Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Small green tree frogs sometimes find their way into our trailers while riding on a wooden pallet. They seldom survive because once they get cold (our trailer in in the lower 30's) they can not move.
Yesterday I found one on the floor that could not move but was still alive. I put him outside on the ground to warm up. As I moved across the ramp from one trailer to another, I kept an eye on him. Slowly he began to warm and get some mobility. After a few minutes he started to hop around and a few minutes later he was out of site.
I knew I would need to find him and move him across the road to the tree line if he were to survive. After I finished loading my trailer I couldn't see him anywhere. I moved one of the trailers back to its parking place and came back to have a better look.
After searching I still couldn't locate him. As I turned to walk around the other trailer, I spotted him. He has moved to the shade under one of my tires and I had run over him. Sorry Kermit, I did my best.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Flashback Friday


Today I will post a few pictures and comments about my trip to France.

Milk is found on the shelf with the other groceries. No refrigeration is needed until it is opened. Can't say it really tastes that much like our milk, although it was not too bad.

There were jars with veggies stacked 2 and 3 high, very convenient.

This is an ATM for renting videos. It was on the outside wall of the video store and could be used 24 hours a day. Insert your video store card, select your movie (using a browse or search ), pay with cash or credit card and be on your way in about a minute. Movies could be returned the same way and could be rented for as little as 6 hours. Inside the movies were rented by the day just like back home. The same rates did not apply inside. Daily rentals were much cheaper inside the store, but if you just wanted to grab a movie and view it and come right back you couldn't beat the price.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Talk is Cheap

He passed me in his Ford F-250 with a temporary tax showing he had purchased the used truck that very day.

When I pulled into the rest area just east of Texarkana, I noticed him getting out of his truck. Before he could walk the 150 ft to the vending machines, he had turned to look at his truck no less than 4 times. He was obviously very proud of it.

As I headed to the restroom, he was coming back to his truck (never taking his eyes off of it). I stopped him and asked about his truck (knowing he would like to talk about it).

His father and brothers both had diesel pickups but this was his first. It was a 2000 model that he would use to drive to work and pull a small horse trailer. After I bragged on his purchase, he was off to show his wife.

Upon returning from the restroom, I noticed a small car pulling up with its gas cap dangling. As I approached the driver, he was rambling in the glove compartment. He noticed me and rolled down his window and said, "Good afternoon young man". Yes, he was older than me (getting harder to find every day).

When I told him about the gas cap and the fact that it would cause the "check engine" light to come on, he laughed and said, "Heck, I knew that but would you believe I was just looking for the phone number of the rental car agency because the "check engine" light had just came on". He thanked me for saving him an embarrassing phone call and we both had a good laugh.

I love to talk to people and "talk is cheap". Cheap, heck it's free.

Monday, September 17, 2007


As I was leaving Little Rock today I saw a fool on a silver motorcycle doing a wheelie coming down the interstate. He was not even smart enough to be wearing a helmet like the guy in this photo.

Coming in this afternoon, traffic was stopped for a accident that involved a silver motorcycle. I wondered if it was the same one from earlier in the day.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Flashback Friday

I will start using "Flashback Fridays" to finish stories I have started and failed to finish or just update past stories.


Zac had his "crew" over for dinner at his apartment on my last night in Le Mans, France.

We had time between his early morning class and late afternoon class to hop on the city bus and ride to the edge of town to do our shopping. I can't remember the stores name but it was a "big box super store", very similar to aWalMart Super Center.

What I found very interesting was the meat selection. It was displayed not unlike a fresh open air meat market. A large portion of the meat (and all the sea food) was not wrapped and placed on a bed of shaved ice. This was not in glass cases as in the US but on open beds as vegetables are displayed in America.

One large display caught my eye as the cuts of meat were large and a light pink color. When I asked, Zac laughed and told me it was "horse meat". I guess that explains the large ribs.Meat is very expensive in France and really used to flavor dishes.

We were having a pasta casserole for main dish, with a large salad and a pie size raspberry tart for dessert. The wine would be furnished by our quests.

Left to right, Matt, Emily (the high school teacher), Emily, and of course Zachary.

The meal was a great success and the wine flowed freely (until we ran out after 3 bottles) and the conversation was splendid.

I commented on the 2 Emilies (both New Englanders) not having the Boston accent. They both ensured me that it was there but hidden.

When Zac and I started with the southern black mammy "hush your mouth" routine, they about fell out of their chairs laughing.

All to soon we had to say our goodbyes and I would not see them again. I am most appreciative of the hospitality they extended to me. A fine a group of young people as I have ever met.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Things have not been going well in my little world and regular readers know I have been "on the rag" for some time.

There has been a big event looming for several weeks and yesterday "it hit the fan". I have two choices, take or quit.

Our company ( a division of a larger corp) has had a nice 401k package. With their match I have been saving over 20% of my pretax wages.

Yesterday we finally found out about our new retirement package from Prairie Farms (our parent corp). They have a "Thrift Plan" (similar to a profit sharing plan) that our 401k balances will be rolled into. We have no choice unless we quit.

Their plan is great for the younger workers (that they want) but terrible for older workers ( that they would rather not have [ and by the way, you will not see them hiring]).

Our 401k plan was with Fidelity and we had about a dozen choices where we could place our money. The money was placed once a month and "cost averaging" worked in our favor.

In the "Thrift Plan", one has to put in 2% of post tax dollars (can add up 6% more) to participate. That money will be sent to the plan manager once a month and once a year there may or may not be money added ( a percentage of your annual earning) by the company. You have no options as to how he will invest all monies in the plan ( your 401k money or the "Thrift Plan" money). It is put in one "blended vehicle" ( stocks and bonds). Even if you choose not to participate with new money, your old 401k money will be sent to the plan manager.

The 401k money (pretax) and "Thrift Plan" (post tax) will be separated within the plan as there will be no taxes due on the "Thrift Plan" money at time of withdrawal. You can specify which monies you want to withdraw at retirement age. You could use the two to minimize you taxes at retirement.

The problem (besides not having better control over you investments) for old workers and myself is that at only 8% maximum (and those being post tax dollars) and no guaranty of company money being added, it falls well short of my 20% retirement savings.

If company money is added, it will only be added once a year. Thus eliminating "monthly cost averaging". For younger workers or anyone saving a very small percentage it will be a winner for them. Plus you have to plan your retirement date after October 1 of your retirement year for fear of missing out on company contributions. One could retire several months earlier but it would be unwise to retire a month or two before a possible yearly windfall.

As for me, I will be screwed out of several thousand dollars a year, not to mention I have zero control of my retirement money.

I would like to work a while longer but don't like being boxed in a corner with my retirement savings.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Taxing Matter

In Arkansas, one pays “sales tax” on every vehicle purchased until the purchase price falls below $2500. Years ago it was an advantage to buy a used vehicle ( assuming it had been titled in Arkansas at one time and the sales tax paid), because one didn’t have to pay sales tax on a used vehicle.

My 2006 Dodge was bought new 16 month ago and sales tax was paid by the original owner. I have just paid sales tax again when I titled the truck.. That amounts to over $4000 for the state in less than a year and a half. If this truck were sold a few more times in the next few years the state would receive more in taxes than the truck cost new.

Our city of Bryant, Ar. is one of fastest growing (if not the fastest ) towns in our state. In this small town there has been literally thousands of new homes built in the last 5 years and yet they are asking for a “millage increase”. Where does it all stop.

When I first started doing my mechanic work in the early 70’s there was no tax due on used parts or labor.

Our state is eliminating sales tax on groceries and immediately the price of groceries go up ( a coincident, I don‘t think so). People haven’t saved a dime but it just added more profit for grocery stores.
I guess I need to check my sugar as I can't seem to get off this soap box.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Unusual load

This picture does not really capture the image my eyes saw as I exited the interstate to drop a trailer at an Arkadelphia, Ar. truck stop.

From the distance of the interstate, my eyes could mainly see just the pipes on the trailer. It looked like several rows of pipe stacked vertically. Defiantly now the normal way to haul pipe. It made for a very unusual looking load.

The pipes were welded to sheets of expanded medal. I didn't see the driver , so I couldn't ask if he might know what they were going to be used for.

Monday, September 03, 2007

September book review

My September book review is a little late this month because, heck you don't want excuses.

A novel by Paul Boray.

A bookie is robbed of $300,000 and his girlfriend badly beaten and raped by a Chinese gang that tells him he is going into early retirement or else. He contacts ex-cop John "Tomb" Tomie to help get even with the gang and recover his money (he offers "half" to Tomb). Tomb enlists a former cop on the Chinatown beat to help.

This novel has several twists and turn, some you see coming and some you don't. When I was thru with it, I had to recall some small details earlier in the book to see how the ending could be "the end".

The first person that shows an interest in this book will receive it free by e-mailing me their "snail mail" address. I will send it media mail to said address. Don't be bashful, I think you will enjoy this book and my book shelf is running over.

Mortgage bail out

The pres outlined plans for a mortgage bail out of some homeowners.

I don't think so!

There are exceptions to every rule but I don't see why the government (a.k.a. you and I) should bail out people that bought more house than they could afford on an adjustable mortgage just because the interest rates were at an all time low. Historical lows rates means it is a given that your payments WILL go up.

More importantly, we are bailing out the mortgage companies that made these inadvisable loans. I own some financial stocks so I am "cutting off my nose to spite my face". Decisions should be made by what is right, not what is beneficial to me. To me THIS is just not right for a government that can't pay it's own bills.

Your opinions you vary and I respect the fact that we can have different opinions.

OK, I will get off my soapbox for now.

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