Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year Everyone!

Didn't Even Get A Reacharound


Last night. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl in it's inaugural debut. Played at Yankee Stadium. Yep, that Yankee Stadium. The Kansas State Wildcats vs the Syracuse Orangemen. It was a back and forth battle, with neither defense able to consistently contain the opposing offense. In the closing minutes of the game, K-State was behind 36 to 28 - eight points behind. A touchdown and a two point conversion. With 1:13 left, Carson Kaufman, the Wildcat QB, lobbed a pass to Adrian Hilburn, Wildcat WR - which you see in the video. By the bye, that end zone was where most of the K-State fans were congregated. Hilburn's brief salute was considered excessive celebration:
Rule 9-2-1d

"Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player attempts to focus attention on himself (or themselves)."

Fifteen yard penalty, enforced on the PAT attempt. The Wilcats didn't succeed in the two point conversion. Syracuse took over and ran the clock out.

The referees were Big 10. They also covered the Music City Bowl, Tennessee Volunteers vs the North Carolina Tar Heels. Tennessee players routinely made throat cutting motions after plays at the Tar Heel bench and saluting. Were they called out by the same conference refs?


After the game, I heard one of the color commentators, who was a former referee, field a question from his broadcast partner. He was asked if the penalty was appropriate. The former ref said he would have warned the player rather than throwing the flag, considering the circumstances.

Now, if K-State had dominated the game, this would not be an issue. They had plenty of opportunities to take control and failed to do so - because Syracuse was a well matched opponent. Conversely, Syracuse had similar chances to put the Wildcats away and couldn't do it, either. And it's impossible to say whether the Wildcats would have scored those two points to put the game into overtime if they didn't have to overcome the fifteen yard penalty, much less win in overtime.

However, to change the game with a judgment call that definitely displayed excessive, finicky pickiness against a "visiting" team in a bowl game instead of letting the players settle it between themselves?


Thursday, December 30, 2010

For Your Dog's Special Moments


Yeah, this is kinda old and maybe I've seen it before. It still made me larf right out loud.

H/T Eddie

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Preach It, R. Lee!


Does my hero, R. Lee Ermey, think the Obama administration is a bunch of jackwagons? Why yes, I think he does. I'm not military, so I can't say Ooo Rah or Semper Fi, but I can say HELL YEAH!

From Big Hollywood via Adam Baldwin

Monday, December 27, 2010


The customer walked into the bar carrying a pretty good sized box. Setting it on the counter, he summoned the bartender and ordered a drink.

Say, what do you have in that box? Do you mind showing me?

No, not at all - here - look inside.

A doll sized man, dressed in formal attire, was seated at a tiny grand piano.

Whoa! Is he for real?

Oh yeah, he takes requests. Quite good, actually.

The bartender tested the player, asking him for a variety of musical types. Jazz, classical, pop, religious - the small man played perfectly.

So, wait a minute. How in the world did you end up with him?

Well, I was walking along the beach one morning, and I saw something just poking through the sand. I dug it out, and it looked a lot like those old oil lamps?

Oh, yeah, I know what you're talking about.

Anyways, as I was brushing the sand off, a stream of smoke coming from the spout formed into a genie!

No kidding? That is just wild! Did he mention wishes and so on?

Oh, yeah. For freeing him from his eternal prison.

And this little guy is what you got?


Did you use all the wishes?


Really? Wow! Do you mind if I try? I've dreamed about this for years!

Sure - it can't hurt. It's out in my car - let me go get it.

The customer returned with a very weathered and worn old fashioned oil lamp. The bartender rubbed it, and a genie coalesced before their eyes.

Your wish is my command, master.

I want a million bucks!

Very well. Consider it done.

With that, the genie formed into smoke, and retreated into the lamp. The door to the bar opened, and in walked a duck. Followed by another duck. Followed by more ducks. Soon, the bar was filling with ducks with no end in sight.

What the hell?

Even more ducks were forcing their way into the bar.

Hey, wait a minute! I didn't wish for a million ducks! I wanted a million bucks!

To which the customer replied:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not All Remakes Suck

It is a rare occurrence for this tubby trucker to find his butt in a movie theater. Last movie? Star Trek. When I first heard the Coen brothers were going to remake the 1969 John Wayne star vehicle True Grit, well, it seemed almost sacrilegious. I'm about as rabid of a fan of the Duke as you'll find.

But the reviews were good, and one of the biggest sales pitches for me was that most were saying this movie follows the book more closely than Duke's original. It has been many moons ago, but I have read that book. So, it was with some trepidation that Sis and I went to the movies tonight - and she had the same doubts as I.

Let me reassure you right now that this movie is good. It is not the same movie rewarmed at all. The perspective is all from Mattie's point of view - as the fourteen year old and the thirty nine year old at the beginning and end. Does it follow the book? In some areas it does in fact follow the book better than the original. The language and pacing seem more authentic, plus the clothing and general disheveled trashiness of the main characters have a higher level of historic reality. Especially the teeth. The Coen brothers diverge from the original plot in a few places, but overall - (spoiler alert) - Mattie ends the movie with one arm, just like the book.

There are inevitable comparisons of the actor's portrayals of the same characters. First Mattie: Hailee Steinfeld blows Kim Darby right out of the water. She had to - her character carries the movie - where the Duke shouldered the weight in the original. Steinfeld's Mattie is a sharp tongued penny pincher one minute, then she's the fourteen year old talking to her horse the next. Rooster Cogburn may have had true grit, but I'm here to tell you Hailee Steinfeld's Mattie has it in spades as well.

I have to go with Matt Damon's portrayal of LaBeouf over Glenn Campbell as well. When he first appeared on the screen, it was difficult to reconcile the character on screen as Matt Damon. Sis and I figured he had to put on some weight. To be fair, he had a lot more screen time than Campbell, and it would probably be surprising if Campbell could out-act Damon. So, no shock there, really.

Josh Brolin also gets my nod for the Tom Chaney character over Jeff Corey. Brolin was just plain scarier. I'm sure the Coen brothers can take the credit for that - plus it was a different time in the movie industry when the original was made. Blood and gratuitous violence just didn't happen in westerns until The Wild Bunch - also released in 1969. Plus, Wayne probably wouldn't approve - he didn't approve back then. Not that there was much violence exhibited - but Brolin's performance certainly hinted very strongly of a warped and dangerous individual, far more than Corey.

Barry Pepper gets my "disappear into the character" award for this version - it was fairly difficult to tell it was him for some time. He gets my "bad authentic teeth" award as well. He also was portrayed as far more violent than the Robert Duvall character. Duvall's character seemed more sympathetic, but in the end, both left Mattie with Chaney and he had to know she would fare poorly in either case. I call it a draw.

I'd have to say Strother Martin's Stonehill is the best, but only barely. The dialog between Dakin Matthews and Steinfeld is pretty sharp.

There are other of the same characters - like Moon and Quincy. In the original, Dennis Hopper handled the Moon role - but I'd say it is a draw overall. The scene where Quincy "does for" Moon is the most violent in the new movie, but it's pretty tame compared to the wood chipper scene, if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

You may be noticing that I'm avoiding the main character and you'd be just about right. Which one was better? I'd have to say the Duke wins at playing The Duke, and Jeff Bridges portrays Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn. His Rooster blusters so much on the trail, you sympathize with the Ranger and fourteen year old just wishing he'd shut up. He really enjoys pulling a cork. Always ready for a battle of wits, he is also equally ready for a gun battle - relishing both. This movie seems to me to be better in this regard - the characters relish their lines. The barbs traded between Lucky Ned and Rooster? Lucky Ned and his cohorts were giggling at Ned's insults. Instead of the grim force of vengeance the Duke represented, Bridges' Rooster anticipates the battle of wits and guns with a smile on his face. He obviously lives for these moments, and both he and his enemies share a love for the action and mayhem. John Wayne was nobility personified in those moments in his movies. Vengeance and justice were something that had to be done. However, Bridges' Rooster and his enemies truly view the descent into violence as something to be enjoyed. Which, I'd bet, is what the Coen brothers wanted us to see.

The new True Grit doesn't replace the original in my heart, but it certainly deserves a place beside it. I will be purchasing the DVD when it comes out. That's about the highest recommendation you'll get from me - if I'm willing to spend money on it again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Favorite Christmas Gift

We tend to remember the best Christmas present evah that we got as kids - mine would be a slot car set so many years ago. But, what is your favorite that you gave?

I have to go with this wind up pendulum clock. I got this for Sis at least ten years ago and maybe a few more than that. It isnt all that accurate - Sis reports that it tends to run slow, losing five minutes or so every two or three weeks. It gets worse as the clock winds down at times. It is no bother, when she winds it, the time is easily reset.

But the dern thing has integrated itself into her household. It chimes the hours and a single chime every half. The passage of time here is always measured with the comforting "tick tock" of the movement. In the still of the night, the clock can be heard throughout the house. I know I'm home and welcome at this place when I hear the reassuring sounds this little mechanism produces. Old school for sure - no digital clock could ever have the ambiance this anachronism has in abundance.

It's certainly no grandfather clock, but Sis wouldn't have the room for one and I couldn't afford one anyways. But I always feel like I did a good thing by giving this clock for Christmas.

What is the "best" or most appropriate gift you've ever given?

Oh, and before I forget, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Interesting Poll Results

I've mentioned before that I take online surveys. This is the homepage of one of the survey companies whose surveys I participate. This one has a different "fun" survey - and this time it was obviously seeing how many people read blogs.

This is hardly a scientific poll based upon sound survey principles that assure an accurate cross section of the population. However, I submit that the average person isn't as "internet savvy" as the typical online survey participant. These people are comfortable on the internet. And they don't read blogs.

I've held for a long time that blogging is a sort of dead end and that there is a very insulated populace surrounding the community. Most commenters on blogs are bloggers themselves.

It amuses me when bloggers get into "fights" or others bask in their supposed influence based on the traffic they get. When it comes to the big ocean of the intertubes, blogging is just a small backwater in the overall scheme of things.

Not that I don't enjoy the social aspects of blogging and the experience of encountering so many different personalities over time - that is the reward for the efforts, and I feel quite rewarded, thank you very much.

But the whole idea that blogging is a platform for moving and shaking things in a big way - well, let's just say I have my doubts about that.

The North Pole Discovers Facebook


Christmas Ginger Bread House


Well, with meat substituted for ginger bread.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Something Different

Y'all may have noticed - I like to "talk" a lot. Well, that's true in meatspace in certain circumstances as well. I really enjoy telling certain jokes, and the longer and more hair pulling, the better. Groaners, in other words. Not very many are Politically Correct, either. So the punchlines will be under the fold. Don't say you weren't warned.

After many months of preparation, the three explorers set sail for Deepest Africa, in search of a specimen for their museum. Weeks and weeks of research, fund raising, booking travel, porters and pack animals led to their ultimate mission - to bring back the legendary Foo bird for display at their institution. As they closed in on their destination, rumors reached their ears that the Foo bird was lethal to humans in certain circumstances. Particularly, if any Foo droppings were to touch the skin of a human, it couldn't be washed off, or said human would die.

"Pish posh! Native superstition!" exclaimed our intrepid explorers. "We must go on, for Queen, God and Country. And the Museum!" Not for the last time would they say this.

The expedition went well for a while - the animals and porters wound their way through the jungle with the proper English adventure seekers in the lead. However, the day arrived that a guide thought he had spotted some sign of a Foo bird - a feather.

The native bearers, guides - all of them instantly vanished into the jungle, leaving the intrepid explorers on their own. Would they take heed? Of course not - "We must go on, for Queen, God and Country! And the Museum!" Not for the last time.

So, the next morning, bright with promise, found the explorers winding their way along a jungle path when suddenly - "Caaaw, Caawww!" Splort! The Foo bird had taken wing from hiding and literally covered the lead explorer. And Oh, My, did it stink. It got worse as the day wound on. That evening, camped beside the river, he exclaimed "I simply must get a bath or I will go mad!" There was much debating and arguing about native superstitions, but it was no use. He jumped into the river, washed himself off, and promptly perished.

Well, one might think that would send a message, but you would be wrong. The remaining two became more stubborn in their conviction that they needed to capture this unusual specimen. "We must go on, for Queen, God and Country! And the Museum!" Not for the last time.

The next morning found our two explorers wending their way through the trails of the wilderness when suddenly - "Caaw, Caaww!" Splort! Once again, the lead explorer - covered. The intensity of the smell just seemed to worsen as the day wore on. That night, the tortured explorer hung onto a few shreds of his humanity, trying to overcome the horrible smell with his will. The next day found him a nervous wreck, trembling and shaking. That evening, he exclaimed that he just couldn't take it any more, jumped into a creek and washed himself. He, too, promptly perished.

The third explorer, left all alone, faced his prospects with an eye towards his personal honor. He went on. "For Queen, God and Country! And the Museum!" The next morning - "Caaw, Caaww!" Splort!

The poor devil lasted three whole days, finally succumbing to the overwhelming odor by washing himself in a nearby stream. Within moments, he, too, was dead.

And the moral to this story?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Silent Night

Sarah McLachlan Silent Night ASPCA Commercial

ASPCA | Myspace Video

I swear, the commercials Sarah McLachlan does for the ASPCA.......

If I had more room and more money so I was home all the time I'd probably be one of those crazy cat and dog characters. I can't, though - it's bad enough I leave Rooster at home by himself for several days at a time. I've always got my neighbors handy to check up on the King Of All He Surveys, but still. A dog is right out if I'm not gonna be here. It wouldn't be fair to the dog, or healthy.

During the adoption process for Rooster at the pound, I was invited to go check out the dogs. I couldn't do it, because it would have torn me up to have to see so many hounds that needed a home, knowing I couldn't provide one for any of them.

No. Just no.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It Doesn't Hurt So Bad When You're Used To It

One of the topics dominating blogs and the news is the TSA's usage of the new backscatter machines as well as their intrusion into what most of us consider privacy and rights enumerated in the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment - unreasonable search and seizure - and the Fifth - self incrimination - are the basis for many of the arguments.

I happen to agree - I think the procedures are intrusive and un- Constitutional. The common citizenry's rights are being compromised so the TSA won't have to profile - even though profiling is a proven solution. That isn't a politically correct solution, so everyone else will have to suffer.

Like I said - I agree. However, don't expect a whole bunch of sympathy from me. Why?

Surely, in your travels, y'all have seen ports of entry for trucks. You've probably seen trucks pulled over on the side of the road by a state trooper in a big SUV - like a Tahoe or similar. We, as truckers, have no expectations of constitutional protections in our vehicles because we are being inspected. All commercial vehicles have to pull into ports of entry (unless they are using PrePass, and even then may be required to come in).Commercial vehicles can be pulled over, cab and cargo searched, without any probable cause. We can be pulled over for safety inspections designed to find mechanical infractions. You can cross a state line without being checked out, but we can't. Brake linings a little thin on your car? No problemo. On my truck? Trouble waiting to happen.

See, federal DOT regulations outweigh the Constitution when it comes to truckers. End of story. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say commercial vehicles and their drivers have any expectation of rights - since the licenses, tags and such are all state granted, the Bill of Rights don't apply. The Constitution doesn't say anything about "private" vehicles, either, so if "they" wanna - y'all are up next. Right now, private vehicles do enjoy some property rights and the drivers have some protection enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The eternal political pessimist in me says: "for now."

But, Jeffro, you say - it's for safety! For the "common good!" We don't want nasty ol' trucks with no brakes driving around on "our" highways! Fine - but at least require some sort of probable cause and the associated protections like a search warrant. My company is required to allow inspectors into their offices to search our records for compliance or violations of DOT regulations. How would you feel if a cop showed up at your door, and demanded to see proof of insurance for your private vehicle for the past ten years? Then, march right on in and start looking for said records? In any place in your house they want?

One of the scenarios in truck forums that can really test people's attitudes toward the rights due a trucker is having a locked safe in your truck. Invariably, there are enforcement personnel advising the driver not to do that, because it would upset an inspector. Wouldn't wanna do that, because if you thought they were crawling around your backside before, wait 'til you piss one off. They'll just "go to town" on your ass. Best not to provoke 'em. They can (and do) search your cab, throw everything out on the ground, make a terrible mess, and jump in their cars and drive off when they don't find anything. Never happened to me, but it does, in fact, happen.

One of the little digs I had to remind me of my place happened the other day at a port of entry (or weigh station, chicken coop in trucker lingo). Many states have a pass through lane and a lane that takes you over a set of scales. As you are driving into the facility, the road splits from one lane to the two options. There is usually an embedded scale that measures the ground pressure of at least the steer axle plus the truck is under video surveillance as well. Suspended above the lanes are a series of lights - the first several have green arrows. If they don't really want to see you, they'll give you a green arrow towards the pass through lane. If they want you on the scales, they'll point the arrow towards the scales. As you travel down the correct lane, green lights with arrows pointing ahead are above you, and red X's are displayed in the lights of the other lane. There is a final set of traffic style lights at the ends of each lane - one conveys to trucks when to pull on and off the scales, and if you are in the pass through lane, they might change their minds and give you a red light anyways. Loudspeakers (that sound as bad as the adults in a Charlie Brown special) inform you if they want you to pull over and what paperwork to bring inside. Some states use message boards for this purpose, which work far better.

So, I was pulling into the point of decision. I had a green arrow pointing to the scales. But, at the last second, it switched to the pass by lane. Oh Boy, I don't have to wait in line and get to go! Woo Hoo!

But, not so fast, Fat Boy. I got to the end of the lane and the red light was on. BLAH BLAH BLAH CIRCLE WEIGH BLAH BLAH. So, I had to circle around the scale house, drive into place behind the line of trucks waiting to pull on the scales, and get weighed. I was empty, by the way - which with a flatbed - well, it's pretty obvious I wasn't carrying any freight. No matter. I figured I'd get the red light at the end of the line and a BLAH BLAH DRIVER'S LICENSE PERMIT BOOK LOG BOOK INSIDE BLAH BLAH message, but I did get a green light.

What had happened? Whoever was running the light switch inside had switched it too early - the truck behind me was the one that was supposed to get the bypass - not me. Even though they screwed up, I still had to drive around and kill another five minutes. I guess I oughta be grateful they didn't call me in and kill a half hour or so, or turn me over to their safety inspector for a complete truck inspection.

Why, if I'm empty, did they want to have me cross the scales? Because they wanted to run my DOT number - prominently displayed on the side of the truck. They wanted to check my IFTA sticker to see if it was current. They wanted a record of my trip passing through there.

"They" are wanting more than that in the future. GPS tracking is coming - hey, asshole, we show you driving two mph over the speed limit! Ticket in the mail for you! BMI index a little high? Sleep apnea testing for you, fat boy! Don't wanna have a sleepy trucker on the road! Stopping dispatchers and shippers from keeping drivers waiting for loads without pay, and unreasonably expecting the driver to get a load across the country on time even though it was delayed by days by the shipper? Au contraire mon frere! Making a driver keep an appointment to unload but not actually unload for hours or days? Still A-OK! It's easier to prove our Nation's Highways and Byways are safe by stepping on drivers' necks than fixing root causes of problems, see? Sound familiar - security theater?

Well, I see all kinds of people stepping up to stop this sort of thing. It's against our Nation's principles for these egregious actions to continue. It's gotta stop!

Oh, wait... Seems the average person is behind all of this, because they believe it makes life more gooder. Not only will it keep on, it's gonna get worse.

Forgive me if I can't get too excited about you having your junk touched, even though I think it's wrong. Martin Neimoller? They've already come for me.

Why I Don't Fly


I heard this on Bob and Tom the other day, so when it appeared in my email inbox, well, it just seem fortuitous.

I haven't flown since the nineties. I was disgusted by the cattle car mentality and the security measures then, much less now. Seriously - cattle cars. The optimum human has to be about 5'2" and 98lbs to fit in the average coach class seat. Even in the nineties, when I was "thin" I was in the 250~60lb range, plus being over a foot taller. My shoulders hang out over the width of the seats.

I and a pal flew to Lost Wages. I figured on having a good time, so I brought "protection" for Mr. Winky, if you know what I mean and I think that you do. The security assholes stole those items from my luggage.

I'd rather drive, thank you very much. Plus, as a trucker, I get unwanted stops and checks with no probable cause already. Got enough of that crap in my life.

H/T Eddie

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sell Me Some Magazines, Baybee!

No patience for telemarketers at all.

Some years ago, I did business with "X" magazine subscription resale company. Supposedly, the "profits" went to "Certain Non Profit Organization." I purchased a car magazine from them.

Many years ago, Sis ran short of ideas for a Christmas present (or was it for my birthday? I forget), so she decided to buy the subscription to the car magazine for me. This has been going on for ten or more years.

This has not stopped "X" from calling me repeatedly over the years. Yeah, they had business with me in the past, and are technically exempt from the no call law. Thanks to the miracle of caller ID, if they call when I'm home they got ignored. Of course I get to see that they called me while I'm gone as well. Me not answering their calls apparently has never sent a message - hope springs eternal in a telemarketer's breast.

Cue the stage for tonight. I'm home feeling like crap and cranky to boot. Age hasn't mellowed me one bit - just because some idjut has my phone number doesn't mean I have to be at their beck and call (see what I did there?) when their autodialer decides it's my turn.

Ring! Ring!

@#$&*%! It's "X" Company. This is gonna stop now.

Hello, Mr. Jeffro (launching right into the pitch - not even asking if it's me or not), this is so and so with "X" Company calling in regards to your recent subscription to Car Magazine. As you know, we will donate to "Certain Non Profit Organization."

Excuse me (talking over the continued sales pitch), EXCUSE ME - (still talking over the sales pitch) - You are lying when you say the subscription was recent - it was over ten years ago. My sister has been buying that magazine for me for over ten years now (still talking over the Bu... We'll be savin.... Money goes to a goo...). We have a past business history, but it's OVER TEN YEARS AGO (still talking over and interrupting our extremely optimistic sales person) and YOU ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE A SALE HERE TONIGHT.

Suddenly the line gets quiet. Guess I got Extremely Optimistic Sales Person's attention.

We have not had a business relationship for over ten years now for a reason. I don't appreciate sales pitches and want your company to stop calling me and to take my name from your list.

Yes, sir. Your name will be removed. We won't be calling you.(in a rather crushed tone).

Okay! Thank You! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'll - I'll try sir.

Better have thicker skin if yer gonna be a telemarketer, kiddo.

Next up - the "Fraternal Organization that Supposedly Gives Money to Cops Or Deputy Sheriffs or Some Sort of Law Enforcement Personnel." Back in my grain haulin' days, I gave some money to an organization that looked after our State Troopers. Who sold my name and number, no doubt. These outfits always begin with "Thank you for your generous donation last year." 

Which is a lie, because I didn't give any money to any LEO org last year - more like fifteen or twenty years ago. They're gonna get called on their lies, and I'm gonna enjoy it. In the past - politely decline. Not so much anymore.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Just Thought I Had a Bad Day

Typical Monday. It was sixteen or so when I hooked up to the trailer/load assigned to me. When it's that cold, grease is stiff and things are brittle. I could have sworn I checked to see if my fifth wheel latched - one generally backs in, listens for the "clink," then try to pull forward. If it's latched, you won't go forward. Maybe I didn't. I sure had my window down to listen.

So, while putting the flags and signs on the load, I noticed an air leak between the front and middle axles of the triple axle I was to pull. Mmmmkay - I figured I might as well pull the whole shebang over to one of our shop doors to put it on concrete for our mechanic to check. I made it about fifty yards before the trailer fell off the tractor. Both my coiled plastic umbilical air lines broke. The electrical cord pulled out from both sockets and was resting on the side of the frame above the drive axles. One of our crane guys was right beside me, so he set up, swung his boom and chain over, and picked the front of the trailer up so I could hook up again, which I did. Two brand new air lines and an hour later, I was read to pull on over to have the valve checked - but it had quit leaking. Sometimes, when things are that cold, a little ice gets in a relief valve and it won't close. I suspect the jarring it took when I dropped the trailer might have had something to do with that.

So, an hour behind, away I went. I had two drops and got the first one done, and headed onto I76 from Sterling Colorado on my way to Evans (a suburb of Greeley). I needed to take US34 to Greeley, except this is what I saw at my exit.

It's a load of square alfalfa bales, with the tractor busy disintegrating. I'm assuming a brake locked and started the hay on fire, which started to come apart and really went to town on the tractor. The responder in the red pickup told me I would have to wait, because there was no way I could go on and get to 34.

I could hear the tires sigh as they burned open - the outer tires were gone and the inner ones were flaming merrily when I showed up. The responders moved several cars out of the way and back on to the interstate to get them away. I heard a super loud bang - not sure what it was. Diesel isn't normally explosive, and if a tank blew under pressure it would have a big burning puddle underneath, so I think I heard an air tank let go.

There was another exit within several hundred yards of the one I wanted - the fire department guy told me it took me into the little town on the wrong side of the interstate. I wasn't sure I believed him, so I was busy looking it up on my phone - and finding out he was wrong - when a state trooper showed up wanting me to back up and get out of there. He told me I would have no problem finding 34. I really needed to get out of there - the sun was getting low on the western horizon. In Colorado, we can slap on some battery powered blinking lights on the outermost edges of our load, plus use the flashing yellow beacons on the front and rear we all have on anyways, and travel at night. I wasn't sure my battery powered blinky lights have fresh enough batteries, so it was time to go.

I looked the rig over as I went by - the sleeper was gone, and the cab was settling into the frame. The front bales were still smoldering - the rural fire department was foaming things down, but it was seemingly ineffective on the tractor. They were also looking after some of the small fires in the grass - dry country like that, you don't want that to get away.

So, I beat the sunset - but didn't get my last two tanks off. Gotta do that in the morning. At least I've got a load and a tractor to pull it with. With new umbilical air lines.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hi. I'm Jeffro, and I Have a Dirty Mind

Dirty mind or art lover? You make the call!

H/T Darin

Roll, Roll, Roll In Ze Hay

Of course, I speak of Teri Garr, who, according to IMDB, is 63 today (Wikepedia has her possibly born in '44 or '49). And the above pics are from Young Frankenstein. Teri played Inga, and cemented forever proof of her comedic talents in that role.

The geek in me requires a reminder that she was also in the original Star Trek series in the episode Assignment Earth playing Roberta Lincoln.

Things have been rough for her for some time - she admitted in 2002 that she had MS, and has become an activist in the fight for fund raising and a cure. In 2006 she suffered a brain aneurysm while taking a nap. After surgery and rehab, she appeared on Letterman under her own power. And by the way, her appearances on Letterman are always memorable - her wit and charm arm her quite well dealing with Dave. She is reportedly one of his favorite guests.

And, just because I can - here is a pic found on the intertubes of a young Teri showing off some of her finer attributes.

Happy Birthday, Teri! I've enjoyed your performances over the years, and the glimpses of your personality have convinced me you'd be a great person to know!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Knot On My Head

As I was writing yesterday's post, I was reminded of a story:

Back in the day, I pulled a hopper bottom for this gentleman. He basically turned me over to a local grain and cattle company that kept me pretty busy. I worked my way up to a pretty decent run - a "gravy" run. It paid well and often. I had to haul protein supplement pellets that were used as ingredients in the cattle company's feed at their commercial feedlots. They owned a feed mill at Emporia, so I would load with wheat, soybeans or both in succession to get there, load the pellets, and come home. The next morning found me at one of their local feedyards unloading.

But, in order to cut costs, the feed mill really put out a nasty handling product. One of the ingredients was dehydrated alfalfa, which is expensive. Enough dehy, and the pellets would be firm and slick. Not enough, the pellets would be soft and rough. What this meant was that the loads would "set up" in the hoppers. I'd open the door and nothing would fall out. It was the same for the mill operators - it would set up in their cone bottom storage tanks.

I used a variety of methods to dislodge the load - often some judicial pounding with a dead blow mallet would be enough to start the flow. The hoppers had "knock rails" that one was supposed to strike - if you were to smack the actual hopper surface, it would become dented and interrupt the smooth flow for commodities to drop. Plus, it looked like hell.

Normally, that was just step one. I'd generally have to lie on my back with a broken broom handle sharpened at one end and start poking from the bottom up. Creating a large pocket sometimes had positive results. But then there were days....

So, the feed mill had a long chunk of wiring conduit about fifteen feet tall. I'd climb up on the trailer and walk down the edge to a point over the hopper opening and start pushing the pipe down until I found the hole. Working it around and starting new holes would generally at least open up the center. I learned NOT to climb in the middle - I had several tons of feed stuck to the front and rear of the hopper, and stood on the floor of the mill right in the middle of the hopper opening once to dig out the large chunks from the bottom. I had the whole wall come loose and fall on me that day - it broke apart into the little pellets that made it, but I swirled around like toilet paper in the bowl. Luckily the other side didn't let go, or I'd have been buried.

We ran Wilson grain trailers. I've got a soft spot in my heart for them - IMHO they make the best grain trailers, period. The boss was looking to upgrade and buy me a new trailer, and we were going to order it with a built in vibrator. Haulers who specialize in feed ingredient transport usually have those installed - things like mineral, wheat middlings and such hang up about as bad as those feed pellets, and it's pretty convenient to just hit a switch and watch the load fall into the pit. They are nothing more than an air powered motor with an offset weight at the end, mounted to the hopper so the vibrations are transmitted to the hopper surface.

So, the trailers showed up and no vibrators. Why? Because the salesman convinced the boss that they would not be necessary. Apparently the hopper traps were about a foot or so longer, making the hole larger. This was going to eliminate the need for vibrators, period. I expressed my extreme doubt that the salesman had ever unloaded anything of a similar nature and was talking out his buttocks, but the deed was done. I took the new trailer out, and loaded with pellets, came home on a Friday.

Saturday morning found me at the feedlot mill busting my hump to get that load off. I opened the trap and about three pellets fell. Oh yeah. The larger hopper hole was gonna cure all my ills. I went to pounding. Nada. I dug out a hole from the bottom. Nada. I found the conduit and leaned it against the back of the trailer and started to walk off to do something else for a moment when - WHAM - I was driven to my knees with darkening vision. The pipe had fallen towards me and struck me right on my hairline on my forehead.

When I finally was able to continue, I climbed up to the top of the trailer and finished unloading - a hour or so of hot, sweaty, muscle pulling work. I got back to the shop, dollied the trailer down, and parked the tractor in a bay for my weekly service. While sliding around underneath, I discovered I had a drive axle wheel seal leaking. This day had just been officially shot to hell. I got out a jack and had the brake drum off, ready to change out the bad seal when the boss, clearly in a good mood, came be bopping in.

He wanted to know how my day was going. I let him know. I let him know the salesman didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. I let him know I got beaned and about knocked out. I let him know he'd been pretty lucky with me not falling off the trailer having to mess with that (redacted)(censored). And to top it all off, I had a bad wheel seal and the day just couldn't get much worse, as far as I was concerned.

He informed me that I'd been looking for a job when I'd found this one, and maybe I should just get to looking again if I felt that strongly about it. I informed him that I was merely trying to make this job better. He retired to his house, probably kicking any cats that were in his path, since I'd done such a good job of spreading the wealth of my great mood.

That pipe hit my head hard enough to kill the hairs in the scalp. I had a small bare spot there for years, until the ol' hairline receded past the mark.

That was about the only argument we'd ever had - we'd had a few cross words over the years, but nothing like that blowout - and clearly he was pretty much defending himself against my tirade.

I'd still like to kick that salesman in the family jewels, then make him dig a load out of a jammed up trailer. With a spoon. With a broken handle. I'd provide the cattle prod for stimulation.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


threecollie (or Marianne Friers) rather reluctantly posted a picture of herself the other day. I can understand that - my mother hated to have her picture taken. I hate it now, because there aren't many pictures of her. Oh, well.

I thought I'd post a couple of less than flattering pics of moi in solidarity with 3C - just for grins.

I've got a huge melon of a head - we're looking at 7 7/8ths for a hat size - as a rule. The ol' forehead has gotten longer over the years - the hairline has traveled up the forehead to the top of the ol' skull.

However, in my younger days I was assured by a couple hairdresser friends that I'd never go bald. Heh. Guess they were wrong! Mostly it's a pain if I don't wear a cap outdoors - my poor scalp gets toasted. I can assure you that never happened when I looked like this:


That would be 1983 or so. Yep, I wuz partying dude back then! I've always had a baby face and people have underestimated how old I am for years until the hair that isn't migrating started to go gray.

I've never minded how I look. I've always thought I had sort of generic looks - people are continually thinking I'm a brother of someone they know. A big brother, that is!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas Tree Tradition

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as  fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor.. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the  cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and an irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?'

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

Well, if you read here often enough, you know the drill when the muse isn't there - I raid the ol' email inbox!

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is due out in 2013. Psychiatrists use the manual to diagnose mental illness. Among the changes in this edition will be the exclusion of five of the 10 personality disorders listed in the current edition. One of those five is narcissistic personality disorder. According to The New York Times, "The central requirement for N.P.D. is a special kind of self-absorption: a grandiose sense of self, a serious miscalculation of one's abilities and potential that is often accompanied by fantasies of greatness."

Many psychiatrists aren't happy about the change. Dr. John Gunderson of Harvard calls the removal "unenlightened" and says, "They have little appreciation for the damage they could be doing." But for some N.P.D. sufferers, the change brings hope. In two short years, for example, one particular occupant of a majestic white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will likely be seeking new employment and new living quarters. Better, then, that he's free to do so without the stigma of this dreadful disorder.

I feel so much better now knowing this. 

thx to Louis

Friday, December 03, 2010

Celebrities Are Different

I know - duh. Fame and fortune and constant media exposure - yeah, so what else is new?

I was watching CNN the other morning at the free breakfast bar at a motel - otherwise I would have missed the point of my post. I don't watch CNN. It was on. Frankly, I rarely watch any news channel. But, I was a captive audience for a few minutes, and David Hasselhoff and his daughters were on plugging their new A&E reality show The Hasselhoffs. Now, I'm not picking on The Hoff here, but the whole interview struck me a wrong, and prompted this thinking. He happens to be a good example of how I actually pity his and his family's situation.

I think most of us were raised to value our privacy and how family business wasn't something that needed to be broadcast all over the neighborhood - which is difficult to accomplish in a small town environment. Being a celebrity and the life in the spotlight pretty well shoots the idea of personal privacy right in the buttocks, as it were. Some famous folks keep their distance and try to escape the limelight - and these are the people I can relate to and understand.

But I "blog" so I've gotta be an attention whore and a hypocrite as well, right? I don't think so - this is a bit of a creative outlet that very few people return to read, so it's not like I'm in any kind of spotlight. Plus, I can assure you that what you see here is what I want you to see. You aren't seeing the more mundane or negative aspects of my life - and they certainly exist. I'm not bringing cameras into my house - I have no wish for the world to see just how lousy I am at housekeeping. You don't know the identities of my family. So I count myself as one who values his privacy and would rue the cost of being famous.

But then, there are those who become addicted to the klieg lights and the attention of the media and fans. Some seem to be willing to sacrifice any shred of dignity and privacy to stay there. Plastic surgery, botox and collagen injections, hairpieces, skin abrasions - we hear of all sorts of ways they try to keep their youthful looks long after the skin has started to sag and the hair has moved south while changing colors. Acting up in bars, feuds with other "stars," screwing around ruining marriages or ill advised marriages in the first place - anything as long as the name is being mentioned on the entertainment "news" media. Any publicity is good publicity.

One avenue to keep on the screen is an innovation perhaps older than we realize - reality tv. An American Family aired in 1973 - after being filmed in 1971. It featured the Loud family - the parents ended up divorcing, one of the sons was openly gay (and ended up dying of meth addiction and was HIV positive). It has been argued for years that the inclusion of cameras and the attendant exposure certainly helped destroy the family - perhaps they were doomed in the first place, but the spotlight didn't help any. The current crop of reality television fodder includes an awful lot of stars past their prime trying to catch the brass ring just one more time.

Let's look at how The Hoff justifies the new show:
We are inviting the world in to say yeah, this is who we are. Instead of like reading about us going "that's not us" or doing a five minute interview and trying to be charming and cute and funny, you know, and being kind of self effacing in five minutes. No, we're real people, we have a life, we have something to say, and that, that you know we love this business, we love show business, they're pursuing their dream to be actresses and singers and the ups and downs of it but also the fact we have feelings and we say we can do this through television which is a media that I love and make it entertaining, so yeah, come on in - this is who we are. We're inviting people into our home for the first time and saying "no what you read about us is what you read about us, but this is what we are", so hopefully you'll find it entertaining.

So the show is a defense of sorts from bad press. Okay. Then, of course, there was The Cheeseburger Incident, filmed by one of his daughters. Apparently it "got out" accidentally, but the family is stronger for it, plus there are people who have been inspired by The Hoff's continuing recovery from alcoholism and his relationships with his daughters. So, that's another reason for the reality show - inspiration.

And frankly, while I consider the whole thing more than a bit sordid and sad, there are those that do find this inspirational. They are the other side of the symbiotic relationship between the star and the fans. If the fans didn't exist, there would be no stars. If people didn't pay attention to the entertainment "news" there wouldn't be people vying to be headlines. So, we - collectively - are guilty of rewarding the aberrant behavior displayed. Notice I said collectively - because I could give a rat's arse about most of the latest flavors of people trying to push their fifteen minutes of fame into a lifetime.I sure follow NASCAR's famous folks - but they tend to be real people who aren't actively trying to be someone they are not in front of the cameras.

So, I pity someone who has to blend loss of privacy and self respect for fleeting fame and fortune. I cannot help but think these people are missing a large chunk of their humanity in order to be famous.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Not This Fat Boy!


That's right, not in a million years would you catch me trying to do something like that.
Gladys Ingles was a member of a barnstorming troupe called the 13 Black Cats in the 1920s.
Ingles was a wing walker; in this film, she shows her fearlessness in a classic barnstorming
fashion to save an airplane that has lost one of its main wheels. Ingles is shown with a
replacement wheel being strapped to her back and then off she goes as "Up She Goes," a
duet from the era, provides the soundtrack. In the video, Ingles transfers herself from the
rescue plane to the one missing the main landing gear tire. She then expertly works herself
down to the undercarriage only a few feet from a spinning prop. It's certainly a feat many
mechanics wouldn't even try on the ground with the engine running.

I got this in an email today and was really struck by how fearless Gladys was. I'm for thinking the plane would have just had to crash, were it up to me.

H/T Nuckle Kim