Archive | April, 2011

I Remember… do you?

13 Apr

A good friend of mine was reminiscing about the technological changes over the last 30 years, on the v7N Tech Blog. It got me thinking, which isn’t always a good thing.

Now I’m feelin’ just plain OLD!

I remember when only very rich people could get anything BUT a party line telephone, and even Early telephoneTHAT was only available in the inner cities. Many suburban areas just didn’t even have telephone service available to private residences yet. And the phone didn’t have a dial… you just jiggled the hook a few times and the operator came on so you could tell her who you wanted to ring. She dialed it for you.

B&W TV SetI remember when we were the second family in our neighborhood to buy a television set… a huge cabinet with a tiny black and white screen in the middle. Color wasn’t even thought of until years later.

We mailed our letters with a three cent stamp. One cent for postcards.

Drive-In TheaterI remember when the neighboring town got the first drive-in movie theater in our state… everyone was convinced it would never catch on. They were wrong!

I remember a nation howling with glee when John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.

And a nation crying when our President was shot in his car from a grassy knoll in Dallas.

Cassius Clay/Muhammad AliI remember a young kid named Cassius Clay having the audacity to think he could challenge the Champ.

And not understanding why he would later change his name.

I remember how odd I thought it was for cars to start having the starter connected to the key. That button on the floor had worked just fine.

Then they moved the dimmer switch to the turn signal!

4-track playerI remember 4-track tapes… I even had one in my pickup.

Then they came out with 8-tracks, and made ’em obsolete.

Princess PhoneI remember my sister just “dying” to have a Princess phone. They didn’t just come in black like a “regular” phone. First they added white, and then with the Princess, came various colors.

I remember an entire country on the edge of its seat, while our President mobilized troops in a face-off with the Kremlin over some missile launchers in Cuba.

VP Nixon, 1959Believe it or not, I even remember an earlier President, a former 5-star General, who had the misfortune of picking a Vice President that would go on to sponsor the Watergate embarrassment.

Some of those things I remember vividly, some of them are more vague. But I remember all of ’em, regardless.

Hippie demonstratorsI remember taking a break from a demonstration on the SDSU campus to chat with an old guy that changed my life with a simple question: “Why?” When I realized I couldn’t really give him a decent answer, I headed to the library to find out. What I learned there sent me to get a haircut and then to the recruiter’s office.

I remember some other things, too. Some things that aren’t as pleasant.

Troop casualties, homeward boundI remember my government sending hundreds of thousands of us into a combat situation, first without adequate arms or training, then with the shackles of political concerns, while they sent us more body bags than bullets.

I remember being amongst the last few hundred providing cover for the rest to evacuate, as 30,000 VC swarmed through Saigon to try to stop them.

I remember being spat on and called a murderer of babies in the San Francisco airport by punks that were just as clueless as I had been that day at SDSU.

Homeless VeteranI remember listening to years of lies and misinformation, while I saw other vets panhandling on corners, many candidates for mental institutions.

US FlagAnd I remember the pride I felt, every single time I watched our flag raise to the strains of the Star Spangled Banner, whether it was at a baseball game, a rodeo or a military ceremony.

All in all, not bad memories. Especially from a guy that often forgets to put water in the coffee pot!

I remember…. do you?


Are you a Carnivore?

9 Apr
Beef cuts at the market


First of all, let me be perfectly clear about something. I am a confirmed carnivore. Sure, I enjoy vegetables, too… provided they’re to one side of a nice juicy steak. I like chicken and fish, too, but to be honest, I barely consider them to be meat. Meat is red, and generally comes from a creature larger than me. Pork and beef are my preferred poison.

I used to raise our own beef and slaughter one or two every year. I’ve done more than a fair amount of hunting, and butchered deer, wild boar, turkeys and even one bear. Aside from one childhood incident where I killed a squirrel just because I could (the shame of which I was immediately made to feel by my father, and which has stayed with me to this day), I have never killed any animal that didn’t find its way to my table. And I have never killed in order to hang a trophy on my wall.

I’ve slaughtered hogs, goats, and various fowl, cleaned and gutted enough fish to feed a small town for a month and I have NEVER failed to exercise compassion when doing so. When “doctoring” my animals (translation: castration, de-horning, or treating serious wounds), I always used anesthetic and antibiotics, and the most humane method I could.

I consider animals to be creatures that deserve at least as much compassion and respect as living beings as I do, even if they are headed for my table.

I’ve been a meat-eater all my life, and I have no intention of changing that now.

HOWEVER… I do know that industrialization of the meat industry has given rise to many barbaric practices in order to increase productivity (and of course, profits). I don’t know if all of those practices can be eradicated, while maintaining the necessary productivity. But I do believe we have to TRY!

The video below is not for the weak of heart or stomach. If you have a weak stomach, you probably won’t be able to watch it. I do, though, encourage you to at least listen to it. Punch the play button, and listen while you check your email or something, and you may find you’ll be enlightened.

I am certainly not trying to convince anyone to give up meat and become a vegan… I won’t be, I assure you. I simply encourage you to be aware of how hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of animals are deliberately and viciously treated every single month in this country. I encourage you to stay away from genetically modified food of all kinds, because nobody really knows what the long-term effects of ingesting such food may be.

And most of all, I encourage you to do anything you can to teach your children, nephews and nieces or grandchildren how important it is for them to remain humane when dealing with other creatures.

Don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning. This video is graphic. It’s appalling. It’s shameful. It’s something we all need to change.

Edit: 5/16/11 I see that this video has been removed. I’ll try to locate it elsewhere and put it back up.

Edit: 5/21/11 I couldn’t locate another copy of that video anywhere, unfortunately. However, I did find another one that is somewhat related and should be of interest to many of you. Food, Inc. can’t be embedded here, but here’s a link to the first of seven parts on YouTube. The remaining parts are present on the same channel.

Edit: 9-23-2013 Food, Inc. is back up on YouTube again… hopefully it’ll stay this time.

Front-end Conversion

5 Apr

Getting ready to make the conversion from leaf springs to coil, and manual steering to power, we ordered the conversion kit today for the pick-up. The picture below is a manual job, but otherwise, very similar to the one we’re supposed to receive in two weeks. (Click to enlarge)

Front suspension  conversion kit

$1,500 worth, with the power add-on

Tomorrow, I’m heading over to do some grinding and welding on the chassis, and take some dimensions. Gerardo is getting impatient to get things moving again, and I’m trying to hold him back so we don’t get ahead of ourselves. Making him understand that dropping a Chevy engine into a Ford pick-up is no big thing, but when you toss in a front end conversion, change from standard to automatic, and all the other “minor” mods we’re doing, it pays to measure twice and cut once.

The chop-job on the cabin is turning out to be a challenge, and it looks like four inches is about all we’re going to be able to manage. Turns out I’m going to have to fabricate the flip-hood conversion too, as we couldn’t determine exactly which kit would fit properly. I decided it was safer to just build it and send it out for chrome work, since they won’t accept a return if it doesn’t fit.

Gerardo went to the Good Guys show and took some great pics, so I thought I’d throw in a few of those to show you what we have in mind.

Flip-hood conversion

This is the type of flip-hood conversion I'll build

And a closer look…

Another view

A typical chop-job

This is a 4-1/2″ chop, but the weld-line shows, so we’re thinking to  limit ourselves to 4″.





This is what the hood will look like, opened all the way (my sister-in-law and niece in the foreground)


After the hood conversion is done


And except for the color scheme, the interior will be pretty similar to this


The interior

We’re starting to get down to the rough details now, so it’s getting interesting. Funny, though… it’s not getting any cheaper!