Saturday, January 29, 2011

Big Doings Going on in Kansas Today!

Yep, the State of Kansas is one hundred fifty years old today. From it's bloody start to becoming the Breadbasket of America - well, it's been interesting. Even if it is flyover country to many or something that drivers suffering from boredom between Denver and Kansas City on I70 have to deal with - well, frankly I don't care.  I like it here.
Plus, today is the annual KU vs K-State basketball game. KU has dominated this contest for years. This year, the game is played in Allen Fieldhouse at KU. As in Phog Allen. As in "The Father of Basketball Coaching." Of course, if you know your basketball history, you also know that Phog got his start as a player for James Naismith. As in "The Inventor of Basketball."

Ya think there might, just might, be a tad bit of tradition in Phog's arena? How about the Rock Chalk Jayhawk - KU chant? Of course, the answer from the K-State Wildcat fans is Rock Chalk Chickenhawk Go K-State. However, to a KU fan, they aren't Wildcats - they are the Mildcats. The Chickenhawks had a sixty nine game winning streak on the James Naismith Court, but Texas kinda put the quietus on that last Saturday.

KU supporters are "way up there on Nob Hill," while K-Staters are a bunch of farm rubes (since KSU is the state ag university. There really is a bit of class warfare - if you are a rural type, K-State is your place, while if Daddy is an Old Moneyed Kansan from Johnson County - well, little Missy is gonna be in a sorority at KU. End of story. Not that there aren't moneyed types at K-State or rural farm types at KU - but that is the impression one gets.

Here at The Poor Farm - well, it's a house divided. My father was a major KU fan, while my uncle graduated from K-State. I am also a former student at K-State. But, I enjoy watching both teams. I'd like to see the Wildcats win this one tonight, but frankly, I doubt it will happen. I'd like to see some of the more rabid KU fans taken down a notch. Last year, there was a picture that made the email rounds that a KU fan had displayed at a conference showdown that said "K- State - can we borrow your trophy case? Ours is full."

Gotta give that guy his props. Beats a big D and a mini white picket fence all to hell.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Of course, it's been twenty five years since the Challenger blew up on takeoff. That day comes back to me clearly - it was such a shock. We'd been insulated from the idea that the space launches could be fatal. After all, things had been running so smoothly. It just didn't seem as risky.

Boy, was that kind of thinking ever wrong.

I and my coworker were running together hauling grain. At the time, this gentleman was kind of my supervisor - he was the one who "trained" moi. The truck I was driving had a feedback problem with the radio wiring - any time I keyed up with the volume turned to where I could actually hear the radio - the feedback would cause a big squeal. So, if I was gonna jabberjaw on the ol' Citizens Band, I couldn't listen to the Muzak radio.

Anyways, we hadn't been talking much and I had the radio on. Breaking news - the DJ started to announce the tragedy. I heard enough to know I wanted to hear more. My pal chose this moment to start talking on the CB. I told him to hang on for a minute - there was some important news on that I wanted to hear. He was well aware of my radio problems. He chose to keep talking anyways. I told him to SHUT UP - this was important. Needless to say, he was all butthurt because I dared to tell him to be quiet when he had something important to say. Even after hearing the news, he just didn't understand that I might want to listen to a landmark event as it was unfolding. Whatever he was talking about - well, I was supposed to listen, period.

To this day, I couldn't tell you what he wanted to say - I certainly heard about it later. Must have been real important.
I wasn’t scared, but I was up there looking around, and suddenly I realized I was sitting on top of a rocket built by the lowest bidder.
Alan Shepherd

So, I remember. I remember that I didn't appreciate the risks the astronauts were taking nor their bravery - it took the explosion to bring that home.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Ow! That had to sting!

In other news, long days make for short blogging. Sorry.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Well, Alrighty Then

Yes!!!!! True Grit snagged ten Oscar nominations - not the most this year, but at least this movie is getting some of what it's due - in my Humble Opinion, of course.

Best Picture

Best Actor (Jeff Bridges)

Best Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld)

Best Director (Joel and Ethan Coen)

Best Screenplay (adapted) - (Joel and Ethan Coen)

And, of course five more nominations. It's extremely rare for me to get wound up about a movie. Watch the Oscars? Not so much. But, this year.......

Monday, January 24, 2011


Heh. No doubt!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gone Fishin,' Instead of Just A Wishin'


Funny, I don't remember Harold Ensley having these kinds of problems. I fear my temper would be long gone!

H/T Nuckle Kim

Me, Too


I've often said that I'm a second amendment supporter, but that I leave the heavy blogging in that arena to others. I don't follow the relevant news sources closely enough, and one thing I refuse to do is become a Me, Too gunblogger - linking to the news others have worked to cover, or waxing eloquent on a subject well after others who do it better have already done so. In my mind, what I wanna do here is to post something a little different than the mainstream. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

But, this issue today is important. Yeah, I'm late to the party, so what. For the minority who don't know what I'm talking about, the blogger Travis Corcoran who writes (or wrote, as the case may be now) Dispatches from TJICistan. He is a resident of Massachusetts, and has to deal with the draconian firearm laws there. The powers that be decided they didn't like what he wrote, so he can no longer possess any firearms.
ARLINGTON (CBS) – A blog threatening members of Congress in the wake of the Tucson, Arizona shooting has prompted Arlington police to temporarily suspend the firearms license of an Arlington man.
It was the headline “1 down and 534 to go” that caught the attention. “One” refers to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in the rampage, while 534 refers to the other members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Police are investigating the “suitability” of 39-year-old Travis Corcoran to have a firearms license.

I give Borepatch the floor:
Let's ignore for the moment how many people were investigated for making similar comments about George W. Bush. Let's look at the "logic" being exercised by the Arlington Po-Po, shall we?

They claim that Corcoran is so dangerous that, while he has done nothing more than put up a blog post, he must be restrained from possessing firearms. However, it appears that it's not worth it for the police to follow him, or stake out his place, or arrest him.


Look, guys, if you think that his speech rises to the level of an actual threat of specific harm to specific persons, he should be in jail. If you're not sure, then do the leg work to establish whether it is or not.

So, what do we know about the Arlington Police Department? We know that they're lazy - nobody assigned to watch over this "dangerous" suspect. We know that they're biased - Arlington is a hotbed of George W. Bush hatred, and the last decade would offer a wealth of examples of similar or worse speech, none of which was investigated.

And we know that they're idiots. It's not like there isn't a ton of case law on how the First Amendment applies to threats of political violence. Arlington will lose this, if it ever gets to trial. Post Heller and McDonald, they'll lose even worse. Idiots.

But this is, as JayG points out, an attack not only on the First Amendment, but on the Second as well. An attack of this sort - groundless in logic, and arguably mendacious in nature - is an attack on all. And so I have to stand with TJIC.

I am TJIC. So are you. If you blog, you are hereby authorized to use this image (created by your humble host, using The Gimp, not that it took any skill). Please link back to this post.

As they say, go read the whole thing.

"One down, 534 to go."

Not what I'd ever say, nor would most of you. In poor taste? You betcha. Does it mean he's armed himself and plans to eliminate the rest of Congress? No, or he'd be under arrest or at least be under further investigation. Should liberals who called for the death of George W. Bush be treated similarly? No, because it's their right to say crap like that. And, we've seen that being conservative is hardly a prerequisite for crazed assassins.

Mr. Corcoran's First and Second Amendment rights have been trampled. Period.

So, I am TJIC. You should be, too.

It All Makes Sense Now

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

He just batted my bare leg as I walked by moments ago. Drew blood. Hadn't done that in a long, long time. My days are numbered, I'm sure. He's hiding and pouting at the moment because I yelled at him. I obviously don't know my place, and further training will ensue.

Of course, what brought this all on - I kicked him out of bed last night because he wouldn't lie down. Kept walking around. He knows better. So, out he went. Plus, I washed some dishes and rummaged around earlier making a big batch of ham 'n beans, and I didn't get him his daily dose of chunky wet in the foil pouch cat food. He gets it when he's been good, even though he thinks it's in his Bill of Rights that he receives this treat on demand.

I'm sure he was combating the Big Statist Oppressive Government. Tensions are escalating. This could mean class warfare.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Hmmm. I've spent several nights in Belle Fourche over the years, once at the Super 8 and the rest at the AmericInn (which is a great motel, btw). I guess I missed out and should have been giving the Motel 6 my business so I'd be detoxed and cured of cancer. Silly me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Whole 'Nuther World

A lot of professions have their own little worlds where there is common language, habits and so on. Everyone knows about truckers and their lives on the road, but the people who drive pilot cars, AKA escort vehicles, are mostly ignored. They spend their lives "on the road" as much as any trucker.

I've mentioned them before and how that when our loads exceed certain sizes in certain states that we require an escort to move. I know you've all seen 'em headed at ya, in front of a big load, flashing yellow lights, flags and signs letting you know you are about to meet something larger than normal. I can tell you their jobs are more involved than just driving in front or behind a trucker with an oversize load.

They have to be certified, and are often inspected at ports of entry. When a procession of escort vehicles and a large load enter a port, they are all subject to being checked out. Some of the things they must have are a working CB radio, two extra portable CB radios (in case the trucker's and their radio crap out), a stop sign, hazard pylons, safety reflective vests or clothing, and much more. If they get their creds from a Utah certified trainer, then most states recognize them as pilot car operators.

I've said we "live on the fog line" before. That is the white line on the right edge of the road. The next time you are cruising down your fave boulevard, look at some of the things we see as hazards that are close to the road. Mailboxes, road signs, trees, bridge abutments, guard rails, reflectors, traffic at intersections - all of these things are something I don't want to hit. A good pilot car driver will keep me informed - "Got a dead skunk in your left wheel track - itchy four wheeler in the right pocket, bumblebee about a foot off the fog line coming up and no traffic, after that a skinny bridge." Translated - there is a dead skunk in your left wheel track that you'll probably want to dodge, there is a car on the right side at the next intersection that looks like it wants to go even though you are coming, there is a yellow and black striped reflector about a foot from the white line that you'll probably hit if you don't take part of the oncoming lane, and there is a bridge coming up that you will have to go down the center to keep from hitting the abutments.  If traffic is coming, I'll either have to hope I beat them across (no one ever stops if I'm already part of the way across even if it's obvious they won't fit), or stop or slow down to let them by. If traffic is bad enough, they'll get across the bridge, stop, get out with their reflective vest and stop sign to stop traffic so I can get across.

When we are in curvy hilly country, they'll get out ahead a bit so they can call back to let us know about oncoming traffic as well. "You'll be meeting an eighteen, a six wheeler pulling a trailer, and a four wheeler in the curve" means I'll have to keep way over in that curve to keep from crossing over and hitting an eighteen wheeled semi, a dually pulling a trailer, and a car.

These are all examples of two lane escorting - generally, we only use one pilot car, and on two lane roads, they are required to be in front. On four lane (or more), they travel behind us. Most of the time, we cannot see behind at all, so they act as blockers and our eyes to the rear. We can generally see far enough ahead to give them warning that we need to change lanes or whatever - if a car is parked on the shoulder, often we'll have to take both lanes to keep from rubbing them out. Or, we'll see a "skinny" bridge where the bridge abutments are hard against the fog line, so we'll need the center. Or we'll need to pass something running slower. This can get tricky, because if you'll notice, the shoulders on interstates to the left are far smaller than the right, plus most bridges and guard rails are a lot closer to the yellow line. If I'm passing something and come up on a narrow rail or bridge, I'll have to back out and make room. It's my responsibility - just about any sort of encounter is automatically legally my fault no matter the circumstance.

The pickup pictured above would be my choice as an escort vehicle - it has a large cab with plenty of room, a grill guard for mounting a front sign, flags and a high pole, a headache rack for flags, a sign and usually a CB antenna mount, and a light bar. Some states require a sign at the top of the vehicle, and some require signs at the front and rear. If you're set up with the large overhead sign and go into a state requiring front and rear signs, you might be spending some time putting them on at a port or if an inspector pulls the convoy over.

I also just mentioned another tool - the high pole.

Here are three minivans set up for high pole work. When a load reaches a certain height - again, this varies by state, a pole car is required. The pole has to be set a few inches higher than the load, so that if it hits something, the high pole driver can warn the trucker that they did hit the obstruction, and they can get stopped in time to keep from hitting whatever they "ticked." So, often times you'll see an escort vehicle with a pole quite a bit ahead of the load, with perhaps another escort behind on an interstate. They have to stay in radio range, but they need to be far enough ahead to give the trucker some lead time.

On some of the superloads - which are really large and really heavy loads - the trailers have rear steering to help get around corners. Normal semi length is around seventy five feet or less, but some of these things are easily a hundred feet long overall. Many are longer yet - with a pulling tractor and several pushers. At any rate, some of the rear steerers are radio controlled, so the rear pilot car operator can run it from their vehicle. The law has been interpreted that they are required to have CDLs - since they are "driving" that truck.

So, it's not as easy as it might look or sound at first. It's not physically demanding work other than to endure driving for long hours with an iron bladder. There are a lot of operators who have or could get handicapped parking tags - even though it is skilled work, it's all done with a car or pickup with a CB and a good GPS unit. I generally copy my permits to give to them so they'll have the route. If I can't, we'll get together and they'll take notes.

They don't have to fill out logbooks, either. On a several day trip - their hours are governed by curfew and daylight regulations just like ours, so we might not get very far during the day. They all have minimum charges, and so much a mile. Plus, overnight means a motel, so there are charges there as well. Some companies that move oversize and hire pilot cars refuse to pay motel bills, which I think is just wrong. We pay whatever it costs, period. A lot of the operators get their loads through brokers, who only allow so much a night for motels. One bunch of guys we had escort us were only allowed thirty bucks a night by their broker. They shared rooms in some flea bag places and still came out behind - but, if they were escorting one of the skinflint haulers, they wouldn't have been getting paid at all, so the broker was at least covering some of their expense. Of course, escorting for us -we cover those expenses if we get receipts. Many use minivans because they can put a sleeping bag in the back and avoid the motel expense completely - taking showers in truck stops. I had one escort who used a Honda Civic with the passenger seat removed so he had room for his sleeping bag.

After they've dropped us off, then it's time to haul hiney. That's when not having a log book is a good thing for them, because maybe they've got another load somewhere a long way to go and a short time to get there, or perhaps they just want to get home. Most are pretty well networked - we use a pilot car service that has three generations of family employed, and they know a bunch of other independents that they'll call upon to help out. That works in reverse as well - if their buddies find something they can't handle alone, they'll get the call as well. Most are independent contractors who may book their own loads or get them from the brokers. Of course, there is rate cutting and el cheapo brokers, just like trucking.

How do we find these people? With the "blue" book:
I've got one in my traveling library. It contains a listing of most of the important regulations for each state - what widths and heights require pilot cars, size of flags and signs, hours (what their definition of sunrise and sunset are, plus curfews) and days of operation (holidays and weekends), lighting requirements (whether we have to use our yellow beacon lights or not), pilot car requirements and so on. There is always a sunrise/sunset table for a major city in each state section, plus ads for pilot cars in that state. It's a very handy reference book - you can't get all that info online. I can get a lot better data on sunrise and sunset from my Weatherbug app on my phone, but a few years ago? Not so much. This was the definitive source, and still is for most things oversize. The pilot car operators all carry a dog eared copy close at hand as well.

We have our own fleet of pilot vehicles in house. Our drivers are mostly semi retired, but want to stay busy. We've got a fleet of extended cab pickups with brush guards, high poles and headache racks with lights and signs, plus a big tool box for all their stuff. So, most of our "escort loads" leave the yard with our own escorts. We hire quite a few because a lot of our loads can leave our yard without a pilot car, but when we get to another state or certain roads in other states, we need that pilot vehicle. Or, we'll leave the yard with one pilot car, but we'll need another for front and rear in another state.

So, when you see a car or pickup with yellow lights running with an oversize load, you'll know a bit more about their lives now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I'm for thinkin' we can all relate......

Ow! That left a mark!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Day In Truckin' Paradise

This is an older pic - loaded with three 300bbl steel tanks. I'm putting this up so you can see the trailer. Today, I had a 300bbl FRP (fiberglass) in front, and two 10'x15' 200bbl FRP tanks in the rear. The trailer is a triple axle, but only one tire per axle per side, rather than the usual duals. This means when one has tire problems, one is parked.

So, cruising through OKC today, a driver hollered at me and asked if I knew I was shedding rubber from my trailer. I did not. I can see the left tires with the extended mirror, but not the right sides until I go around a corner to the right. I sure didn't see anything unusual when I got on I40 at El Reno - the on ramp is a tight right cloverleaf. At any rate, most of the tread was gone and I had a pair of sidewalls. Luckily, it was the middle tire - the other two axles supported it and kept the rim off the ground. In retrospect, the thing to do might have been to limp on until I got out of the city, but who knew? It was 1:15pm, and I had to get out of the county before the oversize curfew started at 3:30pm.

It took several phone calls, but I found a company that was less snowed under than the others. Three to five hour waits were the norm, but this guy promised me ninety minutes. They were there in 105. We carry spares, because these are odd sized tires. Today's trailer was built in the eighties - with split rims. 10.00x15. Only Chinese companies make this size. So, since the average tire shop isn't gonna be able to get a new tire until, say, next Wednesday - we carry spares. I had it out and ready.

The two guys really got right after it, and I was rolling by 3:15 - but with about twenty miles to go. Man, I had my fingers crossed.

To no avail. I drove by a State Patrol truck inspector with his white Yukon parked in the median on I240 east of I35 on my way back to I40. It was right at 3:30, and he pulled me over.

I was lucky not to get parked and my permit pulled since I was in violation of same. I was also informed that I really needed an escort vehicle. The book says anything over 12 'wide. That was what my permit said. We've always interpreted that to mean 12' and under don't need an escort - and the LEOs have agreed - up until lately, apparently. The permit had a section where it apparently required me to have escorts, so escorts it is!

The tag number on the permit was missing a digit as well - also grounds for yanking the permit. Hell, I never pay any attention to that! Bet I will in the future! He told me the permit office likely was responsible for the screwup, but it wasn't something they'd acknowledge. See, that's all my responsibility.

I told him about my blown tire, and his response was "How many exits did you go by?" Yep, I went by a bunch, but I also reminded him that I was in a day cab, so that exit had better have a motel with truck parking that would accommodate wide loads. That little factoid seemed to hit home with him. Most of those exits don't have anything even remotely resembling truck parking at all, or somewhere I could drop the trailer to bobtail to a motel. I mentioned that as well.

Plus, I was all of ten miles from making it out of the county and out of the curfew zone.

So, I got a ticket for curfew violation, with a note that the permit had the wrong tag number - which was gratis - this time. He told me that he and his partner - who was in another big white SUV (he happened along later) were the only Oklahoma State Troopers in that area, and he couldn't tell me not to go on and get on down the road to get the Hell out of Dodge, as it were. He and his partner were gonna help me get back out off the shoulder and into traffic, then jump the median and go back into the city. I asked about running into a county deputy - and I was informed that they don't have the jurisdiction to write that ticket. Only the state troops. I told him I didn't hear a thing, and I'd be on my way, trying to find a place to land, without breaking the law further. Mmmmkay.

I cruised on down I40 to Shawnee, where there is truck parking next to several motels. I had about another hour of daylight, but night time would find me in the middle of nowhere away from motels with truck parking, much less parking in the first place. So much for making it to my destination tonight.

I'm bitching here, but honestly, things turned out pretty well. Considering all the less than savory places these trailers go, it's surprising that we don't have more tire trouble. Yeah, I've had blowouts on tandem wheeled trailers - I think three or four times in the close to seven years I've worked here. This is my first with one of these single tired triple axle trailers. Sometimes it just can't be helped - a nail will find it's way into a tire and cause it to lose air. Plus, dealing with the various LEO types is becoming a way of life, since all of them are looking for more money ways to make our highways safer.We did have an interesting discussion on how each state has it's own different set of laws regarding oversize loads and how difficult it is to be in compliance with each and every little regulation. I'm all for states' rights, but in this area, some commonality would be nice.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just Another Rider


This is a clip of Gregg Allman performing on the Late Show with David Letterman, from his new album Low Country Blues. I like it.

I watched this the other night and it was finally posted to Letterman's site on CBS. Ol' Gregg looks pretty good after his liver transplant, no?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy Tenth Birthday

Wikipedia is ten years old today.

Seems hard to believe, doesn't it? It's really only been in the last four or five years that the site has insinuated itself into my life as a go to reference. It seems every time I visit, the coverage of any given subject has expanded dramatically from the last time. They're even managing to gain respectability - it's not automatically called into doubt as a citable reference as in the past.

I can waste hours wiki-wandering.

An Example of Cat Thinking

(runs, ducks and hides)

H/T Darin

Friday, January 14, 2011

About That Shooting in Arizona

I've been mulling over how I feel and what to say for a while - and there are many components to this issue that have to be addressed.

First - the willingness of the media and political figures to jump on a bandwagon condemning the Tea Party and the rhetoric from "deranged right wingers" has made me ill over the past few days. Plus, the response from the so called deranged right when it was discovered that the shooter's political affiliation would be categorized as leftist didn't help, either. Tit for tat to the end. The endless arguments over targeting crosshairs being used as graphics on a map strikes me as childish - and again - both sides (Palin and The Daily Kos, lest that be forgotten or ignored) used similar graphics for similar purposes. The meaning of the symbols was to reiterate that focusing (is that a bad word - what if we have a quick "peek through a microscope" graphic? Would that be considered violent?) political organizational efforts more tightly on a particular district represented by someone strategically weak in the coming elections. How that triggers gun owners into climbing up on the nearest high spot to take out all the evil commies at the next gay pride parade is beyond me. The obvious conclusion is projection - the people who really fear the rest of us having guns don't trust themselves with one, thus all of us have to share in that fear. I don't like heights, so all skyscrapers must be torn down and no more new ones be built. Plus, I'd bet the Target store logo has provoked more violence with their old Blue Light Specials than any crosshair graphic on any popular political site ever aspired to achieve.

So, the next issue morphs into gun control. One of the hoary old intrusions into our rights being reconsidered (because it worked so well when it was a law the last time) is the high capacity magazine ban. Tam (of View From the Porch) tweeted this:
"I wanna ban all magazines that hold more than 10 rounds!" because, you know, it's only the 11th victim that bothers me...
If you cannot see the absurdity of a large capacity magazine ban exposed by that simple statement, there is no hope for you - the rhetoric of gun banners has eclipsed any logical thought processes that may have existed in your brain in the past. And, because he says it far more succinctly and better than I could hope - Ric Locke (via Dustbury)
It is you, not I as a responsible gun owner, who demands perpetuation of the “culture of violence” in order to gain your ends. I can get what I want without raising a finger, let alone a firearm, if you and your fellows will just leave me alone. You can’t get what you want without messing with me, with violence, including gun violence actual or threatened, to back it up — and more and more of us are coming to the conclusion that the point of your effort is to make it safer and easier for you and your goons to mess with us. You don’t want to get rid of guns, and you’re a liar for saying you do. What you want is to have all the guns in your own hands and those of the enforcer-goons you hire to do your dirty work.
Just remember, we as conservatives have come from the shadows to defend our rights and keep what is constitutionally ours. We have endured the bigotry of small minds (clinging to religion and guns like we do).  We have mirrored the organizational efforts of the statists in order to be left alone. Conservatives finally got the memo - if we're gonna be left alone, we're gonna have to fight for it. So be it.

One more facet to the gun control issue - Representative Giffords just about owns this debate - if she is able to recover enough to state her opinions on the subject. She will either fan the flames or silence the meddlers. She has supported gun rights in the past. I hope and pray that she recovers the capability to do either one. While her endorsement of gun control of some kind would no doubt be a blow, I think the second amendment community could weather it. However, her continued support of gun rights would certainly pour cold water on the flames being fanned by the political opportunists.

So, how do we stop this from happening in the future? What is the cause, if not guns? Yeah, we can say the assassin could easily obtain other weapons that probably would be far more devastating, unpredictable and unstoppable, but that is a kind of defeatism that won't sit well with most. Clayton Cramer says in his latest Pajama Media column:
When I was young, random acts of mass murder were shocking.  In 1966, Charles Whitman went to the top of a building at the University of Texas and methodically murdered 13 people with a rifle. Such crimes were largely unthinkable until 1984, when James Huberty went into a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California, and murdered 19 people with a shotgun and an Uzi.  We are not shocked anymore. We are saddened — but the days when gun control advocates could dance in the blood of victims to get another useless gun control law passed are over. Americans are now used to this — and that is the biggest tragedy of all. We just accept this, and don’t ask, “What’s causing this?  Can we fix it?”
What changed? Our mental health system is what changed — a movement towards emptying out mental hospitals and making it difficult to commit someone against his will. This is called deinstitutionalization. This is an idea so theoretically elegant that it has been taking place everywhere.
As they say, read the whole thing. Clayton has been bringing this problem up now for several years, and he maintains a lot of the deinstitutional process was accelerated by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - both the movie and the book by Ken Kesey.
Ken Kesey wrote the novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest after taking LSD and going to work at a mental hospital, and the film by that name is not a documentary.
We don't know what the "trigger" was for the gunman, or if there was a Manchurian Candidate style trigger or a series of warped perceptions that led him to his actions. But we do know he was spewing clues like a teapot left on boil too long. Which our hero, Sheriff Dupnik, somehow missed even in the continuous complaints against the gunman. Didn't mean he couldn't pass judgment with absolutely no facts in his initial press conference. He can apparently avoid Freedom of Information requests about his department's avoidance of it's duties with regard to the shooter's mental state, so frequently displayed at school and any place that was unlucky enough to hire him.

Sorry, got caught up in some sniping there. Cramer's point over the years is that both sides of the political coin are responsible for turning out mentally ill patients into the general public, and the unwillingness to corral the fresh crop. It's also clear that the parents were living in a state of denial as well. So, there is plenty of blame to go around as far as letting the killer roam among us. You and me, too, because we are part of the society wearing blinkers on the mental health issue. Until we're willing to tackle the issue rather than the symptoms (like guns or large magazines), we're doomed for repeats.

Moving on to another sharp contrast - the reactions of the President and of Sarah Palin. It's no secret that I detest our President and what he represents. I also appreciate Ms. Palin. Her ability to make progressives' heads spin every time she opens her mouth makes me laugh. She does articulate what we as conservatives feel quite a bit - but she is not a puppeteer controlling the slack jawed marionettes of the right wing as so many seem to believe. I am amused by many of the insults based on her lack of experience and knowledge - especially when contrasted with Teh Won's vast amount time spent voting "present," the ins and outs of foreign policy learned while "community organizing," and his articulate speaking away from a teleprompter. Oh, wait..... 

I can even understand why Sarah Palin reacted as she did after the murderous events in Arizona. She and other right wing pundits were immediately blamed for causing the bloodshed with absolutely no evidence, and said evidence now points to more progressive influence than anything. Apologies for getting it wrong? Not on your life. That is the tolerance and bipartisanship those of us on the right have become accustomed to getting from those on the left. As far as I'm concerned, the "blood libel" video is completely understandable.

Aaand, there are certain little things about the President's speech at the University of Arizona I just can't get behind. First - it was put on by Organizing for America - which is funded by the Democratic National Committee. Non partisan? Are you kidding me? Then there were the t-shirts - I'm sure we've all seen the pictures by now. At first, it was assumed that the OFA bought them, but it's come out that the University actually purchased them, and they had no mention of the President. No matter to me - t-shirts to commemorate a memorial of a slaughter? This is an example of good taste and restraint?

But these are niggles. The important thing is what the President said:
You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we've seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government. But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.
So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
The President certainly rose above politics with those words. He did, in fact, leave quite a bit of rhetoric behind. Whether he manages to stay above the fray in the future is another matter entirely. But, in this moment in time, Barack Obama was Presidential. His words were of truth and healing. In this case, the accolades are apropos.

Like I said, I don't blame Sarah Palin a bit for what she said or how she said it. But - and this is the biggie - she missed an big opportunity here to rise above the fray as the President did. We have a saying out here in flyover country:  "Never rassle with a pig, they like it too much and you'll just get covered in pigshit." Sarah jumped right in there, as we saw.

This mass murder also hit hard because of the target. It wasn't just some random people on the street - this clown went after a member of Congress and managed to get a Federal Judge while he was at it. The idea that this kind of thing can happen to our insulated lawmakers has been a cattle prod firmly applied to their collective butts. Now we are seeing some claim that since they are more special (as public servants) than the rest of us, they deserve laws specifically designed to protect them above all others.  Guess the rest of us only matter on Election Day. Again, searching for a solution by treating the symptoms.

So, this is a very complex problem that application of simplistic solutions won't control.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just Remember This

In case we forget, considering the events in Arizona:
"We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."
--Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 1824

Bolding mine.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Restaurant Fun

Cripes Suzette posted about eating in Chinese restaurants today and this line stuck with me:
You’ve already replaced the sugar in the dispenser with salt.

That isn't subtle at all - it's difficult to dispose of so much sugar and you won't have enough salt. One wants to disguise the operation as much as possible. Let me tell you what we used to do.

Of course you realize the "we" in this case may or may not include moi or my friends, as it were. Or "what we used to do" is not an admission of guilt in any sort of way. Perhaps someone told me about this technique, many many moons ago.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Me and my wife, Morgan Fairchild. Who I've seen naked.

What you want is to put sugar in the salt shaker without it looking like there is anything other than salt there. You need sugar, of course, and a salt shaker as pictured above - clear glass with a screw on top. Then, you need a paper napkin. Unfold the napkin until it's down to a single ply, then tear a corner off larger than the diameter of the salt shaker. Unscrew the lid, place the napkin fragment flat on top. Slightly poke and form the napkin so it bellies into the salt shaker - but not very deep. You want the metal lid to hide the napkin when seen from the top and sides. Then, fill the depression with sugar and carefully screw the lid on over the napkin. You should have a salt shaker with paper napkin hanging out the lid all the way around the circumference. Now, carefully tear away the excess napkin. You can also tuck some under the lid. The important thing is that there is nothing left to call attention to the lid. Be sure and wad up the remnants of the napkin in one ball so there is no immediate evidence of impropriety.

Now, you have a sabotaged salt shaker, good for several "salt" applications. Plus, when the sugar runs out, no salt will be dispensed, adding to the fun.

I've heard - because of course I am completely innocent in these matters - that the degree one is toasted can increase the level of difficulty of achieving success in this endeavor. But I wouldn't know anything about that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Been Meaning to Post About This

I got one of my stolen guns back. I've had it for several months, and kept forgetting to take some pictures. It's a Henry Golden Boy in .22LR. It's a "replica" of the 1866 Winchester "Yellow Boy."

As you can see, it has led a hard life. It turns out that some lady - not much younger than me, pawned it in Lost Wages. The pawn shop didn't run the numbers until the next day. She only got fifty bucks for it.

She is the estranged daughter of someone kinda local - it was probably her husband who actually had the gun. I'm sure that it will come out that they didn't have anything to do with the robbery, but took the gun in trade for drugs or some such. He's a felon who has violated his parole, so the cops are "looking" for him. She had a clean record up til now. They're hard to track down because they are homeless.

My county sheriff, who returned the gun to me, also showed me a picture of this gal. My first thought was "meth addict." Yep. Her parents apparently had to write her off, because she's hooked and won't seek treatment, but still wants money to support their habits. It's sad for sure, but that doesn't mean I feel sorry enough for them to forget my stuff was stolen. They broke the law.

Considering the hubby is on parole, and has violated that parole, and has been running free all this time kinda clues one in on how serious our justice system is about justice in general.

Oh, and it's against the law for him to have a gun. Like that stopped him.

I've Got Mine

Do you have yours? If ya dunno what I'm talkin' 'bout, Roberta X, proprietress of The Adventures of Roberta X (found on the sidebar right over there>>>>>), has a book version of her story told on her other blog I Work On A Starship. It is available in book and download form at Lulu for a mere pittance! What a deal!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Going Nowhere Fast

The Poor Farm and surrounding areas were hit by a less than impressive snow storm last night and today. A thin layer of ice was deposited, followed by some very light, fluffy snow. The weather prognosticators were crowing that we'd get five to six inches of snow. Not hardly. Maybe, just maybe, two. Moisture content? Basically nil.

We need the moisture, too. It's dry.

But the conditions were crummy enough that us oversize haulers didn't go anywhere. It's worse north of here and spotty to the south - but far enough that I couldn't get to the better roads today anyway. We'll see what tomorrow brings. In this case, if it's gonna park me, I'd prefer that the weather exceeded the minimum requirements.

I also have a prayer request, or positive karma, or whatever. One of my oldest friends has been battling cancer. He was having trouble with his vision, and further examination revealed some small cancerous brain tumors. During treatment, they found more in his chest, and removed what they could. He's been going through a comprehensive surgery, chemo and radiation regimen for some time.

Apparently to no avail. The doctors have gone to pain management mode, waiting for the end. His family has requested privacy, so I won't link to his update site. I just ask that in your conversations with The Man, you consider adding Jeffro's buddy Oscar and his family to your list. He will know who you are talking about. They're gonna need the support and strength.

Oscar and I have been buds since kindergarten. He's always been an ornery, yet classy guy. I could always count on him, and hope he could do the same from me.

It's a sad day here. I'm gonna miss him.

Us Evil Conservatives Have It All Wrong

About our Fearless Leader, Teh Won - Barack Obama.

I apologize.

H/T SondraK

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday Funnies

Some people are never satisfied.

Uh huh. Yeah. Like that works:

Sure worked well for Teh Won - three dollar gas. Guess he's in league with Haliburton and the Evil Oil Industry since that was the case when Bush was President. Yep, the press has been all over the rising oil price issue this time. Uh huh.

But to be fair:

Kissing the sheik didn't pan out so well, either!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

It's That Time Again

Yes, it's time to post the editorial cartoons that tickled my funnybone today.

I still remember the Time cover about the New Ice Age and how we were all doomed.

We've got organizations like NAMBLA promoting and demanding attention to their cause of having buttsecks with little boys, then we've got people worried about two cultural classics using the language of the time. Those who control the past control the future. It'll be ok for rap and hip hop types to use the same language as Samuel Clemens, but not for the rest of us. Have we slipped into the evil bearded twin Spock's mirror universe or what?

A twofer! I can't help it, this song is playing in my head right now......

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Fine Insult Is A Thing To Behold


WARNING: This video is NOT safe for work, or around small children - etc.

However, it's a pretty good collection of movie insults. The Gunny is in this three times! The Duke - twice! I think the best one was the last one - the first curse word used in a major motion picture - and it was devastating!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Alan! Alan!


Please don't talk when my fingers are in your mouth.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Every Fifty Five Minutes


This little snapshot of history gives us an example of how our industrial might helped win WWII. The plant is Willow Run, a Ford designed facility strictly for production of B-24 Liberator bombers. At it's peak in 1944, six hundred fifty bombers were built every month.

But, that was during the heady days of Smokestack America. We've got a service industry now.

H/T Nunkle Kim

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Another "I gotcher art raht hyar" posts. These are commonly called "Soddies."  These are a sort of bas relief semi-commercial folk art produced by a Mennonite lady from Montezuma KS - Leah Johnson. This particular collection is called a "Small Four Seasons," because she produced them in various sizes. As you can see, the four smaller plaques represent the seasons of the year with varying scenes, all involving sod houses. They are actually made with sod - a special mix of mud for the three dimensional look. Her sons and grandsons cut and edge routed the plaques for her.

They are all dated '86 and signed "Leah Johnson." The last I heard - and this was quite a while back - she was physically unable to produce any more and was living in a rest home in Montezuma. Once again, a little googling can illuminate - I did not know this:
One Mennonite memory painter is Leah Johnson, a Holdeman Mennonite (Church of God in Christ, Mennonite) from Montezuma, KS, who since 1967 has painted sod houses set in various Kansas regional landscapes. She uses a self-developed, three-dimensional sand-painting technique that was revealed to her following the death of her husband when she was suddenly faced with earning her own living. She has also illustrated books with drawings of her favorite subjects, notably True Sod, written by Barbara Oringdeff(sp).

Barbara Oringderff is noted Kansas historian/author who publishes a Kansas history themed quarterly The TerritorialTrue Sod is available at Amazon. According to the source above, an example of a memory painter:
Grandma Moses was a "memory painter"; that is, her scenes were naive, nostalgic renderings of a long-past era of American culture.
 Learn somethin' new ever' day! I didn't know that Mrs. Johnson had been making soddies since 1967, or that she had done illustrations and collaborated with Barbara Oringderff. I've been reading The Territorial for years. Aaaand, I did know that the Mennonites around here belong to the Holden branch. I'm not sure about Mrs. Johnson using sand for her soddies - it has always been said that she used plain ol' dirt - which is kinda sandy in the Montezuma area.

At any rate, I think I gave about eight bucks apiece for each of the plaques as a package deal and gave them to my Mother for Christmas. I've got a small one in my bathroom. My "extra mom" has a much larger plaque that her kids purchased for her as a group on display at her house. Ingalls Feed Yard used to (and may still - haven't been there in years) have a very large commissioned piece in their break room. Believe it or not, here in "red" flyover country, the cattle and grain barons support the arts.

You'll find Leah Johnson's soddies in plenty of discerning art lovin' homes here in southwester Kansas!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Resolution

It's pretty easy - I've found that resolving to do things like lose weight seem to be a losing proposition for me. I used to drink quite a bit of diet pop, mostly Diet Pepsi. It used to be no big deal, but in the past couple years it has apparently affected me more than I realized.

Furosemide - generic Lasix. I'm supposed to take it in the mornings. However, it and driving don't mix. When the drug hit's it's stride, I can go every five minutes. This does not work well while driving. OK, so why don't I take it in the evening?

It can last over five hours. Let's say my day is done at 6pm. I ingest my dose. It hits in an hour or so. I can't sleep until after eleven or twelve. I get up at four or five. This, too, does not work.

So, by the end of the week, my toes looked like sausages and my feet and ankles were swollen. Enough to feel uncomfortably tight in my shoes. Clothes didn't fit well. My hands were puffy. For some reason, more on my right side than the left. Can we say COPD? I'd feel pressure on my chest - big time. I'd double down on my doses on weekends - two in the morning and maybe even another during the afternoon. Which meant my weekends are spent doing just what it sounds like, and lots of it. Not much else got done. Sometimes two days wasn't enough and I'd have to take off some work to get drained down.

Perhaps it was the sodium in the pop causing me to retain water? I decided to switch to tea so I'd still get my fix of caffeine over the Christmas break. I was gonna be at Sis's place, where tea is the primary beverage.

I can now report that I've been able to see the large veins in my hands all week.  My feet look bony as in the past - even the right one. Even my ankles are smaller. The pressure in my chest - greatly reduced.

And just as an aside - I always feel pressure in my chest, so don't be telling me to get help immediately if not before. I also have frequent chest pain. You wanna know why? Get your brisket chopped in two and pasted back together. Even after it all healed, it still hurts. My cardiologist admitted that would affect me for the rest of my life - it was normal. Especially if I do something strenuous. I drive a specialized flatbed rig. I deal with boomers, chains, strap ratchets and a cheater bar every day. Massaging my scar helps.

But there is no sense in retaining all that water. I feel better already. This resolution is gonna be easy.