Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shhhhhh. Don't Tell Anyone!

On this, a New Year's Eve, after some ruminations about my lack of funds for living life in the manner to which I'd certainly love to become accustomed, I have decided to start a business venture. I'm telling y'all this now so perhaps I could include all my pals in the ensuing gravy train. Yes, our ship will come in, I'm sure. So far, my plan requires us to sacrifice some of our moral character, though. Your mileage may vary.

Well, Jeffro, what in the wild wild world of sports are you talkin' bout, dude?

It seems to me the quickest way to unlimited riches is to have government funding! Any old pie in the sky project works as long as you can convince someone in charge that the good you are doing is absolutely necessary to the survival of the world as we know it, or just the Democrat party (applies to the Stupid Party when they're in charge). Sex lives of minnows? We gotta know. However, that area of study doesn't seem to hold much monetary promise - just a few execs, several hundred grand on facilities, and some bucks for a janitor. That kind of thinking is far too small - we need something much larger and more suited to an administration looking hard for any sort of technological advances in green, renewable energy. The Big O is tossing money around like it's free (wait, it isn't? Who knew?) at renewable energy companies chasing highly suspect technology. After all, if you throw cubic dollars at it, surely someone, yeah, someone, will be able to break the code and give us some energy for nothing, Meanwhile, Teh Won is doing his part by demonizing contemporary energy sources and making them so expensive that the alternatives become more economically feasible and competitive, even if they fall short (rare earth production ecological damages in China, for instance, or having your brand spankin' new windmills calm on a hot day and no one has any power, much less A/C).

So the political climate is ripe for exploitation by like minded individuals. Like us. If we can get past a few moral obstacles.

Before we get into that, we have to decide what sort of company and the kind of technology we'll pursue. I think it would be totally appropriate (since this is basically a scam) to work on improving wind powered personal transportation devices (what we'll call 'em in public - but they'll just be cars with windmills on 'em). The liberal mindset seems to believe that feeding the hungry maw of innovation requires lots and lots of government bucks chasing every avenue, no matter the likelihood of success, so what would be better than a basically impossible tech exercise - a Perpetual Motion Machine in the form of a windmill powered car? We could spend billions attempting to make the perfect frictionless driveline, the perfect no loss power conversion from the windmill to the wheels, the perfect coefficient of drag body - the avenues for improvement of the technology is endless. Plus, initially (so we'd say, because the damn thing won't run without it), we'd have to have an alternative energy source to help propel the thing prototype. We're gonna have to carry some sort of battery, so we're screwing Gaea over right there already, but I think we can do better. We can take a page from the hybrid car model and use an internal combustion engine for the times when the wind isn't blowing and the battery is dead, or even if the wind is blowing the wrong way.

But we won't use evil petroleum derived energy for our internal combustion engine. No sir, we're gonna have to increase the satirical level of this scam business, so I recommend we consider distilled crushed baby seal heads. Now I have to admit, this is one of the moral dilemmas I've got with this scheme plan. Not sure I wanna kill baby seals, but I guarantee ya, the liberal press would never notice what we were using for alternative green power, just as long as it's alternative and green. We, of course, would have some sort of bullshit tech explanation for using that kind of fuel, how clean it was for the environment, plus how we'd cut that shit right out when we got the rest of the tech hurdles hurdled. It would be worth it, because one of our stated goals would be for the Personal Transportation Devices would be not only energy independence, but production as well. That's right, they'd crank out the kilowatts just sitting there, getting far more energy out than what could possibly be put in by a windmill. Once we had all that perfected, see, we wouldn't need the super clean IC crushed seal skull motors. So it would be totally worth it, dude. See what I did there?

So, this proposal would be an In Your Face, You Stoopid Idjuts scam, er - business proposal.

But wait, Jeffro, you say. You said there were a couple of moral problems, right? We're just seeing the seal pup head thing - where's the beef, Dude?

Well, unfortunately, the success of these scams business proposals utterly depends on political donations to the Democrat Party and it's members, most notably our President. Just ask Jeffrey Immelt. He's donated literal hours of printing press runs to Der Bingle and his pals, and GE is now one of the biggest recipients of government "green" largess. So part of our deal with the devil is going to include giving up some of the sweet .gov money to the current crooks in power.

So, there's that to deal with.

But, like they say in the late nite commercials - Act Now! This offer is due to expire without notice! Mail before midnight tonite!

The elections are coming soon. This scheme would work under Republican control, but we wouldn't have the extra added bonus of being completely shielded by the easily deluded press or the accolades of the green movement. Once the Stupid Party is involved, we'd have their taint and the greenies would automatically hate us, and might want to look at what's been swept under the carpeting, as it were. The press, always on the lookout for an Elephantine scandal, would be all over us in short order.

No, the time to strike is now, if we have the stomach for it. As always, suggestions are welcome and encouraged!

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Care and Feeding of Blue Flame Heaters

I think I mentioned coming home to a cold house the other day because my heater had failed to keep running. Frankly, it was due to my extreme laziness and perpetual avoidance of preparedness. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, dammit. Well, that's just foolish if you rely on a thing for a very important service, like, for instance, keeping YOUR WHOLE HOUSE WARM WHEN IT'S BELOW FREEZING OUTSIDE. Just a thought.

Ventless blue flame heaters are a very cost effective and fairly economical way to keep a room warm. However, it should be noted that they are not vented and in some locales, installation in a house without some sort of venting capacity is illegal. Don't rely on my advice whether to get one or not if it's illegal for you to use one. Just sayin'. Plus, I'm not taking any responsibilities for any actions any of you might take after reading this article. Remember, this is an explosive gas we're working with, and if something breaks or fails, it ain't my fault.

At any rate, they work great when everything is up to snuff, not so great if something is out of whack. Since purchasing this unit, I've had several HVAC types tell me the radiant heat varieties are better because they aren't so picky or service oriented. I really don't know, and further more, I'm gonna run this one until it craps out and buy something new. Parts are available, but not locally, so if it quits, I'm gonna want something in it's place tout suite. I might consider a radiant heater at that time.

What makes the blue flame so picky is that there has to be air introduced into the propane stream in both the burner and the pilot in order for it to function properly. End of story. Ok, Jeffro, you say, what does that mean?

If you've hooked your unit up with a standard yellow gas flex hose, there probably is enough slack to turn the thing over and look underneath (keep in mind that the line has only so many flexes in it's life). Otherwise, you'll have to crawl under it and look up. You'll see the pilot assembly roughly in the center, and it will look something like this picture above. My pilot air inlet is round and considerably smaller, and there is a wire mesh in the very end of the pilot assembly, where the flame runs. If you are like me and have a cat, plus are an indifferent housekeeper, all this is going to have cat hair and cobwebs interfering with the air flow into the assembly. This will shut off the unit and the pilot light. If you come home and your pilot light is out, you can get it relit, and after a while get the burner to going, and then seconds later - click - the whole thing shuts down, well, a dirty pilot assembly is probably the culprit. If the air is obstructed in any way, the pilot light doesn't burn at the proper temperature, nor is it as long as normal. It looks weak.

All you have to do is use a can of compressed or "computer" air, and be sure to get the straw for extending the nozzle. Spray around the end and in the air inlet for sure. I even took the gas line off and blew in from that end to make sure the mesh end gets cleaned out.

When this happened, I did not have any full cans of air. All I had was some carb cleaner. While that is an excellent solvent, it does nothing to cat hairs or cobwebs, and may even make things worse by matting them to block the air. Just use air, and if you have an air compressor with a long hose, so much the better, just be aware that oily air isn't going to help, and lots of air pressure could damage delicate parts. Air from a can is at about the right pressure, and it takes very little.

Okay, next up is the burner chamber - the blue flames dance over the slits in the tube. If your flames start getting longer and have yellow tips, you'll also probably notice that your stove is cranking out some soot. Not good. You may even hear a "guttering" noise, look over and see yellow flames with the inlet on fire with a yellow flame. This is a very big clue that it needs cleaning as well. To get it to stop, I just shut the gas down, and wait for the flame on the intake to go out, then fire it up again. Temp fix only, though.

Part number eight is the tube burner. You may notice the one end is wide open, except for a smaller inner flange - sort of like a lid with a hole in it. The mounting brackets space the nozzle (part 17) away from the burner, being locked into place by a mounting nut (part 28). The gas line (part 14) feeds the nozzle.

In order to get the clean burn, the propane must be premixed with atmospheric air, so that is why there is a spacing between the nozzle and the burner, and why the burner has a flange, etc. This area is also extremely vulnerable to cobwebs and cat hair, and the nozzle can get coated with carbon from that stuff burning onto it. At any rate, using the canned air cleans that crap out of there fairly well with the straw bent in a manner to reach some of the hidden areas. The tendency of the 'puter air can to blow wet actually helps here - it's enough of a solvent to help clean off the carbon.

I'm sure at some point, I'm gonna have to pull the burner unit out and really go to town on it to clean it up. I have done that before, taking it out to my air compressor. There is a carbon buildup around the gas slits, and it sure seemed that the inside would load up. That is a project more suited to warmer times, as your stove won't be running while you go after the carbon with some more serious solvents. It's gonna have to dry completely before reinstallation and burning gas with the remains of solvents still within.

So, pay attention to what your stove is telling you and you'll be fine. If none of these things work, then your stove has problems beyond what I know, and you will either be replacing the stove or certain parts that I do not posses the knowledge to diagnose the particulars. This advice is offered with the understanding that I'm not responsible for any of your actions, because I'm not there to control the outcome. I accept no liability for any actions any of you might take. If you have doubts, call a service person.

New Years Resolutions

Once again, it's time for thinking of New Years Resolutions. We always go back over our faults and pick out the most egregious societal violations that should we manage to improve, well, life would be nothing but rainbows, lollipops and unicorns.

Yeah, right.

I'm here to tell ya, I'm sick and tired of trying to change to suit the world. The world never acknowledges my efforts nor my successes in the areas of self improvement. Nor does it comfort me when I fall short of my goals. The world surely seems to be quite unable to give a rat's ass what I think, say or do in that regard.

With this in mind, I'm announcing that from now on, there will be no more New Years Resolutions coming from this fat boy. Nope, I'm not conforming to suit a bunch of rude sunsabitches that have no common courtesy. Screw 'em all, I'm sick of it.

Nope, the world is gonna have to change to accommodate me, by God. I'm too tubby for ya? Well, screw you. Too crabby? Up yours. Too poor? Eat me. My anti-social behavior getting under your skin? Good. Shows me I'm on the right track.

Y'all can take your Hallmark Moments Resolutions and put 'em where the sun don't shine. Not gonna play no more.

Needs Something

Great idea, but I'd add clowns to the list. Damn clowns bring down property values each and every time, I tell ya.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Strange Disappearance

Earnest wasn't sure anymore if he had lost his mind.

It all started a couple of years ago when he first noticed the sparkly lights. He was driving home in the frigid embrace of new fallen snow when the specks appeared in his peripheral vision. They almost seemed like fireflies to Earnest, but it was just too cold for them. He told himself it was just reflected glints of light off the crystalline snow, and his tired eyes just added the motion. However, that did not explain the distant humming he heard.

They started appearing in broad daylight, floating around his head to torment him like buzzing mosquitoes. Often one might see Earnest swatting at his visions to no avail.

Of course, the finest specialists were consulted and the latest tests were administered. CAT scans, MRIs, extensive blood work, allergists, opthamologists and endocrinologists were all called upon to diagnose Earnest's problem, and failed. No sign of brain tumors, no chemical imbalance, no nutritional deficiencies, no vision problems, nada, zip. Even an extended stay at Rochester found nothing.

And yet the lights continued and in fact increased.

Earnest could see the sidelong glances directed at him. He could just catch the whispers - crazy as a bed bug, wasting our time, belongs in a nuthouse.

He used to joke about the long sleeved white canvas shirt that tied behind his back, but lately he wasn't so sure. Could he be going nuts? The buzzing got louder all the time, the swarms of lights more intense, more frequent and more dense.

He could see the toll in the mirror. The face that he'd seen thousands of times shaving was now lined and drawn, the stubble now turning gray from a dark brown. The dark bags under his eyes belied the lack of sleep. His temples were becoming "distinguished."

What could it mean? Why him? No one answered Earnest in the still of the night. Isolated and alone, he faced the ordeal as a single entity. Thoughts of suicide even entered Earnest's thoughts. Perhaps the classic "swallowing the pistol" would silence the swarms. Or driving into a wall at high speed - he didn't want to hurt anyone by crashing head on into traffic - just to quiet the torment.

Suddenly, the swarms were back, and more intense than ever. Swirling about his head, extending for yards, the buzzing so loud Earnest thought he would scream and never stop - *Pop*!

Leaving an acrid, burned wire insulation wisp of an odor behind, Earnest disappeared from this plane of existence, never to be seen again.

Julie was driving her husband home after the hockey game. "Look at the pretty lights, honey!"

"Uh, what lights? I don't see any lights?!?!"

I've Been Fortunate

Jess at Scratching to Escape has a thought provoking post up today about horrific highway accidents to remind us to be careful on the roads today.

In all my years over the road and all the miles I've seen, I have to say that fortune has preceded me. Never have run up on a bad accident. Yeah, I've gone through the temporary one lane road and seen the carnage written in glass and steel, and what none of us want to see covered with blue plastic tarps. Never have I encountered one of these scenes fresh after it happened.

Which bothers me not.

Of course, I've heard stories. One in particular haunts me to this day, just because I can see it in my mind's eye.

One of my trucking buddies had just started as an owner operator hauling grain, and was following his lease owner (the original "Tubby Trucker") on their way to get another load west of Jetmore, KS on K156 highway. They were behind a cow hauler - all three easing along eastbound. There is a bad intersection where if one pulls up to the stop sign, one cannot really see what is coming from the west. If you stay back a ways, there is a rise where the traffic can be seen, but once yer in the hole, forget it.

An elderly school bus driver found himself in that hole, and pulled out directly in front of the cow hauler. With a load of children. Of course, there were questions about his ability to drive and why he was allowed to drive a bus in the first place, but all that was just arguments after the fact. The cabover truck t-boned the bus and split it open.

My two fellow drivers were unable to shut down, and had to drive through the mess.

My buddy "Rhubarb" is a man of few words. All he said was: "Jeff, I had to try to dodge pieces of kids. I'll never be able to forget that."

Well, my friend, neither have I.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Did I ever mention that my father was stubborn? And perhaps I might, just might have inherited that characteristic from him?

Dad was a farmer/stockman. Often, they will become enamored of one brand of truck, tractor or whatever beyond logic. Some will only buy Fords, some a certain brand of fencing, or a certain brand of tractors.

Dad was a J.I.Case man, through and through. The above picture is of a Case 930 Comfort King. Comfortable? It was as comfortable as about any other vehicle with no suspension other than a swinging front axle, riding over rough ground. It was a Case, which meant the engine and transaxle were joined together to form the tractor - there was no frame what so ever. This particular model was a naturally aspirated motor - so it did not have a turbo. The transmission was all manual - it was pre Power Shift all the way. It cranked out about 80hp out of 400 cubic inches. It was a 1967 model.

Our next tractor was a 1974 Case 1070. I loved that tractor. The space age styling, the solid cab (for it's day) with the decent air conditioner and wonder of wonders - the cab was quiet enough to actually hear a radio! Whoooweee! Livin' large now! It sported a 450 cubic inch naturally aspirated motor and the tranny was a four speed with a three speed power shift. Pretty kewl.

Case tended to use large cubic inch motors for their power - the idea being that superior torque would carry the day. They had a reputation for being fairly fuel efficient as well. Another of their characteristics was a coarse cored radiator - the fins were spread fairly far apart. One could hose out the radiator core to clean the dirt and debris out.

But, no matter the brand, you've got to have dealer support. Meaning, your dealer had better keep a good selection of commonly needed parts for your heap, or you will be parked when you need to be running. This dealer had also better be willing to actually work on the things and stand behind them, or you will be paying a lot of mileage to a distant dealer to do the same work the local one fails at.

Dad's local Case dealer basically deserted his market - he decided the small farmer was not the way to go, and just wanted to service the big ones. It was very clear after several years.

When the extremely painful but obvious truth that Dad just wasn't going to get any service from that dealer, he finally bit the bullet and bought a John Deere. They do happen to have the largest and best equipped dealer network for farm equipment extant, now as then. So, he bought a 1977 4430 - four speed with a powershift tranny. This tractor was rated considerably higher than either of the old Cases - close to 110 hp.

Dad's collection of implements were definitely dated, too. He really needed to upgrade to larger stuff with the increasingly more powerful tractors, but he never did. So, we ended up with some too small implements for the tractor we had.

Plus, this JD was different. Horsepower was obtained by fuel and turbocharging - this tractor's block was about the same size as the old 930 - right at 400 cubes. This meant the cooling system had to be more efficient. Which also meant that the radiator had a much finer core, with more fins and tubes closely spaced together. Dad was used to hosing out his radiators, but he was told repeatedly that was not a good idea on a John Deere by plenty of people. One of my neighbors brings his tractor home every evening, and blows out the radiator, all over the tractor, and the cab with A/C filters. He also waxes 'em, so his prep could be considered a bit excessive.

Farm implements are designed to run at certain speeds - generally in the four to five and a half mph range. Disks are especially picky - too fast and they'll ride right out of the ground, and toss the dirt unevenly. Dad's old Cases had their sweet spot in a certain gear wide open. He used to tell me "Pull 'er ears back and get to work" - meaning to pull the steering column mounted throttle on the old 930 to the rear, wide open in fourth gear. It needed to be wide open to run fast enough and to pull the load. The 1070 would run in second gear in the second hole of the three speed powershift - the first hole was useful for when it pulled down, and the third was just too fast, and it wouldn't pull the load most of the time anyways.

However, in a tractor with a bit more power, the way to save fuel is to run it in a higher gear throttled back. When the load increases, the fuel pumps will try to maintain that rpm by increasing the fuel, and with a turbo, the pressure increases and away you go. This helps the tractor run cooler and with less strain on the components as a side benefit. With a very flexible powershift tranny - if it pulls too hard, just drop a gear and crank 'er open for a while.

But not Dad. His radiators had always been cleaned with a garden hose, and his tractors were supposed to be run wide open in a particular gear. End of story. He hated that Deere before he got it - it wasn't a Case.

Oh yeah. That Deere wasn't the tractor that ol' 1070 was. Ran hot all day, drank fuel like crazy, too much glass in the cab, not enough leg room, hard to enter and exit - you name it, there was something wrong. Granted, I agreed with him on the lack of legroom, but I think I've still got dented knee caps from the stylish instrument panel protruding edges in the 1070 (and every other 70 series Case).

At any rate, several years went by, and I was employed off the farm. I never did run that 4430 until Dad had to be hospitalized, and I had to do his fieldwork. I jumped in the old tractor and sure enough, it ran hot. So, since we didn't have an air compressor big enough, I drove it to a neighbor's and spent over an hour blowing chunks of dirt out of that radiator. Dad would hose 'er out, then run to the field and fill the radiator with dirt catching in the wet radiator. I also got a bunch of straw and other debris out. After I got back to the field and hooked up, I selected a higher gear and throttled the motor back so I was running the proper ground speed.

That cab was quiet. The motor just chuckled along, and if it encountered a pull, the turbo started to sing a tune and yank that implement right along. I also didn't have to fuel so soon that afternoon, either.

Of course, I reported this to Dad. He seemed pretty non committal about the whole thing - the tractor was, after all, a John Deere and not worth his thinking about it too much. I think he did finally stop hosing out the radiator, which was a source of irritation to his friends who had advised him to use air and were ignored.

To make a living off the land, one must be stubborn. But, one must be an effective businessman as well. I, too, am something of a traditionalist, but it always seemed to me that if the tradition cost money above and beyond, maybe, just maybe, that kind of thinking needed to be revisited for validity.

My grandfather ran Case tractors, which was really the reason for my father's slavish devotion. I didn't inherit that kind of thinking. Frankly, were I farming, I could give a rat's ass what color the hood might be on my tractor - as long as I had a dealer who supported it. As a rule, Deeres are more expensive. They also have greater resale value, and they have the best dealer network. Period. This might piss off some Long Green Line fanbois out there, but they aren't always the best piece of equipment. Having all those dealers with parts in inventory does cost money, though, which is why the greater cost. Nowadays, we have several brands that are well supported in this area, so the choices are greater and the costs perhaps can be reduced.

So, I'll never understand my father's extreme stubbornness that actually cost him time and money.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Follow Me, Where I Go

H/T Eddie

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Reason for the Season


Just how festive can Jolly Old Nick get???

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I'm sure the Chinese peasants who toiled over the manufacturing of this "tree" were just as full of Christmas spirit as a Tweetin' Alec Baldwin prevented from playing a game on his phone.

At any rate, I've got a lot of things to be grateful for this holiday. We got some snow while I was off in North Dakota - not sure how much but at least a foot. Hasn't even begun to melt - it's real heavy and gonna soak in slow, just like we like it. Friday night, my house greeted me with a rather unfriendly chill - my blue flame propane heater had decided not to run. Turns out it just needed some judicious cleaning with some 'puter air in a can. Of course, I'd used up my supply on - 'puter keyboards and blowing out cooling vents in the ol' laptop. I got the thing running Saturday morning, and then got ready to drive to OK to Sis's house today - just too pooped to pop Saturday.

Got all the required phone calls to relatives in, and have been watching the Duke on AMC. ABC had How The Grinch Stole Christmas on tonight, so we absolutely had to watch that! Sis has that damn show memorized even better than me! "Little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two" indeed!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope yours was a good one!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

You Have Termites In Your Smile

link Better version here, embed is disabled.

So, what is your favorite Christmas show? Pretty obvious what I like! It's really a toss up between How The Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas, due in large part to the song Linus and Lucy.

Linus and Lucy - Click here for more blooper videos

To think actual jazz was utilized in a kid's Christmas show. The horror. The horror.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

N! S!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

At The Super C-Store

In Belle Fourche, SD. I think this could be classified as commercial folk art. Heh.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stupid Tax

I will be paying it.

On the way home last week, the Mighty Binder started flashing the "check engine" light. Everything still ran fine - the software didn't derate the motor, but it could happen at any time. Derating is when the 'puter decides that in the interest of preserving the motor from severe damage, power is reduced considerably. One can limp for a few miles to a shop, then it's all over and time to get fixed.

I pulled up the code (you can do that in trucks, as opposed to the OBDII for cars requiring a reader) and called it in to my supervisor. Navistar claimed it was a Caterpillar code, and the CAT boys claimed it had to be an IHC code. I Googled it, and it looks like the CAT boys win - it has to do with a sender that measures barometric pressure, or the circuit it is in.

So, this morning, it was off to the closest International shop - in Dodge City. I, however, was in an extra truck. It's another 9900i almost identical to mine, but it's black, and the paint has literally fried on it. IHC really picked up some lousy black paint that year. The paint on my hot rod looks new.

Anyways, my load wasn't ready this morning and I had to wait. The original plan was to make it to Belle Fourche, SD on our way to the Bakken in ND. It was windy as hell and a hard pull, and I had to stop for fuel in Valentine because the mileage was so bad. But, the wind slacked off, and I'd been discovering that this truck didn't run like a slug - it really got down to bidness. It felt way more lively, seemed to accelerate faster, and it showed another ten to twelve pounds on the boost gauge. So, it pulled pretty good, and I was trying to take advantage and make up time.

All of which I lost when I met the South Dakota State Trooper north of Mission, SD. Seventy seven in a sixty five zone. I got written up for ten over rather than twelve, which will help things considerably, but it's still a $105 fine - and I'm not sure if that includes court costs yet.

Didn't even come close to making Belle Fourche, either.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

From the Road Again

I've been pretty slack in posting, but after you hear my excuses story maybe you'll find it in yer heart to forgive me.

Five of us went to Woodburn, OR - which is just south of Portland. I'd never been that far west before, even considering a trip to California several years ago. Of course I took a few pictures - usually at 75mph, or in Communist Oregon - about 60mph, since their truck speed limit is still 55mph. Sheesh, even Communist Illinois has raised their truck limit to 65mph. Get a clue, Oregon!

Well, before we got to Oregon, we had to traverse Wyoming along I80. One of the neat features is the Lincoln Highway Memorial located at exit 323 east of Laramie. It has a bust of Abe's head perched on a pedestal, and was originally placed on the highest point of the old Lincoln Highway. It's pretty much the highest point on I80 right now.

A slightly better view from the eastbound side. Westbound - I kinda had my hands full trying to pass a slow chicken hauler, go around a curve, and drive seventy five.

This is dropping down into a little valley where I80 heads south and I84 splits to the north. Clearly, there is no chance of going straight ahead. The valley and pass that I84 follows on the way to the north side of Salt Lake City also has a small river and a railroad located within the confines. The river is full of rapids, and during the summer, one can ride on rental rafts. Not for this fat boy, thank you very much!

This is part of the climb up Cabbage Hill on I84 between La Grande and Pendleton, OR. Technically, Cabbage is the west side and this climb has another name, but to an ignernt trucker such as myself, it's all the same and it's known nationally as "Cabbage Hill," regardless of what the locals call it.

I've posted about these forests before - this is a stand of Pacific Albus (hybrid) near Boardman, OR along I84.

Not long after running over the fairly flat farm plains of north central Oregon, I84 drops into "The Gorge" and runs along the banks of the Columbia River. It also serves as the state border with Washington. There are several locks along the way, and we did see a few barges.

Another sweeping view of the road and how it follows the winding river.

Sometimes the edge of the Gorge is deep, tall, and close to the water.

And here I am eastbound out of Cheyenne getting close to the Nebraska border, where the town of Pine Bluffs, WY is located. Why do you suppose they named their town that? Heh.

And just as a bonus - a truckin' story. When I was between Laramie and Rawlins, I saw a Wyoming State Trooper with a truck on "my side" as I went by. I wasn't breaking any laws, was empty, and all my paperwork (as far as I knew) was up to snuff. So, imagine my surprise and unease when the trooper appeared rather suddenly in my mirrors with the disco lights on.

I pulled over, and retrieved my license and all my truck registration papers, which are kept in a fabric notebook, and waited for the officer to come to my door. Sure enough, she wanted that, my physical card, and all kinds of other stuff. I had a pretty hard time understanding her, because she definitely had an accent that said rather loudly "Not From Here." She asked me where I'd delivered, so I told her. She asked if I had come across Wyoming loaded, and if I'd purchased a permit. I had, so she wanted to see it. She wanted to see my last two fuel receipts. I had those, plus my first one was purchased in Wyoming, if she needed that. Nope, just the last two. My logbook was also needed. Plus my trailer registration. We keep our trailer registration papers on the trailer in sealed containers, so I had to fish it out. It was also about fifteen degrees outside as well. I was having problems fishing out my fuel receipts from my packet in the wind, so she invited me to sit in her back seat momentarily. She was driving a Dodge Charger. The front seat was completely full of electronics - most notably the laptop placed at a strategic angle above all the other stuff in the right seat. The back seat was separated from the rest of the car by a wire mesh divider that separated the back half of the seat and the front compartment. I expect a midget could fit in - when I sat down, I could not get my head under the roof nor get my legs in the absolutely no legroom space. My knees were ten inches too far out, and my head was about eye level with the roof. I doubt the Dodge Charger will ever be a choice for personal transportation for this fat boy, cuz I'd never fit.

At any rate, Ms All Business took pity on me and told me to wait in my cab. Ten or fifteen minutes later, she came up to the driver's door and told me she wanted me to open my right door so she could climb in. I laughed, saying the right side of my cab had more junk than her car! She asked me to open the window - she'd hang off the mirror and hand me back my stuff and have me sign the paperwork, etc. After she clambered up (she was certainly well insulated from all the cold - her face was the only feature of hers exposed), she determined that would not work. I suggested we meet at the front of the truck, at least we could understand each other slightly out of the wind there. That was indeed the ticket, so that's what we did.

I had passed with flying colors, and just needed to sign two copies of the inspection sheet, and make sure my copy was handed over to my company. They are required to keep those. So, now that she was friendlier since I wasn't Joe Lawbreaker, I asked - "You sure don't sound like you are from around here!" She replied that was the case; she was originally from Argentina.

There has to be quite a story there, and I'd sure have enjoyed the chance to hear it first hand. I rather suspect the amount of female Argentinian Wyoming State Patrol officers could be counted on one finger. But, it was on down the road for both of us. It took me another five minutes to get all the paperwork back into the proper places before I could go on - she took off with the Dodge V8 singing it's tune through the exhaust pipes, hammer down.

Perhaps you noticed, or maybe you didn't. Was there any sort of probable cause to pull me over?

Nope, there was not.

How can they do that?

Because I and my truck are subject to laws that suborns my individual rights to the rights of the public expecting "safety" from the behemoths of the road. By far and large, most accidents involving trucks and "four wheelers" are determined to be the fault of the owner operators of the personal conveyance vehicles. Logic would indicate that drivers of cars might, just might be subject to greater scrutiny, but since they outnumber us dumb truckers in the voting department, we're screwed.

So if using using cell phones in any wheeled conveyance on public roads is banned, don't expect any sympathy from me. Y'all let me dangle on that and so many other issues a long time ago.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Important Information You Must See

You can thank me later.

H/T Louis

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ho Ho Ho!

Who wouldn't go?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Want One

Yannow, lots of us carp about bad manners, entitlement mentalities and such quite a bit. So, if you're not into hearing about me bitching about those subjects, this post ain't gonna be for you.

I help moderate a private page on Facebook. The subject of the page really doesn't matter to this discussion, so I'm not gonna say anything about that. Just as an aside, going off topic here - Facebook should make these little group pages more like a forum. The organization is far better, and finding information is much, much easier. Plus, it's easier to post rules as well. Turns out we needed some in place.

Part of the fun of this page is going back in time to our childhoods. Now, that can be bittersweet - not all memories are positive for a lot of people. It sure isn't for me, so I can relate. There has been a lot of pain exposed on this page, and for some people, it's been therapeutic. It wasn't all lollipops and unicorns for many of us, and venting helps.

But for others it has been an excuse to malign others in the group. Their agenda is to get even for being picked on as children, and the justification is that they were, in fact, picked on. There should be no other justification necessary - being bullied gives them a special status that shields them from any responsibilities or adhering to some sort of societal norm. Cross the line? So what? Move on? Never! They now have the right to vent about their pain any time any place and name names. Plus, they can deliberately be mean and catty to others who had no involvement with their childhood just because of the pain they suffered as a child from bullying.

Now let's look at another facet of life - dating. I'm certainly a poster child for failure there - I finally got tired of the mind games and just quit. With my health the way it is, I have little to offer physically anymore, plus I'm so set in my ways and irascible, you best not cross me. Just. Don't. Take. It. Anymore.

Specifically, I got tired of being lied to. When I was on a date and everything seemed to go well, and the evening ended on a good note, and my companion suggested that I call her to do this again? Well, I took that seriously. If they really wanted to go out with me again - cool! Let's do it! Conversely, I'm a big boy and can take rejection. If they thought being with me was like pulling teeth, then by all means, just say no. Be honest. I was, and will be, and I expect the same in return.

Boy, have I ever been disappointed there. Got the phone number from the parties in question. I was told to call later in the week. I did. I left a message. I'd never hear back.

Okay, I can take a hint, but it's just freaking rude. If someone has changed their mind, fine. If they had no use for me, fine. I've dealt with that before. Never went batshit crazy or even close.

So I developed a "three strikes" rule mostly for myself. I'd call the second time, and remind the person that I'd been invited to call, and this was the second time I'd called with no response. I'd say I did have a good time on the date and thought it might be fun to try to repeat. Even if I'd figured I was tossed under the bus, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. The third phone call? That's when I'd burn the bridges - I mentioned this was the third time, I wasn't going to call anymore, and I wanted nothing from them nor cared what they thought any more. If they didn't have the good manners to be honest with me, or misled me from the start, or changed their minds - no matter. I had no use for that kind of behavior. How the hell can you have any sort of relationship with someone who lies? Not for this fat boy.

Often, I'd run into one of their friends later. "Oh, you just have to remember, she just came off a bad relationship with so and so, the asshole, so she's afraid." Oh, she's still touchy about the messy divorce from her abusive alcoholic ex hubby and that's why she did that to you." You see, the bad behavior of someone in their past justified the ill treatment I received.

So, let's get this straight. If someone dumps all over you in the past, that means you now have the right to dump all over someone else in the present, manners, good taste and honesty be damned. You, the aggrieved party, now have an escape clause to treat people like shit.

Like the Get Out of Jail Free Card from Monopoly. Mkay, but I have some questions. How does one apply for this card? Is it rewarded by a divorce judge?
"I hereby decree the petitioner is allowed a "Hurt in the Past Card" that relieves the petitioner of any moral responsibilities in future dealings with the opposite sex."
So, is this thing like a frequent shopper card? X number of punches and it's no good anymore? Or is there some sort of tribunal where one applies for a renewal? Or is this card good for life no matter what? Is this card only good for relationships? Perhaps there is another card available for those who were bullied as children? How long is that one good for? What are the restrictions, if any? How about transfers? Can you use it in handicapped parking? Why not - this person was unfairly hurt in their past, surely some good parking at Wal Mart is the least we can do to make their lives better now. For that matter, why shouldn't the card get you a pass in the "15 Items or Less Line" as well? I mean, c'mon! This person was hurt in the past.

I can see all kinds of situations where this card would be handy. Long line at the DMV? Not for a "Hurt in the Past" card holder. Ten percent discounts at participating merchants? Good enough for the AARP, good enough for our card holders. Denny's could offer a free meal on the anniversary of the card's award date, or the day the divorce was final, or whatever. Nothing would be too good for the members.

Why not being excused for perjury? Why the hell not? It's supposedly socially acceptable to be untruthful in certain social situations or to be a complete dick in public if your past contains pain, why shouldn't these pore people be excused from being honest in court? That's right, yell "Fire" in the theater all you want, baybee. We understand.

This story has been making the rounds lately - LeaAnn and Ace linked to it. Basically - it was a guy who met a gal for a concert - the original gal backed out for some reason, and this one took her place as a sort of blind date, and he basically stalked her. As I understand it, he spent some serious effort to find her email address and her phone number, and then gave her a critique on "twirling her hair" among other things. The kicker was the 1600 word email he sent her.

That is the flip side of bad behavior - the guy was reading more into their "date" than was really there, and then went on a stalking spree. Not for this fat boy, either. Like I said, three strikes and they're outta here. I'm not wasting any more time on 'em, and looking back, I shoulda probably went with two strikes. The second call was to be polite, and like I said - the third was for me to burn bridges.

Apparently, I've expected too much from people. I should be satisfied with getting tossed under the bus for convenience sake, and I should realize that pain justifies treating people like shit. Silly me.

Bleak House, or Cows Gotta Eat Anyways

This is the sight that greeted me yesterday morning. We get heavy frosts, but generally the wind is blowing hard enough that it doesn't build up like it did here. The wind was beginning to fire up, so it looked like it was snowing. Alas, it was just the frost coming off the trees. The ground was littered with little crystalline feathers, all spiky and sharp looking. Obviously, this didn't bother the cattle, who were grazing away contentedly.

Then it warmed up and all of this was gone - just a memory of the illusion of moisture remains.


That tree has to go.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ab So Freaking Lutely

I thought he was gonna move to Canada if W. was elected. Huh.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ain't Technology Great?

Yippee KiYay!

Stolen from The Overnight Open Thread at Ace's

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Live TV


Check out the little boy on Ford's right (our left). Think he was getting into the music?


Sunday, December 04, 2011

After a Trip Through


The Estrogena Seven Anomaly.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Don't Bother Me

I'm studying.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Going Downhill

Jeffy was just having trouble tying his shoes. Now he can't even tell if he's got them on the correct feet.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Clearly I live in a mentally unbalanced area.

H/T Ace