Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Like....

George knew what was coming or sompthin'.....

"The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Better Mood

Well, after yesterday it's probably anticlimactic to play the "What Skyline is This?" game. I do wonder just what the huge structure off to the left (west) is. This picture was taken northbound on Texas 288 just coming in. The big sports arena was by US59 - we didn't take I45 through town to get to 288 - we used a free part of the Belt 6 loop to go from I45 over to US59 - then down to 288. Coming back was the reverse. Traffic on that route wasn't all that bad - it was nothing compared to what we ran into going through Ft. Worth. We were following US287, but rather than follow it while it runs with I35W, we had the bright idea to try the eastbound side of the I820 loop. Every time I've ever been on I35W it has always had several areas that turned into parking lots. I820 was stop and go from where TX121 (Airport Road) merged until we got to I35W, and it was more of the same until we finally got to the US287 split. By the time we got to Decatur, we'd had enough.

This is the Sam Houston giant statue that northbounders on I45 going through Huntsville, TX get to see. Everything is bigger in Texas.

And, it really wasn't as humid this trip, either. North of Houston is under a burn ban, and the kids are getting screwed out of their fireworks this year. Most counties have outlawed the sale and use for this year because of the drought.

I gotta say that their droughts don't hold a candle to ours - we'd figure we were rolling in rain if everything was as green as that area is.

And our traffic jams are when you get caught behind a tractor or combine and can't pass for about a minute or three.

Monday, June 27, 2011


My compadre and I are headed for somewhere around Freeport, TX. We are currently holed up in a motel north of Houston, and will have to drive through that fine city to get to our destination.

I hate Houston. It's hot and humid. The Poor Farm hit 110 degrees F yesterday, but I'd so much rather be there than here. The drivers around here suck. I swore the last time here I'd not forget anything, because I sure as hell didn't want to come back.

Oh well. Thank you, God, for air conditioning.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hot Wheels! Too Cool!


This is just plain awesome. I thought I had a few Hot Wheels cars back in the day, but wow! Apparently not.

I guess I'll always be that little boy that loved playing with his and his pals' Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. A gearhead forever!

Stolen from Mike Elgan

Saturday, June 25, 2011

These Guys Are Nuts

Crop dusters. Spray pilots. Aerial applicators or top dressers. Whatever the substance they are spreading over the crops - they're crazy. Or they are highly skilled pilots who shave the edges of safety to do their jobs. Yeah, that's what they are - not adrenaline junkies what. so. ever.

The whole industry got it's start in the US with the ready availability of war surplus Boeing-Stearman Model 75s that were converted to air spray rigs. All you have to do is say "Stearman" around farm country and everyone thinks of this plane. Hell, when one says "biplane," this is what most of us picture in our minds.

The Grumman Ag Cat was the next step in the evolution of the aerial applicators. All one has to say is "Ag Cat" and yer average farmer knows just what you're talking about. Some of them had radial powerplants as well. One can kinda see how the design mimics a stunt plane, too.

Today's winnah and champeen design is the Air Tractor. The different sizes that this company makes are all powered by increasingly rated Pratt and Whitney turboprop motors - you can really hear these puppies whine and whoosh when they are at work. The hopper is actually in between the motor and the pilot - thus the long nosed look. Plus, the tail is close to the wings for a short couple for increased maneuverability and quick response. These suckers would make great stunt planes except for one feature - the asymmetrical airfoil on the main wing. Since the whole purpose of these beasts is to carry a heavy load and dump it close to the ground at a controlled rate, but remain highly maneuverable to be able to turn around and get back to the crop in a short time - well, lift while being upside down is really not that necessary. Better to sacrifice that and have a high lift wing under more "normal" usage. Of course, normal sometimes includes riding the rudder knifing through a turn with the wings vertical to the ground as well. So, instant on high power is pretty useful if the pilot expects to succeed in some of the moves he makes regularly as part of his job.

And, some don't live. One of my childhood buddies died about twenty years ago in an imported plane - I can't remember if it was Czech or Polish, but it was a biggun with a big motor. It was certainly distinctive - I could see it coming along and know it was Neal at work. When I was driving my old hotrod Cummins and catch him skimming along, I'd stand on it three times to blow three smoke signals. He'd waggle his wings and give three short bursts of chemical as an answer. Of course, he'd seen me rolling along and he'd fly a bit out of his way so I could see him or he could sneak up on me to buzz me and catch me unaware. He'd kinda swoop down on me and crack open the throttle, and it would sound like my truck was coming apart. Then I'd see him fly on over and realize what had happened. Ornery sucker, anyhow.

But, one day he was working over a feedlot when his motor just quit. These things may have great rates of glide or whatever, but when they're loaded and only fifteen or twenty feet off the ground, well, they're gonna be landing right there, immediately if not before. He went down in a bunch of welded steel rail pens set in concrete. His landing gear caught the pipe, flipped him over and stopped the plane right then and there. It was just bad luck. Had he been over some corn or milo - he'd have set it down, figured out what was broke, fixed it and went back to work.

And rare indeed is the crop duster who hasn't crashed. Most have cracked up several planes. They've made their peace with the idea that the job is dangerous a long time ago.

What prompted this post was my catching one of these nuts at work, and realizing he was working around a power line. Some fly under the lines, but I think these lines were just too low. At any rate, he knew what I was up to and shaved it pretty close to give me a show. I'm sure he could see me holding my phone up to the windshield to record his mad skilz.


Of course, my phone is hardly the best thing for recording important stuff, but it's all I had. I go to war with the tools I have. You can see him coming from the left to the right, and he lifts up to just clear the line. He kind of turns along the line, floating just above it, and turns back to go the other way. He was working a circle - from a center pivot irrigation setup, and his application plan was to work from the outside in, so he didn't have to waste a bunch of time in the air turning back and forth if he was to apply in adjacent strips. They've all got GPS setups now, so they can line right up these days without flaggers, toilet paper roll markers, or whatever, and they can blank some "rows" and come back and catch them later.

Plus, it should be noted that a lot of aerial applicators use helicopters as well - they are much better at getting around obstacles like powerlines and trees. However, they are more expensive as well as being maintenance hogs that are really quite unreliable. Those pilots are nuts in a different fashion.

Anyways, hope ya enjoy!


Enough, already. Micheal Jackson is DEAD. He's been thataway for a while now.

WTF is he doing on my tv this morning? Get over it, fer cryin' out loud. Go away.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Like Opposite Day

Get some, Pig! It's about time!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mine! Mine! All Mine!

Well, I wish - I'd settle for a minor percentage of the gross. East of Point of Rocks, WY along I80 one can see a strip coal mine in action. Google-fu has determined the mine is the Black Butte Mine.

I've kvetched before about how the oil industry giants are actually energy companies, and that they are heavily invested in other forms of power producing methods - green, pie in the sky tech - whatever. GE is actually kind of an outlier with their wind power division - they aren't normally associated with Big Oil. So, guess who owns the Black Butte Mine?

That would be Anadarko, of Big Oil fame and fortune. Anadarko, who purchases a major portion of my company's products, which in turn keeps me in midget porn and Cheetos. Just thought I'd get that little disclosure out of the way, as it were.

Westbound on I80 on the east side of the mine - distance makes the dragline seem small, but I can guarantee you it is not. Small.

Eastbound on I80, on the west side of the facility - showing the small mountains of tailings.

Same thing different view. There just might be a ton or three of material there.

Another view of the dragline from the eastbound side. There are actually two working down in the hole. Apparently driving 75mph distorts time and space on the Mighty Binder.

And, as an added bonus, whilst Googling around I found this:


This area isn't even noted for mining - the Powder River basin is where most of Wyoming's coal production originates. I've been through there, too, but you can't see the mines from the road. Between Douglass and Wright, WY is one of the largest rail car repair yards you'll ever see. They ain't working on grain hoppers or boxcars there, either. All coal cars.

Both areas are in a whole lot of nuttin' but desolate country. Grazing is pretty sparse for cattle, but the antelope seem to like it just fine. It's far, far different than what I'm used to for sure.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day!

Violet was quite the little bitch, eh? And Charles is a gentleman.

Happy Fathers' Day for all the dads out there - y'all know who you are!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

RIP Big Man


Clarence Clemons, sax player and pillar of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, passed away at the age of 69 due to complications from a stroke suffered last weekend. I'd read about the updates that The Boss was handing out then.

The whole Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band experience had little in common with the life of a Great Plains farm boy. Their music spoke of an entirely different and foreign existence compared to what little I and my friends had experienced. However, the talent shone through - even us country bumpkins knew when we were hearing greatness.

Jungleland is my favorite Springsteen tune - even more so than Born to Run, which was kind of an anthem even to us. Mr. Clemons also has a substantial solo that successfully captured a gamut of emotions that even a musical dullard like myself could identify.

RIP Big Man.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back Door Gun Control

We as gun owners seem to be getting our way more and more often these days. The number of states approving CCW have ballooned, the District of Columbia has been spanked, open carry is becoming more prevalent, and the Brady Bunch is a shadow of their former selves. Even Teh Won has seemingly backed off the issue of gun control, much to the chagrin of his supporters (along with getting us out of the Middle East, closing Gitmo and so on as well).


I've always thought this administration would try some sort of back door method to curtail and eliminate our Second Amendment rights, perhaps through the United Nations:
It may not come as surprising news to many of you that the United Nations doesn’t approve of our Second Amendment. Not one bit. And they very much hope to do something about it with help from some powerful American friends. Under the guise of a proposed global “Small Arms Treaty” premised to fight “terrorism”, “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates” you can be quite certain that an even more insidious threat is being targeted – our Constitutional right for law-abiding citizens to own and bear arms.
As they say, Read The Whole Thing. It's not just our gun rights at stake here - it's our sovereignty as a nation that is on the chopping block as well. All in the name of multinationalism and multiculturalism. A no borders world just won't work as well if us mouth breathing rednecks hang on to our guns and our Bibles, because we will always have the most effective means of resistance available to us. Obama has already shown his disdain for constitutional restrictions on his power (see powers of war, for instance). He's also shown his tendency to run to the UN for any validation he deems necessary. It is certainly no stretch of the imagination to see the administration's and the UN's intent. Now would be the time to get better acquainted with your Senators. I'm gonna be saying plenty to Pat Roberts. I'm sure I'll be preaching to the choir with him at least. He's shown a remarkable willingness to listen to his constituents in the past - with me, anyways.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Yannow, after all the close encounters with surgeons and doctors over the years, I was kinda in the hopes that maybe the experiences would make me more tolerant of my fellow man and more willing to forbear minor annoyances. You know, to show I was grateful to be alive and all that.

Let's just say that didn't pan out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Men At Age Twenty

Raiding the email inbox again today - this one has been making the rounds:
Wow, talk about pictures being worth a thousand words! Here's Benjamin Netanyahu at 20 and Barack Obama at 20. Think either has changed much? Me neither. Which one would you choose to watch your back?

Netanyahu basically handed Our Fearless Community Organizer (you know, the guy who had all kinds of foreign affairs experience by voting "present" in the Senate) his ass when Teh Won brought up his brilliant scheme to roll back Israel's borders to 1967 lines. Plus, Obama knew it and was just a tad upset according to Washington insiders.

And here I thought it was the Republican Nixon who had the potty mouth.

Amateur hour for US foreign policy. Who'd a' thunk it?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Important Health Announcement

The CDC has just released an important message regarding a new strain of an old disease. Announcement below the fold:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

No Truer Words.....

This song always gives me pause and causes me to reflect.
I've seen the needle
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie's
like a settin' sun.
Of course, when Neil Young wrote and first performed Needle and the Damage Done the drug culture hadn't really been exposed to meth (or crank) or for that matter cocaine. Those iconic drugs would come later. He was writing about heroin, injected by needle, and mourning the loss of fellow musicians. The first part of the song sets the tone - how he'd seen the damage done, hit the city and how his fellow musicians kept dying, even after some success. Milk blood to keep from running out - the lengths junkies go to make sure they can get high again.

But the last stanza - wow. A little part of it in everyone. Isn't that so true? Most of us have some sort of addictive or compulsive behavior, whether it's cigarettes, booze, gambling, or some other vice. I've sure had my share of vices and the last one - eating - I just cannot seem to control. Granted, it's not heroin addiction by any means, but it's a little part of it in me, and I do understand. After all my surgeries and procedures involving opioids for pain control I can tell you it's probably a damn good thing I never got into the *ahem* recreational use of said drugs. I know I've got addictive tendencies, and while the truckers' drug has it's charms (I'm being sarcastic here), and blow for your nose was almost a social requirement at one point - they can't hold a candle to the derivatives of the poppy.

But every junkie's like a settin' sun. That phrase right there is the coup de grace on several levels. Everybody has their own light - talents, skills, personalities - an individual beacon that drug addiction dims and eventually puts out. And they go out brightly as well - burning themselves out, fighting society with their denial and hiding their pain, refusing help. In a flaming nosedive, they extinguish themselves.

I've made my past no secret. I and several friends have managed to avoid that fiery crash. One of them and I have discussed this at length, and we feel like we made it through the fire. Plus, on the other side, we found each other and discovered why we were friends in the first place. Our relationship is the stronger for it. We are both in pain for those still on the other side of that fire - maybe they just toke up a little, or they're still methheads, or whatever. The divide exists because they are trapped in their delusions, and consider us some sort of traitor or similar. They are the ones who are living their lives the way they want, and are free because of it. We, on the other hand, are sellouts to the man, or something. Whatever it takes to continue consuming that drug without admitting to the logical disconnect that they aren't free, they are in thrall to the drug and all that goes with it - the societal dismissals by the so called upper crust plus the acceptance by the dregs - those who use and deal, the continual lack of money the associated problems with obtaining more to get their fix - theft or prostitution, their poor health and so much more.

There aren't as many of the heads left anymore. They keep dying off far faster than my clean and normal compadres.

And every time I hear Neil sing this song, all of these thoughts rush through my head. I remember.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I'm Still Kickin' Part II

Sorry about the lack of posting - been pretty busy. My assignment for Monday was to take some three hundred barrel steel tanks to a yard near Greeley, CO. Sunday I saw the only trailer loaded with the appropriate tanks was missing a wheel and hub - one of our drivers didn't get very far with that load earlier in the week. I called my dispatcher, and she had the idea that it would be fixed and ready to go first thing Monday morning.

Welp, that would be a pretty good trick, because the axle stub would be totally screwed. The old axle will have to be torched out and a new one welded in. The axle fairy isn't gonna take care of this repair.

I happened to see the chief of our loadout crew in Wally World Sunday - you know, the meet and greet place of the Midwest. He had no clue that load needed to be ready Monday. He told me he'd have a load ready for me next morning.

But, they start loading about the time we start leaving in the morning. I figured the extra hour of sleep would do me good, and sure enough, when I got in, the load had just been finished and off I went.

Before I got there, I got a call. One of our trucks bound for Idaho was having engine issues. The newer motors with regeneration capabilities of soot traps are proving to be far, far less than reliable. Two of our trucks have spent some serious time and money in the shop lately, and apparently the repairs aren't finished. I had to unload, haul hiney back to a truck stop east of Denver, drop my trailer and hook my compadre's load to hurry up and get to near Boise ID for a Wednesday morning crane appointment.

Monday night found me in Rawlins, WY at a half hour after sunset - the latest I could drive. I was pretty wound and didn't get much sleep. Yesterday, I caught up with the other two drivers with the other two tanks at Little America - they'd made it that far Monday, but one had found a water leak and the repair shop there was fixing it.

I didn't have an Idaho permit yet, but that issue was finally resolved about halfway through Utah. I pulled into our customer's site at about seven pm our time, dropped the trailer, ran back into town for a motel, and just generally crashed.

This morning finds me waiting for the crane - I'll be "tailing" the tanks helping the big crane. When we get that done, the rest of the week will be used up getting home.

Just another week in trucking paradise!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Mother Nature is a Stone Cold Bitch

Naturally, I had left my camera inside. As I was bringing some groceries inside today, I heard a bleating noise on my first trip. Figured it was some kind of bird. My second - I'd ditched my glasses, billfold and phone before heading out for more bags when I saw the source of the bleating.

There was a pretty fresh whitetail fawn circling around my yard and pickup. It had heard the commotion when I drove in and decided to inspect the situation in hopes Mama might be there. The little snot tripped right along, stopping to call for it's mother, then moving those impossibly long legs with surprising grace. The poor little thing headed out into the CRP across the road, but the open country with heavy cover must have seemed very intimidating, because it turned back, circled around and headed into my back yard. It hasn't learned to fear man - yet.

If it and Mama don't hook up pretty quick, the little snot is toast. Coyote chow.

I know that deer border on being major pests around here, but I hate to see a baby anything suffer. Maybe the toddler can survive hanging close to the cattle here and the shelter of the farm. There is plenty of food and water here, too, even if my neighbor really isn't putting it out for lost fawns. That forlorn hope is why I didn't rush right out with a camera, because I didn't want to run the little devil off by scaring it. I figure it's frightened enough the way it is.
Like it or not - this is the way life is. "Mother Nature" or Gaea or whatever isn't real but rather a human construct - anthropomorphizing a concept. The Great Wheel of Life doesn't give a rat's ass about this little fawn - coyotes gotta eat, too. And I guess I'm a hypocrite, because given half a chance, I'd shoot this little sucker right in the brisket if it were grown and I had the appropriate tag.

But I still hate to see something like this happen.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

It's A Living

Chris Byrne of The Anarchangel has been posting about some of his health problems lately. He's got some sort of imbalance going on, plus he has a tumor in his neck. The health care pros do not want to operate until he loses weight, and one of the symptoms he's dealing with is edema. His weight has been cycling up and down with the excesses of water retention, and he's found that temperature regulation is a bitch as well.

Welp, welcome to the club, dude. Just call me stumpy.

My toes look like little sausages, and that is scar tissue on the shin. About all I've gotta do to bleed is brush against something solid, and then I've got a slow healing wound that leaves a mark. Do that for several years, and you get some seriously unattractive skin. The longitudinal scar is where the heart surgeon harvested some veins for my bypass surgery. And yeah, I think that big toenail has a fungus - I keep forgetting to say something to the doctor.

More of the same. I've gotta wear diabetic socks because the tops of regular socks cut into the swelling and hurt like hell after several hours. Even the diabetic socks leave a mark - these pics were taken in a motel after a couple hours of running barefoot, so the indentations were gone.

What makes my situation irritating for me is that the diuretic (furosemide, or generic Lasix) is supposed to be taken daily, preferably in the morning. This stuff fills the ol' bladder about every ten minutes at first, to every half hour after four to six hours. Which means a lot of peeing. Which means were I to take it driving, I'd be pulling over more than going down the road, plus probably getting ticketed for indecent exposure. Okay, so take it at night. Mmmkay, let's say I get checked in to a motel at seven or eight pm and have to get up at four or five am. Just because I took the pill does not mean it acts immediately if not before - it may be an hour or so before it takes effect. So, now we're looking at four to six hours of visiting Mr. Commode starting at eight or nine pm. Which means no sleep for the fat boy. Tubby trucker kinda likes his seven to eight hours of sleep.

So, I get caught up on weekends. I'll double down for two or three days, and spend most of the time off doing number one. If I want to go somewhere and do anything - it has to be timed with the cleansing ritual, unless I feel like embarrassing myself.

During the week, the water build up makes shoes, socks, and clothing ill fitting. I gotta have a belt on to keep the ol' jeans halfway presentable, but it feels like it and the jeans waistband are cutting me in two by the end of the day. When I bend my knees, I can feel the movement is restricted by the extra fluid. I can lose all the weekend's "work" by Monday night, too - I can be swollen like I'd never done a thing about it all weekend long. My watchband is too tight at it's normal setting. By Friday or Saturday, I'm beat from lugging around the extra poundage.

Chris's frustrations are based on the idea that not a lot of his problems were his fault. Mine? Well, let's just say that being the poster boy for how NOT to live your life put me in this position. Eating what I wanted when I wanted in the quantities I wanted, smoking, exercising only when work required it - welp, a self indulgent lifestyle and my body just didn't mix. So while I'm willing to "piss and moan" as it were, the voice inside my head that says: "It's your own fault, dumbass!" just won't go away. Which is just as well, I'd be delusional if I didn't acknowledge my own responsibility.

Plus, I've certainly gained a large measure of sympathy for all you gals out there. When "Aunt Flo" comes calling and y'all retain water and swell up, let's just say in the words of one of our illustrious former Presidents: "I feel your pain." Just that quote, not the "I didn't have sex with that woman" one.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Puppy For Sale

Once again with the raiding of the ol' email inbox!
Whether you own a dog or not, you must appreciate the efforts of this owner to sell her dog.
Read the sales pitch below!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Too Many People Don't Pay Any Taxes

I've got Scott Adam's Blog in my reader - and while he is of a decidedly liberal bent, as a businessman he certainly has some very provocative things to say:

Yesterday I went to Walmart and demanded that they give me a cartload of merchandise for free. This demand was not well-received, so I didn’t get to the second part of my plan which would have involved criticizing the job performance of the people who were giving me free stuff.
Okay, I didn’t really go to Walmart and demand free stuff. You probably knew that because it sounded ridiculous on face value. We all understand that no entity can survive for long if it gives away its resources while asking nothing in return. And this leads me to my point: In the United States, 51% of adults pay zero federal income tax, and yet they have the right to vote. That’s the very definition of a system that can’t last.

Go and read the rest. I find it hard to argue with any of his points.