Saturday, December 31, 2005

With All This Working Going On . . .

the past week I haven't even had time to wish everyone a happy New Year. It's a little late, but here I am. Hey, it isn't midnight yet, I made it a good 4 hours in advance. May everyone's new year be filled with joy and prosperity, especially mine. Except for radical treehuggers and gun grabbers, may their new year be filled with their legs growing together and boils sprouting on their asses while they sleep.

Happy New Year Everybody, now leave me alone I've got a lot of drinking to do and not very much time to do it, and a pretty girl to kiss at midnight. All the best.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Snowmobiles Are Almost As Much Fun As ATVs

OK, they're just as much fun as ATVs anyway, a lot more work though. My shoulders feel like I used a few muscles that I never knew I had, and I only got stuck twice. I hate to think what kind of shape I'll be in after a day in the powder. The temp hovered near 40 degrees yesterday so the snow was pretty crusty. If I leaned on the throttle a little too hard without enough momentum, I'd break through to the snow underneath which had the basic consistency of sugar, then sink like a rock. I only did it twice luckily, once by going too slow, and once trying to climb a big damn hill reserved for those machines with a little more meat in the track department than mine. Overall, it was a good day, and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

We went up to the Bighorn Mountains outside Lovell, Wyoming. The weather was kind of icky for photography so we didn't get many cool scenery pics. I was hoping that the sun would come out but it never did. Later in the afternoon it started snowing and got really dark so all I could see was white, white, and more white. That's about all my camera could see as well. There's an awesome view from the top, but it just doesn't come across in pictures without sunlight. Here's a few of the pics that did come out anyway.

Brian's sled, he got the engine back in and it ran great all day. It's a good bit faster than mine and the 151" track makes it a little harder to get stuck, but for the most part I kept up with him.

Here's me, on my old Wildcat. Who says powersports have to be expensive? I've got less invested in my sled, my boat, and both of my ATVs than a lot of people have invested in their ski equipment, and we're not even going to talk about golf clubs. Good tools are expensive, but if you know how to use them they pay for themselves in the long run.

Here I am going up a hill with Brian in the lead. This was the bunny slope. I didn't get any pics of the big hill, the one I got stuck on. I did make it up the big one once, but then tried a different route and sunk trying to turn around when I figured out I wasn't going to make it.

This is Brian's wife's sled, a 583 Longtrack Ski Doo. It's a lot newer, and it looks nicer, but it has similar capabilities to mine. A lot cushier suspension though, I took it for a ride and it almost spoiled me.

This is an old 294 Polaris Charger. It was given to me by a friend of mine, he found it in the back yard after he bought his house. It'd been sitting for years but whoever put it there drained everything, so I got it running within ten minutes of bringing it home. Brian took it home and fixed it up the rest of the way so the kids would have something to ride. I think that between the two of us we've got the grand total of 5 bucks invested in this thing, but the fun the kids have had with it is priceless.

We did spend our fair share of time monkeying with it. It didn't like the high altitude since it's jetted to run in Columbus. It was running way too rich so it kept loading up with the kids putting around on it. We would've just rejetted it but we didn't have any spare jets that fit. Here we're loosening the driven clutch spring so the engine will wind up a little higher and clear itself out. It worked good enough to extend playtime a little longer.

Somebody told me, on this very blog, that there's a high correlation between snowmobiling and alcohol consumption. I have no idea where they could've gotten that idea. ;)

Is it just me or do I look goofy without my beard? I let that thing grow for two months, and it drove me nuts the whole time. It finally had to go, and so do I. The future will hold many more sled trips I have a feeling. Be good and stay out of trouble all.

Monday, December 26, 2005

My Wife Got A New Picture Editing Program For Christmas

And I've been playing with it. Aren't other people's presents fun?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Which Reindeer are You? It Seems That I'm The Drunk One, Go Figure

You Are Blitzen

Always in good spirits, you're the reindeer who loves to party down with Santa.

Why You're Naughty: You're always blitzed on Christmas Eve, while flying!

Why You're Nice: You mix up a mean eggnog martini.

A Merry Whatever and a Happy New Year to My Faithful Readers, Both of You

I would like to take a minute and wish everyone that stops by the happiest of holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy Chanukah to Mike and Aaron, as well as any others in the Jewish community that happen to stop by. Religion will never be a basis for discrimination here at What I Think, and I am Switzerland in the "War on Christmas". The only way that there's a war is if we let it come to that, I can respect other people's religions. If anyone else can't, that's their problem. We are a diverse world, get over it. There is no "War on Christmas", just a realization that the outwardly Christian atmosphere in this country is discriminatory. Once again, if any other Christians don't like that, get over it, I did.

I'd say that I'd like to see what would happen if all of the government buildings took down the Nativity Scenes and put up Minorahs (sp?), but I don't want to see that, I want to see everyone get along, and I want to see religion not be a factor in our government. I don't want to see the death of religion by any means, faith is important to me, I just don't want to see anyone hurt by bigoted views and discrimination. The Torah, the Bible, whatever the ancient text that we subscribe to, is a wealth of wisdom. Ancient wisdom that I believe to have been inspired by God. Passed down to us so that our lives may be enriched by it. Don't let that wisdom fall victim to petty disagreements.

We here in the blogosphere disagree on so much that an outsider may think that we're virtually at war with each other, nothing could be farther from the truth. I entered the realm of Montana bloggers just a few short months ago, and instantly I was welcomed with open arms. This is a forum where we share ideas, right or wrong, whether we agree or disagree, and while we may have our disagreements, we always seem to get over it, agree to disagree, and move on to the next topic for discussion. Grudges seem to have a very short lifespan in the blogosphere. Anyone dim enough to enter this world with a closed mind soon opens such, or is killed and harvested for food, (I can see the humor in that statement, and I'm sure that's how Tony intended it), an atmosphere that promotes some very engaging discussions, and keeps non thinking sheep mostly at bay. Thanks to all that have made me feel welcome, and I'm looking forward to providing more quality entertainment in the new year. I know I haven't provided any quality entertainment in the old year but hey, there's a first time for everything isn't there?

Now let's put aside all of our differences, kiss and make up, and make this a year of truth and justice and cooperation in the wonderful world of blogs. The mainstream media doesn't have the balls to address the things that we do, so let's make 2006 the year that we really show them how it's done.

All the best of wishes, from me and mine, to you and yours. May your holidays be bright, no matter what you call them.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I Need A Distraction

All this debate, all this arguing, all this wailing and gnashing of teeth, I need a distraction. While the Wal-Mart debate was engaging, and the current debate about King George and his continuing disregard for the Constitution of this great nation is indeed a worthy topic for discussion, I just feel the need for something a little more light hearted before I find myself on another furious rant. I need to do something worthwhile and original on my own blog as well as engaging in the war to save the world on everyone else's.

What I need, is a patron babe. That's right, my blog needs a patron babe. Tony has Selma Hayek, and while I agree that she is indeed hot, she just isn't my type. Too hot maybe if that's possible, too perfect. Nope, not for me and I'm already being somewhat of a copycat here anyway. Nope, I need something original. But who?

My dear wife will always be my number one babe but for this particular endeavor I need someone at least mildly famous, someone that others can relate to, someone judged entirely on what they've done in the public eye, and of course someone hot. I've been thinking about it for days and I've made my choice. I started out with a rather short list, I'm not much of a movie fan and I don't follow celebrity gossip at all so I really don't have the names and faces of all that many famous people committed to memory. Sarah Michelle Gellar? Nope, too prissy. Allyson Hannigan? Nope, cute, but too "band campish". (funny I named those two first, I didn't even like Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Kate Winslet perhaps? Hot yes, redhead even, but I don't know, too . . . . . . British, not that that's a bad thing. Angelina Jolie? Hubba Hubba, she is fine, and all that gunplay in Tomb Raider, but no, just not what I'm looking for. Any chick that could sleep with Billy Bob Thornton is eliminated by default.

The panel was narrowed down to two finalists. The first was Keira Knightly. I saw her first in Pirates of the Caribbean. Pretty, but not all that impressive, not to me anyway, once again, too prissy. Then I saw her in King Arthur. Now we're talking! Blue war paint, wrapped in leather, lobbing arrows at nasty Saxon warriors, now that's my kind of chick, even if her boobs were squished.

Chicks with weapons are hot.

Even with all that Keira has to offer, however, there is one that has her beat. For those that may disagree, get your own patron babe then. Sorry, I just happen to have a weakness for Goth chicks. Maybe that's why I thought the war paint and leather were so hot.

And the winner is: Amy Lee of Evanescence. She's pretty, she possesses a wealth of musical talent, she dominates a stage, she dresses in the wildest outfits imaginable yet sensibly enough to leave at least something to the imagination unlike most female singers these days, and I have to admit that I have a lot more respect for musicians than actors. Besides that, I've met her so I know that she's hot in real life even with her ass dragging on the ground from touring, and she's willing to take a minute to sign autographs for her fans without being too much of a ham or acting like it's too much trouble. Besides her simple, girl next door (albeit, bad girl next door, my favorite kind) type of beauty she possesses a dark, mysterious aura that coupled with her stunning voice talents absolutely captivate me. Congratulations Amy, you are now What I Think (as if you give a damn)'s official patron babe. I'm sure you're honored.

Goth chicks are hot. I need a pic of Amy with a weapon. She's big in Japan, maybe a samurai sword. Excuse me, I have to go now . . . . . ;)

Monday, December 19, 2005

You Can Tell A Lot About A Man

by his artwork. Or graphiti in this case. Notice the American flag ready for immediate deployment if appropriate. It's one of several, old but proud, just like their owner.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Got a Little Carried Away There, Deal With It

OK, sorry about that, no more bad language, I just couldn't help but see that guy as a conglomeration of every scumbag that I ever worked for. I'll tone it down, I don't want to turn into the Monkey.

I've Been Writing, Just Not Here . . .I'm Writing Here Now Though, And I Ain't Happy

Aaron over at Treasure State Judaism had a post a day or two ago about Wal-Mart and I just had to open my big trap. Go check it out and be sure to read the comments by yours truly.

I read Aaron regularly, he's smart, and I like his style, I may not agree with him all the time but at least he can carry on an intelligent discussion, but saying that the fact that Wal-Mart is a legal business somehow exalts it from all accusations is ludicrous. Like I said, Aaron is smart, and I see where he's coming from, but the foam eminating from my mouth at this moment leaves me with a few things of my own to say. They're more about morals and principles than legality however, enjoy.

While companies like Wally World may indeed not break any laws per se, just because something's legal, that doesn't make it right.

Making gigundus profits and paying your employees as little as possible may be legal, but is it right?

It's perfectly legal for some dimwit to spill their coffee in their lap and then sue the person that sold them the coffee for negligence, but does that make it right?

It's quite legal for me to shoot your flea bitten dog if it ventures onto my property, even if your kids are standing there watching, but does that mean that it's right?

It's absolutely legal to stand by and yell insults at a group of soldiers being greeted by their families at an airport because you don't agree with the war they've been fighting or the politicians that sent them there, but does that make it right?

It's definitely legal for some clumsy lard ass to trip over the "Caution: Wet Floor" sign in the aforementioned Wal-Mart store, bust their big butt, and sue the store, but does that make it right?

Caution: Cussing Alert, Repeat, This Is Not A Family Appropriate Post! This blogger has just quit playing nice for a minute! Do not read this if you find crude language offensive! Please scroll past the following text if you donate to any TV evangelist programs! Please get the hell off my blog if you donate to any TV evangelist programs, I only want intelligent people here! I repeat:


Did I make myself perfectly clear?

I can legally post on this here blog that whoever the person is that commented and therefore soiled Aaron's quality blog by the name of "wolfpack" who doesn't even have the balls to put anything in his profile except for a phony name just so he can post bullshit on good blogs because he isn't smart enough to start his own likely because he's so busy running his successful business and fucking his help, is a cheap assed tightwad motherfucker that should be drug out into the street and beaten by his own employees, but would that be right?

You goddam right it would be, and if I find out what your business is you tiny minded little bitch I will personally hand deliver a copy of what you posted there to each and every one of your employees, as well as make damn sure that it's common knowledge around Great Falls. And I don't give a flying fuck if it's legal or not, because some things that happen to be illegal, ARE right. Hopefully that will solve your staffing woes. I'm your worst nightmare asshole, Working Class White Trash on the internet, straight from my trailer to the whole goddam world in an instant and I'm not the only one, not by a long shot. Fuck with us at your peril.

Start a business that's a one man show, pay yourself whatever you want, lock the doors on a moment's notice if you want. As soon as you take on employees you have a responsibility to those people. They trust you whether you think it's a fucking joke or not. They base their hopes and dreams on the illusion of security that you've provided them, if you reward their loyalty you'll reap the benefits tenfold. Defy that trust and may your legs grow together and your ass sprout boils while you sleep. People like you are the reason that this country will never be great again, it's run by a bunch of selfish little bitches that think that working people are their own private pawns.

History has shown that companies that treat their people the best, do the best in the long run. People are waking up to that fact, and when enough of them finally do I pity you, I really do. You may not get rich quick doing right by your employees, but you can damn sure live comfortable and you won't make near as many enemies. People will only put up with this use it up and throw it away attitude about labor for so long, it's happened before, it's like a natural ebb and flow in the labor market and it will turn back the other way eventually. Which side do you want to be on when it does dipshit? Employees will work harder for an employer that treats them fairly, in other words it's a two way street asshole, you scratch our backs we'll scratch yours, you need us just as much as we need you. Is your goody two shoes ass gonna flip your own damn burgers or slop out the grease trap? We can do your job. There isn't a damn one of us that couldn't handle driving around in one of your new cars spending your cash, maybe that's what we should do when we're done kicking your ass. I always wanted to drive that new truck that I bought you fucker, gimme the keys or I'll hit you again.

I hope you're OK with the idea of a young kid with a kid of his own trying to make a living working 80 hours a week at two or three of the horseshit jobs that you provide because he knows he fucked up and he's trying to make it right instead of making his kid pay for his mistakes. He doesn't expect any special treatment, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't appreciate a fucking break. Take a minute and teach the kid how to do the books or something so maybe he'll have a chance in life instead of spending it making you rich. You might be surprised how much he'd do for you if you show him a little respect instead of treating him like a piece of shit put on this earth to serve your sorry ass.

I hope you're comfortable with the idea of a young mom trying to feed her kids on what she makes working for you because she's determined to make it on her own instead of going on welfare. I hope you're wife doesn't find out about how you stare at that little 20 year old body all day and wonder if she'd sue your ass if you grabbed a handful. Oh yeah motherfucker, I've worked for guys like you, but unlike that little gal that you push around and intimidate and daydream about naked all fucking day I don't have my back that hard against a wall, my principles are more important than money to me. Let me see you pinch her ass pervert, I'll knock you the fuck out and you can shove your crummy job up your ass. Am I being too presumptuous? Am I reading too far into this? Probably, but I've known a hundred just fucking like you and you make me nauseous, I just hope for your employees' sake that you continue to be able to live with yourself instead of doing the right thing and putting a bullet through your fucking head. Sleep well fucker, sleep well.

I've been that kid, and my wife's been that girl, and we've worked for good people so we know they exist. The good help that you can't find are working for them, not Wal-Mart, just so you know.

And Aaron, the good people that I speak of, they do let people work overtime sometimes, they do it a little more often if they know one of their people's kids just got out of the hospital, or they're having a baby, or they're about to lose their house or car. They do it because it's right and they can, not because the law says they have to.


Aaron makes some good points, biased but good. At least they seem to be born of intelligence. But for someone who's been through what I've been through recently, having my job of 10 years sold out from under me so that a bunch of good ol' boys that are already rich could get richer and to hell with all the good people that they put out on their ass on a moment's notice, I have a really hard time feeling sorry for a big corporation that treats their employees like crap. This is a little mom and pop operation that I'm talking about, nowhere even a fraction of the influence of the almighty empire that is Wal-Mart. When Wal-Mart pulls the kind of crap that my esteemed former employer pulled, it isn't a handful of people in 4 or 5 states that suffer, it's the whole world.

Don't take my word for it, go find out for yourself.

Or maybe you'll trust this source more since it's free?

Or maybe you don't like to read? Try the video version, be sure to watch all of them, they really fit together. Pay special attention to the parts about how your beloved Wally World buys product in a previously unheard of system where the price is entirely set by the retailer, I especially like all the sweat shop footage from China. Is this everyone's definition of a legitimate business? Sam's American Choice my ass.

Or maybe you prefer something very non-mainstream? Here's something obscure for you.

And how many companies have pissed off so many people that someone felt the need to start an official watchdog group?

Or maybe you'd like to ask a few of the proud Wal-Mart "Associates" mentioned in this article or elsewhere on this site?

Or perhaps you like your news from the mainstream media? Check out flavor of most of the articles on this page. Wow, very legal and legit if you ask me.

Or here's my personal favorite, this one requires a more hands on approach however, just type "Wal-Mart sucks" in the little box and see what happens. This one isn't for the terminally ignorant, however, so use it with caution.

If you've ever bought a CD at Wal-Mart raise your hand. Anyone?

Yes, Justin in the front row. You bought a CD from Wal-Mart, what did you think of it?

You think that it sucked? Why exactly would you say that, a CD is a CD isn't it? I mean the record companies make them and the stores sell them. Wal-Mart sells them cheaper than the record stores and since they're the same CDs you'd have to be a fool to buy them anywhere else wouldn't you?

What's that? The CDs that they sell at Wal-Mart are different than the CDs that they sell everywhere else? Nonsense, record companies wouldn't put out a special Wal-Mart version of an album just so that they could have their products sold in one particular store, they'd just tell the store either sell what we have or don't sell our products we'll sell them elsewhere. That would be censorship and a good American company like Wal-Mart would never take part in something like that. Besides, the suppliers decide what Wal-Mart can buy, not the other way around, everyone knows that's how business works, the retailers don't decide what gets made, the manufacturers do. That would be extremely dangerous to our economy, our freedom, our very way of life if a retailer as large as Wal-Mart had that much control over the market. I mean, they could control the type of media that a huge percentage of the population had access to since such a large number of people shop there. I mean, what would happen if they did the same thing with movies, or books, or magazines?

What? They do the same thing with movies just to a lesser degree? Well yes, we all know that Wal-Mart doesn't sell certain magazines or books but that's just because they're such a morally forthright company, not because they're trying to control what people can see or read. I mean, why should people have to walk past rows of porno magazines in order to get the latest copy of Cosmo? I don't want to be exposed to that type of filth. I just want to get my Cosmo and see what this month's sex tips are.

No Justin, I don't want to hear the CDs that you bought at Wal-Mart compared to the CDs that you bought at the record store, that would be facts, and in order to hear facts I would have to take off my tinfoil hat and you would see the horns growing out of the top of my head and we wouldn't want that now would we?

Class dismissed wolfpack.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Finally, Somebody With Some Balls, Wish I Would've Thought Of It

Link on title, go check it out. This guy points out a lot of the reasons that, while I consider myself a Christian, I don't go to church, I'm not a member of a church, and I don't trust some preacher to teach my kids right from wrong. Go on, read it, no porno pictures involved, just a little cussing but if you can't handle that you have about as much business on the internet as Billy Graham does in a biker bar on bare titty night. If you're one of those that's stupid enough to turn your kids loose on the web, be sure you turn off your super high tech AFA approved parental filters before you go, it has the word "Jew" in it and I'm sure that the AFA wouldn't allow that to pass unless it had "dead" in front of it. I just love exposing hypocrites, I've lost track of how many "Christians" I've known that really believe that Christmas was their idea.

Warning: Don't bother if you're easily offended, you won't find it nearly as funny as I did.

Special thanks to Tony for pointing it out, I haven't read something so true, or laughed that hard in ages.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Opposite of "The War On Christmas", Or Maybe Not, Depends On Who You Ask

I'm sure that fundamentalist Christians would have a problem with this one. I can hear the drivel now, well I could hear the drivel if I still had the capability to hear the voices of evangelical crap spouting hypocrites. Seems that my finely tuned selective hearing is malfunctioning. When I was a boy it functioned flawlessly, I seldom if ever heard my mother tell me to take out the trash or clean my room, but her voice boomed like a pair of 15 inch subwoofers if she said the word "yes" after I asked for permission to do something, loud and clear Ma. No matter how hard I try, however, I just can't seem to hear the words of these holier than thou morons. Oh well, I don't figure I'm missing much anyway except for a bunch of hate and intolerance, ironically the very things that Jesus Christ seemed to so adamantly despise, well, he seemed to despise hate and intolerance in the book I read, it was called the Bible. Maybe a few of them should read it.

I must've missed the part where Jesus said "thou shalt giveth thine entire paycheck to corporations far wealthier than thou to purchase gifts in my name, and if you do this thing that I ask of thee, you will be smitten with cheap Chinese crap and a lousy dead end job so that thou shalt be miserable, and live in poverty as thine reward. All the while I will give great riches and power to those that dwell in the house of Bush, so that they may tell great lies and start wars and smite thine enemies, because all of that stuff that I said about loving thy neighbor was rubbish. KILL, KILL, KILL, SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!" I didn't find that verse, it must be in one of the "secret parts", you know, the ones that only preachers can see. There must be "secret parts", because I haven't seen a lot of the stuff that preachers go on about. I guess that's what I get for not going to church, oh well, see ya in hell I guess. Just in case I don't make it in, say howdy to Jim Baker and that dipshit Dobson for me ok?

Anyway, with all of this talk about a supposed "War on Christmas" from a bunch of people that wouldn't know Christ if he walked up and slapped them with a cold fish, I really got a kick out of Wayne in Newfoundland recently, he has a post up about a peculiar Christmas tradition up in those parts. I know, I know, sounds like they stole Christmas and Halloween and got them mixed up, but it does look like a lot of fun anyway, and best of all it doesn't involve making Sprawl-Mart or your credit card debt any bigger than they already are. It has about . . . excuse me. . . aboot (it is Canada eh) as much to do with Christ as killing a perfectly good tree, hanging a bunch of crap on it, and tossing a bunch more crap underneath it, but it does promote one heck of a sense of community, as in actually knowing what your neighbor's. . . excuse me. . . neighbour's (we are talking about Canada here) names are and maybe even making their day. Heck of a lot more "Christish" than "SPEND, SPEND, SPEND, KILL, KILL, KILL" if you ask me.

If you're as ignorant of the holiday traditions of Newfoundland as I was a few days ago, go check it out. Maybe we can get together and do a little mummering when you're done. That is if you're not too tired from shopping.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Update, I Killed a Kitten and Now I Feel Better

Ok, I didn't really kill a kitten, but I did talk to my friend. I did apologize for being a dickhead, he apologized for bringing up something that didn't really matter in the first place, we both chalked the whole thing up to our mutual dissatisfaction with life in general as of late added to the large quantities of alcoholic beverages that we had consumed. We didn't kiss, (while I can't speak for him, I don't swing that way) ;), but we did shake hands and laugh about it.

I am now past my probationary period at my new job and officially full time and eligible for benefits. I'm supposed to be getting a raise. I feel a lot better, mostly due to the fact that I realized that the whole situation isn't nearly as bad as it seemed, and in a large part because I've realized that what I've been feeling isn't so unusual. My pitty party post gathered far more comments than I ever dreamed that it would, as well as some really good advice, but mostly a big fat "liberal group hug" as Tony put it. ;)

And I'm not even a liberal, go figure.

Anyway, my sense of humor has returned to it's pre-argument state. I can now smile again, and until something else trips my trigger I'm going to try to stay this way. I really do appreciate all of the wish me wells, I do appreciate all of the advice, it will be a long time before I feel normal again, but I'm improving every day except for minor setbacks now and then such as last weekend. It was probably wrong of me to vent my frustrations here, but at least now I know that people care.

Most people laugh at the idea that friends can be made over the internet, I know better. As a truck driver I've had numerous friends over the years that I wouldn't know from Adam if I met them downtown, but I can recognize their voices on a CB radio any day.
Many of these people I've ended up meeting face to face, gotten together with a few for 4 wheeling trips and such as well. We've shared stories, good and bad, we've talked about our families, good and bad, we've given each other advice when someone is going through hard times, we've supported each other when family members were sick or dieing, we've lent an ear when someone was getting a divorce or having trouble with their kids. If that's not friendship, what is? I now know that by doing this, writing down a little slice of my life and sharing it with the world, that I've made friends all over the country, all over the world perhaps, and even if we never meet face to face, I appreciate the fact that you care. Next time instead of bitching about it on the internet, I'll just kill a kitten.

I'll be OK, but I'd be better if I won the lottery.

Now as far as the Prozac's concerned, could I have some Viagra instead?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What A Waste of a Perfectly Good Weekend

With all of the good times I've written about here, I've probably given a lot of people the impression that my life is something a little more wonderful than it actually is. The truth of the matter is that I've been playing a lot more than usual lately in an effort to maintain what's left of my sanity. Last spring a big part of my life took a headlong nosedive into the toilet, and I just can't seem to leave it behind me and every time that I think I just might be able to move on something else sneaks up and blindsides me. I try not to bitch about my problems very much, I usually just shut up and deal with it, but that's just not working so well anymore. My life over the last six months has been an ever steepening downward spiral, one thing after another, after another. I tend to not believe in all of these "syndromes" and buzzwords floating around giving names to what I see as typical life problems, and I definitely don't believe that taking some miracle pill will cure any of these problems, but if there is a such thing as depression, I have it.

There, I admitted it, anybody got any Prozac?

I used to be a happy person not so long ago, I desperately want to be again, but I just don't know how and it's killing me. My wife seems to be the only person that understands, God bless her for it, even my best friends seem to be getting fed up with my ever worsening attitude and I can't say that I blame them, and in the midst of my old friends starting to question me, I now have to start over trying to make new ones at a new job, how futile. Last night I tried to have some fun and forget a few problems for an hour or two, didn't work. I ended up getting in an argument with one of my best friends, the one person that's been through most of what I have over the last six months, the one person that I can relate to through all of this. I regret that argument deeply, and I hope that we both get over it as quickly as possible. He told me the truth about the way I've been acting lately and I didn't like what he had to say, I was an asshole about it I admit, but as a result I'm now stuck with my back against a wall once again, I like knowing where I stand, I like knowing what kind of opinions that people have about me, I hate it when I think I know and find out that I'm wrong. I hate having to ask myself if this person would have been a better friend had he not told me anything, would he have been a better friend if he'd told me a long time ago, will he still be my friend after what happened last night? I hate having to admit that I give a rodent's posterior what anyone thinks about me, I really don't care when it comes to most people, but when it's one of my closest friends it hits too close to home. I don't know what will come of this, all I know is that I don't think I can take much more bad luck, something's got to give here before I lose what's left of my will to even try, there isn't much to spare as it is.

So as a result of my private pitty party, I have nothing worthwhile to report at this time. I probably shouldn't have reported what I just did, but I feel like crap and I really don't care what I should or shouldn't do right now. The only thing I want to do is sleep, hopefully until it's all over, but I know that all the problems will still be there when I awaken. I'm sorry for being such a downer, it's really no one's problems but my own and I really doubt that anyone cares, but everything in my life that ever resembled any type of stability and security is either gone, or perilously close to being gone, everything that I worked so hard to earn is crumbling down around me and I just feel like complaining about it. I'll be in a better mood soon I'm sure, then I'll get back to writing something interesting, that is if my house doesn't burn down, it wouldn't surprise me, it's just the kind of luck I've been having.

What's the lotto jackpot up to this week? Wouldn't matter, if I won I'd get robbed on the way to cash in the ticket. Damn I need a new life, or my old one back.

Now go hug somebody that loves you, that's what I'm going to do, because you never know when that person might be all you've got.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I'm Too Busy For Blogging, Doh!

Sarpy Sam at Thoughts From The Middle of Nowhere needs our help folks. If you like his common sense approach to everything, if you like his spectacular photography, if you like the interesting quotes that he digs up somewhere, if you like the stories and news that he posts, go and vote for him in the blog awards! He's doing very well and with our help he can win this thing so go and vote for him. I insist. And curse your doomed souls if you don't. That's all I have time for today, that's all I've had time for this week, but I'm making money anyway, for now, gotta take it when I can get it. Go vote for Sam, see ya this weekend.

Monday, December 05, 2005

OK, Let's Try This Again . . .

I tried this last night and it just wasn't working, too many distractions, too much noise in the house, other things on my mind, I don't know but every time I started typing my words flowed about as smoothly as a hunk of poo trying to get past the stick crammed up a politician's bunghole. Awful visual I know, but it is funny, isn't it?

Anyway, for years now, I forget how many, I've been absolutely fascinated by the concept of biofuels. I'm not a raging tree hugger as you all know, the environmental benefits of these fuels, for me anyway, are nothing more than an extremely welcome bonus. The reasons for my fascination are the renewability of these fuels, the reduction in dependence on foreign oil that they could potentially bring about, and the simple fact that a good 'ol boy like me with a little ingenuity can convert his old moonshine still to make free or cheap go juice. In the case of biodiesel all of the research that I've seen says that it's actually better for your engine as well, it has a higher lubricity than petro diesel, and it burns cleaner. Cheap, environmentally friendly, and it makes your engine last longer, what's not to love? A few things actually, but I'll get into that in a minute.

What started my whole fascination with this stuff was a story that I read in school back somewhere in the early 80's. It was about two women that set up a portable biodiesel refinery in the back of a Chevy diesel van, (I had one identical to it a few years ago and I sold it, I'm really kicking myself now), and drove it from L.A. to New York . . . . . . absolutely free. They stopped at restaurants, asked for their old fryer oil which they were gladly given I'm sure since restaurants have to pay rendering services to haul the stuff off, they refined it in their van, dumped it in the tank and drove to the next burger joint on down the line garnering funny looks all along the way since their exhaust smelled like french fries.

Ever since then the concept has been hanging in the back of my mind, never quite important enough to warrant any serious research, but just hanging around waiting for the opportunity to pick up a little more residual information and grow a bit. It grew a lot this past weekend, between the fellow I interviewed and the research that I couldn't wait to do when I got home, I at least have a basic knowledge of the concept to start from now.

Anybody got a diesel for sale dirt cheap/free? I need a guinea pig.

Now my experience as a diesel mechanic tells me that a diesel engine will run on just about anything, it won't necessarily run well, it won't necessarily run for very long, but it will run. Some people have successfully run diesel engines on unconverted waste fryer oil, it requires starting the engine on petro diesel, switching to a heated source of oil (it won't flow right if it's under about 150 degrees, it's too thick), then switching back to petro diesel long enough to flush the fuel system before shutting down the engine so that it will start the next time and avoid carboning up the injectors when the fryer oil continues to sizzle and burn inside the hot fuel system. While this may work, it's just not practical for most people. Rigging up nifty fuel tank heaters and plumbing in auxiliary fuel systems is far beyond the scope of most, besides the fact that waste oil contains too many undesirable ingredients to be a fuel that would be in any way beneficial to the engine.

Just not really feasible, we need an alternative fuel that can just be dumped straight into the tank if it's ever going to take off, no modifications or special considerations involved, biodiesel is approaching that point, it still has a few drawbacks, but it's getting really close to being a direct replacement for petro diesel. The worst of these drawbacks, in this part of the country at least, is it's intolerance to cold. Pure bio will begin to gel (solidify) at about 40 degrees F, but the guy that I talked to this past weekend (he didn't want his name mentioned) says he's been running a 50/50 mix of bio and petro in his Dodge Cummins pickup and hasn't had any problems as long as he parks his truck in the garage at night, he says it's been staying about 35 or 40 inside. Once the truck is started the fuel flowing through the head and back to the tank via the return line will be heated enough to keep the fuel in the tank warm. He's currently working on an auxiliary fuel tank with a coil inside that will circulate engine coolant to warm the fuel, then the truck can be run on straight bio in any weather as long as it's started on petro. Once again, rather complicated for most people but there are several electric fuel heaters on the market that could easily be installed on most vehicles and simply plugged in at night along with the normal engine heater. Power Service, (they've been making antigel additives for petro diesel for years), as well as a few other companies, are making an antigel additive especially formulated for bio, since additives for petro diesel don't work very well. These additives don't make bio handle cold like winterized petro diesel quite yet, but they do help and the research is ongoing.

I've been playing with the sample that he gave me and I've found that it will indeed gel quickly if left outside in the snow, but it melts almost instantly as soon as I bring it inside, it's really nifty to watch at any rate, kind of like fast melting candle wax. It smells nothing like petro diesel, no nose stinging sulfur smell, just a barely detectable aroma not unlike the aforementioned candle wax, the unscented kind, with a tiny hint of, you guessed it, french fries. I even went so far as to stick my face in front of the exhaust pipe of his running truck and take a big whiff. Keep in mind that this truck wasn't running on straight bio, it was on a 50/50 mix, but the exhaust smell wasn't nearly as volatile as the normal diesel exhaust, it smelled like the restaurant kitchens that I worked in back in high school, kind of made me hungry actually. That could be a hidden benefit for restaurants willing to give their fryer oil to biodiesel homebrewers, advertising. Give all of 'em enough grease to run their outfits on straight bio, and anyone caught behind them in traffic will be heading for the nearest McDonald's in no time.

The truck idled smoothly, and he tells me that besides the lubrication and reduced soot and carbon benefits of bio, that he hasn't noticed any particular difference in the way it runs as far as power or mileage is concerned. The research says that bio actually makes more power, as well as drastically reducing all categories of emissions with the exception of Nitrogen Oxides. The jury is still out on the NOx issue since there's some conflicting research, but the general consensus is that even if the NOx emissions are increased slightly, that the reductions in other emissions more than offset it, slightly retarding the engine timing can alleviate the increase anyway.

I've seen no research that indicates that bio hurts the engine, quite the contrary actually. Anytime a fuel burns cleaner engine wear is reduced, I've seen this in action as it pertains to gasoline engines converted to propane. Many that make the switch to bio report that the first thing they notice is a drastic reduction, almost total elimination in fact, of the big cloud of black smoke emitted during rapid acceleration. That black soot is what fouls the oil and contributes to much of the wear on many diesel engine components. Couple the reduction in carbon emissions to the much better lubrication and corrosion prevention qualities of biodiesel and I don't have any trouble at all seeing how it could be beneficial.

So what's the difference between biodiesel and plain old chicken fat you ask? Here's a simplified version of the process, there's a fair bit of chemistry involved but I'll just lay out the basic concept here, if you really want to dive into this stuff the place to find it is

Petroleum oil and animal/vegetable fat are basically the same molecular structure. In the biological variety, however, there are a few undesirable elements floating around like triglycerides and free fatty acids. Triglycerides are, to make things simple, glycerin, which is nothing more than a thick goopy form of alcohol. Alcohol is hygroscopic, glycerin is really hygroscopic, meaning it soaks up water like a sponge, meaning it's bad stuff to have in a motor fuel. Free fatty acids are fat molecules that have broken free from the molecular chain as a result of the oil being heated in the fryer, they're bad for you, they're bad for your engine, and another of the interesting little side effects of making biodiesel is that one can find out which restaurants overheat their fryer oil, and avoid eating there, unless you want to die young. Both of these little nasties as well as a few others need to be removed before the stuff can go from hardening the arteries of the masses to making your mondo SUV or truck more environmentally friendly than the Geo Metro sitting next to you in traffic with some clueless treehugger in it flipping you the bird, if he only knew eh?

The way this is done is with a scientific process called transesterification. Big word I know but if you do any research beyond what I'm writing here it will make perfect sense, I encourage you to do so by the way if you have any interest in this stuff since I'm no expert, two days ago I couldn't have told you squat about how to make biodiesel, I've been really cramming for the final here and I've not yet even begun to dive into this stuff, if it works out like things typically do for me I'll do a lot more studying before I'm done. I'm a hopeless know-it-all.

The process of transesterification, in a very tiny nutshell, takes the bad alcohol glycerin, and replaces it with a more stable, less hygroscopic, and easier flowing alcohol, ethanol or more commonly methanol. Hence the term transesterification, the "ester" or alcohol in other words, is replaced with a different ester, glycerin for methanol in this case. It also removes the free fatty acids down to a point where they're insignificant. Other impurities are removed as well such as the soaps that are created during the chemical reaction that removes the glycerin.

First the oil is heated to about 130 degrees F. This removes the residual water left in the oil from cooking foods and sets it up for the transesterification process. A solution of methanol and sodium hydroxide (common household lye) is then added and the mixture is blended well by various different means and if all is done correctly the components will begin to separate. The glycerin will settle to the bottom, a thin layer of soap created by the lye reacting with the fat will form on top of that, and the biodiesel will float to the top. What's happened here is a chemical reaction that knocks the glycerin off it's rocker, and replaces it with the methanol. I just love chemistry when it makes engines run.

The biodiesel is then skimmed off the top, or the glycerin drained off the bottom, then the goodies have to go through a wash process in order to remove the excess methanol since free roaming alcohol can be extremely detrimental to the fuel system of an engine unless it's especially built for it, as in an alcohol fueled race engine. The biodiesel is commonly transferred to a separate wash tank, heated again, and water is added. The whole shebang is mixed well and if the first stage was done correctly the water will separate out rather quickly taking the water soluble impurities such as the excess methanol and soaps with it, it's then drained off the bottom of the tank. If the first stage wasn't done correctly you'll wind up with a nasty emulsion with the water suspended instead of settling out, if that happens you have to start all over since the glycerin wasn't adequately removed. (As I said, there's a lot more to it than what I'm outlining here, don't try this at home unless you do some more research first in other words.) This process is repeated three or four times until the water comes out clean, the honey colored yellow liquid left in the tank is biodiesel, high quality, extremely pure if made correctly, cheap, and very environmentally friendly.

There's then tests that you can do yourself to verify the quality of the finished product if you're worried about harming your engine, as well as labs that will analyze a sample for you, definitely a good idea since there's many places along the way to go wrong. Failing a proper test, you could always just taste it, I wouldn't advise it since it has methanol in it which can be poisonous to humans in relatively small quantities, but I'm told that the stuff tastes awful so I doubt anyone could drink enough of it to get sufficient methanol to hurt them. Since methanol isn't poisonous to most animals besides humans and monkeys you could pour this stuff out on the ground and it would be no more harmful than dumping your kitchen waste in your garden for compost, don't try that with petro diesel.

The waste products left over from the production of biodiesel aren't particularly harmful either. With a little ingenuity most of the methanol can be reclaimed and used over and over since most of it isn't absorbed, it's merely a carrier necessary for the reaction to keep going long enough to free the glycerin. That's where the moonshine still comes in handy. The glycerin has uses as well and can be recycled if you can find an outlet for it, if not it really doesn't matter since glycerin is a naturally occurring form of alcohol and will biodegrade almost instantly in it's pure form, dumping it in the trash is less harmful than trashing an empty paint can. The left over soaps are exactly that, soap, I'm sure there's people that have figured out uses for that, and once again, it's extremely biodegradable, nothing you couldn't or wouldn't dump down your drain on a daily basis. The left over wash water is the last waste product, it's just dirty water, no dissolved petroleum byproducts involved, a little soap and alcohol as well as some cooking oil residue, nothing that you couldn't dump down any drain in town or use to water your plants for that matter.

Add all this to the fact that making biodiesel helps get rid of a bothersome waste product, used fryer oil, and burns with far less emissions than petroleum, and you've got a product that even a treehugger could love. If you're far more "green" than I, you might even consider another environmental benefit that's seldom mentioned. Biodiesel is "carbon neutral", meaning that it adds no carbon to the environment. All of the carbon in biodiesel was once part of plants or animals not so very long ago, not pulled up from deep beneath the ground as in the case of petroleum. (dinosaur carbon must be bad, I guess?) I'm not sure what the exact benefit of that is, but it can't be bad, can it?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Just Another Day In Paradise

Change of plans for today. How come every time I try to plan something, it never happens? Explains why I seldom plan things, I prefer to be more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of guy. Anyway, the play in the snow trip to Columbus didn't come together, so we just played in the snow at home, then we all got cold and went inside like a bunch of wussies.

I did, however, do some research for a future post that I'm planning to do, took some pics, did an interview, the whole shebang. I'll be honest, I just don't feel like writing tonight, and I really want to get this one right, so you'll all just have to wait. No half assed efforts for my loyal readers, both of you are worth nothing less than my best efforts, so I'm calling in sick tonight. Is this what they call "writer's block"? And if I have it does that mean that I'm a writer?

Have fun folks, and stay posted, it was a long week and I just really need some sleep.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Damn, What A Week

First of all, I need to apologize to both of my loyal readers for my recent absence. I've been quite busy this past week earning the money to pay my internet and electric bills so that I can continue to bring you these entertaining and educational tales from the deep dark depths of my sick, twisted brain. I earned enough this week to keep 'em both on for another month, I hope. Didn't leave me much time for blogging, but as I'm sure you already know, I get paid to drive a truck. I don't get paid for blogging. After driving said truck all night, I barely have time to stuff some groceries down my neck, take a shower, and check for holes in my eyelids for 5 or 6 hours before it's time to get up and do it again. As much as I'd like to write something new every day, there just isn't time on the days that I work. I did manage to leave a few comments here, as well as on a few other blogs but no new posts all week. That's the longest I've stayed away from this thing since I started it. I'm an addict, I got a blog jones, I gotta have my fix. Can you find it in your hearts to forgive me? If I didn't have to work for a living I'd have more time to write. Why can't I just win the lottery?

The roads were actually better than expected all week, Tuesday and Thursday nights were a little sporting, but nowhere near what they could've been. The worst part was the sudden and drastic temperature change. Why can't I quit shivering? Why can't I just win the lottery?

I did, however, do one thing fun so far this week. I bought my snowmobile right about the time all the snow melted last spring, they're cheaper that way. I've been waiting ever since the ground turned white to fire it up and go piss off the neighbors, and I finally did it when I got home from work today. I don't know if I pissed anybody off or not, but I hauled my daughter around for a half hour or so and made no effort whatsoever to keep quiet. I should fire it up and haul ass up and down the road a few times at about 3 AM, then duck into the shop, slam the door, and kill the lights before the cops show up. My neighbors seem to make plenty of noise when I'm trying to sleep during the day, turnabout is fair play don't you think? If I won the lottery I could move wherever I wanted, like a neighborhood thankfully devoid of neighbors. Why can't I just win the lottery?

I think I could really get into this whole snowmobiling thing, talk about power. This thing hauls ass, and from what I'm told it isn't even a "fast" sled. I do have a "fast" 4 wheeler, the sled makes it look like a slug on valium, no shit. I can't wait to get it somewhere with more room so I can really open it up, YEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW! It may be old, like everything else I got, but it's still got some fun left in it. If I won the lottery I could buy brand new toys that I wouldn't have to wrench on all the time. Why can't I just win the lottery?

As you can see, there's really not that much to talk about today, I just figured I'd neglected you all long enough. There's talk of maybe loading up the rugrats and going to Columbus tomorrow to play in the snow with my 2nd best friend Brian and his family, if we go I'll be sure to take the camera and tell you all about it tomorrow night. Take two motorheaded rednecks and their wives, add 4 kids, some rope, an old car hood, some snow, and a good selection of 4 wheelers and snowmobiles, shake well, and you got yourself one hell of a recipe for a damn fun day. There's nothing like sharing good times with good friends and loved ones, not even winning the lottery.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gee, We Finally Got a Little Recognition, Huh Huh, I Said Got a Little

An ATV group finally got some well deserved recognition from the Forest Service for their volunteer work. That's amazing.

The Billings Gazoo even had a little, teeny, tiny story about it. That's really amazing.

This type of volunteering goes on all the time, all over the state, and by numerous motorized recreation groups including but definitely not limited to Billings' own Treasure State ATV Association, but nobody notices, and nobody cares. That isn't amazing, that's the one sided approach that is so common in the media today, and it disgusts me to no end.

If an environmental group volunteers to go pick up garbage somewhere, it's front page material. If an ATV club volunteers to build bridges over stream crossings, clear out trail obstructions, and construct anti erosion devices, (picking up garbage is seldom necessary I'm proud to say), it barely warrants a mention, if it even gets mentioned at all. Maybe that's because ATV clubs aren't looking for attention, they're looking to keep the trails open and make them better for everyone, preventing abuse and environmental damage in the process. I'll have to start alerting the media every time one of these volunteer projects is happening. Yep, I think I'll do that.

The hunting petered out this weekend. Bad weather. My sincerest apologies to everyone that tuned in hoping for a great end of season adventure. The people that I know that did brave the elements this past weekend didn't fare well for it, so I'm glad I decided to stay home. Hunting after bad weather is great, hunting during bad weather sucks. As we all know, hunting is about seeing. If you can't see the animals, you can't shoot them. If you can't see past the animals, you can't shoot them safely. Not to mention the bad roads between here and there. Nope, no thanks, we got one deer in the freezer and that's enough for now. Hopefully FWP will have some damage hunts this winter so the boy will get another chance, I feel like a really lousy dad over that one. Two years now and the kid still hasn't shot his first deer. Oh well, he will when he's ready, I know he has it in him, he just hasn't had the right chance yet. We'll have to spend more time target shooting this summer, boost his confidence a little maybe.

I could make something up I guess, but I won't. I'm all about the truth, making things up just isn't my style. Maybe I could go back into my mental archives and dig something up, a story from a hunt long ago and far away . . . . . . We'll see, maybe . . . . . . glub, glub . . . . . zzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZz . . . . . . .

Back about 1990, (not so long ago is it?), a typical American 16 year old boy set out on one of the most memorable hunting trips of his life. I say one of the most memorable because at this particular moment it just happens to be the only one that's memorable enough to remember, but there's more in there somewhere, rattling around and bouncing off of all of the other stuff that got crammed in there and never properly archived back then.

Now what makes this hunting trip so memorable is the fact that it was his first hunting trip "alone". Well, the first one that was out of sight of the house anyway, he'd been walking around shooting rabbits since he was 7 but this one involved driving up into the mountains in the snow, something else he had never done before, even though he wasn't technically alone because another 16 year old boy was riding along, one that hadn't ever been hunting at all and wasn't going to be hunting today either, he was just along for the ride. Alone is a word that is so very open to interpretation don't you agree?

Anyway, our two budding mountain men get up long, a little too long actually, before sunrise and pile into my. . . um. . .uh. . .the first 16 year old boy's battered old Chevy LUV and set out for a day of adventure thankfully devoid of any "adult supervision". They thought of everything, rifle, ammunition, tire chains, Hi Lift jack, rope, tow chain, warm clothes, thermos full of hot chocolate and two cups, enough extra parts to build half of another Chevy LUV, a pack of smokes and a couple of beers stolen from one or both of their fathers, tools, the works. Enough stuff to survive in the woods for a month at least. Did I mention that they forgot to take any food whatsoever? Well, not exactly forgot, they did it on purpose, that's it, yeah, they didn't take any food on purpose. I mean, they were going after food right? They were going to bring back food, no need to take food along when you're going to get food. Is there?

Out of the bursting metropolis of Columbus Montana we. . .um. . .I mean. . . they went, towards the bustling foothill town of Absarokee and beyond, up into the unforgiving Absaroka/Beartooth range they boldly venture, oblivious to the ever deepening snow on the hillsides, on the road, swirling wildly in the feeble beams of the Chevy LUV's headlights. Somewhere, just the other side of Fishtail,( the veritable center of art and culture for the entire Nye valley I should mention), just as the young man at the wheel was considering stopping and putting on the tire chains, (the idea of turning around never occurred to him, that would be sissy) the battered little truck swapped ends twice and backed itself rather neatly into the ditch. It was now time to install the aforementioned tire chains, like it or not. They were affixed without too much unnecessary fanfare, the truck drove back onto the road entirely under it's own power or the lack thereof to be more precise, and our duo of superheros. . .um. . .I mean young travelers ventured on. Their goal: Horseman's Flat, on the West Fork of the Stillwater River, high above the "town" of Nye and the Stillwater Mine.

The remainder of the paved road was uneventful, except of course for the maximum attainable speed of 25 mph, partly because of the total nonexistence of anything that could even be construed as visibility, partly because of the constant bouncing motion and side to side wandering of the truck brought about by the way too beefy tire chains installed on the rear wheels, (they had been built from a cut down pair of semi truck chains, this is a rather industrious little shit we're talking about here, remember), but mostly due to the aforementioned power or the lack thereof being doled out by the venerable Chevy LUV's engine, most of which was being used up plowing a foot and a half of fresh snow leaving little to propel the truck and it's cargo up the grade that it was climbing. Gee, that was one long damn sentence wasn't it? Did I mention that the kid, the first one, the one with the truck, often skipped first hour English class to go hunting? I just thought I'd throw that in there.

They forged on, through the swirling blizzard, turning off at the Stillwater Mine and on up the switchbacks they went, plowing snow all the way. (note to those who care: A two wheel drive Chevy LUV will accomplish seemingly impossible feats usually reserved for highly modified 4 wheel drives if one simply adds tire chains and a good bit of weight in the bed, independent research has shown that a V8 engine block is just about perfect.) Sometime after about the fifteenth stop to clear the snow out of the radiator of the truck and therefore return it's cooling system to a functioning status, the two young adventurers happened to notice a set of tracks going straight when they should have turned, straight off of the end of one of the switchbacks. 16 year old boys being somewhat curious creatures, they decided to investigate this anomaly further. Just over the crest of the road and therefore out of sight unless one walked over to the edge and looked down, was a brand new Chevy pickup and it's rather disgruntled owner standing next to it scratching his head.

I. . .um. . .we. . .um. . . the boys I mean, yelled down to the guy and asked him if he was OK, he was, just lost sight of the road in the blowing snow and missed the corner. He asked them if they'd be willing to give him a pull. They were, although the first boy, the one with the truck, wasn't very optimistic about the prospects of a little two wheel drive Chevy LUV pulling out a full sized 4x4, but what the heck, don't know if we don't try, right? I mean, uh, how would they know if they didn't try, right? So they get out all the chains, and the tow ropes and string them down the hill.

After the requisite connections were made the two drivers got in their trucks, the innocent bystander stood on the ledge keeping watch and relaying messages. The little LUV gave a half hearted tug, nothing happened. The little LUV gave a little harder tug, the big truck moved a foot or so. It was working, yehaw. The little LUV backed up and gave one hell of a tug, more of a yank actually, and the big white Chevy, spinning wildly, backed up onto the road. The driver of the big truck got out, and for the first time gazed upon the vehicle that had just ripped him from the clutches of the forbidding, rocky ditch that he was in just moments before. The look on his face was priceless. He handed the first kid, the one with the truck, 20 bucks and grumbled something that sounded a lot like "20,000 dollar truck and I gotta get pulled out by some high school kid in a hundred dollar jalopy, just my luck".

The two young travelers enjoyed more adventures that day, they saw a six point buck and tracked him for a mile or so through the snow. They turned around to discover that their tracks had blown full of snow and wound up just walking down hill until they found the road, then walked a mile the wrong way before they figured it out and turned back and found the truck. After finding the truck they dug through it from top to bottom looking for anything edible, since as you may remember, they didn't bring any food. They drove down the mountain safely, amazing since the truck was mostly sliding on top of the snow like a toboggan moreso than actually driving, and they made it back home to the bursting metropolis of Columbus Montana, extremely hungry, but mostly unscathed.

But that, my friends, is another story.

Will somebody help me get this critter out of the snow?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Did Anyone Think That I Wouldn't Have Anything To Say About This One? Didn't Think So

I stole this one from the Billings Gazoo, hope I didn't violate any copyright laws but if I did I ain't the first. I wonder why they haven't invited me to write a "Guest Opinion"? Probably because I'm one of those guests that nobody invites back twice.

Guest opinion: Off-highway vehicles overrunning public forests
Really? Where? I've ridden nowhere that I would call overrun, except perhaps Ah Nei on a busy weekend. Can you quote a source for that information perhaps, besides the Sierra Club?


I've ridden off-highway vehicles and enjoyed it. They're fun. In the spirit of fair play I need to get that off my chest.
Oh, so you're saying that you're a hipochrite then?

The Forest Service, with whom I spent a 34-year career prior to retiring as deputy chief in 2002, just issued new regulations intended to blunt the threat posed by OHVs, whose use "has reached critical mass," according to Dale Bosworth, the agency chief.
Well, according to Justin, the world's greatest blogger, OHV use has reached nothing like "critical mass", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. And let me ask you this, if there's so damn many of us, then why are we being ignored so?

I think that assessment is a serious understatement. OHVs - including ATVs, dirt bikes, 4WDs, and snowmobiles - may be fun to ride, but they are ruining the last best places in America's national forests. Clean water, fragile soils, fish and wildlife are taking a beating, and there are fewer and fewer places to pursue quiet and solitude. And don't get me started on how OHVs spread noxious weeds.
I would've left you alone if you hadn't made that one single blatant bullshit statement right there. I'm not even going to get started on the crap about our toys "ruining" the last best places in America's national forests, even though that's entirely a matter of opinion and hardly a statement of fact. I'm gonna tear you up over your statement about noxious weeds. Noxious weeds? I would love to take you on a ride with me some time, really. I have seen examples of noxious weeds being spread along the trails oh yes I have. Next time I see one of these examples, which are very easily found in most areas by the way, I will be sure to document it with photographs. I will most definately take a picture of every pile of horse shit that I see, especially the ones with big ol' purple Canadian Thistles growing out of them. My ATV has yet to shit thistle seeds out along the trail, if it ever does, I'll call you at home dumbass, what's your number?

I commend the Forest Service for directing that OHVs be confined to "designated routes," rather than running loose on the land. But a small step in the right direction is not enough when a giant leap is needed. The new OHV regulation falls woefully short of the bold steps necessary to beat the problem.
Hmmmm? So let me get this straight, you think that requiring OHVs to be confined to the roads and trails that are already there and have been there for years isn't enough? Oh, I know, you think they should just be outlawed entirely, right? That would be a bold step wouldn't it? You wouldn't be feeling very bold after a few million ATV riders got done kicking a mud hole in your ass and stomping it dry though would you?

This issue has been festering for more than two decades on public lands as OHV use has mushroomed. Manufacturers crank out ever-more muscular machines along with slick ad campaigns. And the Forest Service has been largely asleep at the wheel, except for some courageous officials who care enough about your public lands to try and stop the abuse.
Festering, mushroomed, how articulate, there's somebody mushrooming here alright, but it ain't the ATV riders pal. And let me ask you, WTF does more muscular machines and ad campaigns have to do with a damn thing? Are you trying to say that the fact that manufacturers happen to advertise a product that's been particularily lucrative to them and meanwhile attempt to improve said product is the reason that this "problem" is "festering"? Some of us call that free enterprise, but I suppose that you want to outlaw that as well.

And screw your "courageous officials". The only thing that they've courage enough to do is bow to inflated email and letter writing campaigns financed by special interest environmental groups and carried out by paid and likewise unconcerned college students, most of which have probably never been to a National Forest and truth be told could probably give a rat's ass what's best for one. Lucky for us these "courageous officials" are still outnumbered by "common sense officials" that can see this for what it is, just another legitimate use of public lands that when carried out properly and in accordance with the law is no more dangerous to the forests than this lard assed blow hard plodding along a hiking trail puffing wind, farting noxious gases, and dripping sweat all over the ecosystem.

Most private lands are closed to OHVs, as well as state-owned lands. National parks are generally closed (yet there is increasing trespass even there!). That leaves other federal lands as the primary playground, and national forests are the choicest morsels - stunning beauty, vast room to roam, clear streams and skies and freedom to explore. Small wonder so many love it.
Private lands? I won't even slam you for that one, you did it yourself. Increasing trespass in National Parks? Are you perhaps referring to the fact that every year a few wayward snowmobilers happen to wander inside the boundaries of Yellowstone? That's been happening for years, don't even act like it's a recent development, or that it's that big of a problem. The buffalo wander out, the snowmobilers wander in, it's a fair trade I think. Don't like it? Make sure the boundary is well marked, most people really would rather steer clear than risk a fine but everything looks the same when it's buried in snow. If the Buffalo can't tell where the park boundaries are, how the heck is somebody on a snowmobile? At least the guy on the sled can read, probably. All you need are some signs.

The Forest Service is long overdue in reining in abusive OHV activity to protect resources and restore balance with the majority of outdoor enthusiasts who prefer to pursue quiet, human-powered activities. OHVs have a huge "footprint" - they can easily cover 100 miles a day and are noisy. And instead of one family riding in a four-wheel drive pickup, now there are four or five OHVs tooling around instead.
Sorry to bust your bubble buddy, the majority of outdoor enthusiasts prefer riding motorized toys, if they didn't, we wouldn't be having this discussion. You said it yourself, the ATVs are "festering" and "mushrooming", remember? The majority of big city environmentalists enjoy "human powered activities". Like sitting around writing bullshit like this, because most of them haven't ever set foot in a forest. Yes, ATVs can cover a lot of ground, 100 miles a day is a bit of a stretch unless you're really in a hurry, but they can cover a lot of ground, that's why they need more ground to cover. If a hiker can cover say 10 or 20 miles in a day, and an ATV can cover a hundred, then tell me the logic of letting the hikers have the whole damn forest and giving the ATVs a little section, especially when no one is asking to tear up anything. The trails are already there. Kinda like wipin' before ya poop, it just don't make no sense.

And as far as the family in the pickup is concerned, a lot of trails aren't open to trucks, but they are open to ATVs. That's reason one.

Take a road trip with a couple of kids once, see how bored they get? Now let 'em drive, they ain't bored now are they? Neither is the ol' lady, is she? Hell no, the 8 year old is drivin' and mom's wide assed awake ain't she? A family will have far more fun if everyone can ride their own ATV than they will going for a drive in the family truckster. And if little Junior goes in the ditch and plows into a rock he just gets up and dusts himself off, instead of killing the whole family. That's reason two.

Take a four wheel drive pickup sometime and drive across some wet, soft ground and see what happens. Did you get stuck? Did you leave big ol' nasty assed ruts all over the place? Now go climb a steep hill. Did you spin all the way up? Did you dig big trenches all the way and plant a perfect seed for a washout? Now go do the same thing with an ATV, hell, do it with 4 ATVs. Did you skim right over top of that mud? Did you make it up that hill and barely move a little gravel in the process. Now you get the picture. That's reason three.

All that tooling around by 30-40 million OHV riders has created a web of hundreds of thousands of miles of unauthorized, renegade routes that finally spurred the Forest Service to say "Whoa!" Sort of. The Forest Service did not take the much-needed firm stand against these renegade routes.
Uh, they didn't? First of all, the offroad community took that stand before the Forest Service did with things like the Tread Lightly program. We've been educating users for years that off trail travel was a no-no, long before it became universal law on Forest Service land. Go and ask any ATV rider if it's ok to ride off of the trails. If you find one in a hundred or even a thousand that said that it was ok I'd be really surprised.

I don't know how much more "good times" our national forests can stand. Clean water and wildlife will continue to suffer along with increasingly disenfranchised recreationists who long for naturalness and quiet. The Forest Service has allied itself with the wrong values on this issue.
Our, keyword our, National Forests can stand a whole lot more good times, as long as users continue to be as respectful as the ones that I've encountered. Clean water is not suffering, that's just plain crap and you know it. Wildlife? I don't think so. All the critters have to do is move 50 yards one way or the other and no one on an ATV is likely to even see them. As far as these poor "disenfranchised" recreationists, can you say "Wilderness"? There's loads of that around, as well as Forest Service land where ATVs are not allowed. I know, I go there sometimes when I want "naturalness (is that even a friggin word?) and quiet".

Using smoking as an analogy, I make the point that smokers affect nonsmokers, but not vice-versa. OHV users similarly affect "quiet recreationists." Society has settled the smoking issue by demanding that smokers practice their habit in confined areas. The Forest Service needs to get on top of the OHV issue and require that their use be confined to relatively small, suitable areas and leave most national forest lands the way they should be - natural!
Now I've seen stretches, I've seen people grasping at straws, I've even seen people perform drastic abominations of the truth in times of hopeless desparation, this my friends takes the cake and eats it too.

Smoking? Come on man, is that the best that you could come up with? First of all, nonsmokers do affect smokers. Their elitist "I'm better than you so I have all the rights" attitude forces people to stand outside in the cold and smoke, which pisses them off, so that if they formerly would have not smoked in the presence of a nonsmoker out of courtesy, they will extend that courtesy no longer. They'll flat assed blow smoke in your face and laugh because you're a self righteous elitist prick that thinks your way is the right way and that's how it is, period. Never mind steps like seperate smoking areas, or special ventilation systems that could've alleviated the problem of second hand smoke without banishing anyone to stand out in the cold like a second class citizen.

Likewise, "quiet recreationists" affect me. They piss me off, not simply by being quiet, that doesn't bother me at all, but by being elitist snobs that somehow think that the forests belong to them and only them even though numerous steps have been taken to reduce or eliminate the very things that they proclaim as annoyances, pollution, noise, off trail travel, ect. That's the reason why some people that I've talked to don't feel bad in the least when they bury a couple of hikers in dust, or blast by a mountain biker at 50 MPH, if I knew it was this guy, I wouldn't feel bad either. Tell me where he hikes, if he even does, so I can pull the baffle out of my pipe and go do donuts around his overinflated ass.

Let's face it, if I invented an ATV that hovered two feet off the ground, left no tracks, made no noise whatsoever, and shit wolf puppies out of the exhaust it wouldn't be good enough for these people, they wouldn't acknowledge the effort in the slightest. They want the forests all to themselves, plain and simple. They probably get pissed when they see another hiker, if there were too many people walking through the forests they'd want to outlaw that too, for everyone except themselves. Get out your dictionaries boys and girls and let's look up the word "elitist".

The last statement is the worst one of them all, I addressed it earlier, cramming more ATVs into smaller areas. What kind of a "festering mushroom" do you think it's going to create if you take the current number of ATVs and cram them all into the parking lots at our favorite riding areas? Don't deny it because I've seen the travel plan proposals, it's exactly what you want to do to us. It's gonna create one messed up parking lot is what it's gonna do. The more room that ATVs have to operate, the less that they're going to be operating on any one particular stretch of trail. Make them all ride around in a little circle and that's going to be one screwed up circle in no time at all, besides the fact that it's about as much fun as watching grass grow.

But then again that's the whole point when we really get down to it, isn't it? These people want to ruin the whole allure so we'll just give up. Never mind what people want, never mind the economic backlash, environmental groups have never felt bad about destroying entire local economies before, why should they start caring now? Sounds a lot like what these left wing extremists are trying to do with guns, they know they can't get away with straight up outlawing them, so they'll just keep putting restrictions on them until it's such a pain in the ass to own one that it just isn't worth the hassle anymore.

I think that there's enough motorized recreationists out there to have a better voice than this. This is why we need to make that voice heard, sitting on our asses and expecting the trails to still be open next year is no longer an option. These people are making us out to be a minority, we are not a minority, not by a long shot. The sales and registration figures for ATVs and other off highway vehicles proves it. If you want that new 4 wheeler you just bought to rapidly become a $7000 worthless piece of shit, then keep sitting back and being quiet. Mine's an old beater and I'm making noise but I can't do it by myself. Write your Senators, write your Representatives, write the Forest Service, write the BLM, write your state legislators, join the Blue Ribbon Coalition, join your local OHV clubs just do something and do it often. The future of our chosen form of recreation depends on it, unless of course you like riding around in circles.

Jim Furnish is a former deputy chief of the Forest Service, and now a consulting forester living in the Washington, D.C., area.
Former? I like the sound of that. Consultant? If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand, but just in case: CONSULTANT = OVERPAID LEECH. Washington D.C. area? Oh, that explains how he knows so much about National Forests in Montana, I get it now.

Sorry if I offended anyone, except of course for Mr. Jim Furnish, he can kiss my hairy white ass.

It's Raining, Well It's Raining Everywhere That It Isn't Snowing Anyway

This is what it looked like at our secret hunting ground this morning. Snow, on the ground, coming out of the sky, on the road, and getting deeper by the minute. 2 wheel drive truck, narrow, steep mountain road, did I mention that it was snowing? Bad plan.

We didn't make it anywhere near where I shot my deer last week before we decided that we didn't need another big adventure getting out of some ditch somewhere and decided to turn around, which sucks because I forgot to pick up my brass last week and I was going to try to find it. I was using my "other" rifle, my fancy new .300 Winchester Magnum was hanging comfortably in the gun rack in the truck where it belongs. We don't want to get it dirty now do we?

Anyway, ammo for ol' meat on the table is a little scarce and priced at a premium when found, so I save all my brass for reloading. It really peeves me when I lose one, it drives me nuts to see that empty space in one of my boxes of empty brass. DOH! After all, I've only got about a thousand rounds saved up, I could run out any day. But at least I wasn't the only one that had a lousy day hunting.

My 2nd best friend Brian has been having a worse time of things that I have lately, which is a disturbing development, for him anyway, I think it's kinda funny in an evil little kid kinda way. MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! What are friends for if not to laugh at your misfortunes?

Last week, way the heck out in the middle of nowhere up in the Deep Creek area east of Townsend, he's motoring up the mountain in his "hunting truck", which he put together out of a bunch of crap he had laying around so he wouldn't have to beat up his 2003 Chevy hunting and therefore face the wrath of his beloved bride, when the transmission cooler line decides it's gonna grab hold of the spinning front driveline and hold on tight. Things didn't turn out so good for the transmission line.

Brian doesn't call tow trucks either, get him and I together and we could jimmy rig a busted 747 and make it fly, but one of us alone isn't anything to sneeze at when it comes to Macgyvering things back together. While our other hunting buddy, John, rode into town on the 4 wheeler to get more transmission fluid, Brian cut up an old hunk of air hose that he had behind the seat and made a bypass between the two mangled stumps of what was left of the cooler lines, it's winter time, who needs a tranny cooler in the winter time? Anyway, after a whole lot of cussing I'm sure, they filled it back up with fluid and drove that sucker home. That, it turns out, was just the beginning of his bad luck.

I'm really glad that I've concentrated all of my efforts on finding the boy a deer this year, as in, I'm really glad that I haven't concentrated my efforts on going with Brian and John elk hunting this year. I had enough brushes with death last year to keep me happy for a while, I'll just sit back and watch for now.

This morning, while Jr. and I were turning around and heading home due to weather concerns, it turns out that Brian and John were doing the same thing, only up near Gardiner. As they were coming down off of the mountain it seems that a corner was a little icier that Brian thought it was, which is really odd, Brian's a really good driver. Anyway they missed the corner, went down a big embankment, and perched the truck on top of a big assed rock, rather effectively removing the front bumper or a portion thereof, and bending the rear driveline as well as performing a few other feats of custom body work. At last account they had gotten it out of the ditch and were up near Livingston on their way home, at 55 MPH since any faster made the thing vibrate so bad that involuntary tooth loss was a possibility. Did I mention that they didn't have his "hunting truck" this time? I'm sure glad that I won't be there when his wife sees it.

Now what did I tell you all about taking a new truck hunting?