Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carrot and Stick

Only in this case, lots 'o stick and very little carrot. Which is why I'm no longer employed by certain companies. Quid pro quo and all.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

There Is.....

A big lump in my throat after reading this story.

Seen at Big Dick's Place

Saturday, March 27, 2010

All The Pretty Strawmen

I've been simmering all week seeing this story arc. Since it's Saturday, I'm assuming Trudeau is done with it - maybe not. But, he has managed to incorporate every myth, meme, strawman argument, and just plain bigoted observations I can think of that gun control advocates still cling to. But, I'm the bitter one because I cling to religion and guns rather than baseless and factually incorrect arguments. Go figure.

So, let us recap
Gun owners are compensating for small penises.
Gun owners are irresponsible when armed. Witness the unintended discharge.
Gun owners are rednecks.
Gun owners are cowboys.
Gun owners are gun slingers.
Gun owners are unable to contain their emotions while armed. Alex's comments are gonna get her shot.
Gun owners are paranoid.
Carrying a gun is socially unacceptable. Notice the moral equivalence argument comparing open carry to breast feeding, being loud and being rude.
Being armed destroys that "mellow vibe." Wow. Now that's not an emotional response at all. I've gotcher reasoned discourse right there.
Open carry, while legal, should not be condoned.
Wyatt Earp in Old Dodge City didn't allow the carrying of weapons - good enuff fer us, By Gaea.

Of course, we all know there are no actual facts to back any of this up (other than Wyatt requiring checking in at the sheriff's office) - it's all about how Trudeau "feels" about the issue. Blood is not running in the streets - there have been no "High Noon" scenes with the touchy gunslingers. Not one of those penis compensators have leapt from their holsters and gone nuts.

I really think Joe Huffman at The View From North Central Idaho has a very good moral argument going - he says this is all simple bigotry. If one substitutes the word ni**er for gun owner, one can really see how we are diminished and marginalized by the gun control crowd.

I was trying to think of any of memes Trudeau missed - I suppose it was too difficult to work in the "why do you "need" that particular gun or numbers of guns" argument. I'm sure there are others I've forgotten. But, ya gotta hand it to him, he did manage to squeeze a buttload of jingoism into six strips. Oh, excuse me, am I maligning Trudeau's sexuality by saying that? Or am I just saying it's a big steaming pile of malodorous - well, while I would have no problem saying it in person, I do kinda try to keep it clean around here. Let's just say his arguments are a bit past their expiration date. Gettin' kinda stale.

Personally, I'm getting tired of it.

Friday, March 26, 2010


It took me an extra beat or so before I got it. Hoo, boy....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Old Family Heirloom

Some Good, Ol' Fashioned Gun P0rn!!!!11!

This is a Savage Model 1909 - according to my copy of the 2008 Standard Catalog of Firearms, it was made from 1909 and 1915. Values range from $250 for Excellent down to $100 for Fair and $75 for Poor. It has all the parts with no major dings or dents, but it has no finish. It does have some minor pitting. I'd figure it would go somewhere between Fair and Poor, but you'd be hard pressed to get me to sell it for any hundred bucks.

That's another thing that irks me - this is my blog, and I'll get sidetracked if I wanna. In my mind, the values these guys give are always under what I can find them for. About the only $75 guns I've ever seen in a gun shop/show and actually for sale were the 1891/30 Mosin Nagants of several years ago. Any American made el cheapo .22 always seems to be at least $125 in the places I find, and oh, boy, are they rough. This rifle is an heirloom, so that really doesn't matter to me.

The 1909 is a carbine version of the Model 1903 - which had a twenty four inch hex barrel. The '09 is a round 20." It has a seven round removable box magazine (betcha finding a replacement would be a bitch!). It's also a pump action.

It does have a narrow beaded front sight - I like narrow sights like that since they obscure less of the target and just seem more precise to my eyeballs.

The rear sight is a leaf style - nothing fancy. This is, after all, a Savage. If you wanted better sights back in the day, there were always Lymans available, but this little gun was a tool, not a sporting weapon.

The seven round magazine.

The safety is a thumb operated slider. At the moment, it's in safe mode - the camera couldn't pick out the word "SAFE" engraved at the forward end of the safety. Sliding it forward to cover the word enables it to fire.

The left arrow points to the slide release. Pushing up on it allows the bolt to unlock and the slide to retract - to empty a live round from the firing chamber, for instance. The right arrow points to the magazine release. You can see this is a takedown rifle - that's what the big thumbscrew is for. However, years of neglect has frozen that puppy in place. You can see the marks my pliers left trying ever so gently to loosen it. So, cleaning was limited to spraying Gun Scrubber into the ejection port until it was full, and cycling and dry firing the action numerous times to loosen any gunk. I did get some chunks out with a dental pick and the narrow end of a plastic milspec gun brush.

I've found that my father's attention to his guns was even more sporadic and indifferent than mine - I'm not one who methodically cleans his guns every time I shoot one. I think his maintenance consisted of spraying WD-40 into them, and if they quit working, it was because they were broken. His old Model 12 Winchester was just plain shot, according to him, because it wouldn't extract shells reliably. It was no wonder, there was beaucoup crud in that ol' shootin' iron. He'd told me years ago that there was a problem with this one, but I couldn't remember just what it was. During my cleaning process, I couldn't get the bore shiny, but there wasn't any pitting. It was just a bit darker than I liked. Plus, the rifling was faint. So, I wasn't expecting much when I took it out to shoot.

The trigger is a very short travel with a tiny bit of creep, and perhaps a hint of stacking. It's no 1911 trigger, but it's serviceable. I expect if it were taken out and shot a bunch, it would smooth up considerably. It's really pretty decent right now. I did notice that it will jam if one dallies with the pump. Going slow noses the rounds above the barrel on the underside of the receiver. Clearing just involves backing the slide, tilting the rifle over so the ejection port is down, and allowing the round to fall out. A little more energy on the slide takes the rounds to the chamber without incident.

So, I expect that was the defect that Dad was talking about, plus the barrel is pretty well shot out. I didn't put up a target - but it does shoot minute of elm tree at twenty five yards just fine.

My grandfather bought this rifle - and I'm pretty sure he purchased it used. Like I said, it was a tool. He went into town one day and bought it just as he would a shovel - I highly doubt he ordered it new for some reason or another. It was what the proprietor had in stock, and it was affordable. Mostly, it shot rabbits. My Dad and uncle sat in the loft of the barn protecting the garden, plus cottontail was on the menu. The time period was the mid thirties on into the forties, and times were hard. They weren't all that finicky about what they ate, particularly if it was running around wild in their yard. Home slaughtered chicken, pork, beef, fish, pheasant, dove, home canned goods, and home baked goods were the order of the day. They didn't go hungry, but they didn't let anything go to waste, either.

In my mind's eye, I see Dad and my Unka Bill wandering down to their fishin' hole, poles, tackle and this rifle in hand to see what they could stir up for the pot, idyllic and unaware that they were, in fact, poor.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


MikroKopter - HexaKopter from Holger Buss on Vimeo.


This is just too cool. Off the shelf components, too. Software? Probably not so much.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Does That Make Any Sense?

Liberals like Trudeau just can't get their minds wrapped around the idea of the TEA Parties. Oh, yeah, taxpayers were treated to a tax cut. Whee. Like that will last - someone has to pay for bailing out the banks and auto industry, for creating jobs at six figures per, the health care "reform," - well, I know I'm missing a bunch. Local and state governments are scrambling to increase taxes and find new sources for their budget shortfalls. This really reminds me of the famed clip of Susan Roesgen (formerly of CNN) who chastised a TEA partier for protesting even though his state was supposed to receive money from the feds. Like that wasn't their money to begin with - shut up you prole, you're getting bucks from Unca Sugar, whatsyerbeef? There is no conflict or philosophical incoherence - well, maybe there is. Say you are robbed of all your money, and the robber, out of sheer generosity, "gives" you back a small token of your former property. Well, you just shouldn't gripe, because the crook was more than generous. After all, he could have kept the whole thing. It's for your own good - they do so know better than us El Marto Del Wal mouth breathers.

And check out the portrayal of the TEA partier - dressed in a Santa suit, Founding Father's wig, Uncle Sam's top hat, maybe Zorro's mask? I don't get the significance of the pumpkin - unless it's supposed to link to the Plymouth settlers?

Nope, the question isn't what is elitist about this kind of thinking.

The Cross In My Pocket

I've been a religious cynic since the teen years. Hatred of hypocrisy is wound up in this as well. Part of this attitude was created by prosthetising classmates. The sect they represented had a preacher who was more concerned with building numbers. He had his parishioners telling the rest of the community that we'd all be going to hell if we didn't convert. That their religion was the only true religion that would gain entrance into heaven. That their Bible was the only true Bible - the rest were corrupted by the Devil. And so on.

Well, that didn't set very well with me, or a lot of other people. A lot of excesses were marginally tolerated, but it also helped make me a major skeptic to anyone preaching any version of Christianity other than Catholicism - which is what I was and still am. It made me question a lot of things my own church did, too. Also, this was a heyday of sorts for television evangelists - the ones who talked old widows living on cat food to send in money so they could save the world in the style they were accustomed to.

This sort of thing tends to bring out the worst of hubris in people. If you belong to the greatest church evah, well, then , you are a superior sort of being above and beyond us mere mortals under the sway of the Dark One. They think they do you a favor by preaching and informing in your general direction their prejudices. This behavior really reveals their own insecurities and fears - if they were so dedicated to Christ as our Savior, why indeed would it be necessary to tear everyone else down to their level? Forgiveness? Tolerance? Never heard of it - rather, those concepts didn't apply to someone like me - only the Chosen who Belonged to the correct sect. Not that my own church is innocent in this regard, either. The whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth early in life.

And while I'm piling on - this is exactly the kind of person who sends the "94% won't forward this email, the 6% who love Jesus will" emails. Some are explicit - if you don't forward it, bad things will come to you. So, the obverse must be true - if you forward the thing, Jesus will love you and you'll be At His Right Side on Judgment Day. As far as I'm concerned, these reveal the senders' insecurities more than anything. They fear that they're not among the favored, but by falling in line and taking the directions of some anonymous email author, they've improved their social stature in the religious community and shown themselves superior to "the 94%."

Yep, I can see my Judgment Day - "Jeffro, we didn't mind you taking the Lord's name in vain, or the Matchbox car you shoplifted back when you were eight, or even looking down Sally's blouse and thinking lustful thoughts when you were sixteen. What's sending you to Hell, son, are all the emails you DIDN'T FORWARD, so you obviously must love the Devil. Hope you like it hot!" Shooooom! Off to Hell I'll go.

Now, I may burn in Hell for all eternity anyways, but I'm sure it's gonna be for far more egregious offenses than not forwarding crappy emails. Or maybe that's just me. Funny how I've never seen much of anything in the Bible about chain letters or emails sending me to hell. I guess I haven't looked very closely. Disclosure - I don't attend Mass regularly. That right there is biiig deal.

Plus, have ya noticed these same people are the ones who forward the "this is the most dangerous virus evah it's all over the news panic and run to the hills it's gonna eat your zero sector of your hard drive (where all the important data is kept) and make you a mindless cripple" emails?

What it all boils down to is that I just don't trust people who claim to have my best interests at heart. This includes politicians, too. It seems rare to find that some people do have my well being in mind.

My company buys a lot of stuff from Lee Supply of Tulsa. They sell special pipe, fittings, flanges and so on that we use in manufacturing our tanks. They sell stuff for just about any sort of industrial plumbing. If one of us has delivered in the area, we generally have an order of goodies to be picked up there on our way back, as was the case Friday. I was busy securing the pipe we'd purchased, waiting on the order of flanges to be pulled when another truck needing loaded parked next to me.

It was a hotshot rig piloted by - well, he looked like a Norman Rockwell idealized grandpa. Tall, long face, white hair, neat mustache with a bit of curl on the end, and the deeply engraved laugh lines etched into his face bore testament to his positive attitude. I'd just bet he is a treasured grandfather to some of his descendants. We chatted a bit, as truckers are wont to do. My pallets were loaded and the yard guys were loading him, so we went back to work. After I had everything fastened to my satisfaction, I climbed in my truck and fired it up. He came walking around the front and spoke to me through my open window: "Do you mind if I give you this?" It was the aluminum cross pictured above, plus a card with a poem on it. "No, I don't mind - thanks and bless you!" I told him.
I carry a cross in my pocket
A simple reminder to me
Of the fact that I am a Christian
No matter where I may be.This little cross is not magic,
Nor is it a good luck charm
It isn't meant to protect me
From every physical harm.It's not for identification
For all the world to see
It's simply an understanding
Between my Savior and me.When I put my hand in my pocket
To bring out a coin or a key
The cross is there to remind me
Of the price He paid for me.It reminds me, too, to be thankful
For my blessings day by day
And to strive to serve Him better
In all that I do and say.It's also a daily reminder
Of the peace and comfort I share
With all who know my Master
And give themselves to His care.So, I carry a cross in my pocket
Reminding no one but me
That Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life
If only I'll let Him be.
-Verna Thomas, Agora,Inc.© All rights reserved

That cross is nothing but a cheap, stamped piece of aluminum. Nothing fancy, for sure. Of course, I looked the company up - they are available from for sixty cents each. I might have even mocked something like this many moons ago.

But today, not so much. It's just a symbol - albeit a powerful one that has meaning for those who call themselves Christians. Us Catholics are all about symbols - heh. Perhaps that gentlemen was prothsetising - but it was not in any way demeaning me or my religion, or much of anything else, for that matter. Frankly, I've gotta hand it to him - he has found a way to spread a concept - a thought - in a small, inoffensive way. Certainly not "in your face." No ostentatious displays - it's just a tiny reminder meant to be carried with the change in our pockets. It's not an expensive gold cross necklace encrusted with diamonds or even as public as a lowly bumper sticker. It's private - between my God and I - not something to bludgeon or impress others.

I often feel like Linus fearing he has chosen a pumpkin patch that isn't sincere enough for the Great Pumpkin when it comes to religious matters. But this little cross? In my pocket with my change, and the card in my billfold. It meets the sincerity test.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


KU falls to Northern Iowa 69-67. The 'Hawks have had the annoying habit of starting slow. This time, they found a team that didn't let them back into the game until the very end.

Go Wildcats!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm Mad, I Tell You!

March Madness, that is...

The Won = Nero and his fiddle?

So far, life is good for Kansans - the Kansas State Wildcats won their first round game against North Texas. The Kansas Jayhawks are about ready to start as I type this. I'll be busy for a while!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The tread on the edge of the tahr (how it's pronounced 'round these parts) is definitely gone. Truck steer tires generally have some sort of thin shoulder rib that absorbs scuffing and prevents cupping. This tire exhibits a small amount of cupping - but it's really pretty minor. I could still feel it whilst cruising up and down the nation's highways. It's a shame that the rest of the tread is still so deep, but this isn't all that unusual. Steer tires usually don't wear very well, especially when they carry the weight our trucks do - the crane adds quite a bit up front.

You might say: "But Jeffro - why don't you get your truck aligned?" Good question - we usually don't waste our time unless the truck really goes to burning off the tread. My truck wears off the inside ribs. All our Kenworth W900s wear out the outside ribs. Our Freightliners wore off the inner left and outer right ribs (or was it the other way around?). Showroom fresh or with a few miles - we're just hard on steer tires. We have our tires rotated, flipped and rebalanced frequently to try to get as much wear as possible.

These are the new ones. The thicker tread makes the ride ever so much more smoooooooth. Potholes jar my kidneys less, and expansion joints don't slap my lower back quite as roughly. These are Firestones - I'd really rather have Michelins, but our tire dealer didn't have any in stock. We're getting to be pretty old school with our 11x24.5 tires - most have gone to low profile 24.5 tires or even 22.5s. Not much demand for these any more.

But, with their larger circumference, they ride better, absorb shock better, bear weight better, don't build as much heat as a smaller tire and don't spin as fast at the same speed as a smaller tire/wheel.

But they are heavier, require more fuel to roll around, and raise the truck up into the wind a tad more. Plus, they're more expensive.

But, for now, I'm ridin' and glidin' in comfort. Because I'm all about comfort, not speed.

Maybe You've Noticed

Or, maybe not. Farmers can be a bit - well, different:

I dunno about y'all, but I like it. The email text also said
This one even comes with a built in headrest
Don't you know it! And, it really doesn't need more cowbell.

H/T Ant Gail

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ass Me About My Day

The ass in question was me. I had to run some errands in Dodge, and go to Garden to get some work done on the Cornfield Cadillac. So, there I was......

I pulled into Wendy's for lunch - I'm a drive through guy. There was a small sign board with some specials on it, then starting around the bend was the biggun. I could see the speaker grille in the top center. I was ready to order. No voice welcomed me.

So, I sat for a while. I backed up, hoping to trip some sensor. I hollered "hello" a few times. It was at this time the terms lose and cool could be used together in a sentence referencing moi. So, I honked my horn. I'd about decided to pull around to the window and chew some - yes, that - when a nice woman opened a door and spoke to me.

Sir, that is just a sign board. You have to pull up to the next one to order.

It was at this exact moment I saw the little arrow pointing "around" the corner and the words "Order Ahead." I said to her - "Oh, man, what a moron" meaning, of course, yours truly. I felt all of about a yard tall.

Guess what? I pulled up past the sign board that had been ignoring me and voila! A bigger sign board with a box in front containing a speaker and a color screen listing my fondest wishes as I ordered.

Honestly, I couldn't see through the previous sign board, so the ordering setup was hidden to me. But, I can still read. Oh well.

Friday, March 12, 2010

March On The Prairie

Is always a festival of winds - maybe from the north, maybe from the south, but you can be certain it will blow. It will gust, driving dust and sand into eyes and ears. Most of the time, the mayhem diminishes at sunset, then the warmth of the sun in the morning drives it to a frenzy again. At times, it may carry on through the night, day after day, wearing people's nerves to a frazzle. You might notice a sudden decrease of the intensity of the noise and think perhaps, just maybe, it's gonna calm down for a while. But no, the wind has just changed direction as a front passes.

Jeez, why would I be talking about this right now? Cuz it's been blowing all week in western Kansas and eastern Colorado, where I've been working. I've mentioned before our oversize permits limit our movement when the weather is adverse. High wind speeds are considered adverse. How fast is too fast?

That depends. Most of the time it's a judgement call by law enforcement personnel. If the state has issued high wind warnings, then it's virtually certain any movement of an oversize load would violate the permit.

There were two of us, loaded with tanks sixteen feet wide. We had to go to Evans, CO. I was the second truck, behind one of my friends. We both had escorts. Colorado has an anti-convoy rule - oversize loads cannot be closer than one half mile, so when we had to cross the port of entry at rhymes with Slymon, CO, we made sure we were apart. Before we got to the exit, we were informed by a huge message board that there was a high wind warning. I figured we were gonna get parked. When I and my escort entered the port, there were several trucks between us.

My buddy announced he had the green light all the way. There is a message board that tells us to stop when our axles are on the scales, so the normal procedure is to stop with the steering axle on the scales - which are long enough for four or five axles. Most of the time, the message will read "MOVE FORWARD SLOWLY," and if the scale official is feeling friendly, they'll throw on the "THANK YOU GOODBYE" message and off we'll go motoring onward. That was the message my compadre got before he even hit the scale.

But, once in a while, it will say "PARK LEFT BRING PERMITS," which means to bring in all the pertinent paperwork for that truck - registration, insurance, fuel tax sticker, permits pertaining to Colorado, driver's license, physical card and so on. We've got all that stuff in a big notebook for each truck. My license and physical card reside in a billfold. I didn't get the kthxbai message. I got the "PULL YOUR RIG OVER AND GET YOUR HINEY IN HERE" message.

Since the personnel generally want to see all the pertinent paperwork for our escort when we get called in, he figured it was a good idea to accompany me. Into the den we went. I was asked:

Are you aware there is a high wind warning?

"Yes sir, I just saw that on the message board."

Did you call 511?

"No sir, but we checked before we left."

You need to call 511 when you hit the state line.

So, we just stood there waiting for the other shoe to drop. I check on the Blackberry anyhow, but I didn't say anything to him about that.

How many are you today? How many more are going to show up?

"Just two, the guy ahead of me and myself." He and another official went through their list and looked him up - he drives for my buddy tb, so the company name was different.

The tb truck? Okay, he called 511, so he's all right. I'm going to let you go on and run with him, but next time, you need to call 511.

"Yes sir, thank you." and out the door we went. "Did you just hear what I heard?" "Yeah, how did this guy know he called 511?"

So, we motored on.

After we finally caught up, we had questions. How did the scale official know he'd called 511? Did he call the scale to find out if it was ok for us to proceed?

He had not.

Did he have some sort of Jedi Mind Control technique? Why was he holding out on us? The rest of us could sure use that trick! Did he wink at the guy, or have a come hither look?

Nope, he just drove across the scales like so many times before, he had not called 511 or the scale house - he didn't have the number (I don't either).

We went on, got unloaded, and drove back to the Flying J just down the road from the ports. There were all kinds of oversize loads parked in the lot - we'd seen some headed eastbound after we'd left the port, one of our competitors we'd seen back in Kansas - and some wind generator propeller blades that were parked our first time through. The officials were pretty strict with quite a few people, so it sure seemed unusual that we'd been allowed to go.

But, I gotta admit, when I heard the official say what he said, the first thing that crossed my mind was "Are you high?"

Maybe the wind had driven him around the bend.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Health Care

Superfecta on health care? Snork!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cruisin' Up and Down This Road

I've got the cruisin' part down, man. Got rid of the "accessory" yesterday, and am out and about on our nation's highways. I doubt that purchasing a Mercury is in my immediate future. Even if Jill Wagner begged me. Not because I hate Mercurys or Jill - just too broke!

No telling how many gallons of gas we burned back in the eight track tape era listening to this stuff. I wouldn't trade those days for nuttin.'

Monday, March 08, 2010


Back in my ol' school days, we'd have proclaimed this as a "Low Blow." Right in the family jewels, as it were.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I Don't Wanna Know

No, really, I don't.

Access Roads Part II

One of my coworkers posted some pics from this trip on his Facebook page, so I stole 'em. Well, I did have permission....

The front tank is a fiberglass 15.5'x20' 1000bbl, the rear is a steel 15.5'x15' 750bbl. I had parked away from the pad. After the site is done, there will be scads of room, but this site was full of machinery, pickups, frac tank trailers, frac tankers, various vendors in and out, you name it. So, I left the Cornfield Cadillac out of the way. And, just for comparison, here is the Mighty Binder with a load of 12'x15' 300bbl steel tanks:

Same style trailer, but with the tail extended. Much easier pulling (way less wind resistance) and far easier to fit into 11' lanes. Plus, it's a far lower load, so dodging power lines isn't normally an issue.

We were hauling these bad boys for our sister company in Tejas - they needed some delivery help. This is an identical load - except the positions of the tanks are reversed - on one of their trailers. Their versions are not extendable and there is no suspension. The axles are attached directly to the frame rails. There is no sheeting in the "belly" or "well". No fenders, either. Electric brakes. I'm all about our triple axle trailers - air ride, air brakes, sheeted belly and extendable tails that can be shortened.

The entire crew of tank haulers. I am busily employed making sure the trailer is not overcome by a sudden loss of gravity. "They" had a big crane on site and that manlift saved our hineys putting up the walkways and stairs.

Sometimes it gets kinda lonely out there. I'm getting mixed signals.

We do this on site work all the time, but with the smaller tanks, we use our knuckle boom cranes to set the tanks and fit the landings and stairs. We don't usually have big cranes waiting on us. These tanks were just way too big for us to handle - not too heavy, just too wide. When we put a lift eye in the center of the top of a tank, we can only go so wide before our booms are into the upper corner of said tank. 25' is the max height for 12' diameter tanks, 20' is for 13.5' diameter - plus the steel tanks start getting pretty hefty.

This is somewhere in North Dakota or Wyoming. I wasn't there, which bothers me not at all. It was cold! Those are 12'x20' 400bbl steel tanks being set on rings. The knee braces for the walkway are already in place. Looking at the distance between the boom and the upper corner of the tank illustrates why we can't handle tanks much wider than these. Twenty five feet tall would have a steeper angle, and much past the 13.5' diameter would have a clearance problem as well. Hooking up to a vertical tank on the ground is one thing, but picking it up off a trailer and being able to lift it very high - say over a containment field wall - would be a problem. Our cranes have limited "reach" as well. However, they work fine for most of the work we do.

The cranes mounted on the blue and white KWs are quite a bit stouter than the one on mine.* They can easily pick up more than the platform can keep stable. Mine refuses to pick up things these cranes handle easily. But, these cranes have to be mounted on tractors with double frames. Which means we have to order them new - the specs we need are just not found on used truck lots. But, the crane on my truck is medium duty and will safely mount to a regular single frame. Finding used day cabs with fuel tanks forward - among other requirements - ain't easy - but finding identically specced used trucks with double frames is next to impossible.

A major portion of our tank sales involve setting the tank in it's new home - it's all part of the price. If we can set them - our customers save hiring a crane. We also help out the big cranes by "tailing." We hook to an eye (cunningly placed there for us to use) near the bottom on the side of the tank - which is up "at the top" when the tank is laying sideways on the trailer. They hook to the (actual) top and we both lift it off the trailer. The big crane gradually moves the tank vertical while we keep it off the ground and gradually take the bottom "under" the big crane. This saves scuffing the tank - if the crane uses spreader bars or a pair of long straps to unload off the trailer, they have to set it on the ground on it's side, unhook, hook to the top, and stand the tank before setting it. Having one of our trucks on site normally speeds up the process even if the customer had to hire a crane.

There is more to our jobs than just driving from the shop to the delivery point. What happens at the delivery point makes this trucking job more than just a little different.

*The crane I use is a Cormach model 25500E4 - four extensions. The bigguns are Cormach model 38000E4s - also with four extensions. I've seen them with two to six extensions. They're an Italian import - and they make far stronger cranes than we use. They also have wireless remotes as an option, which I think would be way cool.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Spaceman Spiff Rides!

I subscribe to a load 'o comics, one of which is reruns of Calvin and Hobbes. This story arc ended today, so for nostalgia's sake, here is the whole thing. Enjoy!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Movies That Don't Suck

That is the name of a movie feature on G4. No, really it is.

So, you might ask, what is the movie?

The Spy Who Loved Me

Errrm, hold on a minute.

Well, it did have Barbara Bach in it.

Probably not an Oscar caliber actress, but easy on the eyes.

Does she suck?

Only Ringo knows for sure these days.

ducks head and runs away.....

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Ol' DW on Twitter

I'm on Twitter. Not much of a tweeter - just over 200 tweets since I signed up. However, I'm logged in most of the day. NASCAR stars and those associated with the industry is the main reason I follow. There are a bunch of very well known drivers and personalities who tweet. Well, I'm here to warn you or just inform ya - depending on your feelings - that Darrell Waltrip is now on Twitter. He's a natural - obviously someone in his PR dept set up his account and March 1 he started using it himself. Ol' Jaws has tweeted almost sixty times as I write this. Aaand, he's actually pretty informative, interesting and funny. Others I follow:

jamiemcmurray - recent winner of the Daytona 500 EGR #!
kaseykahne - the Bud driver that the Allstate girls were always chasing - RPM #9
Kylebusch - driver of JGR#18 - a polarizing driver the past several years
gbiffle - Greg Biffle, old school hard nosed driver for Roush Fenway #16
dennyhamlin - teammate of Kyle Busch, driver of JGR #11 - another Young Gun
SIRIUSXM128 - the NASCAR channel on Sirius XM Radio. It's where Choc Meyers posts his Hump Day Show and Tell pics on Wednesday
maxpapis - #13 Germain Racing - Italian F1, F3000, CART open wheel star
SamHornish - driver Penske #77, three time IndyCar champ - open wheel star
RyanNewman39 - Driver of Tony Stewart's #39 - his tweets are about half pr and half him
BrianLVickers - Red Bull Racing Team #83
KevinHarvick - driver #29 Richard Childress Racing, Earnhardt Sr.'s old car - also Kevin Harvick Racing which fields cars for the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series
DeLanaHarvick - Kevin's wife, listed owner of KHR. The interplay between her and hubby is quite entertaining.
Elliot_Sadler - #19 Richard Petty Motorsports driver
Kenny_Wallace - "The Herminator" - NNS driver, Speedtv color announcer, easily one of the most entertaining NASCAR tweeters out there, brother of Rusty and Mike, both NASCAR drivers
jpmontoya - Juan Pablo Montoya, #42 EGR - teammate of Jamie McMurray. Columbian open wheel star, F1 star, CART champion. His world wide appeal is why he has the most followers of anyone in NASCAR on Twitter. He's really into radio controlled model airplanes.
mw55 - Michael Waltrip, semi retired driver, owner MWR, NASCAR tv personality. NAPA and Best Western ads, need I say more? DW's younger brother
Bobby_Labonte - #71 for The Racer's Group/ Cup and Nationwide Champion
kylepetty - former driver, color announcer for NASCAR events, son of The King Richard Petty - great person to follow during a race - very insightful and smart.
HermieSadler - older brother of Elliot current tv color analyst
WendyVenturini - SpeedTV pit row reporter and analyst
JennaFryer - Yahoo Sports and AP writer who covers NASCAR - very good race tweets and writes great articles
ClairBLang - Sirius XM reporter/talk show host - doesn't tweet all that often

There are more - I haven't looked too hard as of late. Danica Patrick, for instance. Dale Jr. has been quoted that he doesn't feel like he wants to have a PR person do his tweeting for him, and he's not sure if he could devote the time to make his fans happy.

So, if you tweet and are a NASCAR fan (boy, I'll bet that's a small intersection of people who read this fairly regularly), this might be of some interest to you.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Watching The Big Game

Jayhawks vs Wildcats - Big Twelve Battle! All eyes glued to the Idiot Box!

Well, Rooster - not so much. Head Scritching is higher on his list. Apparently zone defenses and three point shots are well beyond his raison d'ĂȘtre, which leans more towards Lap Catdom.

Now, Ain't That Cute?

At the intersection of US75 and US82 in Sherman, TX - hanging a right headed west. I'd been following this truck trying to get a decent pic of this little devil. It is a DeutzAllis F3 combine fitted with a three row corn head. It's set up as a test plot harvester. Test plots are tiny (compared to quarter, half section and section plots we have out here) bits of ground that researchers use to grow and test new varieties of grain. Everything is measured to a "t." Planting is a highly calibrated affair so seed counts can be recorded. Plant populations are counted, thus giving germination data. Usually test plots have several different varieties under study.

When it comes to harvesting the grain, just any combine won't do. One of the newer high capacity machines would eat the whole thing up and spit it out without much control over grain data quality. The machines must be thoroughly cleaned before harvesting a particular variety, then cleaned again before cutting an alternate strain. They're set up differently as well. A "normal" machine might "toss over" lighter kernels, but these little devils have to capture it all. If you grow a variety that shrivels badly, you need to know exactly how bad it is. The test plot machines usually have some sort of vacuum arrangement beneath the shoe (the section under the machine that shakes back and forth to help sift grain from the straw and debris). If you look to the right side - you can make out the vacuum tube rising up to dump into the grain bin. The upper terminus is just about lined up with the two lower braces on the spot mirror bracket on the machine's right side - or the left in the pic. When I passed this guy, I could see the box mounted to the side that contained the vacuum assembly - wish I could have gotten a pic, but driving kinda got in the way. At any rate, they're set up to capture everything, where a normal harvesting machine isn't.

Now, I'm sure combines of this size are considered normal in a lot of areas in this country, but out here, they're like kittens or puppies. They're just so small with some features somewhat distorted compared to what we're used to. Their mere size is a major disadvantage - I doubt this pup could dump into a semi pulling a hopper bottom.

If the F is a pup, this would be a Big Dog. I have no idea what the model number of this Deere is, but that is a twelve row corn head out front. It would take four Fs to match this Hound, and I'd bet this Big Dog would outcut all of the little farts. Less labor, less fuel, less maintenance, less repairs - well, you get the idea. Just another example of economy of scale, which Farmer Frank covered quite well at his place.

photo credit

This picture illustrates the problem with the older combines dumping into modern trucks. The sides of a hopper bottom semi trailer are about head level with the combine operator. The combine would have to be driven onto a ramp or the truck into a trench to unload. That is a Gleaner (precursor to the DeutzAllis brand) Model A. Don't get me wrong - in their day, these were serious machines that harvested a lot of acres for a lot of years. Just not many acres in a day compared to the modern variety. This one even has a top to shield the operator from the sun - lots also had fabric "buggy style" folding tops. My Dad had a JD55 that even had a cab. No A/C or heat, but it did have a blower. That was the epitome of comfort, and the guys Dad cut with that had open platforms were jealous. Yes, seriously, they were. Radios? Power steering? Not so much. Machines like this are why most older farmers are deaf, too. If you'd had a radio mounted somewhere, you couldn't have heard it. Besides, one wanted to be able to listen and pick out irregular sounds from the cacophony of sheer noise . An experienced operator could tell when a bearing was going out, or some other catastrophe. You could feel it in your butt, too - the seats didn't isolate vibration, so a different vibe in yer keister could diagnose a problem. So, no earbuds and media players - or Grandpa would probably kick your hiney when you started the field on fire from a burning bearing you missed 'cause ya couldn't hear it.

These cute machines have been obsolete for quite a while, too. Twenty odd years ago, the custom harvester for whom I hauled grain helped a neighbor of mine finish his harvest. He had a Model A and he'd just started on his quarter of ground. Near retirement, and actually living in Texas - he just wanted to wind harvest up and go home - everyone else was done or about finished. By himself, it wasn't gonna happen, at least for a several days. So, he hired my boss. Ronnie had finished his local obligations, he wasn't ready to head north yet, and was free to pick up some extra acres if he could.

We pulled in with four N7 Gleaners - then the largest rotary "Silver Seeders" made - with thirty foot headers, and went to work. He kept cutting - thinking he was helping out. When the field was whittled down a bit, he was just in the way. Our combines cut far faster than he could, and we were constantly catching up to him - cutting around the slower machine. He finally pulled out and parked it, realizing he was impeding progress. It was certainly illustrative of how times had changed - and that was twenty years ago.

That little F3 might be obsolete, too small and so on, but I'm still a gearhead, so I'd still like to run the cute little sucker. It would be fun to fire 'er up and go a round or two. All day? Not so much. A couple rounds would do just fine, thank you very much. That goes for the old Model A as well. Running one of those older machines is very much a tactile and aural experience. But, like I said, not all day long. Short trips down memory lane are much more apropos.

Edit: I guess I can't see -I had ID'd the corn head as a two row, and Farmer Frank pointed out it was actually a three row. Which, of course, it is. Some days it doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps....