Saturday, August 28, 2010

August Adventure

By Alan Burkhart

Screwed As some of you already know, I’m currently unemployed and hunting a new job. This has actually proven to be more work than having a job. It’s the first time I’ve been out of work for longer than a week or two, and it’s frustrating. The whole process of applying for unemployment, wallpapering the town with job applications and stressing over bills is frustrating to say the least. For me, it’s uncharted territory.

Anyway, one of my best friends recently had a death in his family. He’s an independent trucker and was already under a load bound for South Carolina. He called me to inquire if I’d be willing to deliver the load and bring another load back to Mississippi. Two friends in need: One needing some extra cash to get through the next week or so, and the other needing someone to deliver his load to keep the customer happy. Problems solved. I packed my duffel and made the 50-minute drive to his house to grab the truck.

The delivery was simple. One piece (a small dredging tool), two chains, no problem. I delivered during the morning while the weather was relatively cool. Then I was off to make the 150-mile trip to Hazlehurst, GA and reload at an equipment auction.

TwinToilets En route, I stopped in some little community at the junction of US Hwy 1 and I-16 for a quick pit stop. It’s a tiny little country store with a 10-ft grocery aisle, a 20-ft beer cooler and a pool table. Now folks, I’ve been driving trucks for 30+ years and I have seen some truly revolting public restrooms in my time. This one was less than pristine, but not so filthy that I feared catching leprosy from the door knob. However, as public restrooms go, it was a tad too “cozy” for my taste. Note in the image the charming “shared” TP dispenser. I was unsure if the brush between the toilets was for cleaning, or if it was assumed one might want to scratch his back whilst using the facility. Thank God the door had a functioning lock. Otherwise I’d have been forced to go find a tree.

By the time I arrived at the auction yard, it was 3:45 pm and the sun was like a blowtorch. High humidity, few clouds, no breeze. I backed up to the dock and a guy brought out the three pieces I was to haul: An asphalt roller, a street sweeper, and a Ford L-9000 dump truck. He drove the stuff onto the trailer, bid me a fond farewell, and I began tying down the load.

This was when I was reminded that:

  • I’m not as young as I used to be
  • I’m not as slim as I used to be
  • My gimpy leg (broke my ankle last February) doesn’t like jumping and climbing
  • I am, after all, a heart patient and,
  • I’m way out of practice tying down machinery

I became fatigued almost instantly. So, I pulled outside the auction yard to an open area with lots of welcome shade. I cranked up the a/c, stole one of my buddy’s Dole fruit cups from his cooler, and settled in to wait for the sun to drop a bit lower.

StepDeckLoad Once the sun dropped behind some convenient clouds I crawled out of the cool of the cab and set to work. I got the load secured with little trouble although I was exhausted by the time I was done. While I don’t plan to return to machinery-hauling (which I did for a living in the 80’s and early 90’s), it was fun to get to mess with it once after all these years. Had I taken better care of myself in the intervening years, I’d still be able to do it without it being such a chore. But those days are behind me and I fear best left behind. Hindsight is always 20-20 as the saying goes.


PlainsGA_CarterSign The trip back to MS took me through Plains, GA. For some reason, this town still seems to think it’s a good thing to acknowledge its one famous resident. At least Jimmy-Boy can legitimately claim that he is no longer the worst president in US history. He’s 2nd worst, or perhaps third, depending upon your opinions of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Or, did you think I’d be able to write a blog post completely free of politics? Me???

Not a chance. Wink

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bugs for Dinner

By Alan Burkhart

grasshopper_big_green One of the few constants in our chaotic world is the meddlesome nature of many people – usually, but not always liberals, to try to change the way we do things in the western world. We eat too much. We use too much oil and gas. We spew too many toxic fumes into the atmosphere. We're too wealthy. We're a bunch of arrogant, greedy people who just don't care about the world we live in. And now we have the ultimate insult. The UN is considering a policy paper stating that we don't eat enough bugs. No, I'm not making this up.

According to a Popular Science article posted August 2, 2010 western culture's general abhorrence of insects is a contributor to man-made global warming. We should be, says the policy paper in question, eating slugs and crickets instead of beef, pork and chicken because of the supposedly lessened environmental impact that would result. And of course, bugs are healthier than the diet of meat we've lived on since time immemorial.

From the Popular Science website:

The raising of livestock consumes two-thirds of the planet's farmland, and is a major source of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, tons of edible, sustainable protein swarms all around us, free for the taking. In a new policy paper being considered by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis makes the sensible recommendation that the western world eat more insects.

Farming edible insects like mealworms and crickets would produce far less greenhouse gas -- 10 times less methane and 100 times less nitrous oxide -- than the large mammals we currently farm. Insects are metabolically much more efficient, which makes them far cheaper to feed and raise; and, since they're so biologically different from humans, they are less subject to contagious disease scares like mad cow. They are high in protein and calcium, and, with over 1,000 edible species, offer plenty of delicious variety.


Let's face it – the Popular Science article gave itself away right from the get-go. This isn't about conserving farmland or healthy eating habits. It's just more of the same old claptrap from the glo-warmers. Evil Man is frying the planet like a cheap steak with all that carbon dioxide and whatever else we pump into the atmosphere, right? Try to remember the simple fact that human activity contributes about three percent of the so-called "greenhouse gasses" to the atmosphere. The rest comes naturally from Mother Earth. Human-caused global warming is the biggest scam in planetary history, intended specifically to line the pockets of a select few (Al Gore comes to mind).

And friends, I am not blind to what goes on in the rest of the world. I fully realize that in some corners of the globe bug-eating is a perfectly acceptable practice. This occurs for two reasons: First, some people just like bugs. That's okay by me. If you wish to consume crickets or roast roaches, it's your business. Second, some parts of the world are so impoverished that people eat bugs simply to survive. Give someone in that second group a choice between a big old juicy bug or a big old juicy cheeseburger and see which one they choose.

Thus far, even in a free-falling economic disaster like our current state of affairs, I still manage to keep some 93% lean ground beef and a pound of mesquite-smoked shaved turkey from the Kroger deli in the fridge. I've got some canned chili and beef tamales in the cupboard, too. If worse comes to worse, I’m a fair hunter. Now that I think about it, some tender rabbit or squirrel doesn't sound too bad. I'll even eat a baked armadillo (down south we call it "possum on the half-shell"). But I won't be eating any bugs (or Opossum).

And of course, the busybodies have an agenda for coercing us to eat bugs. More from van Huis in a related UK Guardian article:

..."I can see a step-by-step process to wider implementation."

First, insects could be used to feed farmed animals such as chicken and fish which eat them naturally. Then, they could be used as ingredients.

Van Huis adds: "We're looking at ways of grinding the meat [bugs] into some sort of patty, which would be more recognisable to western palates."


Oh yeah, you betcha. Feel free, Mister van Huis, to bring that stuff down here to Mississippi. Be sure and get back to me on how that works out, okay? Bring on the bug burgers!

It boils down to a simple fact: What each of us eats is our business. We don't need a bunch of snotty academics trying to become the world's dietary dictators. I find it impossible to think that I might find a grasshopper appetizing after watching them get smashed on my windshield all day. And I do not equate setting an ant trap under the kitchen cabinet to trapping game animals in the woods near my home.

scorpionsDo not hit me with phony science about climate change and then tell me eating "scorpion on a stick" (this happens in Asia) will somehow help save the planet. I hope someday enough people will get enough of this nonsense and react to it in a sufficiently hostile manner that people like Arnold van Huis will retreat back under whatever bug-infested rock from which they emerged. If you like eating bugs, that's your business. I prefer beef, and that's my business.



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