Sunday, December 28, 2003

I did make it safely home. I didn't mind flying as bad as I thought I would. I've heard a lot of horror stories about the TSA guys, so I was expecting long waits and all kinds of grief.

Didn't happen.

Granted, I went through fairly small airports (Chattanooga, Memphis & Des Moines), but I did not find the TSA to be particularly onerous. Didn't wait at all. I did have to take my boots off, but I figure the smell was their problem...

Those little jets have got little bitty seats that were not designed for my posterior. That's pretty much my only complaint.

Ate lots of eye-talian food and caught sweeties cold. Came home with more books. Did not get to go look at any equipment, but it's really too far to drag anything home anyway.

Not a bad vacation, but I think I'd druther drive.

well day-um

Write about some good news for beef producers and less than 12 hours later the bottom falls out of the market.

I must have the touch.

I haven't been able to follow a whole lot of whats going on (other than the tv news), but I did hear that one of the big sales in Iowa cancelled for lack of buyers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Best news I've heard in a while

Well, I've been hearing for several months now that beef was up. According to the Department of agriculture, beef prices are the highest ever recorded. The cattle business is cyclical, so I haven't thought a whole lot about it. I assumed that we were just at the top of one of the cycles (actually we are, but it looks like this is a good'un to be on)

What I find interesting about it are the reasons for this...

ok, I can see the ban on Canadian beef being a factor. I can see the small calf crops of the past couple of years being a BIG factor.

But the Atkins diet?

ummm ooook... I've heard stranger things.

Monday, December 22, 2003

I'm heading out tomorrow evening to visit the wife's kin in the great white north, be back Sunday night.

Arghhhhhh. We're flying. Not sure how happy I am about that. The only times I've ever flown is was in planes I could set up front where they'd let me drive...

I've never had any interest in flying commercial. When I was in the fourth grade, we went on a field trip to the airport. They showed us all around the tower and we did a walk-through on a small airliner. I thought it was pretty neat until I asked the lady giving the tour wereabouts they kept the parachutes. I decided I wasn't real interested in flying when I found out I couldn't get off the plane whenever I wanted to.

'sides, if I make it over to the big tractor junkyard that's just east of Des Moines I won't be able to bring any toys home.

I'm thinking the conversation with security would go something like this...

"Why yessir, that there is a brake doohickey fer a 285 Ferguson."

"step over to t'side?"

"what for?"

From my bride...

"I TOLD you not to try and bring that rusty crap on the plane!"

Oh well, it does beat driving 16 hours.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Well, I just found out that Ken Knopp has a new book out, as well as a nifty website with all kinds of information and pictures relating to Confederate Horse Equipment.

Ken is one of the fellows I used to ride with several years ago (7th Ill.). I haven't talked to him since Selma in '92. I wish I'd stayed in touch with all those guys, but right about that time was when I started going to college full time and quit going anywhere.

I wish I'd been able to do some illustrations for some of these books that all these guys seem to be writing these days. One of these days I will get arounding to upgrading and maybe I'll post some drawings from the days when I wielded a quill instead of a mouse.

In a conversation with the Possuman yesterday, asked me what exactly I do for a living and I realized I haven't really delved into that very much.

Basically, I do grunt work for a small advertising/PR firm. Although we're a small company, we have some pretty big (fortune 500) clients, primarily in the floor covering industry.

Now, when I say grunt work, that's only in a computer sense. I have a printing/pre-press background, so one of my primary functions is getting files ready for print. I also do a little color correction, which is amazing to me still because I get stuck with doing about half our color correction although I'm not that good at it (I fake it) and we have another guy here who is better qualified to do it.

My other main task here is image manipulation. All of our designers can do image manipulation to a greater or lesser extent, but I probably do the bulk of it. The kind of stuff I do varies pretty wildly, from changing the flooring in a room photograph (that's kind of a specialized thing in this area) to removing people from photos and adding people to photos. I actually do a lot more than that, but this is the gist of what I do.

Another big project that I (we, because I have help, but I'm the main worker bee) is a 400+ page catalog for a rug manufacturer. This critter is pretty much my baby. We update it twice a year and it's a bear. When we did the first one, I just about lived at the office seven days a week for four months (my lovely bride was unhappy with me because we'd only been married two months when I started that project). It's a coffee table sized book showing the client's entire product line. I thought they were nuts at first, but I've got to say it looks impressive. You know that's got to be a great sales tool for these guys to go out to their buyers with (I can picture some sales guy ploppin' this thing on the counter and saying "well, our competitors have some nice stuff, but look at our product line"). Most of the floor covering industry relies on brochures and booklets, so this little jewel sets them apart in a big way.

We're pretty much a Mac shop (web stuff excepted), still clinging to OS 9.2... I tend to be the guinea pig around here and I'm still a bit leery of OS X. I may jump to it at home, just to get a feel for it. I dislike having to troubleshoot computer problems with limited knowledge and I KNOW that we'll have problems when we make the move. Most of the printers we deal with are still running OS 9 and are happy with the "if it ain't broke don't monkey with it" school of thought, so there's really no need for us to make the switch right now.

So, that's how I spend my weekdays... except in the summer, when I'm on a tractor half the time.

Although I doubt the need to point this out (because of the nonsense l write here), I don't write copy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I forgot to mention that FG of fence-post baling fame, and WS from the previous post, are neighbors...

I think it's something in the water up yonder.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Everybody has probably heard this one before as a joke... except this little tale is true.

There used to be a dairy up the road from me, they quit dairying many years ago, but at the time these events occured they were still milking. The farmer had two boys and a girl, one of the boys is a little on the slow side, the other one is crazy... and I'm talking mean, dangerous crazy (they'll be more about him in a later post). The daughter is normal as far as I know.

Anyhow, they had pasture on both sides of a fairly good sized creek that runs through here. The old man needed to move his cows because they'd eaten the grass down pretty good. We'd had a pretty bad rain the night before and he was too busy to ride down to the creek and see if the water was too high for the cows to ford it, so he asked WS (the slow one) to take the tractor (nice little Farmall Super A that they still have) down to the creek and see how high the water was.

I'm sure you see were this is going already...

WS was gone a loooong time. The old man was startin' to get worried when a wet and beraggled WS came back to the barn.

"Well, how high's the water son?"

"It's about up to the seat daddy"

True story.

And this one was told to me by one of my high school teachers...

The same feller (the old man) used to hire the local boys to haul hay for him. Everybody hated working for him because he would always drive the truck like a bat out of hell through the field.

These boys (my future teacher was one of 'em) that he hired finally had enough one day when they were picking up in a field that was kinda thin and the bales were a loooooong ways apart. The old man would rev up the truck and just fly between the bales. The boys picking up would just walk along, taking their time.

Finally, the old man got plumb exasperated ('cause he was paying by the hour) and hollered "Cain't you boys trot?"

And trot they did...

right back to their car

As far as I know they never would work for him after that.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

FG also ran his Haybine down a fencerow one time too... funny, it never did want to mow right after he did that.

He tried to sell me that thing last year, I had to pass on that. About the only thing worth salvaging on it were the wheels and the hydraulic cylinder.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Farming while drunk

TC told me a funny one a few minutes ago...

Seems that this ole boy what was a dairy farmer over in Whitfield County had hisself a drinking problem.
It got so bad that he just stayed in the bed all the time, drunker than Cooter Brown (I've heard that for years, but who in the hell is this Cooter Brown feller?).

He had a two story house and slept (and drank) in an upstairs bedroom. One summer, when it came time to chop silage, his hired man couldn't get him out of bed, let alone out to the fields to help him.

I reckon this must have been in the days before air conditioning, 'cause the hired man would go up to the house with an ear of corn and chuck it through the open window into his boss's bedroom. He'd look the corn over and tell the hired man whether or not he thought it was ready to chop. If it was ready, he'd holler out for his hired help to go on to the field and start chopping.

Drunks and tractors don't mix. I'd say the hired man was probably glad his boss stayed in the bed.

I've seen first hand what can happen when a feller has a few too many while he's baling hay....

Back when I was in high school, I was piddling around the house one hot summers day and heard a knock at the door. When I went to the door, I saw a tractor pulling a big New Holland round baler sitting in the driveway and realized that it was one of my neighbors, FG.

FG asked if my daddy was home, I told him no, but could I help him with something?

"Well, I need to borry his chainsaw"

About this time I caught a whiff of FG's breath... if they'd been an open flame, he'd have burned the house down.

"It's here in the basement, whatcha need with it?"

He says "Waaal, I reckon I hit sumthin out thayr in the field"

I went back through the basement and came out the front with the saw and stopped dead in my tracks. FG had ran down a fence row with the baler and baled up a couple hundred foot of bob-wire, T-posts and a couple of 5 inch locust fence posts...

The locust post was what had stopped him, I believe if it weren't for them getting caught in the bars that he'd have kept on baling without ever knowing he'd dropped a bale full of bob-wire. This baler is an old New Holland 851 chain baler and believe it or not, it's still in working order today (we borrowed it to bale with last fall).

Luckily for me, daddy came home 'bout that time. The three of us spent the rest of the day with a torch, wire cutters and the chainsaw.

He was back in the field baling the next day.

Ole FG is still alive and kicking, but it's a wonder he didn't kill hisself.

I ran accross this little tidbit a little while ago on Outside the Beltway. One of my three readers (who shall remain nameless... Stick) has taken me to task in the past about Southern Literacy or lack thereof.

It's an interesting idea, I'd have to give it some thought. It makes sense to my feeble little brain.

Carpet Bombing

I got to talking to one of my friends the other day, he's been working a lot of overtime lately.
He drives a lift truck for one of the carpet mills and they've been running six and seven days a week.

I asked him why they were so busy right now and he said "I reckon its on account of the war"

I thought this was somewhat strange, as I do not think that floorcoverings are all that important to national defense or the war effort.

So I made the mistake of asking why the war would cause an increase in carpet sales.

"Well, it's all that carpet bombing they're doing in the middle east."

I started laughing because I realized that he was pulling my leg while he continued...

"Now think about it, you drop 16 rolls of carpet out of a B-52 at 40,000 feet, it's a-gonna make a crater"

Can't argue with the boy's logic... I wonder if the Pentagon has thought of it yet?

I know I said I'm not going to talk poly-tics, but I've got a complicated theological question...

I think Donnie, or Acidman, or somebody, referred to Hillary as Sauron and Dean & Co. as the Nazgûl...

If that's the case, what do that make Billy-Boy? Is he Morgoth? If Bill is Morgoth, then who's Jimmy Carter?

I think I've figured it out though.

Morgoth was LBJ (since he was cast down in 1968), Jimmy was a lesser minion of Morgoth, and Bill was the original incarnation of Sauron. Hillary is the incarnation of Sauron that survived the fall of Númenor (no longer able to shape-shift) a being of pure evil.

So, have I read too much Tolkien or what?

Friday, December 05, 2003

Nicknames seen to be more common around here than the old (alleged) southern habit of using two first names (Billy-bob, etc.) I often wonder how some of these nicknames are arrived at...

For instance (this is no joke) I have a great-uncle who's nickname is "Rat". I always thought it was because he was the youngest and smallest, but it turns out he spent a good bit of his youth hunting muskrats with a .22 rifle.

We've got two Frogs, a Pumkin, a Hobbit, a Scutter, an Uncle Goob, a Toby, numerous Butch's, several Juniors (I'm not sure if that one counts), several many "big 'un's" (I've had that one hung on me before) and Tar Baby.

I have no idea how Tar Baby got his name, but his real name is Ishmael or some other biblical name that begins with an "I". I think he actually likes Tar Baby better.

At some point in time, I need to run down Frog (one of 'em anyway) and get him to recount the story of Tar Baby's wedding night, because he was right in the thick of it and I don't want to screw up the story.

Just for a teaser, it involes drinking, stolen cars, more drinking, a knocked up preacher's daughter, and yet more drinking.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

There are some boys down the road that have been helping me haul hay the past couple of years, they're pretty good kids. They work hard and don't goof off too terribly much. They know that I know when they're goofing off. I let 'em get away with it to a point because it's a hard job that's made a lot easier if you're working with your friends.

One of the last times I baled a lot (for me) this past season (600+) I only had one guy lined up to help. He asked me if I wanted him to bring one of his friends with him to help, so of course I told him yes. TH and this other kid (CR) showed up and we loaded about 250 bales (it's not as bad as it sounds, they were catching it off the chute and stacking directly on the wagon I was pulling behind the baler). It was HOT and humid that day so I made sure that they took plenty of breaks. They also got to sit in the shade quite a bit whilst I did emergency tractor repairs (remember the front axle pivot pin?)

After they got the first two wagons loaded, we pulled them up the road to the house and I left them to unload while I went back to the field to drop some on the ground for some folks who were coming to buy it out of the field. I can't hear anything while that Ferguson is running, but I happened to check my cell phone (cell phones go well with bib overalls y'know) and saw that I had a couple of missed calls from TH. I called him back and he says that they had to take off because CR had forgotten his medicine and wasn't feeling well. TH said they'd be back shortly. Ok, no problem, I'm thinking this guy is diabetic and don't think any more about it and go back to baling (I was running out of daylight and the forecast was rain the next day).

Notice about 20 minutes later that I've missed another call, TN again.

Call him back, he says:

"Hey I'm taking CR to meet his dad, he's afraid to drive"

Why I ask, is he afraid to drive?

"He's got a heart condition and he feels light headed"

Now I'm the one having a heart attack about this time (or at least a stroke)

So I asked TH, Why in the hell did you bring a guy with a heart condition to help haul hay? and why did you not bother to inform me of this fact?

"I dunno, he said it didn't bother him" (ah, to be 20 and bullet proof)

TN then informs that he'll be back to unload the wagons and that he was going to go by and get TC's boys to help him.

I went back to baling, but of course I'm more than a little concerned about all this mess. I'm wondering if I'm going to get sued and all kinds of other pleasant thoughts.

I went back to the barn when it got too dark to bale (actually I popped a shear pin and decided it was good time to quit)

TN was at the barn unloading the wagons, first thing I asked was how CR was...

Total unconcern on TH's part... "Oh, his dad took him to the Emergency Room, it's no big deal"


I very patiently explained to TH, that he should have told me that CR had a medical condition BEFORE he got sick and that he should be a little more concerned because CR could have DIED (it was HOT that day).

That didn't even begin to sink in.


I went into R. Lee Ermey mode. THAT got his attention. I ranted, raved, screamed and threatened him with bodily harm, but he got the idea that NOT telling me little details was a BAD thing.

When we finished baling the next day, he said that CR had called and was fine. Not only was he fine, his parents were glad it had happened, because they found out he needed a medication change or something that they otherwise wouldn't have know about until something really bad happened.

Whew! CR's ok, no pissed off parents, no lawsuit and I can still sleep at night.

So, that mess turned out ok, but not without scaring me half to death, of course I HAVE wondered since then, if the whole thing was a prank on TH's part... he's got a twisted little mind.

And everybody wonders why I spend so much time and energy trying to mechanize my bale handling...

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Swamped with free-lance work right now. Hopefully I will have tales of if idiot neighbors, headless cows, trading goats for attorney fees and other assorted madness.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Went by the gunshop yesterday, Toby had a magazine (True West I think it was) that had an piece about the Alamo movie in it. Billy Bob looks so much like Crockett it's scary. There was also a mention of Huffines's
book, Blood of Noble men. Evidently they used it as one of the references for building the sets.

I'm glad to see the boy getting some attention. I still feel bad about giving him grief about it.

The spring before Desert Storm, we all congregated at Resaca for the reenacment. That was one of the last times I rode as a member of the 7th Ill. We rode our horses into the ground that day, it would have been like the Little Bighorn, but we had better sense than Custer and never dismounted.

Anyhow, we stayed up late that night, arguing about everything from Armour tactics to who had the best saddle and all kinds of other stuff. Alan said something about wanting to write a book on the Alamo.

We gave him hell about it. Everybody and their brother had already written one, so why in the world would he want to write another one?

I'm glad he didn't listen to the rest of us idiots.