishtailing, I was stomping on the pedal and releasing, stomping again, lather, rinse, repeat. I heard a buzzer go off. My air pressure had hit seventy pounds, getting close to the sixty pound lockup. I was also looking to thread my way through the lanes to dodge the vehicle in front of me - I was closing far too quickly.
But, I got it shut down just in the nick of time. My air compressor pumped the system back up as the traffic started to inch forward. A semi had hit something on it's driver's side pretty hard and ended up partially in the ditch, with the trailer sticking out in traffic. We didn't see what he'd hit. The driver was out in the rain on his cell phone.
Oh, and my trailer? It was trying to pass me? One of my buds started laughing and told me: "Some four wheeler was honking at your trailer for holding him up!" Apparently he was upset because I was nearly jackknifing and inconveniencing him on his journey.
Frankly, I could give a shit less about his delay. I was more concerned about the seat fabric that had been sucked into my rectal region, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do. He's just lucky he wasn't beside me to be swatted by that mean old trailer.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
I've gotten in the habit of checking the sporting goods section for ammo. Since the election, it's been a waste of time - unless ya want .17HMR. Plenty of that. Lots of shotgun food, but there hasn't been a run on it.
But today, I saw there was a fair selection of centerfire rifle ammo. I'd seen some 30-06 in the past, but I didn't need any. Today - wow! .222Rem, .223Rem, .243Win, .270Win, 30-30Win, and some 7mm Rem Mag! Woo Hoo! And what's that? Why, there was even several boxes of .40S&W!
They have their ammo on shelves behind the counter. Since the counter is basically square, you can walk to the other side and look across. Once I noticed the Short and Weak, I figured I was gonna be in for some ammo. So, the attendant was busy doing something with his register, and I parked myself in front of him. Seems he was busy with a couple of other customers - a couple of young men. One was trying to buy a fishing license, and the register had hung up printing it out, and Our Sporting Goods guy was on the phone trying to figure out the problem. To no avail.
Whatever the phone support said to do didn't work, and the kid mentioned the 'puter might just need to be rebooted, since the screen was frozen. Sporting Goods guy shut off something that didn't do the job, so the kid leaned over the counter and told him which machine to shut off. Sporting Goods guy did, and asked if he should hit the power button again. Tech Support customer told him to wait for it to completely shut down, then start it up again.
Meanwhile, a good looking older blonde and perhaps her mother showed up on the other side. Good Looking Older Blonde (referred to as GLOB from now on) was pretty impatient, and hollered that she wanted some .40 caliber handgun ammo - did they have any? SGg said they did, but she needed to know specifically what kind of ammo. I spoke up and said: "40 Smith and Wesson." She gave me a blank look, and got on her phone.
I couldn't hear what was being said, but SGg started taking out boxes of .40S&W from the other side and stacking them on the counter. He then came over to my side and pulled out three boxes. I asked GLOB: "Are you planning on taking them all? I was here first, and I wanted some." No answer, but I did get burned a bit by the laser eyes. SGg said: "She wants it all."
So, I said: "Well, I'll take these (pointing at the three boxes in front of me). This will do me. I was here first and I'm not gonna hog it all."
Daggers from across the counter.
She paid and left with five boxes. I really only wanted two, but since she was being a bitch, I took the extra one just to spite her. The two young fishermen noted that they had heard her say she was there first, but that simply wasn't true. I couldn't hear what she had said, but they could. SGg had no clue - he was apparently incapable of focusing on more than one thing at a time. He said he hadn't noticed me standing there (for the past fifteen frakking minutes). I thanked the guys for having my back.
I also bought two boxes each of 30-30 and .243. I was kinda low on that as well. I could have bought them all out, and I could have bought all the .40 - even if it meant calling in a manager. I figured I pissed her off by taking three boxes, even if I was there first and had dibs on them. I expect having her exposed as a liar didn't help her 'tude much either.
Gah. There is a reason I'm turning into a crotchety weekend hermit. I just don't play well with assholes much anymore.