Sunday, June 30, 2013

Can You Tell?


That I've been watching old movies today?

I remember when this movie came out. Was it an indictment against mental institutions? Was it a dark comedy? Was it a study in character development? Was it a cry against institutionalization of all kinds?

Yes. Yes it was. A lot of character actors found steady work after appearing in Cuckoo's Nest. I'd heard Louise Fletcher, who won an Oscar for Best Actress, had trouble finding roles after this because she was pretty well typecast as the icy control freak tyrant head nurse Mildred Ratched. She had some success playing a similar villian - the religious leader Kai Wynn Adami in Deep Space Nine on television. Of course Jack Nickolson was great in his role as Randle McMurphy.

As twisted as the scene is above, in the context of the movie it makes perfect sense. The Chief wasn't going to leave his buddy Mack to suffer in the post lobotomy condition he was in. He was not going to leave him as a trophy for Nurse Ratched. And, by killing Mack, he was freeing his spirit to escape with the now "big as a house" Indian. He, too, would be free.

I have always found this scene to be inspirational.

Yep, I'll Admit It

I Am Your Friend

Dances with Wolves


This scene makes my eyes think it's dusty out.

Dances With Wolves was a rather slanted look at Cheyenne history, but I still liked it anyways. And I think Kevin Costner is underrated and under appreciated as a director and actor. I'm for betting some years down the road he will be regarded as a genius, particularly comparing his offerings to many of today's flicks. Waterworld or Fast and Furious 6? The Postman or World War Z? What'll it be fifty years from now?

In Hollywood, the question is what have you done lately? Welp, Open Range and the Hatfields and McCoys miniseries oughta be a clue.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think he's any kind of an icon. But I do know he delivers solid acting in generally high quality movies that are watchable and enjoyable. Not a lot can say that.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


The comic strip Crankshaft came to an unexpected end today.

Well, we can hope so anyways.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


When you are a died in the wool conservative and you find yourself thinking ol' Ted Rall has a point that the world is basically screwed. Ted has been on Obama's a$$ for some time now, but generally because Teh Won is too far to the right for him.

No matter, I gotta say I like this cartoon. Ted has a point.

Usually, Jeff Danziger gets under my skin.Today, it's Matt Davies. Yeah, buttwipe, farmers are totally comparable to the welfare recipients who haven't worked a freaking day in their lives, and demand that we support them. Yep, every farmer I know sits on his/her a$$ all day and just waits for that sweet government check to show up in the mail, just like the inner city Democrat voters who find time to pick up their mail while squirting out more valuable dependents. I know I sucked hard on that government tit my own self, and look how rich I am! It wasn't enough to pay property taxes - whee, what big money that was! Of course we don't even want to mention that the farm bill is 80% food stamps. Blame it all on the rich, lazy farmer, asshole! Ha ha ha ha, isn't that funny?!? LMAO!

Research Confirms

That drinking gives you the same benefits yoga does. In this study, we will examine various yoga positions and compare.

Savasana Position of total relaxation.

Balasana Position that brings the sensation of peace and calm.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana This position calms the brain and heals tired legs.

Marjayasana Position stimulates the midriff area and the spinal column.

Halasana Excellent for back pain and insomnia.

Dolphin Excellent for the shoulder area, thorax, legs, and arms.

Salambhasana Great exercise to stimulate the lumbar area, legs, and arms.

Ananda Balasana This position is great for massaging the hip area.

Pigeon Tones the body, and builds flexibility and helps get rid of 'stress'.

So, booze or yoga?

Probably neither one for me......

H/T Nukle Kim

Monday, June 24, 2013

This Is Just Wrong

But I am warped and think it's funny!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Well, Crud!

My old DROID2 has been giving me a few fits lately, so I knew it's days were about done. A lot of times, the touchscreen would refuse to work unless I shut down the display, then opened it up and unlocked it. So it was getting flaky.

It was acting like a new battery was in order - not a big deal to buy on eBay, but a pain. Hey, guess what?!? I had one in an old laptop case - I always order a spare battery when I get a new phone, but it was in the house. One more thing....

I really think I just got it wet - I had it sitting on the kitchen counter while rinsing dishes, and noticed some droplets on the screen. I guess the dern thing sucks up moisture like a drypak, because it started opening apps, buzzing all the time (every time you open something, the vibrator lets you know you opened it), and I couldn't get the return button to close anything. So I pulled the battery, and when it rebooted, the phone managed to call a number I should have probably deleted - the Mennonite who organized the cleanup of the old burned out farm. I was disturbing his Sunday, dang it. I tried pulling the battery several times for hard reboots, but the final straw was just watching it open apps with nothing touching the screen.

I'd sure been looking and had decided on a Samsung Galaxy S4 but I kinda wanted to keep my outdated all you can eat data plan. Which meant I'd be buying the thing at full list price. Which I don't have today. I was able to put off buying it - it will show up on my next bill. Whee. But - I seem to be unable to live without a smartphone while trucking - Google Maps and the internet for finding motels and such is very very valuable to me. If I couldn't have this one, I'd be getting some sort of smartphone. My credit with Verizon is good, though.

So, I had to go to a 2gb data plan, but looking at my past usage, not gonna be a problem. Not gonna have to buy the all share plan, because works on this phone like it did on my old one - so using it as a hotspot won't cost extra every month. The old memory card dropped right in, so all my pictures and ringtones were right there. All my chargers and USB cables work on this phone, too. Major plus.

And I can tell you this thing is bloody fast compared to the ol' Droid. It has 4G service, plus a ton more computing power, so it really is responsive. I found myself getting irritated with the Droid for about the past year because it was getting sluggish.

I also popped for an Otterbox - cell phones in my possession tend to lead hard lives, and something to help with the shock of being dropped sure has helped me in the past. So, really, I just had to cough up for the phone and the Otterbox, and no memory cards or charging equipment. Had I decided to go to the dark side and get an iPhone, all that would be required.

So, it's new toy time for a while, trying to figure out all the goodies this thing has!

Friday, June 21, 2013

What? What?

What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is a goin' on here? Has some modern neo-surrealist taken over the strip? Perhaps the ghost of Douglas Adams possessed Jeff Keane momentarily.

I'm voting none of the above. Billy doesn't have the sense to poor pi$$ out of a boot with the instructions on the heel, I'm for thinkin.'

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This Puppy Haz Axles

This is a "B"Train grain hauling setup. Most of the grain haulers "up north" just have a shorter front trailer with a ring and pintle hitch for the rear trailer on a dolly (fifth wheel on an axle with a tongue hitch), but this one has a whole series of axles that act as one unit at the rear of the front trailer. This one did have a hitch of sorts separating the front and rear gangs, but it was a solid shaft that only allowed transverse swiveling - movement in only  the vertical plane. There were five or six axles there, so I'm sure that's an advantage on rough terrain - if it were solid, the torque on the trailer would probably be excessive and it might crack. This way, stress is relieved.

I hate how my phone camera makes things seem further away - I had to put the thing down to keep control while pulling beside him. Literally, this was a last second shot, and I wasn't going much faster than he was.

And I was so wrapped up in trying to get this shot that I missed the northbound tank haulers coming at me! They weren't ours - who knows who they belong to. But, they're all part of a steady stream of tanks going up US 83 every day headed to the Bakken, which is where I went. The Montana version thereof, that is.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mirrors. Use Them.

As I was driving through Oberlin, KS today, I saw a flatbed pickup pulling a gooseneck trailer pull out from one of the little truck stop/convenience stores there. So, I figured I'd be catching him, and sure enough, I did.

As I got closer I could see it was a single wheel double axle trailer - it wasn't tandem wheeled. From the looks of it, it probably should have, since it had been rode hard and put away wet about six hundred too many times. At any rate, as I got even closer, it seemed that the left rear wheel was leaning inward at the top. Then smoke started rolling out in little streams. I could see the driver's face in the mirror, so all it would take would be for him to actually look and he could have seen it as well.

Nope, wasn't happening. The wheel started to develop a sharper list, then suddenly the grease cap blew off in a shower of flame, sparks and chunks. I note at this time that the sound, could I have heard it, would have seemed like an M-80 being set off in a dryer full of gravel running full steam.

Which Mr. Oblivious failed to see. So, I slightly pulled out into the other lane and started honking, waving at him and pointing at the trailer. I guess he couldn't hear me honk with my AIR HORNS. And of course, he completely ignored the large truck with the large load hanging off his bumper.

The wheel was listing over even more - hell, he could have seen the bottom sticking out HAD HE JUST LOOKED, but, alas, it was not to be.

I determined that the worst place for me was right where I was, considering I was probably about to have a loose wheel in my face. I was just hopin' and prayin' that it didn't come off into oncoming traffic - no telling where it would go or how much damage it would cause. So, I backed off quite a bit.

When the cap blew, it was because the outer bearing blew. I saw fire and sparks bellow from the hub one more time. That was the inner bearing flying completely apart. Several hundred yards later, the remnant of the hub let go from the now ruined axle stub, and the wheel was ejected.

I've seen these before, and usually the wheel doesn't just roll like you think it might. No, it's like when you bounce a tire out of the back of your pickup - it's gonna be a wild ride. It finally settled down right on the zipper as I went by - I was afraid I'd run over the damn thing, but I didn't.

Meanwhile, Our Genius kept on driving. The brake assembly wasn't dragging the ground - the rest of the suspension kept it up. Anyways, he finally did notice something was wrong and pulled over. The shoulder was muddy, and I couldn't go around him to the left because of oncoming traffic. I about had to stop.

I just drove on by. Stupid sonofabitch wasn't gonna get any help from me if he didn't have any more sense than that.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Y'all Know How I Like Things Simple

So, this series of pictures seems simple enough to me.

Of course Prism would never be abused. The NSA is not like those mouth breathers over at the TSA, enjoying their free looks at wimmin using backscatter machines. Oh, wait, the preverts have supposedly removed all those machines. Guess invading our privacy even more didn't work there.

I'm sure this program, besides violating the Constitution, will never be abused at all. With all the safeguards in place, at any rate. Oh wait - it's all secret and we have no idea whom or what is looking out for abuses! But I'm sure it will all work out, we can trust our government to do the right thing by us.

And lest we forget, it's not just the lack of public oversight that is a problem.

What it all boils down to. Why does our government fear us so much, when there is so much beyond our borders to fret over?

Now is usually the time where we all discuss the "reset" button - because I'm truly doubtful that the ballot box will make any difference. Our Congress seems to be in favor of all this - they claim it's legal and they've been briefed. No matter if we the people are being violated. It's legal.

But it is WRONG, and if they had any moral compass at all, they'd be ducking their heads in shame. And replacing these sleazeballs isn't going to change anything, because they have lost control over the bureaucracies that are running this country willy nilly - it's not just the FBI, the NSA, the CIA - it's also the IRS, the TSA,  the DHS and hell, even any of the other cabinet level .orgs that are out there arming themselves.

My problem is that I'm pretty well invested in the idea that the machinery still runs - particularly that Wal-Mart still gets shipments of medicine I need to live and that my currency still works there.

Selfish? Yes. I do not want to die because meds weren't available during a "disruption." If I gotta die, I'd rather it be something more constructive, but I'm too old, fat, and horribly out of shape to do any soldiering.

If that is what it does come down to - well, I hope like hell y'all are successful. I'm just looking at my reality, and it is coming up pretty short.

H/T Nunkle Kim

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Remembering My Dad

This post by drjim put me in the mind to reminisce about my father a bit. Our relationship was pretty tumultuous, and a large part of that was my fault. He automatically wanted things from me I wasn't willing to give, and I was willing to fight about. Which, according to his lights, was verboten, since I was his son and he was The Father. Respect for him to his standards and his way of thinking was me submitting to pointless domination. Not my style.

On the other hand, he did instill in me some pretty valuable morals. One of his pet peeves and now mine is that you should own your mistakes. Lame excuses, never taking responsibility for one's actions, lying and denial set his teeth on edge. That was a mark of deficiency of character to him.

One thing he did that I have been unable to match was his service to various committees and boards in the area. First and foremost, he was heavily involved in the VFW. Dad dressed up for a ton of funerals back in the day. He was on the local electric cooperative's board, as well as the Soil Conservation Board. He spent a lot of nights making hard policy decisions no one else wanted to do, with no pay. My current profession prevents me from similar efforts now, but there is no doubt I will never match his contributions in this manner.

A lot of what I learned from him was based on his actions. Fighting through blizzards, dragging hay bales over snow covered fences to feed hungry cattle in freezing weather. Struggling to get a tractor to run in that same weather to move snow or feed. Once, we got in a shipment of calves. They were not settled in - used to their new surroundings - when a wicked thunderstorm passed through. They panicked, and through the corral fence they went (you cannot stop cattle with most fencing). Dad was up most of the night gathering them back in the dark. Or the uncounted worried conferences with the neighbors over a problem calf that just wasn't responding to the various treatments, even up to calling the veterinarian out. Or the nights spent on patrol during calving season, to help cows who might be having trouble giving birth.

Or perhaps the sight of him crying quietly on the front porch during a hailstorm, knowing that this year's crop was going to be completely trashed. Or up half the night checking the temperature worried about a late freeze killing the wheat (what has already happened this year - not gonna be much if any crop at all already). And I'd also seen him a couple times standing out on the very same front porch, sobbing quietly because he'd managed to grow a bumper crop. He was sad because he couldn't share that with his father, who'd had very few crops like that himself. And to note - since he has passed, I have celebrated exactly one such crop. They are rare for a dryland farmer out here.

At any rate, what he taught me was a love for the land and the knowledge that we are connected to the land and it's occupants intimately. That we need to pay attention to what we see, and how we react, if we wish to profit and even to survive here. And that it is truly beautiful - the birds singing in the mornings and evenings, the deer frolicking, cottontails playing, calves kicking up their heels with their grumpy mothers watching closely. The hawks patrolling the skies looking for their next kill. Cocky pheasants strutting their stuff within rock throwing range (until hunting season - then the wily suckers hide out). Mourning doves and their lonely calls. The coyotes howling their songs in their native tongue. The marvelous, dangerous beauty of thunderheads growing malevolently in the sky. The many hued sunsets - beautiful apterif for a long hot day. Grabbing a handful of freshly worked soil, still slightly loamy with the smell of future growth. Oh yes, these things I learned from my father. Not my mother, who was a city girl at heart.

My father was a farmer/stockman born and bred, as was his father before him, and his father as well. Such is the stuff they were made of, and I remember my father in this manner as well. He sleeps peacefully in his grave on the prairie.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there, and for the rest of us, remember yours.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's Not Thanksgiving

But I do not care.


One of the funniest scenes from one of the best situation comedies EVAH!

Monday, June 10, 2013

I'm Way Behind Here


This clip came out in 2010! And I didn't find out about it 'til today!

This is a modern computer generated Looney Tunes clip, and it's as politically incorrect as the originals. Enjoy.


Sunday, June 09, 2013

Sunday Sunday Sunday At Raceway Park!

One of the first things I do when I log on to the innertubes is to peruse the latest Facebook posts. This is what I found this morning:

Sunday Sunday Sunday at Raceway Park!
That was P.T.'s way of saying good morning Facebook on Sundays. It was a catchphrase of his, and when we could see that, we knew P.T. was still with us. But not today.

fishing in his younger years
 P.T. was a blog father of mine. He was the proprietor of The Plains Feeder, based in an old feedlot in Nebraska. I found him surfing around for bloggers who lived in my area when I first got online.  I learned very quickly that P.T. was a unique human.

He was a very well educated man - a lawyer who traveled the world and lived the life. Revolution in Spain? He was there. He was more or less somewhere between libertarian, Constitutionalist, and anarchist. His criticisms of the government were ruthless, concise, precise, acerbic and surgical. And yet, he was kindly with his intellectual powers.

Doing his best Hunter S. Thompson in Venice
He was also a recovered alcoholic. I always figured he'd just burned out, because he was more or less a recluse out at that feedlot. Society burned him out, and the internet was a lifeline. He freely admitted to his mistakes in life - never blamed them on someone else or some entity. His errors were all his.

I have tried to do the same myself.

Then, his health worsened. Cancer. His ex wife, a professor in Iowa, had him move in with her. In my mind, the friendship P.T. had with  his ex wife was a measure of the man he really was, because she more or less became his live-in nurse. She retired, and they moved to New Mexico. This, as far as I remember, happened in 2009-10.

P.T. had a huge tumor on his neck, and it was removed, plus he received chemo and radiation therapy. The medical folks were less than enthusiastic about letting him have pain meds because of his past history, so he was in some pain for some time. At some point, when they knew he was just counting the days, they relaxed that thinking and P.T. was able to enjoy some relief. Simple foods and drinks were appreciated. The wildlife at their place was savored. Wild horses were always dropping by for P.T.'s amusement.

A man of simple needs
It is with great regret that I never took the chance to meet him. I had one chance some years ago - I was coming back through Omaha, and he'd have met me at one of the truck stops. But, my company wanted my butt home, so I didn't take the time. Damn. He certainly led a fascinating life, and I'd have loved to hear more.

And we all knew his days were numbered and that he was in pain. He had become enamored with Facebook over blogging because of it's more immediate social interactions, and it was a great relief to me to see him post as often as he did. I know I'm not alone in this, either, because he did have some close pals who thought the world of him.

And, while it is best that he has left us for a better place, and isn't suffering any more, my day is far less bright today than it would have been.

Goodbye, P.T., and hope to meet you in the future.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

I Am A Cruel Sumbitch

Just went outside to move a sprinkler watering the ol' lawn, and good ol' Bob was along to help out. I shut the water off, moved the sprinkler, and when I went back to the spigot, Bob was checking out said sprinkler.

Well, what do you suppose ol' Jeffro did?

Bob, relaxing in the shade

Plantin' Milo

Ya ever wanna know what it's like running one of those big four wheel drive tractors? This is a Ford New Holland pulling a planter seeding grain sorghum, or milo. I've talked about this crop before - it's mostly used as cattle feed and there is anADM  plant in Dodge City that mills milo into flour that is mostly used for making sheetrock. It can be used as a food item which is more popular these days since it it gluten free.

At any rate, you get to see the various controls, gauges and the GPS system at work. The planters have folding marker arms that leave a trail for the next round, and since the planter is so wide, they have to fold. Our old planter markers just picked up and rode vertically, but these things would be quite unable to clear power lines if they did not reduce their vertical presence. You get to see the graphics showing the large band of freshly planted ground moving next to what is already planted and is not - plus the warning when he reaches the end of the row.

He's pretty busy then - folding up the marker arm, lifting the planter out of the ground, unfolding the other marker arm, and resetting the GPS. You can also see he is rocking around in that seat - that ground may look smooth, but it is assuredly not, and tractors have pivot articulation on the front axle only - the rear is completely solid. About all that does is make sure the tractor has all four sets of wheel on the ground when it really gets uneven - if the front did not pivot, one or more corners would be off the ground and the tractor would be stuck right there.

And compared to what I ran, this puppy is livin' in the lap of luxury. It's all pushbutton, super quiet well sealed and extremely temperature controlled cab, better seat, and some real legroom. I'd hate to pay the fuel bill, though.

Hope y'all enjoy this peek into farming on the prairie!

Blatantly stolen from Joey Woods on Facebook

Thursday, June 06, 2013


Most of you know I can't stand Jeff Danziger. However, this effort of his is pretty nice. Gotta give him props here. He even got the details correct for a LaSalle.

It is apparently still "running great."

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Thanks, Coach

GeneStephenson in1977, photo courtesy KWCH
Highly successful and popular Wichita State University's long time baseball coach has been fired. When Gene Stephenson started as the head coach at WSU there was no baseball program. There was no place to practice or play, no equipment and no uniforms. He started it all from scratch.

Stephenson recently completed his 36th season as head coach at Wichita State after two losses in the 2013 Manhattan Regional, the first tournament appearance for WSU since 2009. His overall accomplishments also include the 1989 National Championship, seven College World Series appearances, 20 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season titles, 18 MVC Tournament titles and 54 All-Americans.Stephenson won more games in 36 years than any other Division I program, and he has a career record of 1,837-675-3 (.731).  He currently sits in second place in number of career Division I victories.

1977. The year I graduated high school. I gotta admit, I sure never noticed him and what he was up to until his teams started winning. I'm not even a baseball fan, but it was fun to watch his teams when they did appear on the tube.

There had been rumbling about his job for the past few years, so it wasn't a complete shock. His current and former players are not happy about this, either.

Perhaps he should have exited while it was his idea, but he's too much of a competitor to quit, and has stated he would still like to coach somewhere.

I wish Coach Stephenson all the best, and thank you, sir.


Sunday, June 02, 2013

Honest Is The Best Policy

For me, being an honest and moral being was a learning experience, mostly by having my butt warmed when I transgressed a social norm. I had sticky fingers - in particular, the Matchbox cars that I did not own. I "liberated" them from my best friend (who had a ton, he wouldn't miss any) and the drugstore in town. After having to return the frankly tiny collection to my pal (yeah, what a pal I was) and paying the drugstore, stealing seemed far less lucrative than my initial thought. Or lack of thought; I sure didn't put in much before I acted. It seemed to me that a life of crime had better have a huge payout for the risks involved, and some payouts would never ever be enough.

And time went on, I was fairly honest unless other people were involved and I was a follower. This continued in my career as an altar boy.

I was generally paired with another Catholic classmate who I will call by his Confirmation name here. Those of you who know both of us will recognize his nickname. At any rate. Philip John and I were a pair, and we handled our duties in about as professional a manner as we were capable.

I suppose we'd been serving for a couple years when it occurred to Philip John that he could use a loose dollar from the collection plate once in a while. I finally gave in and took several bucks over the course of time myself. He even got so bold as to take a fiver once in a while. Beer money, he'd say.*

By then I'd realized I'd probably burn in hell, and had stopped helping myself. We were even so bold as to take a swig of the sacramental wine as well, but Lordy did it ever taste like crap. At any rate, things had settled into a routine. We were called upon to serve about once a month or so, and we were well into high school.

Then one day, Philip John was continually needling me about something and it was getting under my skin. He wouldn't stop, and my wolf pack classmates were more than willing to jump in at the smell of blood. My blood. I found this, as always, very tiresome and irksome.

So, I told Philip John that he'd better damn well stop that nonsense, or what he was doing to me would be a walk in the park compared to the bombshell I would drop on his a$$. That everyone would be on his case forever if I opened my mouth. I did not say what my secret was.

He ignored my warning, and one day as I was getting teased about whatever the hell it was that he had started, I unleashed my doomsday knowledge. I told everyone about how we had been taking money from the collection plate, and how I had stopped, but Philip John had not, even to this very day.

Somehow, I instinctively knew that I'd catch the slack even though I had done the exact same thing. The idea that I'd learned and stopped no doubt helped my cause.

And Philip John was quite unable to handle it - he stammered, totally embarrassed and spewed futile excuses the whole time. He could sure dish it out, but he was quite unprepared to take it. It was as I figured - no one got onto me about my part in the crimes, but they sure piled on Mr. Philip John.

To this day, he is known as The Guy Who Stole From the Collection At Church.

I feel bad about taking the money. I've since confessed my sins and done my penance. I will never feel sorry for getting my revenge on Philip John. I warned him, he ignored the warning and kept right on torturing me because he could. He's been paying penance of a different sort.

*Even though we were underage, we all had fake IDs and purchased lots of beer before we were 18 and could legally purchase the 3.2% brews available at all the regular commercial outlets. The good 6% was available at liquor stores only, and they were far pickier about age than the local convenience store.

From the "Men Are From Mars" Department

It's Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

Us guys just don't have a handle on "feelings." We're just fixers! Heh.

H/T Nukle Kim