Sunday, July 31, 2011

Best Capitulate

When it comes to Alice and her Fist of Death © , I'd prefer her on my side. Maybe it's just me.

And I'd say Scott Adams has a pretty good insight into the whole TEOTWAWKI concept and strategies.

On that subject, I do not have a "Bug Out Bag" and an escape route. I'm already where I need to be, with all the arms and ammo I might need. After my neighbors and I all run out of canned goods, we might get tired of eating beef, wheat and corn. Native foodstuffs aren't very voluminous here. My yard has a pretty decent crop of wild onions that appear every spring. They are tiny bulbs that have a mild radish flavor. Once, I thought they might make a good flavor enhancer in a marinara sauce. Three hours of digging on my hands and knees got me a half cup of usable onions. Kind of a caloric sinkhole as far as survival goes.

My biggest problem is the necessity for a well stocked pharmacy that still gets resupplied. Once that area of civilization goes tits up, so go I. There isn't much point in elaborate plans that something simple like that will unravel.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mem-Reez, Like The Corners of My Mind

With apologies if the title gives you an earworm.....

This would be my score in the Name The Game game. The games being the pioneer arcade video games from the past, and the test is a series of short audio clips of certain effects from those classics. You get three choices. Apparently I did not play all of them back in the day - I sure don't remember some of them. However, fifteen of eighteen wasn't too shabby, either!

H/T Ace

Invisible Air Force One

Air Force General: Mr. President, we've just invented an invisibility cloak for Air Force One.

Obama: No Way!

Air Force General: That's right, sir, the plane will be invisible. Will you be going along on it's maiden flight?

Obama: Wouldn't miss it for the world.

Air Force General: Have a good trip, sir.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Piles 'O Money

This picture is from a series of comparisons between large amounts of money. The point is to realize just how far in debt we are plus how far we will be in debt. Wait until you see the pile of one hundred dollar bills that are higher than the former Twin Towers.

Go here to and become alarmed as you gain perspective.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

UCLA Study

This just in:

A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle.
For example: if she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features. However, if she is menstruating or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth and a spear lodged in his chest with a bat up his ass while he is on fire.

No further studies are expected on this subject.

May this important information help those in need of this knowledge.

H/T Alan

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'd Never Done That Before

Drivin' with one eye open. I've done that plenty of times, too many for comfort. But today, it could have cost me.

Trucks have to pass through state ports of entry. Most just have you pull on an axle scale and they record our DOT number plus check our IFTA sticker. When we're loaded, they might have us pull over and bring in all our pertinent registration, driver's license and permits to haul that load. Even when we're empty, we're supposed to pull in. There is a pair across from each other on I35 south of the Blackwell exits, and I was headed north. I had been by there a half dozen times - even once yesterday - and it was closed.

So, there I am driving with one eye open. Struggling to stay awake. I noticed a semi coming out from an on ramp, and another behind it, so I got over into the fast lane - right as I blew by the port with a line of trucks waiting to pass through.

This is a ticketable offense, and I figured there would be some lights chasing after me tuit suite. I said to hell with it, I'd oblige them to chase me down, so I just kept right on. Never did see anyone come after me. They might not have even seen me go by.

But sheesh - there are only about three or four signs warning truckers that they're gonna have to pull off, stay in the right lane and so on, as well as the open/closed sign. I was just out to lunch, baybee.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I'm so burned out on the Republican shootout - there is not a one of them whose gonna be able inspire the middle to switch votes from Teh Won.

Then we have the press doing everything they can do discredit any of the candidates that actually say or do something. We elected a brainless man for the job, what difference does it make if a woman has migraines?


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beef Cattle

Most of y'all, not being born in cattle country, may or may not have an idea of how beef cattle are raised and the various steps within. I'm certainly no expert, since my roles in the industry have been more on the sidelines - except when my Dad had cattle when I was a kid. So, this may be long winded, and not entirely accurate, since I'm doing a lot of shootin' from the hip.

Baby beef cattle are called calves. The stockman who raises calves has to have cows - fully mature female cattle. He also has to have at least one bull - fully mature male. There are many ways farmer/stockman are involved in raising cattle, and this is the most traditional. It could be said he has "pairs" meaning the cow/calf pair. Sometimes, the stockman raises specific breeds - such as the more common Herefords (red and white, trait - red whiteface) and Angus (mostly black). Usually most herds are a hodge podge of breeds and varieties, with certain traits that stand out. Generally one can tell by the coloring what the animal's ancestry is, as well as the size parameters, characteristics like wide hips, long frames and so on. You can really tell if one has some Brahman because they'll have the droopy ears and the large muscle knot on their front shoulders. The farmer raising pairs will try to keep his cow herd updated - cows that are getting old or ones that don't calve are replaced, and more often than not, by cattle of a certain size and build rather than specific breeds. The overwhelming preferred characteristic in cows is wide hips for easier birthing. Some narrow hipped cows never give a lick of trouble, but it's a problem often enough. The herd owner will also maintain his bulls as well. Even though there is a ready supply of future bulls and cows within the calf population, using your own supply can lead to inbreeding.

Most stockmen sell their calves when they hit a certain weight. Some keep 'em and raise them to feeder weight. But, generally, when they hit weaning age, out the door they go. Most of the time, the market for weaned calves is better than for yearlings, which are heavier and there is less profit in them for someone who "backgrounds" cattle. This process takes cattle from the lightweight calf stage to the feeder weight stage - and feeders are still considered calves. Big ones, but still calves. So, someone backgrounding calves would buy a fresh bunch and pasture them out plus feed them whatever supplements are necessary as well. My father used both approaches - he had pairs, and he backgrounded calves. Dad liked backgrounding heifers because even though they didn't bring as much, they didn't cost as much initially, either. They were generally better behaved than steers, too.

Oh, steers. That's another story. Male beef cattle put on weight much more profitably and palatably when the testosterone levels are reduced. At some point, the calves must be branded or tagged with ear tags, horns pulled, and certain drugs are injected or large pills stuffed down their throats. When we got in a batch of calves, that is when this processing occurred. The calves might have been shipped from Florida or North Dakota, but one thing was sure, the trip had really worn them down and they were pretty susceptible to getting sick. Doctorin' was required. And all the little bulls get castrated. Rocky Mountain Oysters, anyone?

We had to feed our cattle during the winter. Our pasture isn't capable of letting cattle gain weight all by itself. Dad had baled feed sorghum and also had silage - which is ground feed sorghum that is allowed to ferment. We'd have mineral and salt blocks out - large blocks of concentrate that the cattle would lick for some of their missing nutrients. Sometimes, we might feed some processed grain - if Dad had some crummy seed wheat, he might have it rolled and maybe some molasses mixed in. Our feeding program was not very intensive - because the calves at that age just don't put on weight very fast.

But by the time they reach six hundred pounds or so, they're ready to pack on the pounds. The average farmer isn't equipped to feed cattle with the techniques necessary - it's the ol' economics of scale taking effect. Off to the feedlot it is for them.

Feedlots are large facilities that keep cattle in lots or pens - not allowing the freedom of movement that a pasture provides. They are fed on a progressive ration that changes as they become accustomed to the ratio of certain ingredients or lack thereof - mostly roughage. The feedlots I hauled grain to the most ran four rations - but that is all up to the individual feedlot and the nutritionist's thinking. The four rations were the starter ration, two intermediate and one finishing ration. The initial ration consists of some sort of roughage - in this area, it's chopped alfalfa. Then there is usually a grain of some sort that has been milled. The best milling solution is steam flaking - where the grain is dropped into mill rollers, but it's superheated with steam before the milling process. This helps the feed value considerably in milo (grain sorghum) and quite a bit in corn. Milo's protein coat is largely indigestible for cattle and grinding it doesn't change anything. Steam flaking breaks down the proteins into something more accessible to a ruminant. Corn gains from this as well. Plus, the flaking reduces fines - the "dust" from the grinding process. Cattle don't eat fines, but they'll slop up flakes big time. So less feed is wasted.

Other ingredients include fat solutions, molasses solutions, the leftovers from ethanol production, soybean processing byproducts, chicken feather meal, "cookie" meal (ground up stale cookies, crackers, bread and so on from large bakeries), custom made protein supplements in pellet form, wheatlage, cornlage, silage, and "wet" corn. Wheatlage and cornlage are immature crops swathed while still green and packed into a silo or trench like silage, packed down and allowed to ferment. Silage or ensilage is ground up feed sorghum crops, packed into silos or trenches and allowed to ferment.

Needless to say there is a multitude of feed ingredients - whatever works and is economical. The progressive rations start out heavy on the fiber side, then they get "hotter" to include more grains, proteins, fats and so on. As the cattle become accustomed to the ration, they start gaining weight far faster than is possible on grass. When they get to the finisher ration, there isn't much roughage.

The rations are collected in the feed mill . The feedyards I hauled to most frequently just put all the ingredients in a large clamshell - checking the weight of each one, then dumped into a feed truck that mixed that load. The feed truck would drive into the alley and select which ration it needed, the ingredients dumped into the clamshell and into the truck, and off the truck would go, mixing the feed as it went. When it got to a certain pen, it would lower it's chute off the side and auger the feed into a continuous bunk at the edge of the pen. The total weight dumped would be recorded, and the truck would go on to other pens until it emptied out. This used to be all manual back in the day, but they're all hooked up wirelessly in the new modern era and all the data is transmitted in real time. And mixing the load while in transit frees up the feed mill to send out another load, rather than spend time mixing and holding up the feed trucks. All timed out, for sure.

"Off their feed" is not something a feedlot wants to see. Sometimes bad weather, or if for some reason the feed cycle is interrupted - there are a multitude of reasons, but the cattle won't eat the hotter ration and the lower rations have to be reintroduced until they start eating again, which may even mean going back to the starter formula. This costs a ton of money.

It's not the feedlot that loses out, unless it's their reputation. Feedlots are called "custom feeders" for a reason. Investors own the cattle. Feedlots make their money from feeding. There are a variety of ways one can own cattle in a feedlot - the first is the most obvious - go out and buy some feeder weight calves and have them hauled to your favorite feedlot, and when they get old enough and finished out, the feedlot markets them to the local packing houses and you get a check minus the feed bill, or the feed bill exceeds the gross from the packing house. Another way is to "buy a pen" for a certain period of time - you generally get a choice how many cattle you want to feed by the size of the pen, or shares in several pens or whatever. You "own" the cattle coming through the pen for a period of time and when one crop of finished cattle is marketed, your money is rolled over into the next crop for finishing. As a general rule the feed bill is kept current, so if you're investment is losing money, you'll be well aware of it. At the end of the term, the bills and receipts are tallied and you either made big bucks or not. Some investors stay in for years and draw profits when they can, and some feedlots are pretty popular and they may not have "room" for a newbie investor.

I've mentioned marketing to the packing houses. They have a daily price they offer. They also have order buyers traveling the feedlots to find and schedule the cattle they need for production. If the feedlot and investor don't want to sell, the cattle get larger and are less marketable. However, shorting production hurts the packing house and they might pay more to keep the line running.

There are order buyers for the other stages of cattle as well. Most of the transactions are at a local "sale barn," where there are generally weekly auctions. Farmers haul or have their calves hauled there, and other stockmen and order buyers bid on them. When Dad wanted some calves, he'd talk to his favorite order buyer and tell him what he was looking for and the prices he'd go for delivered to our place. This order buyer had an established circuit he'd follow that took him to sale barns all over the Midwest, so he usually found what Dad wanted. He knew what Dad wanted in physical characteristics as well. Dad didn't always get what he wanted because the batches of cattle are not separable. When, say eighteen head of calves are brought into the arena, you get 'em all or nothing, and sometimes there are runts and some that look sick or whatever. The order buyer would know there were other lots coming up and maybe this lot would be available pretty cheap, so the problems might not be so costly. Dad ended up getting mostly what he wanted, and that was the best he could hope for.

I live right in the middle of the Golden Beef Triangle as it is sometimes called. I remember reading that a third of the US's beef production is in this triangle formed by Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal. All have one or two large slaughter houses, and we are literally infested with feedlots in this area. Since they require so much support feed wise from farmers, this is a very good thing for our economy, besides all the other support industries - construction outfits, machinery dealers, feed ingredient suppliers, veterinarians, equipment and supplies for horses, bulk fuel distributors, electric companies - well, you get the idea. Feedlots consume a lot of expensive things to keep running.

I drive by one pretty large lot every morning going to work. It's Midwest Feeders of Ingalls, KS. Their current capacity is 45,000 head, so it's a large feedlot for this area. I think the largest in Kansas is Grant County Feeders near Johnson, KS at 120,000 head. Most of the larger feedlots are owned by multinational food companies - Grant County is JBS Five Rivers, which had it's roots in the original Monfort lots. But, anyways, that's all another story for another time. We're gonna look at this feedlot:

The long strips are the pens - which are pretty large, by the way. The arrow pointing east is the direction I went while taking these pics - I started at the upper west corner and headed thataway. The smaller dark rectangles are the sewage lagoons - the runoff when it rains has to be stored there. That has not been a problem this year. You can also see that this feedyard takes up the better part of four quarter sections. It originally started at the lower left part, and their old feed mill (one mile south of the new one) is still there. Since the expansion, I don't think they use it anymore, because the mill was just a grinder back in the day.

Oh, and I got a new camera and am trying it out, so these pictures will imbeggenate and probably be of higher quality than the ol' Droid pics.

This is looking at the main office and the mill towards the east southeast. There is a truck scale on the south side of the office. There are cattle scales scattered over the yard as well. Performance has to be measured, after all, and trucks hauling grain in and beef byproducts (think manure) out need weights taken as well.

A shot of the mill. From left to right - the chopped hay shed, the feed mill tower, the feed truck loadout, and the grain bins. Feed ingredients are kept in the tower area, or in the hay shed. We'll see a bit more of it later.

Storage for feed trucks and other equipment. I'm not sure if this is their repair shop or not.

Now we've moved east and can see into the hay shed area. Live bottom chopped hay trailers can back into those slots and dump their loads, and the loader keeps the feed truck mixer loaded. Sometimes other feed ingredients are stored here and sent into the mix as well. To the left are their trench silos - the walls of dirt. They're all empty now, waiting for "wet" corn harvest, where the corn is cut at a certain moisture above normal, ground up and packed into those "slots" with  large four wheel drive tractors. Then a plastic tarp is spread over the surface and held down with thousands of old tires so the whole thing can ferment.

The east side of the silage pits.

 A view up one of the drainage lanes.

Where a drainage lane dumps into a lagoon. In the background are some of their outbuildings where cattle scales are, and the doctoring house, perhaps a partly open shed for the pen riders' horses, and feeding equipment for them and so on.

Eating away.

And we come to the east end. You might imagine, if you thought for a while, that sooner or later, all that manure is going to build up some. You would be correct. Most feedlots send loaders into the pens and buck up piles in the center and keep building them up over a period of time. The cattle like to play king of the hill on 'em. After they get so big, they'll haul from the pens to a storage area - this is their storage area. Later, manure spreading trucks will load there, weigh their loads, and go spread the product on a farmer's field. I think most feedyards don't charge for their manure if the hauler comes in and hauls from the pens to the storage area. Different yards have different procedures. It's sold to the farmer by the ton delivered and spread. That tiny little pile is all they have left at the moment - they'll get into the manure season later on this fall.

Another thing that should be noted is for such an open, free wheeling industry, the participants are pretty clannish. A lot of that has to do with all the handshake deals involved. Dad trusted his order buyer. His order buyer trusted Dad would come through with the bucks. The order buyer trusted certain truck lines to haul the cattle he bought. Feedlots trust certain grain merchants. If you are a cattleman in this area, you'd better have a lot of moral qualities, or you won't make it. Your word is your bond. So most of these characters don't take kindly to uninformed meddlers, as it were. They're an independent bunch.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Touchy Subject

Laugh? I thought I'd die! Yep, a bunch of manly men for sure! I know I'd squirm, too.

Toolbar Blues

I've lost track of when I first started using Firefox for a browser. I can remember trying the old Mozilla Suite out, but not being impressed. I'd been a Netscape user (and Opera and others the mists of time have obscured), and after a period of time, Firefox stabilized and I finally started to use it alongside IE. They also didn't release major updates every six months, either.

Well, anyhoo, somewhere along that route, I discovered Google's Toolbar. I can't leave home without it. I find myself using it for direct searches for Images, News, Maps, I'm Feeling Lucky, and Site Search. I use all of them daily. One of my objections to the Chrome browser is that you cannot do the same even considering their "magic" search box/address window. Sure, I can type in a search and have those options displayed, but I still have to click through rather than get there directly.

So, I've pretty much been letting Firefox update itself without thinking of the consequences. It isn't perfect - it's a memory hog and will eventually have to be killed to regain it. I leave my laptop on for hours and hours, and Firefox will act up if I don't reboot. So, perfect? No. Plus, the newer versions have been becoming worse hogs - 3.6 would snarf up 300 to 450k, and 4 point whatever would go to 600 k or so easily. Plus the plug in container.

Then there was the new and improved version five, which kinda threw all the developers out there on their heels because it followed the release of v4 within three months. It was even more of a memory hog - I'd see 700 or 800k all the time. Plus very few of my plugins worked.

That really wasn't so bad, Woot Watcher I missed - I'd had to do some mods I found on the Innertubes to it to get it to run on v4, but the real kicker was Google didn't have an update for their Toolbar. Okay, then, it won't be long.

Well, no.

Plus 5.0 was kinda buggy for me - mostly when I'd scroll down, it wouldn't stop. After a while, that gets old, so with no plug in and extension updates forthcoming, I went back. Turns out 4.0 is not available for download at Mozilla dot org, so back to 3.6 it was.

Of course, now all my old stuff works, and life is relatively good. So what about the future? Will v5 get an update that stops the endless scrolling for me? Will Google finally put out an update for their Toolbar?

As to the second part - no.
Google has canceled its toolbar for the current and future versions of Firefox, and Mozilla is scrambling to help users who might be left in the lurch and postponing their browser upgrades. The toolbar offers a variety of services, including a search box, a way to use bookmarks stored on a server, and a measurement of a Web site's PageRank--a score Google gives that measures its influence in Google search results. But Google has chosen to do in the Firefox version.
"As we all know, over the past few years, there has been a tremendous amount of innovation in the browser space. For Firefox users, many features that were once offered by Google Toolbar for Firefox are now already built right into the browser. Therefore, while Google Toolbar for Firefox works on versions up to and including Firefox 4 only, it will not be supported on Firefox 5 and future versions," Google said this week on a help page.
Mozilla is looking into options for what to do next, setting up a meeting to address the matter.
"We know that a large amount of users are not taking update offers to 5+ due to Google Toolbar incompatibility," said Firefox release manager Christian Legnitto in meeting notes. "Many users likely expect a new version of Google toolbar to be released and marked compatible."

I can get search engine plugins for Firefox that would approximate what I had. There is just no way I'm aware of being able to do the same thing in Chrome without the extra keys strokes. I'm not real wild about never updating this browser, either. We've seen how well that works with the average user who won't update IE and the problems they encounter.


If There Was Ever A Doubt

That Dolly rides the short bus....

Yannow, I do realize that this strip's Dollyisms are supposed to be cute and based on a child's naive POV of the world, but if the kid can understand the buoyant properties of wood, then just seeing ships of steel and iron might make a dent. They're in a harbor, for crying out loud.

Next up from Dollyisms Inc., "But that airplane can't fly, it's made of metal!"

Sheesh. I'm a simple kind of guy, and I still like comics. I like 'em with a bit more intelligence than a single celled organism, though.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who'd A Thunk It?

Color me surprised. In the Fifteen Most Dangerous Jobs in America, drivers/sales and truck drivers clock in at number seven. So, they lumped local delivery drivers, salespeople and long haul truckers together. Farmers/Ranchers is worse - it's number five on the list. The leading cause of death for both jobs is transportation incidents. I've got a feeling stuff like getting wrapped around a PTO shaft is lumped under transportation.

I dunno - seems to me a lot get crushed when working on farm equipment for one reason or another. Anyways, the list was interesting - gave me a different perspective.

H/T og

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Color Me Flagrant

It sure seems at times that our second amendment community has come a long way in a few years. Tireless court battles and fighting for CCW and even open carry legislation seems to have turned the tide back from the days when the Brady Center and associated associations of their ilk seemed to be dictating legislation in Washington as well as state and local governments. Recent polls have shown that the average American thinks the Second Amendment guarantees individual gun rights. The courts have also called cities like Washington on the carpet because of their unconstitutional bans (or laws that essentially count as bans) on guns.

Yeah, things are looking up.

But as Gunny Highway said:
Just because we're holding hands doesn't mean we'll be taking warm showers together until the wee hours of the morning.
There is an existing bias that is well entrenched in our society and does not show any signs of exiting the stage quietly. Witness this article in the NYT today:
Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle

Companies have long used criminal background checks, credit reports and even searches on Google and LinkedIn to probe the previous lives of prospective employees. Now, some companies are requiring job candidates to also pass a social media background check.

A year-old start-up, Social Intelligence, scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years.

Then it assembles a dossier with examples of professional honors and charitable work, along with negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.

“We are not detectives,” said Max Drucker, chief executive of the company, which is based in Santa Barbara, Calif. “All we assemble is what is publicly available on the Internet today.”

The Federal Trade Commission, after initially raising concerns last fall about Social Intelligence’s business, determined the company is in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but the service still alarms privacy advocates who say that it invites employers to look at information that may not be relevant to job performance.

And what relevant unflattering information has led to job offers being withdrawn or not made? Mr. Drucker said that one prospective employee was found using Craigslist to look for OxyContin. A woman posing naked in photos she put up on an image-sharing site didn’t get the job offer she was seeking at a hospital.

Other background reports have turned up examples of people making anti-Semitic comments and racist remarks, he said. Then there was the job applicant who belonged to a Facebook group, “This Is America. I Shouldn’t Have to Press 1 for English.” This raises a question. “Does that mean you don’t like people who don’t speak English?” asked Mr. Drucker rhetorically.

Mr. Drucker said his goal was to conduct pre-employment screenings that would help companies meet their obligation to conduct fair and consistent hiring practices while protecting the privacy of job candidates.

For example, he said the reports remove references to a person’s religion, race, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and other information protected under federal employment laws, which companies are not supposed to ask about during interviews. Also, job candidates must first consent to the background check, and they are notified of any adverse information found.

It all sounds soooo obvious, clearly correct and true, no? I mean, people who are anti-Semitic, racist, drug abuse and inappropriate pictures of a sexual nature - well, ya don't want them working for you, now do you?

But just hold on a second there sport - just exactly when did "flagrant displays of weapons" become a crime? For that matter, when did it become a crime to object to insidious multiculturalism by joining the Facebook group about "pressing one?" I thought political views were not a criteria for judgment. Shows what I know - if you have the wrong view, yer toast. I mean, after all, if you object to that, it only logically follows that you're a Hispanic hating bastard who should be put away.

Let us get back to flagrant displays of weapons here for a minute. Just what constitutes a flagrant display? And while we're at it, please cite any studies that show that people who own more than one gun for self defense make lousy employees? Or people who hunt are prone to violence in the workplace? I'll be waiting right here.

This is just plain bullshit, period. Somehow, somewhere, I'd bet these demotivational posters would put a tingle right up Max Drucker's leg:

Here we have a shotgun, two semiauto handguns, an evil black rifle, some ammo, magazines and a flashlight, for Gods sake. Oooooh, that's bad. Bad indeed. Obviously the owner of those weapons needs psychological assistance right now, immediately if not before. Clearly this is a perfect example of flagrant pictures of weapons.

Now this kid is even worse. Never gonna get hired for that cubicle job - I mean just look at him. He's even looking prideful of his collection. No ammo, but just what the hell is going on with all those handguns, buster? I mean, you only need one to defend yourself kill some disadvantaged person who needs your stuff and your life more than you do. Oh, the humanity.

I'd really expect this picture to leave yellow puddles under the "safe and sensible" gun control advocates. Nuff said.
Marc S. Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, said that employers were entitled to gather information to make a determination about job-related expertise, but he expressed concern that “employers should not be judging what people in their private lives do away from the workplace.”
Yeah, that's gonna make me sleep better.
Less than a third of the data surfaced by Mr. Drucker’s firm comes from such major social platforms as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. He said much of the negative information about job candidates comes from deep Web searches that find comments on blogs and posts on smaller social sites, like Tumblr, the blogging site, as well as Yahoo user groups, e-commerce sites, bulletin boards and even Craigslist. Then there are the photos and videos that people post — or find themselves tagged in — on Facebook and YouTube and other sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa, Yfrog and Photobucket.

And it is photos and videos that seem to get most people in trouble. “Sexually explicit photos and videos are beyond comprehension,” Mr. Drucker said. “We also see flagrant displays of weapons. And we see a lot of illegal activity. Lots and lots of pictures of drug use.”
He recalled one man who had 15 pages of photos showing himself with various guns, including an assault rifle. Another man included pictures of himself standing in a greenhouse with large marijuana plants.
See, y'all just thought I was pulling your leg about having more than one gun being a detriment to being hired. Notice how illegal drugs, illegal activity and sexually explicit photos are linked with gun ownership. Again with the flagrant display term, which is not defined. It's just assumed. You agree, don't you, citizen of the world? You'd better, if you want to eat away from the government dole. Otherwise, you'll be unemployed, unemployable and on the .gov tit for all your miserable life.
Joe Bontke, outreach manager for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s office in Houston, said that he regularly reminds employers and human resource managers about the risks of violating federal antidiscrimination employment rules and laws by using online research in hiring decisions. “Things that you can’t ask in an interview are the same things you can’t research,” he said, which includes the gamut of information covering a person’s age, gender, religion, disability, national origin and race.
That said, he added that 75 percent of recruiters are required by their companies to do online research of candidates. And 70 percent of recruiters in the United States report that they have rejected candidates because of information online, he said.
Oh yeah, the EEOC is right on it. That's gonna change everything.
Dave Clark, owner of Impulse Advanced Communications, a telecommunications company in Southern California, began relying on Social Intelligence for background screening because he said the company needed a formal strategy and standards before assembling online information about job candidates. “They provided us with a standardized, arm’s-length way of using this additional information to make better hiring decisions,” he said. About half of all companies, based on government and private surveys, now use credit reports as part of the hiring process, except in those states that limit or restrict their use. As with social media background checks, there are concerns about information that is surfaced. The equal employment agency filed a lawsuit last December against the Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, accusing it of discriminating against black job applicants in the way it used credit histories in its hiring process.
But it is not unusual for senior-level executives in many companies to undergo even more complete background checks by a private investigating firm.
“We are living in a world where you have an amazing amount of information and data on every executive,” said Ann Blinkhorn, an executive recruiter in the converging technology, media and communications industry. “I think that puts the burden on the recruiter and the hiring manager to be really thoughtful about what is important and not important when making the hiring decision.”
“They provided us with a standardized, arm’s-length way of using this additional information to make better hiring decisions" - no, what they do is provide you with a much smaller list of candidates that you'll feel comfortable about choosing from rather than actually using your head to make the choices. By accepting the rejection criteria implicitly, you've jumped right in there with the PC crowd and joined such successes as the zero tolerance policies that many schools use. You've just freed yourself from making a decision, rather than using your noggin to judge people fairly. As in: Can they do the job and work well within the organization? Apparently if we don't have the same beliefs as the PC HR types, no.

And notice how this crap is self perpetuating. Nimrods who allow over enthusiastic screening like this are just making sure that their world is insulated from any sort of outside thought - because thinking that having guns is a right of the individual is an outside thought to them.

Aaand, a lot of gunnies are going to be upset about the gleaning of Facebook and social media data to hoist them on our own petard, as it were. Well, the privacy issues set sail a loooong time ago. Just exactly how do you suppose the social sites actually pay for all that bandwidth so you can play Farmville for free? It's not just ads on the side that no one ever clicks on. People are just being ignorant about data mining. Let's say you "like" Harley Davidson and guns, plus Blake Shelton, for instance. A data miner is going to be looking at your relationships to see who likes similar things, what "sort" of friends you have, and try to knit all the things they can together so they can effectively target ad campaigns, or to present whatever political ideas might get you to vote for someone, or whatever. All the interactions with individuals and concepts on Facebook are valuable in this way.

Nope, our past ideas of privacy are unfortunately antiquated in this brave new world. But we can still fight against the subtle discrimination displayed by this new trend in business solutions.

If I Were Jay Leno


I'd have this puppy in my garage. If you have to ask why, you'd never understand.

H/T Dave Barry via CNet

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tame Livestock

Farmer Frank has a post up today that reminded me of a couple of stories. He discusses the hardships that 4H animals and the kids and parents involved deal with in the kind of heat we're having. Plus, he mentions the idea that the average city dweller finds the practice cruel once they discover that the animals in question are slaughtered for their meat, and fail to understand why. I guess the farmers should keep the animals until they die of old age, but that hardly "pencils out." The livestock are not pets, even though they get treated as such often enough.

My Dad used to tell the story of how their family took in a goat and let it run free in the yard. It became quite the companion, especially when my uncle and he found they could take advantage of the goat's natural instinct to butt things to the extreme. They got out a small blanket and got to playing Toreador and Bull with the goat as the stand in for Toro. Ole!

This worked until one windy day when their mother, my grandmother, stepped out to bring in the laundry off the line and Faux Toro saw her skirts blowing in the wind. Remember, back in those days, farm women generally wore dresses. After Grandma was sent flying from a firm application of a head butt to the butt, as it were, Faux Toro was banished to the lot. Reportedly, she was not amused.

On a more personal note, Dad bought some little bulls when I was a teenager. We cut 'em and doctored 'em up, and turned 'em loose in the pasture. It was winter. I was outside messing around and saw all the calves bunched up at the feedot fence, so being primarily bored, I eased over to see if I could pet one. Usually, that was wasted time, but I was bored and had time.

Welp, I had one that was interested. I even fed him a snowball or three - he'd eat from my hand. We figured he'd been a bucket calf - his mama had died for some reason and he'd been tamed. So, as he grew up, I'd keep an eye out for him to scratch him down, and I generally had my good leather fencing gloves on.

Cattle don't take baths every day, and they're in a pretty dirty environment all the time. They get bits of feed bales wound up in their fur that have to itch like hell, plus flies bother them and so on. I'd scrub him all over with my gloves digging into his hide, and he loved it. But, he liked having his knob scratched even more.

Most of the cattle we ran are polled - hornless. If they show nubs as calves, we'd pull them out when we first processed the bunch as they came in - branding, doctoring, cutting their nuts and so on. But, on all the varieties of cattle we ever had - they've got a knob between their ears on top of their head that the horns would have grown from.

See how their head are kinda triangular at the top between the ears? That is where the "knob" is. Often, at the rear, the knob doesn't make a smooth transition to the neck - it rolls back under. You can generally grab 'em there from the front because your fingers will roll under that bone and you can get a grip.

Well, needless to say, that area fills up with crud. That calf just absolutely loved having his knob scratched, and frankly, I don't blame him - that must have itched like fire itself. He got pretty persistent about it, which wasn't really a problem when he was little.

As he got older and larger, it did become a problem. He was always right there when I was trying to feed bales into the bunks out of the back of a pickup - Dad driving and me bucking them off. I didn't have time to fool with him, and I couldn't really turn my back on the ornery steer. I got pissed and whacked him with a bale right in the noggin, but since the bale only weighed about a hundred pounds and he was getting up around five - he thought I was playing. 

Then there was the day he surprised me. I have no recollection of what I was doing in the lot, but I was out in the middle up to something. I turned around and there he was, snorting with impatience that I wasn't scratching him immediately if not before. He lowered his head and drove right into my body, bringing his head up when he hit me raking me from my stomach to my chest. I was launched several feet behind me, landing on my butt and back. Kinda knocked the wind out of me, too. But he wasn't done just yet, because he started bearing down on me with his head. He was gonna get the itch scratched if he had to grind me into the dirt. 

Welp, needless to say, that didn't set well with me, and I was up and over the fence before he could get to me.

I was a pretty healthy lad in those days - probably six feet tall (I hadn't yet grown to my full height just yet) and a couple hundred pounds. My steer pal was probably around six hundred pounds at the time. He wasn't trying to hurt me. He just wanted his knob scratched and was letting me know, taking an extra step to let me know this time - like I couldn't figure it out. No matter. He and his cohorts were very close to taking their next step to the slaughter house - they'd be purchased by someone who'd put 'em in a feedlot and finish 'em out. We didn't have to deal with our "pet" for much longer.

I've written before about the dangers of handling livestock. In that post, I quoted threecollie of Northview Diary from a post about some news stories of people being killed by livestock.
  I love cows. But they are not the creatures of Disney.
That statement is so true and needs to be used again. Livestock are dangerous enough, and the tame ones can be even worse in their own, innocent, ignorant way. When they aren't really scared of you much is when one should be on guard even over and above what is normal.

I was never a 4H kid, but I helped with my share of bucket calves. I'm certainly not condemning the practice of taming livestock by any means - it's essentially unavoidable. Most people not raised on a farm just don't think things through - what would happen if we kept livestock as pets? Most of the time - not a problem if one can afford to do that. You'd just better keep a weather eye out for the unexpected. Just because you've treated that calf real nice all that time is no guarantee it will return the favor, mostly because it's livestock and hasn't managed to learn human morals in it's existence. Expecting favors in return from essentially wild animals can get you hurt.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Of Course You Realize This Means War


Any time is a good time for some classic Bugs Bunny with unedited gratuitous violence and mayhem. No doubt I and uncounted other fellow Boomers have been irretrievably warped having been exposed to such dangerous and depraved entertainment. Better we should have been programmedexposed to far tamer material.

So, what'll it be, fellow netizens? Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, or some nasty a$$ed ol' Warner Bros./MGM classics?

Why yes, I'm totally wasting my day. Why'd ya ask?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Here Is Something A Bit Different

That score squeaks me in at the ninetieth percentile. I was a voracious reader as a child and teen and was exposed to a larger vocabulary because I read a lot above my supposed "level." But wow, some of those words I didn't know - whew!

Anyways, you, too can take this test here.

Totally ripped off from ETat

Got A Question About HTML and Javascript

I've been noticing the ol' blog has been slow loading lately, and mostly it's because the browser is waiting on Welp, I figured it was either Sitemeter or Feedjit, but deleting the widgets didn't get rid of the mybloglog wait. Still there.

Mkay, so I tried checking it out in good ol' Sam Spade. Turns out its owned by Yahoo, so I'm sure it's just a rental - can't figure why Yahoo would give a crap about a Blogspot blog owned by Google. In fact, if you enter in your browser bar, it redirects directly to Yahoo's home page.

So, I figured it must be one of my widgets in the sidebar redirecting, and then having it hang up for whatever reason. So, I went through each one and investigated every link to no avail. I did clean some of them out, just because they were basically dead - just as one that tracked Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No worky no more.

Mkay, so the next step would be the template for the blog. Sure enough, this is the script I found
{script src="" type="text/javascript'}
I had to use large brackets instead of the less than and greater than symbols to get it to display on this page. Now, can I cut this out without any problems? Do I need to find an opening tag? It's stuck in below some footer stuff and the blogroll that I've labeled "Blogs I Read Regularly - the script is just above that, but not related to the LifeStatus widget. And then, WTF is it? It's not Google Analytics - that widget is actually at the bottom of the page and doesn't display.

Seems like I vaguely remember pasting something in the template for some reason or another, and this may have been it and it might be dead. At any rate, can I cut the damn thing out without breaking the blog?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Presented Without Comment

Ripped off from Irons in the Fire

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's a Miracle of Modern Technology

The ol' window unit is working pretty good today. My father used to say about days like today: "It's hot enough to dry the sweat out of the crack in yer ass." That is the sort of wisdom he passed on that I remember. WeatherBug says the humidity is 23%. A crummier pic taken earlier had the temp at 109.9, FYI.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Given Enough Time

This is bound to happen. Actually, the page this searcher landed on is probably the number one post here - instructions on how to change out the cabin filter and blower motor on GM pickups like I own. At the time, I couldn't find any information online, so I put that post up to help someone else out. Turns out that was a good idea, because my logs show tons of visitors arriving there and it's drawn a bunch of thank you comments in the past several years.

So, if nothing else, I have actually provided something of value here!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Please Tell Me He's Gone

Haven't seen the gecko for a while on Boobus Tubous Maximus.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Captain Dale A. Dye. We mostly know him for his consulting work and appearances in films and television through his company Warriors, Inc., rather than his military record - which is pretty impressive. The man "got around." His Wikipedia page shows his military awards, headlined by a Bronze Star (with V for Valor) and three Purple Hearts among the many others you can see in the picture above.

So, when I start hearing "stars" give their political opinions and such, I'll tend to believe someone like the Captain on military matters far and above someone like Sean Penn or Michael Moore. It just so happens he has a blog at his Warriors, Inc site. Here the Captain expounds on the mission to assassinate Osama Bin Laden:
Its been a while since that infamous scum-sucker Osama Bin Laden assumed room temperature and was consigned to sleep with the fishes. With the exception of repeated self-congratulatory references to it by a certain high-level politician running for reelection, the raid carried out by Navy SEALs and Army SOF aviators on 2 May has slipped below the media radar to be replaced by more pressing a narcissistic congressman tweeting phone-photos of his man-meat. So maybe enough time has passed for me to weigh in with relative objectivity on a few elements of Operation Neptune Spear that got short-shrift in the hoopla surrounding the long-overdue whacking of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and the titular head of Al Qaeda worldwide.
Looking back on all the breathless reportage immediately following the raid, what strikes me initially is the wild-eyed hyperbole involved. It's as if all the deadline-frazzled journalists in the world googled "daring, dangerous and audacious" and then shot-gunned every synonym they could find into their copy. It was all designed to make readers and viewers do a pee-pee dance, read more and keep their sweaty hands off the remote. That's the nature of the highly-competitive media beast these days, I guess, but it's also an unfair overstatement of the facts involved in the OBL mission. Neptune Spear was anything but a cobbled-together strike with high-speed, low-drag operators slapping mags into their weapons and launching off into the night with knives between their teeth and devil take the hindmost.
He goes on to say how well planned it really was plus how it was because of failures in the past that this sort of preparation came to breed success. He does not pull punches. Pee-pee dances indeed.
Neptune Spear put all of that into the deep, dark background and that's as it should be. What the media has so far ignored is that this OBL strike mission was definitive proof-of-product for our special operators. Where our operators, door-kickers and shooters of the SOF community have screwed the pooch in past operations, they have learned hard lessons and applied the knowledge to current tactics, techniques and procedures. And chief among those lessons was the extraordinary cooperation demonstrated in the OBL raid between the alphabet-soup intelligence organizations and the active forces that rely on vital, perishable information to carry off a successful clandestine operation. On Neptune Spear all the horses were pulling in the same direction and the internecine, bureaucratic walls that keep information from flowing back and forth to and from the people who need it crumbled. Those things are crucial in understanding how capable we really are in the longest, most difficult war America has ever fought.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't fire a few rounds downrange at the current administration and the voracious media that insisted with high dudgeon that they should be given every specific detail of how the raid was conducted so they could score political points, boost circulation or score audience ratings without the first thought of how all that brag and blather might affect future operations against our nation's avowed enemies. Imagine for a moment that we'd simply acknowledged that a covert operation was conducted and a high-level AQ member was killed; nothing more, and to hell with the screaming minions of the press. We might have had a real, workable chance to exploit and act on the intelligence our operators policed up within OBL's compound. And the AQ network would be sitting out there wondering what we knew and what we didn't rather than presuming that all their secrets were now compromised.
If the administration and the press had been willing to play it closer to the vest, we might have wound up hitting OBL's entire chain-of-command and eliminating much of their infrastructure before they had a chance to react, change codes and implement their own version of Plan B.
Like it or not - depending on your political and patriotic - bent there are things that the public does not need to know. Every time we ignore that or demand full and unfettered access to any and all military information, we tip our hand to the enemy and put the lives of our special operators in jeopardy.
Politicians, pundits and press copy my last?
I'm with him here with reservations - sooner or later we the general public should know what happened. Immediately after? Obviously that was a political decision solely to bolster the image of a militarily ineffective Commander in Chief. Damn straight the covert ops could have made some serious hay if the mission wasn't publicized.

Here he takes on the politically correct movement controlling the military:
Somewhere along the twisted, constantly shifting, joint-service route that too many senior officers have had to traverse from bars to stars they've become uniformed politicians who succeed not by charismatic leadership but by going along to get along and allowing their soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen to become lab-rats for advanced social studies. Leaders bred to be Pattons and Halseys have morphed into placid bureaucrats. So where are the fire-breathing rifle company commanders, bone-in-the-teeth destroyermen and hot-stick fighter jocks now that they've gained flag status? Nowhere that I can spot. I'm painting with a broad brush here but the picture is bleak and deserves attention. It seems in order to merit stars and thus a say in our national military policies, senior men and women are required to wash off the war-paint and fall meekly into lock-step with politicians who hold both the defense purse-strings and the rubber-stamp required for promotion.

Those politicians - most of them without a day of military service in their padded resumes - come to the game with varying social agendas and see the military as a captive, easily-manipulated population they can use to work out the bugs before they launch legislation to dump the entire nation into one big Petri dish where they can grow the sort of American culture they desire. There's nothing especially new in all that. It's been going on for years in the guise of bringing the military in line with civilian social standards and practices. What's new is that it's being quietly allowed by senior officers who don't have the guts to fight back and preserve the special elements of military service that has kept America a force to be reckoned with by tin-pot dictators and wannabe world conquerors for decades.
The timing for all this could not be worse. Our military forces are holding a shaky line in Iraq, busting their collective butts in Afghanistan to get something meaningful done before a looming withdrawal deadline, coping with a confused and fumble-footed situation in Libya and watching a growing number of protesting populations in Middle Eastern countries that could easily spill over into more American military commitments. In the face of all this unrest, our military forces are increasingly being employed as a diplomatic arm of the U.S. State Department. No one at the highest command levels seems to be bitching very loudly if at all about that. It would be a dead-certain career-killer to do so. It would also be a display of courageous leadership and loyalty to the troops they command.
I'm confident our men and women up close to the pointy-end of the bayonet can handle those challenges. They've been the capable, guiding hand on a rudderless ship of state plenty of times in the past. What bothers me most are the distractions they are going to have to deal with while they try to keep us all afloat through this current mess. While our military people and their families are coping with a dizzying drumbeat of constant combat deployments and humanitarian missions in disaster-stricken areas like Haiti and Japan, they are also watching the warrior fabric that keeps them motivated being frayed by meddlesome, mandated social change that could easily be left to take a natural course after the operational pressure eases a bit. Need some examples?
How about the recent study ordered by Congress that reports a lack of diversity in our military leadership? It seems the proportion of minorities and women in our uniformed leadership is inadequate and will require immediate " affirmative action." That action will be ordered by politicians who believe only they know what's good for our military and are stone blind to potential consequences. Race, creed, sex or sexual orientation will inevitably become factors in accelerated promotion. The days of selecting the best based on proven performance may well be over in our military and that will lead to a closed loop that includes diverse careerists and excludes the warriors most skilled in the brutal business of killing the enemy and bringing our troops home alive.
Do the generals and admirals have their star-studded skivvies in a knot over this? Not that we are hearing or seeing in testimony before various Congressional committees. It's all good if you believe what you hear and our military will suffer any disruptions in silence as penance for past social sins. Yes, sir or ma'am, diversity and social sensitivity is going to make everything better and if those Neanderthal warriors don't like it, well, they can just take a hike.
The failure to rail against all this reminds me of Army Chief of Staff General George Casey's reaction after that nut-bag Muslim in uniform shot up a bunch of his fellow soldiers down at Ft. Hood and the Army was looking for a scapegoat to blame for the actions of a guy who had clearly telegraphed both jihadist leanings and violent intentions. Fearing knee-jerk reaction in the ranks, General Casey simply said we must be sensitive to diversity. All the soldiers I've asked said the more appropriate response would have been a drumhead court-martial leading to a firing squad.
Now, I'm watching sailors, Marines and airmen putting their lives on the line in yet another commitment of manpower, money and equipment to maintain a no-fly zone in Libya, a mission that is both without clear objective and a political hot-potato for a current administration that can't decide how much we are willing to do and for whom we ought to be doing whatever that turns out to be. While they deal with that turd in a political punchbowl, placid leadership behind the lines is issuing orders for the full and unfettered recognition of homosexuals in the military and preparing for a virtually inevitable mandate to open direct combat assignments to females. That situation will likely sort itself out by natural selection but the timing of such a ground-breaking departure from the warrior ethos is aggravating at a time in which more aggravation is the last thing we need in our military services.
As a guy who spent a large chunk of his adult life in uniform, I'm no stranger to the fact that there have always been homosexuals in the military and most of them have served honorably in both war and peace. I'm also aware that no amount of sensitivity training is going to thoroughly erase prejudices that have been invested and nurtured in the minds of many heterosexuals long before they joined the military. There's going to be divisiveness, unrest and a fairly long period of adjustment before it all sorts out so why force it on an over-stressed military right now? Assuming we survive the worldwide challenges facing us on battlefields around the world where cultures are clashing and our military people are struggling to defend our right of choice, do we really need to burden them with turbulence in the ranks?
Can we catch a break here?
He's not saying anything I haven't heard before, but he's saying it clearly, short, and sweet. The time to force the military to overcome the childhood prejudices of their members is not when they are at war.

He's got several other posts, and if you are interested in a military man's point of view, I highly suggest you check it out. Captain Dye is well spoken as well as provocative. Being politically correct is not in his genes, and I find that refreshing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We Must Act Out Passion Before We Can Feel It


Words are loaded pistols. Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think. Life begins on the other side of despair.

No, I'm not feeling all existential or anything, just thought this was funny in context.


How To Deactivate A Cat

(CBS) - Important news for cat owners! Many first-time cat purchasers are confused by the directions found in the box. Cats usually come in pieces, and quite a bit of assembly is required. It's overwhelming for new owners, and many may overlook some critical kitty components. That's where this helpful internet video comes in, showcasing an important switch you might not have known your cat had.

The deactivation switch, an essential button on any feline.

Of course, as they say - Read The Whole Thing because I don't want to cut and paste the whole article and get into trouble with the Fair Use Doctrine.

Shades of the ol' Vulcan Nerve Pinch, eh?

H/T Dave Barry

Ahh Tawk Funnah

Which American accent do you have?Western
Western is kind of neutral, but not quite since it's still possible to tell where you`re from.  So you might not actually be from the West (but you probably are).  If you really want to sound "neutral," learn how to say "stock" and "stalk" differently.
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

What I Need is a Cowcatcher Mounted to the Front of My Truck

Coming home Friday I had to fight some pretty heavy traffic. I say fight because that is what it is - you have to fight and scramble for a spot in the traffic, and if one needs to change lanes, ya gotta fight to do that.

No wonder I hate big cities.

West of St. Louis on I70 just after the speed limit opens back up to seventy mph, the road narrows to a four lane (two each way). It's not enough. I went through there way before evening rush hour,  but it was Friday traffic, so it was already heavy.

I try to be courteous and think of how a professional trucker should behave. Really, I do. My truck isn't speed limited to 62 or so mph, so I'm right with most cars when it comes to catching the average fleet truck. I run faster than they do. I do not, however, run ten to fifteen over. I can't afford that habit. The revenuers out there will pull me over in a heartbeat for those velocities while yawning at Joe Sixpack in his Z71 or Mandy Soccer Mom in the Odyssey. Plus, I'm well aware that the average driver isn't paying enough attention to realize that I am running fairly fast - but not breaking the sound barrier as they are. I'm just another truck in the slow lane they gotta get around, often saving at least three seconds before their exit that is coming up immediately.

I try to get out in the fast lane and get the business done, then get over to let faster traffic go. Part of this compact is that by not hogging the left lane, I oughta have access to it when I need it, just like y'all do. So, how's that working for ya, Jeffro?

Not very f#$%ing good.

I'll get caught behind a slow vehicle (it isn't always a truck) with traffic beside me, so I'll turn on my signal to show my intentions - giving everybody notice that I need the lane. I can even see the gaps in the traffic coming that I'd fit. However, that simple act of honesty usually gets me trapped even further, because every one of those sonsabitches coming up will hammer on it to close the gaps.

WTF did I ever do to them? Not a damn thing. However, after about fifteen or thirty "four wheelers" go by, I start to lose patience. This time, I even cut over and started to put some of the self absorbed @$$holes in the median, but even they never lifted, and I didn't really want to see Officer Friendly that badly.

Every once in a while, someone will hold up and flash their headlights to let me in. I figure they are either a trucker who happens to be driving a car, or are related to one. I'm always grateful - blinking my marker lights and waving to them as they go by me on down the road.

Then, there are the traffic tie ups. Say there is a sign telling everyone that the far right or left lane is closing ahead - often in construction zones, but some are permanent fixtures. Specifically, I435 Westbound just past Antioch Road - the far right lane ends. I've gotta be in the next far right lane to get off at the I35 exit coming up - and since we all know how generous people are vis-a-vis trucks and traffic, I'll already be in the lane that remains.

Of course, the time was five thirty, right in the thick of evening rush hour. I was in that lane, patiently awaiting traffic to move - stop, move ten feet, stop, rinse and repeat. Ninety nine percent of the drivers had lined up in the correct lanes, leaving that closing right lane wide open.

Well, you know there is gonna be some self absorbed @$$hole who cannot wait and will drive down that right lane with their left turn signal on looking to force their way in and save themselves three seconds from their day. And no one will let him in if they can help it, including me. He could have gotten in back where everyone else who was merging got in, but nooooooo. He had to jump the line.

So who does he pick on to try to force his way into the line? Not Suzy Soccer Mom. She ain't budgin' one little bit. She won't dilly dally when traffic speeds up - keeping about two feet off the bumper of the car ahead of her. Same for Joe Sixpack.

Trucks, on the other hand, don't accelerate as quickly. So Mr. Self Absorbed @$$hole parks himself just ahead of my bumper, hoping I'll not be able to keep the gap closed and he can force his way in. Notice he didn't pick Mr. Cross Town Express - the guy in the beat up fleet chicken hauler who's truck shows the many scars from many minor scrapes and bruises. Obviously, he's been in a few scrapes already and just doesn't care if you in your Beemer want in or not. He drives in this crap all day long and frankly doesn't give a rat's ass if you both end up on the side of the road waiting for a cop to arrive.

I'm a different story. My truck is clean and shiny, and my bumper and fenders are straight. I've never hit anyone. This is actually a mark against me, because it makes me the target for these buttwipes. Sooner or later, after I've shown I can keep the gaps closed, he'll just start coming over and dare me to run him over. Since it's not my truck and I have some pride in keeping it up, I'll be forced to let him in. He's already an @$$hole, so he can stand me laying on the air horn to let him know he's what he is. That won't bother him a bit.

Should I win the lottery and become King of the World, well, look out. I'm puttin' a cow catcher on the front of my truck, and I'm gonna be looking for some payback. Try forcing your way in front of me? Hammer down, baybee, and your slick import will be a gouged and dented wreck in a split second. So much for saving that whole three seconds out of your day. So you don't want to let me over? In the ditch for you, sucker. Y'all know who you are and you've been warned.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Important CPR Technique

Super Sexy CPR from Super Sexy CPR on Vimeo.

I hope everyone learned something of value here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sometimes You're Good

Then sometimes yer just damn lucky. That would be me.

I changed the oil in the ol' hot rod this weekend to run another 10k miles, and thought I was good to go. Holidays are generally verboten for oversize, so we didn't leave the yard until Tuesday. Several of us were headed to Michigan. About a hundred and fifty miles or so, it seemed the thing to do was pull over so we could all take care of business, if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

I stepped out of the cab and noticed oil. Lots of oil on my fuel tank, side of my cab, dripping from my front mud flap, and gradually spreading down the side of my truck into the rear wheels and just everywhere in general.

Uh oh. Popped the hood and it was what I'd feared. I had not replaced the oil fill cap. The oil fill caps are set up so when you tighten them, the rubber seal expands. They're supposed to be pretty tight. Factory new trucks generally have a small chain attached as well - so losing it is more difficult. Unless you're me, apparently. Not every NAPA Know How specialty store carries stuff like this for trucks. Your car? Probably. Class 8 trucks? Crapshoot.

But, all was not lost. Looking down at my steering gear found the wayward cap exactly where I'd put it to fill the engine with oil. It had ridden there undisturbed for quite some time.

So, now I've got an oily truck - the oil level wasn't lowered much. It doesn't take a whole lot of it to make one hell of a mess - especially when it's spread around by some high speed wind. Fast forward to this afternoon - in Michigan waiting on some escorts to catch us. One noticed the ol' sweet antifreeze smell coming from my truck. I couldn't smell it, but popped the hood anyways.

On the big trucks, radiator hoses are mostly long stretches of pipe with short sections of hose to attach the pipe to the block or radiator. Looking at my bottom hose hooked to the block - the clamp had just broken. The welds holding the screw housing had failed and the remains were dangling. It was the upper clamp (two per hose) fastening to the block, and the hose had even come loose. I happened to have an extra clamp, and my compadres fastened it in place. Oh, and by the way. Cast iron retains heat for some time, just so you know. Eight or ten gallons of antifreeze and water later, I was good to go.

Now, with all these electronics on the damn things, this was unpossible. There is a low coolant level sensor that should have gone off. It did not. I didn't run it out of coolant to the point that it started heating up, but had we pulled out from the truck stop, I'd have been lucky to make it a mile. Once the water temperature gets up so far, if you don't pull over and shut down, the control module will. Shut down, that is. Managing to steer the thing and get it over to the side of the road with no power is up to the driver after that - overcoming the power steering hydraulics plus the regular steering effort unmasked by the functioning hydraulics. Or, who knows? Maybe the ECM would have let the motor seize up and die a horrible death. That would have been popular with the powers that be back home.

So I was damn lucky. Thank you, God.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Independance Day 2011

There is always that look, with the pressure of assumed agreement. Yep, the ol' US of A has overreached with it's greedy empire building (yeah, we've really been expanding), or guzzled at the trough of abundant food and energy (we found it, we grew it, we're using it), or how heartless we are with our health care (the world comes to us for quality care) -  we need to be more civilized like Europe (our Republic is an anathema to the socialists) . The military is contemptible, with their use of mild torture (compared to who?) or accidentally hitting some civilians in a war zone (excuse me? Terrorism is A-OK while our inadvertent civilian deaths make us morally bankrupt?) . Our open border policy is too strict, and is racist to boot (just try to get into Mexico from the south and see what strict border enforcement is all about). Our Constitution needs to be more up to date and progressive. Judges should be able to legislate their emotional responses from the bench so our laws are not so jarringly different than the other regimes out there.

If you identify with traditional values, then you are a fat cat Republican (or worse, a TeaBagger) who is aiming to crush the elderly because we feel the government cannot continue to fund unlimited retirement and health care , discriminate against people of color by expecting some sort of return on welfare, food stamps and so on rather than just continuing to propagate a society that has no plans of ever working. Spending money we'll never have and printing money as a means of creating wealth in order to fund large corporations, banks and unions is apparently the new road to prosperity, regardless of the evidence before our eyes. And God - well, you really are a slope headed flyover country imbecile should you have God in your life.

You just aren't "with it" if you find yourself nodding in agreement at what I say.

I'm tired of it. I'm getting pretty cranky, frankly.

Stop dissing the country and enjoy what we've built here. We fought to get away from a lot of the crap y'all are foisting on us, and we haven't forgotten that, either. Remember.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Danica Earns Some Respect

Last night's Subway Jalapeno 250 winner was Joey Logano, while Danica Patrick earned tenth place, six places worse than her best Nationwide finish so far.

However, the order of the finish doesn't always tell the full story. Danica has been the center of some controversy in NASCAR as well and IndyCar because of the perceived ratio of driving talent versus marketing skills. She's good looking, and uses her looks as well as her racing fame to forward her career. She's only won one race in IndyCar - where she won on fuel mileage. Even in NASCAR that seems to warrant an asterisk beside the win in the record books. So, the argument that she's all marketing and not enough talent dogs her in both series. Plus, her record in her development series (Formula Ford, Formula Vauxhall, Barber Dodge Pro Series and Toyota Atlantic) is impressive with the highest finishes by a woman, she never actually won a race or championship.

Danica has so far only committed to a partial schedule in Nationwide in an apparent effort to learn and get her feet wet without jumping in whole hog, as it were. She has shown an ability to mix it up at times, and has made her share of rookie mistakes. All to be expected.

She is also with a top tier team - JR Motorsports, owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - but is really run on a day to day basis by his sister Kelley, with help from uncle and cousins Tony Eury Sr (Pops). and Jr. Lately, in IndyCar, Andretti Motorsports isn't necessarily the top tier team she needs to provide her with top notch equipment. So, the rumors abound that she may come over to NASCAR on a permanent basis. Her sponsor GoDaddy's owner Bob Parsons has unequivocally stated his company will support her whatever her decision - so she's got the sponsorship nailed down to bring to a Sprint Cup team.

Plus, there is a lot of debate and anecdotal evidence that the jump from open wheel to NASCAR just may be too great these days. AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Tim Richmond and many others ran cars in whatever they chose and succeeded in all of them. Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart were open wheel champs. One thing to note is that the last three spent some time in the Busch/Nationwide series percolating before jumping to Cup.

But today's open wheel champs are struggling. Most notably is Juan Pablo Montoya. He is a Formula One champion, fer cryin' out loud. Sam Hornish, Jr. gave up driving for the Captain (Roger Penske) in IndyCar and moved to NASCAR Sprint Cup. His lack of success finds him in the Nationwide series. Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier couldn't cut it. Dario Franchitti (Mr. Ashley Judd) - an oval IndyCar champ seemingly ready made for NASCAR failed as well. He's done well since going back to the open wheelers.

So, there is a lot of pressure on Ms. Patrick. Can she cut it? Can she win?

One very huge hurdle is learning "the draft" at a "restrictor plate" race such as Daytona or Talledega. Danica's last drafting challenge found her wanting as she didn't seem to want to take turns pushing. Daytona has a brand new paved surface that has changed the racing from huge clumps of cars to single sets of two, one a pusher and one driving the train. They have to switch off because the pusher will eventually overheat following so close in the draft. The strategies for winning the plate races have changed considerably (If you don't understand "restrictor plate" - Wikipedia has a very good article explaining it far better than I could). She had a notable tendency to take advantage of a pusher, but tried to race them when they wanted to switch off, dropping both of them far back in the pack.

So, with all that, she must have done pretty well last night for me to write up an article about her today, right?

Yep, she did.

Tony Stewart teamed up with her for a while, and she really appeared to learn a lot. He pushed Danica to the lead - the first time a woman has led a NASCAR race at Daytona. She was having problems with the idea that dragging her brakes was a necessity to keep the cars together - when she'd get bumped and sped up, she'd leave her pusher behind and they'd slow down and lose the leaders. She picked up on that technique in a hurry. Danica actually pushed well, too. She and Eric Almirola (a teammate with JR Motorsports) hooked up and towards the end it really appeared the race was hers to win, if she only timed it properly. Her decisions when she was being pushed were improving greatly as well - she was threading her way through some pretty narrow spots and making it work.

But, she got excited and jumped to the lead several laps too early, leaving her competitors way too much time to run her and the 88 down and pass. At the last lap, she and the 88 were taking the outside groove and making a run for the lead when Mike Wallace got into Danica. After she brushed the wall, she caromed off Mike and a clot of cars hit the wall together, sliding across the finish line, Danica in tenth.

Rather a spectacular finish, frankly. This is no guarantee that she will win in the future. This was also a restrictor plate race - not a road course nor a short or intermediate oval, either - all of which require a completely different set of skills to master and win. "Running in the draft" in NASCAR is a completely different animal than it is for IndyCar, and Danica Patrick has demonstrated to me that she has picked up the necessary skills to be successful in that particular endeavor.

It would also seem logical to assume that the other skills needed for success are within her grasp with some more experience. If she does "come over," I really hope for her sake that she chooses to run at least a full season in Nationwide rather than jump right in to Cup level competition. That was a grievous error that her less than successful predecessors made, and are suffering the consequences now. Showing flashes of talent and success in the Nationwide series is not a guarantee of success in Cup. Cementing her abilities before the huge jump in the competition level can only help.

And for the record? I was one of the "all hat and no cattle" people before. I thought she was severely overrated and overhyped. Frankly, I still think that, but I also now believe that there is a very good possibility that Danica Patrick can back it up. Good luck and go for it, Danica!