Monday, January 28, 2008

Sir Alex

Several years ago we lived on a short dead gravel road by a small AG&F lake. Our neighbor owned "free range" chickens and one of his roosters would wake us up in the morning by crowing.

It was rather funny, if we were already up when he came over, he would just walk around the yard. If we were not up he would crow until we started moving around and making noise or just yell at him.

We named him "LUTHER" and made a game out of him coming over to wake us.

We how have a new "fowl friend", he is a Guinea and I have named him "Sir Alex". He stands by the tires on the Dodge truck all day and he "fusses" when we drive it. Nice to have him around as he will eat any ticks in the neighborhood, now if I could get him to eat ants. Could there be an Aardvark in my future?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


One pound gain for the week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The El Dorado Promise

Hearing grumbling about $3 a gallon gasoline. That is not the case with the El Dorado, Arkansas school students. El Dorado is the home of Murphy Oil Corp. so naturally it provides a large number of high paying jobs in the area, but that is not what has the students excited.

The El Dorado Promise is sponsored by Murphy Oil and it guaranties that every graduating senior ( read the story for the facts) at El Dorado High School that wants to attend a college or university will have their tuition and fees paid in full.

The tuition money is capped by the highest tuition charged in Arkansas but can be used at any school in any state up to the Arkansas cap.

The best students usually receive scholarships at most schools but this program covers any student that gets admitted to a college or university.

A student from a poor family will now know he or she CAN attend a college or university. Students will try harder through their school years because they know there will be a big payoff for them.

If this story doesn't make you feel good about America, I don't know what will.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

See ya down the road

I met another backpacker this week but he was not what I would consider your usual (if there is such a thing) vagabond.

He had his backpack off and taking a break near our yard on hwy82 west of Texarkana, Tx. He asked that I not take any pictures and we had a short chat.

He was eager to talk but was hesitant to give real details. He appeared to be in his late 40's or early 50's. When I asked where he was from he just answered "all over" and then his destination was "just heading down the road".

His clothes were clean and he was clean shaven and his back pack looked fairly new.

His setup was similar to the one above and he was carrying a tent and ground pad. He appeared to be equipped for backpack traveling.

I just wondered if he was "running away" and had not made it far enough from home to give any personal information. Maybe he was just wanting to leave for awhile or perhaps attempting to make a fresh start down the road. Maybe he was just off for a weekend (it was Friday afternoon) hike, but it was one of you coldest (in the low 30's) days this year.

He was very intriguing but I just could not get him to open up. I would like to meet him a month or two down the road and hear his story.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Same-o same-o

221 lbs. and holding.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

"Robbing Peter to pay Paul" is generally referring to taking money from one bill to pay another.

My "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" has to do with my job and my health. The harder my job (loading trucks, not the driving part) the more my heart rate rises and therefor the stronger my heart becomes and that in turns lowers my blood pressure, but the harder I work the more damage I do to my knees.

For years I have used a hook to just drag the stacks of milk. We stack milk crates five or six high and the stacks can vary greatly in the overall weight. I will use gallons of milk as an example: 4 gallons to the case, 8.5 lbs. per gallon= to approx 35 lbs. when you add in the weight of the case. Now a 5 high stack is about 175 lbs. or 6 high is 210 lbs. While your body is not carrying the 200 lbs., the weight is transferred to your knees.

The average stack is dragged about 50 feet multiplied by the number of stacks in the load (70 stacks in a really small load to over 200 stacks in a large one) and one starts to see that it can be quite a workout. A milkman's knees really take a beating but his heart is better for it.

Dragging the milk is faster than rolling the stacks on a two wheel dolly.

With a hook, you just hook the bottom case (while using the other hand to grab the top case to steady the stack), drag the stack (walking backward) and when you get it where you want it just sling it in place.

With the dolly, you have to pull the stack forward enough to tilt it backward so the dolly will go under it, then you have to turn the stack and dolly around and push it where it needs to be (you could walk backwards with it but you have to turn around when you get to the destination anyway), when the stack is where you want it you have to lean the stack forward to pull the dolly out, now you have to push the stack forward into its place tight against the rest of the stacks.

Walking with the stack on a dolly or dragging the stack takes about the same time as "walking is walking", but the extra steps with the dolly adds up. The real difference is the amount of energy between the two. One uses less energy but takes longer.

My knees are not what they used to be so I have been using a dolly for several months ( I am paid by the run so time is not a factor to the dairy). While helping my knees, my heart is not getting the workout several times a week that it needs.

My blood pressure has always been about 117/ 70 . By not exercising my heart my blood pressure is all the way to 147/83 on the high side and 142/76 on other days.

I think a trip to the doctor is close at hand.

Friday, January 11, 2008

221 lbs

One half pound is not much but at least I'm headed in the right direction again. I was a little surprised I hadn't gained this week ( I will let it go at that).

My blood sugar is fine @106, but my blood pressure is still a little high @ 136/76. I need to get back on by bicycle but I just can't seem to get motivated.

My disposition is much improved and I am starting to enjoy my job again.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Actually that is the brand name of the vent fans in the ceiling of our rv. Fan-Tastic fans are the standard by which all other fans are judged.

For my non rv readers I will explain their use. They work the way "attic fans" work in an ordinary home. All rvs have a vent fan in the bathroom to pull the steam from the shower.

Most are just a small single speed fan in the 14"x14" opening the will not do a great job. The vent is cranked open and the fan automatically starts turning.

Our Fan-Tastic vent fan in the bathroom is full size to the opening and has 3 speeds plus "off". Select any of the 3 speeds and open the vent and the fan starts or you can place the switch to off and open it without the fan running (more on that later).

All controls are manual. I can reach them but the short one of the family has to use a pair of kitchen tongs to open it by placing the tongs on the black star shaped knob and turning it.

We ordered an automatic fan for the kitchen vent (the stove also has a vent-a-hood). It has a "rain sensor" that will automatically close it if it rains and it will reopen when the sensor dries.

This fan is controlled thermostatically by this wall unit (it can also be manually operated). In "auto" mode you can set the desired "temp and humidity" and the fan will open and run on high until it is reached. In "manual" mode the fan opens and runs on low until you choose to turn it off.

When using the kitchen fan, you can open a window or a door to receive a nice breeze. When the awning is out you can draw in the cool breeze it creates. Also you can just open the bathroom vent with the fan turned off to receive a breeze if you want to keep the doors and windows closed.

These are 12volt fans so they can be used (rvs have 12 batteries attached) even when you are not hooked to regular 120 volt power.

These fans are very powerful and really move a lot of air inside a rv. Roughing it in an rv with the comforts of a attic fan.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Putnam Hitch

Back in August when I bought my 2006 Dodge 2500 diesel truck, I knew I wanted to install a better trailer hitch.

The stock hitch was not heavy enough ( I didn't want to max it out) for our 32ft travel trailer. After doing some research I decided on this hitch. The Putnam 25211 is rated at 16000 pounds when used with a weight distribution system.

The hitch arrived with part of the nuts, bolts, and washers missing (the box had a hole in it). The first thing was rounding up the missing parts before starting.

These are the nuts, washers, and bolts needed to install the hitch. Also these pipe bushings were needed. Only 2 bushings are needed for my truck. A Dodge 1500 requires the other two.

This is the hitch and the 2 mounting plates.

The two mounting brackets are installed with 4 bolts per side. Depending on your truck (longbed or short), you use the front or rear holes.

I now turned my attention to my truck .

First I removed the spare tire and unclipped the wiring harness for the lights.

The receiver part of the stock hitch ( also serves as on additional rear frame crossmember so only the receiver part is cut off) has to be removed. This picture also shows the part of the original hitch that the new hitch ties to.

I torched it off and then cleaned it a little after this picture was taken. The rest of the stock hitch is left in place because the new Putnam hitch ties into it.

These 2 bumper bolts (one on each side with the tab attached) need to be removed.

Push the clips that hold down the plastic in the bumper upward and it reveals the holes that will tie the two hitches together. This is the part of the original hitch where a regular trailer ball is attached.

These are the bolts that are used.

I used a floor jack to lift the new hitch in place and then reused the 2 bolts I had removed earlier (pipe spacers were already built in on the 3/4 top truck). One additional bolt per side is added to the provided holes.

The front holes on both the hitch and frame are elongated.

These bolts, washers ( I added and additional washer inside and out to beef it up) and bushing are used. The bushing fit inside the frame to keep it from collapsing.

After every thing was in place I started tightening all the bolts.

Starting with the 2 bolts that tie the two hitches together. After everything is tight, I plastic z-tied the wiring harness snug.

Here you can see both hitches tied together. My R265/17 spare tire fit but not sure if a larger tire would.

The finished product looks great and I now have all the hitch I need. It took about 3 hours but I really took my time and that included rounding up the missing parts. Without a floor jack or a helper, the hitch would be difficult to hold in place to start the bolts. This thing is very heavy.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

How I came to have my name

My mom lived around Sparkman, Arkansas as a girl. She would tell stories about the dances that everyone attended. Often they would last all night long and it was quite common to wear out the soles of a new pair of shoes in one night. Inexpensive shoes and wooden dance floors with sawdust to makes them slippery had a lot to do with this.

These were not dances at fancy "dance halls", but were often in the homes of the musicians with people dancing in the parlor , kitchen, and even the front and back porches.

This was the days of the Model T Ford and every man wore a hat. When a man arrived at a dance and part of the brim of his hat was missing, it could mean only one thing. He had used part of his hat brim to line the clutch of his Model T.

One of the musical families of the Sparkman area where my mom attended dances was the Brown family. Their son and two daughters would later form the country music trio Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie known simply as "The Browns".

They had several hits in the mid 50's and Jim Ed went on to a very nice solo career before forming a duo with Helen Cornelius.

One of their aunts was Magee Brown and she married a local boy named Sam. The rigors of touring was hard on Bonnie as she had married and had young children. When Sam died in the late 50's, Bonnie asked her Aunt Magee to be her nanny.

Dang Squire, I thought his was a post about your name.

Well the Aunt Magee and Uncle Sam that Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie knew was known to me as Uncle Sam and Aunt Magee. Uncle Sam was my dad's brother.

"And now you know the rest of the story".

Heck you really didn't think my name was Squire, did you?

On a side note: My weight remains at 221.5 pds.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A new year

The new year started with me having a better outlook and a renewed quest to accomplish all the things that need to be in place before I retire. Retirement for me means , "not having to take a cut in pay".

I am not one to make resolutions for a new year but I would like to make a few changes in the coming year. Besides trying to eat better, I need to get my eyes checked (a first for me), and have all the tests an "old man" should have.

My new extra heavy duty (16000pd) hitch has arrived for my truck and I look forward to installing it and having one less thing on my "to due list".

Also this year I would like to sell our motorhome and Flintstone (my Pontiac Fiero), neither is being used and taking up space in our driveway.

One more thing that is high on my list is to again seek out people to talk to as I have been very lax in that department for the last couple of months.

I hope everyone has a safe and productive year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

January Book Review

For a couple of years I have been reading a blog about a female taxi cab driver in New York City. I have not linked to her before because I try to keep this blog family friendly and she is not afraid of the "f" work. I enjoy her blog very much and when she wrote a book, I knew that I wanted it for Christmas. Zac (who told me about the blog) gave it to me and I dove right in and read it cover to cover.

"HACK, How I stopped worrying about what to do with my life and started driving a yellow cab." by Melissa Plaut.

She tells about getting her "hack licence" and her adventures in the cab as one of the few female New York City cab drivers. She is college educated and took this job because she was not handling the office politics of the corporate world very well.

Drop by her blog and start at the beginning for insight into her book.


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