Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The end of the old year, the beginning of the new...

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  Other than working on mine it was great.  It has been years since I have been able to spend it with the family.

I was surprised that our tree didn't end up like the one to the left.  We had the 'boys' in the house and they like to explore.

This year has been a wild and bumpy ride.  There have been huge changes with the family situation but all is well in that department.

The wife, kiddos and critters are now back on the homestead in Eastern Texas.  I have to say that when we moved everyone back down there, it felt like 'home'.  I am still working for now up here in Oklahoma until we get a few things taken care of.  Since I work 6 on 3 off I will be going home on my days off.  The way I see it right now its more or less like when I was driving over the road and was home every week or two.  Eventually, withing the next 6 months or so I plan on finding something a little closer to home so I can stay there.

I hope everyone has a great New Year!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A White Christmas?

I will let my friend to the right keep the snow if he wants it.  In my line of work it just makes working outside that much more 'fun' lol.

So how many are hoping for a White Christmas?  I have tried to look at the extended forecasts but it seems to change every day.

I swear, the 'voodoo witch-doctor forecasters' as I affectionately call them can't seem to get it nailed down.

There are times when the Farmers Almanac is a lot more accurate, not to mention the old timers in your area.
This Christmas looks like it will be a very good one for the family this year.  I know the boys can't wait to open gifts, they have been asking each day if they can just open 'one' gift.  To say they are excited is an understatement lol.

So how has your Christmas been shaping up?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Round 2......

Well this weekend was a lot of fun.  We had family and friends down for Thanksgiving and a Wedding on Saturday.

I have to say it did get interesting for a little while.  I got called out on a job at 11 pm the night before which put me in jeopardy in not getting back in time.  Where I work I technically don't go on days off til 8 am in the morning so I had to go out.  The company was good though and they got a relief driver out to where I was at as soon as he was available so I was able to rush back in time to get ready.

We had a late Thanksgiving lunch, then afterwards a short and sweet to the point wedding.

The reason the title above says Round 2 is that this is the second time Jennifer and I have gotten married to each other.  We were married the first time, (in Vegas which was interesting) in 2001.  Unfortunately we went our separate ways a few years later, but I think we both had some growing we had to do.  We both agree that we don't ever want to go through anything like this again so we are stuck with each other lol.

We are a pretty good fit for each other, she is very independent, loves to garden and just comes up with all sorts of cool little projects to do around the house.  She loves to play in the dirt but can get all prettied up in no time flat.  We both want to be more self sufficient in life and now we can help each other work towards that.

Well that's all for now, chat with everyone later.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The dentist trip.....

I kinda know how the guy over to the right feels there lol.

I have a confession to make, I hate going to the dentist.  For some reason they scare the heck out of me, always have.

Well I'll admit I haven't taken care of my teeth like I should.  Also the military 'took care' of me with their dentists a few times when I had to deploy so that didn't help matters much.  Well as it turns out I was better off overall for the health of my mouth to remove all of the bad teeth from my upper, and get a partial denture done on the bottom.

I went in last Thursday and had them pulled.  To say that was an experience is saying the very least.  I walked out of the office swollen, sore, and with my first set of full uppers and partial bottom dentures.

I can safely say that I wouldn't want to wish this on anyone.  I have basically been on a liquid/soft food diet since getting them.  I will be doing that for at least another 2-3 weeks to make sure my gums have healed up before I can use any type of adhesive on the uppers so I can have a little force while chewing.

That is another experience, trying to chew with these in.  It's like my dentist told me, think of it like its a prosthetic, because it really is.  You have to basically relearn how to chew, and yes speaking too.  By the time I get my final set in 6 months, I should have everything down.  Also my final set will be half the size and thickness the ones I currently have are so that should prove interesting on how that adjustment will go.

So here is another thing to think about.  If there was TEOTWAWKI event, what will you do about taking care of your teeth?  Trust me it's a pretty big thing as some of you I'm sure know.  If you need teeth pulled I know how much fun it is with a deadening agent so there is little pain but what if there are no pain killers?  One thing I now wonder is what will I have to do since I have dentures?  These are things that have to be considered now.

Just a few questions to ponder for everyone.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tiny Homes.....


On Facebook I had recently found a pretty cool page over there.  It is called Tiny House Design and they show all sorts of houses that people have designed with a wide variety of items.

The one in the picture above caught my eye as someone took a piece of corrugated pipe and made a small house from it.  It looks like a one room house, maybe something for those guests you have over?

Its pretty cool to see the ideas that everyone comes up with.  It gives you all sorts of ideas on how to re-purpose items that you see laying around.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A slow change in the population...

For the longest time anyone that even thought about being prepared for any bad times was considered like the guy to the left there.  A little nuts, off his rocker...the black sheep.  Oh wait that kinda sounds like me but  I digress lol.

Here recently I have been reading more articles such as this one I have linked.

The 'movement' if you want to call it that has been steadily gaining steam and a little more mainstream.  Are there areas or populations that will still think you are nuts?  Of course there are, there always will be but overall from what I can tell more people are wanting to be prepared for the 'bad times'.

I also want to believe that more people are looking back and going back to their 'roots'.  50 years ago, heck 30 years ago having a store of food was common for quite a few people.  As a child I have many memories of canning out of the family garden, processing chickens, hogs and cattle.  I know myself, I am striving to regain those skills that have not been practiced in years.  I also remember we only made a trip to the grocery store for major food items maybe once a month.  You kept a nice supply of food on hand.

I think in the more rural areas of the country, where your food and self sustaining people live, they are quietly preparing so that they can weather anything that comes their way.  The only major change I see from our forefathers from 50 years ago is that more are prepping in regard to a more severe situation, ie no power, no law enforcement to speak of, things of that nature.

This doesn't mean that you drop your OPSEC and talk openly to everyone you know about what you are doing.  You still need to be careful in that regard, but, you might be finding more like minded people now than before that you can share and exchange information with.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cooler weather ahead....

Sometimes its the simple little things in life that can excite you like our friend here to the left.

Well the fall weather has finally arrived and I have discovered that what few winter clothes I have are still in storage lol.

I went out on one of our jobs when the temperature was in the mid 30's and quickly figured out I needed to repack my 'work' bag.

My work bag has 3 changes of clothes, toiletries, (baby wipes etc) and a nice little food stash.  You never know how long a person will be stuck out on one of our job sites, or bounce from one to another.  The job can definitely give you plenty of hours that's for sure lol.

I have to admit I have tried to ignore what our 'government' has been doing in the last few weeks because it all just completely ticks me off.  Other than a few up there that are trying to bring things to like and change things it is just the same status quo.  When you pay close attention there isn't a bit of difference between either parties 'Carrier Politicians'.  They like to vote things in for 'the common good' but if you notice they exempt themselves from it.  If its so good why do they do that?  To me that's a monster warning sign saying that its not as good as they like us to believe.  Enough about politics though.

I am excited about getting things together this winter so we can have a spring garden.  It has been a very long time since I have worked any type of garden but I look forward to it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Weekend Trip....

I'm sure before we left this is what our animals were thinking...lol

This last weekend Jennifer and I went and took a trip down to Texas to retrieve her pickup (that Cody will be driving) up from a repair shop and bring it home.  We were going to rent a U-Haul trailer, but a friend had a car trailer and let me borrow it.

Well we get down there just fine and on the way we discussed swinging by her old house so she could pick up a few things, spend the night there to save money, and then visit with her parents for a little while in the morning and drive back.  Simple right?

Well, once we got the pickup loaded we noticed that we had two low tires on the back so I got those aired up, only to discover that they had some nice little nails in them.  Ugh, so we bought some stuff to repair it but decided to just go down the road a ways to get out of the rain and keep an eye on it.

Just 10 miles down the road, at some point I had busted a spring on the back and that allowed the tire to walk around, chewing into the trailer before it blew.  It was a good thing I grabbed  a spare tire before leaving.  The problem was that although it was the right size, the rim didn't 'quite' match.  So we unloaded the pickup, strapped up the axle, and limped into town driving both.  I got the tire swapped to the right rim, and went by TSC (Tractor Supply Company, a great farmers store) and picked up a new spring.  I had my basic toolbox with me.

I was just starting to attempt to break those nice rusty bolts when Providence stepped in.  A nice gentlemen stepped up and suggested that we just go down to his shop where we could use the air wrenches etc.  We got down there and in the process of taking off the old spring discovered that we needed new U bolts.  So we went and picked those up while he worked on it.  When I got back I helped him get the rest of it off and the new spring went on quick.  We asked what we owed and he stated 'Oh, just what you think you owe me'.  The barter system at its best!  You don't find very many people like this around anymore.  We settled on 60 dollars, but also gave 20 to his kids that helped out quite a bit too.  I know it was money very well spent.

While talking to him I found out that he was planning on drilling his own water well.  He had traded for a simple drilling rig with a good amount of pipe and bought a good mud pump.  He had really done his research on it and I wished him the best.

We reloaded the truck and went down the road.  I stopped a little while later and was checking the tires when the nail in the other rear tire decided to pop out causing a fast leak.  I quickly grabbed the plug kit and plugged it right there in the parking lot and got it to seal up.

After finally making it to her old place we spent the night and then got what few things were needed, then went and visited her parents.  The drive back was a little longer than we anticipated since I wanted to avoid driving through Dallas, that trailer had me nervous lol.  It made it just fine and we got home late that night.

I have to say I am very glad we had someone watching over us on that trip, and I recognized the fact.  I have heard stories about that kind of stuff happening but never put much thought to it.  Well I do now.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A week long orientation...

I have been down here in southern Oklahoma for orientation since Sunday night.  I have to admit I haven't been through a week long orientation course ever.  The longest was 3 days lol.

That isn't to say that a week isn't needed.  We have covered quite a bit but there is still more to go over.  I never realized fully how much Halliburton pays attention to safety and detail.  We have a few more safety courses to take before things will be wrapping up.  They really do try to take care of their people.

The crazy thing is that none of the stuff we are going over this week is even remotely related to the job I will be doing.  I will start to cover that next week when I get back to the camp or 'location' I will be working out of.  Things are shaping up pretty interesting.

I know I am missing everyone back at home quite a bit and I can't wait to get back there when I finally leave here Friday.

The weather has been pretty nice and I am really enjoying this nice fall weather.  I hope it continues like this as the heat was getting a little old lol.

Well I have some homework to finish that they sent home with us so I better get busy.  Later!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A week away from home....

On a happy note I have gotten the final word on the job I had applied for.  I go for orientation next week, for a whole week down to the southern part of the state.  The company is one of the largest in the oilfield industry.  I have to admit their benefits package is one of the best I have ever seen and that along with the ability to move around the company really sold me on it.

It's going to be interesting to see how everybody does being separated for a week.

On another note we are still looking for a suitable place that is not going to cost us our livelihood for the next 30 years lol.  We really don't want to be working just to make a house payment.  Right now we will just have to see what the lenders will do but I can say it has not been an easy process.

The weather up here has started to cool off some which is really nice.  I mean heck, it IS Fall after all so we need some of that nice fall weather.  A little more moisture wouldn't hurt either.  Although we didn't do any gardens this year I think we will try to get something set up and going next spring and see how it goes.

On a last note, with the picture above wouldn't it be interesting to hear what the 'neighborhood watch' saw and how they would say it lol.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A great start to the week.....

Well I think I have a slightly better attitude than the guy in the picture to the right but I do have my days....but who doesn't lol.

Anyways so far the week has started off pretty well.  Yesterday I had an appointment for a pre-employment physical and it went very well.  Now I just have to wait and see how long the rest of the process works.  The benefits this new job far outweigh the old one.  The two biggest are the health care coverage and how they work the retirement plan.

On another note the better half started her job at the school cafeteria and it sounds like she really enjoyed it.  She had fun with it and the kids enjoyed seeing her there too.  She was a little worried that she would be like our friend above but it didn't turn out that way which is good.  The group of ladies she is working with sound like they are pretty open and accepting and like to have fun lol.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The state of Mortgage lending today....

Well unfortunately I have found out how much 'fun' it is to try and get a mortgage in 'today's world'.

I have been looking for something since Jen and the boys have moved down.  We had optimistic hopes that we could find something doable at a reasonable price....

One of the first things we found out is just how much the mortgage industry has changed since the crash of 2008.

They have pumped how much money into our 'economy' with QE and all of the other programs that our wonderful administration came up with so banks will lend.  But the banks have cranked down hard on the credit scores so they aren't loaning the money they received.  It's a lose lose situation for everyone it seems...except for the big banks that is that received all that money.

One of the first changes was that you have to have a 'paper trail' for any cash that you put down.  You can't just slap down cash you have to show where it came from all thanks to our wonderful Federal government.  They also have to do a more extensive 'background check' to see your past history.  All of this mandated by Homeland Security to 'track' terrorists.

Honestly, do you think terrorists are going to use a mortgage company to buy a home or property when they are trying to keep a low profile?  They are more than likely to do a cash purchase 'under the table' to where it would be untraceable.  Do they think we are dumb?

All our wonderful 'Federal government' did was elicit more control over our lives.  What is it to them where I get my money?  Why should they be in the middle of a written contract made between me and the lender I have chosen?  What and how I live my life is not their problem, I should be able to do it how I please.

One of our options is to go back to Texas where the boys and Jennifer lived.  They have a nice property with everything a person would need on it.  We were using this as a 'fallback' option in case of a SHTF scenario.

We did get qualified on a manufactured home.  The problem is that the payment was twice what we anticipated with an outrageous interest rate to boot.  The other problem was that it was only a 20 year mortgage since its not a standard home.  Taking that into consideration we decided we didn't want to be up to our ears in debt like that.  We both kinda like the idea of not having a huge house payment so we can continue to get the small things we need to be self sufficient.

So right now we are just looking at any other options and see where life will lead us.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Ok, first off watch out for those naughty cats around your vehicles, you never know what they might be doing.

On a more serious note I had a very long day today.  This morning, I was driving one of our transports through town when I had a vehicle that was sitting still waiting to turn suddenly do it when I was less than 60 feet from them.

First lets look at the physics.  I was driving a truck that when fully loaded weighs 40 tons.  The other driver had a vehicle that might have weighed 1 ton.  I was doing the speed limit, which was 35 mph.  To say that I turned his truck into a pile of scrap metal.  The other driver did suffer injuries.  When I ran back to the scene he was knocked unconscious from the collision.  Multiple witnesses stated that he had been sitting stationary for a while before surprising everyone by turning in front of me.  The circumstantial evidence points to the possibility of him being distracted possibly by texting and driving.

People, that cell phone is not worth your life, or your possessions.  There wasn't a single thing on his pile of scrap truck that was salvageable.  The truck I drove on the other hand suffered superficial damage due to the pipe bumpers we have on the front.  I received no citation for the accident and honestly he should receive one for 'Failure to yield to oncoming traffic'.

Today's technology can be a blessing, but it can also be a crutch and drag you down with it.  Don't be a slave to the technology.  Instead of texting someone, have an 'old fashioned' face to face conversation.  You would be amazed at how nice it can be.

I spend most of the day doing drug screens and writing accident reports.  I sincerely hope that the driver that pulled out in front of me will be ok although I know he sustained some injuries.

So be careful when driving and keep your head on a swivel.  I was watching him as I approached and he still surprised me.  All I could do was brake and brace for the impact keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel.  I know that's what kept me from going off the road or hitting others.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Days off!!

Well I have to say I am real glad to finally get 2 days off in a row!  The company I work for has had me extremely busy here lately.  How busy?  Well last month I had 3 days off in the month, and my busiest week I worked over 70 hours.  I will say I have been dragging butt here lately so the break is nice.

On the home front I am waiting on word on whether or not we can get the loan for the place we want to move over here to the farm.  There are lots of long term plans that will be worked on once we get something set up.  I am hoping I have enough time to get things up and going before it is really needed so the world needs to hold together for a little while longer lol.

This month the weather looks very promising.  It looks like we will have some cooler temperatures with some rain off and on for the whole month.  I have a feeling I better make sure we have plenty of wood on hand as it might be a pretty cold winter from the looks of it.

Here is to hoping my days off schedule holds up so I can keep getting decent days off so I can spend more quality time with the family.  All work and no play can make a person pretty dull lol.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A long fun filled week

Well the 77th annual Cimarron River Stampede Rodeo is now over.  Between work, the rodeo and having an awesome fun time reconnecting with Jennifer and the kids I am one worn out puppy!

The boys had fun riding the horses and finding all sorts of things to get into out here at the farm.  The rodeo was our largest yet between the spectators and the contestants.

Another great thing is that my niece was one of the rodeo queen candidates and she won it!  Dad would be so proud of her.  She will be an awesome representative for the rodeo for the next year.

My brother was able to make it down so we had most of the family at the rodeo when she was crowned.

As I sat back and watched my boys it struck me on how much they have grown up since the last time I have seen them.  That is something that I am fixing on a permanent basis.  They say as you grow older you grow wiser.  Well I can certainly agree to that!

We have been getting so much moisture here that its very unusual.  I wish I had the catchment system done I would be overflowing with water lol.  It has been a good thing but it sure makes work fun at times.

Well, that's all for now so I hope to put more on here later.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Time to take a breather....lol

Well, I got the local driving job I was applying for!  Now the fun thing is that in the last 3 days I have put in over 40 hours already!

That would explain why I haven't been on here very much in the last few days lol.

On a happy note, my boys and their mom who reside in Texas are up for an extended visit.

It is great to be able to see them.

Next week is the Rodeo that will be a whole lot of fun.  It looks like we might have the potential of having most of the family down for it.  This could be a fun week next week.

Here is to hoping that my job kinda levels out a little bit. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The fence is done!

Yay  I got the fence checked and repaired on the east pasture and got two of the horses moved over there.

Here is a shot of the horses that we moved.  The one to the right is a 18 month old colt named Mesquite and next to him is Missy.  That was the patch that I repaired the north fence on.  I think I put in over 15 T posts lol.

This is a shot of Chief, who is on the left and Apache, the momma of Mesquite.  They are on a patch right next to the house now.  These two are broke and rideable.  The other two need to be taken and broke to be ridden.  Poor Mesquite gets to get snipped before he gets broke so he won't be a happy camper lol.

The patch that the younger two are an hasn't been grazed on at all so far this year so they have quite a bit to eat on.  This will give the 10 acres we keep the horses on a break to recover and grow since we have gotten this nice rain.  Can't let that go to waste!

The pastures they  are in right now are wired for goats.  If you notice the fence is a 9 wire fence.  I swear its fun to keep goats in when we have them, they tend to be great break out artists even when they have plenty to eat.  They just love to explore lol.

Well that's all for now, I should hopefully get the trim down and have the floor done on the one room I was working on and then I can see what else I can get into.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Waiting to hear the word....

I'm wondering if this guy has been messing with my phone calls lol.

Today the interview went well, pending the background and license checks it sounds like it will be a go so I can get back to work.

Out here at the farm I am finding quite a few projects that need to be done.  It seems to be a never ending process lol.

One of the main projects that tends to put others on hold is that my niece is a Rodeo Queen candidate at our local rodeo, the Cimarron River Stampede, which is in its 77th year.  It is considered one of the oldest running rodeos here in the state of Oklahoma.  If your in the area come on out it runs from the 8th to the 10th of August.

One of my main projects that I need to get done this week is to go through the fence on one of our 5 acre patches that hasn't been grazed on yet so I can put a few of the horses there so their patch can recover.  We have had some great pasture growth due to this nice rain we have been getting.  Knock on wood we have another chance to possibly get another inch of rain or so tonight.

I also need to get the weed eater going and mow a rapidly growing lawn at some point this week too, it never ends lol.

Once we get an idea on what we possibly want to do with the rainwater system one of the next projects will be possibly getting ready to do some fall planting with some fruit trees and where to put a few raised garden plots to prepare for next spring.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rainwater Catchment Systems

I have been doing quite a bit of reading on Rainwater Catchment Systems.  The best information I have found so far was a very nice pdf file by the Texas Water Development Board.  Here is a link to the pdf file.  The manual is 88 pages long with a lot of good information in it.  The only thing you really need to look for is to find a table showing the Average Annual Precipitation for your area that you live in.

Here is the table for my state Oklahoma.

Where I live is in the area between the 24 and 28 inch per year range.  Now to keep it simple, (remember when doing calculations to use the K.I.S.S. method, 'Keep It Simple Stupid' ) I will use the 24 inch to use a conservative number.  Now I do realize that we are in a drought right now but also keep in mind that these tables are an average not a per year basis.

So here is a few pictures of the old cistern that is on the property.

 As you can see it has not been used in quite a while.  We have owned the place since 1982 and it was not in use then.  It appears that the walls are a thin concrete with a plaster over them.  There is one section down towards the bottom where it has cracked and fallen in.  That broken piece is probably a foot or so but there is a section a few feet long that is pushing out.  There is about 18 inches of water in the bottom and a decent level of debris in the bottom.

The cistern measures about 7 foot in diameter by 14 feet deep.  Keep in mind that is to the debris level not the true bottom of that tank.  Using these measurements that gives it a 3454 gallon capacity.

Next the roof footprint of the house is roughly 30 ft x 71 ft.  That comes out to 2130 square feet on the footprint.  Now with rainfall you can get .62 gallons per inch on every square foot.  That comes out to 1320 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall.  Now a person will not be able to get 100% of the water off of the roof.  The professional contractors that install systems use between 75-90% catchment when designing and installing systems.  I'll be conservative and use 75%.  That still gives the roof 990 gallons of water per inch of rainfall.

With this system  it would catch 23,760 gallons of water in a year that is usable.  They say a household uses anywhere from 24-49 gallons of water per day on average.  One person would use anywhere from 8760 to 17885 gallons per year.  So as you can see water usage is a huge thing in this.

Right off the top of my head I think we are going to need to find another source of water, a well for example to supplement the rainwater.  As I continue to research and crunch the numbers it should be interesting.

The first question is whether or not the old cistern is worth refurbishing or if we need to go with a new tank catchment system?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Going home is hard work!

Well I have to say it has been quite a while since I have moved this much furniture around at the farm lol.

I have to say that the decision to get off the road has so far seemed to be a very good one.  I am realizing how many different things I have missed out on when I was out on the road.

I have a very good job opportunity lined up starting next week once all of the pre-employment tests are done.  I will be able to make at least around 700-1000 a week and be home to work on the many many projects out here on the farm.  I really need to make a priority list to start to get things lined up and moving once I have a work schedule down.

I think one of the first things we are going to start working on is a rain water catchment system. I was surprised at the information I have found on it.  There was a great pdf file from the Texas agricultural system that really breaks the system down on what you need etc.  It's interesting the popularity of this type of system that is rapidly growing.

We discovered that the farm has an old cistern.  The problem is that it hasn't been used in decades and would need quite a bit of repair.  It is pretty big, estimates put it over the 4200 gallon range if not larger.  We have to determine if it is worth it to repair it or just to go with an above ground tank system.  I will take a few pictures of it and post them on the next blog entry as we figure out if we can use it.

I have to say things are looking interesting.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Time to go home....

Well everyone I know it has been a few days since I have posted on here.  There have been a few things going on in my neck of the woods.

First off, I think its time to hang it up with driving over the road and go home.  There are a few reasons for this.

The first one is the cost of expenses.  I just went and did a comparison of what I was spending two years ago compared to today and it really scared me.  My expenses, eating, laundry etc out here have seemed to have increased drastically.  We are not talking a few dollars here.  We are talking about an increase of over 30-40 percent!  That is huge!  I'm sure if everyone went and did some research they would notice that prices have been steadily creeping up for the last two years.

The second one is the affect I am seeing with the new HOS rules for driving.  Right now the companies have re arranged the load times and deliveries to the point I am getting 4-500 miles less than what I normally do per week.  That adds up real quick in lost revenue.  Also, revenue has not been increased for us in quite a while.

So it simply boils down to the fact that you can only slice the revenue pie so many times.  Without an increase in revenue, an increase in expenses, it is getting harder to make a decent living out here.

The next thing is that I would like to be back on the farm more than once every 3 weeks or so.  Since Dad passed away there are way too many things out there that need to be taken care of.  My brother and I simply can't get to everything doing it 'long distance', meaning a weekend here or there.

There is a small chance that I can pick up on a local LEO position so I hope I haven't jinked it by talking about it!  That would work out great if I can pick it up.

So I am hoping to hang up the truck drivers hat, but take back down my duty belt and get back to work.  I'm praying it happens.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A step in the wrong direction?

I have seen a disturbing trend here lately but first let me give you a little back information.

A few years ago I was a police officer and Chief of Police for my hometown.  One of the technologies that was just hitting the market were the 'automatic license plate scanners'.

At the time, they were 'advertised' to the police department as a device that would make finding vehicles with plates and insurance out of date and compliance.  Also, if the person registered to the vehicle had a warrant that would also throw up a red flag.  This was suppose to be a device that would help 'clean up the streets' so to speak.  It was a costly device so that only the large departments could even consider fielding one so I didn't give it another thought.

But another use has apparently been used with it.  With just a few more settings the police can now RECORD ALL license plates with a time-stamp of where they were at when they were recorded.  By doing this they could build a database of your movements.  'But I don't do anything wrong, so what do I care what they do'.  That is what a lot of people say being apathetic to this kind of thing.  Here is the problem though, with the amount of laws and regulations that we have on the books,(not to mention how simple it seems to be for the government to consider you a 'suspect' for something) its only a matter of time before you break one. Then they can go back in this massive data base, look at your movements etc, and see what else you might have done.

Is this right?  No, its not. It's a violation of your 4th Amendment rights.  Is this happening?  It appears to be.  I googled a simple phrase, 'cities using license plate scanners to store information' and the first page is nothing but articles about various major cities DOING this.

The one thing that this proves is that you can take ANY new technology that at the time had a benign and non threatening use, and turn it into something completely different.

There is the quote from Lord Action, a British historian of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

This seems to be true and is unfolding before our very eyes.  So all I can say to anyone is be careful of the power you give to any political or government entity as history has proven time and again.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The new HOS Rules starting on July 1st

The company I drive for did a video series on the new hours of service and they were able to clarify a few things.

The first one I will talk about is the 30 minute rest period.  This one is pretty easy.  The FMCSA regulation states : ) Rest breaks. After June 30, 2013,
driving is not permitted if more than 8
hours have passed since the end of the
driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth
period of at least 30 minutes.

This one is pretty easy to do.  Heck anyone that drives usually stops at least one every 4 hours or so just for a bathroom break.  That alone can take 15 minutes so you just have to rest, relax, stretch etc for another 15 minutes then hit the road again.  Now some companies are putting out policies when they want their drivers to take breaks and these can be more restrictive.  I honestly think it should be up to the driver and be done with it there.

The second one deals with the 34 hour restart provision.  There are two changes they made to this.  The first is that you have to have TWO rest periods between 1 am and 5 am.  Here is part of the provision: any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.  This one is going to affect team drivers, and those drivers that like to drive at night the hardest.  They in essence will be taking up to a 48 hour or more break to reset.

The second change is that you have to have a 168 hour period from the BEGINNING of your last reset to the time before you take your next one.  Another wards you have to take 7 days from the beginning of your last reset before you can take your next one limiting you to one per week.  Here is the text from FMCSA:
After June 30, 2013, a driver may not take an off-duty period allowed by paragraph (c) of this section to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days until 168 or more
consecutive hours have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period.

All of my information came from the PDF that the FMCSA put out.  Here is a link to it.  Be warned, its a pretty long read showing all of the comments and responses in it.  The actual new rules are on the last page that were published.

I hope this helps a few so they can re adjust their operation if they need to before these rules kick in at the beginning of July.

Do you know what the labels really mean?

So I was eating at the counter in the restaurant this morning when I overheard a few of the waitresses talking about politics and beliefs.

The way they were tossing them around I had the feeling they really didn't fully understand the meanings behind them so I thought I would bring them up here.  So let me bring up the Wikipedia definition of the basic ones.

Republican PartyCurrently the party's platform is generally based upon American conservatism,[1][2][3] in contrast to the Democratic Party, who endorse more liberal policies. American conservatism of the Republican Party is not wholly based upon rejection of the political ideology of liberalism, as some principles of American conservatism are based upon classical liberalism.[4] Rather, the Republican Party's conservatism is largely based upon its support of classical principles against the modern liberalism of the Democratic Party that is considered American liberalism in contemporary American political discourse

Democratic Partyis one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States along with the Republican Party. Since the 1930s, the party has promoted a socially liberal and progressive platform,[2][3][4] and its Congressional caucus is composed of progressivesliberals, and centrists.[5] The party has the lengthiest record of continuous operation in the United States and is among the oldest political parties in the world.[6]

Libertarian Party is an American third party that reflects the ideas of libertarianism. The Libertarian Party was formed in Westminster, Colorado, in the home of David Nolan on December 11, 1971.[7] The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Vietnam Warconscription, and the end of the Gold Standard.[8] Although there is not an explicitly-labeled "left" or "right" designation of the party, many members, such as Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, say they are more socially liberal than the Democrats, but more fiscally conservative than the Republicans.

Progressive: American progressives tend to advocate progressive taxation and oppose what they describe as the growing and negative influence of large corporations. Progressives are typically in agreement on an international scale with left-liberalism in that they support organized labor and trade unions, they usually wish to introduce a living wage, and they often support the creation of a universal health care system. In the United States, liberals and progressives are often conflated, and in general are the primary voters of the Democratic Party which has a "large tent" policy, combining similar if not congruent ideologies into large voting blocs. Many progressives also support the Green Party or local parties such as the Vermont Progressive Party.

Conservatism: Major movements within American conservatism include support for tradition, law-and-order, Christianity, anti-communism, and a defense of "Western civilization from the challenges of modernist culture and totalitarian governments."[109] Economic conservatives and libertarians favor small government, low taxes, limited regulation, and free enterprise. Social conservatives see traditional social values as threatened by secularism, so they support school prayer and oppose abortion and homosexuality.[110] Neoconservatives want to expand American ideals throughout the world and show a strong support for Israel.[111] Paleoconservatives, in opposition to multiculturalism, press for restrictions on immigration.[112] Most U.S. conservatives prefer Republicans over Democrats, and most factions favor a strong foreign policy and a strong military.

Now keep in mind these are small snippets from the sites I pulled them from.  I would strongly urge someone to go and read through them fully to get the full impact of what those simple terms mean.  Also these are just the basic terms that everyone uses, there are many more out there with their own set of definitions.

Now comes the next part which makes this fun.  There are so many different combinations of the above terms that could follow a persons belief system its hard to describe them all.  I will say that certain terms such as 'progressive' and conservative' are not limited to just one specific party.  In fact, they describe people in all of the parties.  So for example if you say you are a Republican, that can be broken down into other sub-fields   You can have a progressive Republican just as you can have a conservative Democrat or even other multiple combinations.

Another thing is the fact that you can have current leadership of a party have one belief in the spectrum and the main body of the party lean towards the other direction.  But why do people still vote for them?  That's a pretty easy answer.....

It's easy to 'vote' for the party.  It is pretty lazy and simple to do it that way but a large number of people by and large don't want to 'do the homework' and see who they actually like or what they truly believe in.  I know people that are part of a party because 'my mom/dad or family has been in this party for generations.  Well, I'd hate to tell them but parties change over time and readjust.  So the party that their parents were part of 20-30 years ago might not be the same party today.

More people need to do research and see where they stand.  It's amazing that we have the internet, this world wide web, a device where everything is at your fingertips.  The problem is though is that it seems there are fewer people today than even 15 years ago that will actually USE it to do some research, verify things and come to their own conclusions vs believing in what someone says.

So do me a favor, before you make a decision on a topic, do a little research over it.  You might be surprised as to what you will discover.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My first 10 days with the ScangaugeKR

Ok I thought I would give a few observations I have had with how using the new ScangaugeKR has changed my numbers for the better.

To be able to do a decent comparison for the 10 day period I went and looked at my numbers for the time period of May 18-28th in 2011, and 2012 to compare the difference with the numbers since I have installed the gauge.

Back in 2011 for that time period I averaged 6.77 mpg.  All but one of my fuel ups showed light loads with there being a total of 7 fuel ups for that time period.

In 2012 for that time period  I averaged 6.54 mpg.  All but one of my fuel ups were heavy loads pulling the hills from Illinois to Oklahoma.  At that time I was running on our dedicated Lowes account so I had a consistent route.  I showed 5 fuel tickets for that time period.

These last 10 days I averaged 7.00 mpg.  I showed 3 heavy tickets, one medium and the others light.  I had 8 tickets for that time period.  I made multiple trips through the Appalachian mountains with both heavy and light loads.

Taking that into consideration, I have to say in the last 10 days on average my fuel mileage has increased by 4/10 of a mile when comparing them to the other two periods.  It could be more than that when you really think about it.

Another thing I discovered since I put in a few of the PID codes the manufacturer sent back to me is I can now tell when my truck is doing a passive regen while driving down the road.  I watch my DPF temperature. I have found it runs up to 1100 degrees in a cycle that can last up to 30 minutes.  When this happens I notice a pretty good drop in fuel mileage of up to 2/10 even if your on nice even flat ground.  So a person just has to keep this in mind when they are running and know they have to make that ground back up.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The ScanGaugeKR my thoughts on it

I have recently purchased Kevin Rutherford's ScanGaugeKR to put in my truck and help me with my fuel mileage.

Installation was extremely easy, all you have to do really is once you figure out where you want it, plug the cable into the diagnostic plug on the truck and your off.

This device reads all of the sensor data that is sent to your ECM on your truck.  There is a pretty straightforward way to pull the codes for all of your sensors, send them in, and the company that makes this gets back with you in a day or so with the codes to be able to program your ScanGauge to show the values on those sensors.

For example I don't have a boost gauge on my truck, but with this device I can now monitor it and a myriad of other gauges or sensors I couldn't before.  Also as new and more refined programming for it is made, it is not a hard process to upgrade it with the latest stuff.

Kevin found and refined this product to help drivers improve their fuel mileage, pure and simple, and so far I can tell I am going to get back a whole lot more on my investment.

It is said that the difference between a very good driver and a bad driver is 35% on fuel mileage.  What that means is that for example a bad driver has a 6 mpg average, a very good driver should have 8.1 mpg.  That is a staggering 2.1 mpg difference which is a huge savings in fuel cost.

I thought I was a pretty good driver.  Heck, I've been out here since '93 so I should know the ropes right?  After putting this gauge on I quickly discovered I wasn't driving my truck even remotely close to its fuel savings potential.

The first thing I discovered is that the Cruise Control is NOT your friend.  It's fine on the nice flat ground but in the gentle rolling hills, that thing is a FUEL HOG!!!!  I shutter to think how much fuel I wasted by setting that cruise and letting the truck run.  Yeah, its easy, and lazy to do it that way but very inefficient.  By taking a proactive approach in driving in the hills, lightly accelerating on the downhill and build speed, let momentum take you up, then just ease into the throttle, no more than 2/3 keeping the boost under half of its total load, saves fuel.  Yes you might have to grab an extra gear a time or two but the fuel savings I am seeing will be huge.

Another thing that eats the fuel are those wonderful 'Jake Brakes' or engine compression brakes.  What do you mean?  Aren't you using the engine to slow the truck down with those?  Yes you are, but when they are fully on it was kicking my boost up over 2/3 to 3/4 of the max, which means more boost burns more fuel.

I'll admit, I was being lazy leaving the Jakes on to slow the truck down for just basic items, not just for long downhills.  I quickly discovered how much I think that was costing me too.

I know there is an old truckers adage out there, 'use your Jake Brakes to save your brake shoes so they last longer.'  The problem with this is that your costing yourself quite a bit more in fuel than the simple and relatively cheap cost to replace those brake shoes.  I'm willing to bet there is no comparison in the numbers on how much you are really losing.

Kevin advertises that you should be able to see a 3/10 of a mile change within the first week of really trying to improve your driving with this device, and by the end of the month you should see close to 5/10 of a mile change.  If not, he will buy it back no questions asked.

But do you know what Kevin?  Your not ever getting mine back.... ever lol.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

First job....what was it?

I was listening to one of the many radio commentators from the Road Dog Channel on my XM radio and he asked a pretty cool question.

What was your first job?  What memories do you have from it?  The calls he got were pretty neat and informative so I thought I would blog about mine.

Well, my first job was running the tractor on the family farm.  I have very fond memories as I was growing up, going clear back to when I was 5 about life on the farm around my dad and grandpa.

I remember when they would set me in front of them and let me steer the tractor or combine, which for a little kid was pretty fun.  What I didn't know was the great work ethic that they were slowly teaching me over the years.

I started to drive the tractor by myself when I was 12 years old.  Not only did I drive the tractor but I drove one of the work pick ups (that had a stick shift in it, gotta love that).  I would get up early in the morning, eat breakfast, pack a lunch and drinks in a cooler and hit the road.  Most of the fields were only 2-3 miles down the road from the house on county roads so I wasn't hardly on the main highway...whistles....

I would get to the tractor, fuel and service it and whatever I was pulling at the time, whether it was a disk, plow, spring tooth, sweeps etc.  Everything was greased and checked.  You didn't want anything to break down because that would cause a serious delay to the work, along with you helping in the repairs.

I would spend 10-14 hours on that tractor.  At times I thought I didn't like it, but I look back and realize that was that rebellious teenager speaking out.  If we still had the farm operation going, that is where I know I would be right now getting ready for harvest.  I do miss those days.

The first job I had outside of the farm was when I was 16 (and had a drivers license lol).  I worked as a park attendant at Little Sahara State Park outside of Waynoka.  It is over 1600 acres of sand dunes, trails etc that people would take their 4 wheelers, dune buggies, 4x4s and whatever else they could come up with out on the sand to play.  I did that all summer up to when school started.  The strange thing though was that I would work 8 hours at the dunes, go home, and then go out to the field to give my brother or dad a break from running the tractor so I still helped with the farm work.

I have to say that the farm did help develop me into the hard,(sometimes overworking) person that I am today.  It would be interesting to have a job where you only work 8 hours a day but I can count on one hand how many jobs I've had like that.  I found out that I got bored too easy with a job like that so who knows.  Truck driving really fit me well when I started considering the background I came from.  That's probably why I like it so much lol.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A companies bonus programs, or lack thereof

This something I have noticed recently and it is pretty interesting.  You have some companies that have some great bonus programs and others that have hardly any.

When you compare the performance of these companies you notice a huge difference.

For example, one company MVT, has a great series of bonus programs for their drivers.  The results show that they have a pretty good CSA record, and their trucks average over 8 mpg.  That is a lot of money saved with fuel alone.

The company I drive for could set up a series of programs for both their company drivers and owner operators.  Here is what I thought of.

A quarterly bonus program if the truck reaches a set goal on fuel mileage.  Just as an example lets set this at 250 dollars.

A quarterly bonus program for safety.  A driver who has no accidents or critical events is a safe driver.  Again set it at 250 dollars.

A monthly bonus program for miles driven.  Depending on how many a driver has on a sliding scale could determine how much they get.

The thing about it a driver could make in the course of a year say 3-4 thousand extra dollars by doing nothing more than being safe, driving efficiently and planning well to get more miles.  What this does for the company is that it will give them a safer driver, reducing accident claims, more revenue with the fuel savings, and more revenue with the miles driven.

As far as an owner operator, you could go with the safety program with them.  The other program with the owner operators that you could do would be a program on not being late on pick up or deliveries.  Again these programs would lower the accident claims, and help enhance the customer relations with the shippers and receivers.

Although someone is probably thinking that the company is spending money on these type of programs they actually come out way ahead in the long run.  Programs that help lower outside insurance claims, help create safer drivers, save fuel, and money and help improve relations pay out in many ways.  Just the savings on the fuel would pay for the programs and still leave the company with a good sized profit margin just on those savings.