Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Arrgh! Another Bob Gunzenhauser!

Well, I knew about this one, but natural events have brought him to the surface.

Here's the image from today's DM Register:
Bob Gunzenhauser and his daughter, Greta, 8, unload a pickup load of firewood at their Marengo home on Monday. A wood-burning stove provided heat for the family after the town lost electricity on Saturday. Power was restored on Monday afternoon.

Bob is the assistant police chief of Marengo. I've never met him, but I thought up a funny way to introduce myself - but it involves starting a criminal record. I'd go into town, dressed as a police officer, and pass myself off as Assistant Chief Bob Gunzenhauser. They'd arrest me, of course, and find out that I am Bob Gunzenhauser. The paper would report that Bob Gunzenhauser was arrested by Bob Gunzenhauser for impersonating a police officer.

The logic of that statement almost deserves a Twilight Zone episode.

I believe Greta's story is also interesting - I can't find a copy of the article, but Bob's wife was due with Greta (or another child) and couldn't make it to the hospital in time, so she delivered the child in the home's bathtub. Everything turned out OK.

Anyway, if anyone knows Bob, tell him "hi" and good luck on getting through the ice storm. And I'll make sure to speed through Marengo the next time I'm there...or maybe not.

A local celebrity...

Don't know if many of you folks watch The Today Show (I don't as a rule), but we have a local guy on there, competing in the "Anchor for Today" contest.

Brad Hook, 41, is a show cattle breeder south of town, down by "the Junction". He entered the contest because he thought the other entries for the contest were lame, and he thought he could do better.

Turns out, he not only got selected from 16 that went to New York, but he's now in the final 3, and his chances are good. Of course, if he wins, he'll get to be an anchor for a day with Matt, Merideth, Ann, Natalie, and Big Al Roker.

Now if I can get him to mention Gold Pro DDGS on live national TV...(he's a customer of mine, too).

Here's a link to the "Anchor for Today" page; at the bottom is an edited version of Brad's video - Brad's dad, Marvin, who also appears in the video, is a regular customer of mine, too. Check out the Day 7 Trivia Contest - Brad wiped the floor with the other contestants, including a Nebraska Husker! :)

Don't forget to vote for Brad!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The slop has returned

Ah, February, I hate your freakin' guts.

February is that point in the year when it ain't quite winter, ain't quite spring, but the two do battle and leave a mess here in The South of Iowa. It gets warm enough to melt the snow and get rain, but cold enough to chill you to the bone and cause tractors to still not start without assistance.

Upon the thaw and rain, I am finding I'll need a few truckloads of gravel around the driveway to keep grain semis from sinking in. Rubber boots are a necessity, and are not a guarantee against mud accumulating on your pant legs. We have a special kind of mud here, one that is almost grease like and sticks to everything.

The best thing about February is that it is the shortest month of the year; 31 days would be too much. March will be around the corner, and while it does behave like February at times, at least the temps can get into the 60's at times, and it is downright pleasurable.

I've found that spilled DDGS, properly moistened and exposed to the elements, smells like open cans of beer. Actually, that's not a bad smell after all; better than hog manure, car exhaust, or a middle aged post menopausal woman compensating for her body odor with loud perfume.

Move it along, February.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why I don't write about the war

In these hallowed digital pages, I've blogged about frozen fuel lines, demolition derby car ordinances, conservation reserve program, multiculturalism, and other ramblings. However, you haven't seen much out of me about the Iraq War.

Why not?

First, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. The situation is as it is, and me spewing my opinion into the Blogosphere isn't going to help bring the troops home any sooner or stop the insurgents. Why bother commenting on what other people comment on?

Second, I have mixed feelings about this war. I think our leadership failed to understand the depth and complexity of invading another country. Mistakes were made, some of which we can't back out of easily now.

That being said, we have to do what is best. Getting out now would cause a greater vacuum and make Iraq a real mess. Stepping up troop levels might be a good idea. The new commander, Petraeus (sp), is a smart level headed guy, and I'd listen to what he has to say. The Democrats' recent non-binding resolution to oppose the troop surge sends the wrong message.

Would I like to see us out of Iraq? Absolutely. In addition, I'd like to see us change our foreign policy and reduce our "Imperialist" presence in the globe. However, passing resolutions through a hollow body like the US Senate is not going to do this. Learning lessons from this engagement and applying them to future decisions will be crucial.

I look forward to the day when our troops can leave Iraq (and other long term deployments around the globe) and come back home, having served their country admirably and with honor. They don't make foreign policy, and mistaking the decisions of their leadership with the troops is wrong.

There, now I can remain quiet about this subject for a while longer.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I'm an orchestra nerd...

or at least someone else with my name is...but don't rule me out just yet.

I signed up for Google Alerts, which tells me via email when Google finds a document with my name in it. I got this link recently.

I'll skip to the good stuff:

Robert Gunzenhauser, a fifteen year old freshman at Palos Verdes High School, gave a short talk on Mendelssohn's "Hebrides" Oveture. He compared the changing moods in the music to the changing moods of the ocean and resemblance of parts of the music to the pitter-patter of rain and the eventual build-up into a roar of brass instruments playing the thunder and lightning. He involved the audience by asking questions about their knowledge of different composers. A violin student of Elmer Su (a BCSA soloist in our March 2006 concert), Robert also participates in cross-country and the school orchestra.

Now, if Google Alerts had been around back in my day, it would have found something like this:

Robert Gunzenhauser, a fifteen year old freshman at Mormon Trail High School, gave a short talk on John Deere's upcoming release of the Maximizer series of combines. He compared how the older models had engines in the front while the new models have engines in the rear. Harvest capacity is greatly increased with the 9400, 9500, and 9600 models. He involved the audience by asking them which was their favorite combine and why. Robert also participates in 4-H and raises pigs.

Combines, Ford Mustangs, computers, and pigs were about the deepest thoughts I was having when I was 15...and girls. This alter ego of mine must have a really big brain...or a really sheltered life.

By the way, I want to give a shout out to Windy - good luck on your emergency lobotomy surgery - maybe this will bring you back down to the intelligence level of us mere mortals.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hugging the working poor with a knife in one hand...

A couple of issues at the statehouse have taken place at the Statehouse recently (or will be debated soon) that kind of show the true colors of the Lug Nuts.

First, the minimum wage increase. Sure, that's a "nice" idea, and the working poor will get a raise in their hourly pay. However, it saps businesses that will probably not see a corresponding increase in revenues to pay for said wage increases. This, in turn, will force some business to reduce hours of workers or let them go. Of course, as inflation increases, we'll probably see these companies go back to hiring near-minimum wage earners at previously-set hours, but this increase in minimum wage is going to be a shock to the system. It would be better if companies paid more to their workers based upon profitability and merit, rather than government proclamation.

Second, the 275% increase in taxes on cigarettes is going to hit the working poor hard, too. Of course, we can debate the merits of smoking (there are none, IMHO), and yes, people can make better choices in their lives, too. However, such as life is, I'm guessing a larger percentage of working poor smoke on a regular basis than do urban professionals at 801 Grand. While the working poor might make more income with the minimum wage increase, it will be taken away quicker by the extra $1.00/pack increase on cigs.

I am all in favor of people quitting smoking and becoming healthier. Maybe a small tax increase could be a way to lower teen smoking. However, not everyone is going to be led to that conclusion and will continue to puff their cold cash away. We've heard the argument before that government income from tobacco settlements/sales will go to help Iowa's health system; what happened to the tobacco settlement money from a few years ago, and where will the funds from the increased cigarette tax go in the future as well?

So, while the Lug Nuts are attempting to reach out and hug the working poor, their favorite group to trot out and display the results of Republican thinking, they are holding a hidden dagger, ready to stab these folks in the back and kill them with kindness.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sparks fly at the Allerton City Council, just like the ones in a demolition car

I guess Allerton Iowa, population 500 or so, is a hotbed of demolition derby car fanatics. Why, who would ever have thought that driving junked cars around in an arena could spur such growth? It must the the proximity of Allerton to Lineville, where demolition drivers can find parts for their cars at the shop of the guy who disassembles old cars on a public street.

So, when the Allerton Town Council decided to vote on a new ordinance AND waive the 2nd and 3rd readings of the ordinance, sparks flew in the council room like a '78 Oldsmobile's flywheel after suffering a side hit from a '81 Monte Carlo.

Kenny Anderson, premier demo car driver, got upset, threw the ordinance on the table, and stormed out. Apparantly he was not happy that he had to register his demo cars and could not keep more than FIVE on his property during the demo car season of March 1 to October 1.

Ripped from the pages:
Council Member Heather Hackney made the motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance and waive the second and third readings, allowing the council to pass the ordinance that night. Anderson and Wes Deuling both protested waiving the final readings because not all derby participants could attend the meeting that night.

Not ALL derby participants could attend? How many demo derby drivers are in Allerton? I didn't know Allerton was the center of the demo car industry in Iowa! Move over Darlington South Carolina, here comes Allerton Iowa and the economic development of demo car driving!

OK, it sounds like I'm being mean, but here's the facts: In most civilized communities, you aren't allowed A junked car, much less FIVE at any time of the year. By allowing ANY junked cars to be parked in the city limits shows that the Allerton City Council doesn't give a rip about the appearance of the town. And, the fact that Anderson and Dueling are pissed off about the ordinance shows they understand little about the responsibilities of living in a community - you pay for extra services you don't get in the country, but you also have responsibilities to your neighbors not to devalue their property. Go find an abandoned farmstead and set up your demo car garage there, folks.
Now, I don't necessarily agree with waiving the 2nd and 3rd readings of the ordinance. But, that would have meant voting on it in April, just into the demo car season. Better to get this nipped in the bud now, I suppose.

I can't believe this is an issue of serious debate...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Des Moines Area Barbies

I can't take credit for this - Cousin E sent it to me. I've modified it a bit, however.

Mattel recently announced the release of limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Greater Des Moines market:

1. Jordan Creek Barbie - This princess Barbie is sold only in West Glen at Jordan Creek .. She comes with anassortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.

2. Ankeny Barbie (recently moved from east side) - The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation. Still goes back to the east side for doctor appointments, shopping, bakery, dairy queen, weddings, and funerals. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

3. Fairgrounds Barbie - This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9 mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about. Fairgrounds Barbie comes with the Barbie East-side dream-shack that has an extra large front yard for Clive Barbie to park her Hummer on for $20 per day each August.

4. Clive Barbie - This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card, and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Closeted Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

5. Osceola Barbie - This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and Tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free. Can be found at "The Boat".

6. Boone County Barbie - This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Madrid Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter top. Also included is her Wal-Mart employee smock. Mobile home sold separately.

7. Drake Park Barbie - She is just looking for all three of her baby daddies. Set comes with baby Nieshia and baby Twanna. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass to get to Aldi's. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.

8. Decatur County Barbie - Former fair queen. Seen at the Silver Spur in Grand River often. Rodeo groupie. Pabst Blue Ribbon sold separately.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The farce of multiculturalism

Noneedfortheneed over at The Century of the Common Iowan sees fit to work over Reps. Tom Tancredo and Steve King for their comments about illegal immigration. Noneed, while being worthy of having his blog link on my page, is unfortunately just plain wrong in his critique of the Representatives' words.

I didn't see any "hate-filled remarks" in the words of Tancredo and King, as Noneed observed. In fact, I believe they are right on the money.

"Illegal immigration has diluted the country's patriotism."

If you have no qualms with skipping across the border, receiving free government benefits without paying into them, and never bothering to learn the dominant language, much less obtain citizenship in a legal manner, then I'd say yes, illegal immigration is working against patriotism. Illegal aliens are working against the American system by attempting to take advantage of its generosity to its citizens.

"We have a cult of multiculturalism."

Again, this is a true statement. We have been indoctrinated for more than 40 years that the US should not have a common identity, but that it should be a salad bar of various backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and cultures.

While I have no problem with people of various cultures coming to the United States, they should be willing to check some of their "culture" at the door when they arrive and be prepared to accept some shared American culture. My family is of German descent, and while my last name is very German, I don't speak it, nor do I have a longing for the Fatherland. I'm an American, with no prefix and hyphen; just a simple American.

Multiculturalism's idea is for people of various cultures to mix and mingle and get along like one big happy United Nations. The problem is, unless you are on neutral ground, someone is going to declare the place their home turf and ask the rest of to get with the program or leave. That's human nature, folks.

I'm not saying that everyone in America should be the same; heaven forbid we all start talking like Minnesotians (ya betcha!). However, when someone arrives in the United States, they should be willing to accept some American culture into their lives, and therefore work toward being American, not _____-American.

Now, if we want to discuss the reason why there is a high level of illegal immigration into this country, especially from those countries with whom we have signed free trade agreements with, I'd be more than glad to do that. I think there is a strong correlation between NAFTA's passage and the influx of aliens. As a farmer, I glad to have new markets for our crops. However, I'm concerned that it is making it difficult for subsistent farmers to make a living in their home countries and having to compete with relatively lower priced imports. More would likely stay in their home country if they could derive suitable income there.

But, we should not mix the consequences of free trade agreements with supposed "hate" by those who want to protect our nation. That's too easy of a cop out. Tancredo and King are doing what they can to defend our national identity. Maybe we need to renegotiate NAFTA, or hold the Mexican government more accountable for their citizens crossing the border. But there is nothing wrong with the words of these two statesmen in relation to illegal immigrants, IMHO.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Escape from Wisconsin

Yesterday I went to Wisconsin. And I made it out in one piece.

Went to Platteville, just 25 miles from Dubuque, to purchase a stationary feed mixer for my increasingly popular DDGS business. And while the folks where I bought it from were exceedingly friendly (even washed my pickup while they worked on the trailer lights!), I noticed a few small things here and there in Cheeseland that reminded me I was not in The South of Iowa:

1) Supper Clubs - Eastern Iowa has more of these, too, but they are non-existent here.
2) Papst Blue Ribbon signs
3) Knights of Columbus, the Catholic knock off of Freemasonry
4) Cheese curds (probably to attract the tourists)

However, if I didn't live in The South of Iowa, and had my choice of rural places to live, I would honestly consider southern Wisconsin. Beautiful country, a vibrant rural culture/community, and nice folks. Having more bars in a town than churches is quite interesting, but I think alcohol is considered in a different light than by the Prohibition minded Protestants here.

Wisconsin, you are my friend.

Poor people and poor attitudes

Our community was selected to participate in the "Horizons" program, sponsored by Iowa State Extension and the Northwest Foundation. This program, made up of at least 30 community members, works together in an organized fashion through structured meetings to help determine what poverty is in our community, what causes it, and hopefully, figure out how to fix it. The program has been used in the past with Indian reservations (I'm not sure of the outcome there, however).

So, our group met a week ago to help understand what poverty in our area looks like and what we can do to fix it. My wife's group met on Sunday afternoon to determine the same.

Here, as in other places, there are people who are poor but have a positive attitude and therefore do not "act" poor, and there are others that seem to wallow in their misery and work the system every which way. Our group came to the conclusion that the first group, usually those of working families making slightly above minimum wage, could benefit from action taken and should be focused on, while the deadbeats should be left alone.

So, what needs to be done? Well, this will probably get fleshed out as we get further into the program, but here's my preliminary idea: We need homegrown business startups, entreprenuership, and reduction of barriers to start businesses. No, not everyone is cut out to be a manager, but a few might be, and those could in turn employ others.

We also need to reinvigorate the ag economy. I'm going to harp on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) again, as Uncle Sam rents over 1/3 of the cropable acres in the county through this program. Releasing CRP acres back into pasture, hay, and conservation-planned row crops would help spur rural economic development. Developing ways to bring this land back into production is important. Environmental groups need not hold sway over our community - if they want to keep land out of production, they can go and buy it themselves and do what they want. These are the folks who think $0.50 for a high power rifle bullet is too cruel for deer population control, but that it's fine to spend $1000 per deer to keep them from re-breeding. Brilliant.

But back to the poor attitude group for a second - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. There's not much you can do for people who choose to live on welfare and p_ss their lives away, except isolate them enough so they don't harm anyone else. Trying to reform 40-50 year olds to spend less, save more, and keep their property in shape is like throwing money down a rat hole.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the Horizons program works out. There are three sections of community members. The one I belong to has a slight majority of "natives", those who grew up and continue to live here. The other two groups, however, are majority "non-natives", those who grew up elsewhere and moved in. It's interesting to see that a lot of non-natives are interested in the growth of our community, even more so that some natives. Maybe it tells us why we're in the state of existence we're in today...?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Truck is now running

Finally got the feed truck running this afternoon. Took off the fuel line and fuel filter and blew air through it. Then, I blew air into the fuel tank (with the cap off) and heard a KA-THUNK. I think a chunk of ice may have formed around the siphon tube and was restricting the flow. I put the hose back on and put the filter back in, and viola, the truck started running fine.

I put the tank heater directly on the bottom of the tank right below where the siphon would be to keep ice from forming again. We'll see how it runs tomorrow morning as I deliver feed.

Rage against what?

Woo-hoo, post #100!

Before I get started, I wanted to let you, my audience (all 2 of you) know that the feed truck still isn't starting due to the cold weather. I might try removing the fuel line, blowing it out with air, and seeing if that does anything to alleviate possible gelled fuel.

I have rage against my machines.

Which brings me to the main topic of this post - While I am a conservative, white, Christian male with family, I really dig Rage Against The Machine (the band). I've had Evil Empire, and last week (right before the Hillary sighting) I got used CDs of their 1992 debut and The Battle of Los Angeles. I've been jamming out to Bombtrack, Testify, Township Rebellion and Guerilla Radio for the last few days in my muddy Chevy 4x4.

But RATM's lyrics and beliefs are leftist/Marxist; they are openly anti-capitalists, and beyond the music, the members have advocated for groups like Shining Path in Peru and the Zapatistas in Mexico.

Now, I don't pay attention word for word the lyrics - heck, if you can understand half of what Zack de la Rocha is rapping you're doing well. But, upon reading the lyrics on a web site, you start to see that these guys are advocating a Socialist system of government.

So, it leads me to think - do I agree with these guys' views, or do I just like the energy of the music and that's it?

I think the latter - while I'm not against people struggling to be free, and I don't like some of the things our government does, especially in other countries, I'm not at all in favor of turning ourselves into a Marxist Worker's Paradise. Capitalism, with all its flaws, is still the best system we have at this point. Sure, we could do better, but we don't need a heavy handed Big Brother forcing us to get along - we have that already and it's not getting us very far. I agree that some of our trade policies are detrimental to natives of other countries - NAFTA and CAFTA are two examples. RATM is good at bringing these issues to the forefront. But Karl Marx and I don't get along too well.

So, while I might consider the ideals of RATM, I'm not going to join them anytime soon to destroy capitalism and hoist up banners of Uncle Karl. Instead, I'll continue to listen to the music and use it to imagine it as being the soundtrack to a conservative/libertarian revolution, where we destroy the IRS, privatize schools, and people can walk safely down the street with a 9mm pistol at their side without being harrassed by the politically correct police.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ramblings on a cold Saturday morning

Global warming my ___.

Spent a good part of an hour getting my feed truck going. I plugged in the block heater last night, and when it didn't fire right off this morning, I put a little ether in the air filter. Sure enough, it started, but did not appear to warm up (i.e. it wouldn't rev past idle very easily). So, I went to town to the local auto parts store and picked up a few necessities:

2 bottles of PowerService 911
2 fuel filters
1 magnet fuel tank heater
After replacing the fuel filter and using one bottle of PowerService, I'm still not running. I'll let the fuel tank warm up for an hour with the magnetic heater and see what happens.

Yesterday I got a load of distillers grains in late in the afternoon. Half of the unloading went fine. Then, I lost a bolt out of the top of the auger that was transporting the DDGS from the semi to a wagon. No problem - I found the bolt and nut, put it back in, and away we went. However, I lost one my my wrenchs in the DDGS in the wagon. I'll have to be careful when I unload that wagon to see if I can find it.

So, back in business, got that wagon filled, and pulled the next one around. It's 6 PM, getting dark, and the windchill is easily below 0 degrees F. The auger decided to pull another stunt and shear a shear pin next to the PTO drive. The truck driver and I spend a better part of an hour trying to drive the old pin out with no avail. I finally told him to go home and we'd unload the rest Sunday afternoon, probably with a different auger. He's not needing the truck until then, so that was OK.

Engineers from the auger company need to come out and fix their equipment in temperatures like this so they can learn to design better serviceable equipment. Replacing a shear pin in a warm, well lit shop is not a problem, but doing so in the cold and dark is another. In addition, these monkeys thought that encasing the top drive of the auger in grease would be a good thing! Not until you have to replace the shear pin and have to deal with gops of grease! At least Westfield augers have a greaseable zerk at the top, not a bath of grease to run in. Keep in mind I'm not giving any engineering awards to Westfield - they have their own share of stupid designs.
These engineers should take an oath, similar to what doctors take, and swear that they will not design something that will be difficult to fix or service.
Well, its times like these that one would imagine I'd be questioning my decision to farm and run an ag service company. In spite of everything listed above, I'd rather take this kind of life than waste it in some cubicle farm in West Des Moines pushing paper around for a multi-national corporation. Sorry if that's the life you lead, and you may well enjoy it, but it's not for me.

Oh well, it could be worse - I could have been driving this (courtesy of here):