Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Work Work Work Work Work

Hello, Boys!

Tuesday went pretty good. I worked thirteen hours and drove 625 miles logging 9.5 driving hours. They didn't have anything for me today, and I had plans of coming in to work and cleaning the old truck up. However, when the alarm went off this morning, I suddenly changed my plans. I was pretty sore and tired. I decided to go later in the day, but it is a ninety mile round trip. I'm not going to go in for just enough gross to cover my gas to get there. So, tomorrow I go out again with some 16' tanks. There will be two of us, and two escorts since we are so wide. Personally, if I never hauled any more 16 wides again it would be too soon. When this kind of load is on a narrow two lane road, the tanks hang over into the other lane if there is no shoulder past the fog line (the white line to the right). We can't drive in the ditches. Bridges are generally too narrow to even think about not hogging the whole road, so we have to time those. Reflectors are usually in the way as well.

So, we're headed to Evans CO. Some of the tanks may go on site. We also have to come back through Denver to pick up some custom bent iron and some catwalks and landings we had galvanized. We use both companies frequently, and I've been there, done that plenty of times. It will mean an overnight stay somewhere, depending on how much time it takes to unload. There are several places I could end up at that I like, so this little trip will be like "old home week."

And, even thought I'm sore and tired, I just couldn't sit inside any more. This time last year, I'd have just sat inside, but I do seem to have more energy after the plumbing job. So, I spent some quality time with my riding mower. It's main feature is a 20 horsepower V-twin Briggs. If you are a gearhead, you gotta love a V-twin, even if it isn't made by Harley Davidson. My hands are sporting some decent blisters now. Seems like five months sitting on my can softened up the ol' claws. I wore gym shorts, a t-shirt, cap and wrap around sunglasses to shield the ol' eyeballs from the debris a tad. I'm betting my white legs were blinding any spy satellites passing by. "What is that, on that farm right there?" "Aayyyeeeee, my eyes!" My neighbors drove by once, waving at me like mad. Amazing how they don't care about my fashion faux pas. The worst thing about mowing for the first time in the season is destroying all the little flowers growing in the "lawn." The tiny purple flowers are wild onions. The bulbs are about the same size as green onions, but the stalks are a lot smaller. They taste a bit like really mild radishes, and are best eaten after the dirt is brushed off. Once, I got the bright idea to pull a bunch to put in spaghetti sauce. One dull pocketknife, sore knees and back later, I had about a half cup of bulbs. They were more or less lost in my marinara. I expect a person living off the land would burn way more calories than they'd get from these things.

The temperature broke ninety degrees today for the first time this year. It's been in the low eighties fairly often, but now it's jumping up faster. It won't be long and it will be over one hundred on a regular basis. But, ya never know, it could snow, have freezing rain, or just be cold, period. It's Kansas, after all.

Oh, and one more thing - the truck I'm in runs pretty good and it is fast as well. I haven't tested it out because I'm kinda partial to having a clean driver's license, but it is supposed to be a triple digit truck. I believe it. At 65, it's only turning 1400 rpm in the top gear. It's got a 550hp Caterpillar C15 that pulls better than most. I got into a bit of a drag race with a guy Tuesday. He and his running buddy were pulling lowboys loaded with pipe. I was hauling two 20'x12' tanks and some walkways. I was lighter, but I had a LOT more wind resistance, and it was pretty windy. That load on the custom dropdecks we use puts me in the neighborhood of 15'2" give or take an inch or two. Anyways, these two passed me some miles earlier just west of Limon on I70. There are some pretty good pulls going uphill, and just leaving my cruise set I caught them around Byers. So, I blew by the one in the rear on a long pull, and set in beside the lead truck as the ground leveled out. I had my cruse control set at 77mph.They had been running a bit slower than me even on the flats, so as I stopped pulling ahead, I realized he didn't want me to pass him and he was in fact "gouging on it." So, I did too, and blew his doors off. I was just on the other side of 85 when victory was mine, right about the time I met a county deputy. Some quick braking and his general indifference probably saved me. Heh. So, I'll have to resist temptation with this hot rod.

At any rate, it's good to be alive, out and about, and working up a sweat. Even if it does make me sore. It's a "good" sore.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Health Update

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these, so here goes: I go back to work tomorrow. I drive a truck for a company that manufactures fiberglass and steel tanks. The trucks I've driven for them in the past are day cabs with Cormach knuckle boom cranes tucked behind. We use the cranes to unload and set the tanks. The vast majority of the loads are oversized. But, I've been gone for five months, so my old truck has a new driver. I'll be driving a "sleeper" truck for a while.

My doctor has me limited to 15lbs for a month. So, its just as well that I'm not running a crane truck. My left hand and arm are still very weak, but it has come a long, long way. It will just take time. I don't expect to be climbing a ladder to hook onto the tanks for a while. I'm used to staying up half the night and napping all day, but that comes to an end tonight. I expect I'll be one tuckered trucker before the week is out.

I was hoping to have the opportunity to spend some time moving my "stuff" into this truck, but it's gonna have to be a rush job. Typical. Yesterday would have been better. There is a load that needed to be there using Einstein Express, so little things like me wiring my cooler will have to wait.

So, back to the old grind! Frankly, I'm ready. If I'd won the lottery and been able to screw around traveling and playing, five months off would have been fun. It just didn't work that way. Only now do I have the strength to work outside, or do some minor home repairs. But, I'll be busy, out of the house, and being a productive member of society once again. It's about frakking time.

Retro Night at The Poor Farm

Yes, I know y'all are just dying to hear about how I spent this evening. While channel surfing, I found some concerts on HDNet. I also dug out a dusty copy of Casual Day Has Gone Too Far, a Dilbert book by Scott Adams.

So, the first concert was the Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap, recorded in 2004. Egads, I hadn't seen any of this.

This song typifies the Doobie sound before Michael McDonald came into the picture, which was my favorite version of the band. Toulouse Street, The Captain and Me, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits and Stampede were my favorites. Takin' It to the Streets was ok, but it featured Michael McDonald. As far as I'm concerned, it was all downhill from there. All the original members finally left the band, and the remaining members decided that is was largely useless to be calling themselves The Doobie Brothers. I remember hearing McDonald wasn't in favor of disbanding the group - but I see nothing online about that now.

Of course, China Grove was part of the concert, along with Long Train Runnin' and Rockin' Down The Highway. Made me wish I was there.

The next concert was The Moody Blues Live From The Greek Theater recorded in 2005. Check out Graeme Edge tossing an extra drumstick to the other drummer at about the 2:46 mark. They are still a tight performing bunch. I can tell you I found their album covers "endlessly fascinating" back in the day. Perhaps I was "influenced" in some manner or another. The quality of their offerings were constant from Days of Future Passed until the last album of theirs I purchased - The Other Side of Life.

Justin Hayward also was the lead singer for Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, a concept album putting H.G. Well's classic to music. Highly enjoyable.

So, along with laughing my butt off out loud at the older Dilbert cartoons, I was singing along (badly) with the concerts. My cat thought I'd lost my mind. He just doesn't know it had happened long before he came along.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ho Heen

When I was a baby, my dad bought my mother a German Shepherd. He named her after Mother's middle name - Josephine. As I grew and became ambulatory, it was clear Josephine loved me and I loved her. I couldn't pronounce Josephine. It came out Ho Heen. So, Ho Heen it was.

We became inseparable. She would lie beside me while I played in my sandbox (a tractor tire with a sidewall cut out and filled with sand). I'd drive my cars all over her, dump sand on her, and many more indignities that a noble German Shepherd would normally find insufferable. She was my constant companion. I used to have a bit of wanderlust, disappearing onto the prairie and confounding my mother. But, I had Ho Heen beside me and protecting me.

Yep, she darn sure had my welfare in mind. One fine summer day Mother heard me raising hell - I was mad and highly upset. She stepped out the door to see Ho Heen holding me by the seat of my pants, preventing me from playing with a coiled and buzzing rattler. Mother dispatched the venomous legless lizard with a shovel, and a legend was born.

Ho Heen already could do no wrong, but this incident elevated her to Permanent Pet Icon and Hero. However, Ho Heen, like her minute master, liked a little wandering herself. She'd disappear for several days at a time, then she'd be back, welcome in the folds of our family. On one trip she didn't make it back. My parents always told me someone had stolen her - supposedly there were a lot of German Shepherd thefts to supply labs with test animals in those days. Looking back, I'm sure some coyotes got her - they are hell on pets who stray from safety of the farm.

I've had some pretty decent dogs over the years, but none match the Peerless Legend Ho Heen.

Back When Rock Had Balls

They had better songs, but this one is unforgettable. Heh.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Gonna Buy Me a Mercedes and Cruise Up and Down This Road

This cartoon really pisses me off. Why? Lets get into it right now.

A lot of news coverage is devoted to "food shortages," possible rationing, hoarding and penalties for hoarding. Yep, if you decide the feces is going to hit the rotational air movement device and actually plan ahead, there are those who think you should be penalized for it. Does the parable of the ant and the grasshopper come to mind? Only in today's potential world, the ant is kicked out on his ass and the grasshopper eats for free. Hopefully y'all realize there is a panic over nothing. It's not like the world isn't planting fencerow to fencerow even as we speak.

Then there is the grain alcohol issue.

I agree that ultimately the energy gained costs more than what is gained. But, as in all things political, there are a lot of misleading conceptions. One such line bandied about is "You can feed a person for a year on the corn it takes to fill a vehicle." I have yet to see what study or article verifies this, other than to see a basic variant of that quote. Is it wrong? I'm not sure - but exactly how many bushels of corn per gallon of fuel? The average amount of alcohol mixed in petroleum based gasoline is ten percent. So, let's say the average tank holds twenty gallons. Are you telling me it takes a year's worth of consumption to make two gallons of ethanol? Oh,come on.

Then, it apparently is assumed that the corn is destroyed or used up in the manufacturing process. That grain is lost forever as a food product, apparently. Wrong. Most of it is used as cattle feed. Remember that when someone tells you beef is so high priced because "All of the corn is used up making alcohol." Granted, beef is high because the corn used directly or indirectly is high, but the price is higher due to speculators/investors coming out of the housing market. The energy required to process corn directly into cattle feed is less than the energy required to make alcohol, but there is a significant amount of energy used. To break down the kernel and make it more digestible steam flaking is generally the preferred choice. Corn is stored in a large hopper and live steam injected until it reaches a certain moisture content. The corn is then dropped into a pair of mill rollers that crush the kernel into a flake. The combination of heat and pressure helps break down some of the more complex carbohydrates and also breaks open the waxy protective cover. You didn't think we just tossed a cow a cob of corn, did you? They can eat it, but there is no "feed value." Cattle don't digest it. By the way, this steam flaking process is used on wheat and grain sorghum/milo as well. Plus, grain is only a portion of the "ration" fed to cattle. Chopped hay (usually alfalfa), liquid fat (rendered fat from packing houses and "used cow dealers"), molasses, protein supplement, various drugs and hormones, and minerals (like salt). So, there are a lot of other things than corn involved in feeding cattle in the first place.

Like I said, I do believe that there is probably more energy used than gained in alcohol production. Will it stay the same? Will there be no advances in technology that improves the process? That is an open ended question as well, particularly since there is a lot of government subsidies supporting the industry. It is my belief that as there are more and more plants online, the competition will be more intense. Prices would drop as a result, and there would be major efforts to become more efficient. It sure wouldn't hurt to have a few more nuclear plants online, but now I'm really dreaming.

Well, then the high prices of grain must be making farmers rich, right? Jeff Danziger couldn't be wrong, could he? I can tell you my personal experience. I sold my wheat this year (1/3 crop as a landlord) right after harvest at bit under $6/bu. Why didn't I hang on to it? Because I had bills to pay, and had not had a successful harvest for over five years. If I had held on to it and could see the future, nine dollar wheat could have been mine! Last year I didn't even have a wheat crop - it was killed off by drought and replanted for this last summer. This summer, I won't have a crop at all. Dryland farming around here requires rotation. It is all in summer fallow this season, recuperating for next season. Well, how about farm payments? They usually pay the property taxes, maybe a little more, maybe not completely. In a world without price supports, grain embargoes - using grain and beef as a weapon in trade negotiations - I would say I should probably be out of business. I do hold some libertarian beliefs. But, it isn't a free market, and if y'all are gonna put the onus of having cheap food on my back, you'd better be for keeping people like me in business. If the day arrives when Tyson, Cargill, et al all achieve vertical integration, do you really believe that they will give a rat's ass about the market? They will be the market. Your food costs will be dependent wholly on their whims.

I've got two neighbors that are considered "big" farmers, even around here. They do a lot of collaborative work to save money and time. Frank W. James has an excellent post on the economies of scale. It's the same for farms as it is for WalMart - the bigger you are, the less your costs (hopefully). They and their families start at sunrise and end after sunset each and every day. Their children work, and work hard. Studies have shown (and I'm too lazy to look 'em up) that farmers generally make less than minimum wage after expenses are met. One of the farmers bought a new diesel Dodge the other day - it's his main work pickup with a flatbed, small hopper feeder, and bale fork on it. His old one has well over 200k on it, I'm sure. Its a far cry from "my other car is a Mercedes" although I'd be surprised if it didn't cost nearly the same as some of the midrange silver star offerings. It's not made for valet parking.

If you go here, you can look up people you know and how much they have received over the years. Hell, you can look me up if ya want. Yup, I'm raking it in. That'll buy me a fleet of Mercedes, right? Disclosure time - I drive a 2000 Chevy Z-71 extended cab pickup with 130k miles.

Are there abuses? Damn straight, skippy. It's a government program, what do you expect? If you look around on the EWG site, you can find a map of payments recieved by state, county or city.

Lot's o farmers in downtown Manhattan, eh? This sort of thing oversimplifies the issue, because they are just taking advantage of the programs, and obviously they are absentee landlords. I'm doing the same thing, other than I live on my ground, and I have a LOT less acreage.

So, what is the answer for high grain prices? I think the market will self correct due to outside influences. I've seen high prices go in the tank before. Remember I mentioned grain embargoes? They were a great weapon to use against the Soviet Union. Jimmah refused to sell grain to them, and George Meany refused to let his dockhands load ships bound for commie central. Guess what happened to wheat prices when demand was artificially removed? Do I believe that the president of price controls and rampant inflation was trying to monkey with grain prices as well? Do I think some of our potential fearless leaders think they can succeed where Jimmah failed, because he didn't have the right people or turn up the volume enough? The major news networks were harping on the high price of wheat and how it was hurting Joe Welfare Recipient in downtown Welfare City. Irving R. Levine was one of the "neutral correspondents." Well, Jimmah heard ya, and now economy of scale is more than a buzzword. Another one of the memes at the time that was publicised far less was "The cost of the bread wrapper is higher than the cost of the wheat in the bread." Oversimplification again, but it does make a valid point. Higher fuel costs are going to inflate the cost of the proverbial loaf of bread far more than the cost of the grain. And, that is another problem. Those huge four wheel drive tractors get mighty thirsty. They can easily burn through 150 gallons in a day, and that is for tractors in the 260hp range. A JD 9630T is rated at 530hp. Economies of scale, again. Two 260hp tractors are going to be far more expensive to run than one 9630T, if you can afford to buy one, plus the larger equipment it has to pull. Just for comparison, my Dad's last tractor was a JD 4440 rated at 130hp.

Worldwide, farmers are planting every possible acre to capitalize on the high prices. Here in the US we have the soil bank - Conservation Reserve Program. You know, the "pay the farmer for doing nothing" program. If there was an actual food shortage, that ground would be broken out so quickly it would make your head spin.

At any rate, most of the past reforms in the farm bills have failed. Capping benefits for individual farmers only made them put ground in their wives, kids and other relative's names. Some of these people I can see at the local diner at lunch, too, driving their Mercedes and using valet parking - oh wait - they're driving a pickup and eating at a local diner, because it's cheap and doesn't have valet parking. I don't have an answer for the farm bill. I wish it didn't exist, but I wish the EU nations, and most of our grain growing neighbors here in the Americas didn't have grain price supports to compete against us. But, they do. But, one thing I'm sure of is that Congress and our President (whomever he or she is) will hear the cries of the consumer and "do something" about high food costs, and we'll pay for it. You are welcome.

Friday, April 25, 2008

And Even More Meme

RT tagged me with this one:

Here are the rules if you decide to play along:
1) Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4) Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. Did ya grow up hating certain foods, only when you grew up ya liked 'em? For instance, I used to detest onions, green peppers and asparagus. I still can't stand radishes or turnips. Turnips in a stew - well, something about the taste and texture throws me off my feed. That is hard to do. These days I hardly fire up the skillet without sautéeing green peppers, onion and shrooms.

2. How about different kinds of meat? Like organ meats such as tongue, heart, liver, brains, and good ol' Rocky Mountain Oysters? I grew up on a farm, after all. Game animals were part of the diet as a treat - deer, pheasant, dove, duck and cottontail graced our supper table. I tried buffalo and mountain lion at a Duck's Unlimited banquet years and years ago. Of course, bullheads, channel cats, bass, crappie and walleye have been on the menu. One of my buds brought home elk after a big hunting trip in Wyoming. Elk and buffalo definitely rival beef and exceed it in certain ways.

3. Speaking of youth - when I was five or six, I started on a life of crime. I shoplifted some Matchbox cars from the local drugstore. My parents wondered where the new toys came from, and quizzing me found out the truth. I got my butt warmed and had to personally go to the owner and pay him for what I had taken. It took my allowance for some time to cover the cost. I have led a theft free life since then. Not necessarily crime free, considering speed limits and such, but no stealing at all.

4. And, reminiscing about early childhood and my antisocial ways: I used to take off with my dog and disappear for several hours. Drove my mother nuts. I knew I wasn't supposed to do it, but I did it anyway. Mother would panic and call the neighbors to help try to find me. I can remember hiding in weeds in the road ditch as one of the neighbors on a search mission tried to find me. He had found me before, and it wasn't a pleasant experience, so when I heard his pickup coming, I hid, and pushed my dog down too. This all came to an end when Dad found me at our silage pit. He picked up a stick and swatted me any time I slowed down or turned around to cry about my mistreatment. All the way to our house, about a quarter mile away. I stayed in the yard to play after that.

5. I'm nearsighted and have glasses. I wear them only when I have to. I even take them off at a restaurant.

6. I started "driving" around five years old. Dad had me guide the pickup in the pasture while he spread bales from the back. I couldn't reach the pedals, so he'd stick it in "granny", ease the clutch out, slide out the door, and walk to the back. After he was done, I'd scoot over, he'd climb back in and off we'd go.

7. I'm Irish and German on both sides. My mother's family really relished their Irish roots. My Grandma on that side used to sing to Sis and I. Danny Boy, Loch Lomond, The Good Ship Lollipop, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Molly Malone were on the playlist. Yeah, several aren't Irish, but they were part of the family tradition. There were others, but I've slept a couple times since then, and can't remember them. Grandma was normally a quiet woman, and she was that way when she sang. She's straighten her back, ease her head back, and perform in her quavering voice. I drifted off to many a nap with that accompaniment.

Now is the time I'm supposed to tag seven people. Well, if you read this and feel like it, jump right on it. I had fun!


This commercial has been around a while, but every time I see it I get misty eyed. David Duchovny's voice is perfectly suited for the Pedigree commercials because of his mournful tone. He even looks hang dog, but we don't see him. His voice alone is an effective tool for these commercials.

A couple years ago, I went to the Neighboring Big City Pound to adopt a cat. I've already got a dog, and she is very well suited to my lifestyle. I wanted to take home - well, most of the cats anyways. I restricted myself to one. I just don't have the room. The staff invited me to look at the dogs they had up for adoption.

I couldn't do it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Yet Another Meme

I've seen this several places today, and as far as I know, no one has tagged me. I like this one, because it's really simple. I'm lazy that way.

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
2. Find page 123.
3. Find the first five sentences.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Once they passed a handful of buildings, the biggest of which seemed to be a chemical plant. Several times they watched boxy vehicles pass below them. They were seen only once.

I'm rereading Larry Niven's The Ringworld Engineers, having finished Ringworld this morning. The paperback is dated 1993, and cost $4.46. Yep, it's been a while. You know you're getting older when fifteen years ago doesn't seem all that much, and paperbacks seem damn expensive these days. Hell, they cost more than hardbacks did back then.

And as for tagging five people - well, if you are interested jump right in. Yer blog, yer house, yer party!


Steve H. has an excellent post on the effects promiscuity has on individuals and society today. I was looking to cut some quotes and post them here, but you should really go read the whole thing, as they say.

I couldn't agree more. I'm celibate these days. It's a choice, but for me, it's a choice based on the cost of the experience. Sex is great. Sex is like pizza: even bad sex is good. Regular sex does a body good.

But, for my part, it doesn't do any good at all when it is outside a healthy relationship. I found out early that one night stands weren't for me. I vastly prefer emotional attachment. Satiating my horniness by using (and probably being used by) a woman seems more like mutual masturbation to me. I can do that all on my own, without the baggage involved with a relationship sure to fail, because sex is all that holds it together.

Most of my failed relationships were also because I could not trust my partner. Most were obvious. Lying and cheating were the two biggies. I'm certainly one for introspection, so I often wonder if I'm choosing to fail, so I subconsciously pick women that can't be trusted. Plus, the older I get, the less I feel like going through the initial give and take of a beginning relationship, particularly since my experience has shown more give on my part and take on the other side. I find myself sympathizing with Strother Martin in Rooster Cogburn: the reason why I took this job is because the only person I like is me . Heh.

So, I guess I'm weird. Even kids in grade school here out on the prairie are sexually active. If a girl goes out on a date and doesn't give oral sex, she is shunned. Oh, not all the kids are that way, but the "popular" ringleaders are. Oh yeah, to be a rebel you have to conform to the standard of no standards at all, like everyone else. Sexually transmitted diseases are at an all time high. And why use birth control, when you can have the offending matter sucked right out? It's just offending matter, after all. It's offensive because it interferes with the self absorbed lifestyle that we should be attaining. It's not a potential human. If you think that the fetus is human, you are obviously a anti-abortion religious terrorist.

One of the best articles about abortion was written by an atheist: Rachel Lucas. It's a fairly long read, but well worth it. The debate in the comments was also very forthright and illuminating. Surprisingly, the discourse was extremely polite and focused. I used to be on the fence. I used to think it was wrong, but I couldn't tell you how to live your life. I couldn't in good conscience use abortion as a form of convenient birth control. Now, I've changed. It's morally wrong. I'm speaking to the inconvenient pregnancies that common sense and personal responsibility could have prevented. I'm not going to change anyone's mind, and no one is going to change mine, either.

Steve pretty well covers the downward spiral of people caught in the trap that indulgences take people to - how normal sex isn't appealing enough. Of course, I haven't even touched on illegitimacy and it's attendant problems. Steve covers that far better than I could.

As an aside, that is part of the problem with blogging - someone is always a far better writer. I read their scribblings and find myself agreeing completely, not having the ability to say it as well or with as much levity or brevity. Not that I'm in any kind of contest - it just seems I'm capable of being a good spectator, occasionally joining in the fray. The fun thing about all of this is that this is a pretty small world we occupy, and there are giants among us who we rub shoulders with on a daily basis.

There isn't an easy solution to the problems enumerated here. A return to fifties style morality isn't going to work. We tend to look on those days with rose colored glasses - remember, segregation was still king, and women were pretty well stuck in the home. This problem with our sexuality is wound up with a lot of the "Great Society" and the multi generational devotees to entitlements that have no familial structure. Our entertainment providers feed us propaganda in favor of this lifestyle. Universities that should be open minded are anything but - if you don't agree, shut up and go home - you don't have the right to say that because it's racist/sexual prejudiced/politically incorrect or whatever the cause de jour is that week.

I'm not even sure I'm asking the right questions, much less be able to offer solutions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Biggest Laugh of the Day

Blatantly stolen from Firehand, who got it here.

Night of the Hunter

How can you not like this movie? A relatively young Robert Mitchum plays a psychotic murderer and con man masquerading as a preacher. The love/hate thing is pretty chilling in and of itself, plus it's frightening how some of the "religious" types are totally sucked in. Of course they are on the front lines of the lynch mob at the end. Guess the 'ol forgiveness thang was kinda out the window there.

And Lillian Gish - wow! She portrayed the iron willed caregiver to the local orphans with a very soft spot in her heart. Peter Graves and Shelly Winters play the soon to be murdered parents of Pearl and John. Considering the age of those actors, they portrayed the kids pretty well, particularly Billy Chapin, who played John.

Charles Laughton directed. According to IMDB, he didn't care for children and Mitchum ended up directing the kids in several scenes. Mitchum didn't care much for Winters, either. Robert Mitchum was openly contemptuous of Shelley Winters throughout the shooting of the film and later claimed to have wished Charles Laughton had actually used Winters in the scene when her character's body is seen dead underwater. The film had such a lukewarm reception, Laughton didn't direct another picture.

Just as an aside - Lillian Gish was quite a babe in her younger days, too!

See what I mean! I wouldn't steer ya wrong. Trust me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Horror, the horror

Aaarrrrgggghhh! Make it stop!

H/T SondraK

Sunday, April 20, 2008

John Adams on HBO

I've mentioned John Adams on HBO before. Tonight was the last episode of seven.

Damn, was it ever sad.


Saturday, April 19, 2008


There is a symmetry to life on the plains – death gives life, and life ends in death. That is one constant that isn’t balanced out – everything dies in the end, no matter how strong the life force. Life on the prairie flows through cycles. Periods of draught, followed by rains. The season’s inexorable march to the next, year after year. Each season brings its own distinctive weather, snow and ice in the winter, rain, hail and tornadoes in the spring and summer. One constant is the wind. To live here, one must learn to yield to the incessant blowing. The trees know that secret. They lean to the north, having given in to the constant push of air. Properly designed houses shield their entryways. Tumbleweeds pile into an obstacle on the south side when the wind is out of the south, then the next day, leave for other parts when the wind is out of the north. Among the rock chips and bug smears are tumbleweed scars on the front of vehicles. Often, one will hang up under the car, and must be removed. Unless you enjoy the continuous scraping noise they make. The Great Plains Noisemaker. Now for a limited time only, free to the right customer.

Spring brings life to the flatlands. Wheat, planted last fall, begins to come alive and fill the fields with a carpet of green. The trees blossom. The flies that pester livestock and humans alike begin anew. I used to use fly traps. I’d have gallons of dead flies, and still had no relief. Cattle have long tails for a reason. Once a year, the millers come out in force. Some years are particularly bad – this old farmhouse has a lot of ways for them to seek sanctuary inside, and there might be hordes of them sharing my lamp while I’m reading. Chasing them down with a vacuum cleaner seems to work best.

Spring also brings the thunderstorms, with the attendant hailstorms, lightning and tornadoes. Hail can pound crops into diced salad in minutes, and turn the hood on a car into a moonscape. Lightning can start fires, split trees and knock the power out. When I was working in the field with an implement in the ground, the tractor was often the highest point in the area. With that in mind, balancing on the knife edge of continuing work versus the safety of going home would percolate through my thoughts. That is all we had, just our own thoughts. The tractor I grew up with did not have a radio, so there was a lot of philosophizing during the day. I would work until I saw lighting on three sides. It was time to quit if you knew you could be hit. But, you hung on until the last possible second.

Tornadoes deserve real respect. As a child, my parents hustled my sister and I to the neighbor’s house with a tornado shelter in the basement many plenty of “dark and stormy nights.” Most of the time, if one even set down, it would be in the middle of a field. Irrigation pipe, fencing and trees might suffer. However, sometimes a farm would get in the path. The next day, the local Mennonites would be there to help clean up, along with other close friends and neighbors. People all own weather alert radios, but when a warning is on, everyone stands outside to watch.

But in the evenings, when the air cools and the wind dies is the best. Breathing the air is like a cool drink of water, flavored with all the newly green things growing. Wheat has its own tang, distinct from the grasses of the pasture. You know you are alive and all is well with the universe, breathing in the chlorophyll. The fall crops are planted, and rain is always welcome.

Then, the temperatures start to rise. Rain stays away in droves. When it is over 100 and the wind isn’t blowing too badly, the air takes on a brassy smell and look. Sunsets are full of reds and yellows, and the sweat on your brow dries instantly. A fine film of dust gradually coats everything. When it does rain, the coolness is shocking. It’s generally a bad idea to be outside, because it usually is accompanied by lightning and hail. The storm front stirs up a cloud of dirt, like a huge tsunami, only this wave has flashes of lightning behind it. The smell of dust is heavy in the air. You pray that it has rain as well. You can smell the moisture, but that doesn’t mean it will rain. The wind backs, then veers. As the line arrives, the wind suddenly flashes by. If it does rain, it arrives in great windswept gouts, driving painful needles of chill into your clothing and skin. Hopefully, the drama abates and the rain starts to fall in a more leisurely fashion. Generally, it quits and that’s all for today in the rain department. The roads have a skin of mud with dust underneath. Cars get muddy wheelwells while kicking up dirt. The rain may fall so fast the parched ground sheds it like an oilskin. Water runs across the road, wasted.

Harvest arrives. Lone farmers, working by themselves in the fields, become an army waiting to pounce on the wheat. Combines stand at the ready, greased and full of fuel. Some are waxed to perfection. Test strips are cut, and moisture testers, waiting all year for this, are brought out of retirement and put to work. A load is cut, hauled to the elevator. Will it be too wet? Will they take it? The elevator is on speed dial. Bring it in, and we’ll look at it. If the news is good, forces are mobilized. The machine operators are called, and the race is on. Early mornings and late nights, even more than usual, are the order of the day. For it is a race, against the weather. Will rain ruin the wheat in the head? Will it hail the crop out? Will lightning start the dry straw on fire? Custom harvesters, from Texas to Canada, pepper the accents heard at the local diners and coops, joining in the fray. Is that a fleet of alien beings, lighting up the night? No, it’s just the combines, cutting late into the night. Sometimes, a dew comes up, and the moisture of the grain gets too high. Thrashing is more difficult – the “straw is too tough.” At some point, exhaustion kicks in, and everyone goes home or to the trailers hauled into the campgrounds. Supper, showers and not enough sleep make a routine complete.

Sometimes the storms march in, and combines cut until the last possible second. They race to the trucks, hurrying across the fields before it gets too muddy. They unload the valuable cargo onto the trucks, water streaming in the hopper bottoms. The trucks have to be tarped, fighting the winds. Then, they must be driven out on a field road, turning into a morass of slop, but hopefully getting to the road. The machinery is parked away from the stubble, in case of a fire. It is lightning out, after all.

Eventually, the harvest is finished. The mud holes that were cut around dry out, and cut at leisure. The custom harvesters all tear down their machines for transport, and move to the north. Fleets of trucks pulling combines, headers and camping trailers clog the highways.

Life returns to normal. Weeds must be killed by tilling or spraying. The days get shorter, and the temperature starts to ease downwards. The sunflowers, following the sun every day, stop looking at the sun and wither. The air takes on a different tang. This is my favorite time to breath in the country. The taste is thinner than spring’s, and more subtle. Fall harvests are hectic, but not as much as summer’s heyday. The kids that ran the machines for wheat are all in school now.

As fall turns to winter, the temperatures drop slightly. It is not unusual to have plenty of warm days, but equally possible are days when it never gets above freezing. The continual wind finds its way under houses and through foundations, freezing water pipes. This is a dry country, so snows are generally less than six inches. However, when it does snow, it cannot seem to do so without drama, so blizzard conditions aren’t unusual. Accumulation may not be that much, but visibility and safe travel? Not so much. At least once a year, we get an ice storm. Last winter was bad around here. I was without power for nine days. The area had thousands of utility poles snapped. High voltage transmission towers were pulled down. The wheat crop is dormant, but it can suffocate under an icy cover, so winters are not worry free for the wheat farmer. Eventually, the days get longer and warmer. Spring arrives again, and the cycle begins anew.

The creatures know the seasons. Cattle must be tended accordingly. Calves come in the middle of the night, some not easily. Some cows need help – stalwart people inserting arms into private places, turning the calf and helping it out. Herds are turned out on wheat fields for pasture, and calves kick up their heels. Single wire electric fences mean nothing to the ornery devils, so mothers cry plaintively at their recalcitrant youngsters to come back to safety. A smart person does not come between the mother and child, if one appreciates the order of one’s anatomy. Water must be hauled to many of these locations daily. Old, tired grain trucks fitted with a large tank meet the need. No longer reliable enough to run with the big dogs in harvest, but not completely worn out yet, they soldier on, often not starting regularly, stubborn in their resistance to work. The water freezes in the winter, and must be broken so your charges can drink. Cattle must be doctored, worry creasing the faces of the stockman. Sometimes, they make it. Other times, the used cow dealer has to be called. They turn their backs to the wind, huddling and keeping the calves in the middle. Much like circling the wagons in the Old West, the bulls patrol the perimeter, vigilant and ready to defend their charges. Eventually the calves must be separated from the mothers. Much mourning at the top of their lungs, the mothers don the sackcloth and ashes of pain and worry. For the calves, it is a new adventure.

The birds follow the seasons. Ducks and geese traverse the skies, going north or south depending on the time of year. Pheasants are cocky and bold, until hunting season starts. Songbirds ebb and flow, springtime a cacophony of calls, squawks and songs. Hawks patrol the upper reaches, their shadows still on the ground until suddenly, the shadow moves rapidly. The shadow and hawk meet, and a mouse meets its fate. I’d have ten or fifteen hawks following the tractor, hunting for the mice or younger rabbits turned up. Hawks also stand like sentinels on watch, on top of utility poles, or even fenceposts if that is the highest perch in the neighborhood. Insulated from them on the tractor, you still feel some kinship with these bright eyed hunters, soaring effortlessly in the hot air. Of course, they feel the shame when some lesser bird picks at them, driving the predator away from the nest. The little birds dive at the hawks, fighters to the lumbering bombers that the hawks resemble. Size isn’t everything, even on the prairie. Years ago, some herons from eastern Kansas found their way out here. They were white, bold and fearless. We were pulling a sweep plow with rotary harrows attached at the rear. The herons would dart in front of the harrows to snatch mice, scrambling out from certain impalement with inches to spare.

The deer seem to know about hunting seasons as well. Whitetails in particular are keenly aware of human presence. Undisturbed, hundreds of yards away, they will take flight when spotted, white flags upright and flowing in their wake. Mule deer jump like springs released from their catches, not necessarily in a hurry or all that concerned.

The ghosts of the prairie are the coyotes. Their keening at night reminds one of banshees. They join in song, understandable only to themselves. But, they are mostly invisible during the day. I’d see one, once in a great while, on the tractor. He (or she) would be on a mission, heading for some unseen place. But they always took time to sit on a terrace and contemplate the nature of me and the tractor. They would just park there, resting and panting, watching expectantly to see what I’d do. Of course, I just continued on my path through the field, the work being the reason for my presence. They’d start again, moving at a seemingly slow trot that apparently ate up the miles, because they would disappear over the horizon in short order.

It is hard not to be in the flow of life out here. Bumps on a log might avoid it, but a sensible person pays attention and lives with the conditions, bending like the trees in the wind. There is a kinship with the creatures, and the plants. I am part of the ebb and flow, and will spend my days aware of the joys of nature here on the plains. For it is bred in me, and like Sampson shorn of his locks, I require this for my life and would not survive without. I am the last of a long line of farmers and stockmen. I pass the knowledge of this feeling to you, my reader, so that this is not lost. May you enjoy your life as I have mine. It will be with joy that I return to the soil, to meet my maker. For I know there is a Maker, who’s ways are in some tiny fashion revealed in this cycle of renewal and death. I’m certainly not ready yet, but when the day comes, I will be. Will you?


I actually am a K-State guy. I went to school there. My heart pumps purple blood. I do root for KU except when K-State is playing against them. I was pretty tickled when the Wildcats gave KU one of the 'Hawks three defeats this season. I was also proud of how well the 'Cats did in the tournament. For such a young team, they have every right to be happy with their performances this season.

But, when you've got one of your state's teams doing well, you just have to root for them, too. And since the KU/K-State rivalry is legendary, when one team wins the big enchilada, there will be gloating:

Segregation in Kansas

Sunday in Lawrence

Sunday in Manhattan

H/T Thanks to many of my friends who emailed these to me.

Jay Thomas on Letterman

When Jay is on Dave's show, you can count on a good story. "Herbed up" - heh.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Far Out

I scored a Far Out
85% on the
Quiz by SheGoddess: Quick Weight Loss

I'm almost ashamed I did as well as I did, considering some of the songs. On the other hand, some of them were kinda lost in the mists of time. Which probably is a good thing.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pinhead Overlords

What a great line: "I, for one, welcome our new pinhead overlords."

Chris Muir rocks.

Big Guy

The Young Doctor and I

Og has a post up about being a big guy. He likes being big.

Well, so do I. I was always the largest kid in class - until I got to college. I'm 6'3" and 330lbs at the moment. At Saint Mary of the Plains there was a guy who was built like me that was 6'9". He was proportionally stronger than me, too. At K-State, I was kinda tiny at the athletic dorms. I've also usually been pretty tubby. Twenty years ago working for a warehouse, I slimmed down to 205lbs. I was in pretty good shape, too. Oh well.

Clothes have always been a problem. I need about a 12.5 shoe, which of course isn't made. So I buy a lot of 13s. My feet aren't even close to being big, but it isn't always easy finding what I want in a thirteen. T-shirts that aren't tall sized and XXXL - forget it. Regular XXXL shirts must be made for very wide midgets. While I do have a big gut, it isn't the problem in tight spots. My chest is what hangs me up trying to slide under the pumpkins on truck rear axles for servicing.

At the discount store and the Post Office I was generally detailed to physical work and the smaller people got to sit in front of a pc - even though I was better qualified at those types of jobs. I was definitely better with physical demands as well (of course now I couldn't fight my way out of a wet paper bag). I usually have to go through doorways slightly sideways, and in some older houses I have to duck. I've dented my head plenty of times in basements and attics. Motel (and hospital) beds are too short.

Vehicles are chosen because of how they fit. I remember seeing a Fiat X19 years ago, and I couldn't even slide my leg under the steering wheel to get in. The GM F-bodies from 1982 on - forget it. They had to have the sunroof out for me to sit up in the seat. Surprisingly I could fit in a 1986 Toyota MR2 - but it generally created a sensation when climbing out. People didn't believe their eyes that I actually fit in the dern thing, and many mentioned that to me. My old Vette was the same way. I fit, but barely. One of my friends who has shoulders wider than mine rode with me to a Chiefs game some years ago. We had to take turns using the center armrest, and we had to sit slightly twisted to get our shoulders to fit. I was the first logged passenger for another friend with a shiny new pilot's license - in a Cessna 150. We could only carry half tanks of fuel, or we couldn't get off the ground.

But, I generally get left alone in tense situations. I can see over crowds, and force my way through if necessary. Heavy items aren't a problem (or they didn't used to be). I can't even begin to remember the times I've pulled something from a top shelf for someone at work or the grocery store. I've carried little old ladies from a seat in a car to their wheelchair. I may not need that ladder. If I'm in a bad mood, people generally leave me alone.

So, is it worth it being big?

Hell yeah.

that picture is from my friend The Young Doctor's wedding several years ago. Y'all needed to see me in a tux - rarely do I get away from t-shirts and jeans.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm Hired - Wheeeee!

How can you tell when the Post Office is hiring?

When the flag is at half mast.

There is a lot about the Postal Service that runs counter to the normal business world, plus it is different than the average government job. For one thing, the Postal Service has it's own pay scale. A G4 or G5 government worker doesn't translate into a Level 4 or Level 5 postal employee.

The hiring practice is different as well. You have to take a test(postal entrance exam) to get in. Back in the day, the test I took had two modules - general knowledge and short term memory.

100-699 Elm1300-2399 Elm700-1299 Elm
Box 1-399Box 1000-1699Box 400-999
(I can't do tables in HTML very well)

This is a very limited example of a table provided for study for the short term memory test. There would be more than three columns and two rows for sure. Notice how the addresses and the boxes aren't in order. The test taker is providing information on how well they can learn and retain information. When postal workers sort a city scheme into the letter cases, the slots are labeled for carrier routes. The individual address ranges must be memorized. It doesn't follow that Carrier One gets all the lower addresses, or part of a street, or all of it. It just depends on the delivery area and the route the carrier follows to deliver the mail. Carriers deliver "loops" where they start and stop at the same place (when on foot).

Anyhow, the test takers are given a period of time to memorize what they can and answer what questions they can. Was Box 1500 in A, B, or C?

I understand the test now has five or more modules, being more specialized than the one I took. Once you have taken the test, you are put on the "register." The call ins start with the highest scores, and as time goes on, the lower scores are called in. If I recall correctly, eighty is the minimum score. You can hurt your score by answering all the questions and getting a lot wrong, more than answering fewer correctly.

The job you will be trying for is considered career employment, but it is also considered part time by the postal service. The position is called Part Time Flexible or PTF. The postal service loves acronyms. There are a number of contract obligations for PTF's.

On call
Must have eight hours between shifts
Work schedule must be posted Tuesday
Only guaranteed two hours on scheduled day, no guaranteed hours
No holidays off
Normally no weekends off
Only one day per week required scheduled for day off
schedule due to change with no personal notice (your responsibility to check it every day)
Forced overtime if necessary

But, you do get insurance, vacation and sick leave and other benefits. You may see an ad in your local paper advertising for help at your local post office. These jobs are for temporary employees called "casuals." They are hired for a maximum of two three month periods, then they have to have a certain amount of time off before they can be hired again. There are no benefits other than they aren't contract laborers - they at least have taxes deducted. Hiring on as a casual does not improve or give any preference to hiring for a career position. Applicants for career positions are required to take the postal entrance exam, period. Postal exams aren't given on an individual basis - it may take up to five or six years between exams. The other ads are for exam preparation kits. You pay them for a study guide and a list of current entrance exams.

New hires of any stripe are at the bottom of the seniority ladder. PTFs are above casuals. This means casuals get the shit jobs, and they don't necessarily get to do some of the more preferential jobs at all. If a senior career employee sees a casual (or PTF, for that matter) doing something they want to do, and it falls within their job description, they can force the supervisor to let them do the easier job. Some employees live for this. This sort of behavior fosters ill will and job dissatisfaction (just one of many little things at the PO). Most of the shooting incidents in post offices involve casuals. They finally realize the efforts they have put into the job aren't going to get them anywhere, other than a day off. They were all informed of this since day one, but some still have the dreamy eyed optimism that they will, in fact, be asked to stay. They can also be disciplined or dismissed without the due cause protections that a career employee protected by contract enjoys. So, if you are desparate for a job or know someone that is, and they find there is an "opening" at the local post office - realize just what you're getting into. Personally, I recommend you run the other way as fast as you can.

If and when your name comes up, you will get a notice in the mail announcing an appointment to see the postmaster. That date and time are generally set in stone. The PM calls in a certain amount of people for a certain amount of positions. If there are two openings, the top two scores that show up get the jobs unless there is some sort of defensible reason they aren't qualified.

When I was called in, there were two of us. Myself and a black woman. I thought I was screwed right off - that in order to prove non descrimination perhaps a quota was necessary for hiring, and here was someone with two characteristics in the positive. She thought she had the job as well - her questions were primarily about the specifics of the job benefits, followed by "Thank God." I didn't ask very many questions. We were told that we would know within two or three days if we were successful candidates. I heard from the postmaster that night - he had me scheduled for fingerprinting and a screening physical. He was concerned that since I was a trucker, I would be out of town. It finally occurred to me that I did have the job.

During the next visit to the PM, I found him to be far friendlier. He grabbed my biceps and gave 'em a squeeze - telling me I would work out fine. Of course, I had no idea, but the work I did was very physical and involved lifting a lot of moderately heavy items. Later, I found out how he gamed the system. He actually had three openings, and he had filled two already. To get me to be the highest score for this interview, he called in everyone between the two he planned on hiring and me on the roster. He wanted the two he hired previously. The candidates between them and I - not so much. Since they were unsuccessful for those two jobs, they got put back on the roster, but the roster had to go to the bottom before starting over. The black woman and I were called in together because he had to have a selection - he didn't want to lose some below her for later consideration, and he wanted me.

It doesn't necessarily work that way at larger offices - they just don't have the time to check out every potential employee and just hire them as they come.

Thus began my career with the USPS.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

X Box Brat

This is just too funny. A Virginia kid balking at doing his chores assigned to him by his single mother broke her vacuum cleaner deliberately. She then discovered cookies from porn sites on his 'puter.

My 13 year old managed to break the vacuum....thinking it would release him from that duty. He also has a list of other chores that were TYPED up for him to do Friday thing on the list was done...mind you these are simple things...empty the trash, clean your room, etc. Then I go thru the cookies on his computer and find out he has been checking out porn sites. Now there is a password so he can't even get on and his my-space page has a picture of snoopy on it now. Apparently I'm the meanest mom in the world, were his words.

I'm a single mom. I can't let them walk over me or I might never get up.

So, the X-Box is up for sale on eBay. Dyson, the vacuum manufacturer, caught wind of this story and they have donated a $500 vacuum for "good parenting."

Kiddo, you just got pOwned big time. Your mom is a better geek than you, and if you're gonna be a snot, you should at least cover your tracks.


Happy Yearly Leaching Day

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Email Goodness

I get a charge out of what people send me designed to hoodwink me out of some money. Here is one:

European Commission
Enterprise and Industry DG Communication and Information Unit/R4
BREY 13/ 092
B - 1049 Brussels (Belgium)

Released: April 2008.

We bring to your notice the decision by the board of trustees of The European Union to choose you as one of the final recipients of a cash grant/donation for your own personal, educational, and business development (SME funding).

To promote growth and creating new jobs in the European economy, we are giving out a yearly donation of €500,000.00 (five hundred thousand Euros) to 10 lucky recipients who have been selected from over 25,000 websites all over the globe, as funding/aid from the European Union, European Commission, and the United Nations in accordance with enabling acts of Parliament.

For detailed information, please contact paying office (England)

Name: Dr. Dominic Brett

Remember to quote your identification numbers. Find your identification numbers below:


Note that these numbers fall within your location file.

Thank you and accept my congratulations once again!

Janet Williamson
Information Officer and Coordinator,
Scottish European Resources Network

the information in this e-mail may be confidential and/or privileged. If you are not the intended recipient or an authorized representative of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, dissemination or copying of this e-mail and its attachments, if any, or the information contained herein is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately notify the sender by return e-mail and delete this e-mail from your computer system. Thank you.

Ooookay. It must be true that the European Union wants to help the worldwide economy by aiding a citizen of the country they formed said union to fight economically. I mean, c'mon, they're just trying to help! Plus, it has that red confidentiality statement at the end. Must be serious.


How do you do?

My name is Peter Hollins, Chief Executive with the BHF Executive
Committee, British Heart Foundation.

There is an Open Vacancy in the Organization. The Board of Directors of British Heart Foundation is willing to offer you a good Part- Time paying job in which you could earn a lot.This job would be based on contract and commission terms, it is a part-time job and it would involve quite a handful of trust and honesty. If you would be interested in including a good-paying, part time job to your daily list of activities and earning up to $4000 monthly.

As I have previously already informed you, my name is Peter Hollins, 42 years of age, 4 kids, all boys and the love of my life, my Wife, Tracy.

The aim of the British Heart Foundation is to play a leading role in the fight against disease of the heart and circulation so that it is no longer a major cause of disability and premature death. A UK registered charity based in London which I joined in January 2000.

Our Activities
The BHF is the largest independent funder of heart research in the UK. We play an important role in funding education, reaching the public and health professionals and we provide life-saving cardiac equipment and support for rehabilitation and patient care.

Heart Disease - the facts...

Heart and circulatory disease is the UK’s biggest killer. One in five men and one in six women die from it. Every 2 minutes someone in the UK has an heart attack.
Over 670,000 people in the UK have definite heart failure. 4,600 babies are born with heart defects each year. Around half will need treatment or surgery.

You can read more online at the BHF

presently, the foundation, BHF was granted funds and donations to head a charity support project in the tropical regions of West Africa regarding the fight against heart disease and also supporting the treatment of many childhood Heart Illnesses.

However, Our Donated Funds were by our American counterparts and they mostly come in US based Money Orders, Travelers Checks and sometimes Cashier’s Checks and are also some time done by Wire Transfers.

Getting an accountant in the states or opening an account would have been our best choice but I have a deadline to meet and taking any of those choices would cost our time and a whole lot of other requirements I am not ready to deal with as I would be travelling a lot in the meantime.

So presently, having read your resume and 'assuming' you would be able to deal with cash, I would be willing to employ you on contract basis to be my payment representative / Receptionist / Bookkeeper back in the states, this way I could issue and make these money orders out to you, you could then cash them easily, withdraw Ten Percent (10%) of the total amount on these money orders as your commission for the great service you would be rendering and then send the rest back to me through Western Union Money transfer.

Bear it in mind that we would be dealing with quite a handful of cash and you could be making good money working with us in a short period of time.Like I said, the funds and donations was granted to head a charity support project in the tropical regions of West Africa regarding the fight against heart disease and also supporting the treatment of many childhood Heart Illnesses.

Once you get them in the mail, you would be cashing them at your bank, deducting Ten percent (10% Alongside the Western Union Transfer Charges ) of the total amount cashed as commission to the great effort you are rendering to help build the third world and any other transfer charges incurred during the transaction. The rest fund would be wired to us via Western Union.

I have attached an employment form in this email which you could fully fill on your computer and send back as an attachment, just so I know who and where I would be sending my money orders out to.

Do provide an address where you will be able to sign for the collection of the payment.

Thanks and God Bless.

Peter Hollins
Chief Executive,
British Heart Foundation.

British Heart Foundation.
....................A member of the UK Registered Charity


Cell :

(Information included in this application form is confidential between you and me, and the full name and contact info should be included as it should be written on the payments being issued over to you, you should also include a valid phone number for easy contact)

In agreement to this kindly append signature below:

Peter Hollins
Chief Executive, British Heart Foundation

If you are interested, please email me back so we could make concluding arrangements..

Thank You and God Bless.

British Heart Foundation
A Company Limited by Guarantee
Registered in England and Wales
Registered Office 14 Fitzhardinge Street, London W1H 6DH
Company Registration Number 699547
Registered Charity Number 225971

Wow! A British charity wants me to handle large sums of cash! They don't want to merely deposit their money and have it transmitted electronically from the States, they want liddle 'ol me to handle it for them! With some compensation for my efforts, after all. Check out all those registered numbers! Gotta be legit, right there. Yes, a world famous charity with it's own website uses Gmail for it's officer's email correspondence, rather than an address with their domain name. Sign me up!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Is Yours is Mine

I've mentioned several times that I'm a trucker. I took a ten year break from trucking to work for the United States Postal Service. Yep, I was a union card carrying postal worker. If you look at the url of this site, you'll see it says crazedpw. That was meant to mean crazed postal worker. I was a clerk with guns. Oh My God, what if I had gone nuts?!? I started this blog about eight or nine months after I resigned my position. On my About page, it says I've been on blogger since May 2007. Actually, if you peruse my archives, you'll see my first post was in August of 2004. I didn't do much for some time, but it was there. One of the conversions to a "new" blogger version accounted for the date discrepancy.

At any rate, I am a former postal worker. I used to say I was "gruntled" rather than disgruntled, but in retrospect, that is wrong. I was very unhappy working there. A lot of my health problems can be traced to the stress of working for that fine institution. My friends can tell you how I returned to the human race after I quit. I was no fun to be around whilst in their employ. Quitting wasn't easy - I was about maxed out on the pay scale, so I made decent money. The benefits were very good. I just couldn't stand to go there every day anymore.

I haven't written much about my experiences there. Oh yeah, there is a LOT of blog fodder to be mined. If I talk about it much with my friends, I generally go ballistic and my blood pressure goes up, and my day goes downhill. So, I've left it alone for quite some time. Most of my complaints deal with management - but the American Postal Worker's Union (APWU) didn't show me much, either. The constant battling (from both sides) and underhanded tactics to gain even the slightest appearance of an advantage didn't age well with me.

So, I'm gonna relate a rather minor incident that to my thinking illustrates the liberal point of view towards property rights and ownership of personal items. We were given a half hour for lunch. I liked to read a newspaper during this time - I usually brought a sandwich or a frozen dinner to snarf down. Thirty minutes isn't a long time to eat. The break room got a free newspaper every day, and it was pretty hard to get a decent section to read when the place was hopping. It was also a copy of The Hutchinson News. It's a fine paper, but I've alway preferred The Wichita Eagle. At that time, the Eagle had cut back on deliveries beyond Wichita, and getting one in Western Kansas could be a problem. For a while, there were entrepreneurs that brought copies out to us country folk for an extra quarter - thus the paper cost seventy five cents rather than the posted fifty. So, I'd stop at a Quick Shop before work and grab a copy so I'd have something to read at lunch. Simple enough.

I always left the copy in the break room after I was finished reading. I shared. Why let it go to waste - I could have thrown the damn thing away, but it never occurred to me. But, that wasn't enough.

One day I was chowing down while reading a section of the paper, and one of the union bigwigs was sitting next to me. He started to take my paper.

What are you doing?

I'm gonna read this section.

But I'm not done with it.

You're not reading it now.

I don't care, I'm going to. It's my paper. You can have it after I'm done.

What difference does it make? You aren't reading it now.

Don't you even ask before trying to take my paper? Buy your own damn paper.

At this point, the president of our local stepped in - on his union brother's side. I was selfish for not sharing, even though I let people read the sections as I finished. My protestations about the actual ownership of said newspaper fell on deaf ears. I literally couldn't believe what was happening. I fell through the rabbit hole that day. I finally said "Enough. It's my paper. I bought it. You can't read it until I'm done, and I've been nice enough to let y'all read the sections as I'm finished, but that stops right now. It's going in the trash from now on."

For several weeks, I guarded my paper, and when I was done, I put it with my other belongings and threw it away at home. Those assholes would have dug it out of the trash, and I wasn't leaving it there for them. I finally relented and left it in the break room - the other shift read it too and they missed it as well.

This little incident revealed to me the normal thinking of the liberal mindset. Literally, what was mine was theirs to use as they saw fit, no matter the ownership. The discussion degenerated into my pointing out that with this sort of thinking, I expected to jump in their vehicles at the end of the shift and be able to drive myself home on their dime. That was different, because that was their property. But, since they wanted to read that paper Immediately If Not Before, the ends justified the means.

So, when I hear Hillary or Obama yammering on about sacrifices for the common good, and how we need this entitlement program or another, this little incident comes to mind. It's ok to take my money, even if it's a drop in the bucket compared to the income they pull down. They aren't volunteering their money for these projects, in fact, they'll do everything necessary to hang on to every penny they can. My money, not so much. Hypocrisy means nothing to these people.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ted Rall Weirds Out Again

I kinda like keeping my finger on the pulse of some of the more loony left characters. Some folks like to go to the Democratic Underground, or The Daily Kos, or even Huffington Post. As for me, I have a couple comics subscriptions that include editorial cartoons. Which includes Ted Rall. So, I'm simple minded. Oh well.

When this cartoon appeared in my inbox this morning, I had a major WTF? moment. So, I did a bit of research. His quotes are from this article:

Q. Are you limited in your choices of editorial cartoonists? You seem to have a cadre of fewer than 10 -- some funnier than others -- out of all those cartoonists available around the country and the world. (This is a very mild criticism, as I am happy to see any editorial cartooning in The New York Times.) The same question applies to the choices of bits from the late-night comedians. It's always Leno, Letterman and Conan. Granted, they are the three top-rated and they are likelier to delve into politics, but why is there never anything from Craig Ferguson or Jimmy Kimmel? Is there a rights problem, or do you just not find them to your taste?

-- John Dillon

A. I'll leave the late-night comedians for the next set of questions. As for your comments about our selection of editorial cartoons, no, it isn't varied enough.

Thank you for your courteous tone. Most readers don't know this, but a whole subculture out there is permanently aflame over the syndicated cartoons chosen by us and other national publications like Newsweek.

Personal jealousy? Of course. Mike Luckovich of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the alpha male of this world, and they are all males, with one exception. But that's not the main reason our critics are so aggrieved. After all, we run a lot of other cartoonists, too: Mike Peters, Tom Toles, Dan Wasserman, Clay Jones, Bok, Signe Wilkinson (the only woman)....

The complaint is that we like cartoons to be funny and witty.

I thought that was the point. Apparently not. Funny too often turns into fluff, the critics say, and we're accused of avoiding hard-hitting political jabs. But what they consider daring and controversial is often sanctimonious, heavy-handed and obvious -- the Vultures-Over-Darfur School. Wit is far more powerful than finger-wagging.

At least I think so. All the Week in Review editors have had different tastes, but we've all been accused of loving the ha-ha-ha cartoon. Jon Landman, the deputy managing editor, who was at the Review from 1994-1999, once riled the cartoonists at their annual convention by telling them he thought too much of their work was dull and predictable.

What can we do to improve our mix? If things are tough for newspapers, they're even tougher for traditional newspaper cartoonists, and their ranks are dwindling. We've checked out Web-based non-establishment types. So far we haven't found much. We'll keep looking. Next month, we'll post updated guidelines and instructions for submissions. (Our print space is limited. But there's a large editorial cartoon collection, not chosen by us, on

If Luckovich is the Jay Leno (with two Pulitzer Prizes), then who are the Jon Stewarts and the Stephen Colberts?

There's a common complaint that liberals dominate the editorial cartoon biz. That's undoubtedly true. But the lockstep problem isn't political; it's creative.

By the way, why is there only one female editorial cartoonist for a big daily newspaper? Signe Wilkinson herself has one answer. "This is a job in which you cannot take criticism personally," she told The Chicago Tribune. "Women are struggling to be nice in a mean world, and cartoonists are struggling to be meaner in a mean world. Women, on average, take criticism a lot more personally than men do, and don't like giving it out for the same reason."

So, what is Ted's point? I'd say he feels his work is so much more serious and not fluff, so he's morally superior to Mike Luckovich. He's too busy trying to save the world to pander to the hoi polloi's taste for "fluff." Notice how Katy Roberts doesn't even mention Rall's name. Ouch.

Ted is upset by the sin of omission. He's an artist, dammit! He's also not funny, but that's beside the point. I'll probably be hearing from Ted's lawyers about this post - he's so sensitive, doncha know(if they happen to find me).

Plus, did you happen to notice this line:

There's a common complaint that liberals dominate the editorial cartoon biz. That's undoubtedly true. But the lockstep problem isn't political; it's creative.

Wow. That's some statement coming from a bastion of The Gray Lady. So, most cartoonists are liberal, and conservative cartoonists aren't as creative. Plus, I wonder if someone is going to take offense at her statement about women editorial cartoonists.

'World peace' Hitcher is Murdered

An Italian woman artist who was hitch-hiking to the Middle East dressed as a bride to promote world peace has been found murdered in Turkey.

Imagine my surprise. Idealism - meet the real world.

Leah Meter Maid

One thing the internet has done for us is to make the world a far smaller place. Any of you who read these scribblings know I've not had the greatest time as far as health goes in the past four months. One of my favorite bloggers, Steve H. of Hog on Ice, linked my prairie dog post and told the world about my health problems - the second time he did so. One of the commenters wishing me well was Leah Friedman, and eighteen year old girl from Israel.

Steve found out just the other day about her problems. Like I said, she is only eighteen. She is a supporter of gay rights and helping those with AIDS. She supports the reestablishment of Eretz Israel. She also has a severe heart condition that required the installation of a defibrillator. The doctors had to increase her meds, and she had a reaction that led her into respiratory arrest. She may have brain damage. She has come out of a coma, signed to her parents that she loves them, and asked for a Coke - so she is improving.

Leah and her family have also received threatening emails, comments on her blog and phone calls. Members of "The Religion of Peace©" are responsible. Yes, those brave individuals who tell us we are the spawn of Satan are showing how honorable they are by threatening an eighteen year old girl in a coma. So, her parents and friends have removed her email and picture from her website.

Now, if G_d calls me home tomorrow, I will have few regrets. I've been on the planet a few years and have had the opportunity to live a life. However, in my humble opinion, Leah has not. I have been praying for her to improve, and posting supportive comments on her blog. It is the least I can do. I ask you to do the same. Her blog is called Leah Meter Maid. If you've got a moment, send up a prayer for her. It does seem to be working.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More Health Information

Remember - getcher nether regions checked! The Poor Farm is always concerned about your health. Yep, I mean you.

There was no Fox affiliate out here on the windy prairie until a few years ago. Clearly, we missed out.

Product Endorsment

The Poor Farm heartily endorses this fine product. Heh.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stolen Identity

Originally uploaded by jeffropo
Yep. I can relate.

O'Donnell: 'Let Me Take Britney's Place'

"I sort of feel Britney has become the poster child (for mental illness). The kid is very young. She never had a childhood. She never rode a Big Wheel.

"Rather than put her face on mental illness, or Brooke Shields, who had postpartum depression, use me."

Noooo problem, Rosie. I had you pegged as nucking futz a loooooong time ago.

H/T Sondra K

Gag Me With A Spoon

That was one of the sayings the girls in my high school used in the distant past - it was right up there with "Ewww, gross." Anyways - aren't we all getting more than a little tired of the Sobe Lifewater commercial? Yeah, the one with Naomi Campbell and lizards dancing to "Thriller." Boy, there are a bunch of positive commercial icons for ya. Naomi - poster child for antisocial behavior, lizards getting some sort of druggie buzz from the water, and a song by a pedophile. Just what I want to see, and what kids need to be watching for inspiration.

A plain lizard leaps up to catch a drop or so of the vitamin water Naomi swills - guess she is messy, too. It transforms into a brightly colored lizard with glinting eyes, and suddenly more brightly lizards and a grasshopper appear, dancing in formation. Meanwhile, Naomi is apparently dancing to a different tune. One of the lizards eats the grasshopper, and we get a flash of the grills in some of the lizard's teeth. Wow. So cool. It's counterculture, man. Where are the baggy pants falling off asses and backwards caps? Wow. Them thar lizards aren't brotherly at all - they are predatory! Sooooo out there, man.

Looks like to me someone had dropped a hit or three more of "Vitamin A" than they could handle, and this bad trip has been foisted upon us as a result. This is supposed to sell a particular brand of vitamin water that isn't mentioned until a couple seconds at the end? This thing premiered as a Super Bowl commercial, fer G_d sakes. Somewhere, there are some ad types laughing in their bong water that they actually got this on national tv.

If you just have to see this commercial - go here. I'm not posting the damn thing. I'm tired of seeing it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Bad Anniversary

Ya know, I was a Democrat growing up. I hate to admit it now, but I voted for Bubba. Twice. What changed me? I bought a Smith and Wesson 686 more on a whim than anything - I just felt that The Poor Farm needed a bit more firepower than .22 rifles and a couple shotguns. It may have served Dad all those years, but I felt just a tad undergunned.

At any rate, the conversion began with this purchase. I realized the Democratic Party was pretty much after that wheelgun, and just about anything else as well, "hunting purposes" not withstanding. I started down the slippery slope of gun collecting. I figured I'd better get to buying or else I would be unable to get them later. Well, that was a revelation. The idea that the Constitution wasn't subject to "feelings" or "modern day revisionism" became more evident. Soul searching on issues became the order of the day. If I hold that liberals are wrong on the gun issue, then logically I cannot support them on so many other ideas. You can't sit on both sides of the fence. It's been an education for sure. The people I know who have embraced conservatism since an early age have it all over me as far as knowledge of issues and where they stand. I have to look at an issue and decide how it "fits" within my philosophy.

It seems to me that the Constitution is not a living document. The second amendment isn't a collective right - particularly since none of the others are. Plus, the Constitution doesn't give anyone any rights. It enumerates and defines the rights we are born with. The Bill of Rights was designed to tell our government to keep their sticky fingers out of our rights, not to give them to us. The idea of balance of power between the three branches of government was a finely tuned plan of action. The Founders looked for various ways the whole thing could go wrong, and tweaked their rules accordingly. Yes, it was written in the style of the time, which is somewhat confusing today. For instance, there is a very good reason for the electoral college. It keeps larger population centers from controlling the destiny of our great nation. The Founders saw the mood swings of popular sentiment controlling our government as a bad thing. We are not a democracy. We are a republic. We don't directly control government, but we do have a voice.

Then we come to the 17th amendment. It took effect on this day in 1913. Tam knocks one out of the park on her blog. The reason why we didn't have direct election of senators, and the ill effects of the change are covered very well there. Go and Read!!!!

This is one of the soul searching issues I ran up against several years ago. The idea of a popular democracy and citizens having a more direct involvement in government was an ideal that I subscribed to. However, it was just an ideal. In actual practice, the Founders had foreseen the popular vote as bad for the long term health of our nation. They were truly geniuses, and their document needs us to keep our greedy fingers off of it. So, if you haven't already, Go Read Tam.