The stars at night are big and bright...

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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bored, bored, bored, bored bored

Did I mention I was bored? 

It's been painfully slow around the South 40 lately and my feet are starting to itch. No, not a fungus among us. I need to get outa Dodge. The latest destination that sounds enticing is Colorado trout fishing. It's something I've never done and always wanted to try. Seeing as how I've been whittling away at my Bucket List, it kinda fits right in.

I actually lived in Colorado for a few months after I was discharged from the Coast Guard, but it was in the metro Denver area and I ha-ha-hated it. The cherry on top was when my Suzuki GS-750 was stolen leaving me afoot. I couldn't get a plane outa there and back to Texas fast enough.

As much as I hate Denver, I really love the mountains. My favorite part of trucking was driving thru the Rockies. It's amazing scenery, but unfortunately you don't get the chance to stop and explore. Then there's the hauling 40 Tons down the side of a mountain thing that kinda distracts you. All in all, not the best way to take in what nature has to offer.

This time I want to trek into the mountains and work my way thru the fishing hot spots. Although it might be pretty ugly because I've only fished for bass and catfish with a Zebco, not including the one deep sea trip I took in Belize. Fly fishing is an entirely different kind of fishing, altogether.

I've been looking at the Colorado Fishing Atlas and think the Fairplay and Snowmass areas might be pretty cool to check out. Seems to be quite a bit of public access with good fishing reports. The scenery ain't bad around there, either.

I do have a few hurdles to overcome before I can do this. Not the least of which is my RV. I don't want to drive it to Colorado and back. Plus I would be pretty much stranded once I got there since I don't have a tow vehicle.
May the Schwartz be with you.

When I bought Eagle 5 I had planned to only use it at Texas Motor Speedway on race weekends and didn't need an extra vehicle. What I need to do is sell it and buy a 5th wheel camper I can tow with my F350. If this goes as most wheeling and dealing does, it will take some time.

Guess the first thing I need to do is give the old girl a good scrubbing inside and out, make sure that everything is still in tip top shape then put it on Craigslist. Next I've got to find a 5th wheel in good shape that doesn't cost and arm and a leg.

Like I said, hurdles. By the time I get all this accomplished there will probably be 15' of powder covering everything and I'll be covered up with work. But that's my gameplan and I'm sticking to it.

UPDATE: Holy cow word travels fast. I casually mentioned it to one person yesterday and I've already had somebody show up out of the blue to look at it. I haven't even started cleaning it up yet (which it needs worse than I thought). Guess I'll be doing some scrubbing tomorrow.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Okie Spirit

Saw this on Facebook. Man, you gotta hand it to Okies. They may be down, but they're not out.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On The Radar: We're The Millers

Jennifer Aniston plays a stripper. Chance of me seeing this film, 100%.

Monday, May 20, 2013

RIP Ray Manzarek

Keyboardist and founding member of The Doors has passed away. Ray Manzarek was 74.

Friday, May 17, 2013

This Really Happened

As long as we're getting musical...

This Ol' Cowboy

No particular reason to post this other than I really like the tune. Pretty sure I'll get a thumbs up from The Don.

Only time will tell.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Missed it by that much!"

The tornadoes that swung thru Southern Montague and Northern Wise counties last night narrowly missed The South 40. In fact there's a picture of a tornado on the ground about a mile from here on the Messenger website. It was close enough I could hear the roar, but luckily no damage.

The folks at the Top O' The Lake Country Club at Amon Carter Lake just north of me weren't so lucky.

Where's my truck?!?!

A former Team Manager for Jennifer Jo Cobb's NASCAR Nationwide Series team apparently stole her transporter. He claims innocence but tweeted "Today she was the windshield & I was the bug". I'm no simple country lawyer, but I think that was probably a bad idea.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Test

Keith at Bag of Nothing recently brought up Scott Pelley of CBS News. That made me recall my "Brush With Greatness". Back in 1983 I was a long haired street urchin (a/k/a DJ) at KWCS-FM. I also worked as a stringer (freelance reporter) for WFAA-TV. It was a particularly slow news day, but there was a huge tire fire just outside Bridgeport so I called it in to Hugh Scalon that ran the newsroom. They sent "Telecopter 8" to cover the story with a news crew led by an up and coming young reporter, Scott Pelley.

It was after dark by the time they reached the fire and the pilot was worried about trying to land near power lines and small trees. Hugh called me back at the radio station and I wound up being a Forward Air Controller via relay. I told them about the only helipad I knew of at the old Bridgeport Hospital but the pilot couldn't locate it.

"Do you see the Dairy Queen sign? Go 3 blocks west."

With that problem solved, now they were over a mile away and needed ground transportation. Being a responsible employee entrusted with watching the transmitter and programming, I naturally turned everything on automatic and left. I had about 90 minutes of music and commercials if nothing screwed up. To be honest, I did call another employee that lived next door and asked him to monitor the station for me, just in case.

I hopped in my tiny Dodge Shelby Charger 2.2 and ran into town. It was the pilot, a 3 man news crew and their ENG (Electronic News Gathering) gear jammed into my little sports car. Cameras, portable VCR's and their batteries were huge back then. The sound guy was forced to ride in the hatchback. We drove out to the fire with Scott asking me questions about the area all the way there.

After they got what they needed we headed back to the helo. When they got out I apologized for the cramped ride and told them I had to hurry back to the station before my tapes ran out. Scott walked up to me, shook my hand and thanked me for all the help. The other guys said thanks and waved but, Scott took the extra step to shake my hand and look me in the eye. That always stuck with me. He was genuine, the real deal and not a whiff of BS about him. Definitely not your typical "TV talent".

I knew from that moment that Scott Pelley was going places. I had no idea it would be Walter Cronkite's seat. But if ever there was anyone worthy of continuing the tradition of Murrow and Cronkite, it's Scott Pelley.

In 2009 Scott was asked to give the Commencement Speech at Texas Tech. Being a native of Lubbock and a former Tech student (he dropped out to take the job at KXAS) he proudly accepted. His speech was moving and inspirational. He's the same genuine, no BS guy. He is indeed the real deal. It's well worth 20 minutes of your time to hear him speak about "The Test".

UPDATE: Seems my opinion is shared by those that matter. Scott was just named recipient of the 20th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reason #23 Why Not To Piss Off Your Neighbor

He owns a bulldozer.

PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON — A Port Angeles man angry with his neighbors was arrested Friday after a rampage with a bulldozer-like logging machine that damaged four houses, numerous outbuildings, a pickup truck and a power pole, knocking out power to thousands of people.

One of the homes was knocked off its foundation.

Barry Alan Swegle, 51, was booked into the Clallam County jail for investigation of malicious mischief in the first degree, a Class B felony, with no bond set.

Authorities reported no injuries.

Clallam County sheriff's spokesman Jim Borte said investigators were told that Swegle and his neighbors had a long-running dispute, although he wasn't sure what it was about.

Phil Riley, a neighbor who witnessed the destruction, said a property line dispute between Swegle and property owner Dan Davis, whose two properties were severely damaged, “had been brewing for some time.”

Keith Haynes, who lives near the badly damaged homes on Baker Street in the Gales Addition area east of Port Angeles, said his neighbor “just went nuts.”

“He took a skidder and took out two houses,” Haynes said. “I mean demolished.”

A skidder is a bulldozer-like device used in logging. Haynes said Swegle owned the equipment. Borte said the machine was an International Harvester TD-25, similar to a Caterpillar D-9. 

A Barry Swegle logging company is listed as having been founded in 1997. The phone number has been disconnected.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pushing The Envelope

The sad news that British sailor Andrew "Bart" Simpson was killed during practice for the Americas Cup came just a few days after I saw a report on either 60 Minutes: Sports or E:60, I can't remember which it was. Either way the report was on the US team that was using the same type of catamaran hydrofoil. Instead of a traditional 12 Meter yacht, teams are now using high tech catamarans that rise out of the water and ride solely on 3 tiny underwater blades. You can see them in the picture above.

While this setup greatly reduces drag and increases speed, it exponentially increases instability. Imagine using bicycle tires on your SUV. As long as everything is in your favor (wind/momentum/gravity) you can go really fast. As soon as you have to turn, or are hit with a crosswind it all goes to Hell in a handbasket in a split-second. Luckily that never happens sailing on the ocean. The USA Team has already had a similar accident in San Francisco Bay that injured multiple crew members, but fortunately everyone survived.

I'm all for advancing technology in a sport, but is this truly yacht racing? Remember the hubub in 1983 when the Australians developed a new type of winged keel? That's when they abandoned the 12 Meter rule and came up with the IACC Class that let this type boat compete.

While I'll never condemn anyone for advancing a form of racing, maybe they should reconsider the safety factor when allowing new vehicles to compete much like other forms of racing do. When you increase the speed you must increase the safety factors as well.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

On The Radar: Alpha House

With the success of Netflix's House of Cards, Amazon has decided to enter the direct to consumer original series playing field. They are also giving you a say in which shows make it and which shows don't, which is pretty cool in my book. You are in control of Pilot Season. There are 8 comedies and 6 kid's shows up for your votes.

There are some hits and there are some misses. Far and away the cream of the crop is Garry Trudeau's Alpha House about a group of Republican Senators sharing a house in DC. The story may seem implausible, but it's (very) loosely based on a real group of roommates in DC that Trudeau lampooned in Doonesbury.

The writing is brilliant. The ensemble cast anchored by John Goodman, is excellent. These guys have chemistry and with names like Goodman and Trudeau they can pull in some quality guest stars  The first 3 minutes had me literally laughing out loud. If this is what we can expect in future episodes it could become an instant classic.

I expect to see a program of this quality on HBO or Showtime, not direct to consumer. This is the definitely a shift in how shows get to viewers. House of Cards broke the invisible wall. Alpha House may be the permanent bridge to online broadcasting of quality programming.

I'm sure Alpha House will catch plenty of flack from conservatives since the characters are Republican and will be another example of some "war on" something to them. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly and remember it's not real. All I saw was a very funny show about politicians being politicians.

Check out Alpha House and the rest of the Amazon Originals for free online during Pilot Season on Amazon Instant Video.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Need to Stop Making Things "Better"

Spent part of yesterday afternoon installing a new pyrometer on my F350 so I can monitor the EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) of my Powerstroke. Since I tweaked the programming and do a lot of towing it's important to make sure I'm not melting things under the hood. Plus I'm in the "more is better" group. I like having lots of gauges instead of "idiot lights" and the stock gauges on Fords are nothing more than fancy idiot lights. They don't give accurate readings. Not even close.

Installing the probe in the cast iron exhaust manifold was a breeze. I drove over to Brother In-Law's shop and let him do it! Hey, he's the expert on all things metal and I'd hate to crack a manifold. When in doubt, see a professional. He did a perfect job as usual.

Next was installing the 1 x 2 digital gauge in the dash. I ran into 1 slight hiccup when my Dremmel caught traction and dug an extra 1/8th of an inch farther than I wanted to go. Now I have a visible gouge in the dash that I'm not too pleased with, but at least it's tiny.

4 quick wires and Viola! new pyro. Now I have something new to worry about while I'm driving down the Interstate. The peak EGT listed by Ford is 900°. I hit 1350° just by flooring the pedal for 5 seconds. Back to the internets to do more research and I find several different opinions on Powerstroke peak EGT.

Where Ford came up with 900F is a  mystery since there is no EGT sensor anywhere on the engine. Then there is the placement of the probe. Manifold, pre-turbo or post-turbo. I chose manifold after asking and getting an almost unanimous response on Ford message boards. Manifold gives you the highest reading. So after more questions and answers I've come to the conclusion 1300° is where you should start thinking about taking your fat foot off the throttle and let the engine breathe or prepare for some serious repairs.

Now all I can do is sit and wait until I tow a load and see what things look like. But at least I'm reasonably happy with the installation. It's out of the way and easy to read without being distracting. It also has built in alarm for max temp, which I've set for 1300° and a max temp recall so you can see how hot things got.
Yes, my truck is filthy. But it's a work truck, deal with it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Sidepaddle Aircraft Carrier?

I consider myself a sightly more informed than the average bear when it comes to military history, especially when it involves naval vessels. But I was stunned to find out there was not one but two sidewheel carriers in the US fleet during WWII. The USS Sable and the USS Wolverine were both converted commercial passenger ships that served as training ships on The Great Lakes. President George H.W. Bush trained on the Sable before shipping out to the PAC Theater.

Sadly, after the war both ships were scrapped and the only sidewheeled carriers in the history of the US Navy were lost forever.

The steamship Greater Buffalo

The converted USS Sable

The steamship Seeandbee

The converted USS Wolverine

There's tons more pics and info here. Thanks to the guys at WIX for their efforts in getting this info out there.

Bonus footage! :