Saturday, December 29, 2012

Keeping The Lights On

My employer services many mines, coal and others, with "hotshot" freight deliveries. Seems a large power plant will use up to 180 railcar loads of coal per 24 hours. Producing that coal is a huge undertaking.

This is one of the smaller mines in the Wyoming Powder River Basin.

Probably a good idea to  heed railroad crossing signals.

My #1 year around hazard.

My # 1 Winter hazard - blowing snow. During the day, the sun warms the pavement just enough to melt the blowing snow. Not enough to evaporate the moisture. Come night fall; black ice.

The secondary roads can be interesting.

A calm day in Wyoming. See the flags?

Not to complain; I get a decent check to do the work. My employer is among the best I've ever worked for.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

You Call, We Haul (Ass) Returns

Back home, safe and tired.

Job involved taking a digital control component to a mine in interior British Columbia. Airline to Seattle, rent a 4 wheel drive, pick up the component, and drive some 800+ miles to deliver it. Simple job, so it seemed. Turned out, Murphy was the project manager.

Frontier had mechanical problems. After an hour, we deplaned. Another hour, they decided to put us on another aircraft. Go on board, retrieve carry on luggage, walk from the East end of DIA A Concourse to the West end,  and get on the second aircraft. That one they did get to Seattle. Cost? Four hours.

Now to pick up the component in Seattle. Sent Small Package Express, not air freight. The Small Package Express is in an obscure corner of SeaTac with intermittent staffing. Of course, the proper documentation was missing. Another two hours of phone calls, faxes, more phone calls, and more faxes finally generated the proper paperwork.

Next challenge, Canadian Customs. That took an hour. Think all those agents, including the French as first language agent, took the Sgt. Hartman school of public address.

Once over the border, it was a simple task of driving. Very good roads, snow packed but plowed and graveled. Not sand, gravel. Total of seven rock chips in the rental windshield. Low overcast for the entire trip.  Gasoline in Canada was about $4.30 per US  gallon.

Happy campers when I called the customer from the nearest town. They came to the town rather than me trying to find the mine. Worked for me!

They told me this component was failing. If it went down, the entire mine operation shut down. They immediately set off with the new component to get it installed.

Some forty years ago in college, we studied Critical Path Analysis/Critical Path Management. One sub component dealt with inventory levels of replacement parts.  Now the cost to deliver this component was nearly equal to the cost of the component itself (per shippers invoice). Why the hell not get two? The incremental cost, vs. the potential loss from shutting down the mine, is minimal. What happens if the delivered component wasn’t properly tested? Remember, Murphy is the project manager. Of course, I said nothing to the customers.

Drivers in interior British Columbia are like damn sheep. All plodding along at precisely 99 kph, mile after mile. The exceptions all seemed to be in four wheel drive pickups with a snowmobile in the back. They go like the hammers of hell.  In the entire trip,  saw not one  marked police car. The only wildlife spotted was one moose. After a few moments, he decided he didn’t need to stand in the middle of the highway and trotted off towards the shoulder of the road allowing me to proceed.

Coming back, the border crossing went smoothly. Per norm, the booth agent was surly and rude. Ah, home.

Able to have dinner in Seattle with my oldest son (which is why I took the trip in the first place).

I only fly when someone is paying me. Window seat going out, aisle seat coming back. I prefer to nap and can’t in the aisle seats. Goes something like this:

She wheels her wheelbarrow
Through streets that are narrow,
Her barrow is narrow, her hips are too wide.
So wherever she wheels it,
The neighborhood feels it,
Her girdle keeps scraping the homes on each side.

Hope all had a good Christmas day.

Friday, December 21, 2012

You Call, We Haul (Ass)

Call from work. Hop on an airplane tomorrow early. Out of country trip. No computer or blogging for a few days. Stay safe, all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Afgan Nation Building

The ability of American soldiers to improvise and adapt equipment to new tasks lives on.  As an example, Jolly Rancher candies and wrist rockets.

While my son was at Kandahar, the military had supplies of Jolly Rancher candies to pass out to the local children - goodwill offerings.

Thinking my son would enjoy plinking cans, rats, etc., I sent him a strong wrist rocket.

His compound was along a street with civilians on the other side. Many of the children enjoyed throwing things at our  troops.

Soon the wrist rocket was permanently consigned to the guard tower where it was used to deliver Jolly Rancher candies to deserving youngsters. May still be there; my son left it when he rotated home.

Warms my heart that I had a small role in nation building.

School Shootings

Forwarded an email I received to several people. This is a return comment from a previous long term employer.

ya know, the only way to stop the attacks on schools is to arm every adult in the school system with a concealed weapon along with training of how to use it. The president of the U.S. trust the secret service because they are armed, we trust the police because they are armed. I bet obamas kids are being watched by adults who are armed.

Says it all; nothing for me to add. Thanks, Steve.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Back from a short visit with youngest son, the medic, and his family. Good time - needed it.

While there, was able to see two grandkids in the Elementary School CHRISTMAS show. Not a Winter Festival or other such nonsense; Christmas. Non religious, Santa and reindeer, singing, and so forth. No different from millions that have taken place over the years. Lots of fun.

One thing I did notice was someone discretely stationed at every entrance. This is a closed post - sort of an ultimate gated community. Guards at the entrance with a M4 or shotgun in condition Amber. Still, no chances  being taken. My son says this is normal; nothing new.

OPSEC is a reflex with my son. He is doing an EMT job now but is still present during operations should there be injuries. He did make a point there were no aliens or other such nonsense there; just military "stuff".
Not giving away any secrets here; this is Dugway Proving Grounds. Or, as they like to joke, Area 52.

There are some benefits to winter travel.

Weather wasn't a big problem. No matter, travel I-80 Cheyenne to Salt Lake in the winter and there will almost always be a, "Here, hold my beer" moment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Road Trip

Off for a few days to see the world's cutest grandkids. No blogging or comments unless I borrow a computer.

The above picture is of  a friend who loves his Christmas lights ranch. He is in a rural area. I think the FAA issues a Notice ot Airman every year. Not to say he overdoes it, but consider.

 For those offended by "Merry Christmas", this is for you.

And in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, and my ex's heritage, a Christmas song.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yes, I Agree With Rep. Gohmert (R) Texas

From a recent Mega Vote email.

Amending Language in Federal Law – Suspension - Vote Passed (398-1, 32 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, the House cleared a Senate bill that would remove the pejorative “lunatic” from the United States Code. The lone House dissenter was Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who insisted that lunatic should be retained, pointing to his fellow Members of Congress as living, breathing examples of the term. The bill awaits the president’s signature.

Welfare Queen Car Financing

Lots of chatter on blogs recently about welfare queens getting financed for a car. More news stories and blogs about sub prime car loans.

Much misinformation is being spread. My credentials?  Spent close to three decades in retail auto sales, and involved in thousands of car deals. Have been out now for five years. Things may have changed, but I doubt it. Very little fundamental change occurred in the time I worked in the business.

Excluding cash deals, a car dealer has one, and only one, customer. That is the lender. Loan structure is everything. The back and forth most car buyers hate is a process to get an agreement on a structure the lender will accept.  Leasing is just another way to finance  a purchase. As a sales manager, I wasn’t much interested in what you wanted. I was very interested in what you would do. Most vehicles are sold on one question, “If I could, would you”?
Car dealers make money on the front end of the deal, and on the back end of the deal.  All deals start with the invoice (new) or “book” on used. The front end is what percentage  the lender will finance of the invoice (dealers cost, not MSRP) or “book” (price guide lines, i.e., NADA, Kelley). This is the price the lender “owns” the vehicle and will pay the dealer without recourse. Once the consumer makes one to three payments, the dealer escapes any penalty if the consumer defaults. Back end is finance profit, insurance, warranties, etc. If the consumer defaults, a percentage of this is charged back to the dealer.
The lender looks at  the consumer using the four “C’s”, credit history, capacity, character and cash down payment.  Character can be, how long on the job, how long in the area, how many valid personal references, and the like. Capacity is how much the creditor makes,  less current obligations. Sometimes alimony and child  support  is considered. The lender wants to be able to attach wages in case of a default. Social security, military pensions, and public assistance cannot be attached.  Cash down, or trade equity, make structuring the deal much easier.
I have seen pensioners with stellar credit approved for loans. I’ve never seen someone on welfare get approved. Not saving it doesn’t happen; just, I’ve never seen it. Most likely,  a straw purchase of some kind.
Subprime is a world all alone. My personal view is those getting subprime loans have earned the right to pay high interest. A few have been caught up in things like major medical problems. Most have been making bad financial decisions their whole lives. For the lender, it is a high risk business with fairly low return (real, not on paper or “projected”).
The most difficult part of being a car dealer is buying inventory, not selling. The public really has only two questions;  how much down, and how much a month. If I could make those numbers work, they would buy a three wheeled go cart with a lawnmower engine. Acquiring inventory that allows structuring profitable deals is real work.
If readers believe they personally have “beaten the dealer”, well, more power to you. Kind of like beating a casino; the odds are on the house side.
One last word. To get the best deal, join a credit union. Get preapproved. Do some research. Then go shopping.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Revolvers Rule

Took the NRA Basic Pistol Course today. At the range, had the only revolver. One student wanted to shoot mine,  so I shot his highly modified and customized 1911 single action (sorry, didn’t notice the manufacturer). Had three failure to extracts.  Some of the other semi automatic shooters had problems. Stiff wind and about 22 degrees. Lots of chatter about ammo, temperature, etc.

I’ve owned my Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog Pug for about ten years. The piece is probably close to twenty five years old. It has been fed many different factory load and a few amateur reloads. Conditions have ranged from 100+ dry desert heat,  -30 degrees, and in rain. Every single time the trigger has been pulled with a live round in the cylinder, it has fired. Every time, without fail.

Active gunnies can work out the kinks in their semi autos. For the occasional shooter like me, wanting a reliable self defense piece, revolvers are best. As always, your mileage may differ.

A gunsmith added a ghost ring to help me aim with macular degeneration in my dominant eye.

Friday, December 7, 2012

WW II Vets - We Need to Remember Them

Quiet couple. He served in combat. She served on the home front. After the war, quietly lived useful and productive lives.|met:0000300|cat:0|order:9&%2F%3Fsource=dailyme

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Murder, Suicide, and Racism

Murphy’s Law has the best, and most concise, blog on the coward,  Jovan Belcher.

Now comes along sports columnist Jason Whitlock, a writer I usually admire, with his take.

First, he seems to think this puke, Belcher, is worthy of recognition by cancelling a football game. Second, he wanders off into some anti gun rant. Seems he believes young black men can’t be trusted with firearms. Ergo, no one should have one. How damn racist is that?

Where the hell is personal responsibility? Should we, as a collective society, give up things we enjoy because some in our society can’t, or won’t,  handle personal responsibility? Why the hell are we responsible, or even should try to be responsible,  for the deviant behavior of individuals?

Let me guess that if Belcher had been a 7-11 clerk, his crime would never become national news. That he happened to be an elite football player doesn’t make him less of an irresponsible, cowardly, murdering  puke.