Monday, June 29, 2009

Lists are good

Stolen shamelessly from here, I present to you:
Things I should never do again at work, no matter how funny or satisfying they were the first time
1. I should not lower the hook on the crane down and leave it leaning against the door to the port-a-john.
2. I shouldn’t lean it against the door to the office trailer.
3. Especially if it’s a door that only opens out.
4. If I have done so, that’s not the proper time to go to lunch.
5. Probably shouldn’t set beams down in front of those doors either.
6. Or behind parked cars.
7. Shouldn’t throw bolts and rocks at the occupied port-a-john.
8. Shouldn’t encourage coworkers to join in.
9. When the superintendant asks why one of my guys isn’t wearing a hard hat, I shouldn’t toss him my own and say, “Now he has one.”
10. If the superintendant asks me if he can go up my ladder to the roof, I should inform him if I am about to take said ladder down.
11. Before he strands himself on the roof, not after.
12. Even if they are incapable of understanding simple words on a contract, I should not tell the superintendent and the project manager that they are illiterate.
13. When they ask what I mean, I shouldn’t define the word illiterate, and then ask if they’d like me to define “ignorant” as well.
14. When necessary, I should always try to find a tactful way of telling somebody they are looking at the blueprints backwards.
15. And that they’re on the wrong page.
16. If the concept of right and left is also baffling them, I shouldn’t point out that Koko the gorilla, may she rest in peace, knew her right from her left, in addition to knowing a couple thousand words in sign language, probably including illiterate and ignorant.
17. Balto the sled dog also knew right from left, and he knew them in Canadian, eh.
18. I shouldn’t ask what it took to become so stupid, and express mock admiration for the dedication it must have required.
19. I shouldn’t be disappointed when most of this goes over their heads.
20. When the job is finished, despite every effort of the superintendant to screw things up, and he walks up to shake hands and apologize, I shouldn’t put on my best Tommy Lee Jones good-ol’-boy voice and tell him, “aww heck, I always knew you came from a long line of bachelors,” as if it’s some colorful compliment.
21. I really shouldn’t be surprised at the flake’s outpouring of emotion at this perceived acceptance.
22. There’s really no excuse for slapping him on the back and saying, “I bet every time you go home your ol’ momma can’t help but come out from under the porch and bite you on the leg, she’s so happy to see you.”
23. Not because it’s uncalled for, but because I lifted the line from an Elmer Kelton novel, and plagiarism is wrong.
24. No matter how funny it may be, there’s no good excuse for walking up to a boomlift, switching the controls to “ground”, swinging the basket out into space, scoping it out all the way, and then pulling the keys out and throwing them into a mud puddle.
25. Hypothetically, even if I had done that, I would never point and laugh at the obnoxious carpenter who was stuck out on the end of the manlift.
26. When climbing into a crane to drive it around the job, the proper thing to say is not “Does anybody know how to work the brakes on this thing? Heck, I really don’t feel like using the mirrors anyway, ya’ll just block traffic. Better tell those kids to get out of the crosswalk.”
27. There’s no acceptable time to yell from the cab of a 300 ton crane “hey, does anybody know how to make it stop dropping something?”
28. Same goes for “Anybody think I can knock that beam out of the hook?”
29. Or “Anybody know why this button says ‘Do not push?’ Because we’re about to find out”
30. After setting a crane up, surrounded by awestruck residential carpenters giving commercial work their first try, I should not sit down in the cab, bow my head silently, straighten up, cross myself, put on the never before used seatbelt, and then throttle it up while laughing maniacally.
31. It’s also not ok to tell residential-turned-commercial electricians “It’s ok man, we haven’t dropped anything on anybody in a couple of weeks. We hardly ever kill anybody.”
32. When a connector drops his spud wrench from the second story, I should not yell out “No man, it’s 20 points for a plumber and 10 for a bricklayer, you got it backwards.”
33. I should never weld somebody’s trailer hitch to a steel column.
34. No matter how annoying a superintendent may be, I should never encourage my bridging welders to always make welding above him a priority.
35. Because even if he’s too dumb to catch on, somebody will point it out to him.
36. No matter how fed up I may be with the superintendant and general contractor, or how long they are making my Friday, or how long of a drive it is back home afterwards, I shouldn’t tell ironworkers that I’ll pay an extra hour to anybody who can get us thrown off the job.
37. Because somebody might think I’m serious.
38. And it’s hard to explain why so and so has one more hour than everybody else.
39. “What happens if we leave the bolts out of one end of this beam?” is not an acceptable way of saying “good morning.”
40. Before sending a beam up to the connectors, I should never tie a glove onto one end with the middle finger extended.
41. Because having two ironworkers hollering down from the top floor of a building, their own middle fingers raised, does not look good to the visiting architects and engineers coming out of the office trailer behind me.
42. I’m not allowed to hook an office trailer to my pick up.
43. Because that tube coming out the side goes to a septic tank.
44. It is not true that I am paid a bonus if I can get a superintendant to hide in his trailer all day.
45. Although certain bricklayers and plumbers might be willing to buy my lunch if we don’t have to deal with the guy for an entire day.
46. Just because I can hotwire a sky trak forklift does not mean I should do so to the general contractor’s.
47. Because Mike the bricklayer has a bunch of sky trak keys that will fit it, and he’ll let me borrow one.
48. Just because somebody leaves their back hoe parked in my way when they go home early does not mean I should drag it out of the way with a sky trak.
49. Unless there are no witnesses.
50. And I can leave it parked in the superintendant’s spot.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Speaking of Texas culture..

"We beat Spain 2-0? Who did we have pitching? I didn't even know Spain played baseball."

"It was soccer."


"Huh, I didn't even know we played soccer"

Your culture...

...isn't as sound as mine.

New York has hot dogs and muggings, California has west coast rap and freaks, we've got barbeque and Jerry Jeff Walker. No contest.

Gettin' the last word

Today at work my brother and I were having one of our friendly discussions. This one happened to be about foresight. As in “Hey dummy, shouldn’t you look at the plans before we start swinging iron up there? Think ahead, you know, show some foresight.”

“I’ve got foresight, you’re here and you look at plans and stuff.” With that he turned to walk off.

“That’s not foresight, that’s a lack of foresight. We ought to talk about this”

“Why don’t we talk about the lack of me about to (pick a colorful euphemism for hiding a boot in somebody else’s anatomy)?”

“Saying 'lack of' means it ain’t happenin’ because you know you can’t get it done.”

He didn’t have anything else to say, but he did freeze for about half a second mid step. Long enough to pull his foot out of his mouth and stick a finger up over his shoulder.

Mom's rifle

It’s really nothing fancy, just a Marlin 1894 CS, but it I gave it to her one year for mother’s day. Installing the Williams FP on the back and the white line post sight on the front were easy things I had done before on my own rifles. Cutting the stock down for her (she isn’t very big) and fitting a Limbsaver pad was a little more complicated; still, it was basically junior high shop class stuff.

Next came the part you can’t even see, but that paid off the most. At one time I frequented the forums. So I printed out a post on how a guy had slicked up the action on his Marlin, ordered the Evil Roy one piece firing pin and spring kit the post recommended, bought some files and sandpaper, and went to work.

The little .357 had a few rough spots on the internals, and slicking them up did wonders. I also reshaped the hammer just a little, following the instructions closely. I really think that helped more than anything. For the sake of igniting a primer every time I kept the factory hammer spring instead of using the lightened spring from the kit. But because of the reshaped hammer it’s still much easier to work the lever. That makes a difference for somebody small like my mom.

I had kinda sorta thought the rifle could be used on hogs. I’ve still got my fingers crossed on that, it just hasn’t happened yet. What it has done, though, is make my mom smile when she’s shot it. Right now it’s leaning against the wall by the desk in her office, ready for whatever may happen. That’s something that makes me proud.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sand adventure

Awhile back I found myself driving from Midland to Andrews so that I could look at one thing, turn around and go back to Midland. There are a lot of sandy spots down there, and on my way east to Midland I went around a curve and saw a big stock trailer off in the ditch, with a past-middle-age lady and a younger lady standing off to the side, and sand flying everywhere. I'm kind of a sucker, so I pulled over. The first thing that struck me as odd was that the truck did not match the trailer. It was a huge fancy high dollar horse trailer, the kind that usually has a big fancy pick-up to pull it, but the truck was an old brown early 80's model Chevy crew cab, Alabama plates. You don't see Alabama plates in the middle of the desert very often. The next thing I noticed was that the guy in the driver's seat had one eye that opened wider than the other, making the iris seem smaller in contrast.

I asked if they could use a hand as he stuck his hand out to shake, and he said "BOOOOOOOYAHHisHEEAAAHHtoteeehallYOOOOUUUWEEAAAHHSSSINUSSahfaaxxxatisssssFOOOOOSOOOOOOO"

I didn't have anything to say to that, but I did catch myself before I actually started scratching my head. I did my best not to look bewildered, but it must have shown because the girl walked up and said "He crawled out of some Louisiana swamp and you can't understand him when he is excited"

I looked back at him and asked "You a cajun?"


(Once that was cleared up I was able to translate his first statement as "Greetings kind sir, your arrival has lifted a heavy weight from our troubled hearts. We have found ourselves in a predicament that seemed hopeless, but now, with your aid and assistance, perhaps we shall soon be once more upon our way")

He grabbed his crutch and stepped out, which was when I noticed he had a leg in a cast. Once again, the girl saw my question and explained that he had wrecked their good truck and broken his leg doing it, so they were using their old pick-up. The older lady had been driving and had gotten them stuck pulling over to check on their animal, and refused to drive anymore. The man had been trying to get them out but was having trouble working the clutch with one leg. She said she could drive a standard some and was willing to try, and I told her that was fine, I was pretty sure if she put it in low gear and held the clutch down I could pull them out of their hole, and then when they were on good ground all she would have to do was ease the pedal up.

So that’s exactly what we did, except when we got to the part where the going should have been easy, things got rough and then the cajun started waving and hollering. I got out to discover that their truck had stalled. He kept repeating to the girl "LOORANGA, LOOORANGA", so I showed her how to put the transfer case into 4-Lo, double checked the straps, made sure her front hubs were locked, and got back in my pick-up to try one more time. This time I told her wait till I had them to the edge of pavement, and then put it in gear if I couldn't get them onto the shoulder. Things went great until her front tires hit the pavement, and then we came to a violent halt. Once again, I got out and could not fathom what had gone wrong. Everything looked great, like it could drive out by itself. So I asked her to try easing it up, real gentle like.........and found out that she wasn't in first gear, she was in reverse. Once she found a forward gear, it came right up onto the shoulder

That was when things got interesting. The trailer, that I had assumed to contain horses, started to rock, pitch, and roar. My three newfound friends did everything in their power to studiously ignore that there was even a trailer back there. I looked at the old lady, who still had not said one word, and then to the girl, and asked what kind of horses they had in there.

"Not a horse"





"I see. Mule, donkey?"

She shook her head.

I gave it one last try, “Elk?”

She shook her head again and I decided if they didn't want to tell me, I could take a hint and mind my business. I suspect they had a walrus in there, but I could be wrong.

Now that they were out the man hobbled up to shake my hand again, using lots of random vowels and consonants to try and communicate his gratitude. And I swear to you, at that point his big eye and his little eye swapped sizes, which was more than a little bit disconcerting. Then he crawled into the back seat, and kept grinning and talking in my general direction. The older lady got into the passenger seat. I reminded the girl that it would be ok now to go back into two-wheel drive, and watched her climb into the drivers seat and lurch haltingly into gear, heading off to wherever it was they were going, to do whatever it is they intended to do with a large angry animal on their arrival. I guess it could have been a moose.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What's the second amendment for again?

Because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. And the right of the people to keep and bear arms is there so the people can protect themselves anytime it or anything else gets oppressive.

More going for him than just his hair

Governor Perry has some good traits to go with the bad.

The guy is an aggie and a politician. That's two big strikes against him right there. He's done some big government style stupid stuff. But to give him his due, he's also in favor of some things I really like. Sometimes when he says things it could just be for the publicity, but that doesn't make what he says any less true. I prefer my Texan politicians anytime they're doing anything at all to upset the feds and the hippies. (After explaining to FDR that WWII rationing was needed because of distribution problems, not supply, and that Texas had plenty of oil and beef for its citizens needs, Coke Stevenson threatened to sic the Rangers on any federales who wanted to make an issue of Texans' right to drive to town and eat a steak. That's the sort of thing I'm looking for in an elected official)

At any rate, I think Sam Houston would approve of Perry more than he would Kay Bailey.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Guys in Movies

As a corrolary to my post about movies and actors, I really ought to mention that if it was my job to make a movie, I'd put Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall in it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


...they believe in.

It's odd to me that there are people on the other side of the world going to a lot of risk and hoping for some change, and Mr. HopeChange himself says "ehh, same difference."

In our last election we got to choose between Bad and Worse. When it was all said and done a lot of people were upset, but I don't remember any big protests. Protests are allowed here, we don't have secret police. There weren't any riots, despite the promised great "change." This from a country where Detroit and L.A. will riot because their team wins a basketball game.

So it's hard for me to believe that all this fuss in Iran is over two guys who are about the same.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What the hail

Last night I was at my parents' house when it started raining. Ever since their children began moving out my parents have been ending up with more and more dogs. Right now "little dogs" means Winky the one eyed terror and Ace, who is bright but the opposite of brave. "Big dogs" includes Heidi and Rowdy, 13 and 12 year old collies, and Barrett(think 50 caliber), a canine cross between a rock and a stegosaurus who mostly just knows how to wag his tail and carry things in his mouth. Heidi is incredibly sweet, but pretty much senile. The little dogs were already inside, terrified of the storm, but the big dogs were out in it. I went to the back door to let them in just as it started hailing. The boys were waiting on the porch and came in as soon as the door opened, but poor Heidi was in the middle of the yard, stretching her nose out to sniff the hailstone that had just bounced off of her head. In the time it took me to say "Come here Heidi girl, come in" three more had hit her and she was getting more confused. It did make her start wagging her tail to think I was coming out to play, though.

Not having any better ideas, I started across the yard to get her, accompanied by Barrett, toy in mouth, and Ace. Ace was too scared of the storm to get more than a couple feet from me. Barrett doesn't sweat the small stuff when there is a chance that something might happen. Once we got past the porch Ace learned two things, 1. Hail hurts when you only weigh 10 pounds, and 2. As long as he stood under Barrett he was safe.

The hail was getting bigger as we made our way to Heidi, who seemed to find us curious. I tried asking her to come in again and she yelped as a big one hit her in the nose. I still wasn't smart enough to think of any good ideas, so I leaned over her and took one behind my ear. Now that she had an umbrella she was ready to go inside, so away we went.

It wasn't until we were inside and wiping the rain off that I noticed something was missing and looked back out the window. There, in the middle of the hail storm, stood Barrett, still holding his toy and wanting to play, and Ace, unwilling to step out from under him.

I got nothin'

So here's something everybody should listen to.

I've seen the man several times, but never when he played this song. The closest I've come are this video and the version on the "Marfa After Dark" download.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Does that mean Obama counts as everyone?

Maybe everyone doesn't include the first few results you get googling "stimulus won't help unemployment"

Who needs a second amendment... long as the government allows us to have a first amendment?

The founding fathers thought this stuff through, folks. They'd just fought a revolution against tyranny and set things up so that we could avoid it as long as most of us wanted. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we were given a republic, if we could keep it. The fact that we have lasted this long, despite the apparent human tendency for a few people to do whatever they can to take all control and keep it, and for the others to allow it, is proof that Ben and the others knew what they were doing.

Summer is here

"As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives [only] moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion to your walks."

-- Thomas Jefferson, writing to his teenaged nephew.

I got a new gun the other day, a Dan Wesson Razorback in 10mm auto. It’s a full sized 1911 pattern gun. So far I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot it at paper, but I’ve taken it out a couple times and it’s certainly minute of dirt clod accurate. I’m pretty sure it shoots better than I do. Long shots seem easier than with my .45s, which is to be expected since that’s what I understand the 10mm’s original purpose was. I’m getting final round feeding problems with both factory supplied magazines. Hopefully I can order some Wilson mags next week and get that problem solved.

I like to go hog hunting, and I’ve also had a few chances to go out and try to dart wild bulls in heavy brush. Either activity can present some fast shots, with more stress involved than regular target work. It made sense to try and use those chances to practice with the same sort of gun I use for defense. It also happens that I can shoot my 1911s a little faster with confidence than I can my revolvers. Since it might be nice to have a little more penetration and “thump” than a .45 offered, that seemed like as good an excuse as any to try the 10mm.

This is intended to be an outdoors gun, and I’d like better night sights without going tritium. Tritium is great on my defensive guns, but not in line with the semi-traditional concept I’m going for here. I know it’s a stainless gun in a caliber other than the one John Moses Browning intended, with a beaver tail and a commander hammer. Still, there’s no forward cocking grooves, no ambi safety, no extended release or mag well or anything like that. Maybe simple, or even tasteful, would be a better description than semi-traditional. I’m thinking about trying a gold bar front and either leaving the back alone or going with a white line. Maybe I can find somebody to make a gold line rear sight, although that might make for a cluttered sight picture.

I’ve already got holsters that will fit it for hunting, but hopefully it will deserve a nice Threeperson’s holster in case I ever need a barbeque gun.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When movies were movies

The other day I went through the bargain dvd bin and came home with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, among others. After watching it I couldn’t help but ask, what has happened to Kevin Costner? There was a period of time there when he put out The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, Prince of Thieves, and Dances with Wolves. I personally liked The Postman, but some people didn’t. Maybe you can argue that the two baseball movies have a lot of feelings and sensitive stuff, but that’s still a pretty good list of movies that either a guy or a girl can put on their shelf without embarrassment. Who else can match that over the last twenty odd years? Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson, but has anybody done it lately? The last Die Hard makes the cut of recent movies, but I can’t think of anything Gibson has done as an actor I’ve watched since The Patriot. Costner made some sort of businessman/hit man movie a couple years back; I don’t remember it as being a hit though. Christian Bale might be included in a few years, but who knows. Marky Mark has a couple, but tends to end up as second banana. Russell Crowe came up big in Gladiator and Master and Commander, but that just isn’t enough to get him to the guy movie elite.

Anybody who chimes in with Tom Cruise is probably a girl. Bob the welder isn’t sitting on a barstool saying “Oh wow, Cruise has a new one coming out, let’s go see it.” Even though Tears of the Sun didn’t live up to expectations, me and a buddy went and saw it simply because it was Bruce Willis in a movie with guns. The average guy on the street, if asked, would say heck yeah, I could beat Tom Cruise up for his milk money and put an atomic wedgie on him too boot. Given enough special effects he can do cool stuff though, plus chicks love him, and I think that brings us to the main differences between movies of the late eighties/early nineties and the ones made today.

Special effects are supposed to be special. Bruce Willis may have been indestructible in Die Hard, but when it came time to battle the king sized Aryan, he didn’t have to resort to computer generated jump kicks or cameras pivoting around him. He took his beating until he came up with a way to win. Same thing when Costner fights Little John in the river. Sure, they do things beyond the normal, but they come off as normal guys doing it. I fell asleep during the one where Cruise played a midget ninja, but woke up in time to call bull when he got into sword fights against guys who grew up in a culture of swords. I liked Matt Damon in the first Bourne movie, but at some point along the line the pause, spin the camera and then fast forward, high speed kick boxing ninja stuff started making me miss the days of two guys just staggering around slugging each other. A hero can get tricky to win a fight, but shouldn’t need special effects just to stay in the fight.

When Bruce Willis takes down a helicopter with an electrical transformer, or a jet by using a truck, it works because 1. It’s cool, and 2. He’s laughing afterwards, letting us in on the joke. That also applies when Robin Hood and Azhim take a catapult ride over the castle wall: they’re already joking before they launch, and everybody involved is surprised when it works. But when somebody uses the effects during the entire movie so they can wear a Jon Voight mask and show how clever the writers can be thinking stuff up, it loses what makes it special. It’s the same sort of thing that makes it get old when the hero has to use them in every fight.

This brings us to our last difference: a good movie star doesn’t appeal to just one gender. Lots of girls like to check out Gibson, Costner, or Willis, but that isn’t the only reason they’re out there. They can deliver a one liner, they can throw a credible looking fake punch, and they can deliver the inspirational speech before the climactic battle. That way all the audience members go home happy. They may get the girl in the end, but that’s not the point of the movie. If they win the girl it’s because they won her, not because they cried about losing her. If they lose the girl it’s because they spent so much time being a manly hero that she divorced him and moved to California, or because the bad guy kills her. Everybody is ok with this. On the other hand, if Brad Pitt is in a movie, we know that somebody in a meeting spoke up and said “Hey, let’s get Pitt so that girls will drag their boyfriends to come see it. Think of the free publicity we’ll get, he’s on every magazine at the checkout line.” It’s like a way of cheating to get guys’ butts in the seats. Make it something less than an out and out chick flick, put a Clooney or a Pitt in it, tell the sponsors and advertisers that guys will love it, and sell some multi gender product placement. There’s a fine line between the two sets of actors; one group may make some guys think it would be nice to have girls slobbering over them, but everybody wants to be a hero.

I guess in the end, the good movies are about heroes, and the rest of them just have heroes in there somewhere, among all the other stuff.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New additions

My little sister had a little girl this morning. 4 pounds 6 ounces, 17 1/2 inches, with a full head of red hair. She is currently doing fine in the NICU, where the only visitors allowed are parents, grandparents, and two people added to the list. Guess who made the exclusive list? So after the parents and grandparents got to visit, me and Steven were instructed on how to wash up and put on the gowns, and then given instructions along the line of "turn right, third door on the left."
And thats how it came to pass that among her first experiences on this earth, young Heidi Rose (not her real name) found herself surrounded by five hundred pounds of oafishness asking eachother "What do we do?"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Not the right time or the right place

Things have been busy lately. My grandad wasn't feeling well this last weekend so my brother and I went to go look after his cows. We stopped to fill up and get a drink at a station in Brownwood. Steven went in and paid while I was filling up, then I went in after he came back. As we were driving off he asked "Did Sandy flirt with you, too?"
"Umm, no. Not that I noticed."
He was silent for half a moment then mentioned that in all the years we've been going through Brownwood, she was the first cute store clerk he'd met. He closed his mouth but I could already tell it was coming.
"Maybe we ought to go back and get some more stuff."