Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Been A While

Find out Which Movie Hero Are You at!

Since I've played one of these. Shrek, eh? Kewl, I like earwax candles and scaring people with my awesome bad breath! Bring it on, I say!

Although - "getting laid" - well, doing it wrong here, I guess. Just sayin.'

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This is for the guy in the white/tan Chevy pickup pulling a trailer who flipped me off yesterday on the south side of Hancock IA. Yeah, I was crossing the bridge, and what's more, I got there before you. There was really no need for the theatrics - pulling completely on the shoulder and slamming on your brakes. My load was not over the center line, because I was watching that, too. Which is why I almost didn't see you flip me off.

I realize these loads look pretty intimidating, and that bridge didn't have much of a shoulder, but if you are incapable of judging distance and tend to blame others for your total lack of driving and social skills, perhaps the next time you try to cross a bridge go to the shoulder, on down the embankment and on into the creek. That would be a positive outcome. Considering your display of personality, I doubt anyone will miss you, and perhaps you might actually gain some respect and praise for your miserable life.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Union Story

I've certainly blathered (that's my new favorite word for what I do here) on about the Postal Service and my experiences there. I was a card carrying member of the American Postal Workers Union - and in the first part of the "career," I became involved. Said it before, will say it again - if there were no need for that union, it wouldn't exist. Postal management's attitudes towards the rank and file were driven home on a daily basis, so "dancing with the one that brung ya" seemed logical at the time.

My local president was looking to step back and let someone younger and perhaps fresher step in, so he began to recruit me. I started to go to more meetings, and they even sent me to a big convention - the Tri-State - held in Topeka that year. Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas all sent reps, so most of the local big wheels were there. It ran for several days in a convention center, and there were all kinds of seminars on a variety of subjects. I'm glad I went -I did learn quite a bit. One of the side effects of these things is that you come home all pumped and ready to take on the world. I was no different.

One of the things I took from some of the sessions were how the local leadership needed to energize the members at home - get them involved in some way or another to promote unity - unity against management - but not in any confrontational manner. Several ideas were bounced off us - some used being involved in local charities. Working together to help out during the United Way drive not only would involve everyone, but it would also get the organization out of the office and into the local consciousness - instead of being just a bunch of overpaid and grumpy civil type servants, there would be proof that the union actually gave a crap about the local charities and causes. The carrier's union does this with their national food drive - maybe you've set out canned or boxed food for your carrier to pick up. This sort of thing appears in the papers, and good publicity would be a positive. Something so small as adopting a highway would at least get our name out in the public. I could certainly see how this could help us bond together - "divide and conquer" is a tactic management uses frequently.

The idea that really caught my attention was presented by the Topeka local. They had t-shirts printed that had some inoffensive message (don't piss off the boss - it's not allowed) but it had significance for their members. They would all wear their local union t-shirts once a month on Friday, or some such thing. Their president reported how that alone really seemed to help hold everyone together - in a small way at first, but it grew over time.

That idea sure seemed to be a good starting point. So, I got to thinking about it - and luckily I considered my strategy for becoming the local president. I knew I'd have to have a dependable person as the secretary for the local, so I asked one of my good friends if she'd do it. She was understandably hesitant - it meant eating up a lot of her spare time. I asked her to trust me - I wasn't too interested in doing this without help from more than just a few people.

I knew that if I couldn't energize the constituency, I'd end up picking up trash by my lonesome, and staffing a United Way booth by myself, as well as all the other union duties - filing grievances, studying the contract, connecting with union officials and so on. So, I decided to try a bit of a test.

I decided to start with the t-shirt idea. Since we were in Dodge City, I thought a black t-shirt with a white cowboy hat on it would be appropriate. I think the only text I wanted was just the APWU logo and our local number - that would be about as unassuming at first glance as possible. But, the "subversive" message would be that we claimed the white hat as the "good guys." We were gonna be on the right side of things, and that was gonna be what wearing that t-shirt meant. Our current secretary was a "window clerk" and since they had uniforms, she felt they would be left out of the t-shirt business - why not have a discreet lapel pin?

I agreed - it sure seemed like a good idea to me. But, like I said, I wasn't gonna wade right in without testing the waters. So, I typed up a bit of a proposal for the local members about the t-shirt/lapel pin idea and the long term benefits we could gain for ourselves. I also spoke at the local meeting about my ideas for the future, and how I would need everyone to be involved. Thus, my plans for getting us involved in the community were spread around.

In this bulletin I mentioned how we needed to know what our membership wanted to do - did we want t-shirts, lapel pins, or both? The union was gonna buy them, so the whole shebang was "free" - it did come from dues and funds raised by other means. I asked them to come to me to discuss this, and let me know what they thought.

I figured if people wouldn't come to me to talk about a free t-shirt, I was gonna have a hell of a time energizing the local. Apathy or my inability to lead? Didn't really matter to me - the results would tell me what I needed to know.

Well, you can imagine what happened. Nada. Zip. No one could be bothered to talk to me about it. Some weeks later the window clerk asked me what happened to the t-shirt idea. I told her no one would come to me, so as far as I was concerned, the deal was off. My friend who would have been the secretary was off the hook, too. Even some time later, in a crowd, one of the more prominent members asked me about it, and why I wanted people to come to me. I should have just gone ahead and made a choice, rather than requiring them to come to me.

I told him I wasn't into baby sitting, nor was I gonna wipe his or anyone else's ass. I had demonstrated that they'd all leave me hanging, and I'd do all the work. Not gonna happen.

He just shrugged, and we all went back to work. Thus ended my foray into union politics.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

You Think You Can Jump Rope?


This was linked at SondraK's - and I found it pretty impressive. This is a performance by the Firecrackers:
The Firecrackers are a performance jump rope team made up of talented 4th-8th graders from the Kings Local School District in Ohio. Coached by Lynn Kelley, they perform at venues across the country. Some notable past performances have been at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Presidential Inauguration and an appearance on The David Letterman Show.

This performance was at the US Naval Academy, which, if you watched, I'm sure you knew. I didn't even have a clue some of those moves were even possible, much less choreograph-able. Lots of hours and dedication right there. The middies sure seemed to appreciate the performance, too. Go, Navy, right Nunkle Kim?

The Critters from Seventeen Years Ago

Cicada Invasion!

Cicadas, that is. There must have been some pretty good breeding conditions here seventeen years ago, because the creatures have been present and singing for quite some time. If you're entomophobic even a little (as I apparently am), stumbling upon one of these huge, yet mostly inoffensive critters will give you pause for sure. The husks they leave behind on some fencepost will decay to nothing before the grip lets go. The super sized bugs aren't all that great looking, IMHO, but the wings are bejeweled and iridescent when the light hits right.

Messing around looking on YouTube for the typical sound we hear 'round here - man, some of those species sound pretty harsh. Watching Ghost Busters the other day reminded me of how our variety sounds - the ambulance with it's varying pitch really does mimic the mating call we hear. If it's calm, the song really carries. Plus, they drown out the grasshoppers - definitely an unloved and unwelcome sector of nature in these here parts.

But, the song is diminished with the lowering temperatures, and it will be another seventeen years before the young 'uns from this crop surface to sing to us again. Luckily, apparently there are seventeen separate generations carrying on the cycle.

Roberta X made me think about bugs

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Skins for the Mighty Binder

Eight new drive tires. Actually, they're "takeoffs" from a brand new truck. These are the "full size" (11R24.5) tires, and the buyer of the truck wanted low profile tires (275/80R24.5). So, we got 'em cheap - relatively speaking, since they run close to $500/ea. We usually run recaps for drive tires because our trucks - with the heavy knuckle boom cranes putting a lot of weight on the steer axle - go through steer tires pretty regularly. They get capped with drive treads. Our trailers all run odd small sizes to be closer to the ground, so we don't use 22.5 or 24.5 wheels at all on our trailers. So, I was pretty fortunate to get "virgin rubber." Caps are ok - but after the carcass has been capped more than once, it's a gamble for long term survival. Most of the blown tires we all see on the road are usually the result of the tire going flat due to a nail - then failing as the sidewalls get too hot and the tread separates from the carcass. If you check your tires in the morning, catch a nail right off the bat - well, you might blow that tire before you're ready to stop for a break. No way to tell - unless you run one of the tire monitoring and/or tire equalizing systems.

The last tire I blew was on a trailer - and it didn't get pulled off in time to be recapped. It just wore down to the steel belts on a flat spot, and let go with a sigh. The tread never separated - I was able to drive another thirty miles to the next town and get it replaced the next morning. It just happened that the flat spot was hidden during my check and during the weekend inspection to find worn tires in the yard.

These babies have some tread on them, too. Yep, that's a quarter buried in there. Retreads aren't even close to having that kind of tread depth. So, this is gonna be a big change in how the Mighty Binder handles. That much extra rubber compared to the tires that came off will mean a smoother ride for sure, but it's gonna feel like the whole rear end "squirms." A tire with little tread doesn't give or flex as much - it's just simple torque. The sheer forces applied to the tire with more tread will work that tread and sidewall more than the ones without, because the moment arm of the new tire is at least an inch longer than the old. The same thing happens when we get new steer tires - the front end doesn't seem as planted, and it seems to take more steering input to turn than before. Side forces can make the new tires roll over a bit more.

So, Monday I'll be a bit unsettled because my truck won't respond quite the way it used to, but I'll be enjoying having the harsh edges of expansion joints and potholes smoothed out with the additional rubber. Ridin' and glidin,' I tell ya.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Oh, Lordy Yes!!!!!

In lieu of actual content, I'll raid the ol' email inbox again. George, ya had me mightily peeved on many issues - you were far too "progressive" for my tastes, but yeah, I miss ya.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Truth

I was in the office today with another driver, when the boss saw us. He informed us that he had something he wanted to show all of the drivers, so since there were two of us right there, he could get us off his list. We went back to his office, wondering just what was up. As we were walking he mentioned he now had "the truth" and he was gonna show us - Gawd, maybe a picture of one of our trucks parked at a bar? Perhaps a pic of one of us flipping someone the bird while driving down the road? Naturally we feared the worst - when he has something important and earth shaking this is how he behaves.

So, we get to his office and he again said he was going to show us the truth, while he opened up an email. Whatever it was - it was going to involve something that could be emailed. He clicked on an attachment, and this is what we saw:

How many stinking times have we gone through a construction zone with absolutely nothing being done - nothing torn up, no equipment or personnel present, or any hint of any sort of construction or repair?

Plus, the boss likes to mess with our heads for dramatic effect.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Got Nuttin'


Long day, big day tomorrow, too. So, I'm raiding the email inbox. As you listen to this, it will seem that Red makes a couple mistakes. He doesn't. He explains at the end.

His last words are sadly prophetic.

H/T Nunckle Kim

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Prefer Shotguns For This

Sharpshooter amazes friends with skills

Heath Getty of St. John has been target shooting since he was just out of diapers. Now he's trying to perfect a feat that any gun or bow hunter would be amazed by. Getty can shoot moving clay targets out of the sky with a compound bow.
from the Wichita Eagle

Good article about Heath at The Pratt Tribune, too. It explains how he got started, the arrows he uses, and other such interesting trivia.

Who am I kidding? I prefer shotguns because that's my best chance for actually hitting something! I bow to your superior skilz, Mr. Getty!

H/T Dave H.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mike Passes

A great dog passes on. Marianne Friers - threecollie of Northview Dairy - finally lost her family's long time companion and working dog Mike - a Border Collie.

Border Collies are renowned for their stock herding abilities. They are smart, active dogs that need to stay busy. Mike had been working cattle for the Friers family, with them practically every hour of every day for fifteen years. The bond that is forged through constantly working and being together for so much of each day for years is far stronger than the average pet/master relationship. While border collies aren't big dogs - their hearts are. They'll work themselves to death if you let them, and protect the cattle, sheep or family with equal zeal.

One has to keep them active or they will get into trouble. There are a lot of Border Collies in this area - a trip to town will find at least one or two sitting on a scrap of carpeting on a parked flatbed pickup, waiting for the Master to return. They're not necessarily a trusting breed, either - and what I mean by that is if they don't know you, you aren't gonna just walk up to one and pet it, particularly if it's alone and doesn't have the Master there for guidance - to approve of the attention or not. I've always liked the breed, but I know I won't be there for one enough to keep it occupied and engaged. They are far from being the couch potatoes of the dog world.

I'll never forget one in particular. Back when I was hauling grain - one befriended me at a local feedyard. I have since forgotten her name, but her antics have always stuck with me. She belonged to the manager of the feedyard, and was usually on station beside his pickup while he was in the office. She was there, guarding the pickup and ready to work at a moment's notice. Naturally, she'd get bored, and so, for entertainment, she'd heel trucks driving into the yard. Driving in, I'd see her raise her head from a nap and bolt to the mudflaps on my trailer, nipping at them and barking. She'd circle around the truck, barking. There was a drainage pipe set in the path to the scales, so there were slight depressions at the ends - hardly a ditch or a place to hide - but she'd snuggle down, happily wriggling her body into the slight dip as if to say "You can't see me here" and launch an "attack" on me and the truck as I drove over the bit of bridge.

At first, after I got to the scales, she'd go back "on station" by her Master's pickup. I got to coaxing her to come to me - which took several trips - then she discovered she could trust me, and that I was an easy mark for some quick ear scratching and general attention. The routine was forever altered. Not only did we do the chase around the truck, hide in the ditch, and nip at the mudflaps - she'd wait for me to climb down from the cab, knowing I'd bestow some lovin' on her as a reward. Of course, she also knew which truck I drove - we had an identical truck and trailer, and the driver of that rig didn't get this sort of treatment. After I weighed and came out of the office, she'd be back on station - she knew I was busy and was gonna go to the mill to unload, and she had her responsibilities to look after. Sometimes, weighing back out, she'd be there to greet me, but more often than not - her job of guarding the Master's pickup took precedence. She'd had her fun and gotten some attention already - duty called. She would acknowledge my presence by wagging her tail as I went by.

How can you not lose your heart to such a magnificent, worthy dog? Mike was just as much a character and devoted companion as my little pal. Go give your condolences, if you've ever loved a dog.

Friday, September 18, 2009

This News Was Rather Heartwarming

I'm on Twitter. I'll admit it. I don't "tweet" much, but I do follow some interesting people. Since I'm a NASCAR fan, that includes some of that venue's personalities. Probably the two drivers that are the most fun are Kenny Wallace and Michael Waltrip. If you've ever watched their work as television racing color announcers, you'll know just what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Mikey is quite devoted to his daughter Macy - he mentions her often. Up until a couple months ago, he mentioned Darla - their dog - frequently. Most of the NASCAR tweeters talk about their pets as well - Juan Pablo Montoya talks about his R/C hobby a lot, for instance. It's a lot of fun just to "listen" to what they have to say.

Note: - another notable tweeter is Charles G. Hill of Dustbury fame, featured on the blog links on the sidebar.

So, for those of you on Twitter - I've just bored you to tears - you've already justified your presence on the medium and don't need a refresher course from me. This little prelude was written for those who aren't on Twitter so y'all would have a clue what the attraction would be.

The reason why Michael wasn't talking about Darla was because she disappeared two months ago. He and Macy were heartbroken. But, they had Andy of Dogs by Andy - their local dog trainer - on the job.

Michael Waltrip's Missing Dog Found after 2 Months

Darla, a Belgian Malinois belonging to Michael Waltrip was let out of her house on July 11, 2009 and didn't return. After countless hours Michael Waltrip and daughter with K9 Darlaof searching and utilizing the services of and deploying a search dog from Missing Pet Recovery Services, Inc. but it was all for not because the dog had been stolen.

Two months later, on Tuesday (09/15/2009), we received a text message about Darla, asking if I was still looking for Darla and how much was her reward was really worth. I replied to the text message stating we were still looking for Darla and told him the price of the reward. Immediately, he responded to my reply, saying he could take me to the dog, stating that his uncle had stolen the dog in Morresville. He said they saw Darla running from Michael’s property and removed her collar and then drove to Charlotte with her.

Not knowing what to expect, we prepared for the worst so John, Brett and I headed to Charlotte to meet with the informant. He was reluctant at first but we took him in the car with us amd showed us where his uncle lived. It turns out the man was broke and really needed the money.

After banging on the door and then kicking at loudly, we still got no response. I could see Darla in the backyard. As I proceeded to the gate where Darla was being held, a man with a taco appeared behind me and asked what I was doing in his backyard. I quickly informed him that he had stolen my friend’s dog and I was here to get it back.

Michael was in Italy at the time, hopefully testing a new Ferrari for me! We did managed to get the dog back without incident. Darla and Marcy were happily reunited just 30 minutes later.

We want to thank all the well wishers and volunteers and let them know this story had a happy ending.

Michael tweeted from Italy about this, and posted this pic:

All this info was also posted to Michael's Facebook page as well, but it was on Twitter first. This story just struck me as pretty touching - and it's one that I doubt the NASCAR media or much of any other media is gonna cover.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walking Floors

Every once in a while I'll reference walking floor trailers - most recently how silage haulers use them. There are quite a few ag uses for these handy self unloaders - I'm sure there are many more than I'll mention here. The first users were the chopped alfalfa haulers. Farmers that grow alfalfa often sell it to businesses that grind it, sell it to feedlots and haul it there. So, farmers will bale the stuff, leave the bales in a corner of an irrigation circle, and when it's cured - the hay outfit will arrive with a tub grinder, a loader, and the necessary trucks. They'll be pulling 53' trailers that are open on top with a roll over tarp, two rear doors, and a walking floor to unload. I can remember seeing the first walking floor at a 3i Show back when I was a teenager. Old tech used chains - four or five running lengthwise with toothed bars attached. As the chains moved to the rear, it would drag the load off. However, if the chains wore, which they did and do, they'll break. The only way to unload the trailer was to scoop it out.

But, these walking floors are nothing but slick. Here's a video showing how they work:


If a cylinder gives up the ghost, it's outside the load, so replacing it is easy. Hydraulic hoses are also in the open. The rails sometimes need to be replaced - the floor in this video is well used, but still plugging away. Also called live floors - they are used for all sorts of feed materials - fleets of them haul the distillery leavings from the grain alcohol plants, and even dirt and aggregate material can be hauled with a more heavy duty version. Pallets laden with whatever products to be hauled can be put on the back of the trailer by a forklift without using a dock - just reverse the floor, put the pallets on the back, and as they move forward, put another couple on the end. Unloading - take the back two off, fire up the floor, bring the whole thing to the rear to take the next two off, rinse, lather and repeat.

I was really struck by how simple this was as a teenager - once a gearhead, always a gearhead.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stupidity or Complacency - Same Thing?

I haven't really been wanting to write this post until I had more concrete details, and since I'd been gone from home for three nights, I didn't have all the info I needed until this morning.

We get pretty complacent about our security out here in the sticks. Neighbors tend to notice vehicles that "don't belong." When someone gets a new one, everyone else is unsettled until the community is used to seeing the intruder as a regular. We all tend to check out things that seem unusual - if someone is parked by some equipment parked out in the field, they'd better be from the dealership, tire store, or something similar.

Plus, crime is pretty rare - we get left alone, mostly. Keys are left in vehicles. Years ago, our county sheriff advised my father to do just that, in the hopes that a criminal interested in stealing cars and trucks might stay out of the house and just take the vehicle in question. We also tend not to lock our doors. A neighbor might need in for a digestive emergency, or to use the phone, get a drink of water or whatever. We're an accommodating bunch.

So, my house is unlocked most of the time. My front door has settled, and is difficult to shut completely anyways. I broke the key off in the deadbolt the other day and have not managed to extract it or replace the deadbolt. I've got locking gun cabinets in a different location - not this house - but with the slowdown at work, I'd been forced to sell some of my guns. I had some here in the house rather than locked away. Plus, I've got something around for defensive purposes - varmints with two, four and no legs at all figure into my thinking there.

Obviously, y'all know where this is going.

My neighbor lady "J" (who I've mentioned before) happened to drive by Thursday afternoon and saw a strange pickup parked at my place, my front door open, and them walking out in the yard. She knows Rooster doesn't need to be outside, and thought perhaps they were there to do some work on the house. She called me and described the truck. I've got friends who have the run of the place if they want, because I've got a shooting range that they'll use from time to time. So, seeing someone parked there isn't all that unusual, either. However, I couldn't recognize the pickup from J's description. She decided something was up, and turned around in her drive to come back and check it out.

This alarmed the two men, who dropped some of the stuff they were stealing and, jumping in the pickup, took off. She caught them to get a tag (which turned out to be wrong, but that's no big surprise), and they knew the road they were on came to a T intersection. They were hauling ass, but not so fast she couldn't keep up. They even used their turn signal at the intersection. I reminded her that if they had stolen guns, they were armed and she wasn't. At one point, J hung up to have me call the sheriff, since her hands were full trying to drive.

I did and got back with her - the sheriff was on his way - about fifteen minutes ETA. Pretty good, considering I live twelve miles out. The dangerous situation J put herself in became more evident to her, and she gave up the chase. After she got back to my house, J found herself too nervous to go in to check things out. She wanted the sheriff there. I didn't blame her one bit - I thought her bravery was outstanding in the first place.

Our sheriff got there and after a quick perusal of the situation, called me. He had found one of my AKs in it's tacticool case outside on the ground, and my polished aluminum treadplate pistol case with my .22 collection on the porch. My cat was ok, which, honestly, was probably my biggest worry. I'm a pack rat and a lousy housekeeper, so I directed him where to look for my guns. He couldn't find my target/varmint AR15. I asked him about my two lever action guns by the front door, and he thought I still had them. I also had my range bag - a Sears canvas tool bag that had my Kimber Eclipse, all sorts of Chip McCormick mags, some ammo, a nice pair of Peltor electronic shooting muffs, various ammo and speedloaders, and other such shooting detritus. He mentioned I had what looked like a tool bag there, so I was somewhat relieved. It seemed the AR was the only thing missing - I had a selection of pistols on my coffee table, and it sounded like they were all there.

My television, home entertainment center, and collection of now dead and obsolete computers and laptops were all still there. More help was called in and all the remaining guns were hauled off to a safe place away from the house. They are still not here, if you assholes that took them read me, and they won't be when I leave.

After I got home, I checked out what was left at the secure hideout, and found that the tool case was actually a knife roll. So, the Kimber was gone, too. No lever actions, either. I was also missing a blackpowder pistol and a .357.

  • Kimber Eclipse Custom II (external extractor) serial # K147169
  • Smith & Wesson 686-6 8 3/8" barrel serial # LEZ3064
  • Henry Golden Boy .22 H004 serial # GB005815
  • Winchester 94AE Saddle Ring Carbine Large Loop Lever 16" barrel
  • Colt CR6724 CAR-A3 Bushnell 6x18x50 Banner scope, B-Square scope riser, Millet rings, and a Harris HBLM bipod.

I may have a serial number yet on the Winchester, but I never kept the Colt's. Neither of the last two guns are what you'd call common - I dunno - I expect they're all gone for good. No insurance, either.

So, I'm taking tomorrow off to make my house a bit more burglar proof. Not gonna say what I'm doing other than it will be far more difficult to get in. While the neighbor alarm system works, we can all see it's shortcomings. I'll have self defense guns here, too, and after this, I'm pretty willing to use them in a bad situation. They won't be as nice as the missing ones - think, oh, ancient Combloc bolt action carbine for one. I didn't have some of that stuff here because I knew I couldn't sell them for any appreciable amount that would pay bills.

I'm not sure what I'll do as far as replacing these guns. These were part of the "heart" of my collection. Like I said, I'm a packrat, and I've got some safe queens. The Kimber was pretty much a plinking safe queen - it was so pretty I couldn't bear to treat it like a Glock. I'm a 1911 guy, so I'm sure I'll be selling some other things off to get another Kimber or a Springer. I definitely want another lever action 30-30 - a '94 or a 336. I'd also like another lever .22 - another Golden Boy, a 9422, or a 39A. I'm not sure about the "regular" Henrys - they are cheap, but not as well built IMHO as the Golden Boy. The Uberti was a toy to me - unless I can come up with something super cheap, I'll probably never have another.

The AR - man, I just don't know. The prairie dog population is pretty thin in these parts, so that kind of gun isn't something I use regularly as in the past. I really loved that gun - it was so much fun to shoot. Flies at 100 yards? I gave 'em hell. I've still got an AR - M4gery. I've got it set up as a truck gun with a removable carry handle rather than optics. I could just mount a scope on it to hunt the 'dogs, but it isn't an HBAR nor does it have a target style trigger. I could always buy an upper, and I happen to have a lower for a SP1 project I've never started. So, a hot rod trigger group and an upper, then I'm ready.

I could snap shoot the heads of rattlers with that little Henry. That's why it was by the door.

This was my skunk gun. I liked the shorter barrel and my large hands liked the large loop. It shouldered quickly and I just like the ergonomics. Finding one just like this one will be hard - on the budget and just to find one in the first place.

My baby.

The men were probably white, one with a thin face and high cheekbones. They were driving a mid 80s black Chevy pickup. It had some crummy repairs done on the rear with some non matching paint, and a white painted homemade headache rack with expanded mesh metal, taller than the cab. I'm sure there aren't too many trucks around here that look just like that so maybe I'll get lucky.

On the gun forum I visit the subject of how many and what type of guns do we all have invariable comes up. I've always thought listing them online was a bad idea. But, I've also had a lot of people out here shooting over the years, and my rep as a gun owner has spread - and I'm sure the reality is far less than the "image." I'm sure someone I know or know of is aware of these guys. Finding that out - another matter. As a gun owner with an eye to the future, I do like to introduce people to the shooting sports. However, it's incidents like this that make me rethink that position - if word of mouth spreads, I'll be dealing with repeat incidents forever.

So, my thinking now is - J is very brave and lucky. I have great neighbors - but I didn't need this to remind me. My cat is ok and apparently not too bothered about the whole thing. J said he wasn't real wild about the sheriff or the deputy, but he made his presence known to her. I was a FOOL for being lazy and not putting the guns away, plus leaving the house unlocked. It won't happen again. Future intruders won't be able to get in through the doors unless they have a battering ram - not much I can do about that. Windows - not much I can afford to do about that. All I'm looking to do is slow them down and make them think twice - do they really want take the time it's gonna require to get in?

And if I'm here - I'm ready as well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Fall Crops

I'd mentioned how feedlots have huge pits to store silage - this is a feedlot I drive by on my way to work. They have two pits - the closest one is cleaned out, to be filled this year. The one that is full is from last year and will start to be fed pretty quickly. This is just one end of the thing - we see about one third of the whole shebang.

I've been bloviating about milo (grain sorghum or maize) - here is a more popular variety these days - it's considered "white" milo.

Below is the old school red milo. Demand for a lower tannin content grain resulted in more of the white varieties being grown. The grain has a very good feed value in comparison to corn because historically the market price is lower, and if the grain is processed in a steam flaker at a feedlot, cost benefits are gained. Milo has to be flaked to break the seed coat proteins, and the steam helps reduce some of the starches, so the whole process makes the grain more digestible for ruminants (cattle, of course). Milo is also processed to make a "flour" for sheetrock production.

Milo is also a hybrid. This means no saving seed to grow for next year. Even so, some genetic aberrations do appear - it isn't unusual to see the taller plants mixed in. The tall milo here is really a sweet sorghum variety with very little grain in the head. It's what we grind up for silage.

Then there is the old farm classic - dent corn. This field is just starting to dry down - the plant is dying and the leaves are shriveling. The husks are opening slightly to expose the ends of the ears. It will be several weeks before it's dry enough to harvest.

Here is a center pivot barely higher than the corn.

Milo has been planted in the corners left open in the crop circle - center pivot sprinklers just run in circles, so a full quarter of farmground will have the corners left over that don't get the water. So, this is basically irrigated corn surrounded by a bit of dryland milo. There just happened to be a swail (a depression that never drains properly where crops rarely grow but grasses and weeds like it fine) along the ditch, eating into the tillable ground.

I've been carrying on about "feed" - this is a field of sweet sorghum (above) - you can see the grain head at the top. It's about the same height as corn, and the whole plant is ground up for silage.

Then, we have another classic - soybeans. These plants are also starting to "turn." 'Beans have a very distinctive odor when they're ripening - I've never really cared for it. I'll eat tofu, but soybeans really, in my humble opinion, don't really smell that great. Of course, we all like steak, but we really don't care for the smell of the "beef byproduct" that cattle produce by the ton.

This is a Google Earth capture of an area west southwest of The Poor Farm. All those little circles? One quarter or 160 acres. Some of the larger center pivots can cover sections, as you can see. They are more prone to having problems - the smaller ones are easier to keep running. Each of these units require a pretty healthy water well to operate. That right there is a lot of energy being used to pump that water - engines vary between gas and diesel, and the center pivots vary - some use electricity to power the transit wheels, some hydraulics, and the older ones used water drives (which weren't as efficient).

There used to be a lot more flood irrigation here, but as energy costs skyrocketed, the more efficient sprinklers took over. Flood irrigation requires a lot of ground preparation. The "table" has to be graded to drop, so that requires earth movers to level off hills and fill low spots so the water will flow from one end to another. The pipe that fills the furrows has to be moved from one spot to the next as the furrows finally fill at the far end. The end with the pipes always got too much water and the far end not enough. "Tailwater pits" captured the excess for reapplying to the ground. Ducks loved those pits, but it was valuable water just evaporating away for the farmer.

On the other hand, center pivot sprinkler systems are set up to spray more water the further from the pivot - the further out, the more ground is covered. The sprinkler heads are on "drops" that place the water right at crop level, and are adjusted as the crop gets higher. They're easily more efficient at water delivery than the old flood method, plus they'll cover terrain that would require some serious leveling to flood.

I've never babysat a bunch of sprinklers - we don't have enough water flow to support irrigation in this tiny area. So, while I have "moved pipe," I've never had to pull a stuck sprinkler section out of the mud, or checked how far the water had flowed down the furrow, and all the other watering duties. I missed out on all that. Dern.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Not Forgotten

I have nothing more to say than I did last year.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today's Tee Hee II

This is The Argyle Sweater. Some think it's a spiritual descendant of The Far Side. I dunno about that, but it's offbeat and snork worthy most days.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Silage Time

The first signs of fall are upon us out here on the ol' prairie. The first round of fall harvest is here - it's time to chop whatever is planted for it and get it put away. Ensilage is the process where plant matter is chopped into small pieces, packed in a relatively oxygen free environment, and left to stew for a while. The material actually ferments - converting the rough starches of the plant into sugars that cattle can digest and gain feed value - much more efficiently than the baled plant. The ensilage link goes to a pretty decent Wikipedia article on the subject.

Around here, the main ingredient is simply known as "feed." It is actually a fairly specialized form of sorghum or maize. Instead of being optimized for grain, the plants are bred for quick growth and maximum bulk - so they are tall instead of the shorter grain plants - aka "milo." Sometimes "feed" is baled, because it does make good bulk matter for cattle in the winter. But, silage is usually a better bet. We call silage made from corn "cornlage" to distinguish it from the sorghum based variety. In all cases, the plants are completely ground into relatively small chunks under an inch - as a rule. We do cut corn "wet," too. The normal moisture content of wet corn is around thirty two percent - 28 to nearly 40. The corn is tub ground and packed like silage - if it's too dry, there are too many fines, and too wet, the result is "slushy." But, the corn here is still way too wet for cutting as wet corn. Elevators prefer "dry" corn at 18% or lower these days - they used to dry it with specialized propane powered dryers, but if it's under 18% just using fans to keep air circulating will keep it from developing hot spots and spoilage. If there is one thing a grain elevator does not need, it would be a hot spot that could erupt in a fire.

So, we're still in the silage business at the moment, so that's what I'm gonna talk about. I don't know what I'd do without YouTube - here I am in Greeley CO, and unable to actually take pictures or video of the process. But, hey, others have beat me to it, so I'll steal their stuff.


This is a cool video, because it's usually one chopper for one truck - but in this case, the spacing was just right for two choppers to fill a truck. The chopper operators can change the direction and angle of the stream of chopped feed into the truck. Most of the trucks have "live bottoms" - where the material is moved to the rear mechanically. We used to use our old grain bobtails with high sides added, and we were lucky to keep them from tipping over when dumping, at least until the floors were slicked up. Feed hanging up in a front corner of a long end dump trailer can upset the ol' apple cart in a hurry - so, most silage trucks don't have that option.


Most trucks around here don't bother with the auto tarps - they are overfilled and lose some off the top headed to their destination. It can make a gummy mess on a windshield. The chopped feed is generally hauled to a feedyard and put into a silage pit. Back in the day, our pit was just a slit cut into the side of a hill, but feedyards have large concrete walls on a concrete base, and fill between them.


I'd never heard it called "buckraking" before. Learn something new every day. You can see the walls are lined with black plastic - more will be put on the top and weighted down with old car tires. This seals the material from oxygen and helps keep keep the heat. We never bothered with a cover - the top would get rotten and seal the feed - it was black, crusty and nasty, and was not fed, but it did help seal the rest. This stuff comes out steaming on a freezing winter day - it was actually pleasant to back the ol' pickup to the pit and pitchfork in a load for the cattle on a really cold day. The heat from the newly exposed silage would warm us, sheltered from the wind - since we were in a trench cut into a hill. It also has a very pleasant smell - a sweet, tangy boozy sort of odor - one can imagine that a cow would really like this stuff, and hey, guess what, they do.

At any rate, it has to be packed or it won't ferment evenly. So, around here, big four wheel drive tractors with super wide dozer blades push the fresh loads up onto the pile and drive over it, constantly packing. It's certainly different driving one of those tractors on the springy feed - much better ride than the normal field work provides.

So, a farmer would contract his feed to a feedlot and hire custom silage cutters to chop and haul the stuff to the feedlot. If you search YouTube for this subject, you'll see a lot of tractor drawn feed buggys being used - some buggies being towed by the chopper. Not efficient enough for the long distance prairie - we've got to use trucks to haul the miles to the 'yard - can't be waiting all day for a slow tractor to get back to the field. But, a smaller farmer/stockman who puts up his own silage with his field next door to his farm would find it more cost effective to use his existing tractors to pull those wagons rather than buy a fleet of trucks. It just depends on the prevailing conditions due to location and need. Some of this stuff is bagged, too - into long plastic sausages several hundred yards long and ten or more feet in diameter.

I've noticed here in Weld County the onion and spud harvest has started - plus I'm sure there are other crops I can't even ID gettin' hauled in. For us in Western Kansas, the fall harvest is much more leisurely and drawn out than the intensity of wheat harvest.

It'll pick up a bit more when the corn dries out more, and the beans and milo are ready. Combines have to be set up for each crop, and there are specialty headers for corn and the other smaller grains. More on that as the time approaches!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Missed All the Fun

Semitrailer fire uncorks vintage cargo in Wyoming

WAMSUTTER, Wyo. — Battling an intensely hot fire after a semitrailer crashed on Interstate 80, emergency crews were surprised to find themselves suddenly fired upon — by corks from exploding wine bottles inside.

"The corks were popping out of the bottles like the old Jiffy Pop we grew up with," Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Scott Keane said. "My trooper got hit in the arm with one."

The fire Thursday was so intense it burned the trailer down to its axles, melted the tires and damaged about 75 feet of pavement.

Keane said no one was injured, and the driver, Cyndy Brown of Arkansas, escaped the fire.

Theresa Herbin, public relations specialist for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said the wines were merlot, pinot noir, riesling and others from Washington and Oregon. "There were a few bottles that didn't explode," but they vanished overnight.

Dangit! I and another of our drivers were just there around my birthday - we were on location about five or six miles (as the crow flies - oilfield roads meander in an incredible fashion) southeast of Wamsutter.

Heh - undamaged bottles vanishing overnight? Who knew?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Friday is Bad

One day a guy died and found himself in hell. As he was wallowing in despair, he had his first meeting with a demon.

The demon asked, "Why so glum?"

The guy responded, "What do you think? I'm in hell!"

"Hell's not so bad," the demon said. "We actually have a lot of fun down here. You a drinking man?"

"Sure," the man said, "I love to drink."

"Well, you're gonna love Mondays then. On Mondays all we do is drink. Whiskey, tequila, Guinness, wine coolers, diet Tab and Fresca We drink till we throw up and then we drink some more!"

The guy is astounded. "Damn, that sounds great."

"You a smoker?" the demon asked.

"You better believe it!"

"You're gonna love Tuesdays. We get the finest cigars from all over the world and smoke our lungs out! . If you get cancer, no biggie. You're already dead, remember?"

"Wow, the guy said, "that's awesome!"

The demon continued. "I bet you like to gamble."

"Why yes, as a matter of fact I do"

"Wednesdays you can gamble all you want. Craps, blackjack, roulette, poker, slots, whatever. If you go bankrupt, well, you're dead anyhow. You into drugs?"

The guy said, "Are you kidding? I love drugs! You don't mean . . ."

"That's right! Thursday is drug day. Help yourself to a great big bowl of crack, or smack. Smoke a doobie the size of a submarine. You can do all the drugs you want, you're dead, who cares!"

"Wow," the guy said, starting to feel better about his situation, "I never realized Hell was such a cool place!"

The demon said, "You gay?"


"Ooooh, you're gonna hate Fridays!"

So, how's your weekend?

H/T Alan



Trust? Faith? Mental Illness? You decide.

It bears mentioning that a second strike on an spot already hit will result in penetration.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Hold On, We're Goin' for Broke!


When Airport shows up on my boob tube, I always end up watching just to see this scene. George Kennedy chewed up the scenery as well as that cigar. At least he was nominated for a Golden Globe award - the Academy didn't think enough of his performance to give him a nod.

Airport also has a lot of negative baggage these days - it was the first ensemble star packed disaster movie, it had crummy sequels piggybacked on it's success, plus there were a slew of lesser movies that attempted to follow the apparent formula for it's success. Taken on it's own, the movie is good in it's own right as a great popcorn show - were it a western, it would be an "oater." It's really the failures of the later sequels and copycats that give us the collective groan and eye rolling associated with the disaster movie genre. It certainly is not an example of artistic genius -Burt Lancaster claimed it was "the worst piece of junk ever made."

But ol' Burt wasn't always the nicest guy on the planet, and I get a charge out of watching this movie on several levels. It was definitely made in different times - just the amount of smoking on the plane kinda clues ya in there. It did have a solid story that had a lot of character threads that were all brought to a conclusion (Tarantino for contrast?). Edith Head was nominated for her costume design, and Helen Hayes won for best supporting actress as the little old stowaway. This was also the last movie for Van Heflin - who will always be Joe Starrett in Shane for me. Dean Martin stepped out of his standard alcoholic character to portray a philandering pilot in a convincing manner.

So what if Airport is considered "campy." If it is, then it's one of my guilty pleasures.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

ThreeCollie is a Dog Person

More proof Marianne is a damn fine person.

Dern it, got something in one of the ol' eyeballs after reading that.

This is one of the reasons why I enjoy this little blogging network. There are a lot of great writers who really know how to convey emotions quite well, and she is definitely one of the best. She's also a fine photographer - little as I know about the subject, even I can tell she's good. She puts her passions in her writings and her pictures.

If you've never been to her place, check it out. Trust me.

I, Rubbernecker

This has been bothering me for a couple days now. I knew I'd have to blog about it to clear the air for my own sake, but putting thoughts down was more difficult than anticipated.

I'm sure y'all are familiar with the Move Over laws - when you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road and you are traveling in the lane adjacent, you are then required to move over to give them room. This applies to the median on a divided highway as well - you'd have to move right were you in the fast lane and came upon a patrolman writing a ticket with the customer parked on the far left edge.

And, in doing some research on this, there are differences in the various state laws. Some require that you slow down first, then move over. In Texas, if you are unable to move over, you must slow down twenty mph under the speed limit - and yes, this means five mph in a twenty five zone.

And, the various personnel really don't care for people blasting through their "work area." I about got out of my last speeding ticket (almost five years ago now) when a semi blasted by the officer and I on a two lane, almost blowing his hat off. He remarked that he had heard the guy slow down a little, or he'd have gone after him and let me go. This sort of thing gets my attention - maybe, just maybe, if ya don't slow down in those situations, you might just get a ticket.

Balance this tidbit with the knowledge that truckers just don't like to lift off the throttle, period. I'm sure we've all been caught up in traffic jams where the incident is well off the road, or even on the other side of the median. Truckers blame this on "rubberneckers." People slow down to look at accidents, or whatever caused the others ahead to slow down. Gotta see. You should hear the bitching and moaning when this happens - I've even seen someone's box of clothes dropped from a vehicle and gradually being strewn across the pavement stop traffic.

To be fair, there is some justification for this - people do like to look. However, there are also two other factors most don't even bother to consider - we are all trained to slow down when we see emergency lights, period. And, traffic behaves similarly to fluid dynamics. If you pinch off (lose the right lane because people have to move over) the traffic flow, backups will occur. It's called the accordion effect. As cars start intruding on each others' safe space, the drivers will slow down, causing the other drivers behind to slow down as well. Pinch points also behave like putting a kink in a garden hose. Throughput is reduced. So, it's really more a question of vehicle/traffic dynamics rather than idiot "four wheelers" as most truckers believe.

And another thing that gets to some, me included, are "Radio Rambos." Before internet trolls there were those who, behind the anonymity of the unseen microphone, try to bait people into arguments for their own amusement. When challenged to "back up" their smart mouths, they'll avoid any sort of physical confrontation like vampires do garlic. They are usually behind base stations, so they can "walk over" most of the radio traffic. There are drivers who do this, too - but they aren't as anonymous. Getting them to pull over and defend their remarks is still generally a futile exercise.

I think y'all can see where this is going.

So, I was eastbound on I70 just east of Deer Trail, CO. I had just passed a reefer running about two or three mph less than me - I was running 75 - the limit. I'm convinced he, like two thirds of the trucks out there, was running up against his governor. I'm sure his company had his set for 72. At any rate, I was about three or four hundred yards behind a car that had eased by me, and as we came around a curve, a major accident scene unfolded. A Swift truck was involved - it was pointed away from the road, and the trailer looked pretty dinged up. There was another truck involved - it was further down the road, and it looked like it had rolled. There were numerous emergency vehicles lining the shoulder, and thirty or more personnel in green safety vests walking and standing on the fog line. I did see a couple heavy wreckers. Mostly, I saw all those people, and I slowed down. The car ahead of me had slowed considerably, so I matched it's speed - about fifty or so. At the time, I felt that it would be totally unnecessary for me to run up on it, slam on the brakes, and ride it's ass. Maybe that's just me, but I kept the same following distance.

Then, on the CB, I hear a rather large amount of profanity directed at me. It seems the driver behind me was upset that I slowed down. I was informed that it was people like me that caused accidents by slowing down and rubbernecking at accidents, just WTF was I doing?

Well, if there's one thing I've certainly seen plenty of is Swift trucks involved in these things. Frankly, I'm not interested in seeing blue tarps or much of anything at all - mostly I'm interested in not running over someone in a reflective vest. I told him I had slowed to keep from running over the &^*@ing four wheeler in front of me, and that I wasn't interested in rubbernecking - and returning the compliment about his biological heritage as well.

"Why are you lying? You know you weren't gonna hit that four wheeler! You were rubbernecking, you f#$%ing liar!"

No, I was keeping pace and the same distance - you @ssh01e. He continued railing at me, and mentioned that all the law required was for me to move over - not slow down.


I informed him that LEOs have a dim view of people ripping through accident scenes ninety to nothing, and they will write up those who do so. He could bitch all he wanted, but I wasn't gonna get a ticket just to keep his happy ass satisfied.

Nope, it was the law, I was rubbernecking and a liar. I shouldn't have slowed down.

Well, this was getting a bit surreal, and I'm not really geared for confrontations. This guy obviously was - he was quick with the retorts and misdirection of the arguments. This wasn't the first time he was involved in a radio argument. He obviously was a variation of a Radio Rambo. So, I told him I didn't have to listen to this s$#t, so I was going to shut off my radio, goodbye and good luck with the cops in the future, and I shut off the radio.

This sort of thing gets under my skin. After a few miles, I called the State Patrol number in my handy Rand McNally Truckers Atlas to see if they could verify that I wasn't required to slow down. I've called them before - at least I've got the sense not to tie up a 911 line. The dispatcher didn't really know, but she had always thought slowing down was required. She offered to try to get a "public information officer" to talk to me - I might have to leave a number for them to call back, etc., so on and so forth. I told her it was probably a judgment call, and that wouldn't be necessary. So, I looked it up on the ol' Algore Intertubes:
(2) (a) A driver in a vehicle that is approaching or passing a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is giving a visual signal by means of flashing, rotating, or oscillating red, blue, or white lights as permitted by section 42-4-213 or 42-4-222, shall exhibit due care and caution and proceed as described in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection (2).

(b) On a highway with at least two adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction on the same side of the highway where a stationary authorized emergency vehicle is located, the driver of an approaching or passing vehicle shall proceed with due care and caution and yield the right-of-way by moving into a lane at least one moving lane apart from the stationary authorized emergency vehicle, unless directed otherwise by a peace officer or other authorized emergency personnel. If movement to an adjacent moving lane is not possible due to weather, road conditions, or the immediate presence of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, the driver of the approaching vehicle shall proceed in the manner described in paragraph (c) of this subsection (2).

(c) On a highway that does not have at least two adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction on the same side of the highway where a stationary authorized emergency vehicle is located, or if movement by the driver of the approaching vehicle into an adjacent moving lane, as described in paragraph (b) of this subsection (2), is not possible, the driver of an approaching vehicle shall reduce and maintain a safe speed with regard to the location of the stationary authorized vehicle, weather conditions, road conditions, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic and proceed with due care and caution, or as directed by a peace officer or other authorized emergency personnel.

(3) (a) Any person who violates any provision subsection (1) of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

(b) Any person who violates subsection (2) of this section commits careless driving as described in section 42-4-1402.


So, it's a judgment call. Had I not lifted, I'd have run up on the car and had to brake, and this clown would have had no reason to bitch at me, because I sure as hell couldn't pass on the right - next to all that activity butted up against the fog line. I know I did the right thing for the right reasons - even if I highly doubt one of the numerous LEOs would have chased me down for not slowing if there hadn't been a car in front of me that did. And, I know I did the right thing by shutting off my radio and not continuing the confrontation.

It takes me a while to get steamed, and I got pretty hot for a while. I really considered pulling over to get behind this a$$h01e and attempt to taunt him into pulling over for a more personal and face to face discussion. Most of these mouthy idjuts have never had to suffer the consequences of their actions - or they'd have learned to keep their mouths shut long ago. He wasn't gonna outrun me, and I could have dogged him for miles calling him various names questioning his manhood if he cared to continue - he'd have looked pretty poor to any listening.

But, there are plenty of reasons this is a bad idea. The foremost is that the guy who signs my checks is very cognizant of the company reputation. He's spent years building a highly regarded business, and the last thing he needs is one of his company trucks plastered all over the Denver news. Plus, a guy could get ventilated doing stuff like that - and since I don't carry - the vented one would be me. And, most personally, I can write checks that my body can't cash any more. I've lost a lot of the use of my left hand, and my former strength is gone after all the surgeries.

But I still feel like if I haven't lost my man card, I've certainly put it in danger. Perhaps it's like a punch card - after so many punches, you lose it. Right now I feel like it's very close to being revoked. I still want to shove that guy's mike where the sun don't shine.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Important Scientific Discovery

FYI: Is There a Scientific Way to Measure How Bad a Fart Smells?

You’re in luck. For their senior project, two Cornell University computer-engineering whizzes recently built a machine that does just that. After learning in class how breathalyzers work, Robert Clain and Miguel Salas assembled a fart detector from a sensitive hydrogen sulfide monitor, a thermometer and a microphone and wrote the software that would rate the emission. A “slight perturbance in the air” near the detector sets it to work measuring the three pillars of fart quality: stench, temperature and sound. Temperature, Clain explains, is critical. The hotter a fart, the faster it spreads. “It beeps faster if it’s a high ranker, and a voice rates it on a scale of zero to nine,” he says. “If it ranks a nine, a fan comes on to blow it away. It even records the noise so you can play it back later.” After a few months of construction, they began field tests. “Well, the sample data wasn’t the entire school, but we definitely tested it,” Salas says.

The mind boggles at what some college whizzes would ingest for field tests. Pickled eggs and beer, plus cabbage, onions and refried beans?

The contraption could even have use outside of fraternity houses, Clain says, as a biosensor for harmful hydrogen-sulfide-producing bacteria in hospitals. Or dentists could use it to measure oral malodor. They’ve also received some interest from doctors with four-legged patients. “You can test the health of livestock through the quality of their farts,” Salas says. “Smell and sound can tell you a lot about their bowel movements.”

Uhmmm, don't tell the EPA - they've already got it in their heads that our cattle fart too much. Just what we need - a phalanx of cattle fart detectors out here, perhaps wirelessly communicating with Cow Fart Central. "Cattle Emissions Level Orange Today - new air fresheners recommended." Carbon tax not included.

"When it came time to present the invention in class, though, Clain and Salas had to test their detector by making raspberry sounds and breathing on it—human exhalations contain enough hydrogen sulfide to trigger the sensor. “It’s hard to fart something really smelly on command,” Clain laments. “Besides, it provided a nicer atmosphere for those around us.” Still, their professor saw fit to award the project a well-deserved A.

Well, heck yeah. Give 'em an A for the balls to do it.

H/T Dave Barry

Things I See

Just fueled at the west Hook (Flying J) in OKC - this was the cool thing I saw on this trip. We'll see race team haulers, tour buses, and various other interesting things hauled from somewhere to somewhere.

I dunno. For me, Lynyrd Skynyrd died in 1977. The Rossington-Collins Band, and the subsequent reinvention of Skynyrd never really made it for me. But, it's cool to see the surviving members (several more have gone to the great gig in the sky since the '77 plane crash) have a new album coming out.

Of course, Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama are certified Rock Standards. Skynyrd's contribution to the gun control debate underwhelms me:
Two feets they come a creepin'
Like a black cat do
And two bodies are lyin' naked
Creeper think he got nothin' to lose
So he creeps into this house, yeah
And unlocks the door
And while a man reaching for his trousers
Shoots him full of .38 holes

Its a Saturday night special
Got a barrel that's blue and cold
Ain't no good for nothin'
But put a man six feet in a hole

Big Jim's been drinkin' whiskey
And playing poker on a losin' night
Pretty soon, Big Jim starts a thinkin'
Somebody been cheatin' and lyin'
So Big Jim commences to fightin'
I wouldn't tell you no lie
And Big Jim done grab his pistol
Shot his friend right between the eyes


Hand guns are made for killin'
Ain't no good for nothin' else
And if you like your whiskey
You might even shoot yourself
So why don't we dump 'em people
To the bottom of the sea
Before some fool come around here
Wanna shoot either you or me

Mmmkay - just exactly how are we gonna make sure all the guns are tossed? Hmmm? Yep, when it comes time to so so, you can just bet "Creeper" will turn his in. Best case scenario? Two bodies lyin' naked have a couple of blasters under their pillows and plug "Creeper."

And Big Jim? This must be his very first encounter with alcohol - having led a pristine life, never in any sort of confrontational situation that would test his self control with the gun he's carrying. But, he finally meets Ol Sour Mash and goes off on a shooting spree. Guess that Saturday Night Special was Demon Enhanced and was 'a talkin' to him in his alcoholic stupor.

I think Skynyrd's commitment to the gun control issue was also highlighted by Gimme Back My Bullets. It's a bit strange - he's tired of being pushed around, not gonna take it no more, give him back his bullets. Perhaps the song is about how we shouldn't give them back - since he's ready for violence? Or he's a fellow who's been pushed too far? Macho posturing? Ahh, well. Saturday Night Specials aren't the term de jour anymore, now it's assault rifles. I suspect we'd be hearing about EBRs and their mind control properties had the plane not gone down in '77.

I always liked this:


They were a good band in their day. I might just have to check out the new album just for nostalgia's sake.