The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Inside John McCain's Brain

Howard Dean got in a pretty good shot at John McCain during a satellite interview on wednesday night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I'm surprised nobody has jumped on it. A Google search only turned up this from . The video is priceless.

Speaking of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, it seems to be ready to take on the bigtime news shows.

Is this the age of infotainment?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Macho, Macho Man!

Not many things make you feel more manly than working on your truck. I'm sure it's a throwback to primitive man somehow, a la Tim Taylor. I just like getting my fingers dirty and knowing exactly what the condition of my vehicle is.

I thought I heard a slight grinding of my brakes the other day and bought a new set of front brake pads. You may have noticed the mud covered old goat last week. That's when I originally planned to do this. After moving the sheet metal I bought to fix the house from one side of the shop to the other, I could drive inside and do the job on a nice clean slab and use air tools.

This is known as "shittin' in tall cotton" for a poor white boy.

I grew up working in the dirt, crawling under cars in the driveway or out in the pasture. I twisted wrenches by hand, busting knuckles the old fashioned way getting dirt, rocks and ants ground into me. I never had the luxury of air tools, floor jacks, creepers and a nice clean concrete slab. Over the last few years I have done a few things to change all that. Altho it's unfinished, I now have a shop and a minimal amount of the proper tools it takes to get the jobs done professionally.

But I digress...

I've never changed brakes on a Dodge, but after a few minutes of reverse engineering I managed to figure out how to remove the pads from the caliper and install the new ones. Overall, it was easiest design I've worked on. Chevy, Ford, ect... You don't even need a C-clamp to compress the calipers. The air tools made tedious, long threaded bolts in tight spaces no problem at all.

After finishing the brakes I did a quick PM and changed the oil. I decided to upgrade to Valvoline MaxLife 5W30 synthetic blend. I also installed a Fram High Milage filter with a time release additive. I can see the ladies eyes glazing over, but the guys understand me... Anyway, The Old Goat has almost 150,000 and it was about time to start taking some proactive measures to get another 150,000 out of her. I've never run synthetic oil before but I've heard it will leak like a seive on older engines. I guess we'll see.

OK, now something for the ladies. Girls, can we talk? Are you tired of sweeping up all that dirt, leaves, twigs, branches, toys, pets, small children, ect, day after day after day? Introducing... The Air Gun! With a powerful 120 psi it will huff and puff and blow your house clean. No muss, no fuss! Clean a 60 x 30 area in under 30 seconds! Get yours now!(Optional air compressor sold seperately) Seriously, if you have a garage, patio, sidewalk or anything else you sweep regularly, a small air compressor and an air gun will do magic. Maybe I should send this to Heloise.

So here I sit, feet proped up, cold beer in hand looking at a job well done.

It don't get much better than this.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Goodbye White Lightnin'

There are 6 P-38 Lightnings that are still airworthy. One of them is about to leave the US. The P-38 Flying Bull (formerly known as White Lightnin') has undergone a complete restoration in a tiny hanger at Ezell Aviation in Breckenridge, Texas. They did a fabulous job!

The Flying Bull will take center stage in a solid glass hanger at the new Red Bull Flying Museum in Salzburg, Austria. It's sad to see this rare warbird leave the US, but it will get a new life with lots of flight time ahead.

Full story in The Startlegram including a video link.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

April August Showers

We had a little shower yesterday afternoon.
Tip of the hat to Matt and Russell for pulling me out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Movie of the Week: Almost Famous

This week we look at Cameron Crowe's semi-autobigraphical rock n' roll masterpiece, Almost Famous.

From the man that brought you Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Jerry Maguire comes this wonderful film about a teenager that stumbles into a job for Rolling Stone magazine. His first assignment, a think-piece about a mid-level band grappling with their limitations in the face of the harsh glare of success... Stillwater.

Like Fast Times, Almost Famous is semi-autobiographical. Crowe actually was a reporter for Rolling Stone at age 16 and travelled with The Allman Brothers on tour. This is a behind the scenes look at sex, drugs and rock n' roll in the early 70's. The lives of rockstars and the crew and groupies that are along for the ride.

The cast is outstanding. Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, Anna Paquin, Noah Taylor, Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Fairuza Balk, Zooey Deschanel, Jimmy Fallon and Rainn Wilson.
That's an impressive ensemble.

Even more impressive, the soundtrack. Crowe's wife Nancy Wilson, who knows a thing or two about rock n' roll herself, is Musical Director. Nancy, Cameron and Peter Frampton wrote all of Stillwater's songs and they are performed brilliantly by the cast. When Stillwater is not on stage songs by Todd Rundgren, Simon and Garfunkle, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Yes, David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Clarence Carter, Steely Dan, Deep Purple, Thunderclap Newton, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers fill the scenes with over 50 songs that put you in touch with the characters.

This is a funny, bittersweet film that leaves you with a smile and a warm glow yearning for more.

Altho a flop at the boxoffice, Almost Famous was a huge critical success earning 4 Oscar Nominations (including the uncomfortable dual nominations for Best Supporting Actress for Kate Hudson and Frances McDormond) and Cameron Crowe won the Oscar for Best Screenplay. It earned another 44 wins including Golden Globe for Best Picture and Grammy for Best Soundtrack & 76 nominations.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A True Texas Tale

You're looking at a 1967 Peterbilt 351. In the summer of 1977 I drove one very similar to this solo for 6 weeks in Houston.

My Dad was leased to a trucking company that had a yard in one of the sleazier parts of Houston, 59 & 610. One of my Dad's buddies ran the place. The yard was a mess with a portable building for an office. There was an old condemed building, piles of scrap and hundreds of old tires littering the place.

My summer job was to clean up the yard. I had my faithful old '68 Ford F100 and a cattle trailer. I was to haul off all the old tires and junk and get paid by the hour. Manual labor in the Houston sun. Ah, fun times...

I drove all night the sunday after school was out to get there. I started work at 7am and began stacking the old truck tires onto the trailer. I did that for about 15 minutes when the yard boss (my Dad's friend) asked if I could hook up a truck to a trailer. Pffft, nothing to it!

That was the last time I touched a junk tire that summer.

I quickly became the local delivery driver for them. I took trailers into and out of the Port of Houston, refineries, chemical plants and steel factories all across the metro area. I did all this on my own with no supervision. I was 15 with a hardship "daylight only" drivers license. I wasn't legal by any stretch of the imagination.

It was the greatest summer of my life. I worked my tail off driving a worn out old Pete with a 318 Detroit and a 13 speed. No a/c, no power steering, no sleeper, no stereo (it did have an AM). The old girl was strictly business. I'd work 12 hours a day during the week and all night on Saturday. I slept in the office with a gun as nightwatchman to the lullaby of sirens and gunshots.
Every other night I got to rent a motel room. The place I stayed at had a killer bar that never once carded me. The Safari Room!

It was a miracle I didn't kill someone. I was a big kid for my age, so the physical part was no problem. It was the skill level I lacked in. Would you want YOUR 15 year old driving an 18 wheeler solo on Houston freeways? The driving tips I got from other drivers were along the lines of "turn your signal on, count to 4 and change lanes without looking in the mirror... they'll get out of the way". They did...

I was having a blast! Here I was doing a man's job making a man's wage. I was treated as an equal at the yard and at the docks. If you tried something like that today Homeland Security would go ballistic. There would be helicopters and camera crews everywhere.

Everything was going smooth as silk until the company owner caught wind of what was going on and promptly canned me. But, I had already experienced one of the greatest adventures a young man could dream of. Unfortunately, when I got home none of my friends would believe me.
Who in their right mind would turn a kid loose in an 18 wheeler?

I swear to you on a stack of bibles, every word is the truth.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Damn it, Now I Have To Like Donald Trump!

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Billionaire businessman Donald Trump is offering to rescue TV personality Ed McMahon from foreclosure on his multimillion dollar Beverly Hills home.

"There are discussions, but it is not a done deal yet. We are optimistic," McMahon's spokesman Howard Bragman told Reuters on Friday.

Trump, a real estate developer and celebrity host of TV reality show "The Apprentice," told the Los Angeles Times he stepped in after widespread publicity over McMahon's default on a $4.8 million mortgage on his six-bedroom, five-bathroom home.

"I don't know the man, but I grew up watching him on TV," Trump told the Los Angeles Times in a report published on Friday. "I'd watch him every night. How could this happen?"

Trump's plan is to buy the home from the lender and lease it back to McMahon, the Times said.
McMahon, 85, famous for his "Heeeeeere's Johnny" introduction to "The Tonight Show" for 30 years and for hosting TV talent show "Star Search," is one of the most high-profile people to be caught up in the U.S. housing downturn and credit squeeze.

McMahon's mortgage lenders filed notice of default in February, when McMahon was about $644,000 in arrears on the mortgage for the Beverly Hills house. It has been on the market for about two years and the asking price in June was $5.75 million.

McMahon blamed his problems on having broken his neck about 18 months ago, preventing him from working.

Step Back Non-believers!

Hey Lizzie well a man's got to have a dream

And if you can't walk on the inside with me

I'll meet you in between

Oh come with me Lizzie

And the stars will write your name

And if you still think I'm lyin to you

Looky there yonder there comes the rain!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Road Warrior

I survived another trek into the Metroplex. God, how did I ever live and work down there in that mess?

I had to get my 6 month inspection at the Cardiologist and all went well. I did get the expected asschewing about smoking, but since all my stuff turned up good he went easy on me. He even backed off some of my meds. Sweet!

I was surprised to find gas for $3.49 at the QT at 820 & Beach. First time I've filled up my truck for under $100 in a couple months. Too bad I had to burn 1/3 of it driving home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Musical Interlude

That little ol' band from Texas

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Man vs Machine

I decided to finally break down and buy a lawn mower. For those that don't already know, I live in the middle of a hayfield (literally). I don't have much of anything resembling a yard so a mower was never high on my list. Anything I needed cut I used my tractor and brushhog. After the fire destroyed my brushhog (see: The South40 January edition), it was time to find a mower.

I'm too fat, lazy and just plain don't want to push a mower, so a lawn tractor it was.

I made the trek to Decatur and did a quick bit of comparison shopping between WalMart and Lowe's. Both were about the same but Lowe's had a better selection, brandnames and also had some used mowers. Advantage Lowe's.

I found a lightly used TroyBilt that looked in good shape marked down $200. It had been returned and repaired. I found out the repair was installing a new battery. We cranked it up and it barely ran. I did a quick looksee and found the sparkplug was loose and cracked. HA! I bought the mower and did my best to contain my smugness for burning them so badly in the deal.

Little Sister would be proud of my mad shopping skillz.

I get home, install a new plug and fire that mother up... It barely runs.
F*** me!

I start to question just how great of a deal I got and my wisdom in making it. When all else fails, call for backup. The call went out to BrotherInLaw. Luckily, he was'nt doing anything important so I loaded up and headed over.

I gotta tell ya, he's a freaking miracle worker with machinery. All we he did was remove the bowl from the carburator and put it back on. Varrooooom! The thing runs like a hotrod. (Told ya he was a miracle worker.)

So I head back to The South 40 and mow for about 5 minutes before it starts to vibrate badly. I mean whole lotta shakin' goin' on. I jack up the mower and the blades look like a pair of pretzles. Apparently my new TroyBilt is not as tough as I anticipated. Nor is it a replacement for a brushhog. The small brush and weeds I was mowing twisted my blades in a way Mrs. Baird would have been proud of.

Tomorrow I get to buy a new set of blades. Remind me again why I needed a lawnmower?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

I stumbled across this watching Tony Bourdain. One of the commercials was about blowing up the last "old" Ruby Tuesday. To be honest, I've never eaten there. Apparently I'm among the majority in this respect. Heck, I never heard of them before last year and could care less if they've remodeled. But throw in some high explosives and a live netfeed and you've got my attention!

This afternoon at 2pm they will put fire in the hole, live at .

Investors in the struggling chain may get a perverse pleasure out of watching as Ruby Tuesday's performance has been among the poorest in the casual dining category. Earlier this month, the chain released its annual fiscal 2008 report, which saw revenue decline 3.5%. Fourth-quarter same-store restaurant sales fell 10.3% and 7.2% at company-owned and domestic franchise respectively. For Ruby Tuesday's fiscal 2009, it is projecting a decline of low to mid-single digits for the year with next quarter's sales to be down 8-9%.

Translation: That's worse than Bennigan's numbers.

I'm sure I could work in a bit about them dropping the minimum pieces of flair, but I've got a stack of TPS reports to get done and I really just don't care.

edit: My lip is sore from having the hook set so badly. Cheeky monkeys!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Coke Zero

Tastes 0% like CocaCola Classic.
I've never liked diet drinks. They always had a "whang" taste to me. I kept hearing how great Coke Zero was, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
It was a failed bit.
Zero calories, same nasty whang.
Even giving it a generous shot of bourbon only resulted in the waste of some fine Maker's Mark. I'll have to remedy this by buying some pure cane sugar Mexican CocaCola at IGA. It's in bottles on the Mexican Food isle.