Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Fiftieth!

Well, this shouldn't be news - Google remembered and has a tribute pic up on their homepage. If you missed out, on September 30, 1960, The Flintstones debuted on ABC. Clearly the Jackie Gleason show The Honeymooners was a major influence and inspiration. Fred and Wilma had the distinction of being the first cartoon characters of the opposite sex portrayed as sleeping in the same bed.

It was definitely a different era - the main sponsor Winston was touted with "integrated" commercials in black and white:


Cartoon purists argue that the show wasn't all that because of the usage of limited animation. Instead of the lavish artwork that Disney made famous, Hanna Barbera used this type of animation as a cost cutting measure. I'm sure we all remember the continuous loops of scenery in the background when Fred was running - and Fred running with the exact same speed and step the whole way with just perhaps his mouth moving to show dialog. Frankly, most of the HB stable of cartoons were animated in this style and even as a kid, I was aware that these shows didn't approach the majority of Looney Tune's quality.

Of course I've seen every show available in reruns - mostly in the afternoons after school and during summers. It was one show Sis and I could agree to watch. It's definitely woven into the fabric of our being - as it were. I even used to be able to do a decent imitation of Barney - where he laughs "Huh huh huh, gee Fred." I think most of us of a certain age have this tune firmly engraved in our brains:


Monday, September 27, 2010

A Little of This, A Little of That

Sunday, I was eligible for Verizon's New Every Two plan to keep us all in thrall and contracts new phones, so like an addict I had to retire the Crackberry in favor of a Droid. A Droid 2 to be specific. I'm learning - heck, I'm a geek and I couldn't figure out how to answer a call at first. There is gonna be some adjustment fer sure. I like the slide out keyboard - it's arranged better and larger than the Curve's - but the tactile sense of the keys engaging is far better on the ol' 'Berry. While the touch screen is ultra kewl, not having direct buttons to start and end calls seems frustrating to me - you have to turn on the screen with a button at the top and swipe the lock symbol just so to get into the main screen. Answering - the screen lights up, but you still have to swipe just so. All this pretty well takes two hands and some attention, so driving and calling might just be a risky proposition with this phone.

The Droid camera is supposed to be a ten megapixel, compared to around one for the Curve. Here are two pictures of about the same spot but on two different days, so unfortunately comparing them directly isn't really fair to either one.

If you've ever headed east of Kingdom City on I70, you've seen these billboards supporting the University of Missouri Tigers - or MIZZOU. This pic was taken by the Blackberry.

The Droid's effort - plus you can see the exact mile marker this all starts at. Missouri has mile markers out every two tenths of a mile.

Aaaand today may be the last day we can get across St. Louis before dark. You've probably hear me say it before, but oversize loads are limited to daylight hours (usually one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset) and large cities have curfews to keep us out during rush hours (generally 6 to 9 am in the morning and 3:30 to 6pm in the evening. The curfew at St. Louis lasts until 6:30. It takes us an hour to get across town. Sunset is at 7, so we ended up parking right at the legal limit on time tonight in Pontoon Beach IL.

We've been sneaking across starting at 6pm for about a month and getting away with it. The port of entry on the west side by Foristell MO has been closed. Today, they were not and they held us until curfew was clear. If we keep trying to sneak across early - they're gonna remember and we'll all be lighter in the avoirdupois, if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

We might be able to pull it off one more time, but getting caught after dark ain't the smoothest move one can make, either.

Ahhh, well, such is life.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Just Drive In Circles

That's right - I just drive in big circles. Only my circles are longer than 1.5 miles, and I drive far slower than the vehicles inside. This should be easy - lately I've been through the town where this structure resides frequently. This is also why picking out landmarks might get kinda slim - we're pretty fixed in our routes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just Because


Just because. They were a lot of things to a lot of people, but they could play a tune, too.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Everyone is getting their bowels in an uproar over bedbugs in motels. There are various theories as to why the pests are making such a comeback - but that isn't my mission here. Sometimes, there are dark forces at work that make bedbugs seem mild.

After I checked in and hauled all my crap inside the room tonite, I stepped into the bathroom. This is what greeted me.

Then, I saw these guys guarding the phone.

I started to lose it when I saw the remote was guarded. Sorry, but you just don't mess with a man's remote. I was starting to get peeved.

Then, I noticed these characters on duty covering the alarm clock. The previous lookouts/guards were green, but I, with a keen eye for detail, noticed the brown color of the antagonists. This was across the room from the green guys. A pattern was beginning to emerge.

A lone brown sentry guarding the coffee machine. Granted, I rarely drink that stale crap, but the idea that it may not be accessible should I desire some only added to my aggravation.

Looking at the bed I could see several sentries arrayed against each other on the high ground of the pillows - for strategic advantage, no doubt. Well, I'm here to tell ya, I'd about had enough.

Ripping the covers back revealed what I feared - the room was infested with Army Men. Army Men At War. The brown guys are clearly some sort of Commie soldiers with that non descript flag and their brown uniforms. It's also clear that they don't have much discipline in the ranks - why, some of them were lying down on the job. Nope, not dead or wounded - just slacking off.

But, the green guys were a different story. Americans, they were. Look at how well they are arrayed, plus they set out a rear guard to deal with any of those a$$holes from the alarm clock or coffee maker who might get froggy. Green Army Guys are Good - like growing things. Brown Army Guys are like bull$hit - fertilizer for the Good Green Stuff, whatever it may be. Just sayin', is all.

I felt a little better about the invasion of my personal space because supporting Our Green Guys is just something a patriot like me does. But, I knew I'd be getting very little sleep if I left them at it, so I swept 'em up in separate piles and bagged 'em. They didn't like it and I felt the sting of several minuscule bazooka shots and the pin prick of tiny rifle fire.

So, they're idle for now. I'm sure they'll get out and cause some sort of mischief in the future. It's their function in this ol' world. Righteous cause or not, I'm gonna get some sleep tonite.


Lisa has fond memories of Stuckey's - the roadside tourist trap combination convenience store, fast food joint, gas station and travel souvenir and junk emporium. The chain had a much larger presence back when we were kids - I mostly remember my Sis and I bugging Mother to stop - there were plenty of enticing signage designed to attract kids - and hearing her contempt at such places. She felt they were overpriced and sold a bunch of junk. We finally wore her down and she warned us that she would not be spending any of her money on junk there - but we were free to spend our allowances if we wished.

Well, our allowances were hardly enough to make a dent in what we wanted to buy, and it was clear even to us kids that the items were overpriced. Common things like candy bars were far cheaper at our local convenience store. We also knew we were going to be stopping at other places where our allowances might find better use. Sis and I were profoundly disappointed and we learned a lesson, which is why Mother stopped in the first place. We didn't bother her again about Stuckey's on any road trips!

This is the only Stuckey's in business on the roads I'm on most of the time. It's off exit 84 on I70 in Missouri. Dairy Queen partnered with Stuckey's in a lot of locations. It's a poor picture (pics taken at seventy mph are always a risky proposition) - but the roof is the traditional red for Dairy Queen on their end and blue for Stuckey's on the other. I've stopped there before - there is a scrap of graveled truck parking on the north side. It's no truck stop fer sure. Some of the guys I work with get a jones for ice cream, so that is a quick off and on for their fix. It somehow seems far smaller than the place we visited in my callow youth.

This one is also on I70 but in Kansas. I've forgotten the exit or exactly where it is, but since it's out of business, y'all won't wanna waste your time stopping. It's west of Topeka for sure, but beyond that I just can't pin it down. A lot of these old abandoned Stuckey's and Nickerson Farms have reopened as pr0n emporiums. And, no, I don't stop at those establishments. I can get all the midget pr0n I can stand for free on Algore's intertubes, thank you very much.

I dunno, I guess Stuckey's is bad juju for moi. Back in my grain hauling days, I used to go by the one in Grainfield KS that was a stopping point for a murdering crime spree - and the place closed up and gave me the heebie jeebies. I think it's been torn down - no businesses seemed to survive there. That in itself isn't unusual - there are all kinds of closed Stuckey's scattered in rural areas. Hindsight tells me that expecting only tourist dollars to survive and having stores about one hour apart wasn't the greatest idea in the world. The city of Grainfield certainly doesn't have the population necessary to keep a place like that alive.

But, they're hardly the only ones who've made tactical business errors. Too bad they weren't too big to fail, eh?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Where Am I Now?

This should be pretty easy. Two stadiums - looking in towards the field on the right, the other one in the background to the left. I'm on I70 - that should be enough hints.

Who Is Robbing Whom?

In Jeff Danziger's world, the gubbmint owns income and decides how much you keep to spend how you want. Those who want to keep .gov's greedy paws off of some of what they worked for are obviously stage coach robbers. Boehner is obviously a confused robber because he is willing to compromise rather than be totally partisan like Obama. Oh, wait, that can't be right - Teh Won promised to reach across the aisle and to end bipartisanship. Guess ol' Danziger forgot about that. It's different when the Evil Rethuglicans stand their ground - it's bad. It's the correct thing to do if you're a Progressive Do Gooder Thinking Man like Teh Won.

He is right about Boehner - I wish he had more spine and stood his ground.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's a Trifecta!

I'm convinced the MSM has no clue about the Tea Party - they seem to think it's all about Republicans - and financed by rich Republicans with sinister ulterior motives.

Well, they're all learning, and there are gonna be a bunch of spendy Republicans mixed in with the Dems who all want to buy everything in sight without any money.

Maybe there is hope for us yet - perhaps we can turn a corner and find ourselves grounded in reality rather than dreamy hoping.

Edited to add:

The Tea Party is on editorial cartoonists minds, at any rate.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Winning the Lottery

A woman came home, screeching her car into the driveway, and ran into the house.

She slammed the door and shouted at the top of her lungs, 'Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery!'

The husband said, 'Oh my God! What should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?'

'Doesn't matter,' she said. 'Just get out.'

H/T Eddie

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Michigan Trains

This one would be a "covered wagon" - flatbed doubles with side and cover kits. Some have even more axles.

A set of hopper bottoms. Just about every specialty cargo hauler can be found here in MI classified as a Michigan Train - they just need a boatload of axles and tires. They'd be a waste in Kansas where the gross weight can't be more than 85,500lbs. A six axle rig or a five axle with a rear spread can handle that, so all this extra stuff would just add weight with no payoff. Not all are doubles - there are a lot of van trailers and tankers that are axles and tires all the way back.

Just something I don't see just every day - thought y'all might enjoy seeing these monstrosities.

Yesterday's Post Brought to You By

The New Chain of Rocks Bridge -on I270 in the St. Louis metro area crossing over the Mississippi River - it's actually in IL and MO. The bottom pic in yesterday's post shows the old Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Lisa wins the internets - she glommed on to my clue about the Arch, which is almost due south of where I took the pictures.

I've gotta start paying more attention to the roadside attractions....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Big River

I'm tellin' ya, to the Tubby Dust Bowl Boy here, this seems like a friggin' ocean.

View on a bridge looking north.

View to the south, he archly said. Where in the world was I?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

After All, I Do Drive a Truck!

I am frequently chided by friends and relatives: "Why don't you stop in on your way through _____ (fill in the blank with your location) and drop in and see us/me? Most of the time I don't do it, and people's feelings are hurt because I didn't just drop in and visit.

There are several reasons for this. Mostly - I'm at work. I'm getting paid by the hour. Can you tell your boss: Oh, hey, it's ten in the morning and my best bud Joe Citizen is in town. I'm gonna dash out for a couple hours and be right back.

Uh, yeah. Let me know how that goes. I can't stop outbound when I'm loaded. Our customer is generally waiting for me to show up at a scheduled time - often they have a crane booked to unload me and to set the tank/tanks I'm carrying. Even if I have a few hours of leeway - believe me when I tell you it's better to get there early than to play with the extra time and then have something unforeseen happen - a blowout, mechanical trouble, routing problems or whatever can delay me and eat up that "extra" time. Burning it on something not job related isn't a very good idea.

Also, when I'm outbound - I'm permitted for a certain route. Depending on the state, I can go a certain distance "off route" to get to a truck stop or similar. This doesn't include residential areas very often, as you can imagine.

Then, even if I'm on the way home and time isn't as tight - there is the whole truck parking and truck route issue. Look at some of the signs on your way home. Are you on a truck route? Or does your street or feeder street have a sign up that says something about trucks over a certain amount of pounds or axles are prohibited? Guess what? I'm not driving a pickup. I'm not even driving a monster 4x4. I'm driving a monster 6x4 pulling a 53' trailer - approaching 75' long overall. I'm exactly who those signs are aimed towards. Your hometown decided they didn't want me and my rig cruising your street. Then there is the whole truck parking issue. Where are you planning on me parking? In front of your house? How are the nabes gonna like that when the area is clearly posted banning me from being there?

Which means if you wanna see me - you are going to have to meet me at a truck stop or somewhere I am allowed to park. Can you get shaken free at 3:17pm to come visit me at a moment's notice? How does your boss like that idea?

Well, then I could stay at a motel and you could come over after work. Except that I am expected to put in a full day of driving to get home. My boss isn't particularly wild about me driving five or six hours a day each day to get home and spend his money at motels. According to the Feds, I'm allowed to drive eleven hours in a day. My boss has a pretty good idea how many nights out it takes to get there and get back. I'm gonna be paying for motels above and beyond that ideal figure unless there is a compelling reason - perhaps I was delayed by mechanical troubles and the truck was in the shop. In that particular case, I would have no choice.

Plus, my boss and dispatcher want me and the trailer I'm pulling back. If I'm on an overnight trip - they have me scheduled to go back out after I return. And, the trailer I'm pulling needs to get back so it can be reloaded to go back out. So, if I'm on a trip that takes four to five days for a round, they want me back in time Saturday for the loadout crew to use that trailer for a scheduled delivery leaving Monday morning. Or in the middle of the week to go right back out again.

Okay, then how about the time I was in town and staying at a motel and didn't call and let you know I was there? Okay, this time someone might have a point - but generally I've put in a ten to fourteen hour day to get there - my day usually ends after six or seven pm or later. So, I have a couple of hours to get supper and try to relax - because my alarm is usually set for four to five am. I'm fond of seven to eight hours of sleep. This means bed time is eight or nine pm for this weary ol' tubby trucker. Call me antisocial, but I'm not much into seeing sunrises without the benefit of sleep. Thirty years ago - no problem! Now, not so much.

So, I'm sorry if I've pissed ya off because I didn't call or stop in. Maybe I'm a stuck up SOB, but I've got my reasons, and I fear they are pretty compelling to me.

Guess The Skyline

The tower with the twin masts should be the big clue. I've been passing through this city quite a bit lately - but when I'm loaded the state routes me around downtown on the southern part of an interstate loop. If ya don't have a clue, check the properties of the picture.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Cross At The Crossroads


Lording over Interstate highways 57 and 70, the "Cross at the Crossroads" was built for broadly noble religious reasons -- and to out-size every other big cross out there, especially the giant cross in Groom, Texas, which was both its inspiration and its toughest competition.

198 feet tall and 113 feet wide, forged out of over 180 tons of steel anchored in untold fathoms of cement, the cross can withstand winds hurled by evilest of forces at up to 145 mph. Its stark, slab-sided design conveys the corporate utility of a logo -- no distracting crucifixion blandishments, just the plainest symbol of Christianity. The structure also conjures aspects of the World Trade Center towers, which came crashing down in 2001 less than three months after the cross went up.

I drove by this puppy today, as I have many times in the past. It's pretty impressive, really - it seems so out of scale until you get close - then you realize how big it actually is. More info is available at The Cross Foundation.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Radio Schmack

Yannow, over the years I've tried to support this chain of stores. Any time I needed some odd gewgaw that would cost about one half to one third as much - including shipping, from NewEgg or some such - I'd try to buy it at the local Shack. I figured I should support 'em, because there were times when I really needed something and they'd always have it. I wanted them to be around for just that reason. The Shack is always higher priced - but they generally had what ya needed when ya needed it.

There were so many different things I used to buy - odd connectors, CB radio goodies (antenna ends and what not), computer stuff, soldering supplies - well, if you've ever needed and perused an old time Shack, you know of what I speak. I knew they didn't have stuff like coax and ends anymore, but I figured they'd have the odd and out of the ordinary USB type goodies.

It ain't the same no more no how.

My Blackberry is gradually dying just in time for Verizon's New Every Two plan to kick in - at the end of the month, I'll be eligible for an upgrade with discounts. The data port is headed south on this phone - I can't get my laptop to communicate anymore through the USB hookup. Luckily, it will still charge - and I can pull the memory chip out and read it in the memory slot on the ol' laptop - but syncing up is no longer possible. Unless I go Bluetooth. If I get a Bluetooth USB PC dongle - then the Blackberry will have another avenue of communications available. Insurance is part of my package - I could get another Crackberry to replace this one, but I'm thinking DroidX this time around.

I actually have three Motorola dongles that I got in a Wootoff - but I can't get a driver for Vista. XP and older - no problem. So, I figured that would be right up the Shack's alley, as it were. I looked online at El Marto Del Wal's selection - and while the store in Dodge City has some in stock, the store in Garden does not. So, what the hey - the ones El Marto Del Wal can get are mostly under ten bucks - so I was ready to drop twenty or so at the Shack for the convenience and availability factor.

If they'd had any. The kid working there didn't even know what I was talking about. I looked around and they had bupkis for connectors and adapters and so on. Little things like a USB extension - no savvy, none in stock. If I wanted a Bluetooth headset - well, they had plenty of those. Just like any truck stop. Phone chargers? You betcha, just like any truck stop or convenience store. Frakking WalMart has a better selection of this kind of stuff than the Shack!

Freaking sad.

Classic Rock, Baybee!


It was groundbreaking and outrageous. The music video laid the foundations for those who followed. I remember when it came out - and I thought it sucked. My opinion has changed over the years, and I can appreciate the grand scope this tune covers. I actually enjoy hearing this hoary old classic.

What's even worse - I can sing along like Garth and Wayne. I sure did today, and didn't miss a lick.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Side By Side


I've got no idea who this is or what show this was from - but it's pretty cute. Got it from my Nuckle Kim, who has sent me some of the best stuff over the years!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Oil Country

When one thinks of oil country in Texas, visions of pump jacks lined up for miles on flat, open prairie come to mind. While that scene is repeated all over the Panhandle, there are many other places with different geography that oil is extracted as well. Considering Texas, this is no wonder - one can go from such flat territory into large valleys and bluffs in short order. Such is the case here (as always, click for larger):

This was taken on US83 south of Canadian, TX, overlooking the Washita River valley. Yeah, if you remember your Seventh Cavalry vs the Indians history, this name will ring a bell. That site is east of this spot over the state line into Oklahoma. The valley is dotted with white painted oil storage batteries, which my cell phone camera captured as just tiny dots on the other side of the valley. Amazingly enough, the tanks and walkways that make up these batteries are one of the products I haul and help set up, so I tend to notice these things.

But, most of the batteries are painted in a tan earth tone of some kind - such as the example on the left. So, when one peers across the valley, only the white storage units stand out. When ya realize there are a whole lot more that you are missing, well, at least for me, seems impressive.

Another view off to the east.

The vistas further south in mesquite and scrub oak country seem to be less photogenic to my eyes - all you can see for miles are a bunch of low, scruffy trees that hide everything. You simply can't see the pump jacks and batteries scattered through there, nor do you see the abundant wildlife until they decide to cross a road. However, some of those areas have even greater oil production - a drive through Andrews, TX or Hobbs, NM and your nose will convince you of that idea.

Heh. Smells like money. There - it's oil. Around the Poor Farm - it's manure from feedlots and the distinctive odor of beef processing plants. I'll forgo the obvious BS comments.....

Toaster Science

Chaz at Dustbury asks about the "single slice" markings on his toaster, and what it all means. Further studies are warranted and scheduled.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This Is a Test. This Is Only a Test.

I got nuttin,' so I'm raiding the email inbox. From MoK.