Sunday, February 28, 2010

If We Ban Worcestershire Sauce

Only criminals will have bottles of the stuff.

Stolen from Dave Barry

'Cause I Was Bored

Quiz Created By Auto Insurance

I got a 93% - and what's worse, I should have gotten a better score. I knew better on the James Bond question, darn it.

Today's Word

Well, two, actually. Diatomaceous earth. Why, you ask? Well, when I awoke even without an alarm at my normal "way before the sun comes up" time - it was rolling around in the old noggin. I suspect the contents of the ol' nog were really thinking of Kaolinite, which would be more apropos considering - welp, I'll stop now. TMI and all.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Realize This Is Old In Internet Time....


But I just got it in an email and had not seen the video. Love it! This would be Congressman Ted Poe (R) Texas.

H/T Darin

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We'll Have Diamonds As Big As Horse Turds

The full quote was "Stick with me, kid, and we'll have diamonds as big as horse turds." J.C. Elder, better known in NASCAR circles as Suitcase Jake Elder, said that to a young Dale Earnhardt Sr. after coaching Dale to his first win. But, he was Suitcase Jake - he didn't stick with Dale.
Elder, one of the most successful crew chiefs in the history of NASCAR, died Wednesday. He was 73 years old and had been in failing health since suffering a stroke in 2006.

Elder was the top wrench for driver David Pearson when Pearson won Sprint Cup championships in 1968 and ’69. Over a career that began in the late 1950s and stretched over the next 40-plus years, Elder worked either as a crew chief or leading mechanic for some of racing’s best drivers, including Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Fred Lorenzen and Benny Parsons. He attended public schools for only three years, but he might have been the best “shade-tree” mechanic ever in NASCAR racing.

During Elder’s crew-chief years, the job was more about preparing the car and less about organizing and scheduling, as is the case today. Elder’s main task was to produce durable, winning race cars.

Rusty Wallace remembers:
Jake was old-old school. He worked for soooo many teams. But he was the guy you would call when you needed some help. If your old car wasn't running right, and you were confused, you'd want to call Jake and say, ‘Hey, can you come bail me out?' And he could help you fix it. I called him once, when my car wasn't running right, and asked, ‘Jake, can you come over and crew chief this car for me?' And he said, ‘All right, just one race.' And he came over with his tool box -- which was filled with so much doggone prehistoric stuff that it was unreal. He had the string out, and the levels, and said, ‘You do this and this.…' And I took it to Charlotte and had my best run ever."
J.C. Elder was a standout of a character in the early rough and tumble days of NASCAR, when characters were legion and the cars were essentially stock. He worked with many teams and drivers, notably Holman Moody with David Pearson and even Mario Andretti in his 1967 Daytona 500 win. Darrel Waltrip, Benny Parsons, Buddy Baker and Terry Labonte are also on the list. Writer and broadcaster Steve Waid:
"Perhaps there was not a more truly gifted shade tree mechanic in stock-car racing, one who succeeded without formal education. Elder never got past the third grade and could neither read nor write."

"And perhaps there was never a keener observer and nurturer of raw talent."

A bit of a far cry from today's crews, where engineers are hired just for shock absorbers.
“He could hook up whatever horsepower they had to a chassis and make it work,” said long-time NASCAR broadcaster Barney Hall. “He knew what made the cars work underneath. Teams would see him coming down pit road and let the jacks down on their cars because they knew he could take a glance at the springs and know what they had.

“And he was a man of few words. I remember several radio interviews with him after his car fell out of a race. Somebody would ask him what happened, and he’d say, ‘Blowed up,’ and walk off.”

"They" don't make 'em like Suitcase Jake anymore - and if they do, they can't get a job in today's NASCAR.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'd Always Wondered

Now I know. Heh.

I fear "Amy" and I would have a very serious heart to heart were March Madness off the television schedule in my humble abode. Kansas is a bit of a college hoops state, particularly when we've the KU Jayhawks (ranked #1) to root for. Plus, we also have the KSU Wildcats (#6), who appear to have the Texas Tech Red Raiders handled as I write this.

I'm pretty proud of the "Boys in Blue" this year and just about any year, frankly. Bill Self generally has some pretty well coached players on the court, and this year is no different. I hear a lot of my friends crab about how KU has won so many squeakers - that if they were a true number one team, apparently they'd do a better job crushing their opponents. The better to hear the lamentation of the women, I guess.

To this I say hogwash. Even though these young men are more than likely at the threshold of lucrative NBA careers, they are still kids in many ways. Get ahead, get bored and sloppy, let the other team back in the game. This drives me nuts as well. I can understand how it happens, though.

I never even went out for basketball, so I know I miss out on some of the finer points. I've noticed I really appreciate Bobby Knight as a color commentator these days. I think we'll look back on he and Brent Musburger as one of the finest college basketball broadcasting duos ever. Coach Knight seems to be fair in his assessments of players actions, and while he's quite capable of criticizing the play, he's also quick to praise good plays as well. He's pretty toned down from his chair tossing days. Musburger is great at utilizing Knight's knowledge by setting up timely and effective questions or statements for the coach to play off. Pat Summerall could play John Madden like a violin, and Brent has the same abilities.

So, yeah, the boob tube is gonna be on and tuned in to March Madness. End of story.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Me, Too

Yannow, after we got to the Freestyle Snow Angel event, the whole idea of Winter Olympics just kinda fizzled out for me. Besides, NASCAR is back. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crank 'Er Up!

Say, I've just about had it with my cut back truck and I want someone to crank it up because everyone and their dog passes me on the Interstates. I'm a company driver who has no clue and want someone in Effingham IL to take care of this for me - I've had enough.

Well, bucko, it's a little more involved than that. I figure it's a driver for some huge company - Freightliner Columbias are the choice of fleet managers everywhere. Owner operators, not so much. Lots of those companies have decided the only way they'll make money is to turn down the engine power, force shifts at certain rpms, and limit top speed to, oh, say sixty two miles per hour (as an example) to save fuel costs.

I also figure this driver has no clue because it doesn't make a rat's behind what the brand of truck happens to be - it's the engine, stupid. A Detroit Diesel isn't gonna have the same diagnostic hookups, computers, engine management systems and so on as a Caterpillar, Cummins, Volvo or a Mercedes - which are found in Freightliners.

The engine must be hooked up to a dealer's diagnostic computer, and there might even be a password required from the factory - which might be provided through the dealer's 'puter hooked to the internet. Engines must have the necessary parts to have the power turned up above their original rating. Most of our motors are factory 475 hp Cats, but they were ordered with the proper injectors, pistons, and so on to allow them to be cranked up to 550 hp. Of course, a 475 horse motor can be cranked back and basically castrated as far as power and shifting points go. Top ends can be limited, too. Mine is limited to 80 mph with my foot to the floor, and 78 on cruise.

All of this costs money and will void the warranty. There are a lot of 550 Cats out there with 475 tags on 'em - most owners buy the cheaper 475, run the warranty out, then have it set up as a 550. Our motors don't have any other limitations other than the top speed - and a few of our trucks don't even have that. They'll go as fast as the gearing and power will allow - in the vicinity of triple digits.

In the good ol' days before ECMs and so on, you might find a Diesel Doctor at a truck stop with some pump goodies to crank up the power on the old "manual" motors. Cummins were really simple - it just took a different "button" with some stronger fuel return springs and some other adjustments to make them scream. Cummins used a "common rail" injection system where the fuel was pumped to a certain pressure and the injector controlled the fuel timing and duration. If you cranked up the fuel pressure, the injector would then pump in more fuel. Also, by changing the allowed rpms - the fuel curve would be moved "up" the range, so at the same rpms - now you could have more power.

But, it took a discriminating driver to keep from burning a motor out doing that. If the motor was subjected to a hard pull, the exhaust temperature would get pretty high - measured by a pyrometer. Turbos could burn out, cylinders could score (the oil protecting the cylinders from the piston rings could burn out and leave no friction protection), holes could be burned in pistons, or heads crack. The usual cutoff of 2100 rpms could be bumped up to well over 2500 - but those motors were not designed to run that hard, and that was a good way to break connecting rods and ventilate blocks were they really didn't need that hole knocked out the side.

So, if you wanted your 855 Cummins to run, you could do all this. However, you kept an eagle eye on the pyrometer in a pull, and watched the water and oil temperatures very, very closely.

This sort of controlled mayhem was certainly not what a fleet manager wanted. They wanted their motors to cater to the lowest common denominator so that the engines might survive some gear jammin' idjut. A lot of truck jockeys would back off the aneroid valve. This was an early pollution control mechanism. When the operator stomped on the loud pedal, the fuel was restricted until a certain level of boost from the turbo kicked in. This kept the truck from blowing black smoke when it was suddenly floored. Backing it off would "free" the motor the operator could accelerate more quickly. The motor didn't actually make more power, but it allowed the power at hand to be applied more quickly.

Where the throttle arm came out of the pump was shielded by a small fitted plate held in place with some pins and sealed with a wire tie off. Just about any used fleet truck I ever saw showed evidence of tampering - the seal would be gone and the plate pried back so the aneroid valve could be accessed.

The old Cats used a different injection system - their pumps controlled the fuel pressure and duration. They needed a different approach - but there were plenty who knew how to crank them up as well. Caterpillars were relatively expensive to repair partly because of the complex fuel pumps. Detroits could also be turned up, but since I hated the old two strokers, I didn't and still don't care about cranking one of them up. Boat anchors, all of 'em.

So, the advent of computerized engine management systems were solving several problems - reducing pollution through finer control of the fuel injection - which meant more torque and better fuel utilization as time went on. Being able to set the operating parameters was a big plus for the fleet types.

Even with all the proprietary 'puter hardware hot rodders have managed to hack into the ECMs to make the electronic motors really scream - but they suffer badly in the hands of fools just as in the past. Plus, any mods made are immediately apparent when a factory tech hooks his laptop to the motor.

I've driven some souped up Cats and Cummins over the years. I never burned one up, either. I wouldn't work for someone who didn't trust me enough to drive their truck without being a nanny about it. I can live with the 80 mph restriction - I'm for thinking that's fast enough for a truck these days. But, forcing me to short shift each and every time, even when climbing a mountain or some other demand for high horsepower would piss me off. I'll do my best to make mileage, but when I need power, I'd better have it on tap.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Access Roads

Yannow those crummy looking roads that go off into the middle of nowhere for oilfield access? You might even see a cattle guard at the intersection with an actual taxpayer maintained road. I'm here to tell ya they are just as rough and nasty as you'd expect. This particular example is south of Loco Hills NM, and I'm being escorted because my load is almost sixteen feet wide and almost seventeen feet tall. Those tanks ahead of me - the same. Since these roads are one or one and a half lanes, hauling a super sized load down 'em can get entertaining when meeting traffic. There are no ditches - the road is basically a graded ditch. Graded many moons ago, when the dirt was fresh and new, and Moby Dick was a minnow, they are definitely suspension exercisers.

Exciting stuff to be sure.

Monday, February 15, 2010

There's No Feelin' Like Cow Mobiling

Of course these pics are of Australian rigs. The email claims this is at Helen Springs Station. And - all the trucking industry advocates would like to see all of us US truckers with a trailer or five in tow - but things is different down under - these rigs aren't on equivalents of interstates, nor do they pass over the Rockies et al. These puppies are out in no man's land and pretty much have the road to themselves.

That's a lot of beef on the move, period.

H/T Road Pig

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sandra Bullock Meant Well

Sandra Bullock burned herself dying her pubic hair.

The actress - who is married to motorcycle enthusiast Jesse James - admits she was horrified when her special Valentine's Day grooming efforts went wrong.

She explained: "I decided for Valentine's Day I would do a special hair thing. I wanted to try to create a pink heart shape with my lower hair. It was painful.

"You had to bleach it first. There's something about bleach that feels like acid. Then I had to shave it. I was in so much pain, but I kept going and put the pink dye on and it went the wrong colour."

Don't think you shoulda oughta tolt that there story, Sandra! I'd bet Jesse woulda liked it - I know I would!

Happy Valentines Day, everyone, and just remember some gave all - or quite a bit, at any rate....

Friday, February 12, 2010


OMG!!!!11!!! Squirrels with lasers! It's the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine!

H/T Dave Barry

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Brilliant Bird


There are plenty of people out there who aren't as smart as this crow.

H/T Nunkle Kim

Monday, February 08, 2010

Condescending Much?

Jeff Danziger is an elitist bastard, but I repeat myself. First, they're called T(axed)E(nough)A(lready) Parties - but the Tea Baggers is a sobriquet hung on by the 'tards over at the Daily Kos and Huffington Post, ironically adopted by participants. So, if you shop at WalMart and feel that government is out of control, you are a mouth breathing idiot who can't fly a flag correctly. I wonder where Danziger and the beautiful people shop. Perhaps it isn't a matter of where they shop, but who they have shop for them.

Look, I get the idea of an editorial cartoonist. Provoke thought with a touch of humor, while pushing for "your side." OK, fine.

But does that mean a Danziger should base his premise on a falsehood? How about just plain being lazy and using strawmen?

He's provoking thought, all right. I'm for thinking he needs to pull his head out of his arse and have a good look around.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Exaggerated Effects of Extremely Low Temperatures

Firefox ain't always all that, but it still blows IE outta the water.

Seen here

Lessee Here

Carry the two, or divide by three? Oh, it's so confusing. I'll never use math no how no way, leave me alone.

Seen here

Fries With Your Ketchup?

Well, I gotta tell ya, this is just plain exciting. H.J. Heinz announced (warning, link goes to a .pdf) a new ketchup package for fast foods. As a professional fast food eater, well, this really ranks right up there.

See how you can peel it open for dipping? I always have to tear up the fries box or use the lid from the burger to squirt several ketchup packets to manage to apply said ketchup to fries without making a mess requiring a plate and silverware. Forget actually driving - this is just sitting at the desk at a motel room or balanced on the center console of the ol' pickup. In the truck? Balancing all that on the dash generally ends up with various fast food items and hardware decorating the floor of the cab.

If your burger is too dry, well, the packet can be used in "squeeze" mode.

Just tear off the end to squeeze the condiment of life (fast food division) on the desired course.

Aaand, this ain't no wimpy container, neither. It holds as much as three of the old school packets.

Bravo, Heinz! Y'all done good, ya hear!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Now We Know

The beginnings of spam - root causes and unintended consequences. The speechwriter contracted out to the Russian mafia and was indicted but never prosecuted for aiding and abetting the illegal construction of bot nets.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Funhouse Mirror

Or, what I'd really like to call this picture is "What I'm Doing To Stay Busy Until Algore's Global Warming Quits Snowing On Our Parade Causing Us To Stay Parked Until The Weather Clears."

Bitter much? Moi?

On the other hand, I really resemble on of the squished flat altered humans on another planet types in the goofy horror movie Phantasm.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Check It Out

One of the more astounding historical stories out there is that of Andrew Carnegie. He was a true American Dream success - a dirt poor immigrant who worked his way up to become one of the first captains of industry. Some equate that term with robber baron, but there is a difference. Carnegie truly embodied that difference, because he gave away the biggest share of his fortune in philanthropic endeavors. After he sold his record shattering steel business to J. P. Morgan, who founded U.S. Steel from this and other purchases, Carnegie found himself with a lot of money. He felt that one of the steps to his success was the free access to books as a young man that a local gentleman made available to him and others like him. This enabled him to start on becoming a self educated and self made man.

So, he set up a process where he disbursed funds for building libraries in communities that met his requirements which included free access to all, a recurring annual budget, the land to build it on, and to demonstrate the need for a library. Another fairly revolutionary concept used was the "open stack." This meant a patron could wander among the books and choose freely, where before one had to ask the librarian to retrieve a specific volume - the books were not available for public browsing. This was also seen as a step towards better communication with the librarian - for recommendations, finding specific information and so on.

Designs for the libraries were often rather eclectic and diverse. Many different architectural styles are represented across the country. Dodge City's is no different in that regard:
The style of the library reflects the sentiment in American architecture at the turn-of-the-century, which was rebelling against the excessiveness of the mid-Victorian era. Designers were encouraged to return to the use of purer, classical elements. Dodge City's Carnegie building features several classical elements. It is virtually symmetrical and features a center dome with large pediments on either side. The door is framed by large ionic pilasters. The simulated stone foundation mocks that found in ancient Roman archaelogical ruins. The upper lights are of stained glass, one of the features which makes the building unique among Carnegie libraries in Kansas.
So, ancient Roman ruins, consider yourself mocked! Think about this for a minute. Just imagine what this sort of declaration about the design of the new library sounded like to a bunch of rough old prairie cobs farming and running cattle, or even the proprietors of the local haberdashery. This (and the dome) was pretty far out there for the time - I suspect even so by today's standards this would raise an eyebrow or two among the more traditional types. But, this old building has been around long enough to become familiar enough to breed contempt. Enough so that it's lucky to be around - I can remember the battles to save it from destruction. Back in my bar hopping days, it was home to several bars and restaurants. But, it's on the National Register of Historic Places these days, and has been more or less restored as a center for the arts.

Dodge City's Carnegie Library is certainly not the only interesting Carnegie Library out there. I'd bet who ever reads this has or had one fairly close by - they were scattered all over the US and other parts of the world. Perhaps not uncommon, they were definitely significant in many ways. Most communities that received libraries were just coming out of being raw collections of housing and commerce. The people weren't very educated but were now finding it possible to devote more time to education rather than just surviving. The timing of this philanthropy was very, very fortunate. Libraries are more than just a collection of books for a community. Carnegie demonstrated how important they are for the development of a healthy society. That's a pretty good legacy to have.

Dedicated to my friend Earl, the Library Keeper