Wednesday, March 31, 2004

It finally happened. We had a job come in that was built in Quark 6.0. Since those fine people designed Quark so that you can only save back one version, we have to upgrade one of the Mac's to OSX.

Little Mo was on hold most of the day trying to get through to their wonderful tec support services (in Bombay or Bohpal or some other furrin' place) to see how we need to handle the serial numbers for the upgrades.

I'm ready to go to Indesign, even if it does piss off half the printers in town.

Heard something on the radio about an F-18 crashing or crash landing up in Rhea County the other day. Then I heard that them boys up there had it stripped and up on blocks 'fore the FAA was able to find the place on a map.

Not to name any names, but there are several counties around here with that "reputation", if you will. Stealing cars, growing pot and making meth seem to be the primary occupations of a sizable minority of upstanding citizens in these particular counties (to hear the local news tell it at least). Lest anyone should think I'm singling out the fine folks in Rhea County, I've heard that about several other Tennessee counties and more than one Georgia county. I'm not saying that it's true, just that the reputation is there.

Moonshine, now that's an honorable occupation in comparison. It plumb tickled me that they busted a couple of stills a few months ago. I was proud to see somebody still making 'shine. After all, isn't corn likker a large part of the perception the rest of the country has for the South?

I still can't get over the 500 gallon job that was in an abandoned house across the road from city hall down in Resaca. Granted, Resaca is literally a wide spot in the road, but still that takes some gall? cojones? a very warped sense of humor? all of the above?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Well, I'm sure there will be all kinds of things at the auction Saturday now that I'm offically broke. One of sweetie's cats escaped the other day and something (probably a coyote) got aholt of it and sure enough did a number on the little critter. We are now the proud(?) owners of a five hundred dollar cat.

Had a comment in the previous post that got me to thinking maybe I should change the name of this blog to "Dave's Daily Train Wreck."

It does seem like most what I'm writing consists of stooopid things I do or even more stupid things my friends and neighbors do...

I seem to be running low on material, probably because I haven't spent much time around DR lately. That boy is a neverending source of material. It's a shame he doesn't have a computer, but if he did I'd lose my primary source.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Through my own stupidity I came close to getting seriously hurt yesterday, as well as starting a brushfire that would have been pretty damn hard to stop. The weather was fairly decent for burning and I have several good-sized brushpiles that need to be cleaned up, so I called and got a burning permit.

I started the small pile to burning and then headed over across the creek to set the big one. The last time I tried to burn it I did not have much success and didn't expect much success this time either. I got it going on the south end and headed back to the barn to get the trackloader.

I had to jump the Cat off, the batteries are getting weak again, that took a few minutes. I headed back down to my first fire, stopping on the way to push up a third pile I was going to try to burn later in the day. At the first burn pile, I stopped again and pushed it up some more so that the stumps would burn.

Then the wind picked up. I looked over at the big pile and saw that it was blazing merrily away, but it seemed to be moving. I kicked the loader up into second (I almost always operate the loader in first gear because of the condition of the undercarriage) and headed to my big fire which appeared to be getting away from me.

When I got to my big fire I saw that it had got into some pine trees and was moving rapidly towards the woods about fifty yards away. About this time the wind picked up again. Dry pine needles burn fast and put out a LOT of smoke. I rolled around and got in front of the fire and set the bucket into the ground and tried to cut a trench in front of the fire.

I say "tried" because the fire was moving faster than I was (wind picked up again). I was soon enveloped in smoke so thick I couldn't see three feet in front of me. I held my breath and started backing out. By this time the fire had made it up to the loader and evidently hit a thick spot in the pine needles, because I burned the hair off my left arm.

The smoke was too thick for me to get in front of the fire, by this time it's only about twenty feet from the edge of the woods. I'm thinking it's time to call the forestry department. Only problem is, my cellphone is in the truck... at the barn.

Now before anybody thinks I'm a complete jackass with no regard for public safety, even if the fire got completely out of control, it would have only went about five hundred yards before reaching a green pasture (which wouldn't burn) to the north and a creek to the west (wind was out of the southeast). Being out of the smoke, I could've easily plowed a firebreak to the east. I would like to burn out all that mess and get rid of the scrub, but I'd much rather do that with a little more planning and have the forestry service folks on hand when I did it.

Of course I'm not thinking of this at the time. I was in "oh shit" mode. I manuvered around and got behind the smoke and was able to push a bucket full of dirt over the northeast corner of the fire, but by this time it had reached the woods. Luckily the fire was only about twenty feet wide now, so I was well on my way to having things under control... until I came to my senses long enough to notice the motor in the Cat going "peckpeckpeckpeck." This was the hardest I've ran the damn thing in years. I may very well have damaged the motor (don't know for sure, it could be a fuel thing).

I go into "oh shit" mode again.

Then, miraculously the wind died down. I also noticed that the leaves weren't burning like the pine needles had been. The flames were not as high and it was moving much more slowly. I cut the loader off and walked through the scrub and stomped the fire out (all the time thinking of the Jerry Clower story about Uncle Versey and the fire).

I find myself guilty of hubris, but I (re)learned some lessons;

(1) Keep my cellphone in my pocket
(2) Have the loader sitting there running before I play arsonist
(3) Don't get in front of a fire and try to put it out when the wind is moving it straight towards me
(4) If I'm within a hundred yards of a wooded area, plow a firebreak around the damn thing
(5) Don't try to burn more than one at a time, that necessitates leaving one unattended

We did get the flats fixed on the roadgrader this week, and I was able to learn how to operate it Saturday after my firebug incident. That is a neat machine. It is amazing what a skilled operator can do with one. It's remarkable what an idiot like me can do with it.

I brought the loader up to the barn this morning, it may not be a big deal after all. It's still making that pecking racket, but it doesn't seem to be coming from the engine itself. May get lucky and have it be a fuel problem.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

War Trophies

TC's oldest boy came back from Iraq a few months ago. He had scads of nifty pictures of places he'd been and things that he'd seen. The one that got me was the huge pile of stuff that he had to leave behind, mostly bayonets and that sort of thing. What the hell is up with that? I thought the Army had always let the guys bring stuff home? I had a buddy who brought back a bunch of crap from Gulf I, but he was an officer if that makes a difference. What the heck has changed since then?

I once saw a well traveled rifle that was a war trophy twice. Several years ago I did some illustrations for a friend of mine who was writing a pamplet/book on Spencer rifles and carbines. One of the things he wanted me to do for him was a series of drawings showing the Manual of Arms for the Spencer rifle. Randy Steffen did a very nice set of renderings for the carbine in The Horse Soldier series of books, but John didn't want the carbine version, he wanted a rifle version. No I am not saying that I am an illustrator of Steffen's calibre, far, far from it.

Plus I don't think he wanted to go to the trouble of getting permission to use Steffen's artwork....

If you're wondering where the war trophy part is by now, we're coming to it.

In order to do this right, I called one of the rangers I know over at Chickamauga to see if he'd help me with this. He agreed to go through the Manual of Arms for me to photograph. I took a Sharps with me, thinking they were close enough for me to change it to the Spencer when I did my drawings. When I arrived, he pulled out a pretty nice looking three-band Spencer Rifle. I said "surely you didn't pull that out of the museum?" He proceeded to tell me this most interesting tale.

A few years ago, an elderly gentleman came into the visitors center and told someone at the desk he had a rifle he'd like to donate to the park. They called someone out to talk to him and he gave them this particular rifle. The man said he was a WWII veteran and he'd found the rifle in a bombed out farmhouse in Germany in 1945. He knew what it was and brought it home with him.

How did an American Civil War rifle end up in a German farmhouse? During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the government sold a LOT of surplus guns to the French (not that it did them any good). Some German soldier took it home as a trophy in 1870-1, where it was found by the American soldier in 1945.

I once owned a Spencer (sort of) that I sold in a fit of stupidity back in the eighties. When I say sort of, it was because it wasn't a real Spencer. It was a "period reproduction" if you will, maunfactured in Leige, Belgium in 1873 by a company named Falisse and Trappman. I never did figure out what calibre it was. The odd thing is, it had a centrefire breechblock.

Christopher Spencer couldn't even complain about copyright infringement.... Apparently, Spencer had money troubles in the late 1860's and was bought out by another company, who was in turn bought out by Winchester, who sold all the machinery at public auction.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Little tractor was actually a 130. I couldn't get anyone to the door, but I may try to go back this weekend.

Big auction next weekend. Hopefully I can conjure up a lil' bit of money before then... of course if I do, there most likely won't be a damn thing I need over there.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Fun with Tractor Tires

Bigger brother came down today and we fixed the flat tire on the 3600... three times.

They don't make inner tubes like they used to.

We kept poking holes in the new tube while trying to get the tire back on the rim. And of course, we didn't have anything to patch them with. I ran down the road to my neighbor who sells equipment to see if he had that sort of thing for sale. He didn't have anything to sell, but he went into his shop and gave me his tools, patches and glue so that I could get everything operational.

Good neighbors like that are hard to come by. I'm very fortunate in the fact that I am blessed with several neighbors like him.

After our second unsucessful attempt to put the brand new tube in, we patched the old one and put it back on the tractor. So far, it's still holding air.

I also got a lead on a Farmall 140 not too far from here. The gentleman who told me about it has a lawnmower repair business and he said the owner was trying to trade it to him for a riding mower. Since the tractor had a flat rear tire, he passed on it. This fellow is an older gentleman who gets confused sometimes, he said he thought it was a 140, but it could be a cub, or an A, or a Super A. All he knew for certain was that it's an offset Farmall (the seat is to one side on the rear, so that you can see to cultivate).

If I can get my grubby little paws on that (if it is indeed a 140), I may go back into the sweet corn business in a major way.

We also marked off the north end of my barn addition. I've finally aquired all my lumber. Hopefully I'll be able to start on in the next few days. Since I was unable to con the Possum man in to drawing me some purty pictures to go by, I'm having to rely on bigger brother's alleged expertise... hopefully it won't blow over in the first strong wind we get.

Friday, March 19, 2004

This is the 856 we're looking at... ugly ain't it?

If we do end up buying it, there will be before and after pictures. I would have probably already bought it if it weren't for the fenders (or lack of fenders).

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


8000 Ford in the Market Bulletin for $4500

I gets all excited and call about it. No answer. Call bigger brother, "have you seen the Market Bulletin?"


"8000 in there for forty-five hundred"

"hmmph, call about it yet?"

"yup, no answer"

Finally got ahold of the guy. Slight problem, there's an ink blotch on my copy. It was actually a 3000 Ford.

Oh well, that's life.

DR's Love Life

I've got an update on the DR saga

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that he'd discovered the singles lines and I feared what he might drag home. I've been a touch busy at the salt mine and covered up at home as well, so its been three weeks since I've talked to him.

I called him Saturday to see what he'd been up to. He was bursting with all kinds of news. He said that he had indeed found a girl on the singles line, but he stopped pursuing her when he discovered she knew his ex-wife. Now, how did she know the ex?

Why, they used the same drug dealer of course.

He lost interest in that one right quickly. He's learned a little bit at least, since he knew better than to mess with another one with a pill problem.

In related news, the doper boyfriend of his ex got busted (by a deputy we went to High School with no less) for a bunch of crap, four felony counts and a couple of misdemeanors. It seems he went into a stop n' rob, drunk, and started hitting on the cashier. When she spurned his advances, he pulled a gun on her.


Sunday, March 14, 2004

I mentioned that I did some plowing today which brings up an interesting subject.


I tend to break things on Sundays, probably because I do more on Saturdays and Sundays than the rest of week. I had one of the tractors or something break down one Sunday a couple of years ago, friend of mine told me (tongue firmly planted in cheek) that it served me right for laboring on the Sabbath. Which brings me to the point of this drivel.

There's a fairly good-sized Baptist church down the road from me that my mother attends on occasion. Now this church is out in the country you could say. There's cows right across the road and 8 chicken houses within a mile of it. The preacher down there is one of these hellfire and brimstone types that I don't especially care for. Every summer he rants and raves about all the people around there mowing their yards and doing hay on Sundays. I know this because my mother said something about one day when she came in from church. He'd evidently preached a whole sermon about it. My mother is a devout Baptist, has been all her life, but he had her ticked off.

I can tell when she's put out with someone because she'll kindly wrinkle her nose a little bit when she talks. She said "he's got no business preaching about what he doesn't know anything about" I asked her "Why is that?" She said "He's never farmed, he lives in town, he never had to worry about losing a crop to the weather or having to get things down on the weekend because he'd worked all week." Needless to say, I found the whole exchange vastly amusing.

Here while back, I was talking to a younger fellow who was a preacher what he thought about it. He'd grown up on a farm and worked on a dairy farm for several years. He said "Well, I don't like to start anything on a Sunday, but I figure if the ox is in the ditch you need to get him out even if it is a Sunday." I thought that was an interesting way to look at it, so I said "Well, I've always got an ox in the ditch somewhere" He just grinned and "You gotta do what you gotta do."

Which reminds me of a good little tale told to me by a older gentleman who used to buy hay from me. Back in the thirties (I guess) when they first started giving weather reports on the radio, he and his father had a bunch of hay down with the weather service calling for rain Sunday evening. The hay was ready to get up, but he said his daddy wouldn't work on Sunday, he told his daddy he would try to get up what he could. His daddy said "suit yourself, I'm going to church." John went to the field and starting loading hay, just a little after noon he saw a couple of cars approaching. It was his father, the preacher and two deacons. John figured the preacher'd come out to raise sand at him for working instead of coming to church. He asked 'em what was going on and the preacher told him that waste was a sin too and they'd come to help get his hay in before it rained. John said that they did manage to gather all of it before it rained.

Now, I'd pay attention to a preacher like that. The other fellow, I've got no use for, whether he's a good preacher or not.

The pear trees in the front yard are blooming, I've got flowers popping up in the flowerbeds and I've got a yard full of wild onions.

That means it's time to plow.

I finished my fence building project yesterday, but that pretty much killed my day. Some friends were in town last night and since sweetie was at a continuing education seminar all weekend, I got to go play for a little while.

My playing consisted of going to the bookstore and then driving up to Chattanooga to meet my friends at the home of another friend.

There has been a realization growing within my little brain for quite some time that got seriously reinforced last night.

I'm getting old.

I first realized this a couple of years ago. I was out somewhere and saw a very scantily clad young lady. Not so long ago, I would have been drooling over this girl, but the first thing that popped into my head was "if she was my daughter, she wouldn't be going out in public dressed like that." Scary, scary thing.

Last night, my buddies were playing blackjack and drinking beer with loud music blaring in the background. After about thirty minutes of it, I couldn't stand it anymore. The music was getting on my nerves, they were drinking Michelob (never cared for Michelob) and I wasn't really in the mood for cards. The biggest thing on my mind was "I've got to go home and go to bed, I need to start early if I'm going to finish all the work I need to do." Plus, since sweetie was gone, I worried about the dogs crapping all over the house.

We gossiped for a bit, and I took off the first chance I got. I don't get to see these guys too often, so in a way I felt bad about taking off, but after seeing everything I was able to accomplish today, I felt a lot better.

I think it was today that I realized I'm turning into a crabby old man, which is bad since I'm still on the sunny side of middle age...

A couple of years ago, I'd have fired up a stogie the size of a forearm, drank copious amounts of beer, talked them into playing poker instead of blackjack and stayed there half the night,

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Madness at the Saltmines, swamped with side work, fences to build and this %^$@ wind trying to blow the barn down.

I may or may not have something by the weekend.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Does anyone remember the letter that General Marshall pulled out of his desk and read in the movie Saving Private Ryan? I'd actually read the letter in a book of quotations many years ago and began to form a better opinion of Mr. Lincoln because of it. Harve Presnell (the actor portraying General Marshall) had perfect delivery... I actually had a chill go down my spine as he read it. In my opinion, it is one of the most eloquent, moving letters ever written in the english language.

Executive Mansion
Washington, D.C.
November 21, 1864
Dear Madam,
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln

I read a few months ago that only two of Mrs. Bixby's sons had been killed and thought to look on web to find out what happened to the other three. It seems that there are several different stories floating around. In some accounts one was captured, one deserted and one was seriously wounded.

What I was not expecting was to find that some scholars believe the letter to be a forgery, while others believe it was actually written by Lincoln's secretary, John Hay.

I would hate to think it's a forgery... I'd rather believe John Hay wrote it. Of course there is still the possibility that Lincoln did write it...

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Tractor shopping on the Cumberland Plateau

I was able to con bigger brother into driving. The rain was pretty much over with by the time we got to Monteagle, so we went by the auction first. There was absolutely nowhere to park except in a field and since it had been raining, it was a mess (I should've drove, my truck is 4wd).

Went on through Shelbyville, I'm glad the bride wasn't with me... ooooh, I like that barn, can we build one like that? No! that barn, No! that one! She's on her once every three months kick about why can't we afford to build her a new horse barn...

As we drove through, I remembered why I hate Walking horse people. As we drove past one barn, a guy was out in front showing one off to a prospective buyer I guess. My first thought was "boy he's got a pretty movement" then I saw the wedges on his front feet and bigger brother pointed out how that his back end was scrunched down as he moved. "He's hurting" was his comment. They've got a nice movement anyway, why these idiots like to cripple them to exaggerate their walk is beyond me. (yes, I know that things aren't as bad as they used to be, but it still ain't right)

We did look at the 856 and boy is it rough... It is probably one of the sorriest looking machines I've ever seen that didn't have a tree growing up through the middle of it. But! it runs and it runs GOOD. No smoke whatsoever. Absolutely the smoothest sounding six cylinder I've ever heard. I got bigger brother to test drive it.. he was ready to drag it home then.

The main thing I dislike about it is the lack of fenders... I do NOT like the idea of sitting six feet off the ground with nothing between me and a pair of 38" tires but my own death-grip on the steering wheel. But! they have an old Hiniker cab out behind the building (all the glass is still in it and the brackets were laying on top) that they'll GIVE us if we buy the silly thing.

I'm still studying this. Brother is going to try to slide over to Jasper to look at a 1086 (not a bad lookin' machine, we could see it from the interstate) that we may be able to trade the trackloader in on. I did point out to him, that for a little more money, we could get the 1486 that I was looking at(145 hp, cab and AIR).

So, do I buy something that runs good, but needs a LOT of cosmetic work (and safety work, ie. fenders & rollbar) that's cheap (in my price range) or something I can go to the field with now? Or keep huntin' a Ford, which is what I really wanted anyway?

Friday, March 05, 2004

Debating on going up to middle Tennessee in the morning for a sale up at Winchester. It's supposed to be raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock, so we've not decided yet. Maybe I can get bigger brother to drive.

We're also going to look at the 856 I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It's cheap, but it'll take probably another thousand dollars to get it really useable. I test drove a 5610 Ford today during lunch. The Massey Dealer by the office took it in on trade a couple of days ago. He's pretty reasonable on it (he's asking loan value) but it's a bit more than I can afford to put into one. Of course, if it were a four wheel drive, I'd be trying to figure out how to buy the silly thing. I admit I don't really need a 4wd, but in that hp range it would be what I want, mainly because it would pull a lot more (not to mention the fact that they weigh more, which is a good thing most of the time).

A theological question from the Grumblin' Bear

I've got a co-worker that I like to aggravate (actually, we pick at each other quite a bit). I've managed to hang the nickname "Mo" (short for Mo-ron) on him. I tried to name him "Booger", but that didn't stick. He's a great guy and a good friend, but sometimes he'll get in self-righteous mode and becomes a royal pain in the ass. We're all ready to strangle him when he's like that.

Enough background, the Grumbling Bear asked me a complicated theological question in regards to Mo today...

Does it endanger your spiritual well-being if you've downloaded a hard drive full of Christian Rock? (and Christian Rap? The very concept of Christian Rap scares me for some reason).

Anyhow, just wondering.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

More state and local flag news.

I think we're rapidly approaching the point where it's time to move on...

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

According to the Catoosa County News website, we only had a (roughly) 13% voter turnout.

That is downright pathetic.

It seems that Edwards carried the county (dang, I had high hopes for Big Al Sharpton, oh well). Seems like Kerry is going to be the dimocrat's boy this go around.

Short of them producing video of W raping a midget nun whilst drowning a puppy on the Whitehouse lawn... I don't think the dimocrats have a snowballs chance in hell.

Edwards might've given W some grief, but with Kerry as the man I think we're going to have another McGovern/Mondale/Dukakis landslide.

A Jeb Stuart escapade...

I have a great many books about the late unpleasantness betwixt the states, most of which I've managed to read over the years. The majority of my books are somewhat of a specialist nature, Regimental Histories, books on equipment, books about specific campaigns (western theatre for the most part) and books about cavalry, but I have few concerning the Army of Northern Virginia. When I am confronted with a question concerning the eastern theatre I have limited resources for research. My interest has almost always been with the Army of Tennessee and the Atlanta campaign, so I have been a bit lax in my reading where it concerns the ANVA.

I recently obtained an older book; A Civil War Treasury. It was cheap and looked like a good book for my, umph, reading room, ahem, because it is mainly a collection of short anecdotes. There is a section in this book about Jeb Stuart which I turned to immediately (of course!) and found an odd little story that I've never heard before.

According to page 221 of the 1960 Promontory Press edition, Stuart's cavalry captured a telegraph station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad and Stuart "opened communication with old Abe, and elicited several respectful responses; when he concluded by remonstrating with him respecting the inferior qualities of his mules, in the following dispatch:"

President Lincoln
The last draw of wagons I've just made are very good, but the mules are of inferior stock, scarcely able to haul off the empty wagons; and if you expect me to give your lines any further attention in this quarter, you should furnish better stock, as I've had to burn several valuable wagons before getting them to my lines.
(Signed) J.E.B. Stuart

I had never heard that one before. My first thought was that this might be something interesting to write about.

I have a Stuart biography by Colonel John W. Thomason (an older book, published in 1930), but it has been several years since I read it. I did not recall reading anything of that nature in it, so of course I pulled it out to do a bit of checking. Colonel Thomason did indeed write of this incident (in a bit more detail), but it was not "old Abe" that Stuart corresponded with, it was Quartermaster-General Montgomery C. Meigs of the United States Army. Stuart may have actually addressed the telegram to Lincoln, the original message has been lost to history unfortunately...

This is what Colonel Thomason has to say about it;

"I could not find in the old records the original of it– hardly expected to, in fact, because from Quartermaster-General Meigs' papers, you deduce that he was deficient in humor, and probably threw it in the fire."

I don't like to make an idiot of myself, so I looked on the web for more evidence, but came up empty handed. I did find another version of the story in The Campaigns of Stuart's Cavalry by Major H.B. McClellan, Chief of Staff of the Army of Northern Virginia's Cavalry Corps.

"he caused his operator to send a message to General M.C. Meigs, Quartermaster-General, at Washington, in which he complained that the quality of the mules recently furnished to the army was so inferior as greatly to embarrass him in moving his captured wagons."

I will make a confession now; I've had The Campaigns of Stuart's Cavalry for a couple of years now and have yet to read the whole thing. It has also been quite some time since I've read Colonel Thomason's book and I admit, I probably skimmed through it, which explains how I missed this little tale before.

Went to vote a few minutes ago... They weren't exactly crowded by the time I got there. When they asked me which ballot, I said "gimme the two dogs fightin' over a turnip ballot."

Blank stares.

"That would be a dimocratic ballot." (hey, I believe in sowing chaos and dissension wherever I can)

"haha, that's funny."

We also got to pick betwixt Sonny's flag and Roy's rag (ya'll didn't know I could rhyme didya?). I do miss the old paper ballots, with them I could just draw in a flag if I didn't like my choices. The curse of technology I 'spose.