Thursday, May 31, 2007

More misspellings

While coming out of the bank today I noticed a "For Sale" ad for a 3 wheeled bicycle (tricycle, maybe?). It listed a reason why the owner is selling. This is verbatim:

Owner is to lazy to ride.

The owner must be too lazy to put the extra "0" on the first "to", as well.

Now, this is not an indictment of southern Iowa, the school system, or anything inherent to the region; it could happen anywhere. Just pointing out something that is rather ironic and humorous at the same time.

Monday, May 28, 2007

In self defense

To defend myself from recent accusations, I will be employing the Chewbacca defense with material developed under the Infinite Monkey Theorem. A straw man will be set up and put on a bandwagon pulled by tigers. However, if this fails, I will fall back to a Reductio ad Hitlerum defense and invoke Godwin's law. Hofstadtler's law will be used to determine how long this defense will take.

Friday, May 25, 2007

More Brad Hook news

Our local celebrity, Brad Hook, made an appearance on WHO-TV's morning show with Tricia Shepeard and Patrick Dix. Brad, as you may remember, won the Today Show's "Anchor For A Day" contest earlier this year.

Tricia and Patrick came down to the Hook farm last week and attempted to do his job. Of course, Brad made it a bit more interesting, and even pull a fast one on them.

Here's the video from TV 13.

I sell DDGS to Brad and his father, and today I delivered 6 tons to his place. He and his crew were getting calves ready for a private treaty sale on Memorial Day, and I picked up a sales list. One calf (called "The Bull" in the video) has a starting price of $8500. Not a bad gig if you can get it!

Congratulations Brad and crew.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Want to spend less on gas? Here's one way...

With unleaded at $3.359 here in the South of Iowa, I've been thinking about how and why we got to this point. Remember when gas got to $1.40 a few years ago, and everyone was getting in a tizzy then? Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Here's my solution: Let's go back to fuel ration cards like they had in WW II. That will put an artificial clamp on the demand, and lower prices, right?

Back then, to get a ration book and a certain classification, one had to appear before the local ration board and plea their case. Getting a "A" card allocated you 3-4 gallons of fuel per week. "B" cards were issued to those working in the military industry and gave one 8 gallons/week. A "C" card went to those deemed essential to the war effort, such as doctors. "T" cards went to truckers, and if you were really, really good, you got a "X" card, which provided you with unlimited fuel, food, rubber, etc. Ministers, policemen, volunteer firemen, and civil defense workers got these.

This occurred because we were getting a fair amount of petroleum from the South Pacific at the time, a place the Japanese were moving in on. That left only our domestic production, and the majority of it was needed to run those Sherman tanks and P-51 Mustangs.

What's different today? Half of our oil supply comes from an area that is openly hostile to us, maybe more than half if you include Hugo Chavez and Venezuela. We are at war, or so we're told by those in DC. If our oil supplies fell into the wrong hands, we'd be in real trouble. Rationing is one answer to reduce over-consumption and leaving ourselves vulnerable to dictators.

Sure, it might take some getting used to; no more running across town to your favorite Blockbuster to get "Ishtar: Enhanced Director's Cut", of course. 3-4 gallons per week will get you about 40 miles with a big SUV. Hope your grocery store isn't too far away. Pizza delivery? Forget it, unless you can tip the delivery boy a few contraband ration stamps. But isn't this all a small price to pay to win the war on terror and stick it to those Arab sheiks?

Of course, I'm being a bit facetious here. Nobody in their right mind is going to propose, much less ratify, petroleum rationing until the straits are dire. People will complain what they will about the price of fuel, but in the end, they'll pay for it, and maybe even smile a bit as they do it. The oil companies know this, the auto manufacturers know this, and government knows it.

However, if push came to shove, and we were headed to $10/gal gasoline, I think fuel rationing might become a viable option and worthy of discussion. As much as I don't like government intruding, at that point, it becomes a national security issue, and it becomes their business.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

One less deer belonging to King Rich Leopold

After attending meetings in town last night, my folks were headed back to their farm when a deer decided to commit suicide on their Buick. According to Pa Gunzy, the deer hit the right side of the car, flew up 4 feet into the air, and landed on the shoulder. It damaged the right side light and hood. Fortunately, the folks were not injured.

If you wonder where my dry sense of humor comes from, here are father's comments in an email I got from him:

If the DNR officer lived in Humeston and when I come over with the (John Deere) 4020 tomorrow, I would deliver the state's livestock on to his driveway and let him dispose of it. I wonder if anyone has ever done that. Maybe the victims should all take the dead deer to Des Moines to the DNR parking lot.

Tuesday's caption contest

I got this off, which they use in their banner. I thought it was too good to leave alone.
Hit me with your best captions!
I'll start - John Edwards poses next to his new home in North Carolina to illustrate the "Two Americas".

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Graduation day

Today I had the opportunity to give three scholarships and a teacher award at our school's commencement. I figured I'd be barred at the door for my previous comments, but alas, I somehow slipped in and out without any trouble...! :)

This was a fair sized class for The South of Iowa High - 18 students. 10 boys, 8 girls. The class sizes are getting smaller and smaller each year, with 15-18 being average.

One student is headed to Iowa State. I was glad to present her with two of the three scholarships, and even took the opportunity to give her some advice:

1) Practice telling others where her hometown is, because most people will never have heard of it. Don't be afraid to use "south" and "Missouri" in the description; it helps.

2) When in orientation classes, when they ask everyone to stand, then sit down as your graduating class size is called out, don't be too embarrassed when you are the last one standing. This happened to me.

3) Have fun, and go 'Clones!

This graduate had a 3.9xx grade point average, and was obviously named valedictorian. The salutatorian had a 3.342 GPA. I had a similar GPA in high school and was 7th out of 21.

I was a bit disappointed in the turnout. You'd think that some folks could spring for a nice shirt/tie/slacks or a dress or pant suit. After all, your kid only graduates once from high school, right? Instead, t-shirts, jeans, and the occasional ball cap were not uncommon sights. This has become more and more common in the last few years. It's not like they can't afford the clothes; they spend that much each week on cigs and booze, I'd bet.

And there was only one punctuation/grammar error in the program, and it was pretty minor (missing a space between words). Good job! :)

A nice night for grilling out...

Nothing says a nice Sunday evening in the spring than a pork loin on the grill, with a little help from some fire accelerants.
Honestly, we couldn't get the gas to work, so we had to go back to town and get some lighter fluid. Dang, that's good stuff!
I'll bet some rednecks have gotten into lighter fluid/flame thrower wars while waiting for the grill to get ready. 'Plain that at the emergency room, Bubba!

The politics of getting a new jail

Here in the home county of The South of Iowa, there is debate/discussion about the need, location, and ability to finance the building of a new jail at around $10 million. Our current jail is small, outdated, and cannot hold both male and female prisoners, due to lack of separation and facilities. Female prisoners are oftentimes sent to other facilities, such as Centerville or into Missouri.

Our sheriff has been the main cheerleader for a new facility, and I can't blame him - he, his deputies, and his staff are the ones dealing with the old facility everyday.

However, part of the concern about building a new facility is how to finance it. One form of financing could come from a 1 cent local option sales tax increase, which is not setting terribly well with some.

While I'm not excited about paying more sales taxes, its better than taking it out of property taxes. Almost every other county/city in the state has taken advantage of the LOST, why not us?

Another way to finance the project is to sell the land of the county farm. That's right folks, we still have/had a county farm for the poor and indiginent. At last count, there were only 2-4 clients, with a staff of nearly double that. The land surrounding the house was rented out every two years and was not being used by the clients to further themselves (as they did in the old days).

Recently, the house/acreage was sold at auction, but the sale of the farmland is still in limbo, due to one of the three supervisors. This land sale could generate $500,000 or so. Why not sell it while the market is peaking?

This same supervisor is also against building the jail in a new, more accessable location. The current facility is diagonal from the courthouse; not a bad location, but it is practically in someone's back yard. The proposal is to build the new jail north of town along a state highway. I'm not sure why the supervisor is so set on building in the same location. What would you do with the prisoners while you destroy the old and build new? Just because "that's where the jail has always been," doesn't mean that's where it should be, right?

So, while I am not excited about paying more in sales taxes, I think it is the right thing to build a new jail north of town, rather than not doing anything at all and keep on paying deputies to transport prisoners instead of being out enforcing the peace.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rambling thoughts at 2:30 AM

Maddy's had me up twice tonight; she wakes up and brings half of her crib's contents with her into our room. That, plus some acid reflux from having a roast beef dinner too close to turning in has brought me here. So, I'm settling down to the keyboard with a bowl of cereal and milk and my mind still wandering from the day before.

Finished planting our corn today. Finally. Planted 300 acres in 3 full days. Just have 24 acres to do for a customer south of the Junction and possibly some replant here on the flats. Soybean planting should take 4-5 days, and we've got it in the ground.

I've seen a lot of wildlife the last few days; I had "El Lobo" the coyote following me on one farm. He thought my marker going through a patch of weeds was a rabbit, so he chased it a bit until finding out a steel disk wasn't too appetizing. Later, I scared him out of restful slumber in another patch of weeds. I saw numerous deer at another farm. They will certainly be taking a toll on the corn population later this year. Thanks, Jeff Vonk.

Now, for a totally unrelated subject, here's my analysis of Pearl Jam's "Alive":

Son, she said, have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy was nothin but a... What? A milkman? Tell us!
While you were sittin home alone at age thirteen Playing Nintendo...?
Your real daddy was dyin,
sorry you didnt see him,
but Im glad we talked... Thanks for dropping that bomb on me, mom.

Oh i, oh, Im still alive
Hey, i, i, oh, Im still alive
Hey i, oh, Im still alive

So, is this the Dad saying "I'm Alive, I'm Alive!", maybe from within a prison cell, and Mom just told a lie to cover it up, or is it Eddie Vedder telling the rest of the band that no, really, despite the massive amounts of drugs he's taken, he's alive and came up with these lyrics on his own. Hmm, we'll see.

Oh, she walks slowly, across a young mans room
She said Im ready...for you Now, this is getting a bit freaky here.
I cant remember anything to this very day
cept the look, the look... Must not have been a good experience...
Oh, you know where, now I cant see, I just stare...

I, Im still alive
Hey i, but, Im still alive
Hey i, boy, Im still alive
Hey i, i, i, Im still alive, yeah
Ooh yeah...yeah yeah yeah...oh...oh...

Is something wrong, she said
Well of course there is
You're still alive, she said Ah, a revelation!
Oh, and do I deserve to be
Is that the question
And if so...if so...who answers...who answers... Yeah Eddie, who answers! Tell us!

I, oh, Im still alive
Hey i, oh, Im still alive
Hey i, but, Im still alive
Yeah i, ooh, Im still alive
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

OK, this song basically sets up the listener with some interesting, possibly intriguing information. Then Eddie goes off and sings about how he, or the Dad, or the milkman, is alive, and he never finishes telling us what the heck is going on. Did Mom kill off Dad? Did Mom bury Dad and alive and he came back from the dead to seek his revenge? What does Junior having his first, um, "experience" have to do with anything? We are left with only questions...which is maybe how Mr Vedder wanted it to be.

Sorry folks, but that's all I could interpret from this song. Maybe it has anti-war undertones, or it warns us of impending apocalyptic environmental doom. Or, maybe, it's just a bunch of nonsense that rhymes. But in my sleep-deprived stupor, that's beyond me at this point.

Next week, Stone Temple Pilot's Big Empty...uh, yeah.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jericho canceled; life goes on

I am saddened to say that my favorite TV program, "Jericho," was not picked up by CBS to return this fall. I think this is a mistake on CBS's part. But then again, life goes on, and it's just a TV show.

However, there are some out there that can't seem to cope with this loss. Witness these entries in an online petition to save the show:

jason powers
i swear, if jericho is taken off the air, that's the last straw for me and the big 4 networks!!!

Im gonna kill myself and my family if you cancel the show.

It is the most stupid idea to finish such a great movie

Julie Raymond
If Jericho doesn't return CBS will not be returning to my household.

Alejandro Fernandez
Hey I love the show with my band

James Elmore
you suck

david decarlo
dont do this to us cbs u suck

Daniel Savitchi
I wanna have Jericho back!How could you stop it??

Pearl Roberts
This makes me sick.

OK, folks, get a life. Yes, it is/was a great show, but life goes on. Threatening to never watch CBS again is like swearing off gasoline for a day; you'll be back, and they know it.

Maybe these posters' lives are just shallow enough that a show like Jericho gives them definition and reason in their lives, and without their weekly guidance from Johnston Green, they will be lost sheep in the desert. If so, this is a sad commentary on this cross-section of TV viewers.

There are many other things to do than to watch TV! Read a book, go for a walk, maybe spend some time with your family and friends! Life does not need to revolve around a TV program!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

How to speak Southern Iowan

Here are some local slang and terms used here in The South of Iowa. It's not an exhaustive list by any means, but it gives you some idea of how we talk here.

Big Pig - Premium Standard Farms, headquarted in Princeton, MO. A lot of corn from this area goes to them. Also known as "Miss Piggy".

"He got a job at Big Pig as a feed truck driver."

"When Miss Piggy gets hungry, she really bids the price up."

The Junction - Intersection of Highways 2 and 65. Used to have a DOT weigh station there, but now the boys in Blue are there periodically, especially on livestock auction sale days, trying to catch Missouri ranchers with their old trucks and trailers. The "Junction" also had a drive-in theater, motel, restaurant, and gas station at one time. All that remains is the restaurant; the drive-in and motel were blown down in 1984 due to a tornado.

"Looks like you got more rain at the Junction than we did here."

"He's playing guitar tonight at the jam session at the Junction."

Muddin' it in - Planting corn or soybeans into soil that is a bit too wet. Usually done when a storm is approaching or one wants to get a jump on planting. Not the best practice, as it compacts the soil.

"Jim Bob's over at the McDonald place, muddin' it in."

Prevented Planting - If the crop cannot be planted by a certain date, the producer can get partial payment of his crop insurance and not be forced to plant a crop. Sometimes abused by some farmers.

"Only 15 more days until I can take prevented planting!"

'Pert Near - A response that means "very close" or "similar". Derived from "Pretty much near", I think.

"He drove his tractor 'pert near off the bridge to miss that Camaro!"

"That old planter of mine is 'pert near an antique.

That's all I can think of for now. Any other offerings would be welcome!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Season finale of Jericho

OK, since I only get 3 channels here in The South of Iowa, I don't have a chance to get hooked on "24" or "Lost". No "American Idol", either (as if that were ever a consideration). So, my favorite show nowadays is "Jericho", on CBS.
If you don't know the premise of Jericho, here's a link to its entry in Wikipedia.
So, after watching the season finale, I'm sitting there thinking, "What would happen is this happened here? What if another town, jealous of our resources, wanted to invade and take over our farms and businesses? What if there was no rule of law, and we resorted to barbarianism?"
I realize that's a bit far-fetched, and makes good entertainment, but it does make you think - what would happen locally if simultaneous nuclear explosions took place around the country, leaving everyone in the dark, both literally and figuratively? How do you survive, not only in terms of food and shelter, but in emotional and mental stress? To add to it, what if someone wanted to deprive you of the few basics that you have?
Here's a bit of speculation:
1) If major cities were destroyed, we'd see an influx of refugees from cities that were not destroyed, as they would not be capable of supporting themselves with the infrastructure in ruins. People would move closer to food sources and away from future potential attacks. Because of this, rationing and protection of towns would be imperative. You have to take care of your own, but if you let everyone and their dog in and share the wealth, you'll soon not have enough to go around.
2) Those with grain in the bins would become millionaires overnight, and would need protection. Same for those with livestock and horses. One person could live on 10 bushels or so of corn a year, maybe less. Each acre would support approximately 15 people; a regular size field could feed my entire town twice. Maybe have some left over to make whiskey for consumption, medicinal purposes, or barter.
3) Fuel supplies would be used up almost immediately, I'm afraid. We are simply too used to driving everywhere, and we'd waste it within a few weeks. And, as much as I like ethanol production, a small ethanol plant would waste nearly as much energy to make ethanol as would be produced. Stick with squeezing oil out of soybeans and sunflowers for bio-diesel.
4) Battles would not occur between towns, as supposed in Jericho; I think for the most part people would try to work together to survive, use alternative economy systems (bartering, exchange, etc), and look out for each other. Some might hang on to a greed mentality (take advantage of the situation), but they'd soon run out of wares and be one of the multitude without.
5) The Amish would make us all look like fools. A nuclear war wouldn't hardly cause a blip on their radar (so to speak).
6) We'd learn how to make bio-diesel real fast to put crops in the ground and harvest them. Modern technology would still be useful, but not quite as handy as before. More hand labor would be necessary for food production. Older tractors would still be used, as the modern machines, with electronics blown out due to EMP blasts, would be oversized lawn ornaments.
7) Things that we currently consider of little value (firewood, hand tools, etc) would become valuable, and things we consider highly valuable today (Rolex watches, IPods, computers) would become worthless overnight.
It's good to consider these things once in a while; I'm not going Y2K on you, dear reader, and I'm not posting this from my underground bunker. However, we must realize that this scenario can happen, and if so, it's not a bad idea to consider the proposed situation and how one would deal with it.
At the very least, Jericho has been a great program to watch and very entertaining. There is some doubt if it will be back next season. I hope it does come back, and when the Season 1 DVD comes out, I will be in line to purchase a set.

Amish in the 'hood

Here in the South of Iowa, we have a small "colony" of Amish folks who moved in around 15 years ago. Actually, I believe most of one group has moved out and another group moved in, but that's a different matter - the point is, we have some of the "plain folk" amongst us.

I recently started selling feed to a few of them, and quite frankly, they are good people to work with. Of course, like any cross section of people you'll have your good and bad, but thus far, I have found the following qualities:

1) Hard working
2) Industrious
3) Innovative (yes, it's true)
4) Critical thinkers

It's funny, however, how one particular Amish customer contacts me - he uses a cell phone. Of course, it's his neighbor's, who he works with in the building of vinyl windows, but it's kind of odd to get a cell phone call from someone whose culture shuns ownership of such technology.

Another surprising find is when driving from Derby to Chariton, one Amish family has a trampoline in their front yard, and oftentimes you'll see the little girls bouncing up and down on it, their long skirts swaying and bonnet strings flopping up and down.

Another family, whose occupation is primarily making cabinets and wood flooring, utilize modern technology in a rather unique way. They own a moulder, a machine that has multiple cutting heads that turn planks of wood into trim or flooring. This machine usually has about 4-6 electric motors on it, and is not an inexpensive machine. The family figured out how to run the machine off a Deutz air-cooled engine using shafts, belts, and pulleys. Amazing!

Point is, they are regular people like you and me. They are not to be pointed at, stared at, mocked, or felt guilty about. They are simply trying to make their way in this life the best way they know how. Sure, there is a greater level of "peer pressure" and community than some of us are comfortable with, but they've made their decision and are living with it.

Now, for a little fun, here's Weird Al talking about our friends:

Friday, May 04, 2007

My apology

I recently posted something here that some felt was rather hypocritical of me, considering the position I am in. Others felt the post was a personal attack on their character. The message of the post was not so much in question but rather the way the post was written.

In both cases, I admit that I should have written the post differently to get the message across. I was too coarse and somewhat harsh in my tone. My intention was not to personally attack anyone, but rather to bring light to a situation that I found troubling. However, the way I wrote the post seemed to indicate a personal attack.

I want to apologize to those who were offended, and I ask for their forgiveness.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This is why lawyer jokes are based on facts

Found this on The Drudge Report:

This judge/lawyer jerk is suing a dry cleaner for $67 million for losing his prized pair of pants (which, BTW, were found a week after being lost). He cites many reasons why, including consumer fraud protection...

Read the story.

What a jerk.