Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm Stepping Up

I've decided it's time for me to take a stand for our country, our ideals, and beliefs.

Totally ripped off from Dax Montana through The McGehee Zone.

My New Pals

Do y'all have any idea how hard it is to get two puppies and a shy, grumpy old dog to stay in a picture frame?

The other day, I got home and was greeted by this:

They barked and barked at me. I was something new, and even though it was my yard, I was trespassing. I wondered where Babs, my dog, was. After calling to her, she came from underneath the porch steps where she'd been hiding from flies. Oh, man, I just thought I'd been trespassing. These two little devils were not happy about her. Babs just wanted to be friends, but they weren't having any part of it. In her overtures of friendship, she more or less ran them off the property.

Well, it turns out they belong to my neighbors. They are of course Jack Russell terriers. The neighbors wanted a couple and found some puppies east of here a ways. They had four. There were some others who said they wanted one, too. However, when Brent came home with the four puppies, they backed out. Brent was now the proud owner of all four puppies.

Two females ended up at their north place - they keep two houses to cover their farming empire. The two males stayed at the south place, about a quarter mile south of me. I called JoAnne the other day, and she confirmed the dogs were theirs. They were tired of the barking at Babs, plus they had been messing with Brent's guineas. Normally, that is a capital crime for a pet, but it seems Brent has an even softer spot for his new acquisitions.

But, time has passed, and now they can't get enough of Babs. They pretty well live here. I feed Babs a mix of wet and dry dog food - some version of blackbirds eat up her dry food faster than she can, so I try to meter it out during the night, and give her a can of wet food during the day. She shares the dry food. The wet food, not so much.

I haven't helped the situation much. I've been feeding them treats when I give Babs something. It's only fair - I not going to give Babs a treat and refuse these youngsters. After all, I don't want to traumatize their childhood.

In one pic above, Babs was ducking her head to paw flies. I really need to put some grease on the little devil's ears as well. Flies are always a problem when cattle are near, and bovines reign here at The Poor Farm. I've got to get some pics of the calves playing - they can be a riot.

I'm sure when things all settle down, the pups will move home and Babs can get some rest. But for now, they are pretty entertaining. I stepped out last evening and one had found something alive, and both were extremely excited as they pursued the creature. After the one had captured whatever it was chasing, he spit it right out. You could almost hear the "ptooey" and "ack, ack, ack." I'm sure it was a toad, and this was his learning experience that they don't taste good.

I am surprised at Bab's reaction to the pups - she has always been the jealous type in the past. Perhaps she is the lonely type at the moment, but I'm thinking she'll be cured of that pretty soon.

And on the plus side, while they are here, they aren't mauling guineas. They don't bark louder than my A/C plus television, so mostly they aren't bothering me. When they bother Babs too much, she'll show them the way home.

Meanwhile, it's a lot of fun to have them around.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

No Harvest for You Today

Once again the pictures my phone takes are of such high quality. My real camera is in the truck. It rained early this morning, and it rained enough and stayed cool long enough to stop harvest in it's tracks. You can see the water standing in the summer fallow in front of the machines. If it got hot and windy enough, the moisture in the grain would drop enough to cut even with the fields being a bit sticky.

That is a John Deere combine with a blue header - you are not seeing things. It's a stripper header, made by Shelbourne Reynolds.

The average small grain header consists of the platform, the auger, the cutting bar, and the reel. The reel (the windmill looking deallie) brings the grain to the cutting bar and forces it against the auger. After the stalks are clipped by the cutter bar, the auger takes the head and stalk to the center of the platform, where the feeder housing takes the grain inside the combine for threshing. I'm not gonna get into the differences between rotary and conventional machines. The operator sets the cutter bar to clip the greatest amount of heads without making the machine eat a bunch of straw, so adjustments are made as the combine moves through the field. If the crop is heavy, the combine operator slows the machine's ground speed, and if the crop is light, they speed it up. Combines work best when they are under a load.

The advantage of a stripper header is that the heads of wheat are stripped from the stalk without grain loss or shattering, plus not running so much material through the combine. Ground speeds can be increased. Some farmers bale their straw behind a stripper header. The straw has no feed value, but it can be used as bedding and when fed with grains give some roughage in winter feeding operations.

I've always enjoyed running a combine - there are so many things to keep after. Doing the job correctly always gave me great satisfaction. Yep, I'm a gearhead fer sure. I haven't run one with GPS and accurate grain monitors. Back in my day, the grain monitors worked but only after fiddling with them endlessly. Grain monitors tell you how much the machine is "throwing over." The traditional way to test is to get behind the machine after it makes a cutting pass, mark out a square foot, and count the grains on the ground. You should also get behind just the header before the straw is thrown out the rear to check the header loss as well - if the reel is too fast or too slow, it might be beating the grain out of the head before it can fall into the header. Plus, you should check the ground before the combine goes over because there is loss from the weather as well. That is how a savvy operator can determine exactly how much grain the combine is actually losing. Then adjustments can be made - speed up or slow down the threshing cylinder, open or close the concaves a bit, open or close the sieves, and speed up or slow the fan. Believe me, the factory operator's manual comes in dern handy, because they recommend a structured approach to solving the problem, and give the starting settings based on crop conditions.

Then, you have to have the combine running at the right ground speed. Go too fast, and it will plug up, or "slug" it. Go too slow, and it will throw grain over big time. The header must be set at the best height - low enough to get the greatest percentage of grain, but not too high to miss some. Wheat always has some "sucker heads" that are stunted plants with heads that have little grain in them. It's ok to cut over them - it's not worth the load on the combine to eat that much more straw to get a few grains that might be so light they'll blow out the rear of the machine.

The reel has to be set for speed and height as well. Taller wheat requires a higher setting. I always set the reel bats just a tad below the heads, so that when they were cut, the straw and heads flipped into the auger. I always told kids running a combine for the first time to set the reel speed by imagining if the reel would come off the combine and keep on going, it would slightly walk away from the combine. The reel has to run a tiny bit faster than the ground speed. One good thing is that the reel speed automatically speeds up when the operator increases ground speed. If the reel speed is too slow, the cutter bar won't cut cleanly and the stubble is "shagged" and heads will be missed and grain knocked out of the head.

Most of these settings change as the field is traversed. The crop gets thinner and shorter, so the header is dropped and the speed is increased. As the crop gets taller and thicker, well, ya do the opposite.

Then, you also have to dump your load when the bin fills up, which usually means dumping "on the go." A tractor pulling a grain cart, or even a truck will pull up beside you as you cut, varying your ground speed and header height as always, and you have to unfold the auger and dump into the truck or cart. Tractors with dual drive wheels just about hit the header when it's close enough to keep from dumping grain on the ground. So, a sharp eye has to be kept on the cart. Two way radios are very useful in this situation. A grain cart is "worth" as much or more than another combine in the field, because the combine doesn't have to quit cutting, "road" over to the trucks, dump, and "road" back to the uncut crop. The grain cart is used to haul the grain to the trucks.

Now before y'all begin to think this is right up there with rocket science or brain surgery, I'll say that thousands of high school kids do this all summer long each year without (much) incident. Once yer in the groove, it can be done with one eye closed. I should know, I've cut many an acre about half asleep.

Plus, today's machines are a far cry from what I learned on. Dad had a Model 55 John Deere - fourteen foot header and all. It had a cab with no A/C or water cooler, but it had a blower. That was a luxury - the custom harvesters who cut Dad's wheat (he helped with his machine) had Gleaner CIIs with no cabs. The kids who ran them looked like reverse raccoons. They all wore goggles to protect their eyes, and they were sunburned to a crisp every where else. Those old machines didn't have cab controlled reels, or hydrostatic drive. They had variable speeds, which meant you chose a gear that had a minimum speed and a max speed, rather than reverse to full speed ahead available with a hydrostat. No radios, no GPS, no two way communications, no grain monitors, no built in refrigerators and some without power steering.

That little 55 couldn't even cut out the wheel tracks of today's combines, nor was it's unloading auger high enough for the trucks and grain carts we use now. But, in it's day, it was high tech. I always preferred to run Gleaners - their ergonomics and controls were way ahead of everyone else. However, I'd prefer to work on CaseIH combines - their simplicity has kicked all the other's butts for years. To replace a belt or chain on a John Deere generally meant removing other belts and chains to get to the one you wanted, after removing several panels. For years, they had chains and belts running the header - a chain going to a shaft that would transmit it's motion to the end of the header to run the cutter bar and the reel, while CaseIH had hydraulic lines that ran out there to a hydraulic motor that ran the operations. No bearings, chains, belts or pulleys, just metal lines and flex hoses.

But, I haven't really kept up lately, John Deere has a brand new line out that is supposed to be the bee's knees. They may well be. I'd figure I could climb in one and still make it cut wheat at any rate. If I get time this weekend, I may have to go fill in for someone while they eat lunch or supper and run one for a while.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not Your Average Snow Globe

I know when summer starts and temps reach one hundred degrees, I am always reminded of snow globes. What, you aren't? Well, maybe it's just me.

Not just any old scene will do. I'm twisted enough to see the dark humor.

And besides, it is art!

H/T Ace of Spades

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pud Load

Morning, rest area east of the KS-CO state line on I70. I've always wanted to check out free internet access at one of these - so I got up earlier to do so.

The truck I've been driving had issues Tuesday. I was noticing some vibration. That is not unusual - steer axle tires wear out of round a lot on these trucks. The cranes we carry really load up the front axle. But, I happened to glance at my differential temperature gauges (one for the front driver, one for the rear, plus one for the transmission) and the front diff was pegged. Uh oh.

So, I pulled over and put my hand on the housing. Yep, burned my fingers. I was able to get it to the nearest truck stop. I'd been running with an owner operator so I had another trailer to work with. Another one of "our" (another owner operator's truck and driver) trucks happened to be there as well. We waited for the repair shop to look at the drive axle to check it out, but we got tired of waiting and decided we had it diagnosed correctly. When I let the clutch out, it would really crack. If I threw the interaxle differential switch on, it quit. So, it was the power divider.

So, we used my crane to "deck" one of the trailers onto another. If we didn't do that, someone would have to "bobtail" to that location to pick up that trailer. Much easier to load it and carry it with us. We used another of our drop deck flatbeds to haul the tractor back home. All we needed was a loading dock, which most implement dealers have on their lots. The local John Deere dealer was the place.

So, into another truck. This one is an International 9900i we bought new last year. The driver is s out with carpal tunnel surgery, so I'm driving it. The load is six 100 bbl water tanks that are 10' diameter and about six feet tall. So, it's a "narrow" load as far as wide loads go. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird, but after hauling sixteen wides, a ten wide is pretty easy.

The motel I stayed at had internet access advertised, but the reality? Not so much. I was put in the furthest room from the office on the second floor of two. Well, I had internet access in the hallway or in the lobby, but that isn't where I wanted it. The owner kept insisting no one else ever had any problems, so I showed him. This laptop picks up signals pretty well. The Comfort Inn next door had three access points I could pick up, but the required a username and password.

He wouldn't give me a different room, either. I'd already gone down to replace a defective remote, and the replacement didn't work either. They need to invest in some batteries.

A lot of these motels have a Linksys router from Wally World in their office where their cable, DSL, or satellite modem is located, and expect that to be an enterprise solution. I've yet to see a Linksys router/wireless access point handle more than about ten or fifteen users, or not be rebooted once a day. This guy was just clueless. I'd expect no one with a laptop had even used the room. So, I'll try somewhere else next time, there are plenty of places in the area to stay that I can park.

Well, better get back to work. Y'all take care now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Checking The Load

La Junta, Co. Those are 300 bbl oil tanks - nine feet tall and fifteen and a half (16, more or less) feet wide. An escort is required. The escort vehicles have to stop for gas, and I always check my load (see how tight the chains are, etc.), kick the tires, look for any oil leaks, tighten the flags and signs (I lost two flags today - the screws that hold them in place vibrated right out and I lost the screws and flags - but I carry spares), plus just get out and move around.

These wide loads are pretty stressful, particularly on mountain passes and "skinny" roads. Most lanes are at least eleven feet wide. If I put my right steer tire directly on the white line (fog line) on most roads, the left side of the tanks hang directly over the "zipper" or centerline.

That is if there aren't guardrails, reflectors, signs, construction barrels, pedestrians, cars or trucks on the side of the road, bicyclists, light poles or any other obstruction fairly close to the "fog line." Sometimes, we have no choice but to hang it over in the other lane because we'll damage the load against a guardrail or even a rock wall in the canyons.

Plus, we like to "drive fast and look serious."

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The finish of the friendship was earlier this week. I read a dear friend's (private) blog and saw something that immediately angered me. I saw that some information had been withheld from me, and it seemed to me that I was to be thrown under the bus, as it were.

So, I cut the passage that proved it to me, and said something snarky, and sent it on. I figured I'd never hear from this person again - since I was being dropped, further communication wouldn't be forthcoming. I talked about it to another friend, and they agreed. The clincher was when I got to my motel room that night and checked my email there was no reply. I was also kicked off the private site. Further proof that I was correct.

So, I was going to have the last word. From my elevated point of moral superiority, I called hypocrisy, and complained about the lack of communication. I kept it fairly short, considering what I wanted to say. Over the years, I've become jaded about these things, and if someone does me wrong, they hear about it one way or another. I've gone quietly into the night more than I care to.

So, I sent it on. I got caught up with some of the blogs I read, and was pretty well shot. I then noticed my spam folder had a fairly high number in, so I looked it over.

Two messages from my former friend. The first, which was the second one sent, asked me to not send any more emails or call again. This person had enough people in their life that judged too harshly without knowing them.

Oh great.

The second email - the first one sent, explained what had happened in a completely logical way. Plus, my ex friend had been very ill.

Ohhh, man, did I ever screw up.

Number one - the first email was a pretty deadly salvo, but the second was a barrage after my ex friend had requested no more contact.

Two - I was totally wrong. I was quick to judge without adequate information. I based my actions on unsubstantiated feelings. I'd always been right in the past, but not with the caliber of person my friend is.

Three - the moral superiority I thought I had? Not so much. I harped on about hypocrisy, when I am the hypocrite. I've always complained that I've suffered from the suffering other people have experienced being passed on to me. The fact that they had been treated like shit made them believe they could do the same to me without any reason other than I was there and handy. Passing the hate and discontent on, for whatever reason. I did exactly what I've bitched about and what pisses me off.

I'm sure there are other areas that I have not figured out, but these will do for now. I'm not the laid back jolly fellow I've always pictured myself as. Obviously, I can be a cruel asshole without adequate provocation.

So, I am so very sorry. I wish I could take it all back, but there is no way.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

No amount of trying to convey the depth of my sorrow will ever work - I am so sorry, I used italics - yeah, like that will help.

Nor will the quantity of words work - the child I was years ago, scrawling "I will not talk in class" several hundred times - no, that approach will not work either. The words we use to hurt each other are far stronger than the words of reconciliation.

I cannot buy my way out of this by sending flowers, or a card, or a letter, or a heartfelt email. The request that I not contact them anymore was one that I will strictly honor, even though I blew it once already. I'll not do that again. This is the only logical avenue I have left. I have caused pain. Just letting it slide and not saying anything at all is not in my nature. I have to take responsibility for my actions, even if they are detestable.

Is this posting going to make me feel better? Not really. My only hope is that my friend reads this and realizes I know what an ass I have been. Maybe that will ease what I've done. Do I think I will be forgiven and all will be sunshine and lollipops? Not hardly.

If this happened to me I wouldn't be too wild about forgiveness. What was originally said was bad enough, but the second email I sent - well, reading about facets of my personality that I was unaware of would not endear me to the person who sent that, for sure.

Plus, I'm obviously big on reading indicators of personalities and how they will act in the future. Well, geez, here is obvious proof I flake out and act badly. Yup, a future with me as a pal has been proven beyond a doubt to be rocky. So, even if my ex friend reads this, I don't expect anything.

So, my friend, I think of the flowers you sent me while I was hospitalized. When someone asked me who sent them, I was proud to say it was you. When I think of the Christmas present I sent you - late as it was, I hoped no one had given you anything like it. I was so tickled that you liked it. I wanted to make you happy, if only for a short time. Now, I've screwed that up.

Now, some of my regular readers will probably know who this is. This person values their privacy. I may even be violating that privacy by even posting this. So, any guesses or snarky comments will be deleted. I may delete this post, particularly if my friend wants it that way, and I find they are offended by it. I'll kill comments, or whatever is necessary. I trust, though, that everyone has the good taste not to do such a thing - I'm sure this is all unnecessary. But, I'm just saying - I'm laying out the ground rules here. I've hurt this person enough.


I posted earlier about how my "new" truck had to go to Wichita to get pinstriped by "Nadine." One of our guys drove it there to get the wheels polished out and to have Nadine lay some pinstripes on it. She uses the same font for our lettering, as you will see, but she is free to use whatever colors or patterns she wants everywhere else. She also keeps track of what she has used on previous trucks of ours so there is some commonality.

This is the left fender behind the headlight. She has the fender well outlined and the little design she used there is her idea. This is also where she put her signature. She signs all her trucks in a rather discreet fashion, if ya ask me.

This is the left side of the hood. She also painted the truck number.

I deliberately didn't shoot our company name. It wouldn't be hard to figure it out, but I'm not going to completely give it away. Her lettering for the company name is far more elaborate than what you see here.

Most of our trucks are white with blue fenders and trim, matching our blue and white Cormach knuckle boom cranes. This is the right side of the hood of one of our brand new Kenworths.

Nadine started putting this "medallion" on the fender line on our newer trucks. The older ones lack this little detail.

Note the same fonts as my truck, just different colors.

The design on the fairing behind the doors. I tried to get my camera to take a pic of her signature in the design, but it wouldn't focus closer to the white truck like it did on mine.

This is what she does with a black canvas - hood right side International 9400i. The striping is starting to chip away on this truck - too many power washes rather than hand washing. This truck gets washed at the Blue Beacon quite a bit.

This is all hand painted. I've seen her work, and she does lay out some character lines, but most of it is free hand. She uses a palette to mix her slightly different shades of color. She'll also touch up her work for a period of time as well. I think she charged about $450 or less for my truck. Sleeper trucks cost more - the more area to be covered, etc.

So, if you are ever on the High Plains, and happen to see a truck go by with rather tasteful pinstripes and classic lettering, it's probably Nadine's work.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Scott Kalitta Killed

NHRA Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta was killed in competition at Englishtown NJ just a few hours ago. He is on the same team as Hillary Will, who's blog is linked on my sidebar.

I saw the crash on ESPN2, and it was terrible. I'm sure it will be shown on YouTube soon. I'm not sure I recommend seeing it - his car catches fire, the chute was burned to uselessness, and he smashed into the retaining wall at the end of the track at a very high rate of speed.

It had to be horrible.

Edit: this post is all of a sudden very popular with searches for video of Scott's crash, and I've had to delete a pretty sick comment. No, I don't have a link for the video, so get over it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This 'N That Part II

Lotus Elite - seen in Brush, CO early Monday evening. The driver of this car hauling rig was easily four or five inches taller than me. There was some difficulty fitting him in this little hot rod. I missed a shot of the cool car today - I was yakking on the phone when I met the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, headed west on I70 just east of Goodland KS. So, no pic - since I was using my camera for it's original function.

Hah! I was wired up in the hospital for a jump start - there were four wires going into my chest. When they needed to use them, one had apparently been pulled out by accident (my pulse had dropped to 20 or 40 bpm - fergit which). The external pacemakers apparently need four wires, but they cobbled me up for a while. After the wires were deemed unnecessary, a nurse pulled them right out. No more Energizer Bunny hookups for me!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


A comment by Leah Friedman on this post really got me to thinking the past couple days. I was reminiscing about a missed opportunity for love, and she had this to say:

What a nice story, like two ships passing.
I'm not old enough to have many "what if's" just one and G_d made the decision for me. He was killed in the 2007 war with Lebanon.

Leah has had more than her share of trouble in this ol' world. She is now nineteen. Her health problems still plague her - her last brush with death left her virtually speechless and paralyzed. One of her best friends (a member of the IDF) is recovering from having her spleen removed. Leah lives in Israel and has to deal with all that entails these days. Just being a Jew in Israel is like having a bullseye painted on your back 24/7. She is still fighting for her pet causes, like Eretz Israel, which does not endear herself to those who look at her as a target.

And yet, she endures. So young but so strong. Would I be as strong as her at that age? Hell, I'm not even sure I'm that stout even now. Is life sweeter on the continual edge of death and sorrow? I can tell you my life has been altered since putting a foot in the grave. With ten to fourteen hour days a staple these days, I find I don't have the energy on weekends to live it up much. But, I certainly appreciate what G_d has allowed me to do.

But, it is contrasts like this that really set me back. Here I am talking about a possible lost love. I didn't have suicide bombers trying to take me out in that dusty old warehouse years ago. The love of my life was not killed by enemies of my country. Here I am bitching about putting in long hours and not having enough "me" time. However, I don't have rockets from across the border aimed and shot at me on a regular basis. I don't live in a country besieged on all sides by actively hostile enemies. Well, maybe Canada, but there you go.

So, upon reflection, I have to say: Thank you, G_d, for allowing me this time on your planet in such a wealthy and safe place to live. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know people from far flung lands, plus other fine individuals in this privileged country. Thank you for the close friends I have made over the years, and the opportunities to interact with them in a positive manner. Thank you for allowing me to rediscover prayer. I enjoy talking to you every day. I've got to work on seeing you every Sunday, I know. So, given a second chance, I want to continue to grow, pray for my friends, and enjoy every day that I am allowed. Please keep me from being too egocentric and selfish, for that is not what you want from me.

And G_d, please look after my friends. Particularly those you have put in harm's way.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Junior Wins at Michigan

The long drought is over. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is known worldwide as simply Junior, broke a non winning streak of 76 races. He has endured sniping about his abilities as a driver - such as he is only where he is because of his last name. Forget how Daddy didn't just give him a job - he had to work his way up. Or that he lacks the will to win. Or his stepmother was right - he needed to work at driving more than partying.

This win won't silence those sort of critics, particularly since this was a "fuel mileage" victory. The Rocket 88 had to be pushed to Victory Lane, and Jr. didn't do a burnout (he's on record as thinking they are overdone and too hard on equipment). Critics say when you win by a superior fuel strategy, you back into a victory. As opposed to winning by a superior handling car or more power.

Oh well, such is the world of Nascar. Junior had a rather poignant interaction with his boss and sometime mentor Rick Hendrick. Rick, who has lost a son of Junior's vintage, and of course Junior has lost his famous father. Winning on this, of all days, meant something personal to both of them. It was touching to see Junior wish everyone a good Father's Day during his post race interview as well. It was clear that he meant it.

Mostly, he seemed like the weight of the world was off his shoulders. He's had victory in his sights many times this season only to see it go up in smoke for one reason or another - say, like getting punted by the media's latest darling, The Shrub. Ron Hornaday and Kevin Harvick had a thing or two to say about Kyle's latest escapade in the Truck Series.

But, this is all typical Nascar goodness. It's not just the action on the track, it's also the soap opera qualities a fan can enjoy. Which I obviously do.

Photo courtesy Restrictor-Plate This

Just Damn!

As of Thursday evening, my dispatcher had nothing for me Friday. So, as is my custom, I shut my cell phone off. I got a call at 7:15 am the next day - they had something for me to do. It was a short haul to drop off some tanks at a yard, so there was no big rush. I remembered to turn on my phone on the way to work.

I had a rather cryptic message from my Sis. "If you get this message within the next ten minutes, give me a call." It had been left at around 7:30am. It was now about nine. Well, ya leave me a message like that - I gotta know what's up. So, I called her back.

Turns out she found an abandoned Great Pyrenees pup. He had been out for a while - his coat was full of stickers, and he was thin as a rail. Sis is involved in animal rescue efforts - she generally is hosting several kittens until they get adopted. Even though she is allergic to cats.

I have wanted a Great Pyrenees for years. I like big dogs. I like St. Bernards, but they can suffer in our summer heat. Great Pyrenees are better suited to the heat. Ergo, that's what I want.

However, I'm not home much anymore, except on weekends. Not good for a puppy. Plus, Babs is pretty well invested in the idea that she is the queen of all she surveys. A puppy would rock her world, and not in a good way. My buddies with dogs drop by with their hounds sometimes, and she is not much on their visits. She's a one man dog, and kinda expects me to be a one dog man. It's only fair, after all.

Sis knows I want a Great Pyrenees. Here was my opportunity. But, she wasn't surprised to hear me say no. She had to try, if only for the sake of the pup. I asked her if she took him to the lesbian vets. No, they were full.

The lesbian vets are two women that run a vet clinic together, and take in strays. They are part of a no euthanasia network. By the way, I call them the lesbian vets to be flip, not because I think less of them. I've been to the clinic, and they obviously are good, kind hearted professionals who are extremely popular with their clientèle, both human and animal.

So, the afore mentioned pup is residing at the pound, where his existence is not guaranteed. I really doubt he'll have any problems getting adopted, but to ease my conscience and help my Sis sleep better: If you are in the Oklahoma City area or have a desire for such a dog, let me know. I'll find out the pertinent info from Sis.

Just Damn! (with apologies to Dax Montana)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

She Danced For Me

I was listening to
Brass in Pocket
, by Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders coming home today, and as always, it brings a memory.

When this song came out, I was working at the warehouse for a discount store chain. The job paid a bit more than minimum wage, which is generally what they paid for jobs at their store. There were several women doing the dirty work right there with us guys. It was a physical job - I lost a lot of weight whilst employed there.

One of the women was a simple, but nice girl. She had just had a baby boy, who's father had taken off. She found the best paying job she could to support herself and the kid - the work was harder, but she took home more. She had a glandular problem that made her smell. She was highly embarrassed about it, but she couldn't afford to do much about it.

So, she didn't get out much, and her social life was pretty limited, for a gal looking for a baby daddy. She made it clear she liked me. One day, we were alone. Brass In Pocket was playing on the radio, she started dancing to the song, and singing "I'm gonna make you, make you, make you notice...." and so on. Dancing, for me.

That was my clue. She had a pretty hot bod, long straight brown hair, a pleasant face and some crooked teeth. Really, she looked pretty good. The glandular thing didn't bother me - with proper meds, she would be fine.

Buuut, like I said, she was fairly simple. She wasn't dumb by any means, but having a conversation beyond whatever was on television last night was largely useless. I wanted more then and I do now as well. I could have been in her drawers quite easily, but my withholding commitment would have hurt her badly. She didn't need that. I had also discovered the maxim: Thou shall not dip thy quill in the company inkwell.

We both moved on - I transferred to the store they had in the same town so I could go back to college and work a better schedule. I saw her several years later, working at a Hardees. She had put on weight, found a guy, and had another kid. She seemed happy.

I think about opportunities lost once in a while. Would I have been able to live with someone like her? I still doubt it - I'm quite sure I'd have been cuttingly sarcastic with her when I got bored. My long suffering sister can attest to that. But, my success rate with the more "complex" women I've chased is exactly 0%. So what the hell do I know. Ahh well.

Sweety, whatever and wherever you are these days, I hope life has been good to you and you are happy. I'm sure you're better off without me. I hold the memory of you tossing your hair and your swiveling hips, singing the lyrics softly and pointedly to me quite fondly. A moment in time when you were at your best, frozen in my memory.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

World Harvest For Kids

Raiding the ol' email inbox again. I got these pictures with this information:

Record setting harvest was done in 2006, in Winkler, Manitoba , Canada .
160 acres was harvested with 100 combines and several grain trucks in 10 minutes and 15 seconds. This record will be entered in the Guiness World.
Proceeds of this crop is to be sent to a kids camp.
That's how we get it done in Canada !

Well, guess what. There is a website. They have more pics and a few videos - this drew quite a crowd.

One thing that is done differently in the "north country" is the growing season is much shorter than we enjoy in the south. While we grow "winter" wheat that is planted in the fall, lies dormant during the winter, grows in the spring, and is harvested in the summer, after ripening in the field. "Spring" wheat is planted in the spring and is swathed to kill the plant and let the wheat dry. This is what the combines are threshing in the pictures. A regular small grain header won't work on the windrows. A piece of equipment called a pickup reel is required. We use swathers on alfalfa and grass to windrow for balers, but that's about it in this area.

Also, in the top picture, you can see several trucks lined up. The far right one with all the wheels is known as a "B Train." These guys haul some serious weight. Wikipedia says they operate in Canada, but they also are permitted in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Either that, or the ones I've seen are outlaws.

The Feds have a law that truckers call "The Bridge Law." It is a formula that determines how far apart axles must be when considering the gross weight of each axle. The further apart the axles, the more the truck can "bridge." There are limits on how long the truck can be, plus there are gross weight limits as well, no matter how many axles the unit has. But, that varies by state. A "B Train" could only gross 85,500 pounds in Kansas. Since they are so heavy (tare weight), it would be a waste to try to haul here with that kind of equipment.

So, it's interesting to me to see the commonalities and differences in equipment and procedures that different states and Canada use for harvesting and hauling grain. Plus, having 100 combines in a field at the same time is just cool, I don't care who you are.

Story of My Life

Pretty much sums up my life in my late teens and early twenties. Waaaay back then, Kansas allowed eighteen year old citizens to purchase 3.2% beer. To get the hard stuff (6%!!!! Wow, ever so much better!) and the REAL booze you had to be twenty one. I had a fake ID for the liquor stores, but I never needed it.

I heard this the other morning on The Bob and Tom Show. It's on a station almost at the edge of reception. I have a station who's tower is only about four miles from here that used to have The John Boy and Billy Big Show. But, they quit carrying them.

Well, I quit listening, then. So there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amy G. Kazoochee

Amy G. Kazoochee - More amazing videos are a click away

Very suggestive, but nothing untowards. Thanks, Eddie - made my day.

Livin' High!

The jug of Crown Royal amongst all the cash makes this cartoon. Heh.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Duke

Tomorrow, June 11, will be the anniversary of John Wayne's (Marion Robert Morrison) death. Since I'm not sure if I'll have internet access wherever I end up, I'm gonna jump the gun.

I've always liked the Duke and his movies. For a time, I was a liberal and his forthright patriotism seemed corny and embarrassing. Now, my old attitude is what embarrasses me. He never fought in any wars, like his buddy Jimmy Stewart, but he sure typified the epitome of the rough, durable, honest and patriotic United States fighting man. His unabashed patriotism in a time of discord and strife just shows me his mettle today. He didn't care what anyone thought of him or his love for his country. You have to respect that.

He also typified the archetypal cowboy - skilled with a gun and invested in the code of the West. He was just as much a character off screen as on, and his work ethic was legendary.

Above is a snippet of his Oscar winning portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. It's one of my all time favorite scenes. I prefer some of his other movies, but this scene typifies the concept of The Duke probably as much or more than most. All it is missing is his trademark walk.

I'm sure that AMC or TCM will run a marathon of his movies tomorrow, and I'm equally sure that I'll miss them. Even though I've probably seen them all at least thirty seven times each. For instance, I'd rather watch old Duke movies over and over and over long before I can even finish excrescence like Brokeback Mountain. Yeah, I'm a Luddite for old fashioned values. It's hard earned and learned behavior, so if ya don't like it, bite me.


It's about that bad. I was pressured to pay my deductible for the nerve procedures. I had to tell them I hadn't worked in over x amount of months, and could barely afford the bills I already had. I was pressured to at least make a token payment. Even though my insurance was covering most of the costs.

It's gonna take a long time to pay them all off, and I've been concentrating on my immediate bills that were behind first - oh, like the phone, electricity, insurance, propane - well, you get the idea. The rest will just have to wait, and take what little I can send.

Geez, do ya think that cartoon hit a nerve? Heh.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Season Two: Ice Road Truckers

Ice Road Truckers,
the reality show that was such a big hit on the History Channel, is back for another season. I'll admit I was hooked last year - mostly because of the personalities of the truckers and how they met their challenges. I didn't have much use for Hugh - he seemed to be a blowhard who blamed equipment failures on his drivers. He bought four trucks at an auction and put them on the ice road. You wouldn't catch me in a junk truck under those conditions, much less any other situation. These trucks were one wheel away from the truck graveyard, and that is where they probably would have ended up if Hugh didn't buy them. His main driver Rick had one that the heater never worked properly. How the hell was that his fault?

Anyways, I rooted for Rick, TJ, Alex and Jay. TJ was a rookie, and did well. Alex was the grizzled veteran who never lost his cool. Jay was the young professional who grew up on the ice, and who coolly met the challenges that came his way. Drew, another of Hugh's drivers, was a nice guy, but he had some troubles that didn't make sense. For instance, he lost his battery box. It wasn't his fault it fell off, but his not noticing it was. I fail to understand how he could drive over it after it fell off without noticing something.

The History Channel got kicked off the ice road they ran on last season. The mining companies felt the drivers were portrayed in a negative light - no sacrifice to great to get the next load, and safety out the window. So, Thom Beers, the producer, found another road to film on. Four of the original drivers are back - Alex, Hugh, Rick and Drew. Hugh is no longer running his own trucks and is working for another company, as are the other drivers. I'd say they are getting some bucks from Beers to do this again. Alex and Hugh have been owner operators for some time, so getting them to work for someone else would have to involve some sort of incentive. There are some new faces as well.

So, it will be interesting to say the least. The pecking order of the drivers has been upset, and there are all kinds of possibilities for interesting situations. I suspect I'll be hooked as usual.

My "New" Truck

I am to be driving a 2007 International 9900i Eagle we just got in. It has 132k miles, a 475hp Cat ACERT motor, thirteen speed, and 3.90 rears on tall rubber. The boss bought it over the internet, and actually isn't very happy with it. It was really sold to us as a slick truck, but when it got here, it's obvious it had been rode hard and put away wet. It was more than likely a repo where the delinquent owners ran the tar out of it without much maintenance.

Mostly the problems are appearance related - it came from Pennsylvania and already has a lot of tin worm damage. Most things are minor, but show that the truck was rarely washed to remove the road salt. Since we run in Colorado a lot, we wash our trucks as soon as possible after running in the corrosive slop. This one - not really. But, we'll clean it up. This picture is not my truck - it's just one I found on the internet. It is an Eagle, which mine is, and it has dual stainless air cleaners like mine. My bumper is stainless rather than chrome. It's also called "red," but it's one of those colors that changes when the light falls on it - it has hints of orange and a bit of a burned look.

The pictured truck would not work for us - we require the fuel tanks to be mounted under the cab. Steps are nice, and it's nice to have the tank out in the open, but a crane cannot be mounted over the tanks. There is no place for the outriggers, for instance. Even with the tanks mounted forward, there is a laundry list of preparation for this truck. The battery box had to be moved forward on the frame. The stacks were removed so the support brackets could be sandblasted and repainted. The aluminized exhaust under the stacks has been cut out and will be replaced because of rust damage. The stacks themselves are too tall and have to be cut down. Sometimes you have to swing the boom over the top of the stacks when setting a tank, so having a cool looking tall stack in the way limits the flexibility of the truck. The crane we are mounting is the one I've had on two other trucks. It is lighter and not as stout as our other cranes. Our heavier cranes generally require we order the truck, because they need a double frame to handle the stress. This crane isn't that heavy, so a regular single frame will work. Plus, they have over sixty grand in this one, and would like to continue to utilize it. Another incentive is the prices have exploded due to steel costs and delivery from Italy. I'm sure this crane is blowing past the eighty grand mark now, and the price will only go up.

I mentioned the truck was on tall rubber. It wasn't originally. We told them we needed tall gripper rubber on the drivers. They obviously took them off another truck and put them on this one. The aluminum wheels look like crap. The salesman who was so positive about the truck suddenly stopped taking my boss's calls, so he contacted the owner. It turns out they have a fifty thousand dollar machine that automatically polishes wheels, and it wasn't used here. He was not happy with his salesman. Actually, we are of the opinion the pictures on the internet were of a different truck because the one they saw was definitely fire engine red. This one is not. They may be shipping us some freshly polished wheels and we'd send them the crummy ones back. We'll see. No one in our area has a wheel polishing machine.

We also have to take it to a Cat shop - it's gonna get an overhead run and get turned up to 550hp. If they didn't change the speedometer settings for the different wheel sizes, we'll have that done as well. We're gonna add some goodies, too.

It has to have chicken lights. It already has a strip under the cab, but not any on the air cleaner. This is what I hope we will be getting - the lights match what is under the cab.

This is the alternative. I think they look better, but they don't match. "My" truck also has the stainless fairing shown that hides the air intake hose.
The "office." No one has "messed with" the dash on this truck. I am not a fan of dash customization at all. All the chrome gewgaws are lost on me. It's like the kids who want to "stand out from the crowd" by wearing their pants around their ankles, showing their underwear. They now look like gang wannabes, just like all the other gang wannabes. Nothing new under the sun.

Most of you have no idea what I'm talking about as far as chrome goodies go, so I'll try to illustrate.

This is an example of park brake knobs. There is a more ball shaped knob available as well. The sticker can be color coordinated to the truck - there are several colors available, so a red truck can have a red sticker. Notice the font. I have no idea what it is, but most truck goodies use that font - the "classy cursive" for gearheads, I guess.

This is an example of a gauge appliqué. This one would obviously be for an amperage gauge. There are appliqués for just about any gauge function and size of the face. There are chrome rings with eyelids available. The screws holding the dash panels can be covered with snap on chrome buttons. HVAC vents, normally black plastic, can be replaced with chrome plastic units. Then there are switch covers and extensions. Most trucks use toggle switches that are short throw and have a relatively short shaft. Extensions that have color coordinated ends can be installed. I actually like them on the jake brake switches, because since they are longer, they hang out further and can be found in the dark a lot easier. But every switch? Not so much. The corn binders (Internationals) use paddle switches, and there are extensions available for them as well. If you look at the picture closely, you can see the paddle switches and their bezels as well. Of course, there are snap on chrome bezel covers available.

Anywhere you want to slather chrome, someone has if for sale. It all more or less matches. So, someone wants to "customize" their truck and loads up (at about four to six bucks each for all these little goodies, unless you get a "package" deal) on the goodies has a truck that looks just like all the other truck stop junky's interiors. The degree of add ons may be different, but the look is still the same - all the same font, all the same style, and all the same functional difference - which is none. I don't care for a load of chrome reflecting back to the ol' eyeballs during the day. Most trucks these days come with chrome bezels on their gauges, and I don't even care for that. I'd prefer flat black bezels, thank you very much. Dust is harder to clean off gauge faces with appliqués. It's harder to clean around the screw button covers. Invariably, one of the snap on covers disappears, and you have to buy a whole "kit" to replace one cover.

So, to be "different," you have to be just like everyone else who wants to be "different." True custom interiors are handmade and don't come out of little bags from truckstop pegboards. I'm not real sure I'd like some of the custom interiors I've seen on the pimping my truck shows, either. Wooden floors,neon, and wild colors aren't going to be very handy out in bad weather, or even just day to day wear. Most trucks have has a bit of study in the science of ergonomics and have fairly comfortable and usable interiors. I'm just not in favor of things that don't help functionality.

One of the things I'll probably take off this truck is some bumper guides. They are long chrome sticks that are mounted on the outside edge of the front bumper. The idea is the corner of the truck is more easily located because it does make it easier to judge distances with a stick right there to compare to whatever you are trying to maneuver around. But, they vibrate going down the road, which I find distracting and annoying. Salt attacks the wiring (they all have little lights at the top), and the bulbs are usually difficult to find and burn out fairly regularly (re: vibration). It's just one more thing to keep up and running. Some DOT inspector types are pretty rigid on lighting - if you put it on, it had better work, even if it isn't stock or required. If you have a bunch of add ons, and half of the stuff is missing or doesn't work, it really draws the attention of someone looking to find things that aren't working on your truck. They see that the chicken lights aren't working, or you are missing chrome hubcaps or nut covers, and they wonder what else you have let slide by - like maybe brakes, tires or other essential equipment. Trucks that have the clean, kept up look aren't bothered as much. Which is why, when this happened, I was johnny on the spot replacing the chrome nut covers that were destroyed.

I'm not totally against some mods. There are several truckstop goodies I've found I really like over the years. One I can't live without is a denim seat "cover" that slips over the top of the passenger seat, and has a front flap that is full of pockets. I keep my logbook, paperwork, side safety shields for glasses, motel books, extra pens - well, you get the idea. Most day cab trucks just don't have handy storage areas for all the items I just listed. Glove boxes are small and hard to reach while driving. Trucks with big sleepers have a lot of storage - but it isn't accessible while on the move.

One of the trucks I drove had a roll up sunscreen for the driver's side. Most visors are woefully inadequate for unlatching and using on the side window. This little puppy mounts above the window and is similar to a home rollup window shade, albeit with a perforated surface so it can bee seen through. I may have to rip off that little goodie - that truck is going to be sold.

Of course I have to put in my "big" CB radio and my XM unit. I'll be putting in the little DC cooler I carry as well.

One more thing that has to be done is the truck has to go to Wichita to Nadine. I've looked all over the web for any info about her, but there is nothing available. It isn't surprising. She is an old school commercial pinstriping artist. I doubt the internet attracts her interest. Our new trucks are handed over to her for the company lettering and a fairly conservative striping job. We chose the font, but we let her do what she pleases as far as colors and striping ideas. It is always tastefully done. She has been around for years, and many trucks in KS, NE, OK and MO have seen her tender ministrations. I met her back in the nineties at a truck dealership in Hutchinson. She was a bit of a biker chick - the clue was the fairly ratty early sixties Chevy pickup adorned with a ton of HD stickers. At any rate, she is an artiste, and we like her work.

So, when all this work is done, I'll have to break out the real camera and take some pics.

Old News

Image credit to KC Star

I have been remiss - it just slipped my mind. One of the blog links over there did something very special last week. Hillary Will, driver of the Ken Black Racing Top Fueler, won the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka KS.

Everyone knew the day would come. But, it's great that she got her first win out of the way. She's gonna win more, mark my words.

Friday, June 06, 2008

More Email Greatness

I got this last night:


Dear Customer,

You've been selected to take part in our quick and easy 9 questions survey
In return we will credit $90.00 to your account - Just for your time!

Please spare two minutes of your time and take part in our online survey
so we can improve our services.
Don't miss this chance to change something.

To access the form please copy/paste the link below in your browser (or click the link):

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is the federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions and insures savings in federal and most state-chartered credit unions across the country through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

© Copyright © 2008 National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

* If you received this message in your SPAM/BULK folder, that is because of the restrictions implemented by your ISP
* For security reasons, we will record your ip address, the date and time.
* Deliberate wrong imputs are criminally pursued and indicted.

Survey ID :


Gee, it has an ID plus it's from the gubmint!! It's gotta be for real! Why, that's ten dollars a question - wow!

Oh wait, why would a US government agency host a questionnaire in Taiwan?

Oh, and deliberately wrong imputs pursued and indicted? Ooohh, scawy.

Presented Without Comment

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More Scenery

Another blurry pic through a buggy windshield. Spanish Peaks Mountains from C10 east of Walsenberg CO. I'm in Grand Junction tonite, and pooped. Cya later.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Always a Rainbow

Today, on the way towards home, I was on I70 just west of the Johnson and Eisenhower Tunnels. Climbing the grade, I saw I was catching a Pathfinder pulling a single axle trailer with a much wider wheelbase than the Nissan. Following was a four door import. The Nissan with the trailer was taking up two lanes - there are three lanes eastbound to the tunnels. I was in the middle lane. The car seemed to be running interference for the truck in the middle lane - when he wandered over, it protected his "six."

So, I watched this for about ninety seconds, because my truck was outpulling their rig, and it's curvy. I considered using the far left lane, but I wasn't running as fast as traffic in the fast lane. Besides, he seemed to get it together and stay in far right lane. I figured he saw me coming.

I was easing up on him and suddenly he started drifting into me. I heard some crunching noises and saw something glittering explode to hood level. He still hadn't noticed me, and in fact, was about to collide with the front of my truck with his Pathfinder.

I laid on the air horn. He had been gesticulating and shaking his head, too busy talking to his passenger. He immediately pulled over. I did not - there was very little shoulder and a guardrail there. It wasn't a safe place. So, I went on up the hill until the shoulder widened, stopped and inspected the damage.

Apparently the trailer tire and wheel got up against my front wheel and shattered all the plastic chrome nut covers, which was the glittering trash I had seen. The chrome hub cover (brand new, I put it on last week) was dented. There was as tire scuff on the fender drop behind the front wheel.

He had to be running beside me crabbing that little trailer against my truck. It was a very close thing that he didn't get his truck into mine. I couldn't move into the other lane because of the traffic - to avoid him, I'd have to shove someone against the center "Jersey Barrier."

I never saw them again. I called in to CHP to report what had happened. I didn't want to be accused of hitting and running. They had not received any phone calls from anyone else about the incident. I flat out told the dispatcher he was not maintaining lane discipline and it was his fault. She agreed, and we figured they wouldn't want to report it because it was their fault. Who knows, he might have been drunk or high, suspended license, no insurance or whatever. The dispatcher told me if they didn't show up real quickly, to just drive on. She had my company name, and my name and number.

I hope he got a flat tire, the moron. If I hadn't had the new hub cover installed, he might have broken the sight glass on the hub oiler, and I'd have been parked until someone could come out and put in a new one. Trucks like I drive use gear oil to lube wheel bearings, and there is a hub with the outer wall made of clear plastic, so the oil level can be checked. There is a plug in the center that can be removed to add oil. The plastic is durable, but it can age and crack. It won't take a direct hit, though. I'd have made sure the idiot would have to pay for that, had it happened.

I am continually reminded that fifty percent of intelligence levels out there are below average. Driving with his head firmly ensconced in his rectal area on a very busy and dangerous road only proves it to me.

So, I managed to get through Denver without incident, and the further east I went the more showers I ran through. This picture was taken about two or three miles east of the Kansas/Colorado border. Into every life some rain must fall, but sometimes, there is a rainbow. My day could have taken a far worse turn if that moron had actually hit me hard. There are some large dropoffs there, plus spinning out may have caused him to roll. His day could have been worse as well, but at the moment, I have little sympathy for his problems.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Tubby Trucker Reporting In

Fear mah authoritiy. The top pic is the truck I'm driving for now - a 2002 Freightliner Classic, C15 Cat 550hp, 18 over, and 3.90 rears on tall rubber. The crane is an older Effer, made in Italy. It is capable of pickup up more weight than the truck can handle - I could dump this truck in a hurry. My "new" truck arrived over the weekend, but it's gonna take a bunch of work before it's ready to rumble.

The pic is from the south side of Clifton CO on C141 looking north. Sorry 'bout all the bugs. They won't have the guts to try taking on that windshield again.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Calvin's Dad

As a wee lad, my dad told me if I shaved my head, the hair would grow back curly. I believed that for years.