Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Global Warming Update



Click on photos to enlarge.
2008: The major differences are high efficiency furnaces, insulation, heated car seats, Gore-Tex.....Wait, where is Al Gore? I think he must be cozied up by a fire to keep warm. If the current trend continues we may have a white Ground Hog Day!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Poets' Corner

The selection for today is taken from 'mehitabel meets an affinity', by archy the cockroach. Archy and mehitabel are in paris, and mehitabel has found a boyfriend.

"mehitabel meets an affinity"

(archy writes)
"paris france
mehitabel the cat
has been passing her
time in the dubious
company of
a ragged eared tomcat
with one mean
eye and the other
eye missing whom
she calls francy
he has been the hero
or the victim of
many desperate encounters
for part of his tail
has been removed
and his back has been chewed
to the spine
one can see at a glance
that he is a sneak thief
and an apache
a bandit with long
curved claws
you see his likes hanging
about the outdoor markets
here in paris waiting
their chance to sneak
a fish or a bit
of unregarded meat".......

(Francy Speaks)
"tame cats on a web of the persian woof
may lick their coats and purr for cream
but i am a tougher kind of goof
scheming a freer kind of scheme
daily i climb where the pigeons gleam
over the gargoyles of notre dame
robbing their nests to hear them scream
for i am a cat of the devil i am

i ll tell the world i m a hard boiled oeuf
i rend the clouds when i let off steam
to the orderly life i cry pouf pouf
it is worth far less than the bourgeois deem
my life is a dance on the edge de 1 abime
and i am the singer you d love to slam
who murders the midnight anonyme
for i am a cat of the devil i am

when the ribald moon leers over the roof
and the mist reeks up from the chuckling stream
i pad the quais on a silent hoof
dreaming the vagabond s ancient dream
where the piebald toms of the quartier teem
and fight for a fish or a mouldy clam
my rival i rip and his guts unseam
for i am a cat of the devil i am".......

That is one bad boy of a kitty. One of his kind showed up at our house last year, and I managed to catch him. We doctored his wounds and our veterinarian performed an attitude adjustment on him for a reasonable fee. He is now part of the family, and follows me around like a lost pup. We contemplated names like Nitro and Taz, but settled on Brat.

Excerpts are from "mehitabel meets an affinity", "the lives and times of archy & mehitabel" by don marquis, doubleday doran & co. inc. garden city, new york

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekend Steam

These photos are by E.L.Stock, McCracken, Kansas. The home belongs to H.Gilbert. This family lived at Rosetta, IL; Macon, Kansas; and Washington, Iowa. The girl on the far right is Fannie Gilbert, a lady I knew when I was a child. Her sister Rose is on the other side of their mother. They are buried at Washington with several family members. The engine appears to be a Russell from the shape of the smokestack, the rear mounted crankshaft and the lugs. I welcome any comments with more information on these photos.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Marine Ad, Extended Version

This is the Marine ad which made the news a while back when San Francisco refused to allow filming there. I picked up the link over at Grouchy Old Cripple. Thank You, GOC for posting it.

Susan's father served in the Marines during WWII. He worked on the CB&Q railroad, and probably could have served there throughout the war, but he went to a recruiting station with a couple of buddies. The buddies were turned down, but my future father in law was made of good stuff and served in several island campaigns in the Pacific. Three of his brothers also served in the Pacific. One was a Sea Bee, and two were in the Navy. Brother Lloyd was mortally wounded on the Colorado during the shelling of Tinian while my father in law was fighting on Guam.


One year old bottomland hardwood planting project.
A similar project; ten years later.
Spring planting season is almost upon us. Order your trees now!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Learn How:

The Illinois Walnut Council has arranged for Joe Glenn of Piedmont, Missouri to teach two Game of Logging classes in Illinois. The sessions will be on February 18-19 and again on February 20-21. The location will be in Greene County, six miles north of Eldred, Illinois. Topics to be covered: reducing down time, carburetor tune up, reactive forces of the saw, chainsaw teeth, starting your saw, falling plans, open face notch, sight lines, setting up the hinge, back cuts, wedges, fiber pull, splitting, spring poles, limbing and bucking.
Joe is a certified Game of Logging instructor with 35 years of logging experience. He will be representing the US this year in Game of Logging competition in Germany.
Cost of the class is $150 for Illinois Walnut Council members, and $185 for non-members. The extra $35 buys a one year membership in the Walnut Council.
To register call Dan Schmoker at 217 416-1587; or John Torbert at 309 337-0879.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dumb Luck or Dumb and Lucky?

I got out a box of old slides over the weekend and had a good time looking at some photos I took with my first (cheap) 35 mm camera. The first picture was in a cave in southern Missouri on the first cave trip with my not yet steady girlfriend. We were coming out of the cave at sunset, and as we came to the entrance we witnessed this beautiful spectacle. Luckily, I still had film in my camera and was able to set up quickly for several exposures. This probably happens on just a few days per year in this cave, and you have to be there at the right time. Dumb Luck.

My roommates and I went on a canoe trip during spring break in 1973 on a river in east Tennessee which was beyond my skill level, but I did not know that when we put in. I figured it out pretty quickly, though. I was in the front end of a canoe going down the rapids which ends at the big rock pictured above. We capsized, and I floated down the rapids hanging onto my paddle. The river pushed me straight into the rock and pulled me down with astounding authority. My final mental picture of the upstream side of this rock is my hands going under, still holding my paddle. It was dark under that rock, but I could tell that I was moving, and I never panicked, although I was a bit concerned about my situation. I popped up on the downstream side, still holding my paddle. One of the other guys paddled up close to me and said, "Just hand me your paddle." He was afraid I would dump him if I touched his canoe. He towed me to shore, where I got my camera out of the ammo box and shot this fogged up picture. Dumb and Lucky.

This is the girl mentioned in the first paragraph. She sat down in front of me at a cave club meeting in late 1972. After the meeting she turned around and asked me if I could take her caving. I took this picture in the spring of 1973 while we were rappelling at Rocheport, Missouri. Her mother saw this photo for the first time yesterday when I was copying it from the slide. Now my mother-in law has a new reason to disapprove of me. Dumb Luck or Dumb and Lucky? I had a sweet great aunt who told me that I wasn't lucky; I was blessed. I think that is the right answer.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Poets' Corner


WHEN THE ANGRY PASSION gathering in my mother's face I see,
And she leads me to the bedroom, gently lays me on her knee,
Then I know that I will catch it, and my flesh in fancy itches
As I listen for the patter of the shingle on my breeches.

Every tingle of the shingle has an echo and a sting
And a thousand burning fancies into active being spring,
And a thousand bees and hornets 'neath my coattail seem to swarm,
As I listen to the patter of the shingle, oh, so warm.

In a splutter comes my father-who I supposed had gone--
To survey the situation and tell her to lay it on,
To see her bending o'er me as I listen to the strain
Played by her and by the shingle in a wild and weird refrain.

In a sudden intermission, which appears my only chance,
I say, "Strike gently, Mother, or you'll split my Sunday Pants!"
She stops a moment, draws her breath, and the shingle holds aloft,
And says, "I had not thought of that, my son, just take them off."

Holy Moses and the angels! Cast your pitying glances down,
And thou, O family doctor, put a good soft poultice on.
And may I with fools and dunces everlastingly commingle,
If I ever say another word when my mother wields the shingle!


Weekend Steam

Midwest Central Engine Number 6; Labor Day weekend, 2006.


From a Railway Carriage

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows, the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away on the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, January 13, 2008


The Odyssey of 'Erbert 'Iggins

Me and Ed and a stretcher
Out on the nootral ground.
(If there's one dead corpse, I'll betcher
There's a 'undred smellin' around.)
Me and Eddie O'Brian,
Both of the R. A. M. C.
"It'as a 'ell of a night
For a soul to take flight,"
As Eddie remarks to me.
Me and Ed crawlin' 'omeward,
Thinkin' our job is done,
When sudden and clear,
Wot do we 'ear:
'Owl of a wounded 'Un.

"Got to take 'im," snaps Eddy;
"Got to take all we can.
'E may be a Germ
Wiv the 'eart of a worm,
But, blarst 'im! ain't 'e a man?
"So 'e sloshes out fixin' a dressin'
('E'd always a medical knack),
When that wounded 'Un
'E rolls to 'is gun,
And 'e plugs me pal in the back.

Now what would you do? I arst you.
There was me slaughtered mate.
There was that 'Un
(I'd collered 'is gun),
A-snarlin' 'is 'ymn of 'ate.
Wot did I do? 'Ere, whisper . . .
'E'd a shiny bald top to 'is 'ead,
But when I got through,
Between me and you,
It was 'orrid and jaggy and red.

"'Ang on like a limpet, Eddy.
Thank Gord! you ain't dead after all."
It's slow and it's sure and it's steady
(Which is 'ard, for 'e's big and I'm small).
The rockets are shootin' and shinin',
It's rainin' a perishin' flood,
The bullets are buzzin' and whinin',
And I'm up to me stern in the mud.
There's all kinds of 'owlin' and 'ootin';
It's black as a bucket of tar;
Oh, I'm doin' my bit,
But I'm 'avin' a fit,
And I wish I was 'ome wiv Mar.

"Stick on like a plaster, Eddy.
Old sport, you're a-slackin' your grip."
Gord! But I'm crocky already;
My feet, 'ow they slither and slip!
There goes the biff of a bullet.
The Boches have got us for fair.
Another one -- WHUT!
The son of a slut!
'E managed to miss by a 'air.
'Ow! Wot was it jabbed at me shoulder?
Gave it a dooce of a wrench.
Is it Eddy or me
Wot's a-bleedin' so free?
Crust! but it's long to the trench.
I ain't just as strong as a Sandow,
And Ed ain't a flapper by far;
I'm blamed if I understand 'ow
We've managed to get where we are.
But 'ere's for a bit of a breather.
"Steady there, Ed, 'arf a mo'.
Old pal, it's all right;
It's a 'ell of a fight,
But are we down-'earted? No-o-o."

Now war is a funny thing, ain't it?
It's the rummiest sort of a go.
For when it's most real,
It's then that you feel
You're a-watchin' a cinema show.
'Ere's me wot's a barber's assistant.
Hey, presto! It's somewheres in France,
And I'm 'ere in a pit
Where a coal-box 'as 'it,
And it's all like a giddy romance.
The ruddy quick-firers are spittin',
The 'eavies are bellowin' 'ate,
And 'ere I am cashooly sittin',
And 'oldin' the 'ead of me mate.
Them gharstly green star-shells is beamin',
'Ot shrapnel is poppin' like rain,
And I'm sayin': "Bert 'Iggins, you're dreamin',
And you'll wake up in 'Ampstead again.
You'll wake up and 'ear yourself sayin':
`Would you like, sir, to 'ave a shampoo?
''Stead of sheddin' yer blood
In the rain and the mud,
Which is some'ow the right thing to do;
Which is some'ow yer 'oary-eyed dooty,
Wot you're doin' the best wot you can,
For 'Ampstead and 'ome and beauty,
And you've been and you've slaughtered a man.
A feller wot punctured your partner;
Oh, you 'ammered 'im 'ard on the 'ead,
And you still see 'is eyes
Starin' bang at the skies,
And you ain't even sorry 'e's dead.
But you wish you was back in your diggin's
Asleep on your mouldy old stror.
Oh, you're doin' yer bit, 'Erbert 'Iggins,
But you ain't just enjoyin' the war."

"'Ang on like a hoctopus, Eddy.
It's us for the bomb-belt again.
Except for the shrap
Which 'as 'it me a tap,
I'm feelin' as right as the rain.
It's my silly old feet wot are slippin',
It's as dark as a 'ogs'ead o' sin,
But don't be oneasy, my pippin,
I'm goin' to pilot you in.
It's my silly old 'ead wot is reelin'.
The bullets is buzzin' like bees.
Me shoulder's red-'ot,
And I'm bleedin' a lot,
And me legs is on'inged at the knees.
But we're staggerin' nearer and nearer.
Just stick it, old sport, play the game.

I make 'em out clearer and clearer,
Our trenches a-snappin' with flame.
Oh, we're stumblin' closer and closer.
'Ang on there, lad! Just one more try.
Did you say: Put you down? Damn it, no, sir!
I'll carry you in if I die.
By cracky! old feller, they've seen us.
They're sendin' out stretchers for two.
Let's give 'em the hoorah between us
('Anged lucky we aren't booked through).
My flipper is mashed to a jelly.
A bullet 'as tickled your spleen.
We've shed lots of gore
And we're leakin' some more,
But -- wot a hoccasion it's been!
Ho! 'Ere comes the rescuin' party.
They're crawlin' out cautious and slow.
Come! Buck up and greet 'em, my 'earty,
Shoulder to shoulder -- so.
They mustn't think we was down-'earted.
Old pal, we was never down-'earted.
If they arsts us if we was down-'earted
We'll 'owl in their fyces: `No-o-o!'"

From Rhymes Of A Red Cross Man by Robert Service

Christmas Tree Still Standing?

THAT'S OK!!! Over at Wikipedia I found this: St. Knut's Day was a holiday celebrated in Sweden and Finland on January 13 (and not in Denmark although King Knut's origin could suggest it). King Knut, or more commonly, Canute IV of Denmark, who ruled Denmark from 1080 - 1086 and who claimed the throne of England, is honoured as a saint for his virtue and generosity. He declared that Christmas should be celebrated for twenty days, officially ending the season on 13 January. The days between Christmas and Saint Knut's Day are filled with celebrations. Christmas trees are taken down on St. Knut's Day, and the candies and cookies that decorated the tree are eaten.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Weekend Steam

Click on photo to enlarge. An advertisement in an old American Thresherman magazine illustrates the advantages of return flue boilers. In addition to better efficiency than locomotive style boilers, the operator had the advantage of easier maintenance; and less skill and care was needed to stoke the fire in a return flue boiler. In locomotive style boilers the fire had to be maintained evenly over the grates to avoid cold spots. A dead spot in the fire would allow cold air to cool the flue sheet at the front of the firebox, resulting in leaks around the end of the flues. Someone would then have to crawl into the firebox to roll the flues, which is not easy when working in the confined space of the firebox. The engine had to be pretty well cooled before anyone could go into the firebox, so this meant downtime.

The flues on a return flue boiler could be accessed easily if they leaked, and causing a leak by sloppy firing technique was much less likely. There are also fewer parts to fail in return flue boilers. In spite of the advantages of the return flue system, locomotive style boilers were much more popular on traction engines; the most common reason cited is that the operator did not have the smoke stack in his face radiating heat and exhaust noise. I think that is probably correct, although some early return flue engines had a bad record of exploding due to poor design. This surely influenced both builders and customers.
Stories written by the men who ran traction engines often break into discussions of the ease or difficulty of maintaining steam while working an engine. I have read many stories in old steam magazines and have never seen any negative comments on firing a return flue engine.

Compare the complexity of this locomotive style boiler to the return flue Huber in the advertisement above.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Before there was a Superman, before there was a Batman, we had Barney (Not The Dinosaur)Google.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cutting a Lodged Tree

Trees often lodge in other trees, and it is good to know how to deal with them. We had a dead black oak in our woods that blew over into another tree, so we worked on taking it down for this new video. The Mrs. served as official photographer, and we made three cuts before we gave up. One more cut on this tree would probably have made the top fall back on me, so we quit while we were ahead. We may go back with a come-along to pull the butt end out at a later date. We made firewood out of the pieces we took out of this tree, and nobody got hurt, so it was a good afternoon. Note that we are using the open face and bore cuts to make a hinge in order to control the folding down of the tree. The video shows the first two cuts; the third one was more of the same. Be sure to examine the still shot of the cross section at the end of the video. I wish all of my stumps looked this good.

UPDATE!!!! For a faster, easier method, watch this video.  Dope out the tree and work on the safe side.  Step back as soon as the tree moves and move away so you don't get hit with flying debris.

And...Even more long, lodged tree goodness in this vid!

Just be sure to figue out which way the top is going to roll when it finally falls so you can be out of the way.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Poets' Corner

Towser Shall Be Tied Tonight

Slow the Kansas sun was setting o'er the wheat fields far away,

Streaking all the air with cobwebs, at the close of one hot day;

And its last rays kissed the foreheads of a man and maiden fair,

He with whiskers short and frowzy, she with red and glistening hair;

He with jaws shut stern and silent, she with lips all cold and white,

Struggled to keep back the murmur, “Towser must be tied tonight.”

“Papa,”slowly spoke the maiden, “I am almost seventeen,

And I've got a real lover, though he's rather young and green;

But he has a horse and buggy, and a cow and thirty hens,

Boys that start out poor, dear Papa, make the best of honest men;

But if Towser sees and bites him, fills his heart with sudden fright,

He will never come again, Pa: Towser must be tied tonight.”

“Daughter,” firmly spoke the farmer (every word pierced her young heart

Like a carving knife through chicken, as it hunts a tender part),

“I've a patch of early melons, two of them are ripe today,

Towser must be loose to watch them, or they'll all be stole away.

I have hoed them late and early, (in dim morn and evening light)

Now they're grown I must not lose them. Towser won't be tied tonight.”

Then the old man ambled forward, opened wide the kennel door;

Towser bounded forth to meet him, as he oft had done before.

And the farmer stooped and loosed him from the dog chain short and stout;

To himself be softly chuckled: "Bessie's fellow must look out.

"But the maiden at the window saw the cruel teeth show white;

In an undertone she murmured, “Towser must be tied tonight.”

Then the maiden's brow grew thoughtful, and her breath came short and thick,

Till she spied the family clothesline, and she whispered, “That's the trick.”

From the kitchen door she glided with a plate of meat and bread;

Towser wagged his tail in greeting, knowing well he would be fed.

In his well-worn leather collar tied she then held the clothesline tight,

All the time her white lips saying: “Towser must be tied tonight.”

“There, old doggie,” spoke the maiden. “You can watch the melon patch,

But the front gate's free and open when John Henry lifts the latch,

For the clothesline tight is fastened to the harvest-apple tree.

You can run and watch the melons, but the front gate you can't see.”

Then her glad ears heard a buggy, and her eyes grew big and bright,

While her young heart said in gladness: “Towser, dog, is tied tonight.”

Up the patch the young man saunters, with his eye and cheek aglow,

For he loves the red-haired maiden, and he aims to tell her so.

Bessie's roguish little brothers, in a fit of boyish glee,

Had untied the slender clothesline from the harvest-apple tree;

Then old Towser heard the footsteps, raised his bristle, fixed for fight.

“ Bark away,” the maiden whispers. “Towser, you are tied tonight.”

Then old Towser bounded forward, past the open kitchen door;

Bessie screamed and quickly followed, but John Henry's gone before.

Down the path he speeds most quickly, for old Towser sets the pace,

And the maiden, close behind them, shows them she is in the race.

Then the clothesline-can she get it? And her eyes grow big and bright,

As she springs and grasps it firmly. “Towser shall be tied tonight.”

Oftentimes a little minute forms the destiny of men.

You can change the fate of nations by the stroke of one small pen.

Towser made one last long effort, caught John Henry by his pants,

But John Henry kept on running, for he thought that his last chance;

But the maiden held on firmly, and the rope was drawn up tight;

But old Towser kept the garments, for he was not tied tonight.

Then the old man hears the racket, with long stride he soon is there,

While John Henry and the maiden, crouching, for the worst prepare.

At his feet John tells his story, shows his clothing soiled and torn;

And his face, so sad and pleading, yet so white and scared and worn,

Touched the old man's heart with pity, filled his eyes with misty light,

“ Take her, boy, and make her happy. Towser shall be tied tonight.”

-Unknown: A parody on Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Crankin' It Up; Side B Bonus

Weekend Steam

On the cover of The American Thresherman and Farm Power, June 1922, we see an interesting threshing scene. The straw is being blown directly into a barn, a common practice in the good old days. Wind stackers were an important advancement in technology over the web (conveyor) stackers, but they did require larger engines with more horsepower.

The engine appears to be an Advance. Please leave a comment if you can make a better identification. The water source must have been nearby, because water is being transported to the engine in milk cans instead of a water wagon. I think the farmer's kids had a good workout as waterboys.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Tonight's selection is a delightful love song from the musical comedy No No Nanette, which was on Broadway in 1925. This song comes across young and fresh in spite of being over 80. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Maine Two Footers

Near the top of my list of places I want to go to is the W. W. & F Railway Museum in Alna, Maine. Peruse their website:, and watch the following video, and you will want to go, too. Once you bring up the video, be sure to watch the related ones from this railroad. Great sounds and great winter scenery.