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.