Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reporting In

I've noticed one thing about blogs - if you want people to read - ya gotta keep updating the dern thing. So, here is your intrepid tubby trucker, reporting in on a fine morning in Belle Fourche, SD on my way to New Town, ND. It's gonna be one of those weeks - several of us are going to be here for a while. It might be a while before I stay where there is internet access again.

So, here is the thought for the day:

Looking at Capitol Hill is like looking at that Escher picture of the wild geese flying together: makes no fu**ing sense and occasionally sh**s on your head.
--Dennis Miller

This, of course, is the picture:

And, this made me laugh:

So, have a great day and week! Cya later.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Old SNL Skits

RT is filling in for Wyatt this weekend, and she put up a post about William Shatner being snubbed for the new Star Trek movie. In the comments, Mrs. Grim mentioned the Star Trek parodies that SNL did "back when SNL was always funny? (or was I always just on something?)"

So now you know how my brain got us here. Enough links?

Anyways, thanks to satellite television and more channels than I can ever possibly watch, I've actually had the opportunity to watch some of the original SNL episodes. I can tell you a lot of humor has an expiration date. After a while, hearing Francisco Franco is still dead does get old. I think it kinda got old even then. Even with the aid of illicit inhaled substances, which was a sort of tradition on Saturday nights spent in front of the television for some of us.

But, there are shining moments that transcend time and space. There are those skits, played out by humor icons in their early years, that are comic gold. When Chevy Chase was funny, John Belushi was alive, and Elliot Gould was relevant. Like this clip:

SNL: The Final Voyage of the USS Enterprise

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Then there were the famous parody commericals. One never knew when they would come on, so a commercial break might just not really be a commercial break. Kinda put a kink in bathroom breaks, because you just might miss one. This clip is one of the best. It put "Floor Wax AND dessert topping" into our lexicon. All a class clown had to do for a laugh was mention that phrase in an appropriate context, and everyone got it.

I haven't watched the current version of SNL in years, mostly because it has turned preachy and it just isn't funny anymore. They lost me a long time ago.

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Hound

I've mentioned Babs the dog before, but I'm sure most of you don't know anything about her. First, she isn't named after Barbara Streisand. Let's get that out of the way right now. I used to call an ex girlfriend (from Valley Center, niece of a friend at work who set us up, and who dumped me for her ex husband and really screwed me over, but that is another story for another time) Babalicious on the phone for some reason. This dog needed a name, that is what she got.

Babs came into my life not long after Dad died in '98. I noticed Lady's food bowl was emptying out a lot faster than usual - but she wasn't gaining weight. I was working the afternoon shift at the USPS, so I was coming home in the dark. As my headlights swept the yard, I started thinking I was seeing something black and roughly dog sized run away as I drove in.

So, I got a flashlight and checked it out. I was pretty sure it wasn't a skunk, but ya never know out here. It turned out to be a very spooked black dog with some white highlights. She is shaped somewhat like a Newfoundland, but is far smaller.

Anyhow, she absolutely didn't trust me. I'd call to her, and she'd wag her tail and take a step towards me, but that was all. It took a couple weeks of bribing her with dog treats to get her to come to me. At first, I'd throw them to her - she wasn't too sure about eating them at first. Then, I started tossing them a bit closer to me until eventually I had her eating out of my hand.

To this day, if I startle her for some reason, off she goes. Obviously, she had been beaten and turned loose in the country. One fine morning, one of my friends and I were leaning on the back of his pickup talking, and she was lying on the ground a few feet away. She was the subject of the discussion. We were wondering where or who she might have come from. Just as a test, I spoke the word "Puta" in the same tone and level as our conversation. She jumped up and ran. I'm not being racist here, there is plenty of white trash around here that would treat her the same. It was just interesting.

She used to like to chase the rabbits my headlights would reveal from their shield of darkness when I'd come home. A cottontail would bolt in the beams, and off she'd go. One night, a cottontail ran under my truck, followed by a pursuing Babs. I heard the thump. Oh God, I prayed, please let her be okay. I got out and there was no sign of her. Thank You, God. It took a couple of days before she'd come to me again. It was all my fault. She wasn't hurt - I couldn't even find a knot on her head. The cottontail chasing cooled off after that. She still gets one occasionally, just not in front of a moving vehicle. Life is full of lessons, even for dogs.

I've never even tried to put a collar on her. She panics when I do something new. She has no interest in the interior of my truck. When Lady was alive, they'd both about climb in when I'd open the door at homecoming, but Babs was apparently concerned she might miss out on her fair share. Now, she spooks if the wind moves my door. Which is 99% of the time. So, the homecoming schedule is greet me at my door by looking in, getting petted a bit after I step out, and immediately head for the front door. Because it is goody time.

Yeah, I give her goodies for no good reason, usually when I get home. She follows me to the porch, and when I go in to get the said goody, off she goes to her dog house. Then, when I step out, I have to call to her to give her the treat. She acts reluctant, and I sound like I'm begging her to come to me (which basically I am, I guess). If I'm hauling groceries inside, and ruin the regularly scheduled program, she looks longingly through the front door at me to remind me I owe her a treat. It is just a bit of a game she likes to play, so I play it for her.

That is about the only game she plays, if you can call it one. She just won't play. Sometimes, she'll jump forward lifting her front paws off the ground, slightly twisting her body so one is higher than the other. Her version of the Happy Dance. She'll sort of bounce and run at the same time in an evasive pattern when I call her - the Joyous Lope. If she barks, it is generally for a good reason. She's gotten into barking contests with the neighbor's dogs late at night, and a bellow from me quiets her down. I really hate to yell at her, but she's seemed to figure out what I want from her.

She doesn't like gunfire, so range days out here on The Poor Farm find her huddled in her doghouse. Oddly enough, she went hunting for cottontails with me once. Lady was still alive, so they both went. Lady, the hunting breed, was there just in case a dog needed petting. Just in case. Babs actually figured out I was looking for cottontails in those clumps of weeds, and began to inspect them before I got there. We didn't flush anything out, but not for lack of effort. I was carrying a .22 pistol, which doesn't seem to bother her.

She used to take on skunks eating her food. Whew, did she ever. I'm sure she had a few infected bites around her neck - a couple times she swelled up like a balloon under her jaw. Taking Babs to the vet would be a major undertaking - I'd have to hold her and have someone drive us to town. She'd probably never talk to me again. Luckily, she doesn't mind being treated for ticks and fleas. She's never gone into heat, so obviously she has been fixed.

Her attitude about skunks has changed. I heard a bit of a ruckus the other night, and when I turned on the porch light, she was eating from her dish to keep a skunk from getting it all. Oh boy. I don't blame her, but I don't want to get sprayed if I step out during the night.

She's still a one man dog. My neighbors feed her when I'm gone for several days, and they report that she will allow them to pet her once in a very great while. My sister has probably had the best luck with Babs, but generally I have to be there. She will take treats from people's hands, but hang around? Not so much. Sis thinks Babs would defend me were I attacked, but I tend to think she'd be hiding in her doghouse. Who knows?

It doesn't matter to me, because I know she loves me. Her golden brown eyes shine at me when I get home. She goes into a wagging fit when I drive in the yard. If she is out exploring, she always comes running in to see me. Yeah, she likes the treats, but she really likes being petted. Sometimes she'll even groan when I rub her ears a certain way. She likes to "inspect" me with her nose - she knows if I've cheated on her and petted another dog. She doesn't seem to mind, she just wants to know. She gives me the same level of inspection if I'm all greasy from work - she just wants to know what I've been up to.

She really is a perfect dog for me - she is so low maintenance. She only eats what she needs, so I can stock up for a couple days for her when I'm gone. Babs lives outside, and likes it. She waters herself from the stock tanks for the cattle. She's not demanding at all.

Do you think I've come to love this well behaved, quiet, highly intelligent, reserved little dog? You betcher ass I do. I hope there is a special kind of hell for the people who dumped her out here to fend for herself. Honestly, this brings a tear to my eye, because I have to wonder just how much was beaten out of her. How much fun she has missed because of the lack of trust ingrained in her.

I thank God she came to me - someone who gave a crap about her. A few miles one way or another, and she'd have more than likely been shot. People out here get tired of dealing with strays, particularly if they mess with cattle or even look like they might. Babs is fine with cattle, but that isn't the point. I know I feel blessed by having her around for these past seven or eight years. I know that if something happens to me, the neighbors would take her in and she would adapt.

I also know what will happen when she gets too old. No vet for her - I cannot see doing something totally new and completely scary to her on her last day. How would that be humane? The day is coming, yet it is a ways off. The temperature extremes bother her now, where before a really hot or cold day made no difference. Sometimes she is a bit stiff climbing the porch steps. Mortality is creeping up on her.

But, that is a bridge that will be crossed later. Prepared for, but unnecessary at this time. Meanwhile, there are ears that need rubbed, smells to be investigated, and well deserved treats to be consumed. I know I'm enjoying the ride.


Rated "R" for language. Sometimes The Onion's satire is almost the truth.

Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters

H/T RightWingSparkle


Mary Katherine Ham is a babe fer sure, but her brother has some mad skilz.

(It's a video that cannot be imbedded w/o bucks, I tried!)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So True

Halloween Goody

You Could Be a Vampire... If You Had To

Like most people, the thought of being a vampire has crossed your mind. But you're not sure if you'd do it, even if you could.
Living forever doesn't sound half bad, if you could live forever with the people you love the most.
But do vampires even love? And would the vampire version of you even be you?
It's all too much to contemplate. Luckily, the chances of you ever becoming a vampire are astronomically low.

What you would like best about being a vampire: Living forever

What you would like least about being a vampire: Blood stained teeth

Mwaahh Haaa Haaa Haaa! I vaaant to dreeenk your blood!

Nah, not so much. I'd rather have a steak.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Today's Funny

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

People of the Gun

Well, whaddya know - I'm on the People of the Gun website.

Thanks, Jeff Soyer.

How to Cook a Deere

I got these pictures in an email today, and as usual a backstory is lacking. Oh well, the photos are impressive on their own. As far as I know, that is about $120K going up in smoke without the cost of the header platform.

Notice how the unloading auger is starting to sag from the heat. This picture is obviously doctored, because Rosie tells us fire cannot melt steel.

Thanks to local stunt pilot Dave for sending this to me!

Tattoo Remover

This video has been around the email circuit a while, but I think it's one of the better viral videos out there.

Thanks to my friend Kyleen!

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Great Timewaster


Found this at Ace of Spades. Called in sick today, so time isn't a problem.

When you click your mouse, it creates a circle of destruction that catches the little dots. So, when they say you need four of ten, you have to anticipate the four going into a small area. Right now, I'm stuck on level twelve - fifty five of sixty.

Edit: It turns out when you get through level twelve, yer done and submit your score.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Works for Me!

Originally here, I found it here.

Winter Wonderland

Yes, winter is almost here. It is here in the Rockies - they are getting snow this week. As I write this, Loveland Pass is chain restricted, as is eastbound I70 at the Eisenhower Tunnel. So, snow and ice are a fact of life for me for a while.

Most people think of winter with a fondness in their hearts. Memories of hot chocolate beside warm fires, children with rosy cheeks building snowmen, the stillness of a fresh snow, and the safety of being behind warm walls watching through frosted panes as the world is changed into something surreal and wonderful.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but attitudes are a bit different on the Poor Farm. I have memories of nearly frozen extremities from being outside feeding equally miserable cattle. Memories of breaking ice on water tanks so the cattle had something to drink, and doing that several times a day. Memories of struggling to get a tractor to start so the cattle could be fed, or snow moved out of the way. During one blizzard as a teenager, we dragged bales over the drifts that had covered the feedlot fence to get something for the cattle to eat. Of course, there were the wonderful times we lost power for several days. Just this last winter, The Poor Farm was without power for nine days after a particularly severe ice storm. Apparently, I'm on the "end of the line." The weather wasn't bad for all those days - it just took the local cooperative that long to get everything fixed upline from me.

This is just an example of the damage to one line on one road. It even pulled down a string of high power towers - the huge steel towers that send electricity from a power plant. What a mess it was.

This picture was taken this last winter as well. It was west of Meeker Colorado on C64. I had unloaded tanks in Vernal that morning, and ran into the snow in Colorado on the way home. this truck was loaded with sheep. The road was blocked and traffic stopped until the sheep that were alive were offloaded and herded into a paddock next to the road, several hundred yards away. Since I wasn't really into getting snowed in that area with a day cab, I got out and helped herd sheep until they let us through. I'm not sure why he lost control, but it is a very narrow road with dropoffs at the shoulder. We haul oversize on it year round - with escorts (required by Colorado on that road).

This is a picture of a truck I drove hauling grain and feed products - I got out of it about thirteen years ago. It was a bit of a heavy hauler - I could gross 85,500 lbs as opposed to a five axle rig at 80,000 lbs in Kansas. One of my main "runs" was out of Emporia KS to Ingalls KS hauling protein supplement. The cattle and grain company that I hauled for had a feed mill in Emporia and feedlots in western Kansas they supplied. The protein supplement they made had a tendency to "set up" in the bins (they did on the trailer, too!), so inventory was "just in time." The feedlots didn't want the stuff sitting in their bins turning into a large chunk, so they wanted just enough to feed.

Just a bit of background info on cattle feeding at feedlots: most have progressive rations. The starter rations have more roughage, and as the cattle are acclimated to one ration, they are upgraded to one with less roughage and more grain and supplements. The cattle gain weight far faster this way. If for some reason the cattle "go off feed," the process has to be stepped back because they won't eat the "hotter" rations. This costs the feedlot and their customers a lot of money. Feedlots don't generally own the cattle they feed - they are custom feeders and have a variety of programs for cattle investors or a customer can ship their cattle in to be fed to bring them to slaughter weight. So, you don't want the cattle to go off feed. You want them eating like machines and gaining weight if there is a profit to be made. Margins are tight even when the market is good.

So, I had picked up a load of protein at Emporia, and the weather west of Hutchinson was pretty bad. I had to deliver the load the next morning, or the feedlot would run out of the supplement. This could, and probably would, throw the entire lot off feed. I couldn't stop and crawl in the sleeper, which was what I really wanted to do. Pressure? You bet. Ya think I wanted to be responsible for throwing a whole feedlot worth of cattle off feed? Not so much.It normally took about two and a half hours to drive from Hutchinson to my boss's place. It took me about six hours that night.

That trip is burned into my memory like a soldering iron on wood (head made of wood? Be quiet). Everything was great until I was a few miles west of Hutch. The snow was blowing and visibility was just beyond the hood. There wasn't much snow accumulation at first, but I started to break small drifts and the road was becoming covered. I left Reno county, and about halfway through Stafford county, I fell in behind a snow plow. Which was a good thing. He was going a lot slower than I was, but oh well - I had a freshly plowed road to drive on. Oh, yeah!

But when he got to the Edwards county line, he turned around and went back. The state boys in Edwards county were apparently at home, warm and comfy, because they sure as hell hadn't been out on the road since the first snowflake fell. The road got pretty rough - I was breaking drifts and falling to bare pavement, then snowpack - all alternating. When I got to Ford county, there was evidence that snowplows had been there, but the wind and snow had filled in a lot of their work.

The real excitement came when I went through Bellefont. US50 curves around the tiny spot on the map, and I could see a car ahead of me going through the curves. It was moving, but as the road curved, I lost 'em.

I came around the gentle curve and spotted the car. I realized it wasn't moving. No brake lights or flashers, just fracking parked in the middle of the road. Okay, so I'd have to steer around them. No big deal.

Big deal. Steering input wasn't equaling output. I was steering with little result. Possible jackknife city happening here. I fed in a bit more steering angle and finally saw some results. The truck was moving to the left of the car, and I rumbled by them. I hope I gave them a heart attack. After I picked mine up off the floor and put it back, it did occur to me that I had the twenty two wheeled monster pointed at the ditch on the left side of the road. Steering it to the right seemed to work as well as going to the left. It finally came around, and I was trucking onward in the correct lane.

When I got to Dodge City, I had a decision to make. At the time, the bypass wasn't a Super Two lane road, in fact, it was narrow and had some pretty good dropoffs away from the shoulder, with no guards. If a truck went off roading there, it wouldn't be good - maybe a twenty or thirty foot drop. Through town it was.

Everything was fine until I got to the truck stop on the east side of town. The highway is divided there. Pandemonium reigned. The truck stop was full, and trucks were parked in the entrances and on the road - in fact, the whole westbound lane was completely blocked by trucks parked willy nilly. I had to move over to the eastbound lanes and drive by, running the red light there. It was icy and snowpacked, no one was moving, and I wasn't going to stop and risk getting stuck.

I finally made it to my boss's place at Cimarron. I put some fuel on, and parked for the rest of the night. I didn't set my brakes - they'd have frozen and I'd have really been parked. The lot was level, so there was no danger of rolling away, and I'd have to roll through a blanket of snow as well.

The next morning, the roads were closed. I followed a snowplow over to the feedyard, and delivered the load. They were just about out, and damn glad to see me. All the drift busting had pushed the plastic bumper up quite a ways. There were a couple of sheet metal straps used as braces that had buckled. I heated them up with a torch and straightened them out, so there was basically no damage.

I am a gearhead. I enjoy operating mechanical things. I've sacrificed much of my hearing to straight pipes and noisy tractors. And it's experiences like this that have put white highlights in my beard and hair. I've had quite a few similar drives, but not as long as this one. Sometimes, I'm even able to stop, get a room, and wait it out. Believe me, that is my preference.

So, remember when it's snowing out, if it is all sunshine and lollipops for you - great! But it is highly likely that someone out there isn't enjoying the weather as much as you. Like me, for instance. Or any of my neighbors with cattle. Or any rural electric coop linemen. I think you get the idea.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Laptop

Gah. My old laptop just lost all it's networking abilities. This has happened before, and it's a hardware issue. Last time it happened, my factory six month warranty was in effect, and I got it back with the hard drive wiped - they'd done a restore disk to it. Of course, as part of the process, I had already done that. They didn't tell me what they'd done, but I'm sure it got a new motherboard.

So, I'd bought a three year warranty from Wally World, but of course I couldn't find the stupid receipt. Getting a receipt requires the date of purchase. Gee, seems like I don't have that.

I'd bet a new MB would cost my hiney, so I bit the bullet and bought a new laptop today. With Windows Vista. I can't get Eudora to download emails. It is the default mail program. Its included in the programs for Windows Firewall. I can't seem to find what is going on in the trial Norton Security setup - it doesn't have a section for allowing certain programs - it just says what it will do for an email program.

Windows Email didn't import my messages worth a crap - I've had to install Outlook on the old laptop to import and export my address book. Messages, not so much.

I like Spybot Search and Destroy. I cannot get administrator rights to immunize in that program. I see I have Windows Defender - which is supposed to do the same thing, so I'm probably SOL regarding my favorite antispyware programs.

What a frikkin' pain.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

For the Mothers

Heh. "Just because because because."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Even More Wildlife

You know, eet may be possible to be TOO attractive

Yes, here at The Poor Farm, we try to accommodate as much wildlife as we can stand. As I said earlier, I found a rattler when I stepped out to view nature. Tonight, as I walked out the door for the same purpose, I heard a scampering sound. My security light is getting a bit dilatory lately, so I had to wave my hand over the sensor. In the same spot I shot the rattler was a tall, bushy black tail with white trim. I was seeing it from the rear.

I quietly opened the door, stepped inside and gently shut the door.

I've fought a couple battles with these creatures, and while I won, they were Pyrrhic victories. One winter, I had several encounters with one under similar circumstances. Lady, my Golden Retriever, would get upset when the skunk would eat her food. She'd stamp her feet, and he'd just turn around and present arms. He'd continue to eat her food.

He'd do the same with me when I'd go outside and he was there. It seemed he always caught me off guard and I was never armed. I wasn't about to go back in, get a gun, come back out and get sprayed. I was going to have to catch him off guard, and be armed at the same time.

One night, it happened. I heard a bit of commotion outside my front door, so I grabbed a .22 semiauto rifle. I turned the light on and there he was, facing me. He didn't see me, so I stepped out and shot him. He didn't die. As he scrabbled off the porch, I tried for another shot. My pickup, my SUV, my propane tank and even my dog were in the line of fire as he ran to the side of the house. He then used a hole I've since covered up to crawl under the house. At around 2am, he expired. Guess how I knew.

It was below freezing, but I opened all the windows, burned all the scented candles I owned (all of two or three), and used up all the air freshener to no avail. It took about six weeks before the scent was completely gone.

I couldn't even get to where he died - believe me I checked. There is a cellar under the house, but it isn't a full cellar. The foundation has that end of the house partitioned off.

The next skunk was a female. I had determined that I wanted a one shot kill, so I had the large loop '94 carbine loaded with 30-30s ready. One night, I heard something, so I turned on the porch light. Sure enough, she was there. I got on my hands and knees. She was slightly facing away - I didn't want her to see me. I slightly opened the door and stuck the barrel out. Blam! She was dead! Success!

Until I tried to find a shovel. It took maybe three minutes, but when I got back, it looked like thin shaving cream that had sat out for too long had come out her rear end. Plus, there was the smell. After hosing off the porch, using all my dish soap and some laundry soap, the smell only lingered for a couple days.

After Babs came into my life, the skunks were history. She took them on, and wasn't afraid of the smell. Go get 'em Babs, 'cause I don't really feel like fighting them again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Seven Words

Ripped off from The Digital Brownshirt:

1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Female...... Any part under a car's hood.
Male..... The strap fastener on a woman's bra.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Female.... Fully opening up one's self emotionally to another.
Male.... Playing football without a cup.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Female.... The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one's partner.
Male.... Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip with the boys.

4. COMMITMENT (ko-mit-ment) n.
Female.... A desire to get married and raise a family.
Male.... Trying not to hit on other women while out with this one.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Female.... A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male.... Anything that can be done while drinking beer.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Female.... An embarrassing byproduct of indigestion.
Male.... A source of entertainment, self expression, male bonding.

7 . REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Female.... A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Male.... A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

U.S. considered radiological weapon

No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

From Yahoo:

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer Mon Oct 8, 4:23 PM ET

WASHINGTON - In one of the longest-held secrets of the Cold War, the U.S. Army explored the potential for using radioactive poisons to assassinate "important individuals" such as military or civilian leaders, according to newly declassified documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Approved at the highest levels of the Army in 1948, the effort was a well-hidden part of the military's pursuit of a "new concept of warfare" using radioactive materials from atomic bombmaking to contaminate swaths of enemy land or to target military bases, factories or troop formations.

Military historians who have researched the broader radiological warfare program said in interviews that they had never before seen evidence that it included pursuit of an assassination weapon. Targeting public figures in such attacks is not unheard of; just last year an unknown assailant used a tiny amount of radioactive polonium-210 to kill Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London.

No targeted individuals are mentioned in references to the assassination weapon in the government documents declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the AP in 1995.

The decades-old records were released recently to the AP, heavily censored by the government to remove specifics about radiological warfare agents and other details. The censorship reflects concern that the potential for using radioactive poisons as a weapon is more than a historic footnote; it is believed to be sought by present-day terrorists bent on attacking U.S. targets.

The documents give no indication whether a radiological weapon for targeting high-ranking individuals was ever used or even developed by the United States. They leave unclear how far the Army project went. One memo from December 1948 outlined the project and another memo that month indicated it was under way. The main sections of several subsequent progress reports in 1949 were removed by censors before release to the AP.

The broader effort on offensive uses of radiological warfare apparently died by about 1954, at least in part because of the Defense Department's conviction that nuclear weapons were a better bet.

Whether the work migrated to another agency such as the CIA is unclear. The project was given final approval in November 1948 and began the following month, just one year after the CIA's creation in 1947.

It was a turbulent time on the international scene. In August 1949, the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb, and two months later Mao Zedong's communists triumphed in China's civil war.

As U.S. scientists developed the atomic bomb during World War II, it was recognized that radioactive agents used or created in the manufacturing process had lethal potential. The government's first public report on the bomb project, published in 1945, noted that radioactive fission products from a uranium-fueled reactor could be extracted and used "like a particularly vicious form of poison gas."

Among the documents released to the AP — an Army memo dated Dec. 16, 1948, and labeled secret — described a crash program to develop a variety of military uses for radioactive materials. Work on a "subversive weapon for attack of individuals or small groups" was listed as a secondary priority, to be confined to feasibility studies and experiments.

The top priorities listed were:

• 1 — Weapons to contaminate "populated or otherwise critical areas for long periods of time."

• 2 — Munitions combining high explosives with radioactive material "to accomplish physical damage and radioactive contamination simultaneously."

• 3 — Air and-or surface weapons that would spread contamination across an area to be evacuated, thereby rendering it unusable by enemy forces.

The stated goal was to produce a prototype for the No. 1 and No. 2 priority weapons by Dec. 31, 1950.

The 4th ranked priority was "munitions for attack on individuals" using radioactive agents for which there is "no means of therapy."

"This class of munitions is proposed for use by secret agents or subversive units for lethal attacks against small groups of important individuals, e.g., during meetings of civilian or military leaders," it said.

Assassination of foreign figures by agents of the U.S. government was not explicitly outlawed until President Gerald R. Ford signed an executive order in 1976 in response to revelations that the CIA had plotted in the 1960s to kill Cuban President Fidel Castro, including by poisoning.

The Dec. 16, 1948, memo said a lethal attack against individuals using radiological material should be done in a way that makes it impossible to trace the U.S. government's involvement, a concept known as "plausible deniability" that is central to U.S. covert actions.

"The source of the munition, the fact that an attack has been made, and the kind of attack should not be determinable, if possible," it said. "The munition should be inconspicuous and readily transportable."

Radioactive agents were thought to be ideal for this use, the document said, because of their high toxicity and the fact that the targeted individuals could not smell, taste or otherwise sense the attack.

"It should be possible, for example, to develop a very small munition which could function unnoticeably and which would set up an invisible, yet highly lethal concentration in a room, with the effects noticeable only well after the time of attack," it said.

"The time for lethal effects could, it is believed, be controlled within limits by the amount of radioactive agent dispersed. The toxicities are such that should relatively high concentrations be required for early lethal effects, on a weight basis, even such concentrations may be found practicable."

Tom Bielefeld, a Harvard physicist who has studied radiological weapons issues, said that while he had never heard of this project, its technical aims sounded feasible.

Bielefeld noted that polonium, the radioactive agent used to kill Litvinenko in November 2006, has just the kind of features that would be suitable for the lethal mission described in the Dec. 16 memo.

Barton Bernstein, a Stanford history professor who has done extensive research on the U.S. military's radiological warfare efforts, said he did not believe this aspect had previously come to light.

"This is one of those items that surprises us but should not shock us, because in the Cold War all kinds of ways of killing people, in all kinds of manners — inhumane, barbaric and even worse — were periodically contemplated at high levels in the American government in what was seen as a just war against a hated and hateful enemy," Bernstein said.

The project was run by the Army Chemical Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Alden H. Waitt, and supervised by a now-defunct agency called the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. The project's first chief was Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, the Army's head of the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bombs. The radiological project was approved by Groves' successor, Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Nichols.

The released documents were in files of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project held by the National Archives.

Among the officials copied in on the Dec. 16 memo were Herbert Scoville, Jr., then the technical director of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project and later the CIA's deputy director for research, and Samuel T. Cohen, a physicist with RAND Corp. who had worked on the Manhattan Project.

The initial go-ahead for the Army to pursue its radiological weapons project was given in May 1948, a point in U.S. history, following the successful use of two atomic bombs against Japan to end World War II, when the military was eager to explore the implications of atomic science for the future of warfare.

In a July 1948 memo outlining the program's intent, before specifics had received final approval, a key focus was on long-lasting contamination of large land areas where residents would be told that unless the areas were abandoned they probably would die from radiation within one to 10 years.

"It is thought that this is a new concept of warfare, with results that cannot be predicted," it said.

Oh Reeaaaallly! This is news? C'mon, we'd have been stupid not to have been looking into this as a weapon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Google Reader

I read a lot of blogs. Make that a LOT of blogs. It seems I keep adding one or two every week or so. I've tried some RSS (Real Simple Syndication) readers in the past, but they were slow to load and locked up if I hurried them. I've been using Firefox for the past several years, and some of the blogs I have bookmarked aren't Live Bookmarks.

Firefox will keep track of new posts if you load a bookmark as a Live Bookmark, and it has the option of opening all the posts in tabs.

As I write this, I'm reminded that some of you probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about. Earlier versions of Internet Explorer - 6.0 and older, do not have tabs. 7.0 does - ripping off Firefox. Tabs are just like tabs on index cards - just at the bottom of the header bar on the browser. The header bar is where File, Edit, etc, and the address bar (where the http://stuff goes), where Yahoo inevitably installs a Yahoo Toolbar and so on. Rather than open a new browser window every time you want a new page, it can be set to open a new tab. It takes less system resources to open a tab within the current window rather than open a new window. You don't end up with fifteen IE windows open, and trying to figure out which window you want from the bottom, when it says Internet Explorer (15).

One of the disadvantages of Firefox is not showing the posts that are read. So, if you choose to open all in tabs, you get posts you may have already read. A blog that updates once a week might still open up thirteen dozen stinking tabs, all entries you have already read. This is where a reader comes in handy - as you read them, most will indicate they have been read. Today, tomorrow, or next week. You don't have to waste time by going to that site just to see if it has been updated.

But, like I said, the readers I tried I didn't care for. Now, evil Liberal Google has come out with the Google Reader. I've cut my blog reading down at least a half hour or more for the day. Some pages are shown in completion, but some are in the "read more" format. All links open a new tab in Firefox (if you have it set that way - new links open a new tab) - it will depend on which version of IE you have and how it is set up as to how it will behave. In Firefox at least, you still have the home tab with all the info. Signing up probably requires a Gmail account, but I'm not sure. I have a Gmail account (I got it back when they were invitation only - the mark of the Geek is branded deeply into my skin and psyche).

The blogs you have loaded show up on the left side of the page, and the right side displays the posts. It does seem that some hotlinked graphics won't show up, and the only the post is shown. All the sidebar goodies at the regular site are not displayed - the blogroll for example. It is just a trimmed down version. If you want to comment, you click on the title of the post, and it takes you to the page - in a new tab or a new window. I don't comment on each and every post I read, so this saves a lot of time - if the post intrigues me, it takes only a second or two to get to the page and comment away.

A lot of blogs use different RSS types - the original RSS,Atom, XML, and a few others I have forgotten and am too lazy to Google up at the moment. The important thing is Google Reader seems to be compatible with them all. After you have signed up, subscribing is simple - in the address bar in Firefox, off to the far right, is a symbol for a blog. When you are on a blog with a recognized feed format, this symbol shows up. Click it, and a page comes up with the option to subscribe with Google or Firefox. Choose Google. There is a box to check that you can check to "Always Use Google" but I might want to have the address stored in Firefox, so I never check it.

Then, depending on the blog software, a certain number of posts will come up as unread. If the blogger hasn't posted in a long time, there are no new posts. The reader keeps a running total of unread posts on all the blogs in the tab and on the Reader page. As you scroll through the posts, they are marked as read and the total drops. When you first subscribe, and you've already read all the posts on a blog -just hit the "Mark all as read" button and only new posts will show up.

All in all, it's pretty simple and slick - it really didn't need "War and Peace" to describe it, but I'm long winded. So there.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

One of the advantages of living on The Poor Farm is the variety of wildlife one encounters. Last night, about 2 am, I stepped outside "to check the weather" - another advantage of living in the country. As I was taking care of business, I heard a familiar sound I hadn't heard in a while. It was an average example of the prairie rattlesnake.

I hadn't seen one of these for a couple years, which really shocks me. I have my dog's food on the front porch, and it seems I feed a pretty good population of field mice as well. I'd think that would be like neon signs saying "free food" for miles around. My dog was sitting several yards away - apparently she wasn't bothered by the rattler.

This probably will piss off the herpetologists out there, but I'm not particularly wild about inadvertently stepping on one of these suckers. I kill them. I'll gladly leave a bullsnake alone, but rattlers, not so much. So, after hearing the buzzing and not seeing the snake, I went back inside to get a flashlight and a gun. But which gun? I really prefer a shotgun - you can be a bit further away. Up to a point, the further you are, the better for a pattern spread. However, my shells were in my pickup, which meant walking by the snake, and I wasn't quite sure where it was yet. I've killed several snakes with my 686, but it, too, was in the truck. I could load up the '94 large loop carbine, but I had the Kimber Compact Custom ready beside my recliner.

So, 1911 goodness it was. The snake was tucked next to the porch beside the steps leading to the ground. I had been doing my business on it. No wonder it was upset. I killed two rattlers at once there some years ago as I was on my way to work. I was dashing out the door when the rather arresting sound of the pair stopped me in my tracks. I dispatched them with a shotgun. One had it's head and rattles vaporized, the other seemed dead. I hung them on the fence, and when I came home, the birds had devoured the headless body, but the other snake had worked it's way off the fence and pooled around a post several feet away, where it had finally expired. I was a bit late for work, so my supervisor demanded "proof." He just wanted the rattles, so I cut 'em off, put them in a baggie, and the next day presented him with the trophy. He got a lot of mileage out of them, telling the story of "the best excuse for being late he'd ever heard."

Anyway, I tried for a head shot, but was unsuccessful. I'd better get some more practice with this pistola - I used the whole magazine. It also had a failure to feed on the last round - something that hadn't happened before. I was shooting straight down, so maybe that had something to do with the jam. I didn't get the head shot, but I did sever the "neck" an inch or so from the head, plus the rattles are toast.

Plus, I can't figure my dog sometimes. Babs (short for Babalicious, a nickname for an old girlfriend) is usually frightened by gunfire. She can be found in her doghouse when it's range time on The Poor Farm. Last night, she was totally unconcerned with the shooting.

I used to have a pretty large bullsnake around. I'd bet it was at least four feet long. It had a kink in it's long body. The snake got that kink from me. After my father died, I had to get his equipment ready for auction. Mostly, that meant putting air in flat tires so my buddy and I could tow them to another farm where we were having a combined auction. I kept running into this snake, and I was tired of retrieving my heart after it jumped from my chest. I had a twenty odd inch Crescent wrench with me when the big sucker startled me. I heaved the wrench at the offending snake, and actually hit it. Thus, the kink. I'm sure it's died of old age by now, but I used to see it fairly frequently.

I'm not completely phobic about rattlers, mostly I just don't care for them. Anything that is poisonous and wants to bite me isn't going to be wildlife I want to love.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The World's Shortest Books

by Jane Fonda & Cindy Sheehan.
Illustrated by Michael Moore

by Rev Jesse Jackson & Rev Al Sharpton

by Hillary Clinton

By Bill Clinton

by Osama Bin Laden

by Bill Gates


by Dennis Rodman


by Al Gore & John Kerry



by Dr. J Kevorkian

by Ellen de Generes & Rosie O'Donnel

by Mike Tyson

by O.J. Simpson
by Ted Kennedy
by Bill Clinton
with introduction by The Rev. Jesse Jackson

Complete Knowledge of Military Strategy!
By Nancy Pelosi

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I drive a day cab truck - which means it doesn't have a sleeper berth. My company has me stay in motels when I'm on the road. I stop quite a bit at the Super 8 in Limon CO, and usually I order pizza in. Tonite, I decided to walk across the road to the TA Travel Center. Their buffet (when they don't have too much fried food) is tolerable, and a salad sounded good. I also like to read a newspaper when I'm eating alone.

So, I walk to the restaurant and look for a newspaper. They used to be in the breezeway that leads from the TA side to the Subway and the convenience store in the same building. No such luck. I walk to the register and ask. "They are around the corner outside of the convenience store." So, I walk down to the other end of the truck stop, step outside, and there are two dispensers, but for the same paper. However, the papers look old. One was dated September 30. I wasn't that anxious to buy an old newspaper. I ask at the counter in the c store if they had any newspapers. "Just the ones outside." Ok, how about a magazine? No magazines.

Back to the TA side, but in the gift shop. Did they have any magazines or newspapers? An older fellow manning the cash register informed me that there were magazines in the trucker's lounge. I told him I was planning to eat at the cafe. He informed me there were paper machines on the other end of the building. I informed him the newest paper in the display was a September 30 paper. He informed me he was sure he'd bought a paper from the dispenser after that, and it was current. I informed him he could go and look, I wasn't going to again. He then informed me there was a store about a quarter mile down the road had all that stuff, and besides that, the walk would do me good, as walking does us all good.

Well, I can't argue that I could sure use some serious walking time, but I didn't need to hear that from Doctor behind the counter at a truck stop guy.

I said "I already walked over from the motel, and up and down the truckstop looking for a newspaper."

"No, there's no motel at the store down there."

Huh. "I said I walked over FROM the motel already. You should listen."

"Well, why didn't you get a paper from over there?"

"Because I expected a full service truck stop to have a friggin' newspaper."

He started yammering on - yes, arguing with customers is a great way to generate business. I walked away: "Just forget it."

The cafe had a "Please allow us to seat you" sign up. I stood for three or four minutes, when the waitress told me "Oh, go ahead and seat yourself."

I finally got my order in for the buffet, and went to the salad bar first. Semi-ok, they had tomatoes and green peppers, but no cheese. There was some potato soup with a lot of celery. Interesting.

I eat my soup and salad, and check out the main buffet line. Mexican food tonight. Tacos - no cheese, and some sort of frito casserole. There was also a "prime rib" and a hunk of ham, but there was supposed to be a slicer manning that post. No slicer. The waitress finally notices me through the lattice, and summons a slicer. Great, I'm in business.

I get back to my table, and someone is sitting there.

"You are sitting at my table!"

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know!"

Well, of course he didn't know, someone had cleaned the table while I was at the buffet line. The waitress shows up, and I sit at the next table, and she gets me a new drink.

She brings me my check, but I don't get a refill. I decided I could drink all I wanted back at the motel, so I paid my check and left. I did leave a dollar tip - all she did was bring me a drink and my check, and it was a buffet, so considering all that, she did good. Normally, I'd have gone twenty percent if it was decent service. Better service gets a better tip from me.

There is a new Flying J across the interstate to the north being built as we speak. The buildings and the fuel islands are about done, so paving will be the final step. It won't take long.

The "Hook" is so gonna kick the ass of the TA.