Sunday, July 29, 2012

Made Redundant, Obsolete, and Not Needed

Car lots and balloons seem to go together. Can’t have a big sale without balloons.

During my time in the business, I was the balloon master. From filling to properly attaching them to vehicles, I had a plan for every step. Nobody could organize the effort better. Nobody could do it faster (as long as we made Cliff stay inside).

Now someone has come along and wiped out my specialty. Not that I want back in the car business, but, in the back of my mind, I took comfort in knowing I had one stellar skill. Alas, all gone now! 

Damn progress!

One day I was handed a “heat” telephone call. Some female Subaru driving resident of the Peoples Republic of Boulder who was irate because she had seen the crew letting the balloons go at the end of the day. My response, “We don’t waste them. We gather a bunch and tie them to a prairie dog,” didn’t sooth her. Oh, well. She probably wasn’t a prospect for a Powerstroke anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Are They Thinking?

When you deal with almost any level of government today, do you experience this?

Shortly after the Murrah Building was bombed, and for several years after, I noticed a distinct improvement in the demeanor and service of government workers at all levels of government. Maybe they realized the person standing in front of them was not a hapless supplicant for their office’s service. This has faded. Most from the Oklahoma City Bombing era have retired.

We have a whole new level of arrogance in this country. Snooty “intellectuals”. Patronizing university professors. The Obama Administration. The Bush administration. Tom “The Hammer” DeLay. Raul Emmanuel; the list goes on. Disrespect towards people who have different opinions; who don’t gratefully assume their “proper” roles.  Do these people think they can’t bleed; can’t be hurt? That they don’t have spouses, children, parents, etc. that aren’t, and cannot be, protected round the clock. The time is coming when they will learn they are wrong, I fear.

It is not as if the warnings aren’t there. Some clear posting on that theme and potential consequences can be found at SipseyStreetIrregulars among others

and on many blog sites (left, right, middle).

The Oklahoma bombing was allegedly  organized and pulled off by a small cadre. Oswald supposedly operated alone. One disgruntled individual with a willing shooter paralyzed a whole metropolitan area.

Say 1/100th of 1% of the licensed hunters in this country started target shooting on upscale golf courses early on Saturday mornings? Or say, gondolas on ski lifts? Might suck out a lot of the joy in being rich and powerful, don’t you think? Sort of like British Gentry in Ireland for a few hundred years magnified a hundred fold.

I am NOT advocating any of this. I won’t help anyone who is. Should I ever hear of anything like this, I will be talking to my trusted LEO relatives (and not the Fan Belt Inspectors).

Now we have this Holmes freak. Lone wolf? Too soon to tell. Another speculative viewpoint?

This Presidential Election may well be the trigger. Romney wins, the Left goes berserk. Remember the Weather Underground? Obama wins, gets even more radical, and the Right goes to war.

Big difference today? Information and communications. Whole new “force multiplier”.

Maybe all these “smart” spin doctor people trying to mold the public mind should go back and study the law of unintended consequences.

It is likely I'm "preaching to the choir" and those reading my blog are already well on their way to being prepared.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fools, and Damn Fools

My former employer of many years was a professional bull rider from the time he was in high school. Had a college rodeo scholarship. Wives, ex wives, several children, and multiple businesses interfered so he had gaps in his pursuit. He wasn’t championship level. In baseball terms he was Triple A.
We recently encountered him as a spectator at a bull riding event and remarked on how fit he looked. The remarks pleased him and he told us of his plan to get back into riding bulls.

At his first comeback event, he cracked two ribs. Undeterred, he rode in an event Friday.

This is the result.

This might slow him down. However, back in the day, with his right arm and shoulder in a cast, he drove a stick shift Subaru from Albuquerque to Mesquite, TX to make the next event.

My sister’s companion still wants to ride at 50+. When I first met him, my response was anyone crazy enough to keep riding bulls was probably crazy enough to date my sister.

These bull riders just don’t quit. I admit to being a well seasoned fool. I deny being a damn fool. Wonder how I keep ending up around them?

On a different topic, this picture was taken in my town today.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Scared Witless II

A repost since this wouldn't come up as a comment of Juvats post on Old AF Sarge's blog.

In view of the Aurora, CO tragedy, something light; a flying story from the past.

‘Hey, you have a Commercial ticket?” “Want to make fifty bucks?” asked the man. I replied “Yes” to both questions. He said, “I need a copilot for one trip.”

Dumbfounded, I stared at the man walking towards me from a PB4Y slurry bomber on the ramp at the Jefferson, CO airport, circa 1968.

I’d ferried over a C-150 to have an annual inspection and, while waiting for my ride, wandered over to the US Forest Service’s  slurry station to ogle the aircraft on the ramp.

That was my one and only encounter with the late “Red” Avery from Greybull, WY, one of the early slurry bomber operators. He was there fighting a fire on Mt. Evans.

“Don’t have a multi rating”, I told him. “You don’t need one to be a copilot”, he replied. “Look, the flight engineers does everything. You just need to sit there but I need a copilot to be legal. My copilot had to leave.”

A chance to ride in a WWII bomber, and get paid? Hell, yeah.

So the start up, taxi, takeoff, and climb out toward Mt. Evans was thrilling. Then, at the fire, he put the nose down at a much steeper angle than I thought possible. Into the smoke. Looked like we were going to crash into the fire. He dropped the slurry and we ballooned upward.

Smoke, noise, g forces; too bad you can’t make a carnival ride that will duplicate the experience.

I’ve been in thunderstorms and mountain waves but have never been in turbulence like we encountered. Scared me witless. I was still shaking when we landed.

“Want to stick around”?,  he asked me as he was writing out a check. “Sir”, I said, “I don’t have enough hair on my ass to every do that again.” He just laughed and thanked me for helping him out.

As Dirty Harry said, “A man should know his limitations”.

When you see the aircraft on the ramp, the size of the thing impresses. Once you are in the cockpit, it is small and cramped. You start thinking about the crews that spent hour after hour there and you gain a new respect for what they accomplished.

As I remember, the controls felt fairly light during the brief period I had them while straight and level.  Other than my sister, I’ve shared this story with very few people. Not my most shining hour, so to speak.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Clean Air

Thanks to rain and the valiant efforts of our firefighters, we can again enjoy our great Western Vistas.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Diesel Madness = Siberian Car Sales

Yet another car lot story.

Dzevat was a very successful Siberian fisherman. DON’T call him a Russian! He owned, or was the captain of, a 525’ fish processing vessel. The details were somewhat murky and he didn’t want to discuss it. What he did have was fistfuls of US green money. His interest was any small diesel powered truck or car and larger European sedans. He had wandered into our lot and we developed a business relationship. Big man! Not often do I deal with men much larger than myself.

These diesel powered vehicles were more common in the Pacific Northwest than elsewhere. A  weekly ad in the statewide shopper (pre internet days) offering quick cash, if the price was right, allowed me to buy three or four a month to put in storage.

Two to three times a year, Dzevat would put into port in Puget Sound. He would buy one top of the line SUV, usually an Isuzu Trooper, and all the used diesels. Tough bargainer on the new vehicle but not on the used. If he knew I paid an average of $300 per and sold to him at an average of $1,200 per, he might have bargained harder. What the hell was I going to do with them if he didn’t buy?

The local shagger company would deliver them pier side and his crew would crane load them on the deck. Off they would sail to Vladivostok.

One day I got a call from him, who knows where he was calling from, telling me he was out of the car business. Nice of him to call as I had only bought two used diesels. One was a Peugeot that was featured in a previous blog.

One wonders how many of those old diesels are still operating In Siberia?

We never discussed politics, USSR - USA relations, or did any socializing. I wondered at the time if he got caught up in some political situation in Siberia. I never learned more but appreciated the opportunity to expand my horizons (and make a buck).

Commercial fishermen (and women). The only group I know that are more bat shit crazy than car salesmen.

Sorry for the jumble. Blogger and I don't get along. My bad, hate to read instructions.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence against men. Does it happen? Yes, it does.

My ex daughter in law has been in two marriages and at least two cohabitations. Every one of her partners has been arrested for domestic violence. She is the one who calls the police. She is 5’ tall. In this state, someone has to go to jail. I wonder if there is any data base listing the “victims” of domestic violence?  She has a conviction for vehicular assault; for running her first husband down with her truck.

Privacy concerns limit what I say here. Please accept I've had a lot of exposure, within my many relatives, children, ex spouse, etc., to this issue. For the record, I've never hit a woman but, damn, that mouth just keeps running. Walk away, we are told. OK, what about the safety of the minors in the home? Why  shouldn't the out of control woman be the one to leave?

I understand police officer’s frustrations with these calls. Two hot heads, often intoxicated,  and too often dangerous.  Major lying. Solution? Cuff and stuff one and let the courts sort it out.

Smarter people than me haven’t solved this problem. I do think every complainant needs to be looked at, at some point, to see if they are the problem. If they are habitual, they need to feel the weight of the law.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Big Tent, Big Lie

Received a recent fund raising email from the Democratic Party talking about the BIG TENT.
If you are a Blue Dog Democrat, you are welcome to sit in the back, keep your mouth shut, and your wallet open.

Then there is my sister.

Two mavericks that are quite out in the cold. Some might say, two loud mouths that don't know their "place". Guess we didn't get no proper fetchins. Deal with it!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Testing, Testing

Post over at CI-Roller Dude about how he went about hiring cops brought back these thoughts.

Once was responsible for hiring new sales people. The organization used an aptitude test based on the premises of like will produce like. You give a standard test to, say professional ditch diggers. You then give the same test to applicants. You look for those who most closely answer the question the way current ditch diggers answer the question. If  95% of presently employed ditch diggers think you should serve red wine with fish, a candidate who says white wine with fish isn’t qualified.

The requirement was to immediately hire ten people and get them working. Personnel (now Human Resources - I date myself) were out of their tests. Out with WSF’s sure fire test.

About 30% of the top salespeople I’ve met are left handed. Very few top salespeople have good hand writing. Most can’t add a long column of figures without chewing on the pencil eraser.

My test was to dictate a few lines for them to write down. Next, several two and three digit numbers to add.  During the interview process, we had established they could think on their feet, hold and process basic information, and speak clearly. The dictation showed they could follow instructions. If they passed the interview, had horrible hand writing, and struggled to add columns, they were prime prospects. If they were left handed, that sealed the deal!

Laugh if you will. My hires out performed all other candidates in the other regions by far.

Alas, Corporate America couldn’t cope with me, and I wouldn’t bend. That’s why I always ended back in commissioned sales, smaller companies, where it is, “March or Die.” If you can’t lead, then you best get the hell out of my way,  I am not going to fail because your wimpy ass is in the way.
(and don’t subject me to Kabuki Theater meetings)

I rather admire people who can work effectively in large organizations. I most certainly don’t look down on them. Instead, it is understanding and seeking out the environments that allows me to thrive, that shaped my erratic career path.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tune Ups!

As requested, another car lot story.

Diesel powered cars and light pickups were offered by car manufacturers during model years 1984-86 plus or minus a year or so. Ford put them in Escorts, Rangers, Tempos, and Lincoln Marks. These were mainly sold in the Northwest Region. Soon, they were in the used car inventory.

We had a diesel powered Escort. I had a young airman come on the lot looking for cheap, and good economy. He could drive a stick.  Off on a test drive in the Escort, he decided he liked it. Cash changed hands and he was preparing to leave with his “new” car.

“Yeah”, he said. “I’ll stop at NAPA and get a tune up kit so it will idle smoother.”

WTF? On the front fenders was a chrome decal saying “diesel”. On the instrument cluster was printed, “diesel fuel only”.  During the test drive, I had explained the function of the “Wait to Start” light, i.e, glow plugs. Under the fuel cap were the words “Diesel Fuel Only”.

“Partner,”  I thought to myself. “If you are so damn dumb you don’t know you bought a diesel, you deserve what you get.”

I just smiled, thanked him for his business, and watched him drive off, knowing that later he would blame the evil car salesman who took advantage of him.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Amazes me we still have citizens who are willing to serve in spite of the gutless leadership at the top.  The greenest PFC has more courage and integrity than ALL the assholes wearing stars. First, they let this happen. Second, they didn't correct the mistake. Third, they have let it continue.

 To the thousands of Michael Behenna supporters,
On July 5th, 2012, we learned that the majority on the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), in a 3-2 split, upheld the unpremeditated murder conviction of our son 1LT Michael Behenna. Needless to say, we are very disappointed in the decision of the CAAF. 
The CAAF had accepted two issues in Michael’s case (1) the improper self-defense instruction, and (2) Governments failure to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense, ie. MacDonell’s expert opinion. We know from reading the 2 dissenting judges opinion that the arguments by Michael’s lawyers were very compelling. In fact, the entire court agreed that the self-defense instruction was erroneous. However, the majority court ruled Michael used deadly force by threatening the terrorist with a gun and had no right to self-defense in his given situation – a fact strongly disputed by the dissenting judges – so the majority ruled the self-defense instruction written by trial judge Steven Dixon, even though incorrect, did not prejudice Michael’s defense. The entire court agreed the expert opinion of Dr. MacDonell should have been turned over to the defense, but the majority dismissed the potential Brady violation as irrelevant to Michael’s defense, as MacDonell’s opinion only strengthened Michael’s version that he was attacked, but Michael had no right to defend himself.
The CAAF basically ruled that Michael made a mistake by taking the terrorist to a culvert for an unauthorized interrogation and in the process gave up any right to defend himself no matter what happened in the culvert (note that no police officer in America loses their right to defend themselves in similar situations.) If you recall, the military prosecutors originally prosecuted Michael for executing the terrorist in the culvert, and no evidence or even any mention of Michael losing his right to self-defense was presented to the jury (panel). Michael had no opportunity to present a defense to an allegation of loss of right of self-defense, because that was never the theory presented by the prosecutors. As stated in the dissenting opinion, “was it murder, or was it self-defense.”
Obviously we were one vote away from having Michael back home with us, and the dissenting CAAF judges widely diverged from the majority, which gives us hope that perhaps Michael’s legal battle is not over. Michael remains in prison today for a mistake he made in a combat zone while facing a terrorist who had killed at least two American soldiers and for whom the military had issued a kill/capture order. The court did not believe that Michael executed Mansur as originally charged and for which he was convicted. We will continue to pursue all legal avenues including the Supreme Court, and in search of relief for Michael, we will also contact officials who can understand the perspective of what Soldier’s encounter in a war zone and how dealing with terrorists cannot be equated to a drug deal gone bad in America.
Michael and our entire family want to thank all of those supporters who have taken their valuable time and effort to help Michael’s cause and we know that your continued support will lead to Michael’s ultimate release. We will begin a campaign to contact President Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney to take notice of Michael’s case and request they use their influence to pardon Michael or reduce his sentence. The people’s voice must be heard in a case where a Soldier faced his enemy in a war zone. Although Michael has told us he was disappointed in the ruling, he remains a man of integrity and character, and will not be broken by this latest setback. He said that when he walks through the doors of Ft. Leavenworth military prison to freedom he will be a much wiser man than when he first went in. 
Attached is an article by Diane West which sums up our thoughts regarding the decision by CAAF.
Thank you for your continued support for a hero we remain proud to call our son!!!
Scott & Vicki Behenna

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Turning Wrenches

“Honey, the Peugeot is running funny. I just filled it at Texaco and it barely made it up the hill”. Chilling words. When my spouse used words of endearment, it usually meant some semi disaster was being presented.  A quick sniff of the fuel tank confirmed she had filled it, with gasoline, and above the $3.00 mark. Not a good thing when the vehicle has a diesel engine.

Brigid puts posts on her blog about her English car project.

Brings to mind many years of frustrations, skin abrasions, crushed fingers, and assorted bumps and bruises while working on machinery.

First, the only positive things about my automotive repairs skills is this: My hourly rate cannot be beat.

The above mention Peugeot needed, among other things, a new head gasket. The injectors and rotopump went to a real mechanic. Said Peugeot has twenty two head bolts. Installation calls for loosening and retorguing the head bolts four times. Almost a bad as a Renault 16 we had that required body parts be removed to replace the alternator. The R16 had a carburetor whose metal was of such quality, a souvenir pewter cup was better made. Made do with muffler cement to keep the fast idle valve in place.

As a young man, I went from reliable Fords to such wonderful daily drivers as a Fiat Abarth, AC Bristol, a 2 cycle DKW, three British Motorcycles, a  Rover sedan, and the apex of reliability, a 1949 Harley Davidson. Yes, I know, 90% of all HD’s are still on the road. The other 10% made it home. (Not original with me, but no the less apt) By good fortune, during this era, I owned a 1958 Chevy Apache ¾ ton panel delivery truck which always ran. So long as my date didn’t mind sitting on a milk crate, it was also the date mobile.

There was, in the city,  a garage that specialized in vehicle owned by people with more money than common sense. Since I only qualified in one of the two, the owner let  me work off my shop bill on a part time basis. My tasks were all the dirty, tedious, frustrating, and time consuming things his mechanics didn’t want to do. I learned about six volt positive ground electrical systems. (Hello, MG TC’s).  The British, not content with metric and SAE, had their own bolts, nuts, and thread patterns called Whitworth; all with numerous variations.

 A useful tool for British cars was vice grips. My father called them Japanese Snap Ons.

Returning servicemen brought  back strange and weird cars that seemed to migrate to this garage. All were money pits. The owner was very good. Given enough money, everything got fixed.

My big talent was synchronizing multiple SU carburetors. All the manuals in the world won’t help. Somewhat like water dowsers, some can, most can’t. On the other hand, Weber carburetors often defeated me.

Some of the poor boy ranch hand skills came in handy. The  oil filter mounting bracket on the Anglia we were driving came loose in the middle of nowhere in Sweden. The three bolts going into the cast iron block had stripped. Using phrase books, eventually the local repair shop owner let me rent his arc welder. You can weld steel to cast iron. Run your melt on the steel while splattering the iron.

Same darned Anglia had a leaking gasket. Took the mangled gasket into the Koblenz, Germany, Ford Dealer. The parts manager matched it perfectly. He then asked me what car we had. When we replied, “Anglia”, he grabbed the gasket off the counter.  He said,  “Das is fur der Dutcher Ford. Nicht is fur der Englander Ford”. Damned Rad wouldn’t sell it to me. Instead, I made a gasket out of a beer coaster at the Gasthaus down the street.

The great tragedy of my youth was; epoxy wasn’t available.  What a wonderful material.

My ability to patch thing together didn’t help my marriage. That woman had a rare talent for breaking things. Always wanted to replace them with new and shiny (and more debt). Would piss her off when I fixed it. Hard to believe she is first generation Norwegian.

You know you have a problem when you list Nordstrom Stores as a dependent, and the I.R.S. accepts your return.

I have never enjoyed turning wrenches. A task that was by necessity,  not enjoyed. Today, I try not to do anything more complicated than changing an air filter. Takes too many days for the body to recover. Still, being completely cheap, I end up working on my “fleet”. Just living up to my blog title.