Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Musings yet Again

It strikes me as funny that we survived another end of the world scare and I am concerned we may not survive the Obama years. Basically, Washington is at a stand still while Obama suns himself in Hawaii and Congress has gone home for the holidays. Did anyone notice that a report was issued on Benghazi which puts the blame on the Secretary of State and her department? Of; I forgot, she is a lame duck (and home sick) and couldn't care less. Add the holidays in and the resignation of Petraeus and you have a classic "sweep it under the rug" handling of the whole mess. Did you also know we still haven't filled the vacancy at the DEA for a director? And that it's been open six years? No budget, no direction or money for infrastructure repair, no border policy, no policy for the aliens already here, no energy policy, a foreign policy in tatters, etc. I'd say we're hard at work on your campaign slogan Mr. Obama-it's just not what I call forward. Happy New Year Everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Grinch

I'm a Grinch. There, I said it. Given our families early Christmases, you'd think otherwise. A traditional Americana Christmas reigned supreme in our household throughout my early teens. I remember a lot of them fondly. My sister and I used to get new pajamas every Christmas; you know the ones with the feet. Do they make them anymore? When we were in Illinois at Christmas time my father liked to make the rounds with me wishing all his relatives happy holidays. His commitment to the Air Force made his time at home very precious. I was blessed to have great grandparents for most of my early Christmases. I remember Christmas with them very fondly. On my father’s side, it was a traditional German celebration at great grandpa Ben's house. On my Mom's side, we had huge get together's at great grandmother Maude's house. As I have said in past posts, this is where I grew to appreciate food and its preparation. None of the maternal side of my family measured anything and recipes were just a list of ingredients and subtle reminders. I think the wrenching of families from their roots and constant moving might have had something to do with my loss of affection for Christmas. That was the price one paid for being a military brat. To me Christmas is about the gathering of family and friends and Christmas dinner. When I was around my parents, some of that old spirit would come back. When my father was still working my parents would throw these huge parties for all the folks who worked with him to attend. Friends and neighbors were also invited, My mother would complain about all the preparation involved and I doubt she would have done it without mine or someone’s help. They had nice homes on the Florida coast and we decorated everything from the banana trees to the boat docked out back. These days the availability of work pretty much dictates where I roost. Finances are such that it precludes travel to see the folks I love and spend Christmas with them. At least I have some pleasant memories to fall back on. Otherwise, BAH HUMBUG! Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012


Baktun is the Mayan term for each 394 year cycle and we just concluded one. Just like Y2K (remember that?) there has been a ton of hub bub about it. Though absolutely nothing foreboding that has been found concerning this Baktun in the Mayan culture; some are convinced that it will be the end of days. My father was an expert on the Maya and their culture. I bet he's sharing a grin with the ancient Mayans and looking down humorously at all of us. As I look out into the gloaming, it appears another sunrise is in store and I remain alive and well. Their are events that have occurred in my life that have caused me to reflect on my mortality and its fragility. This event was not one that I invested much thought in. However; as I have aged I have put more and more thought into my own end of days and find myself at peace with it all. That makes events like this Baktun much easier to face.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Happened?

Given a cursory look you might find me a bit bigoted, set in my ways, and even cantankerous. I’m actually a hold out who embraces the way this country and its people used to be; and yes, I’m opposed to change. I especially dislike the kind of change that has occurred over the last few years. I’m a John Wayne; embrace your heritage, apple pie kind of guy. Acts of patriotism such as flag raisings and patriotic ceremonies can sometimes bring a tear to my eye. Most folks that have gotten past my hard, outer shell find a gregarious, generous and fun loving guy.

In my day I caroused with the best of them. I might not be proud of some of the things I did, but I have few regrets. I lived hard and fast and partied with the best of them. It has taken me years to figure out and accept the teachings and wisdom of my parents. One of the key things I have carried from their teachings is respect for your elders and/or those senior to you. That has been a constant in my life; it is rare that I am not polite and respectful. I have always thought that the things that are wrong with this country are very simple. In my opinion it is the lack of this respect and the disintegration of the nuclear family.

We have folks these days that have absolutely no respect for figures in authority. Authorities like police are viewed as nothing more than an impediment to them. Something that is keeping them from performing or enjoying whatever nefarious activity they have planned. Most of our freedoms are tempered by the admonition of not infringing upon others rights while enjoying ours. Unfortunately we have a few that wish to trample all over their fellow citizens. Those that know me know that I abhor any further intrusion by the government on my day to day activities. Personally I think we have enough laws on the books (if not too many) to just about cover any circumstance we might encounter.

After the horrific slaughter in Sandy Hook, I gave a lot of thought as how to best address it and not offend some of my readers. I believe a blog should express the true feelings of its inventor and author. You have to have some form of integrity, or you end up building a house of cards. Of course, I guess you could publish a fictional story and make up stuff. Not me. And that is what I struggle with on a regular basis. How best to express myself and not alienate folks or disclose too much personal stuff. The unfortunate fact remains that through the years, including during the assault rifle ban, the occurrences of mass murder has more or less remained the same. Now, we again have to face a reactionary whiplash to an incident, rather than address what is truly wrong here. And we may be too far gone for that to happen. In my hopeful view of the world a man and a woman marry, have kids and raise them to respect each other and their fellow man. They grow up to be proud, law abiding American citizens and live the American dream. Unfortunately, after everything in our power is done, we still have few means to prevent a madman bent on raining death and destruction on us.

My heart goes out to everyone who has and is suffering from criminal acts perpetrated upon them, their families and friends. May God bless them through this difficult time.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Preparing for the Freeze

It’s that time of year again. You have to endure freezing temperatures every now and then; even in South Texas. Those of you surviving off of nurse trailers in the oil patch should be preparing. After much travail, we have found the best thing to do is to fill your internal tank and bring your water hose into the house. We store ours in the shower. Most of you have little to worry about as far as frozen pipes and damage to your RV goes. I forget the mathematics, but it would take many hours of freezing temperatures before that becomes an issue. Since I admonished everyone in an earlier post, I know you all have checked and run your heaters-right? And you have checked your propane levels-right? Since we are a mobile bunch, I would be remiss if I didn't mention a few other things. The tires on your vehicles and RV’s need to be monitored. The lower the temperature goes the greater the change in your tire pressure(s). You should also allow the engines in your vehicles to warm up before putting them under load. So; get into the habit of checking a few things and be thankful we’re not in Minnesota.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Texas T, Bureaucracy and Baked Potatoes

Rumors abound that a new play is about to open out west. Fueling the rumors and adding to the excitement is all the infrastructure and equipment already in place in the Permian Basin. Oil; Texas T or Black Gold is what they’re after; especially sites that can produce 2000 barrels a day or higher. Big money and thousands of acres of land have changed hands in recent months. I’m not sure; but my source says they do use gate guards out that way. Maybe someone in the gate guard community can comment on that. In the meantime, the Sunday San Antonio paper had a front page article on the Eagle Ford Shale and the goings on in that area. It looks like we will be in business for a while. And, even though it currently isn’t selling well (due to depressed prices), we do have dry gas in abundance. If we could ever get the pipeline completed that might help make it more cost effective. On that note, there are gate guard opportunities on the pipeline. From what I’ve heard it does not pay as much; but the hours are shorter and the workload lighter. I even heard some gates allow you to lock up at night and roam!

We completed the involved process to become eligible to bid on government jobs. You can browse through my blogs and find updates. Basically it is a two step process requiring you to bare your soul. In short, you have to get a Dun’s number, then register the Dun’s number on the Sam’s site and then hope it is approved. Once approved you are assigned a CAGE (commercial and government entity) number which is how the government identifies you. The difficulty we encountered was that certain sites don’t recognize the browser we use. Had we known that things would have gone much smoother. Also, some of the questions you have to answer are posed in a manner only a bureaucrat could think up. The goal of all this was to try to win a bid to work as a Gate Attendant for the Corps of Engineers. Ultimately we want to be able to work winters down here and summers in the Midwest.

Yesterday the rig held its customary spud meeting and had food catered in.  This time was exceptional as ribeye steak was on the menu. The stars of the show; however, were the baked potatoes. They were eight to ten inches long and a good four inches in diameter! Unbelievable, and with all the trimmings. We also learned that they are adding more pads here and that our rig’s sister will be moving in. Unfortunately; due to the pay we already are receiving, we won’t be compensated for the extra work.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Yule Season Rant

I’m putting together yet another post on current affairs and I wanted to do that without rehashing the subjects that have polarized this country for some time. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to do that.

The Monroe Doctrine gone awry. It basically was a document that espoused the idea that our interests lay beyond our shores and we should protect those interests both diplomatically and with force; if necessary. It came out at a time of great change in the Caribbean and both North and South America. Countries were freeing themselves from colonial rule and we nobly supported them. Unfortunately, every time some third world country expressed an interest in Democracy, off our country went. We became the world’s democratic police force. The watershed moment for the American public was the Viet Nam conflict and the internal strife that it caused. Personally, I think our presence in Afghanistan has little or nothing to do with supporting democratic intentions. We can continue to wield our sword worldwide, alienating more and more of the world’s population, or find an alternative. Even if we were to eliminate the Al Qaeda presence there; what do you think a bunch of tribesmen are going to do then? I’d sure like to know what our future plans are. Most folks I talk to generally agree with me and it looks like we are again going to exit a conflict with our tail between our legs. All the men and women who fought so valiantly and bravely deserve better.

He said she said. I have no idea who Susan Rice is other than she is the Ambassador to the United Nations. After the Benghazi attack she was dispatched to make the Sunday morning talk show circuit to enlighten everyone as to what the United States thought had happened. I have contended from the moment that I heard of the attack that it was a terrorist strike. The CIA says that that was their analysis to and that was in the message given to the State Department. The State Department says otherwise and neither one can seem to figure out how it could have been omitted from Susan’s briefing before going on air. Senators and Representatives alike are directing their anger over what was said (or not said) both by Susan Rice and the President in regards to Benghazi. No one seems to be concentrating on finding out what actually occurred there. Susan is also the hand selected successor to Hillary Clinton for the position of Secretary of State. Because of this faux pas, that is now in doubt. To me this is a classic diversion of time and effort from what we should be concentrating on. Does anyone think we’ll ever know what happened in Benghazi?

Someone is trying to get our elected representatives off of their collective asses and make them do something about the fiscal nightmare that is our national budget. Both the House and the Senate agreed to forced cuts (now known as the “fiscal cliff”) in order to agree to disagree over the current budget. The Democrats are inflexible when it comes to entitlements such as Social Security and Welfare. The Republicans don’t want taxation messed with; especially when it comes to the wealthy. Both sides are talking; but remain unwilling to compromise. I say let’s think outside the box and try a flat tax for a year or two.

Here are some final thoughts. Our national power grid is cobbled together with worn out and outdated equipment. Our infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating. We have little protection and no uniform immigration policy on our borders. The result is a melting pot of people unwilling to assimilate and a polarized electorate. We seem unable to confront the ravages of drug abuse in this country and continue to waste resources trying to stem the tide. Unemployment is rampant and our state and national budgets are in disarray. Those that are brilliant enough to pose solutions find themselves stymied by arcane laws and an unyielding bureaucracy. We have more than enough on our plate to keep ourselves busy without expending our blood and treasure overseas.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Service Person Problem Redux

I have chronicled our repeated disasters with repair persons here in Texas; to the point that my dear readers are probably tired of hearing about it. When we started making decent money in the oil patch we embarked on a mission to perform some desperately needed repairs on our motorhome. I won’t go into detail here; you can browse through the post list and read all about them if you like.

Our latest travail began when the installer for our newly ordered satellite Internet attempted to locate us. (Geographic knowledge of south Texas isn’t necessary, but might be helpful at this point) He was in Pearsall and I tried to give him directions, but couldn’t get him to shut up long enough to relay same. I firmly and politely told him if he could just shut up a second, I would give him step by step directions. About an hour later the installer called and said he was in Dilley and could not find the road I had mentioned. Obviously I was a little perturbed at this point and my perturbed persona probably took over. I asked why he was in Dilley and didn’t I tell him take the road just outside of Pearsall? He replied that I did indeed tell him that and that he didn’t know why he wrote down Dilley. I observed that it wasn’t my fault he wrote down the wrong directions. He said he didn’t like my tone and that if he couldn’t get to me in 20 minutes he was rescheduling. After assuaging his ego with my still firm but polite, perturbed persona, I explained that even if he came straight here he was further than twenty minutes away. Then I again gave him a set of directions. At this point I wasn’t sure he was going to show up, so I called Missy (who was working our next gate as we were again covering two gates, which is another story) and updated her. I would not have wanted to be on the receiving end of the call, but she contacted customer service. Some thirty minutes later the installer called and I talked him through to my location. An argument immediately ensued over whether the purpose built stand I bought would work for the dish. He proceeded to work though, and the dish miraculously found its way onto the stand. At this point, I asked the installer if I could observe as he aligned the dish, as we would be relocating frequently. I should have known something was screwy when he said to use our Dish Network satellite to line up the Internet dish. Then he said something about making adjustments and tones. I also should have known something was screwy (and the installer should have too) when our computer would not sync with the modem and he was forced to use his. After he left our computer would not stay on line and we could not access password protected web sites. Many fruitless phone calls to customer service resulted in a technician being scheduled to come out in four or five days. Missy thought this was no bueno and let me and everyone she talked to know it. In the meantime, we relocated and I dismounted the dish to facilitate moving it. OK! First time set up of our new Internet satellite and alignment using the Dish Network dish as a reference did not work. I got frustrated and told Missy I had to have some numbers, or coordinates for the satellite. Kentucky windage was not going to work here. She was a trooper and dug for hours till she found the info via Google (the satellite tech service was again useless). Voila; we aligned the dish using a compass, dialed in the numbers for the satellite and within five minutes had good tones and Internet! Here’s the good part. Once Missy and I dialed everything in correctly all of our problems disappeared-the installer had never completely dialed in the dish!

Here’s an update on our attempts to get registered so we can bid on government contracts. First, we had to get a Dun’s number. Then we had to use that to register at the CCR (or Central Contract Registration) site, which has been changed to SAM’s (System Awards Management). Our problem with Dun’s was that the site does not recognize Google and our problem at Sam’s was that it did not recognize Internet Explorer. Kind of frustrating! Now that that is done I think we are waiting for something called CAGE. We are close to two weeks into this process and still aren’t eligible to bid. I wonder if any government types have done a trial run of this process. Another update surely will follow.