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.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Meeting Sonny Liston

In 1962 I was working in a Denver meat packing plant for a magnificent  salary of $55 per week. Part of the job was making deliveries. One day I was sent to an address just East of the Denver City Park off 17th Avenue with a large order. The boss didn’t give me a name, only the address. This is an area with older manor type houses, definitely high rent. There was a courtyard in back with a detached carriage house. Knocking at the back door, a black lady answered and requested I take the order downstairs to the basement. No problem.

After one trip, I was at the back of the truck getting the second load when I heard a voice saying, “let me give you a hand”. Two huge black hands reached past me. I about shit my pants; thought a gorilla had escaped from the zoo. It was Sonny Liston, his house, and his wife that had answered the door. The man had 15” fists.

The woman I married had a summer job at the Denver Park/Zoo concession stand. She loved Sonny Liston. He would come strolling up with two good looking women on his arms and buy a pickle for himself and whatever the ladies wanted. Paid with a $5 or $10 bill and always told her to keep the change.

My late buddy, Dirty Al Imhoff started his military career in the Air Force and was on the boxing team. Al was about 6’3” and had the chance to spar with Sonny Liston at Lowry. As Al told the story, he was doing well until Sonny Liston did an overhand smack to the top of Al’s head. Took Al down. He said Sonny Liston was very concerned, “Did I hurt you? I didn’t mean to”.

Whatever faults Sonny Liston may have had, he made a real effort to be a good citizen in Denver. Certain elements within the Denver Police Department were determined to run him out of Denver (Buster Snyder and Bob Wilkerson to name names). Sonny Liston moved to Las Vegas. During that time 40 out of a sworn force of 720 or so Denver cops were convicted of running a burglary ring and sent to prison. 

While this may anger readers with LEO backgrounds, I will say the Ferguson effect is an embedded part of DPD going back to the start of the city. I personally know officers in nearby jurisdiction that will not work any joint task forces with DPD, especially the Narcotics details. Corruption in all areas of Denver government may not be at Chicago levels but it isn’t a squeaky clean city many believe it to be.

Off track here, but I will always remember meeting Sonny Liston and remember him as a gentleman.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Not me, Thank You Very Much

Do believe this Penske Trailer is a tad short for the truck loaded on it. 

Peter Grant, Bayou Renaissance Man, will soon be pulling a similar trailer.

One hopes his load fits better.

During my years in the car biz had many occasions to pull a trailer with a vehicle on it, or a dolly. I wouldn't pull that load in the picture on that trailer. For the record, I loath dollies.

Once I attempted to haul a heavy RV on an inadequate trailer from Pierre, SD to Colorado. I ended up hauling it a few short miles to a storage lot. Friends and family couldn't believe I exercised common sense. What? Even a fool can see when something is too foolish!

Tormenting a PFC

A jarhead friend and I were comparing basic training experiences (telling lies) which prompted a trip down memory lane.

In 1963 I was about to enter the Army. A friend in a nearby town had just completed his AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and shared some fresh intel with me. A stand up guy, he didn’t try to set me up.

One point he made was that recruits were always being hustled for money. He said any individual demanding money for anything was a hustler.

Fast forward to the first day out of recruit center and in the C/1/1 Basic Training Company. A PFC entered the barracks with a large box of metal coat hangers, the cheap ones you get from the dry cleaners. He informed us we needed to give him $2 for enough hangers for our uniforms. Yeah, right. Having already formed some friendships on the train ride from Denver and the days at the recruit center, I gut punched the PFC and threw his ass out the back door and down the steps. My buddies promptly distributed the hangers. Turns out the PFC was, among other duties, the mail clerk. This will make sense a little later.

When he went whining to the Corporal who was our Platoon Leader, he was asked to describe who punched him. Question? Is there a more anonymous group than Army recruits, shaven heads, new uniforms and no name tags? How much more can a Corporal fuck with recruits to get answers than is already built into the program? Did the Corporal even care?

Towards the end of Basic, said PFC gave us a lecture as to how we were required to give everyone our forwarding address because he was, “Too damn busy to forward your fucking mail”. I had spotted an ad in some old magazine gathering dust in the “Day Room” offering to put your name on 1,000 mailing lists for a dollar. Talked eight or nine guys into subscribing. Two years later I was still getting mail that had been forwarded from unit to unit.

This PFC loved to fuck with recruits. Not that smart. Several of us were sent for AIT about two miles away to the Combat Engineer School. After two or three weeks we got PX and beer garden privileges. Guess who we saw at the beer garden? We surely weren’t the first cycle to have “issues” with him.

My jarhead friend’s description of Marine Basic sounded tougher that the Army. That said, anyone who thinks circa early 1960’s Army Basic was a walk in the park has their head up their ass.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

If Only

Stolen from a Facebook posting. Wish  it applied to all Colorado visitors that venture into the mountains.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Repo Story

I was asked to write a repossession story. Why stop at one?

First off, my repo experiences are nothing like what you may have seen on reality TV shows. Much more boring.

For several years I managed the offsite sales for the dealership that employed me. We were aggressive in delivering the cars and worrying about getting them financed later. After every sale some would have to come back. That was part of my job.

One time I needed to get one back from a young lady in Kanarado. Her extended family is well known to local law enforcement. I arrived at her single wide trailer home and made contact. Suddenly three large men trotted out of the house and lined up behind her. I called out to my helper. He came ambling over. The three gentlemen promptly went back into the trailer. Soon, my helper left in the vehicle in question.

My helper was my middle son, a gentle soul until riled, then a Norwegian berserk-er. However, his appearance is such I’ve seen gangbangers find someplace else to be when he walks down the sidewalk. He is 6’3” with long black hair, wears black Wranglers topped off by a heavy metal T-shirt, black Dr. Martins, and often a black leather biker jacket. He has a perpetual scowl. Too vain to wear glasses, and being nearsighted, he has developed a piercing stare which can seem like a glare. Usually has some kind of scruffy beard. I love him like a son but, damn, he looks like a character in a slasher movie. 

In later years I started acting as a spotter for two brothers who are among the few people that scare the shit out of me. Repo men and bounty hunters, they would pay me to find vehicles and sit on them until they could arrive. One day I spotted one in a company parking lot. They arrive and take possession. The debtor sees them drive off, calls 911, and reports it freshly stolen. One of the brothers was talking to central dispatch reporting the repossession but before the information was processed an officer spotted the car. Soon a felony stops was in progress with several cars arriving. After some confusion the situation was resolved and the car searched. A handgun was under the front seat. Several firearms were in the trunk. A quick check revealed they were stolen.

The “owner” was called on his cell. The police told him they had recovered his car but needed to do some paperwork; would he meet them outside his place of employment? Yes was the response. While the cuffs were going on, the “owner” kept asking when he would get his car back.

Another time a dealer offered me a $1,000 to get a Mercedes SUV. A lawyer had bought it, wasn’t paying, and was playing lawyer games. He lived in a gated community and parked downtown in a secured garage. After getting the spare keys,  picked up my helper and headed out to the lawyer's neighborhood. My helper was an old biker babe  who was seemly unafraid of anything. Sometimes being lucky beats being good. As we entered the area the Mercedes drove past us. We followed until they parked in a shopping center garage, public, and unsecured. A few minutes later I was driving the Mercedes back to the dealership with my helper following. Start to finish, under two hours.

My medical courier gig brings in enough so I’m not interested in spotting. Repo work? I’m too crabby and way too old to go hands on with assholes. I do miss it. Much like hunting with the stalk and then the kill. Nice adrenaline rush.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Well Cut My Legs Off and Call Me Shorty

Received in the mail from the Veterans Administration a letter informing me, since I'm "registered" in the VA health system, that constitutes coverage under the Affordable Care Act. They included a spiffy form I can send to the IRS with my tax return.

Who knew? I did the intake a few years ago, side stepped the three innocuous questions that would have disqualified me from purchasing a firearm, and haven't stepped foot in a VA facility since then.

In other news, my computer is d.o.a. at the shop. The real news, buried under all the explanations, is probably next week. Aarg!

This public computer won't let me make comments on my own blog. Note to self. Start writing down passwords!

Monday, January 11, 2016


Computers in the shop again. Aarg! Back in a day or two.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Don't Miss Dealing With Customers, No Sir!

At the airfreight desk today just after noon. Three airlines share the space. The place was packed. An Asian gentleman was upset and rightfully so. Seems his freight was accidentally loaded on a truck going to Colorado Springs. The airline personnel were on top of the problem, and the freight was coming back,  but wouldn't arrive until around 7 pm. My guess is he has never dealt with afternoon traffic on I-25 North out of the Springs.

WTF, shit happens, but the customer wasn't having any of it. No matter how many times the customer agent explained, apologized, etc., he continued to rant and rave. None of the other customers for that airline could get their business taken care of. 

Once again I was reminded of how much I don't miss dealing with shitheads, even when they are in the right.

Fortunately I was dealing with another airline. Left before the two delivery drivers he was holding up decided to throw him out of the office.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Give Me a T for Texas

The route I drive goes South on Nebraska 71. From Scottsbluff to Kimball it is four lanes and 65 mph (70 mph seems to be tolerated as I've never been stopped). South of Kimball it is two lanes, no shoulders, and 60 mph. After crossing the Colorado line the speed limit is 65 mph. Hard to do when the road is like this.

I have a healthy fear of these sneaky public servants.

 They are good at their work. While I seldom see one on Highway 71, it is often enough to keep this scofflaw nervous.

Today a gentleman in a white Fusion Hybrid with Texas plates blows by me just past the Kimball Airport turnoff. Ah, a rabbit to follow. A 75 mph rabbit, with me discretely following a half mile behind. Ran the whole length to Colorado 14 where he turned East and I turned West. Probably jogged over to the continuation of Highway 71 to Limon and then Hwy 287 to yeeha.

Hope he made it. We didn't encounter this.

Not to mention this.

So thank you Tex, whoever you are, for saving me twenty minutes today.

As a side note, I see lots of Charger Police Cars. To my knowledge, Chrysler has never solved the cooling problem. When the po po run wide open for very long, it is windows down, a/c off, and heater on full blast. Or, just get a Ford. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

No Patience

Need to change out an oxygen sensor and can't find my socket. Oh well, off to Harbor Freight. They have one for $7.95+++. They also are having some kind of sale and the two lines were about eight customers deep. No way I'm doing those lines.

Instead, spent a couple of hours, and how much gas, canvassing the pawn shops without finding a socket. Somehow I don't think this would pass an efficiency test.

While at the pawn shops, just happened to glance over the firearms for sale. A .22 revolver is on my want list but the only one I saw was $400, black chromed, and with imitation mother of pearl grips. Um, no; not a pimp. The clerks did comment than it has been "crazy" lately for firearm sales. These are small stores and say they are doing background checks by the dozens.

One place had a very clean Mosin for $199. Nothing special, round receiver but intact with bayonet (I'm in no way a Mosin expert). The clerk was down to $160 at my first sign of resistance.

What was possibly a fantastic buy was a Nikon DSLR with two lenses and a nice accessory bag for $220. Since I already have a DSLR I didn't bother to have them bring it out of the display.

One thing I did learn in the car biz was the stark difference between need and want. The toughest customers were those who needed a vehicle. The ones we made money on were the "want" buyers.

I make even small financial decisions on the basis of want or need. Being one of the cheapest s.o.b.s on the planet, I find this works for me. YMMV

The oxygen sensor? That will be around $8 at the pull it yourself salvage yard. A new one for $45 or so isn't guaranteed to last longer than a used one. On the vehicle that needs it, it is a ten minute job.