Monday, August 29, 2011

They Think of Everything

Rest area on I35 in Missouri. Click for larger, and the blue sign says "Pet Area" and the one below reads "Hydrant Non-Functional."

For when a tree just won't do.

Occupation: Fool*

*With apologies to George Carlin......

I found this in the spam box for one of my Gmail accounts - geez, I gotta wonder why it ended up there?


My name is Angela Palmer; Sergeant in the United States army currently deployed to Afghanistan. I have a very desperate need for assistance and have summed up the courage to contact you.

I found your contact particulars in an online address journal and I am seeking your kind assistance to move the sum of six million and two hundred thousand United States dollars (US$6,200,000) to you for safe keeping or further investment into any viable business, as long as I can be assured that my share will be safe in your care until I complete my service here.

Source of Money:
A rather large sum of money in United States and other foreign currencies was discovered by me and members of my unit in a cave used by insurgents who we have strong beliefs also have links to some known terrorist groups. This money was amongst other valuables discovered.

The above figure was given to me as my share, and to conceal this kind of money became a problem for me but with the help of a British contact working here and with his office enjoying some immunity, I was able to get the package out to a safe location entirely out of trouble spot. he does not know the real contents of the package, and believes that it belongs to a British medical doctor who died in a raid here in Afghanistan, and before giving up, trusted me to hand over the package to his family . I have now found a very secured way of getting the package out of Afghanistan to you for pick up and invest it into any viable business until I am relieved of my duty to meet with you for my own share, and I will discuss this with you when I am sure that you are willing to assist me and that my money will be well secured in your hand.

I want you to tell me how much you will take from this money for the assistance you will give to me. one passionate appeal I will make to you is not to discuss this matter with anybody, should you have reasons to reject this offer, please and please destroy this message as any leakage of this information will be too bad for the U.S. soldier's here in Afghanistan. I have been shot, wounded and survived two suicide bomb attacks by the special grace of God. This and other reasons I will mention later has prompted me to reach out for help. Please contact me as soon as possible Through :

May God bless you and your family.

Angela Palmer

Sgt. US Army
"Online address journal?" Really? I'm totally into learning more about what sort of journal this is and what info they have, plus how a Sergeant in the US Army (yeah, right) managed to obtain this info.

one passionate appeal I will make to you is not to discuss this matter with anybody, should you have reasons to reject this offer, please and please destroy this message as any leakage of this information will be too bad for the U.S. soldier's here in Afghanistan

Whoopsie. My bad.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Little Scam Never Hurt No One

It's been a long week and I just was too pooped to pop, other than update the status widget on the sidebar. Some of us ran into something that got under my skin. Interesting that it involved a crane service, considering the praise I had for them last week.

Most crane services, when they find out what it is they are doing, bring the appropriate equipment. Setting thirty five feet tall tanks means having the means to unhook their equipment at the top. There are several ways to do this, and the simplest, easiest and most economical is to use a stick equipped with two lines. The inner line has a set of pulleys near the end of the boom, and a "block" hook with more pulleys is attached. When the line is run through the pulleys, it becomes a block and tackle, giving the crane more but slower lifting power. The second line, sometimes called a pilot line, is slightly out further on the boom. It only has one pulley and the hook is on a weighted ball. This setup allows the crane to lift and set the tank with the heavier setup, then let the line go slack, move the boom over, drop the single line and pick up a man basket to lift to the top and unhook the lines. The heavier built cranes can pick up our tanks with both lines, and twist the tank from the horizontal to the vertical without the tank touching the ground. Others can take the tank off the trailer, set it down, hook to the top and stand in "in the dirt."

However, when we have a knuckle boom crane with us, we can help "tail" the tank. The crane hooks to the top of the tank, we hook to the side near the bottom (but on the top while it's on it's side), and both lift while the trailer is pulled from beneath the tank. We gradually drop the tank while the crane gradually lifts, and they'll roll over us while we roll under them. We unhook, they set the tank, lift someone up to unhook, lather, rinse and repeat.

Our customer informed us that he had two cranes scheduled, which, after talking to me, canceled the second one. One would handle the top, and the other would have tailed. I told him we could tail those tanks. I should have said we couldn't unhook the big crane - we don't quite reach forty feet, so lifting someone up just to the edge would be fairly unsafe. I didn't think it would be necessary, because EVERY CRANE SERVICE I'VE EVER RUN INTO BEFORE would inform the customer if they could unhook from the top or not, and whether they had the necessary rigging and so on. They've all - up to this point - recognized that their services are expensive, and that if the customer can save some money, they'd sure like to help out. If the crane they had planned to bring couldn't do that job, they'll say so, or recommend using a large manlift - which, since they are a well equipped crane service, they have available at a lower rental rate that another full sized crane and they'd be happy to bring it.

Not this assclown. He showed up with a single line crane. This in and of itself was not a disaster - he could hook up with thirty or forty foot straps, set the tank, give himself some slack to move the boom over, lower the hook (with a ten or twenty foot strap attached loose), pick up the man basket and haul someone up to unhook him. He could then place the man basket where he needed it for the next tank, lather, rinse and repeat.

Except he refused to hook up to the tank with anything but his ten foot cables. He'd been doing this for forty years, and it was unsafe to use anything else (on tanks weighing under 7k lbs). He also conveniently did not bring a man basket. I mentioned the other alternatives, and I was dismissed as someone who didn't know what I was talking about, and my knuckle boom crane was about as useless as a short dick. Nothing would do but to have him go ahead and bring in his originally scheduled crane ($300/hr two hour min plus mileage), which had the man basket on it. Anything else would be unsafe, and he wasn't doing it. Faced with this, our customer capitulated.

While we were there, I was treated to a discussion about how he had hemorrhoids older than me. I just turned fifty two yesterday. I kept my mouth shut, but what I wanted to say was if his 'roids were that old, maybe it was time to retire, particularly since he was into ripping off his customers. A change of scenery would do him good. I thought it, but kept myself in professional mode. There were several other disparaging remarks made regarding my experience and decision making process that I let slide.

So, the other crane got there with the man basket and away we went. In all fairness, they did a good job - they weren't sloppy. One thing struck me right away - they were SO CONCERNED WITH SAFETY that they neglected to bring a safety harness THAT IS REQUIRED for the person riding the man basket to wear. We loaned our customer one of ours.

I'd better not run into this asshole again, or I might not remain quite so professional. Once with his crap was enough.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Long Day

Here it is after 11pm my time, and I'm tahrd. But I got a kick outta this:

Ol' Oliphant outdid himself today!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Makes Me Nervous

My company makes and delivers tanks that our knuckle boom cranes mounted on our trucks cannot handle, mostly because of simple geometry and reach. Kinda tough to lift and set a 35' tall tank when our booms only extend just shy of 40'. Plus, installation of some tanks require them to be lifted far over other tanks in an existing tank battery. So, our customers have to hire crane services to unload and install their new purchases. Now, I'm gonna say right out front that the vast majority of these folks know what they are doing. Then there are others:

Most cranes I've seen have quite a few "gauges" that help the operator in the cab. One is a weight/strain gauge that approximates the weight the crane is handling. The other is a pointer that shows how far from vertical the stick is at that point, so the operator knows exactly how far over he's dropping that stick and increasing his radius. Most of these guys are very anal about finding out how much our tanks weigh before they ever hook up, because you've just seen why. Even if the stick is pointing ten degrees from vertical, the small radius increases the force on the crane. As the crane moves and lowers the boom to move the load further away, the "weight" increases with the increased practical radius, which is one side of a right triangle. Simple geometry rules the day - it ain't rocket science.
The crane company, Truck Crane Service, told the homeowner, who did not want to be interviewed, that a computer error is to blame for the mishap. They said there was a lot of margin between the pools weight, and what the crane could handle.
Yeah, no kidding there was a difference. That crane, as far as I can tell, didn't even have any place for counterweights, much less even using any. They didn't bring enough crane, period, and "computer error," as far as I'm concerned, means "operator inputting data error" more than anything.
No one was hurt in the accident. The homeowner says the crane company is doing everything to make things right, including covering the costs of the damages.
They would be doing their damndest to convince their insurance company to cough up. Which probably explains the computer error story.

The dead lifting capability of a crane isn't the only factor in determining how much extra capacity is necessary. Wind speed plays a major part in operating safely as well. If the wind catches that load and it starts swinging, the peak torque figures can easily spike well above the safe capacity in a hurry. I've talked to a few (very few, actually) operators who have had a crane go over, and it usually happened in windy conditions, or the ground they were parked on was unstable and their outriggers sank. There aren't any gauges for those extreme conditions and safety depends solely on the operator. I've had so sit and wait for the wind to go down plenty of times just to get unloaded. All part of the job, as far as I'm concerned.

It is truly a pleasure to work with professionals, and I always thank the "crane guys" after a job. They've got a lot of responsibilities, and they are performing skilled labor.

H/T Darin

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hypocrisy, Much?

I'd bet if you are a known conservative and you get political emails from your friends, you'll be familiar with this one:
A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words, redistribution of wealth.
She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.
One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.
Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.
Her father listened and then asked, 'How is your friend Audrey doing?' She replied, 'Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over.'
Her wise father asked his daughter, 'Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.'
The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, 'That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!'
The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, 'Welcome to the conservative's philosophy.'
A young conservative has run with the idea and interviewed potential taxpaying college students at Berkeley if they would contribute their GPA to their less grade endowed classmates.

link to video and Fox News story
Oliver Darcy, a recent college graduate, proposes that students with good grades contribute their GPA to their academically sluggish friends. He argues that this is how the federal government takes wealth from the country’s high wage earners and distributes it to the low income earners.

“They all earn their GPA,” said Darcy in an interview with "Fox and Friends." “So we asked them if they’d be interested in redistributing the GPA points that they earned to students who may be having trouble getting a high GPA.”

Darcy, who films his encounters with teachers and fellow students, doesn’t have much luck selling this theory.

He said many students on college campuses support high taxes on the rich, but when put into relative terms, cringed at the thought of spreading around their academic wealth.

In a video posted on, one student said, “If I do give GPA points to students that don’t deserve it, it isn’t fair, I work for what I have.”

Oliver also goes around campus asking whether students want to sign his petition to pay their share of the national debt – which amounts to nearly $47,000 per person.

This, too, brought mixed reaction, with one student saying the debt isn’t hers because she didn't contribute to it.

And here's the video in question:

link to video and comments on Exposing Leftists

Well, I dunno, I was a naive idealist at that age as well, and my conversion to the Conservative Dark Side was not from taxes but gun rights. The seeds for dissent in the liberal ranks were planted by several of my teachers. I can remember a history teacher asking us which Presidential candidate we'd vote for - the one promising to make things better for everyone by taxing the wealthy and spending the money on the less fortunate, who had been a lifelong politician, or the successful business owner who had vowed to get the budget and taxes under control. We, of course, all chose the former, and were quite shocked when our teacher revealed he'd choose the latter. His reasoning was that he'd rather see someone who had actually run a business handling his tax money in a responsible manner. We weren't converted on the spot, but it was quite a chunk of thinking to digest at that age.

And to be fair, I think we all know that Darcy chose the epicenter of liberal thinking and knew exactly what to expect. He was not disappointed for sure. Were I to do the same with universities in Kansas, I'd want to go to KU. If I went to K-State, I'd be more likely to find people who'd argue the premise of the question about redistributing GPA in the first place.

Nonetheless, it's an interesting view into a certain mindset.

H/T Ace

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wow, What A Post!

I'm sure that y'all know that Scott Adams writes the Dilbert comic strip, and has a blog. He also isn't afraid to mix it up and say what he thinks. To me, he's got some odd ideas and his thinking seems convoluted at times, but I've always appreciated his honesty.

Well, today he's written a zinger. Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks, has urged fellow CEOs to boycott funding political campaigns until our national debt and spending problems are resolved. Remember when Starbucks was at the center of an open carry controversy? They refused to ban firearms from their stores where open carry and concealed carry of handguns are legal. They stuck to it, too, even with the expected bleating from the Brady Campaign and plenty of others.

That is all beside the point - I was just mentioning that so we'd all kinda put what Mr. Shultz thinks in context. I was going to excerpt some of what Scott Adams had to say, but his post is so well organized that cutting a part of it does a disservice to the rest of the thoughts he has.

Go and read the whole thing.

How Descriptive!

Paints a pretty picture, no? The sad thing is that exact string of words can be found on this post.....

"I'll Give Biffle The Whipping He Needs"

Yesterday, in the rain delayed NASCAR race at Watkins Glen, NY, NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle and Boris Said had some major disagreements about their on track encounters with each other. After the race was over, Boris drove up to Biffle for a confrontation. Said claims Greg punched him a few times while he was still strapped in his car, but after he climbed out, he hid behind his crew members. I saw this, and it did look like that was a legitimate complaint on Boris's part. Naturally Biffle's crew members would protect him, but Biffle appeared to be baiting Boris from a safe place he wasn't willing to abandon. On the other hand, Biffle and other drivers found fault with Boris's actions on track, particularly since he caused a wreck that involved Biffle's Roush-Fenway Racing teammate David Ragan (that was a very scary crash, too).
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Greg Biffle should watch his back, given Boris Said's comments after Monday's rain-delayed Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International. After the drivers traded shots on the race track, they squared off on pit road after Marcos Ambrose took the checkered flag for his first Cup win.
Said had relayed through his spotter that he thought Biffle (who had run out of fuel on Lap 28 and was two laps down) was racing him dirty, Said's crew chief, Nick Harrison, explained after the race. Said told his spotter he wanted to settle the score with Biffle after the race.
After crew members restrained the drivers on pit road, Said didn't mince words when talking about his adversary.
"He's the most unprofessional little scaredy cat I've ever seen in my life," Said fumed. "He wouldn't even fight me like a man after. So, if someone texts me his address, I'll go see him Wednesday at his house and show him what he really needs. He needs a whipping, and I'm going to give it to him. He was flipping me off, giving me the finger. Totally unprofessional, two laps down -- I mean he is a chump.
"I went over there to go talk to him. He wouldn't even let me get out of the car. He comes over and throws a few little baby punches, and then when I get out, he runs away and hides behind some big guys. But he won't hide from me long. I'll find him. I won't settle it out on the track. It's not right to wreck cars, but he'll show up at a race with a black eye one of these days. I'll see him somewhere."
Tonight the Biff will appear on Speed TV's Race Hub on a show titled  "Boris Said Can Find Biffle on NASCAR Race Hub Tuesday Night." Okay, that right there is funny, but what really tickled me was Jenna Fryer, AP's NASCAR reporter who appears on Yahoo's sports pages online as well, had to say on Twitter:
The Biff will be Steve Byrnes' in-studio guest on Race Hub tonight. So that's where he'll be if Boris Said is really looking ...
True Story: A few years ago at Chase media day, hotel security tried to enter Biff's room in middle of night as he was sleeping (cont)
Biff told us he instinctively "reached for his pistol" because he was disoriented and thought he was at home (cont)
That led many of us to wonder aloud why Biff sleeps with a pistol next to his bed. He explained he had been robbed by some n'hood kids (cont
If I recall, the kids robbed him more than once, and the entire experience spooked him. So, the moral of this story is ...
Said better be careful rolling up on The Biff's house, especially if it's nighttime.
Awesome. This is why I like social media so much. Frankly, I do not expect Said to actually find the Biff at home - he's not stupid. The bad publicity he'd get from ending up in jail on assault charges would make any sponsorship money evaporate. It really isn't news that most NASCAR participants are conservative, so guns are a major part of their lives. Many are unabashed hunters who have set up non profit wildlife federations. It might be nice if more were public about their support of the Second Amendment, but again, sponsorship issues muzzle any tendency to bring political issues into the NASCAR environs. They aren't afraid to mention shooting, hunting, religion, capitalism, family or other conservative hot buttons, but they don't prosthelytize. Except for their sponsors products. They are hired salesmen, after all.

At any rate, there has been a bunch of feudin' and fightin' in the ranks lately, and it's been pretty damn entertaining if ya ask me!

As a side note, Jenna Fryer, Bob Pockrass, Dustin Long and Nate Ryan are all NASCAR beat reporters who are a pleasure to read. They are old school reporters who really work to keep any personal bias out of their stories, as opposed to the mainstream media, who have forgotten the difference between reporting and editorializing. So, kudos to them, I say!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Got A Charge Outta This

This is the logo on today's offering at Woot's It's a mashup of the Pink Floyd logo and viral video from last summer. I posted about it before: OMG!!! What Does It Meeeeeeeeeaaaaaan! Just for reference this is the video:


Of course, everyone assumes Yosemite Bear is stoned. He claims he was not.
"Oh my God, it's a double complete rainbow in my front yard!," Paul Vasquez said, while video-taping the latest viral Web sensation. "It's too much! I don't know what it means!"
Vasquez's ecstatic, sobbing reaction to seeing a "double rainbow" proves it was an intense experience.
And now we know it was NOT herbally influenced.
"I was just on pure rainbow power," he told ABC News' "Good Morning America." "I was by myself, and it was just the spirit of the universe influencing me."
His baffling, hilariously over-the-top response has caused almost all viewers of the video to speculate: Is that guy high?
"Look me in the Skype and tell me you were sober when you shot this?" "Good Morning America" host Bill Weir pressed Vasquez in an interview via Skype.
"I'm a pretty happy guy," Vasquez admits. "I mean, there's some other videos on my YouTube page where I was a little high, but not that one."
Vasquez, who sometimes goes by the name "Yosemite Bear," previously drove trucks long-haul, trained as a cage fighter and now operates his own farm, according to an interview he previously gave to the website Urlesque.

Previously drove trucks long haul? Yeah, those pesky random drug screenings are like total downers on an awesome sunshiney day, dude.  Not stoned? Only in the Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds with Happy Smurfs riding Cute Disney Forest Creatures world he inhabits. Farmer? Indoor with grow lights, perhaps? Cage fighter? Whoops! In case he reads this, all satire, dude. Sooooo sorry.

Like the shirt, though.

Gettin' Even!


Except for the ears, the Big Buck Bunny could be my twin. Heh.

Be sure to watch the scene after all the credits roll - the bunny isn't the only one getting some revenge.

H/T Nunkle Kim

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Twenty Nine Years Ago Today

Dang! Almost missed this one! Twenty nine years ago today, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released. Of course, us guys remember this movie for the iconic scene represented by the above picture of Phoebe Cates removing her bikini top in a fantasy of Judge Reinhold's. This scene came in number one on Mr. Skin's The Top 100 Celebrity Nude Scenes.

Rrrrrowhhhrrrr I say.

(If you wanna see Ms. Cate's boobies, you can here, but you'll have to create a free account and sign in. Don't ask me how I know. Oh, and need I say - NSFW????)

H/T Ace

Must Be Some Dirt In My Eyes

Go. Read.

Trust me.

H/T Firehand

Friday, August 12, 2011

Apologies to Sammy Davis Jr.


That's right kids! The Government Can! I just feel all warm and runny now!

H/T Nunkle Kim

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Did He or Didn't He?


Only his chair knows for sure!

Of course, this is Barney Frank we're talking about here - so with his usual diarrhea of the mouth going on, and his figurative defecating all over us, we're probably lucky this was only a fart. We now have audio proof that he runs out of both ends continuously with no shame what so ever. Typical politician - acting like nothing is wrong in the mistaken belief that we won't notice that they're lying, farting or covering us with BS.

H/T Ace

Monday, August 08, 2011

Send Me To Japan, Post Haste!

For a suggested donation of ¥1,000 ($12.94 at the time of writing), the average Jo is allowed five squeezes of a pair of breasts, with all proceeds going to the Japan Foundation for AIDS Prevention. The pop group in question is Marshmallow 3D, an 'idol unit' that, according to The Real Live Web, have hopes of becoming a popular pop sensation – although the fact that this particular 'jun ai' ('pure love') trio were put together by Paradise TV suggests that they might not be quite so innocent.
What?!?!? They expect nuns to volunteer for this "duty?" The "singers" might be porn stars? Well, color me shocked!  Thirteen bucks sounds like a helluva deal to this tubby trucker. Too bad the wondrous event is clear on the other side of the globe!

I'm not gonna give up hope just yet. Maybe this idea could spread to this side of the planet. It's for a good cause, after all. Who wouldn't wanna jump on board for a good cause? I'd imagine the cost per squeeze could vary depending on the star power (and other factors) of the singers involved. I'd bet Dolly Parton could command a small fortune, but Barbra Streisand would have to pay the squeezers. Just sayin.'

H/T Ace

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Things YOU Don't See Just Every Day

Well, I don't see this stuff every day, either.

Those three mesh grain bin lookin' things to the left of the highway? Corn cribs. No one uses them much anymore, and I've noticed over the years that the few that are left are disappearing. Very few of them are in the good shape these are. Corn used to be harvested on the cob and stored in that state, and the bins had to be ventilated to help dry and keep the ears dry. Modern combines remove the corn from the cob, and there isn't much market for dent corn on the cob these days, either. These are just north of Valentine, NE on US83.

This is a big drilling rig in action in the Bakken Formation near Ray, ND. The solid looking vertical mass on the left of the tower assembly is actually a vertical stack of drill stem - the pipe that the driller uses to extend the bit as it drills lower and lower. In the old days, roughnecks would sling chains around the pipe to loosen and tighten the joints as pipe was added or removed, which resulted in an identifying characteristic of roughnecks - missing fingers. Now it's all hydraulic clamps, but being a roughneck is still very dangerous work. Those tanks to the left of the rig? Three are steel and my company built and hauled them, and the one to the far left is fiberglass. Our customer buys those from a more local company (our versions are superior, but cost more without taking delivery into account). We set them for our customer as well. The raw crude has salt water in it, and a separator/heater (keep in mind how cold it gets here) directs the water to the fiberglass tank and the cleaned crude to the steel tanks. Some areas require more water to crude storage and some do not - a company we haul to in the Panhandle area uses a four steel to one water tank ratio for their wells. Some just take smaller water tanks.

This is a shot of part of the climb out of the Little Missouri River on US85 south of Watford City, ND. The area is in the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I knew this picture would suck because of the low light conditions - the sky was very dark to the south, and I ended up running through a toad strangler before the day was done. The others I took were just too blurry.

But, after road construction stopped the forward wheels of progress, the more stable platform partially made up for the low light. If you look slightly to the left of the very center of the picture just a tad above the greenery, you can see what to me looks like two caves. I doubt I'll be exploring those any time soon, but it was cool to see them.

The view slightly north of the previous pic.

Farmers had a habit of parking their old machinery on top of these hills next to the road - and Robert has a term for that I have forgotten. When I was in this country custom harvesting wheat thirty years ago, it seemed every hilltop had something parked on it. Now, not so much. I suspect that collectors of old machinery have rounded up the majority of the elderly equipment.

I finally broke out the new camera, so these next pics might be better than the ol' Droid! At any rate, this was the predominant type of machine found on those hills. This would be a thresher. Back when Moby Dick was a minnow, wheat was harvested in a far different fashion than now. The ripe wheat was cut manually by people using scythes and bundled into shocks (Wichita State University's mascot is an anthropomorphic wheat shock - thus the "Shockers"). The shocks would be gathered (by hand) into large wagons and hauled to the thresher. The threshers used the steam powered tractors of that time to power their operations.

This thresher is all folded up. The far left end would have the feeder tray unfolded and the shocks would be fed into the machine there - thrown by hand by people with pitchforks. The far right spout would be rotated around to dump the straw and chaff into a wagon to be hauled away, and the middle spout was set above another wagon for the grain.

Harvest used to be a long drawn out labor intensive affair. The advent of the pull type combine ("combining" all those operations into one) and eventually the self propelled combine really opened up the ability of the American farmer to more efficiently grow more wheat far more economically.

Another old warrior.

South of Thedford, NE is a pretty neat little valley formed by the Dismal River. There is a scenic byway there with an overlook I'd always wanted to check out, so this trip home I took the extra fifteen minutes. However, the overlook required a bunch of climbing. This fat boy? Not gonna happen. So I took these pictures from the bottom. You can see the bridge carrying US83 in the picture above.

I'd always thought the view was rather idyllic. The reality is that the air isn't moving, and it's humid. Buggy, too. Sure looks purty at seventy mph over the bridge, though.

This is the view of the North Platte River from the US83 bridge at - appropriately enough, North Platte, NE. I'm not sure if this picture gives y'all the idea of how the river is so very near flood stage. This bridge makes me nervous because it is so close to the water, but lately it is very close to the water, and has flooded over and blocked traffic for a time.

So, hope you enjoy!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Oil Boom!

I just got home from a long trip into the Bakken Formation oilfield. My last trip there was when snow was still on the ground - but that was just a few months ago. Winter lasts forever "up there." The whole area is hopping, but it seems even more active now than then.

We hear about how our regulatory agencies restrict drilling for oil all the time. I know this is true. But when I read someone bitching about how we really need to open up the Bakken for more exploration so the .gov should relax the regulations - well, while I'm all for relaxing what I consider to be unnecessary and restrictive rules that have never been voter reviewed, I'm not sure how that is going to help that area.

The major area of concern is the northwest corner of North Dakota. The eastern border of Montana has a lot of activity, and Canada has a lot of drilling going on right across the border to the north. Everything north of Interstate 94 and west of Bismarck is a madhouse right now. Everywhere you see billboards at fast food places begging for help. There are huge billboards on the outskirts of Minot and Williston advertising new apartment complexes expected to open soon and are now accepting reservations (some motels, too). Traffic is heavy - and it's oil service industry trucks. Mud hauling pneumatics. Water and oil tankers. Frakking trailers. Rigs on the move. Flatbeds with drill stem loads. End, belly and side dumps. You name it.

US Highway 2 is a four lane highway from Minot to Williston. I've been on it several times, but this time the traffic was unreal for such a deserted looking rural area. The traffic in and around Bismarck and Minot is pretty impressive for such a "backwater." I got into a sort of rush hour in Williston - the little truck stops there were backed up to the street with trucks waiting to fuel. When I went through Watford City, the tiny convenience store with two lanes to fuel big rigs had them waiting five or six deep.

Housing and motels? Lots of new trailer houses on the move. When I got off US2, I saw collections of camping trailers surrounded by cars and trucks parked out near some farmer's shelterbelt - home sweet home to them (I hope they had a sewer system at least). I saw an ad for a sheds converted to dormitory style rooms (complete with satellite tv, kitchenettes and shared bathrooms) for rent or lease.

Oh, and motels? Booked ahead for weeks. Bad news for the hapless and uninformed traveler planning on stopping in that area on a whim - they might have to drive for hours to find a place. We do. Our guys that go there every week stay in Belfield because the motel there keeps some rooms for them. We give them a lot of business. Lately, the work is about a three hour drive from that motel, so the workday includes a solid six hours of driving time before getting to the site. We can't take our wide loads there directly, because of road construction and the last round of flooding started some sinkholes on another north/south corridor (North Dakota Highway 22 north of Killdeer), so it's closed. We take our loads from Belfield east to Bismarck, north to Minot and then back west within sixty or so miles of Williston. Ideally, since our customer is in that area, that would be the best place for our operations to center, but it ain't happenin.' We were working north of Killdeer earlier, so Dickinson would have been the logical choice. We've also set a bunch of batteries in the New Town area in the past. But we, like everyone else, have no choice.

It's no different for any of the roustabouts, roughnecks, construction crews, or any other industry the oil boom needs. The motel parking lots are full of fairly new pickups, many with service beds and all dirty. The better grade motels have more pickups without service beds - supervisor trucks. Dirty. The eighteen wheelers all need a bath. Our trucks kinda stand out up there, because we're required to keep 'em clean, and if we get up there without getting rained on, they're pretty shiny.  We've got a stellar rep for the quality of our tanks, plus we've got the best lookin' rigs in the oil patch.

At any rate, I've got to wonder just how this area could stand some more stimulus. Where are the new drilling rigs gonna come from? How about some more labor? Can't get enough as it is. Where the hell are they gonna eat and sleep? How are the roads going to be able to handle the extra traffic? How are they gonna handle the extra oil? The systems handling the crude are maxed out now.

You'd have to get the feds involved. That's an idea I'm not especially fond of, because of the stellar record they enjoy in these matters. Yeah, the CCC worked in an era when one could conceivably conscript workers who were willing to work. Now?

And to be fair, the local and state governments are stepping it up. North Dakota has made their state business friendly, plus they are working on that infrastructure thing. There are only so many roads you can turn into four lanes in a short period of time. Plus, let's be fair. Let's say you are a member of a city commission. Would you be in favor of borrowing a ton of money to expand your sewer and water systems, plus expand your streets and so on and so forth if you weren't sure just how long this gravy train is gonna run? There is a reason this is called a boom, because it's generally followed by a bust. No one wants to get hung out to dry with a bunch of bonds coming due for improvements that required a greatly increased population that didn't pan out. No business owner wants to have a brand new motel with no guests, or a McDonalds with no customers.

From what I see, we need new refineries and the pipelines to feed them more than anything else. That is where the .gov needs a fire lit under their posteriors. Supposedly there is more crude coming out already than the closer refineries can handle.

So the next time you get an email or read an article going on endlessly about how the Bakken could keep the country going with oil imports, but it's a Big Secret or something and the .gov is doing all it can to prevent it or restrict it and if we could just get the .gov off it's ass and out of our way the free market could get down to bidness and use that there massive oil reserve - welp, I gotta ask just how the hell can an unregulated market do it faster? As I've said before, it's maxed out now. Don't get me wrong, this is no endorsement of the regulatory maze currently in place. The sky isn't falling in this case.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

First They Came For The Smokers

And I didn't say anything, because I didn't smoke. Then they came for the fat people. I didn't say anything, for I was not overweight (not one bit true, but bear with me here). Then they came after sodium, but I didn't say anything, for I did not live in NYC under Nanny Bloomberg.

Then they came for

Tony the Tiger?
The Obama administration is after your Lucky Charms, or at least your children’s. The public comment period closed on July 14 for a set of “voluntary” guidelines for the marketing of food to children. If adopted, these rules will transform the advertising of breakfast cereals.
Put forward by an interagency working group, the guidelines will establish nutritional standards that most cereals flunk—and not just those of the “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs” variety. Corn Flakes will not be advertisable to children, along with Raisin Bran, Special K, Rice Krispies, and Wheaties. Plain Cheerios squeak by the proposed 2016 rules but fall foul of the “ultimate goal” for sodium effective in 2021.
While cereals are the most obvious targets of the guidelines, all foods marketed to children will have to meet the proposed nutritional standards. Many don’t. Peanut butter (both smooth and crunchy) has too much saturated fat. Jelly has too much sugar. Forget about apple-cinnamon instant oatmeal and Mott’s apple sauce.
These foods may still appear in grocery stores, but not in brightly colored packages adorned with cartoon characters. Toucan Sam, Cap’n Crunch, and Tony the Tiger will have to retire.

Are you freaking kidding me? Well, apparently not. We ignerint gun-totin' Bible thumpin' hicks need tendin' to by our upper crust.

It's all for our own good. Shut up and eat your peas.

H/T Ace

Tuesday, August 02, 2011



I heard about this video on The Bob and Tom Show this morning - apparently it's the latest viral video. So I'm probably a day late and a dollar short, as they say.

Anyways, snakes give me the heebie jeebies, and I sure wouldn't expect one to climb from under the hood while motoring down the road. I'd have probably rolled my pickup right then and there.

Seen at Primordial Slack

Kansas Rain Gauge

Believe me when I tell you there has been no danger of the gauge overflowing, unless the wind is right and it fills with dirt.

H/T PeeWee