Monday, November 30, 2009

The New Disinfectant In Town

New! From Messianic Pharmaceuticals! You'll get it for free! No, really! Well, those rich people will pay. Yeah, the rich.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bear Attack? Pah!

How long could you survive after punching a bear in the balls?

Created by Oatmeal

Just long enough to break out the Blitzenboomer Recoil Monster and blow the ugly ursine away.

Shift That Spectrum!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Extra Mom

It sure seems like I'm doing a lot of these lately.

Mother and Dad originally hoped that Mother could be a stay at home mom, but it became clear that the extra income she could provide as a teacher would make life far easier for our burgeoning family. But, Mother had let her teaching certificate expire, so she had to go back to college for several summers to get re-certified.

That was when Donna came into our lives. She was hardly older in the big scheme of things than Sis and I - she was just old enough to drive out to our farm. Sis wasn't old enough to go to kindergarten yet, and I was in the early years of grade school. So, it was a growing experience for all - a young teenager learning to help raise two young kids, parents learning to cut some apron strings, and the two children growing up with a new influence. Donna had a very positive guiding hand - she played games, kept us intellectually busy, fixed our lunches, refereed our fights, fixed our boo boos, and became quite entwined in our family. Sis and I adored her.

When her father, an ag pilot, was killed in a small airplane crash, my dad stepped up and took her under his wings - no pun intended. It was a grievous blow, but one that she endured with help from my parents. Donna told me once that my father's help was a great deal of comfort to her, and for which she was very grateful. She had my Dad on a pedestal.

Mother finally finished and started teaching again, and Donna got married. Sis - the flower girl - remembers the wedding better than I - she broke down crying that she was going to lose Donna forever. This mortified our Mother - who believed children should behave themselves in public, not ruining someone's wedding, for instance. Donna took it in stride, and comforted my little sister, easing her mind and the situation. She ended up getting divorced and remarried.

As we all aged, we did grow apart. The electronic age helped revive our friendship in the form of email. When Donna's aged 'puter was giving her fits, I gave her one of mine - it was not the latest or the greatest, but all she did was go online and read emails, with a side of surfing, so the one I gave her sufficed for that. She was there for us when Dad died, and when Mother died, she announced that we were to consider her our mother when we needed one. She was one of our "Extra Mothers," which we were lucky enough to have three.

Donna was really into bowling, too. She visited Sis in OKC during some of the tourneys held there - she was pretty good at it. During this time, she was also diagnosed with cancer. It was a struggle - the therapy made her lose her hair, but she always had a sense of humor about it. She liked to wear punk style wigs. It seemed she had it whupped. She and her new hubby worked at the nearby Wally World, so I'd see them fairly often, giving my extra mom a big hug. She always had to show me off to her coworkers as her extra son, making a big deal out of it.

She was also one of "those" types who forwarded glurge emails that drive me nuts. I chided her for it, to no avail. She claimed ignorance - and frankly, she just didn't want to learn. But, I did to her what I do to everyone who sends me that stuff - I return it with the simply found truth that the story is false.

I noticed that the emails from her dropped off to nothing. Sis told me the same thing the other day when we discussed this, so I wasn't the only one. I figured I'd finally pushed the wrong button too many times, returning emails with snarky comments.

Another thing I noticed this year was the flower on my Dad's grave. Just about every year when I finally decorate graves on Memorial Day, someone beat me to it for Dad. It was always a small, completely innocuous little flower stuck in the grass. I wasn't sure who put it there, but Donna was my first suspect. The whole idea fit her - just a small memoriam. This year, no flower.

So, the other day, I got an email from I've never been a paying member, and I fear Facebook has blown them clear out of the water. However, I did notice a memorial section - and Donna's name was there.


Donna passed away July 8, 2009.

No one in her family told us. Nobody told us her cancer came back, or that she had passed on. We would have liked to say goodbye, if that were possible. We'd have been there and helped out, had we known. We'd certainly have shown our respects by being at her funeral. We will be decorating her grave at some point in the future - that, at least, is left for us.

I really wanted to point some fingers. Character flaws and whatnot of some of the family. I find that I'm just too weary to do so, plus it's probably for the better that I keep my smart mouth shut. I'd have thought that someone would have questioned why we weren't there - what sort of ungrateful brats were my sister and I, to abandon our extra mom?

I was carping about this to one of my best friends. He emails or texts short messages letting me and others not "in the loop" know if someone in the local society is having some sort of trouble. He knows that those he informs probably won't find out any other way, and considers it just something that should be done. He knew about Donna, but he didn't know her involvement with our family. I called him to thank him for that particular "service" - his little moments of thoughtfulness are in stark contrast to what we got from other sources in this case. Small town societies survive thusly. There is a lot of gossip passed along these kinds of networks (not from my buddy, though) - Dad used to call it "The Widow's Hotline." My grandmother was a major node in that system, fer sure. The gossip the men pass on at the coffee shop or the pool hall is no different. It is part of the lifeblood of a small community.

Sis and I both have had to contact relatives and friends to pass on bad news. It's just something that you do, period. We did it, even though it was painful.

RIP, Extra Mom.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I Wuz Thankful

That I didn't pile up my truck Tuesday. Two of us were north of McCook, NE on US83 - northbound. I was following. We'd caught a slow chicken hauler. My compadre had gotten around him, and I was working on the same.

That is some hilly, rolling country with a lot of curves and few passing zones. There is a southbound truck lane not too far north of McCook, and when I and the chicken hauler arrived, I could see that after a car went by, I'd be clear to pass. I see a lot of people go ahead and pass in that situation if the oncoming car is in their far right lane - but I don't like to do that. It makes me twitchy when someone comes at me in a lane intended for traveling in the opposite direction, and I'm sure I'd have made the driver of that car extremely nervous if they had to meet a semi and an oversized load in that situation.

So, I was poised to jump - I had a bit of the oncoming lane staked out, watching to time my move. When the car cleared, I stomped on the throttle and turned left - almost immediately hitting a white Ford 3/4 ton pickup in the lane beside me. How did I know it was a 3/4 ton? It had the extended mirrors that barely cleared my "rookie rod" - or bumper guide. That idjut had to have seen me peeking around the other semi, the oncoming car, my turn signals, and the fact that I was already partly in the lane he staked out for himself.

The reason his mirror barely cleared the rookie rod? Because he swerved to miss me?

Au contraire mon frere. It's because I stomped on the brakes and swerved hard to the right. After I had just cut to the left.

Semis don't care for confused inputs like that.

Just about any vehicle does not care for stomping on the brakes while turning sharply at speed. Dirt trackers use that technique to put their racers in a slide. Trucks don't like to slide very well.

I'd have preferred to not stomp on the brakes, but the gap between my front bumper and the rear of the trailer ahead of me was closing fast. I could feel the truck sliding a bit and leaning over - and now it was swerving to the right. So, I had to cut 'er back to the left until I could feel the bite in the wheel. A few corrections like that corkscrewed the rig back into a stable rolling mode. I think when I turned back to the right the trailer - which was one of our single axle drop decks - had drifted to the left. Turning back to the left helped bring it back into equilibrium. I've noticed in the past that those trailers seem to be less stable than tandem axle trailers.

Well, my heart had basically jumped out of my ribcage through my throat. It did not affect my power of speech, because I fear I turned the airwaves on the CB band blue. My compadre and I were running on our "company channel" - which is 24 if yer interested - and he got to hear me vent. I had to gather myself for a minute or three before I was ready to try to pass the chicken hauler - again. Compadre spotted an opening for me, and I got by.

Then, I noticed I was catching the impatient sob. I mentioned this to my coworker - who is senior to me in our little world - and he asked me what I was gonna do?

Well, I'd sure like to put him in the weeds, but I fear the crew chief back home wouldn't care for that too much. Maybe I could get his tag number and turn him in.

We're both NASCAR fans, btw.

Past experience has shown me what a waste the second option is - most of the time the officer who is supposed to take your story is gone, and you play phone tag, and he doesn't return your calls like he says he will. Or they chase in the wrong direction. Or you'll see a patrolman after you call in, but he ain't doin' nuttin.' Basically, my experience with reporting bad driving is if the cops don't see it, it didn't happen. Their level of concern is somewhat less than impressive, IMHO.

At any rate, before I caught up, we had to turn off on another road.

Now, when there are several people waiting to pass someone, the first vehicle has the right of way. If I notice they aren't looking to pass, and turn down several very good and safe openings, then I've waited long enough and I'll pass them, too. I've been courteous and given them their opportunities. If I see someone actively trying to pass the slow vehicle, I'm not cutting in line, as it were.

I usually try to contain my language here, but I'm gonna cut loose a bit. If you are such a self important impatient prick that you have to pass me while I'm cutting over to pass, then you'd better at least fucking drive faster than me after you've cut me off and nearly made me wreck.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Retreat! - er ReTweet, That Is

I use TweetDeck to keep up with my Twitter feeds - and it also has a Facebook feed option I use. So, it's kinda rare that I go to my home page on Twitter on my browser. Today, just 'cause I was bored, I checked out to see if a follower I'd reported for spam was still active (they were not), and clicked on the link to my home page. This popup was waiting for me. So, if yer a tweeter, it looks like they'll have this handy little symbol to indicate a retweet. If this eliminates the two RT characters from the 140 character limit, so much the better, I say.

Happy Thanksgiving

Of course, I'm hardly the first to say this, but at this time of year on this particular day, we really need to step back and take stock of our lives and realize how God has blessed us. There are so many, many ways we as a people are so very fortunate. In spite of our political squabbles and doubts of the future, we still live in the best country in the world. We have more personal freedoms than our fellow travelers. We are wealthier - in that even our poor are considered rich beyond the dreams of those who suffer globally. We, in spite of our current leadership, have a health care system second to none. We have religious freedoms none can match. We can, if we choose, raise our standard of living by improving ourselves and working hard - as opposed to circumstances of birth holding us in our place. No, we're not perfect as a nation, and we have plenty who think the things that I have outlined as qualities are in fact defects, but the legions of those who want to come here is testament against that kind of thinking.

Personally, I'm thankful I'm even alive. A hundred years ago, I'd have died as a teenager - my appendix would have done me in. And after open heart surgery? Are you kidding me?

I'm thankful for my family and friends. I have the best sister ever. She'd go to the depths of hell for me, just because I'm her brother. You always find out about the quality of your friends when things unravel, and mine have come through in spades. I have to include my "internet" friends - y'all have meant more to me than you'll ever know.

I am thankful for my job. My employer kept me on during my recovery from surgery and when business for them really slowed down - it was a financial hardship for me not working the hours I needed, but laying me off and losing their health insurance would have been an even more severe blow. They continue to show I'm valuable to them in little ways. We carp about our wages, but after working for those who think of employees as overpaid and underworked Social Security numbers, I can really appreciate the efforts expended.

Probably my biggest problem at the moment is obesity. I really, really need to lose weight. I've looked into lap band surgery. I'm gonna celebrate Thanksgiving by indulging myself once again. The irony does not escape me.

But, on this day, the pluses far outweigh the minuses - as, in fact, they do every day. I hope that all of you have a joyous holiday with friends and relatives, and appreciate what you have. I'll be doing the same.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Y Knot?

Why shouldn't Teh Won bow before The King? At least he'd be consistent.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My New Christmas Tree

The wind was just plain howling yesterday, and this is a free mobile artistic statements I managed to capture on my "rookie rod." Don't laugh, people actually paint these things white or silver, and decorate them just like a Christmas tree. I'm sure somewhere there is a kitschy shop with those very items for sale - something for the touristas. Next to the jackalope postcards.

That is a crack in my windshield - I'm sure that before winter is over, it will spread and a new one will have to be installed.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Can't Put My Finger On It

But this mountain really reminds me of something......

Headlight? Tuning knob? A drink with Sambuca and tequila? High beam? Bullet? Diamond cutter? Pointer? Nerple?

I just can't quite put my finder on it, but something tells me I would wanna. In some unused portion of my brain, or some part of the ol' bod that thinks for me......

Pilot Mountain, North Carolina

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Drive All The Way

To Lillington, North Carolina - and all I've seen is this bug.

We've only averaged about 500 miles a day - they are sooo short and we've had timing problems with curfews in several cities. Usually between 6 to 9 am and 3 to 6 pm we aren't allowed within certain large cities - they don't want oversize loads clogging up rush hour. Since it's dark before evening curfew ends, - well, that kind of kills the day right there. Or, we have to wait outside the city limits for the morning curfew to be over.

But, them's the rules, and we all know it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's All In Yer Perspective

For Government Motors - yeah, that is an accomplishment.

This is quite true. Tear us down some more, oh TOTUS.

Egad - don't you know it. Giving citizenship status to what amounts to war criminals - and holding the trials in NYC? Times Square = Terrorist Central. Hide and watch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Test Your Knowledge

Pew Research Center has a twelve question test about current events, and they also have demographic stats - about how poorly most fared. I missed #10 and #12 - not gonna say what the questions were. You'll have to find out for yourself. Frankly, I'm not real proud of my results, either.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Snorfled Right Out Loud

Much has been made of Teh Won's tendency to place his head lower than his buttocks to prostrate himself before other world leaders. He did it again in Japan - and his defenders are saying it's ok, because Nixon did it, too. So there. Ok, then, here's something else Nixon did:

The sooner the better, I say.

Stolen from SondraK

Latest Taste Sensation

I hear Barney likes 'em plumped up.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Irritated at the Movies

I swear, every time a character on the silver or tiny screen reaches for a set of binoculars and looks through it, this is the view we get. Really? Is this what looking through 'nocs looks like? Personally, I've got some sort of condition where I can't line up the images in my head - I can pick up a random pair of 'nocs and see perfectly through them, but the next day, not so much. I have to close one eye to see properly or I see two superimposed images. I'd like to meet the person who sees this masked image through the dern things, and why they rule how we see the "dramatic" view.

Then, if the character hands the binoculars off to a buddy - they put it up to their eyes and see perfectly, without having to focus the eyepiece or the main tubes. Yeah, they work like that - not.

Of course, this is but one of many dumb movie cliches we are subjected to constantly. Every car ever made can burn rubber like a dragster. All the movie cars apparently have limited slip or locking differentials, because they can fry both tires with abandon. I dunno about y'all, but in my younger days, I always had to test about any car I drove to see if it could "peel out." The best way for an automatic was to power brake - because most cars can't break loose just by stomping on the gas, unless you're "cutting kitties." At any rate, if the car in question could overcome the brakes and static friction of it's weight - the right rear tire would fry. That is how standard differentials work. If it was a manual, then you could wind 'er up and dump the clutch, but if it didn't have the power, the tire might chirp. No long stripe on the pavement. I guess another way to break loose the rears with an auto tranny would be to pop it in neutral, wind it up and slip it into drive. For some reason, this method would shorten the life of said transmission considerably, perhaps even killing it at that particular moment. Not to mention stressed universal joints.

So, we can conclude that the average four door sedan in television and movie land has a very high torque motor attached to a high rpm stall converter, beefed up transmission, and a locking rear differential. It might even be lightened considerably - like a drag car. Every cop car is equipped thusly.

They apparently have some really, really noisy tires. When the car slides through a corner, we always get to hear the tires squeal with anguish and pain. Even on gravel. "Laying rubber" on gravel makes a lot of noise in the movies.

Explosives must be light as well, because every movie car is loaded with them. When in a collision, the entire car blows up, often lifting off the road. Sometimes the motor blows first, then the passenger compartment, and finally the trunk. If the explosives were heavy, the movie car couldn't burn rubber. So, we'll see a movie car peel out, squealing and leaving huge clouds of tire smoke on a gravel road, wail around a corner, and haul hiney. A protagonist will fire a lead/copper bullet at the hood, raising a shower of sparks. This causes the high explosives to ignite, blowing the car into smithereens and cooking the occupants. So, we can conclude that either the bullets or the cars have surfaces exactly like the strips for match striking. Regular cars are made of steel and various plastics, and the engine blocks are generally cast iron. So, don't be shooting at old bathtubs or refrigerators - they'll blow up in your face according to movie logistics. Kids, don't try that at home.

I don't even want to go into the shooting stuff - guns that never run out of ammo, bad guys that can't hit squat but a hero who can make impossible long shots on the run - the list goes on and on. Or how about computers? Large amounts of data transferred instantly on dial up, laptops built in the Pentium I or II era that ran programs instantly, transferring those large amounts of data on a floppy disk - no whirring or thunking noises from their drives! And who knew you could hear explosions in space? Don't lose air pressure or your body will blow up! Remember, when you get hit by a photon torpedo, you'll get knocked on your feet, but when your starship accelerates to several times the speed of light in a couple yards, you won't be a smear on the wall behind ya. Oh, and all lasers are visible beams, not just a dot.

To quote Charlie Brown: "Aaaargh!"

So, what movie cliche crap gets under your skin?

NOTE: I will be buying the Star Trek movie when it comes out on the seventeenth. I'm a hopeless hypocrite, I guess.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Notel Motel

My onboard library.

I've mentioned before that we don't have sleepers, so it's motels for us all the way, baybee. I prefer that policy, frankly - I get a clean (normally) bed, hot shower, cable tv and these days some sort of internet. Beats what I'd have in a sleeper. Yeah, I could carry a television/dvd player and a ton of DVDs like many do, plus I could get an air card. Why would I want to - when a motel room is the other choice? So, motels it is - but with one caveat - it has to have truck parking. Sometimes we'll drop our trailers at a truck stop or on the delivery site and bobtail to the motel, but it's a lot more convenient if they have the room for the truck and trailer. Bonus for more than one truck, and extra bonus if it's easy access and wide loads can be wedged in there somehow.

So, I've formed some biases about what chains are better. If you look at the average Holiday Inn Express parking lot, you'll notice that a large pickup would have some difficulty navigating the various barriers. Clearly, they want an upscale image that doesn't include trucks and trailers. So, unless they are the only game in town that has a room - I avoid them. Screw 'em if they don't want my business. Too bad, because they have one of the best "free" breakfasts going. But they should, considering what they charge for rooms. Some of the older regular Holiday Inns actually have truck parking, but as with most older motels, they are overrated. Maybe twenty years ago they were something, but now it's just a room with standard amenities the average Super 8 has. That goes for Best Westerns and Ramada Inns, too. New ones - pretty slick. Older - not so much. So, Holiday Inn Express - if you are in a car, fine. Truck - not so much. Holiday Inn, Ramada, and Best Western - generally overrated and overpriced if they aren't nearly new.

Which brings me to the reigning champ of lower end motels - Super 8. They're everywhere, and lots have some sort of truck parking. Quality varies - but most reach a comfortable level of competence. They get most of my business just because of sheer numbers. Some of the older ones are a little rough around the edges, even if they've been freshened up lately. For years, their "book" was quite informative, but the new "International" version is pretty sparse. The older book had small maps orienting the location with the local roads, exits off the interstate, and various eateries. The new book - no maps or local info. Plus, I've discovered the hard way that some motel owners have no clue what truck parking really means - it doesn't mean a string of car parking in a corner that takes ten minutes or more of maneuvering to park just one rig. Just because a rig can get on a lot and eventually park doesn't mean the motel should pat themselves on the butt for such a great job. Actually, the some of the worst ones I've run into that do this are in Michigan, but Oklahoma has it's fair share, too. On the other hand, there are some Super 8s in Michigan that have exemplary parking - paved lots with generously marked slots, perfectly placed plug ins for winter, and easy pull through. Ionia and Charlotte - I'm looking at you here.

Days Inn is supposed to be upscale from Super 8 - but not so much in the past few years. Most are pretty sad, showing their age and looking a bit rough around the edges. I know from talking to several Super 8 managers that they've gone on a major realignment of their image, and that means a lot of remodeling. Anecdotal - I have not seen a new Days Inn in a long time. Lots of brand spankin' new 8s out there, though. There are nice Days Inns out there (like the one at Pontoon Beach IL), but there are a lot that aren't so much.

Then, we've got to consider Motel 6 - yeah, they'll leave the light on for ya, but most don't even give you a tiny squirt of shampoo. Gawd forbid if you should need to blow your nose - that's what toilet paper is for, I guess. Most are clean and they are kinda late to the "free" internet game, but they are coming along. I've discovered that in some cases, their pricing may even be higher than the Super 8 or similar next door. So much for cutting out all the unnecessary frills to save money. Often, it's within five bucks or so. As far as I'm concerned a bowl of cereal, internet access, tissue paper, and a larger television to watch in perhaps a king bed instead of always queens is worth that five bucks. I'm 6'3" so queen beds can be a bit short. Plus, their motel book will show truck parking if said parking is within a half mile of the property. Now, I can always use some more exercise, but at the end of the day, I'm not particularly interested in hiking a half mile to a motel carrying my bag and laptop. Plus having my truck that far away makes me uncomfortable. If I've stayed there before and found it acceptable -then they'll get my business. The ones in Vernal UT and Grand Island NE get my repeat business.

Then, dropping down the scale a little more - Budget Host and Americas Best Value. This is where former Super 8s that couldn't keep up their franchise go to live on in their tattered splendor. This may or may not be a totally fair statement - there are some of these that are pretty decent, but many are certainly not. I stay at some when I have to, not because they would be my first, second or even third choice. Most aren't very expensive, but even then, some are over priced.

Speaking of choices - this gets us to Choice Hotels - which includes Comfort Inns, Sleep Inns, Quality Inns and Econo Lodges and Rodeways. The first three are usually always pretty nice. I've stayed in some older Comfort Inns that weren't real shiny slick, but they didn't charge Best Western prices, either. Usually, they're fairly new and the amenities (definitely breakfast) are superior to most of the other similarly priced chains. Their "book" is informative as well - and quite a few of them have pretty decent truck parking. I don't remember staying in a Rodeway - I have stayed in a mom'n'pop that used to be one - and it was fairly nice. Econo Lodges are catch as catch can. Most are older and a bit shopworn. On the whole, most of the Choice Hotel offerings are high quality and a fair price.

I've got three other books that I use rarely - Drury Hotels, AmercInn, and America's Best Inns and Suites. I keep them because of three locations I use once in a while. Drury is right up there with Holiday Inn Express. It should be considering what they charge - but the amenities are first class. I stay at one in St. Joseph MO - good place. I find myself staying at Salina KS once in a while, and the America's Best there is a very nice place, and within about seven or eight bucks of the neighboring Motel 6. Plus, that Motel 6 charges two bucks for their internet service. I've only stayed in one AmericInn that I can remember, and it's a good one. Belle Fourche SD - and it's the equal of any Holiday Inn Express, particularly when it comes to breakfast - at a Choice Hotel level of pricing. Tubby trucker recommends this place.

I was talking about this with my boss the other day - he prefers Hampton Inns. However, he's in a far different situation that us truckers. He's generally just flown into a major city for a conference and has a rental car when he gets there. He says they are consistent in their quality, with no problems to disturb him while he's working. I have not seen very many Hampton Inns located anywhere near where trucks even want to tread, much less out in Whistle Stop Montana or Sun Spot Texas where we usually are. But, as long as I'm critiquing here, I thought I'd toss in his thoughts from a businessman's viewpoint.

So, all in all, I'm pretty partial to Comfort Inns and Super 8s - they get most of my business.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I wrote this on Veterans' Day in 2007 - and my thinking has not changed.

For me, Veteran's Day always brings memories of local veterans who I know (or in most cases these days – knew). I've spoken of my “Uncle Ted” before, but I also had an “Uncle Nate” as well. He and “Aunt Edna” lived about a mile north of Ted's place, and I spent many a happy hour in their basement house. Uncle Nate was a small man, and he had a son who was considerable larger. The younger and larger Nate was known as “Little Nate” and the smaller but older Nate was “Big Nate.” Which is why - while I'm a Jr I'm nicknamed Jeff and my Dad (Robert for both of us) was known as Bob. My parents didn't want me hung with the sobriquet “Little Bob.”

Anyways, being a veteran was a large part of Nate's life. Every year his unit had a reunion, which found he and Edna in various places across the nation. Nate was in the Battle of the Bulge. I'm pretty sure he was involved in D-Day as well. Nate was like most veterans – he just didn't talk about what he'd seen or where he'd been. He and a cousin (another veteran) went on regular fishing trips that involved a lot of Old Charter. There was always a pint or two stashed in the garage – I spotted them nosing around playing as a child. As long as I can remember, Nate wore hearing aids. Edna would harangue Nate about something, and Nate would shut them off. Then, Edna would harangue him about that, and turn to me and wink. Nate would surreptitiously wink at me when Edna wasn't looking. Nate passed away a few years back, and Edna is in the local nursing home. She is the last of my elderly neighbors.

One of my longtime friends (Steve) father was in the Battle of the Bulge as well. He also liberated Hitler's Eagles Nest. This apparently involved drinking the liberated wines stored there. Needless to say, one of Steve's favorite DVD sets is “Band of Brothers” since his father lived that life. Gene was a paratrooper. He even scored some trophies – one is an officer's sidearm. Sadly, Gene is no longer with us. Steve is the repository for much of his father's experiences.

Another neighbor was in the Korean War. Jim's prize possession was a Garand he purchased after he got out, because he considered it to be the finest rifle he'd ever used. He wanted one just like the one he was issued, so he got one. He used it, too. Many a varmint fell to that rifle over the years. Jim is gone, too.

My uncle in Denver was in the Navy during the Korean War. He was in the Reserves for a long time after the war was over. He served aboard the USS Cronin (DEC 704).

My own father was stationed at Okinawa during the Korean conflict. He didn't see any action. He was a lineman. Nowadays, I fear Dad painted a pretty pure picture of his activities. He enjoyed building and flying control line model aircraft, and most of his pictures reflect that. He got to go to Japan several times on leave – somewhere I've got some yen from those trips. However, according to him, he must have lived a very boring life, because I never heard about any sort of mamasans, cathouses or otherwise. Either Dad was as pure as the driven snow, or he sort of neglected to tell his son about any “good times” he might have had.

All these men were involved with the local chapter of the VFW. I can remember Dad dressing in his khakis for funerals on a regular basis. The neighbors did the same. They didn't expect anything back other than they wanted the same at their funerals. They didn't look at their service to their country or to the VFW as anything other than it was the thing to do. There were no questions of self doubt about a mission, or the political ramifications, or any other sort of distraction. They served their country. They ate and took breaths. They raised families when they got home. They saluted the flag. It was their duty, but there was more to it than just simply doing their duty – they loved their country, their way of life, and felt they had to defend it when called.

These are the men who are my heroes. They became the backbone of our country – in areas requiring morals and courage, and just the simple day to day existences. I grew up in the era when the draft had been dropped, and registration wasn't required. I sometimes regret not having served, but the Armed Services weren't a great place to be at that particular time. Am I the equal of the men of the past? I honestly don't know, as I've never been tested. I am heartened at the bravery and fiber of our soldiers serving now, and hope that as they come back into our society, they will have the long term effects my heroes had.

So, I remember. I think that I am incapable of forgetting.

I still remember, and thank those who went before me.

This Is Exactly What I Meant

I'd sure like to buy Michael Ramirez a beer or at least coffee someday - he can cut right to the heart of a subject with just a picture.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

From the Safety Dept

H/T SondraK

I had some things I wanted to say about all this - but as I was turning it over in my mind backing out of a parking space at Mart of Wall, I heard some honking. Turns out a guy in a minivan had started backing out when I did, and I did not see him. Were it me, I'd have gone forward and let the clueless so and so (namely, moi) go on, but he sat there and honked at me instead. At any rate, I figured I was pretty wound up about the issue (if I couldn't pay attention driving), and after some reflection I decided I was unable to say anything that wasn't inflammatory, plus I was taking a position that is hard for me to defend.

My issue is with the Islamic religion, and our society's continual treatment of it's adherents with kid gloves. Don't wanna hurt their feelings. Meanwhile, the more radical members of said religion are plotting our demise. Yep, Christians haven't always been model citizens, either, but for the most part, sanctioned genocide by Christians was several centuries ago, not three days ago. So, can it with the moral equivalence arguments. Not all terrorists are Islamic, either - one in particular was a gun totin' former military redneck. People who bomb abortion clinics do not have religious sanction. On the other hand, some of the radical greenies do have sanctions from their respective organizations. Take from that what you will.

I do not have a solution for finding radical Muslims intent on our destruction. I'd really rather not go down the Japanese interment road we traversed as a nation in WWII - regardless of Michelle Malkin's defense of same. I do think all of us as gunnies need to look at the issue from this point - why do we find it so offensive when the antis lump us in with criminals and gang bangers when the subject of gun ownership comes up? We're responsible as a whole, and criminals are not - so taking our guns away is not logical. And yet, I find myself ready to toss the whole "religion" into a camp and throw away the key. I'd sure feel better if the "religion of peace" actually policed itself, and spent more time taking a stand against terrorism. But, the moderate leaders won't because they'll have fatwas called down upon them. Refreshing the tree of liberty seems to involve the blood more of innocents rather than tyrants lately. And that is what is pissing me off.

My Kinda Load

Is the kind where I don't have to unload or help unload - I'm kinda fat and lazy thataway. The heavier cranes are almost always rigged with two lines, so it is possible for them to unload and stand a tank straight from the trailer. If they only have one line rigged, the crew has to use straps to pick the tank (using the lift lugs built into the sides of the tank) from the trailer, set it on the ground, then stand it up on the ground. Or, as is more often the case - I'll set up my tractor next to the trailer, hook up to the side eye near the bottom, and "tail" the tank off. The crane gradually picks up one end, and me the other. When the tank is high enough, I start dropping it and moving "under" the other crane while it's operator starts moving to get "over" me. Putting the tank on the ground is an extra step that can have problems that using two cranes or one with two lines avoids.

My compadre's truck is nosed directly in line with the crane boom. If the tank is at an angle to the boom, the cables can twist and jump out of the sheaves on the crane, which would be a very, very bad thing. So, any dual line lifts by necessity are lined up with the boom. The outer line is the lighter line, so the operator wanted us to nose our trucks in - he could use his heavy block of sheaves to pick up the top and use his lighter line on the bottom of the tank.

Now the operator swings the tank to the side of the truck and trailer, allowing it to leave the drop zone.

The operator is now able to lift his main line and lower his lighter line.

Now he can continue dropping the lighter line, unhook it, and swing the tank into position within the containment walls with the other tanks on the left.

It was at this point I had to get back to work - unstrapping the tank I hauled, and getting my truck into position.

That tank is a 12'x30' - about 25k gallons, or in oilfield terms - a six hundred barrel tank. These tanks are for ag usage - a very heavy fertilizer blend. Regular FRP tanks wouldn't be strong enough - thus these are steel.

I've gone on in the past about how we manufacture and sell liquid storage vessels - but we don't always sell directly to the end user. There are several ag supply companies that peddle our tanks. They integrate our products into a complete solution for ag companies - something we do not do. We don't sell the plumbing, the containment walls, the field application equipment or anything else. Just large tanks. Not the plastic portable variety, nor the huge build in place kind, either.

So, these supply companies have negotiated a standard design - sized fittings and their placement, sight gauges, tie down lugs and so on for a reduced price from us. We of course will customize those basic designs. Sometimes it is a better deal for customers to buy from the resellers because of the other things they offer - they have complete setups available - so it's more convenient. One stop shopping, as it were. Plus, we stand by these tanks the same as any others - that is something I've heard from about all our customers - they are very happy about how we stand behind our product.

Have I said lately I do like my job?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Animal Mother

No, not that one.

Before you click on the video below, you need to know a few things. It's a very graphic clip of an elephant giving birth, so if yer squeamish about such things, don't watch. It's messy.

Doesn't bother me - I've certainly seen the same thing on a smaller scale right outside my back door back when Dad had cow-calf pairs.

What makes this unique is what happens after she drops her calf - watch it and see. Some say we anthropomorphize far too much - but if there ever was a picture of concern and worry, it would be this mother elephant when things don't go smoothly.


H/T Nunkle Kim

Oh Deary Dear

Okay, I'm pretty lame for posting cartoons and such lately. Been kinda busy, which is a good thing, and too pooped to pop. So, raiding the email inbox once again:

A flow chart for Hey Jude just in case the lyrics are just too confusing and need some definition to be grokked.

Found here

And now the inherently bizarre behavior of the average leftist becomes very, very clear.

Thanks to MoK!

And, just because this one sated the inner geek. Gotta conserve momentum!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Official Obama Pace Car

Just keep on printin' that money - we'll pay for everything thataway! See ya in the reeducation camps!

H/T Darin

Monday, November 02, 2009

I Knew It!

found here

Someone observed that cat.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Retail Value Furniture Grade 440 Stainless Frostwood Handle

If the title terms mean something to you, well, you are a Knife Show addict like me. More properly, it's the Cutlery Corner show, currently hosted by Sheila Travis, Todd Boone and most importantly - Tom O'Dell.

The show used to be on the Shop At Home channel, but I guess the Knife Show was too lowbrow for them - they {sniff} upgraded their content several years ago. So the show must go on - it's on DirecTv 227 and Dish 216 along with other classics such as Coin Country and Shop Erotic (with Miyoko Fujimori - rowrrrhhhh!!).

I literally was hooked for a while when The Poor Farm was on C-Band. The Knife Show had Tom and a guy named Rex - I've since forgotten his full name - who peddled the goods. Rex didn't have the southern accent, and he could skillfully twirl those 440 stainless swords, and both were hell on sheets of paper - to demonstrate the razor hand sharpened edges of the dangerous weapons (snork!). Some years ago, I tried googling him up, and IIRC (if I remember correctly) he passed away suddenly or something. I can't find anything about him now.

But, I digress. Tom is the star. The whole thing is a sales front for moving Frost Cutlery and other brands Jim Frost has accumulated over the years. The fantasy knives are cheaper and more crudely made than the equivalent United Cutlery styles - although they sell a lot of UC product on the show, too. For some time, the folders would be hawked as "Solingen steel," but I don't hear that much anymore. Most of the stuff is made from 420 or 440 stainless. Which is fine for display, but it makes for brittle and overly heavy practical swords. The folding knives are thicker and less tight than say, a Case knife. "You get what you pay for" applies here as well as anything else.

But, Tom is nothing if not entertaining. His descriptions are legendary - "biggens" for the larger swords and fixed blades, "furniture grade" for the sword stands, and the wildly optimistic "retail value" of the collection being offered. Knife dealers, get your orders in now, this one won't last and you'll miss out on a real money making opportunity.


That video pretty well encapsulated the Knife Show Experience. But, sometimes, Tom gets carried away:


Another example of Tom going above and beyond, if you can stand it (a kazoo, and he sings Happy Birthday to Jim Frost). Pure dee entertainment, if ya ask me.

Of course, no post about The Knife Show would be complete without mentioning Shawn Leflar. While he's no longer on the show, his contribution has been immortalized in perhaps one of the more famous YouTube clips out there:


Like I said, those swords are brittle. "Full tang construction" or not.

Probably the main selling point of these gems would be the fact that they are so cheap. A collector/hoarder/packrat can pick up a wide variety of patterns and styles for next to nothing compared to what it would cost to buy quality pieces - like Case. Even so, you still end up with a collection of nothing but cheap knives.

But, there has been many a night when insomnia rules that I've tuned in to the drawling sales pitch and been sent to LaLaLand in short order - if I can keep from laughing or getting into it.