Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who The Hell Needs Porno?

Sheeeesh! Has anybody else been following the comments over at Rockstar Mommy's place the last couple days? I don't mean to join the already swolen ranks of RSM groupies or anything, but this chick definitely deserves a shout out for her last idea. Anyone that's read her site at all knows that she has some issues in her past, who doesn't right? Anyway, she got this idea to solicit comments from her readers regarding "secrets", and the last I checked it was over 400 comments! Some of the stuff people confessed is pretty tame, but a lot of them? All I can say is . . . . . DAMN!

And here I thought only guys pissed in the shower, was I ever wrong!

Of course I had to tell everyone my deepest, darkest, nastiest, secret as well. Actually I didn't tell anyone what that secret was exactly, I just told them that I once got my finger stuck in my sister's rear end and our dad had to help me get it out, that's all. I left it at that and let everyone stew for a couple of days although I'm sure they will all be enormously disappointed when they find out the rest of the story, believe me it's not what you probably think.

Now that your mind has had a chance to roll around in the gutter for awhile, allow me to elaborate.

A few years ago, the older of my two sisters one day decides that she wants an old Ford pickup like the one that our parents bought new when we were kids. Now my sister is well known for providing a home for wayward just about anythings. Dogs, cats, goldfish, camper trailers, tents (oh lord does she have tents), junk automobiles, boats, cast off building materials, you name it. Why her ol' man hasn't killed her yet I have no idea, but somehow she continues to drag stuff home and he continues to build more places for her to keep it all, so it's all good.

So anyway, Sis scours the classifieds and finally comes up with a '78 Ford half ton two wheel drive, just like the one Dad bought brand new in '78 except for the color, and the fact that this one most definitely is not brand new. I don't remember what she paid for it, it was too much I'm sure, but anyway I checked the thing over and it seemed to be in pretty good shape overall for a twenty something year old truck. After a month or so of running back and forth to work however, the telltale clank that the rear end started emitting when she'd put it in gear made it quite obvious that it was going to need some mechanical attention and the sooner the better. Typical Ford 9 inch rear end, you can't break one, but they're famous for wearing out at about a hundred K. Luckily they're relatively cheap and easy to rebuild however.

Now both of my sisters can put most of you sorry assed excuses for men out there to shame when it comes to knowing their way around under a hood, so with a little help from our Dad she jacks it up, pulls the axles, and drops the third member out of the rear end.

This is where I come in, and how my finger wound up in my sister's rear end in the first place.

Now I have no doubt that Sis could've figured out how to overhaul her own rear end, but since she didn't figure she had time, and Dad was too busy as well, I was nominated and happily volunteered to help out with the task.

When Sis's rear end arrived at my shop, I nearly had to look away in disgust. This was one big, nasty, greasy, obviously abused rear end we're talking about here, and it smelled awful, like burnt gear lube. It was terrible. So I checked my resolve, found that I had none, and set myself to the task of disassembling the chunky bastard, cleaning it up, and assessing the damage. My inspection revealed that the ring and pinion gears were still in good shape, the bearings were fine, it was just that the thrust washers behind the side and spider gears had been galled by a lack of oil which was allowing a whole lot of slack, hence the clank when the transmission was put in gear. I gave her a list, she bought the parts, and upon returning from work that fateful Saturday morning, I set out to stuff as many of those new parts into her rear end as I could, making it shiny and new again.

Now anyone that knows me, knows that I'm mostly worthless on Saturday mornings. Actually, I'm mostly worthless all of the time but that's a different story. After working nights all week however, I'm not only worthless, but borderline dangerous on Saturday mornings, but my sister's rear end was in demand, and damn it I needed to get it taken care of. There it sat, on the back of another truck that was in my shop at the time, all clean and shiny, box of new parts sitting next to it, so I shook off what I could of my sleepiness and set out to get my hands dirty. (But not nearly as dirty as your minds)

Now I'm sure a lot of you wouldn't know a rear end from a spark plug, there's likely a few out there that have forgotten more about rear ends than I'll ever know, but just a quick lesson for the one's that are still wondering what the hell I'm talking about. The rear end, or rear axle of a rear wheel drive car or truck houses the differential, which is a mechanism that allows one drive wheel to turn at a different speed than the other one. How it works doesn't really matter for the purpose of this story though, all you really need to know is that there's a bunch of gears inside that mesh together in a way that allows the drive shaft to propell both wheels, while allowing them to rotate at different speeds in order to allow the vehicle to turn corners without sliding one wheel or the other since the wheel on the outside of a curve obviously has to travel a much larger distance than the wheel on the inside of a curve, in the same amount of time. See what I mean? Clear as mud? Like I said, it doesn't really matter, just picture gears, and let them take you away to your happy place which is where I'll be going as soon as I'm done with this post. See ya there.

Basically, assembling a rear end is sort of like one of those nifty little wooden puzzles with the key. Know the one's I'm talking about? The kind that look like a ball or a cube, but when you pull out one "magic" piece, they fall into a big stack of pieces and then you have to put them all together in a certain order so that each piece you put in holds the last one in place. First goes in the side gear thrust washers, then the side gears, then the spider gears and their thrust washers which hold in the side gears, then the cross pins which hold in the spider gears, and so on. It was in the process of installing one of the cross pins that my finger became embarrassingly stuck, in my sister's rear end.

I had the carrier sitting there, the side gears already in place, a spider gear in my hand with the pre greased thrust washer sitting on top of it. I reached inside my sister's rear end with my left hand balancing the spider gear and thrust washer up against the top in the machined area where it was to reside. I picked up the cross pin with my right hand and placed it into the bore in the carrier, where it was to slide through the bore in the middle of the spider gear in my left hand thusly holding it in place and allowing it to pivot on the aforementioned cross pin, but it didn't. It went in a little ways and got stuck. So I did what anyone who had just worked nights all week and had only an hour or so before gotten off work from a 12 hour shift would do, I smacked it with a hammer. Now that wouldn't have been so bad in and of itself, but remember, my left hand was cupping the gear that I was hoping to propel this 3/4 inch diameter stainless steel pin through the middle of, so you can guess what happened.

Even as that hammer was falling through the air, hurtling at breakneck speed towards the protruding end of that pin, my mind was questioning the wisdom of that action. In its sleep deprived state however, it couldn't decide whether to tell my right hand to stop what it was doing before it was too late, or to tell my left hand to get the hell out of the way of that Goddamn hammer, so it didn't tell either of my hands to do anything except just what they were already. Less than a millisecond after that hammer hit home on the end of that pin, the pin shot like a rocket all the way through the gear, and rather effectively pinned my left middle finger into the bore on the opposite side of the carrier. This bore was machined for a precise fit around the aforementioned pin, so considering that a good bit of my finger was now snuggled up next to it in there, it wasn't a comfortable situation to have both of them occupying that space at the same time. There I was, with my finger stuck, in my sister's rear end.

Now for anyone that's never had their finger stuck in their sister's rear end, I can assure you that when you find yourself in that situation, the first and foremost thing on your mind is getting your finger out of your sister's rear end. That one fundamental need supercedes all other desires, you don't think about hunger, you don't think about sleep, all that you know is that your finger is in a damn bad place, and it friggin' hurts. Numerous attempts to pull the pin back out failed, since it had my finger pinned against the other side of the carrier it was in quite a bind and wasn't going to move without more serious persuasion than I could manage with my bare hands. A quick scan of the tailgate that I was using for a workbench yielded a painful shortage of tools, I'd only just started the project and didn't have anything handy except the hammer that had gotten me into this mess in the first place. No thank you.

It was 6 o'clock on a Saturday morning, yelling for my wife or kids to come and help me was out of the question. My family doesn't sleep, they voluntarily enter a coma for several hours a night, and I knew it was too early for any of them to be up on a weekend. I wasn't going to carry my sister's big ol' heavy rear end across the yard and bang it against the side of the house in an effort to wake anyone up either, so I figured that I was on my own. Think Justin, think. AHA! The toolbox! If I can make it to the toolbox and get a screwdriver, I can put it in the hole in the end of the crosspin and wiggle it loose, thus freeing what's left of my finger! I balanced my sister's rear end on my right hand in an effort to keep all of its bulk from tearing off the rest of my now mostly severed finger, and set out for the toolbox on the other side of the shop. I made it! Victory!

Have you ever tried to open one of the top drawers on a big, rollaway tool box and get out a screwdriver while your left middle finger is painfully stuck in your sister's rear end, and you are balancing said rear end on your right hand? I always thought I was pretty talented with my tongue, turns out that I'm not THAT talented. By the time I realized that wasn't going to work, my sister's rear end, which started out plenty heavy, was starting to get REALLY heavy considering that I was holding it up with one hand, so I headed back to the safety of the tailgate.

Times like this one are a good time to reflect. Reflect on what I have no idea since I was in too much pain to reflect on anything except how damn stupid it was to hit that pin with a hammer while my hand was inside the carrier, but if I'd had something else to reflect on this would've been a good time to do it since I damn sure wasn't doing anything else, standing there with my finger firmly stuck, in my sister's rear end. I thought, I pondered, I considered crawling into the back of my truck made workbench and going to sleep until someone came looking for me, I considered sobbing uncontrollably then decided against it when I though about how funny this was going to seem as soon as my finger quit throbbing.

Just as I was contemplating the wisdom of chewing the remains of my finger off thus freeing myself from the clutches of my sister's coyote ugly rear end, and of course thinking about how much better off I would've been had I just went in the house when I got home and snuggled up next to the wife instead of trying to finish this project without a nap, I heard the familiar sound of my Dad's truck pulling up in the driveway. Salvation! Help at last! He didn't even look toward the shop, he headed straight for the door of the house.

%!@$?^&%$#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I set myself for the impending pain, rolled my sister's big ol' rear end back onto my right hand, and with steely determination set out for the door of the shop which had thankfully remained open. Upon reaching said door I calmed myself, regained my composure, yeah, Mr. Calm, Cool, Collected.


Even cool has its limits when your finger is stuck in your sister's rear end.

As soon as Dad reached the shop, I instructed him to get a screwdriver and wiggle the damn cross pin out so I could get my finger loose. He did, and thusly I was freed from the evil clutches of my sister's rear end. My finger turned out to be a little purple, but otherwise unharmed, I finished the reassembly with Dad standing by to make sure that I didn't do anything else stupid, and thus was born the joke.

"If you've ever gotten your finger stuck in your sister's rear end, and your Dad had to help you get it out, you might be a redneck."

And you pervy bastards thought I was talking about her butt. ;)

Monday, September 18, 2006


I've really been getting a kick out of Cruegirl's accounts of her adventures in the classroom lately, so I figured I'd take a minute or two and pay tribute to a few noteworthy teachers from my illustrious past. It takes a special bit of chemistry to make a teacher, about 2 parts selfless generosity mixed with 3 parts insanity. I even entertained the thought of perhaps becoming a teacher myself one time, for about five minutes, then I returned to my senses. I actually thought it might be fun, even rewarding, to be a high school shop teacher. Give something back and all that. Then I thought about some of the kids I'd had in my shop classes over the years, and knew full well that I would've done serious bodily harm to them had they been in my class. Nope, the temperament to be a teacher I do not posses, but luckily there are many out there that do. Here's to the ones that get the formula right.

  • First Grade - Ms. Helt - This woman was Adolph Hitler's first grade teacher. Ok, maybe not, but she did walk the same. Actually walk is a bit of a misstatement, this woman didn't walk, she marched, like a Nazi Stormtrooper, she even wore jackboots, I'm not kidding, ask my sisters. Kids with "problems" and "special needs" wouldn't have survived Ms. Helt's first grade class, as a result there weren't any. She ran her class like a drill instructor, when she said line up, you lined up. If you didn't line up perfectly straight, quiet, and facing the front, you did it over again until you got it right. One kid, an immigrant from another state, once made the mistake of smarting off to her. Moments later he found himself over her knee getting a yard stick across his behind and not a single one of us were surprised, we'd all had older brothers and sisters that had already survived Ms. Helt's Gulag. I don't know how big of a stink his parents made about the whole thing, but he didn't lip off in Ms. Helt's class again you can bet, and neither did anyone else. Now you're all probably thinking that ol' Ms. Helt was quite the meany, and nothing could be further from the truth. She didn't tolerate shenanigans, but if a kid wanted to learn she'd go above and beyond to make sure that kid learned all that he or she could. As a result everyone left her class more than ready to proceed to the second grade and beyond. I venture to say that there was not a single year in my remaining schooling that I learned even half as much as I did in Ms. Helt's first grade class. Everyone could read at what is probably considered to be a 4th grade level these days, and we all learned a thing or two about respect in the process. Ms. Helt probably set a few records for the number of years that she was a teacher, and because of that there's a whole lot of people out there who got off to a good, if perhaps a wee bit frightening, start on the rest of their schooling.
  • Second Grade - Mrs. Tenant - Still regarded by me to be the best teacher I ever had. I had teachers that were nicer, I had teachers that wore more strict, I had teachers that were less strict, I had teachers that were more fun, but never did I have another teacher that had it all balanced out as well as Mrs. Tenant. Discipline in her class was strict, but not so strict as to have a room full of second graders living in fear. When it was time to play, it was time to play. When it was time to work, it was time to work. Time was set aside for both and everyone knew which times were which. We did fun art projects, we played games together as a class, and we learned how to read and write and do 'rithmetic as well. She laughed with us, she yelled at us from time to time, but somehow she knew how to make kids want to learn, and we all did.
  • Third Grade - Ms. Gjierde - She was nice, perhaps a wee bit too nice. As a result a class full of well disciplined farm kids discovered all kinds of ways to get into mischief. She was the type that would allow the classroom to descend into near chaos before she would speak up and settle everyone back down, which although fun for the kids, isn't probably the best way to run a railroad. What she lacked in discipline however, she made up for in patience and generosity. My Grandpa was in the hospital in Billings that year and as a result I missed a LOT of school. Ms. Gjierde spent a lot of time with me in the little bit of time that I was there just to make sure that I got all of my work done and was allowed to pass. She even went so far as to allow me to stay with her while my parents went to Billings to be with my Grandfather as he passed away, both so I wouldn't have to miss any more school, and so I wouldn't have to be there when my Grandpa died. Usually when something like that happened, the janitor at our school would step up and offer to let kids stay at his house and a lot of them did but for some reason I just wasn't comfortable with that idea, neither were my parents, and neither was Ms. Gjierde. Many years later, it was discovered that he was a pedophile when one of my good friends finally came forward, as did several others. Thanks Ms. Gjierde.
  • Fourth Grade - Ms. Goroski - I was in her first class after her required year of student teaching. Had she started out in a big city school, this poor girl would've likely been swamped by a tidal wave of unruly hooligans, but in the tiny farm community of Plevna Montana she fit like a glove. One of the funnest years I had in all the time I was in school, and somehow we managed to learn a bunch in the process.
  • Fifth Grade - Ms. Petersen - For some reason she had a problem with my tendency to finish a work sheet in a matter of minutes, then immerse myself in a book while everyone else procrastinated and goofed off. As a result, I never had homework, everyone else did, and I got a "U" (for Unsatisfactory) in citizenship because I was antisocial. Go figure. Anyway, Ms. Petersen was famous throughout our school for coming up with the coolest art projects in existence, she even did the rounds of the rest of the classes "guest teaching" for at least one art project a year because none of the kids could wait to get to fifth grade and do stuff like that all the time. I'm still pissed about that "U".
After Fifth Grade, I moved to a bigger school and as a result had far too many teachers to remember, or write about here. I'll just hit on the ones that were noteworthy.

  • Sixth Grade Math and Science - Mr. Weininger - My first male teacher, and one of the coolest that any kid could hope for. He had a wild, mad scientist, way about him and so did I, we hit it off famously. He delighted when kids would bring in critters for the classroom, and as a result all of us boys and even a few of the girls were more than happy to contribute to the cumulative collection of bugs, snakes, frogs, toads, lizards, salamanders, crawdads, caterpillars, and all other manner of crawly things. Science was always my favorite subject, and Mr. W's hands on approach to learning about all things scientific was loads of fun. He didn't have to worry too much about discipline either. The fact that he'd often take a bunch of us boys fishing down at the river after school helped to make sure that anyone that gave Mr. W crap was gonna regret it on the playground later. He wasn't just our teacher, he was our buddy.
  • Ninth Grade Metal Shop - Mr. Russel - Taught me as much as he could about working with metal, even though the powers that be were hell bent that metal shop was obsolete and too dangerous and wanted us to just study a text book for the entire period. As long as we did a few work sheets and helped him BS the bureaucracy, he'd let us spend plenty of time in the welding booths learning something worthwhile. (A lot of us spent plenty of time in the welding booths smoking cigarettes and blowing the smoke into the exhaust fans, some kids smoked other stuff and blew the smoke into the exhaust fans, but that's a different story). Besides knowing just about every possible way that mankind could influence the shape and properties of steel, aluminum, copper, and brass, Mr. Russel was just a cool old boy, more like a wise old uncle than a teacher. He didn't have too many discipline problems either.
  • Tenth Grade On Shop/Vo-Ag - Mr. Larson - As far as teachers go, this guy was a god. In the three years that I was in his class as much as humanly possible while still taking all of those crappy required classes in order to graduate, I further perfected my welding skills, learned how to wire a house, how to hang tape and texture sheetrock, how to work concrete, how to shingle a roof, basically how to build a building from the ground up as well as learning a few things about running a metal lathe. We learned how to grow plants in a greenhouse, how to figure out streamflow, and how to survey land for an excavation project. As if that wasn't enough, Mr. Larson also got me involved in FFA Ag Mechanics, which allowed me to travel all over the state and compete against other aspiring gearheads in all of the above subjects. I kicked ass, won a few, got third in the state my Junior year and second as a Senior, served as a chapter officer my Senior year, and won a stack of other awards. They were some of the best times I had the whole time I was in school. When I got my first truck as a sophomore, Larson helped me rebuild the engine, then stayed at the school half of the night so I could get it put in before school got out for the summer. That wasn't the last engine that I swapped in his shop either, nor the last time that he stayed half the night to let me finish up a project. I've stopped by to visit Mr. Larson a few times over the years, but a few years ago he finally had enough of playing second fiddle to the athletics department and gave it up. He works for the County now from what I understand. Damn shame if you ask me. Hell, I've made a living for years off of what I learned in Gym Class . . . . . NOT!
  • Tenth Grade On English - Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Grosheider - Taught me how to write. These guys are the reason that you can somewhat decipher this jibberish that I spew. I'm sure that they don't read this, because if they did there'd be little red marks all over my posts pointing out my spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Considering that they didn't teach what was exactly one of my favorite subjects, the fact that they got me interested at all is a testament to their expertise. Grosheider even got me to write poetry for heaven's sake, and I friggin' hate poetry. Both told me that I had the makings of an outstanding writer, we all know that's BS but it made me feel good at the time anyway. They're a lot of the reason why I started blogging in the first place, they taught me a lot about writing and for every year that I wrote exactly nothing, more and more of that knowledge went down the tubes. Not only did they teach me how to write, they helped me to discover that I actually enjoyed writing, so now I do this as sort of an homage to their efforts.
  • Tenth Grade On Art - Mr. Culbertson - Big Dave as we called him behind his back. He had a really cool beard, and he played rugby in his spare time. He was a mountain of a man, and he had a reputation for not taking any shit, either on the field or in the classroom, so his discipline problems were nigh nonexistent as well. If you'd asked me before I entered his class for my one required year of Art, I'd have told you that I couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler. After I got done voluntarily taking 3 years of his class, I could not only draw a crooked line that looked straight, but I could paint a picture of a lowrider on a beach complete with palm trees reflected in its gleaming finish, carve a sparkplug out of plaster, and draw a pencil sketch that didn't look like something hanging on the wall of Ms. Helt's first grade class. Now if I could just remember how to do any of that stuff now. He had this really cool sort of old hippy thing going on too, I liked him. Besides being one hell of an artist, he was just an extremely interesting guy.
So there you have it, a brief outline of some of the outstanding educators that helped to make me the well balanced and remarkably sane individual that I am today. Just think Cruegirl, in 25 years one of your students might be writing something similar about you on their blog, or at least looking at their old yearbook and wondering why you looked so old back then, but you look so damn hot now. Excuse me, I've got to go find my old yearbooks . . . . . . ;)

It's Getting Late, Maybe I'll Have Time For A Real Post Tomorrow

Now this is what I call "family resemblance". I don't have any fresh pics, but mine has a tail now, and control surfaces, and pushrods, and the motor has completed its first test run with flying colors. 283 watts at 27 amps static with an APC 12X6 prop. Not exactly the makings of a 3D ship, but this is a Cub, it's not supposed to be able to hover, just fly. At least I know that I don't have to worry about frying the batteries or the speed control, I could probably get away with a little more prop even and still be safe. Mine doesn't have skis though, at least not yet. ;)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Now I Know Who REALLY Loves Me

Ok, actually I already did know who really loves me, but she just had to prove it yet again.

Remember this post? The one where I just blindly tossed this out there hoping that perhaps, just maybe, possibly, there was a snowball's chance in hell that someone, like a friend or family member planning on getting me a gift some time in the next, oh, 50 years or so might possibly see it and think "oh yeah, he's into things like hunting, and ATVs, and motorcycles, and the outdoors, and OH YEAH, MODEL AIRPLANES!"

Instead of "Wow, look at this useless piece of worthless garbage, it totally looks like ass and isn't good for a damn thing, but I'll bet Justin would really like it because Lord knows his house isn't nearly cluttered enough as it is, he needs more worthless shit that he couldn't give a rat's ass about!" like they usually do.

I swear, if I get one more fucking thing shaped like Marvin the Martian I'm going absolutely, certifiably goddamn postal on whoever hands it to me with that "you should be eternally grateful" look on their face.

I'm serious.

If you think I can't figure out how to convert an assault rifle to full automatic you're sadly fucking mistaken. I have access to 100 round AK47 magazines.


Yes, I did like Marvin the Martian cartoons when I was a kid. Yes, I still get a kick out of watching the sawed off little genocidal maniac's antics from time to time even to this day. No, I don't want or need a collection of 7985 Marvin the Martian figurines and other various Marvin the Martian themed collectibles.

News flash people:

I know, I know, manners and all that. I've just never been too good at acting excited when somebody gives me something that only a complete idiot that just landed on this planet from Jupiter could possibly think that I wanted. These people are supposed to be my family, don't they know me? Why the hell do I even talk to these people? They obviously just ignore me anyway, otherwise when I was saying something like "John's got this really cool new plane down at the shop, it's a (insert favorite model aircraft here) and it has a (insert favorite optional and really cool model aircraft feature here)", they wouldn't be hearing "I have at least 2 square inches left in my house that aren't quite stuffed with worthless shit just yet, I want another Marvin the Martian figurine".

I really don't mean to be rude, and yeah the thought is nice, but I have a firm policy when it comes to gift giving. If I don't know someone well enough to know what they're into and what they might like, I don't know them well enough to be obligated to buy them a gift for any occasion whatsoever. The reciprocal is true as well, if you don't know me, if you don't know what I'm into, please, PLEase, PUHLEASE don't waste your money buying me a gift, really, just show up, it's enough, I'll genuinely be glad to see you if you promise not to get me some worthless afterthought that I'll now feel obligated to keep into perpetuity. You retire 3 dollars and 49 cents richer, and I don't have to feel like an asshole when I open the box and give you that "Who the fuck did you buy this for because it sure as hell wasn't for me?" look.

Too expensive? Not really. Yeah new planes are expensive, ATVs are definitely expensive, guns aren't too cheap either, but there's a lot of little doodads that aren't expensive at all by themselves but really start to add up when one adds them to the total cost of a new project.

Servos - $10.00 - $25.00 a piece depending on what size they are. A typical plane needs 3 or 4, and they come in all kinds of different sizes but I'm constantly experimenting, so I can never have too many spares on hand.

Glue - $2.00 - $5.00 a bottle, not much at all. There's a million different kinds of glue, pick one.

Trim Sheet - Basically colored, self adhesive vinyl like what's used for making signs and graphics on cars, trucks, vans, billboards ect. Which also works really good for decorating model airplanes.-$5.00 a sheet. Once again, can never have too much on hand, and color isn't all that important.

X-acto blades - a buck or two a pack. Doesn't matter what size or shape, I'll find a use for them.

Dean's Connectors - Little gold plated solder on type electrical plugs used for wiring batteries, motors, ect. when a reliable high current connection is needed. $5.00 a pack. Don't know what I'm talking about? John and Clay do, why not ask them?

Tools - The sky's the limit here, really. Name a tool, chances are I either have it or want it. If you don't know me good enough to know which one's I likely already have, you probably shouldn't feel obligated to buy me anything. Save your money, it's OK, really, I won't hate you, I won't be offended. I don't expect anything from anybody. That crap that your mom taught you about always bringing a gift, forget that shit, I did.

Ammo - Oh yeah, I already have most of the guns that I want, but what good are they without ammo? As with the tools, if you don't know me well enough to know what kind of ammo I might need, don't bother buying me anything. Honestly, I really won't be offended.

Great rule of thumb:

If it's useful, if it does something, if it's something that I can do something with, if it's something that I'd buy myself, if it's a T-shirt that offends you, if it's something that I could and would eat (hey Tony, planning on bringing any tuna back with you?), if it's a gift certificate for a store where I'd go to buy something myself, if it's a book about something that I'm actually interested in, if it burns gasoline, if you made it yourself (I LOVE handmade stuff, I'd rather have just about anything handmade by anyone than anything made in China no matter what it cost. We have the coolest coffee table in the world, and it barely cost anything except the time it took for two of our very good friends to make it. It's beautiful, built to last, it came from the heart, and it's one of my family's most cherished posessions.) - GO.

Thank you to all of the people over the years that didn't need to read the go list in order to "get it". I'd thank you personally but I don't want to offend anyone that doesn't "get it" any worse than I already have.

If it's useless, if it just sits on a shelf, if it has anything to do with knitting or needlepoint, if it's a T-shirt that doesn't offend you, if it's "cute", if it eats, if it doesn't fly, if it doesn't have an engine, if it doesn't take either batteries or gasoline or both, if it can't be used to build something else, if it requires a large amount of maintenance, if it needs watered, if it can't be used to kill something that I can then go on to eat - NO GO.

If you've gotten me something from the no go list, thank you for the thought, but next time just give me the cash instead of wasting it, or like I said before, just don't get me anything. Don't be pissy, don't be offended, just don't waste your money. You obviously don't "get it".

It's really that simple.

Oh yeah, one of the people that actually knows and loves me: My dear sweet blushing bride. Have I mentioned that this chick friggin' rocks?

The gift that she got me for my birthday Tuesday:

I'm about halfway done building it.

I've still got to finish gluing the tail, hinge the control surfaces, and install the radio gear.

I DO NOT need a Marvin the Martian figurine to put in the cockpit, but I do still need servos!

This post is dedicated to all of the guys who got new socks from their wives for their birthdays. NANNY NANNY BOO BOO, sucks to be you!

OK, I'm done venting to the blogosphere now.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Did Ya Miss Me?

Ever tried to work a 12+ hour shift and then find time to blog? It doesn't work so good.

I have found time to turn the computer on for a minute or two here and there, but mostly just to catch up on the other blogs that I enjoy reading and drop an occasional comment.

In case you haven't noticed, Tony's back. I don't know just how involved he's going to get this time, but if he was to get anywhere near the epitome of blogging that was Spun and Spinning I'd be really thrilled. I think I speak for most in the blogosphere when I say that we've missed his voice, and I for one am glad to be back in contact with him. Welcome back my friend.

Touchstone over at 4&20 Blackbirds has been raising some interesting discussions lately as always. Don't ask me why I've never put a link on my sidebar for this one, because I really don't know. I'll have to fix that when I get done with this post. I don't always agree with Jay, but he's obviously one seriously intelligent individual and far closer to a "real writer" than I am. I'd be willing to bet that he even knows the difference between a predicate and a participle. Hell, I forgot about ten minutes after I graduated from high school. ;)

Then there's my good buddy Wulfgar. What can I say about this guy, really? I don't have to say anything about him because he speaks! for! himself! I enjoy his take on politics, once again I may not always agree with it, but I definitely enjoy it. Rob writes what is far and away one of the best political blogs I've ever read, even if I am trying to stay away from politics these days.

Had enough politics? Then I'd suggest giving OneCrueGirl a read. She's got this whole real life naughty kindergarten teacher thing going on and it works, really. If that doesn't do it for you, you're sure to enjoy her adventures in procreation, and her inlaw woes rival even mine when it comes to a good old fashioned belly laugh. Check out the covert tacky clothing pics that she snags at Wal-Mart if you really want a chuckle. Every time she puts one of those up, I can't help but hear the theme from Mission Impossible over and over in my head. Maybe she's really an undercover agent for the fashion police? I know for a fact that she was the real life inspiration for 1985 by Bowling For Soup.

If you'd like another shot of real life blogging, be sure to check out Fire Fly up in Great Falls. She hunts, fishes, works on her own car, all sorts of things that only cool chicks do. If I weren't already married to the coolest chick in the world, I'd be trying to steal her for sure.

Since we're on the subject of cool chicks, be sure to check out Rockstar Mommy. This is definitely a girlie blog, but if you can get past all of the fashion advice without your testicles shriveling there's some mighty funny stuff over there. If you don't happen to have testicles, disregard my last statement. If you have time to read the comments, (for some reason she's a bit more popular than I am), you'll likely find all kinds of good advice for everything from what kind of events it's acceptable to wear flip flops to, to how to get even with a pain in the ass nosy neighbor. Oh yeah, and did I mention that she's kinda hot?

Of course there's still Karen, and Sarpy Sam, the blogosphere just wouldn't be the same without their adventures in agriculture. Between the fires and other unfortunate events, I wonder how these two cope with all of their adventures to be honest. Lucky for us though, cope they do, and even take the time to share said adventures with the rest of us.

Just a handful of the blogs that I've been frequenting lately. Of course there's more but like I said, my time's been limited so I've been limiting my blogsurfing to a pretty short list.

In other news, sorry I haven't had any new video to post recently, but opportunities just haven't been presenting themselves. I've been doing precious little flying lately with my busier work schedule, and I've been spending my time at the field with a transmitter in my hands instead of a camera as a result.

Last weekend, I even turned down a chance to go 4 wheeling with Jim in favor of spending some quality time with my poor, neglected wife. Somebody please either pat me on the back for that one, or feel my forehead to make sure I'm not sick. I'm just kidding. 4 wheeling would have been great, but the Mrs. and I are allowed precious little time to spend together with everything else that's always going on around here. Dinner and a movie with her was a very welcome change indeed. Welcome enough in fact that I've resolved to make sure that it happens more often in the future. In return for everything she does for me on a daily basis, the least I can do is splurge for dinner from time to time.

Other than that, not really anything new to report from here at the Big J Ranch other than the fact that not one but both of my children seem to have started to come down with their father's dreaded aviation affliction. First it was my son, the vector for the disease being that P40 free flight plane that I bought him. As if that wasn't bad enough though, now my daughter has been exposed to a Spitfire that may have been carrying a similar ailment. I can only hope that their disease doesn't turn out to be as long lived as my own case has been. If it is, hopefully they can find some way to actually profit from it at least. Maybe I should start saving up to send two kids to flight school, so they won't have to just dream about flying like their old man does.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Labor Day Weekend

It's Labor Day Weekend already. Seems like just yesterday the snow was melting. Another summer shot to hell.

Speaking of snow, I ran into some up by Checkerboard Wednesday night. 34 degrees. Snow. In August. I have now officially seen it snow every month of the year in Montana what with August being the last hold out. Now if we could just get some in a few of the places that are on fire. That's what I was doing up by Checkerboard in the first place. I90 was closed because of the Derby Fire, so I had to take the scenic route to Butte.

Enough of the small talk, it's time to get to the real point of this post.

It's time for my annual boycott of Burn The Point.


If you're not from around here, Burn The Point is an annual doings put on by the City of Billings involving a classic car parade, a car show, a cruise night, basically a celebration of cool cars and cruising with waves of awesome automobilia rolling through town all weekend long. In other words, an entire weekend dedicated to the spirit of the American gearhead.

I know, I know, you're thinking that I've totally lost it this time. How in the hell could a car geek like me be opposed to something like Burn The Point? I'm not actually opposed to the concept of Burn The Point, quite the contrary actually. I think it's a kick ass idea, I'm just opposed to the fact that it's put on by the City Of Billings. It is one of Billings' major summer events, widely advertised and promoted as a means of drawing business to downtown. But still, how the hell could I be opposed to a weekend of kick ass cars? And what the hell does the City Of Billings have to do with it?

Let me tell you a story that just might clear things up a little.

Let's take a walk shall we? Back into the archives we go, back to about 1993 or '94, I'm not exactly sure of the year, the date doesn't matter, it's all relative anyway. See, this isn't a story about a specific occasion, it's fiction based on fact, embellished a little by bouncing around in this big, empty mellon between my shoulders, but mostly true even if it is a culmination of several actual occasions. Everything in this story actually happened, it just might not have happened all at the same time, and it might not have happened in this order, but it did happen. The files tend to be more and more corrupted the farther we dig back into the archives after all, so you'll just have to settle for the bits that I can clean up.

What happened isn't what's important anyway. What's important is the principle, the concept, the irony of the whole thing. Pay attention to the moral of the story in other words, and don't nitpick on the story itself because its sole purpose is to illustrate the point in question.

Now, turn on your minds eye, and let's take a little walk back through time.

It's Saturday night, in the summertime, late Saturday afternoon to be exact but Saturday night is the only thing on the mind of the young man in this story. He's been preparing for it all day, it's what he lives for after all. Life was simpler back then, it was that time in everyone's life that they think about when they're somewhere quiet with nothing else to worry about. It's the time in everyone's life that they think about when the present time in their lives sucks. It's the time in this young man's life before life got complicated. It's the time in my life before things got complicated.

He casually climbs the stairs from his basement apartment, stops at the top and lights a smoke. The sun's getting low in the sky, the air is getting cooler, and he stands for a moment just soaking it all up before turning and taking a few steps to the driveway.

Damn it looks good. He washed it earlier today, dried it lovingly with a baby soft chamois. Meguire's loves this guy, there's enough wax on this truck to supply a candle factory for an entire Christmas season. The paint is flawless, not some factory carbon copy like your Grand Pappy drives to the coffee shop, hell no. Custom paint, one of a kind, applied by a pro that took some serious pride in his work, and polished to perfection by its proud owner. Polished until it harnesses every orange and pink beam from the setting sun, then fires it back at onlookers with gusto. The lowered suspension adds to the effect, there's no question that this ride is meant for the streets. The polished aluminum wheels gleam, every crack and crevice cleaned and buffed, the low profile Pirrellis that sheath them shining black like pools of liquid pitch.

It was a long and tedious job, but it's been carried through to completion. The dark tinted windows are like mirrors. The interior, the tonneau cover, even the black rubber trim around the windshield, all are coated with enough Armor All to float a small yacht. Even the engine is clean enough to eat off of. Yeah, this guy takes Saturday night cruising seriously, and he really loves his truck.

He turns around and hops back down the stairs, to check on the other love of his life. When he'd last seen her, she was flying back and forth between the bedroom and bathroom in a virtual typhoon of mascara, eyeliner pencils, foundation bottles, powder puffs, and God knows what else, a towel wrapped around her head. He'd gone outside to avoid being strangled with a curling iron cord. She's sequestered herself in the bedroom now, surely digging through her collection of clothes and shoes looking for the perfect outfit. He heads toward the living room couch to wait.

As the bedroom door opens he realizes that his jaw is hanging nearly to his chest. He regains his composure as she smiles, tilts her head to one side, and innocently says "What?"

She knows "What", she's absolutely stunning, and the look on his face tells her so, he doesn't have to say a word. His eyes slowly drift from her feet up her black nylon clad legs, past the way too short black skirt, the frilly black blouse with the see through nylon parts in all the right places to leave as much as possible to the imagination, while making sure that said imagination is spurred instantly and vigorously to life. After lingering momentarily on the milky skin of her shoulders, noticing the freckles that he loves and she hates, they drift on over the strawberry blonde curls that cascade around her young, angelic face, finally settling on the soft blue eyes that captivate him. He smiles back at her, he tells her she's beautiful anyway and he can tell that she still likes hearing it. He takes her hand, and they head out the door for the evening.

He opens the door for her, she slides in not even stopping at the passenger side but heading straight for the middle of the bench seat. She hasn't been told to, she doesn't sit there because it's the "in thing", she sits there because she wants to. He likes the fact that she wants to.

He opens his door and slips into the driver's seat after pausing to check his reflection in the door glass. There's enough gel in his perfectly coiffed mullet to withstand a hurricane but he has to make sure. He lights a fire under the hood, and they slip silently out of the driveway. Some asshole hasn't invented the coffee can fart pipe muffler yet, it's not cool for 4 bangers to make noise in this time and place, that priveledge is still reserved for V8's. Right on Broadwater Ave., heading West now.

Just as he's thinking, "we need some tunes", she says out loud "we need some tunes". He loves it when they do that, when they're on the same page, when their thoughts are perfectly synchronized. He hopes they'll stay that way all night. He hopes they'll stay that way for the rest of their lives.

He pops the tape into the deck, remember those? Normally he likes loud assed rock and roll, but it's Saturday night, and they're cruising. Cruising is about image, cruising is about showing off. The paint and rims speak for themselves but just in case someone doesn't notice in spite of them, there'll be plenty of sounds to attract their attention in a moment. High hats start to snap the tweeters in the dash. 400 watts begin to pulse through cables the size of your thumb as 12 inches of Rockford Fosgate's finest thunder to life. Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre rap from the mids in the doors. Life is good, and the more old folks that scowl their way at the traffic lights, the better. This isn't just music for the ears, it's music for the entire being. The sound waves visually rippling their way down the graduation tassel hanging from the rear view mirror prove it. Extreme bass is annoying if it's someone else's, but it's different when you're a part of it.

Right on 24th Street. He takes his hand off of her knee only long enough to shift gears, the best part being that he knows he could move it higher and she wouldn't care. She'd pretend to care, but she wouldn't really.

Left on Grand, down to the nearest parking lot, flip a U, back down Grand and right onto 24th. His eyes scan the rides moving in the other direction, looking for people he knows. Someone yells his name out a window from time to time, a hand waves now and again, but no one important. These kids just want to be associated with the ride, they're nothing more than acquaintances to the occupants if even that.

There. She points to a parking lot with a bunch of people standing around a circle of minitrucks, paint gleaming under the streetlights, chrome polished to perfection, guys playing Hackey Sack, drop dead gorgeous young girls sitting on tailgates talking. The parking lot looks like a scene from some idealistic teen movie, or maybe the cover of a car magazine aimed at the then just beginning sport compact/minitruck crowd, but it isn't. It's the boys from his car club.

He swings in to check out the scene. There's another S10 like his, only with a convertible top. It belongs to the president of the club and it's a sweet ride, but he still likes his own paint job better.

A Mazda extended cab with a targa top and ghost flames, as well as an older Mazda with a smuggler shell full of M&M 15's and the biggest fucking amp anyone has ever seen.

A full sized Chevy shortbox with a built 454 under the hood, everything on it either frenched, filled, smoothed, or shaved, the closest thing here to being "old school".

A first generation Honda Prelude rolls up. It's clean, for an import car of its advanced age it's damn clean. Most people in this day and age still have a "use it up and throw it away" attitude when it comes to imports, the sport compact craze is just beginning and hasn't really caught on yet out here in the sticks. Very little about this bright red rice burner is stock, its owner has some skills and it shows.

A third gen Civic makes up the rest of the car contingency in this lot, vastly outnumbered by trucks. It sits with its doors open, tunes bumping, streetlights glistening in the gold spoke Dayton wires bulging from its fenders. Skateboarding a front wheel drive is hell on wheel bearings, but damn it looked cool back then.

Others are scattered around as well. Toyotas, Nissans, Ford Rangers, even a few old school minis like Chevy LUVs and Ford Couriers.

They get out, leaving the doors open to show off the flawless interior, and the newly installed blue neon lights behind the seat. You couldn't buy those at Wal-Mart back then, and they didn't plug into the cigarette lighter either, I made my own.

He takes another look at her as she walks toward him, damn she's fine.

The guys all give nods, handshakes, high fives, it didn't matter really, the point was just being there, being a part of it all, being surrounded by people with similar interests, being surrounded by an atmosphere that made you feel like anything could happen but no matter what it was, it'd be fun and exciting.

"Did so and so get out of jail yet?"

"Hell no, they gave him six months."


"Dude, check out my new rims."

"Too sweet man, where'd you get 'em?"

"I could tell ya, but then I'd have to kill ya."

"You been pimping out your mom again, I know you have. That's the only way your sorry ass could afford those rims."

Everybody laughs, until someone says "Looks like we're about to get an eviction notice", and starts casually making their way toward their ride. All present utter quiet grievances as we do the same, the patrol car rolling slowly across the lot toward us. He doesn't have to say a word to us, we know why Mr. Five O is here. He's the messenger of ill will, it doesn't matter if he approves or not, it's his job to clear us punks the hell out of this parking lot, but the smirk on his face tells us he likely doesn't mind raining on our parade. He's hoping somebody gets smart with him so he can show us who the man is, we don't give him the satisfaction.

The rest of the night goes on mostly the same, as did every Friday and Saturday night before it, as will many more after. There's more trips up and down 24th Street, more shy smiles when she catches him staring at her, more parking lot gatherings, more Saturday afternoon wax jobs, more ball busting cops, more of American nostalgia fading away slowly before our very eyes, our youth waning right along with it.

Then comes the signs.

After receiving a few complaints from local residents dim enough to think they're entitled to romantic seclusion and absolute quiet in spite of the fact that they live on the second busiest street in the entire state of Montana, the benevolent Billings City Council in all of its wisdom passed an anti cruising ordinance, and posted signs to that effect on both ends of 24 th Street. It only applied to 24th Street, but banning cruising there had the same effect as banning baseball at Cobb Field would have, or high school football at Daylis Stadium.

24th Street was where cruising was done, sure there were other streets in town, but unless everyone agreed on the same one, there really wasn't any point anymore and the city had sent us a message. They didn't like cruising, they didn't like the noise, they didn't like us wasting gas, they didn't like us having fun, and they'd follow us to whatever future venue we chose to make sure that their agenda was brought to fruition. After all, anytime teenagers and young adults gather in one place, they must be up to no good. Everyone knows that right?

Most of us braved the sacred two four once or twice after that, a few got tickets, but it didn't matter. The scene was dead. No girls piled into somebody's Mom's minivan to whistle at, no parking lots full of friends to hang with and play Hackey Sack. The car club broke up, the donut shops were overrun with bored cops with no more parking lots to clear. An era ended.

Every time I see some older couple rolling by in a '50 Merc, or a shoebox Chevy, some old truck with a spiffy paint job, or a chopped and channeled deuce, I can't help but wonder how they'd feel about the whole thing if they'd lived this story. No doubt they probably spent plenty of nights cruising the local strip wherever that might have been, wherever they may have come of age. No doubt when that old fellow catches his reflection on the gleaming surface of his pride and joy, he doesn't see a bald headed, bejoweled old fart staring back at him. He sees a full head of jet black hair, slicked back into a duck tail and a pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeve of his T-shirt.

When he looks at that old gal sitting next to him on the bench seat in that '40 Ford Deluxe, he doesn't see white hair and age spots. He sees a giggly young girl, as beautiful as she ever was in saddle shoes and a poodle skirt and he knows exactly why he fell in love with her, he knows exactly why he's still in love with her, and he doesn't care if the rest of the world thinks she looks like somebody's Grandma. To him she's still 17.

They went cruising every night that they wanted to until they got mired with bills and kids and jobs and life in general. Nobody hung signs on both ends of their last vestige of youth and freedom, nobody tainted the last of their memories of a part of America as old as the automobile itself, a pastime and right of passage that's been around since the first industrious teenager got his hands on an old piece of shit and figured out how to make it run. For all the more time it takes for them to get tired of driving around aimlessly anymore, they don't have to worry about cruising laws affecting them. I doubt there's a cop in town that would pull over an older couple for cruising anyway.

That's why I boycott Burn The Point. I simply cannot abide the hypocrisy of an event to celebrate the national legacy that is cruising, put on by a city that outlawed that very activity even as I was participating in it. The promoters of this event will not receive one thin dime of my hard earned cash until cruising is once again legal on every tax payer funded street in Billings, Montana year round. Not attending an event like this is a serious sacrifice for someone that loves and appreciates custom cars as much as me. Not chatting with the folks that built these cars equates to missing out on a free education on a subject that deeply interests me. It's a sacrifice I'll force myself to make however, Americana shouldn't be limited to one weekend a year.