Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Helicopter Ride

Going back thirty five years thanks to a memory sparked by Greybeard.

My middle son at age five was fascinated by airplanes and helicopters. One day he was riding with me as we passed by a parking lot where a man was giving rides in a Hughes 300. My son got really excited so we went for a ride (probably 20 minutes). Everything was cool until we lifted off. He took in a deep, gasping breath as the ground fell away but soon settled down and enjoyed the ride.

When I’m in a general aviation airplane, pilot or passenger, my head is on a swivel. Just a habit my first instructor implanted in me. Look left, up and down. Look front up and down. Look at the instruments. Look right, up and down. Repeat. The pilot noticed this and finally leaned over (no intercom) and shouted, “I’ve been doing this for a while and have never had a RPG come my way”.

Having never been in Viet Nam, I have no way of knowing if my behavior was normal over there.

The kid enjoyed the ride and the pilot had customers waiting so I was never able to clear up his misconception.

Sunday, February 7, 2016



The story says "single engine" airplane. Um, no.

Looks like his gear is up. Belly landing on grass makes more sense. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bitch and Moan

Tough start for the month. Everyday on our route something is closed. I-76 in Northeast Colorado. I-25 Cheyenne to Wheatland. My shift, Monday to Wednesday was three 14 hour days. 

Paul, who works Thursday to Saturday, is facing the same conditions. Black ice and blowing snow makes for a long day.

Had my first off road excursion in many years Tuesday. Asshole darted across the highway. Missed him but spun out into the median. Took out a delineator.

Two oilfield men stopped, got out a tow strap, and pulled me out. Got to love Wyoming people. Maybe karma for all the people I've pulled out over the years.

Wallowing around in the snow with a shovel, and crawling around in the snow finding a place to tie the tow rope, makes me realize I'm too fucking old for this shit. Developed a touch of a chest cold.

Maybe someday I will grow up, ya think?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

My Sister

Puts this on my FB page. Can't get angry; it is dead on the mark.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Earning My Daily Bread (Three Days a Week)

Kind of a rambling and perhaps pointless blog entry. You have been warned.

The large winter storm moving through the area is more towards the South of us but the fringe is still hitting us hard. Crappy cell phone snaps, please bear with me. This morning around 0430. 40 mph in a 80 mph zone.

There were many of these out working. Not supposed to pass one but I don't have time to follow one at 40 mph.
 Then there are these signs on 78 miles of road I must travel.

And damn little after 5 am.

South of Kimball, NE. Highway 71. Strange day - the wind was from the East. Hold my beer moment when a jackass trucker missed his turn, stopped dead, then started backing up. Prius vs 53' trailer? Didn't like those odds. 

Something to make a car collector cry. Scottsbluff NE. 57' Chevy convertible.

The place has cabbage burgers but not at 0900 when I gas up.

486 miles, and I get to do it tomorrow and Wednesday. The wind wasn't bad today but the forecast for tomorrow is for worse weather.

The man who drives Wed to Saturday spent 40 years driving big rigs in 49 States and most Provinces.  We are two old silver-backs but have the jobs because we are "seasoned". The other "kids" want our routes. Not happening. Our routes are the branch's most lucrative and for the most demanding client. The managers leave us alone and the job gets done every day no matter what the weather throws at us.

I'm nearly finished paying off the deductibles and co pays on the pacemaker but think I will keep the job until summer or I win the lottery.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bastards Likely Will Get Us Killed

Hanlon’s Razor

 “”Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Or as attributed to Napoleon,

Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

Trying to make sense of what is happening at the senior leadership level of our Armed Forces is difficult. If someone set out to render military units ineffective without eliminating them entirely, a better scheme than what is occurring now would be hard to construct.

Col. David Hackworth hammered on the theme of perfumed princes. Were he alive today, he might describe the current situation as civilian social justice warriors, to whom feelings supersede facts, meet careerists, who have never had a conflict with what is good for the service, and what is good for their careers. Of course he would state it much better than me.

One quote attributed to him can find parallels in most societies over the course of recorded history.

Our generals talk a good game about taking care of their grunts, and the majority of our Beltway politicians bay with moralistic fervor about how they, too, support the troops.

Another is true today.

The old saying that war is a racket has taken on an even more shameful meaning.

Then there are the harshly true word of Rudyard Kipling’s “Tommy”.

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
    O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
    But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
    But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
    The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
    O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
    Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
    But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
    While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
    But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
    There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
    O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

These fools never learn. Over the centuries, more than one nation’s army has said, “Fuck this shit”, and just walked away. I wonder how close ours is to that point?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Oil Patches and Farms

Lowest gasoline prices in years. Good news for many. Disaster for others. My late father drummed into my thick head that every boom is followed by a bust. The oil patch had a great run but now is busted. What is the cause?

All this is well beyond my understanding. I’ve read that speculation in options to buy futures, as opposed to futures, exceed 250% of known oil reserves. Funny money chasing funny money if you will. Trying to make sense of it all might make me a Bernie Sanders voter.

Looking around my local area you see acres of idle equipment.

 You see parking lots that were jammed six months ago with lots of empty spaces.

I feel for the people. A few took this opportunity to build savings, reduce debt and buy modest homes. Others are looking at 72 month notes on $50,000 pickups and are underwater on $450,000 homes. One woman I work with rarely sees her husband as he moves around the country to where he can find work. He has great skills so keeps busy but at a personal price.

We still have rigs working in the area but mainly working existing wells to optimize their output.

The silver lining in this economic cloud is the huge increase in infrastructure and equipment will be there when the market conditions improve. At some point they will as we won’t stop using oil.

Our local economy is firmly anchored by agriculture. We’ve had enough winter to keep the fields snow covered. The mountain snow pack is at or above normal. The aquifers are in better shape than they have been for years. Today I visited the Colorado Farm Show. The atmosphere was upbeat.

I try to make this show each year to restock from the one glove vendor that has real  XXXL leather gloves, good quality, and reasonable prices.

Great place for people watching. Little kids climbing all over the farm equipment, for example. Surely the nanny staters and helicopter parents would suffer apoplexy but no one at the show seems to mind. Of course, their fathers are right next to them climbing on the machinery.

These are the politest people you will ever meet. The glove booth had some candy in a container at the edge of the table. Watched a small hand dart in and grab a piece. The young man turned to find his mother looking right at him. With a subtle nod from the booth owner to the mother, the mother then gave her child a slight nod.

The large number of laptops, tablets, and smart phones scattered around the place shows farmers and their suppliers aren’t ignorant boobs.

 Standing next to a $750,000 tractor (prime mover?) made me think what joy it would be to be a farmer. The memories of my younger self of the sheer hard work involved soon dissipated those thoughts.

Had a great BBQ  (by Colorado standards) sandwich at the FFA run concession. Outside some salesmen were working a Ram Truck display. Made me smile to know I wouldn’t be doing that anymore.