Monday, February 28, 2011

I Swear......

Just a few weeks ago while - for whatever reason - we were discussing my blog. He asked me, in a somewhat resigned yet curious tone if he were to read it, would he find himself a frequent target? Heh. Seemed ol' Mike knew about blogs that bitch about work and coworkers. He was somewhat rueful because of his noted ability to fly off the handle.

Well, y'all know I don't speak ill of my job, and told him so. I did, however, remind him that there was plenty of blog fodder available, should I choose to plumb that subject. We both chuckled about that. He did take some time a few weekends ago and check the joint out - and he found it interesting. But, blogging or even regularly reading blogs wasn't something he was interested in doing frequently.

Which was no surprise. Mike was a hard worker who didn't spend much time pondering the state of things. He was quick to make decisions. He was quick to lose his temper, but he was also equally as quick to blast out a laugh at something he found funny - like a stupid joke about sharks. The past several years found him backing out of the seven day weeks to spend more time with his family and relax a bit more - relax meaning doing odd jobs at home all weekend or similar. He just couldn't sit still.

And as far as that famous temper went - he actually only barked at me a couple of times in seven years. The first time was on a job site, and frankly I didn't pay him much heed. What made it memorable was that Mike apologized to me that night at supper on our way home. He had a golden opportunity to jump me on my very first day - he told me to have my truck hooked up and ready to go at sunrise. I strongly suspect I suffered from a case of selective hearing because I swore he said to show up at daylight. I had been unemployed for some time. Me - a morning person? Not hardly. But, he kept his thoughts to himself. Mostly, his battles were with those who argued with him - usually a couple of Type A's knocking heads. Mikey would get pretty frustrated with employees who just wouldn't listen. And, most of his opponents were just being stubborn over using common sense.

After that inauspicious beginning, we discovered the interests we shared. Once he found he could discuss guns and that I knew what he was talking about - well, we had a lot of conversations. While I am more of a collector, he was more of a hunter and competitive shooter. Our politics were closely aligned, and we had a lot of fun recalling our various trucking stories from the past. He also went to grade school and junior high at my hometown - but he was four years ahead of me. Of course, we knew a ton of people, and Mikey enjoyed hearing updates from me about events in the little burg that bears my mailing address.

Mike worked for the company for thirty years. He was the number one truck driver, plus the mechanic on weekends - for most of the tractor and trailer repairs that were needed. There weren't as many trucks or trailers as we have now, but he still had a plate full of work. He installed all our cranes on our trucks, and used to buy "glider kits" for new trucks. A kit truck is one that has a factory new cab and frame rails, plus generally the radiator and under hood accessories set up for a particular motor - but no motor, transmission, or rear axles. One can save a lot of bucks by finding a totaled low mileage truck and moving all the goodies (undamaged - not just every crashed truck can be a donor) over to a glider. It avoids the excise tax, too. Guess who put all those things together? Yep. Plus, it was a point of pride that he could generally get things done in half the time anyone else would.

Saving money might have been a motivating factor in the mentioned areas, but a lot of things are done differently here that "normal" trucking companies don't do. Preventive maintenance is next to Godliness - and when something might need to be replaced - we replace it. As an example - trucks usually have three or four twelve volt batteries. I was used to replacing each battery as it went bad. This company doesn't do it that way - we replace all of them. The idea is - the company wants  us available to take loads out on Monday and also to be able to get back as soon as possible to get more loads out, not sitting on the side of the road waiting for someone to haul out a battery or two. We aren't in the trucking business to make money. We're in the tank manufacturing and delivery business. This philosophy bears Mike's imprint in a big way. Another thing that is different - our shop has no tire irons. We've got more important uses of our time than breaking down and changing tires - so that work gets farmed out to a local truck tire dealer. Another big change for me.

Often, I'd go home on a Friday, and when I got back on Monday, I'd find that Mikey had installed or fixed something that was awaiting parts that just came in, or that he just felt like repairing. I'd catch hell for it on Monday if I didn't notice it - he'd call me up and ask if I had noticed. Of course, as a rule I had no clue, and he'd really lather on a guilt trip. Which made it all a ton of fun.

Mike was also a family man. In years past, he wasn't around much - but since I hired on, he really shifted his focus away from the job towards his wife and kids. Two daughters, a son, and six grandkids worth. Plus, he and Dana, his wife, really had a strong marriage. Often, on a day where we would be working in the shop, several of us would get together to eat at a restaurant. We'd invite Mike, but it was to no avail, because he and his sweetheart Dana had a lunch date. She'd drive into the yard, pick up Mike, and off they'd go. It might just have been to the Sonic - but it was time together for them. Mike looked forward to these meetings - you'd never, ever hear him joke about having to go eat with the 'ol ball and chain, or anything remotely similar. They respected each other and enjoyed their respective company. I complemented them about this one afternoon - and of course, they both downplayed it all - "It's been a lot of work, and it still is" sort of remarks. I reminded them that was true enough, but they made it look easy. Looking back now, I'm sure glad I broached the subject to them.

Mike's expertise wasn't just driving a truck and working on them - he was a master of the knuckle boom crane. He could handle tanks with some difficult techniques that find less skilled operators damaging them. Some said it was the thirty years experience, but most of us knew better. Just because you've done a job for that long doesn't make that person an artiste at it. Mike was legendary in the oil patch and with most of our long time customers. Plenty of businesses requested that Mike should deliver their latest order.

So, Mike had friends all over - primarily in the oil and ag industries. It was the oil patch pals who took him hunting for deer and elk in the mountains every year. Since our company had been buying quite a few Kenworths in the past several years, he got a guided tour of their factory in Seattle - which really helped him make some decisions regarding purchasing more new trucks - since his beloved Caterpillar motors weren't going to be produced anymore.

In case you didn't know he was a CAT fan - just look at his cap above. We've had some Detroits and Cummins around, but his overwhelming favorite was the ol' Clatterpillers. Plus, the ball cap covered his bald spot. The only time that cap came off was to turn it backwards under a welding helmet, to wipe his head, or to throw it on the floor in disgust over something. A rare sight indeed, but highly memorable.

On Saturday the 19th, Mike started seizing and a coworker caught him before he hit the concrete. After a trip to the emergency room in Garden, it was determined that he should go to Galichia Heart Hospital in Wichita (it's where I've gotten all my "work" done). He'd had an ablative procedure done to control atrial fibrillation, and they thought he might be having related problems. He had several more seizures, so he was kept under to gain time and figure out what course of action to take. At one point, we all heard he only had a slight chance of survival, and if he did - he'd more than likely spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state.

Early Thursday on the 24th, Mike Armstrong , age 55, was disconnected from all the machines keeping him going, and he slipped away.

Of course, he'd have gone nuts if he'd survived. Living trapped in his body would have been the worst possible nightmare of an existence for Mike. No matter - we're all going to miss him. Our company has been in a funk - a sort of state of mourning - for more than a week now. As one of the people who leaned on Mike, I can say things will definitely change without him around, and not just for me. The whole company - top to bottom - leaned on him. And, as per the title of this post - I swear I'm getting tired of writing these things about important people in my life passing.

But, I can also tell you this - he wouldn't countenance all of us sitting around bawling that he was gone. Nope, that wasn't the way he lived - he'd want us to get along with our lives. He might have even tossed that cap on the ground to make his point. And, we'll see proof of his existence for a long time to come as well. I was just thinking about that today, driving home from a delivery. I mentioned how he mounted the cranes on the tractors - and he's put my crane on three different trucks.

Our cranes run on hydraulic oil powered by a pump run off a power take off - or PTO. In the past, the switches were a lever style switch that has a safety pull - one pulls up on the lower knob, and moves the lever from one end of it's slot to the other to engage the PTO. These things are generally mounted under the dash or on the floor - where there might be a clear spot for it. But, Mikey had seen a dash mounted rocker switch that he just thought was ultra cool, and he got it for my truck.

That's it next to the "spare" switch - with it's own little red light to let me know it's engaged.  See how well it matches the rest of the switchgear? That was the sort of attention to detail Mike bestowed on his projects. For a gearhead - that is neat, period. Every time I fire up the ol' crane, I'm gonna remember who put that switch in there. And I'll think it was pretty stinking cool of him to do it that way.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vegetable Trees


And free land, so the food is free so we can sell it in like the farmer's market, and silkworms to make stuff, and rent should be lowered downtown, and the slaves on the east coast, and, and, and........

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why Didn't This Catch On?


Heh. Count on the ol' luggage getting kinda grungy with the bottom of the trunk opened up. Did this wondrous invention only turn the car in a clockwise direction?

And I'd bet if you had a flat, getting the spare out of there might have been a challenge.

H/T Hoss

Friday, February 25, 2011

Amazing Photo Shows Great Detail

The pilot at low level had no control over his aircraft.  It narrowly misses a crowd gathered for the air show and slams into four buildings. One can only imagine the horror of the occupants inside those buildings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today's Comics

Okay, I'm warped and we all know that, but my funny bone told me this was good.

Same here. Ol' Walt knows a thing or two about teenagers, eh?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Right Turn, Clyde

Yannow, if I'm turning right and have to go left a tad to make room to swing around the corner, and I'm running pretty slow? And you, in a big hurry, put the nose of your beat to s$*t import between the trailer and the curb? Like you're gonna pass me on the right while I'm making that right turn? You know, the right turn signals you've seen for a half block or more?

Yeah, you.

I'll go ahead and start swingin' for the turn, baybee. Then I'm gonna come to a stop somewhat reluctantly, when the vise of my trailer coming over starts putting you into the curb and just - just about results in contact. Then, we'll just go ahead and sit there until you throw your ride in reverse and get out of that jam. Or sit there until the cops come. I get paid by the hour, and you are in the compromising position, not me.

Why yes, I do have a license to fly that finger.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tiny Bullitt


This is too cool. The movie Bullitt has the best car chase scene ever, period. Slot cars? Love 'em. Wish I had a good set, the room, and someone who'd play with me - yep, I'd be livin' high on the hog for sure. But put the movie and slot cars together? Oh, man, chocolate in my peanut butter!(link)
It all started innocently enough. Mr. Day missed his boyhood Scalextrics track and decided to, in his words, “complete” his midlife crisis and buy a new one. For a few months he enjoyed whizzing the tiny electric cars around the track. The real trouble began, however, when he discovered that Pioneer Slot Cars was producing versions of the green 1968 Ford Mustang and black 1968 Dodge Charger used in filming what is among the most beloved car chases in cinema history.
Mr. Day decided that the world needed a tiny, slot-car version of the “Bullitt” chase. He built a small set and sent a few test photos to Pioneer. The company was thrilled and provided several slot-car Mustangs and Chargers — along with multiple McQueen figurines — so that Mr. Day could contort them as necessary to create his masterpiece.
Under the screen name Emigre, he recently posted a short trailer showing selected scenes from the chase at The clip sped across automotive sites like Jalopnik, Hemmings and Top Gear.

Mr. Day "missed his boyhood Scalextrics track." I can relate - only mine was an Aurora and later their more modern AFX snap together track. Years later, during a fit of housecleaning, my father decided it had to go. He did, however, keep his obsolete R/C equipment.

Ahhh, well.

This upcoming video? Can. Not. Wait.

And yes, I'm easily amused.

Call Me Assimilated

Today is Jeri Ryan's forty second birthday. Of course she is known to geeks everywhere for portraying the freed Borg "Seven of Nine" from the television show Star Trek: Voyager, which ended it's run in 2001.

She's still smokin' hot, IMHO. Happy Birthday, Jeri!

pictures from here

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Puss N Bowling Shoes



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Low Hanging Fruit

Toooo easy....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I miss Erin Esurance on the boob tube.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Know I'm Warped

But still, doesn't this scenario seem juuuust a little odd? "So, let's get with it Jeffy! It's our mission!" Dolly knows incest is best!  Of course, the idea that interbreeding has been a Keane family tradition would explain a lot. Just what the world needs - these two short bus riders gettin' it on.

Quality Time With Dad

The father shark was taking his boy out to teach him hunting techniques. As they were working to find something, they came upon a ship foundering with people jumping overboard. So, Dad took his son aside to tell him what to do.

Son, I want you to listen to me - we've got a chance to eat a lot here if we do it right. So, do what I say and we'll be fine.

Okay, Daddy!

The first thing we need to do is to circle around those people several times while only showing the tip of our dorsal fin. After we've done that for a while, we'll move on to the next step. Do you understand?

Yes, Daddy! You want me to swim around only showing the tip of my fin!

That's right son. Let's get to it.

So, they swam around the hapless swimmers for a while until Dad spoke up.

Okay, son, I want you to listen close. We're going to swim around like before, only this time, we're going to show all of our dorsal fin. Plus, we're going to surface and roll a little to show our eyes and teeth. I want you to look at those people and have a big smile on your face. We'll do that several times, okay? Now, tell me what I want you to do.

You want me to show all of my fin, and show off our eyes and teeth a little bit, and we're gonna swim around while we do that.

Yes, Son! I'm proud of you! You're listening well! Now, lets get to it!

So, father and son swam around the swimmers, flashing their teeth and giving them the eye. After several laps, the dad called to his son:

Okay, Son, let's eat!

And so they did. They ate all the swimmers. After they were done and were swimming around to settle their tummies, the son had a question:

Dad, can I ask you a question?

Sure Son, anytime! 

Why did we have to swim around like that? Why didn't we just go ahead and eat those folks?

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Despair For Our Future

Back in February 2008 I ran a post about joke Valentine's Day pickup lines. A couple of examples:
1) Did you fart? Cuz you just blew me away.
2) Are yer parents retarded? Cuz ya sure are special.
There are more, but you get the idea.

Since posting that, every year around Valentine's Day the ol' traffic around here goes up. Not like this year, though. Sheesh. According to Blogger's stats, that page is number one at roughly a six to one ratio over number two - How To Shift A Big Rig. That post is consistently in the top five entry pages. They all seem to take turns at number one. My overall traffic has increased about ninety percent in the past week. Not that it's that much in the first place, but it's enough to be noticed.

That's just a snapshot - and this isn't just national, either. It's global, baybee!

I'm just picturing Captain Spank sitting in his underwear in front of the magic box eating Cheetos and checking out the latest in midget pr0n, and has suddenly realized that it's Valentine's Day and the prospects of gettin' lucky are mighty, mighty grim.What should our hero do? Perhaps clean up and get out to socialize? Like about five years ago? Learn how to interact with the fairer sex, in order to be in position to get some?

Au contraire, mon frere! Surely someone out there has unlocked the mystery of how to get laid with some quick and dirty pickup lines?!?! The information has gotta be out there somewhere! For free, no less! Hey, Google is My Friend (GIMF)! Let's look up some surefire winners that can be laid (see how I did that?) on the cute clerk at the Kwik Shop so we can be doin' ten up and ten down immediately if not before? Some words that are so irresistible she'll be droppin' trou and hot to trot! Maybe she'll even bring her BFF along, too!

After a bit of thought, maybe I'm worrying too much. After all, there is a good chance social Darwinism might be in effect here - perhaps these lazy clueless seekers of easy sleazy aren't going to be passing on their genes - to anything human, at any rate. We might be safe, after all.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oscar Was A Pyro

These would be a couple of gray haired (yes, they still have hair) codgers of my acquaintance. This picture was taken at the grave site service for our buddy Oscar.

I may or may not have insinuated that Oscar was a pretty ornery sort. He was. As we grew up together, we also found that our friend was quite the adventurous sort when it came to the art of fireworks. Bottle rocket wars, long strings of firecrackers, M-80s, Roman candles, sparklers crammed together and later - aerial shells would play a part in his/our entertainment. 

It would simply not do to send Oscar off to the afterlife without honoring him. Military funerals have color guards and salutes with parade guns. Oscar got some middle aged gray haired nuts lighting several big strings of firecrackers. While this may seem odd - his family appreciated the gesture.

Some of the old gang have written me emails or posted on Oscars' memorial site some words that truly encapsulated our buddy quite well, and that I'd like to share with you:
I learned quite a few things and/or my learnings were reinforced through my friendship with Oscar. I'm sure these were things that we all learned in various degrees through our friendship with Oscar.

The first thing that I learned was that everyone deserves a smile and an encouraging word. I never met Oscar or saw him meet other people without him having a great big grin on his face. Even when he/we were in trouble. It didn't matter if it was the hallway at school, the parking lot, or some other equally exotic location. It seemed like he thought it was to his great fortune that he got to see you and to say Hi! to you. He made you feel like the King of the World. And there was always a word of encouragement to follow.

The second thing that Oscar taught me was that fear is over-rated; and that life needs to be experienced, not analyzed from afar. You really need to try a thing before you could make an objective decision that something couldn't or shouldn't be done. In hindsight, there are probably a few things that maybe I shouldn't have tried or done, but how would I know if I hadn't?? See how that works?

The third thing is "the more the merrier". If it's fun with one or two, it will be a whole lot more fun with a hundred more. Oscar seemed to bave a core belief that life was to be LIVED!! Out loud. With laughter all around. And shared with all. And from my perspective and experience, we all seemed to be the better for it.

Some of the other things seem a bit more mundane or pragmatic, but still useful:
  • wear a helmet when riding your motorcycle
  • lemon extract is over 80% alcohol and mixes well with Pepsi
  • there is such a thing as too much beer
  • brass quintets can be fun when there is just the right amount of beer
Things like that. And there were so many things like "that"!

And from one of the gentlemen pictured above:
I could write a book on the times we shared. Good times and not so good times. He was always a constant. Caring, kind, considerate, the consumate gentleman. Best friend I've ever known. Mischief? We found a little of that along the way as well. Many the time I said, "I don't think you should do that." To no avail most of the time. We're so fortunate to have had him in our lives. Love you Captain O.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We were all clay in the Master's pottery wheel as we grew up together, and molding one of us affected the design of the next. Our experiences shaped us. However, Oscar had a bit more glitter in his mud, and we loved him for it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things I Owe My Mother

Or rather - a thing. The sum total of what my mama did for me is far beyond a mere blog post.

I get pretty nostalgic for her this time of year. She passed away January 30, 2001, and her birthday is Valentine's Day, so this period in between often catches me thinking of her and missing her. It doesn't help when a best friend passes away, either, when it comes to putting me in a morose mood.

Anyway, she loved classical music and musicals as well. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky impressed her greatly, so Sis and I grew up listening to The 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker Suite, and Swan Lake, among others.

The selection wasn't limited to Tchaikovsky by a long shot. She picked up a collection of classical music for children that Sis and I about wore out. It featured some pretty good stuff, IMHO.


Oh yeah.



This was before VHS and having the Disney versions available. No matter. We had our imaginations, and the music certainly painted quite a picture.

While I'm not the classical affectionado my mother was, some music she didn't collect managed to find it's way to my appreciative ears. For instance, I can't imagine she'd find anything amiss with these two:



 I heard The Planets on the local public radio and even have a CD somewhere. Oddly enough, the first time I heard the snippet from Romeo and Juliet was in the movie Exotica. I really liked that movie and recommended it to Mother. She found it unwatchable. Not from the Prokofiev, though.

And, of course there is Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. I love the smell of napalm in the morning....smelled like.....victory.

Intertwined with memories of my mother are these pieces - and how, without her, it would be very likely I'd lack the ability to appreciate this.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Not a good day here. My longtime buddy Oscar Leroy Deardorff III passed away today. Earlier this summer, he had problems with his vision. It turned out he had some malignant cancerous tumors in his brain. During treatment, more were found in his lungs. All were surgically removed. This fall, both his parents passed away within a month or so of each other. He didn't seem to be improving. The tumors in his brain were back and growing, plus his lungs and liver were also invaded. Pain management was his only option.

So, we all knew this day was coming.

I got to know Olie (his childhood nickname) when we were in kindergarten and grade school. We used to swap spending nights at each other's places - he'd ride the school bus out with me, or I'd stay in town with him. Over the years, he proved to be a fine friend - one who was always there for you if you needed him, and who, on the whole, was a hell of a lot of fun to be around. He was an ornery one for sure - but he was also well mannered, polite and respectful. All the girls loved him - he was a good lookin' devil and a great "catch." All the parents of us kids held him in high regard.

I could tell you some stories, but I won't. It's enough to know that he brightened every room he entered, was the consummate gentleman, and a stalwart friend.

I'm gonna miss him terribly. Rest in peace, old buddy. I'll see you again.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Another One Bites The Dust

Well, it's not like we couldn't see this coming from miles away (link):
FOR all of you who were planning to pack up your oldies tapes and go shopping for a 2011 car, there is bad news: you’re too late. According to experts who monitor the automotive market, the last new car to be factory-equipped with a cassette deck in the dashboard was a 2010 Lexus.

While it is possible that a little-known exception lurks deep within some automaker’s order forms, a survey of major automakers and a search of new-car shopping Web sites indicates that the tape deck is as passé as tailfins on a Caddy.
Yep, the cassette has gone the way of the dodo and the eight track. The medium has been dying for years, but in my mind, this pretty much makes it official. The obsolescence of cassette tape media is hardly alone:
But the cassette’s epitaph was being written with the arrival of the compact disc. The CD, not subject to wear because it was read by a laser beam and had no physical contact with the player, delivered even less distortion, even higher fidelity — and remains the ubiquitous audio source in new cars.

Audio seers say that the CD, too, will eventually fade away. Technology marches on, and automakers are wary of becoming stragglers in that parade.
Even satellite radio’s time has passed, he said. “It was a savior to the aftermarket, but in terms of subscription-based models like that, the sun is setting.”

Complicating the choice for drivers and automakers is the multitude of choices. “Right now,” Mr. Koenig said, “we typically have copies of our songs on a CD, on our computer, on our iPods. We may have downloads on our phone.”

He added: “It’s a lot of duplication, and all of that content will eventually exist in the cloud. We’ll pull it down on demand. We’ll pay a subscription fee, or, more likely, the service will be advertiser supported.”

The bottom line to Mr. Koenig’s vision is that carmakers will be able to reduce drastically the costly electronics and hardware that reside in the dashboard. In this future, he said, the vehicle becomes just another connection node on a network.
So, iPods and other flash memory based MP3 players will be history, as well as my beloved SiriusXM.


All this talk of being continually hooked up to the cloud is all fine and good, but ya know what? That requires some sort of network that is available everywhere that just does not exist today. Piggybacked on 3G or 4G cell service? Not if you don't have cell service to begin with. No one is aggressively planting new towers in areas that don't have sufficient service now. For instance, cell service at The Poor Farm is, for all practical purposes, non existent. Some of the areas where we haul tanks don't even have much in the way of FM radio, much less cell service.

Sooo, sorry, but I don't see the "cloud" coming to the farm or oil patch nearest you real soon. I'm gonna base my audio entertainment thusly.

Just Chillin'

Another week, another winter storm, and I'm parked again. The storm was just moving in when I drove to Garden, and this was taken on my way home. Just in case you can't see - it's not snowing heavily, but it is coming down sideways. That's probably due to the forty mph gusts. Since I've gotten home, we've gotten quite a bit more in the powdered frozen water department - six to eight inches?

I'm not even sure if I'll be venturing out tomorrow. Regardless of the weather - The Poor Farm has a frozen hot water pipe that feeds the bathroom. Soooo, I've already got a quartz heater running in the ol' cellar, plus the cabinet doors in the bathroom open and an electric heater going full blast. What it really needs is less forty mph gusts blowing through the rather porous concrete block foundation. If it doesn't free up, I'll have to crawl into the rather narrow space with a blowtorch and heat up the ol' pipes. Picture a dirt floor, mice, the occasional raccoon, and various snake skins with a layer of dusty cobwebs. This won't be the first time I've ridden in that particular rodeo. I can't leave the pipes frozen - if a line lets go, I don't want to be on a two day trip and come home to a totally flooded dirt cellar. I'm just hoping that the wind lets up and the heat has a chance to take over somewhat.

Oh, and I had the faucets dripping a pretty good stream, too. Everything was freed up when I got home, but after a nap (yeah, life is tough, I know), my keen senses noticed the lack of dripping from the tub and sink.

So, I'm parked, but at least this time there is some moisture for the ol' prairie. It's drier than a popcorn fart here, and beggars can't be choosers.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Color Me Warped

credit Jensen Sutta

This picture appeared in a post by Andrew Coffin of Big Government titled Exclusive: Governor Palin Visits Reagan Country where he discussed her visit and speech at Ronald Reagan's ranch celebrating his 100th birthday, and the NYT's reaction.

To Hell with politics - this picture makes me think of this song:


I swear, politics will reduce me to a slobbering, drooling idiot if it hasn't already....

Via SondraK

Friday, February 04, 2011

Green Bay All The Way, Baybee!

Actually, I don't have a dog in the Super Bowl hunt - I just want an entertaining game - and I don't mean the halftime show. By and large, they suck. So, it's the commercials and the game for me, and if it's a blowout - what a waste.

But, I gotta say, I never saw this possibility - got this in an email today:
Every Red Blooded American should jump in line to support the Green Bay Packers! The Packers defeated the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon thus earning them the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. By doing so, they saved the Hard-Working, Red Blooded, Taxpaying Americans literally several million dollars of tax money. How you say? Simple... we were told that if the Chicago Bears had won that President Obama (and probably his family) would be attending the Super Bowl to cheer on his hometown team. Since the Bears lost...the President won't be attending. The money saved from not using Air Force 1, the limousines, all the additional security, and let's not forget Michelle Obama's entourage, is literally several million dollars! Therefore every American should cheer on the Green Bay Packers at the Super Bowl to show them our gratitude. Oh...and let's not forget to thank Chicago Bear's Quarterback Jay Cutler for his role in the Packer's success! With that said...let's circulate this email to everyone we know so they can understand why they should cheer for America's team...the Green Bay Packers!

Well, I'm adamantly against circulating emails when the author of said email demands it. I'll risk damnation to hell or having my liver invaded by parasites from Diet Coke cans before I forward. I'll even risk having the zero sector of my hard drive erased - you know, where all the important data is kept. But this one? Heh.

Packers all da way - Cheeseheads Unite!

H/T Nunkle Kim

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Set Up a Battery Today

The photographic records of long trips tend to get posted here, but this sort of thing is part and parcel of my job as well. We haul these little batteries into north central Kansas all the time - this setup is for a low production well that cranks out saltwater with the crude.

From left to right are a 12'x10' 200 bbl fiberglass salt water tank, an 8'x27' fiberglass gun barrel, and two 12'x10' 200 bbl steel crude oil storage tanks.

Say what? What's a gun barrel?

I have no idea what the source of the term was, but it is a tank designed to separate water from oil by simple settling. The raw crude/salt water mix is pumped into the gun barrel straight from the oil well, where the oil off the top goes to the crude storage tanks, and the water from the bottom goes to the salt water recovery tank. It's not perfect - there is oil in the water and vice versa, but the majority gets separated. Tankers pick up the salt water and take it to reclamation centers where the rest of the oil is scrubbed (run through knockouts) and the salt water is injected back into the water table. The crude is shipped to a refinery somewhere.

I hauled the tanks, the ladders on the gun barrel and the water tank, and the landing and stairs on the two steel tanks. We don't plumb anything - but the crew that is there is busy doing just that. The tanker brought some water to put into the two fiberglass tanks to hold them in place until they start filling. If they didn't weigh the tanks down, the wind would carry them to parts unknown. I used my knuckle boom crane to unload and set the tanks, then to pick up the landing, set it and the stairs.

The crane I use is stout enough to handle 12'x15' 300 bbl steel tanks - but not at full extension. I've gotta watch myself and work close with those puppies. I can't handle the 12'x20' 400 bbl or the 12'x25' 500 bbl steel tanks that most of our trucks do handle - and frequently. Our most commonly produced tank is the 400 bbl steel tank with minor variations in fitting location or bottoms - most are flat bottomed, but some are cone bottomed, which the northern climes tend to use.

My "little" crane handles fiberglass tanks just fine, so I tend to get those assignments. Plus, the heavier cranes require some pretty stout support when mounted to the truck - all our heavy duty cranes are mounted on trucks with special ordered double frames. This is not an option you'll find just every day in the used truck papers, so to utilize the bigguns requires ordering new trucks. My lighter crane doesn't require a double frame for mounting - so the initial cost was considerably less for my company and gave them a bit more flexibility. I've had this crane on three different tractors, so it's kinda "my" baby.

I'm a trucker - but delivering the products is pretty specialized!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

When I Was Out and About

Sigh. When I was out and about driving around. I haven't turned a wheel since last Friday. The weather here has been windy and snow enough to keep us home, and since I was supposed to go to Michigan - well, frankly, the idea that I didn't have to drive through the ice and snow really hasn't broken my heart. A couple of trucks loaded for the same place are hung up on the east side of St. Louis - maybe today they can get moving again. So, here are some pics of travels past:

This is at the site in Michigan where I was supposed to be at noon today. That is a 12'x35' fiberglass tank up in the sky. While they are relatively light, it still takes a pretty good stick to drop them into a big containment field, which is the case here.

That is a cool rock formation south of Perryton, TX on Texas State Highway 70 on the west side of the road. Kinda has a "Long Hall Castle on the Butte" vibe to it, no?

While that may look like snow, it is not - and we're talking Texas Panhandle here. It's cotton.

This would be why cotton was scattered all over the road - this truck was loaded with cottonseed and the leftover fluffs of cotton were blowing out the top, as well as the seed. I could hear it hit my windshield and cab as I got closer. I've been digging cotton fluff out of my grill for several weeks now thanks to this guy.

So, what does a bored trucker do when it's too bad outside to go and play?

Well, for one thing, it's past time to rub aluminum. These tanks are suffering - just look at all the vertical streaks.

We've got a heavy duty polisher, which is what I should have used. It's pretty messy, though, because it really slings polish all over the place. I find it's just about as quick to shine by hand and spend much less time cleaning up. You can still see the vertical streaks I couldn't get rubbed out. They'll come out next time - if I don't wait too long. Still looks better than it did.

Tomorrow I'm venturing out - somewhere near Hays. It'll be cold!