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State of Affairs

Back in the 60′s and 70′s,  if the sticker on an item said it was Made In Japan that meant it was junk.  Most likely.  Now adays, if it says Made in China; same same.  Most likely.   The problem present day is we don’t make anything in America any more.  If other countries didn’t pick up the slack and make what we need we would do without.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

006You all know I think a Progressive Industries EMS is a must have piece of equipment if you own a recreational vehicle.  Some of you folks are gonna click that Amazon link and say “Pshaw!!  I ain’t about to pay that much when I can get a good surge guard for a third the price!” Well, I would have to spout off and say you are dead wrong. Period.   You are comparing a Rolex to a chicken.  Not even close to being the same thing.  If a big ol’ electric surge heads down the wires at ya, the surge guard might, just might save your TV, fridge, microwave, RV converter/charger and all the jimcracks you got plugged in on the counter. Might.   On the other hand, the Progressive EMS is going to handle the surge.  It is also going to protect your goods if a pedestal is wired wrong and putting out 240 volts straight which happens all too often. It is going to protect you if the voltage regulator on your generator goes haywire in the middle of the night and starts feeding your RV 165 volts of pure mayhem.  That happened to me.  Without the EMS, I would have been toast.   The EMS protects you against high voltage, low voltage, frequency problems and other things too.   Let me get real crystal clear on this  –it is just not us folks down here in the Puckerbrush living close to the bone that need this protection. Anyone who owns an RV needs this little item whether you are a fulltimer or just a weekend warrior.  You need it and you need to use it every time you plug it in!  Bonus points for Progressive being a small family owned company still making quality products HERE!

Fenix LD22 flashlight

Fenix LD22 flashlight

I have two 30 amp Progressive Industries EMS’ on the No Princess Palace because I feed her with two service lines.  I suck a prodigious amount of electricity out of a generator winter and summer to keep the inside comfy.  I was hanging out 2 weeks ago when everything just went dark and quiet all a sudden and I said “WTF?” as I reached for the Fenix LD22 215 Lumen LED Flashlight I always keep handy in the junk box on top of the dinette.  215 lumens folks means it is one bright rascal in a small package!  I whore up pretty bad on flashlights and knives; just sayin’    Some women get off on shoes.  I like my  man toys.

I was pretty sure I had a bad EMS since half the Palace still had power and that is exactly what I found.  I emailed Progressive the next AM and got a quick reply which requested me to call them.   A few minutes on the phone and I had authorization to send it back in for repair.  No hoops to jump through, no receipts to rummage through all the drawers for,  just a simple ironclad warranty that says if it doesn’t work, we will fix it.  This particular unit had been in for repairs 3 years previously as well.   You have to understand being hooked to a generator 24/7 for years on end out in this harsh South Texas environment is a severe torture test for any piece of equipment.

9 days from sending my EMS back to Progressive, I had it back in my hands.  I looked at the invoice to see what repairs were made and it said “Sent customer a PT30 recon unit” .   No problem.  No hassle.  Progressive does what it says it is going to do,  What if all businesses conducted themselves with such integrity and purpose?   Yeah, don’t hold your breath on that one.

I had a Fantastic Fan unit in the hallway of the Old Girl that stayed on exhaust 24/7 for years.  I don’t know how many years it had run previously before I acquired her. The motor finally started to sputter and jerk and I went to Google to do some research.  I quickly found out that Fantastic Fan  had a stellar rep for supporting their products.  One no hassle phone call and a new fan motor was on its’ way to Texas.  But you need to hear the rest of this story.  Some time after my dealings with Fantastic Fan they were bought out by another company.  Almost immediately the rumblings started on the various internet recreational vehicle forums.  The new people changed their warranty policy and were now requiring proof of purchase and enforcing the one year terms to the letter.  I wonder which smart fella came up with THAT bright idea?  They took a decade of building up an impeccable word of mouth reputation and flushed it down the toilet in 90 days.  Back in the day,  if you asked on an RV forum what the best vent fan was to purchase, 9.5 folks out of ten would say Fantastic Fan and the respondent always mentioned how well they stood behind their product. Christ on a cracker!  I bet they lost 40% of their market share in a very short time and I doubt they ever get it back.

**************

Tuco the Dog pointing mice

Tuco the Dog pointing mice

I mentioned several weeks ago that I had upgraded to a pricey (Buy once, Cry once) Dakota Break Beam Alert because I needed an infallible driveway alarm with a loud alert tone.  At the time I was happy to report the Dakota Alert was 100% accurate and I was well pleased.  It even caught the sneakers trying to walk up on me. I am still happy – for the most part.

It has been hot and dry here in South Texas with very low humidity.  I am next to a busy county road and the caliche rock has been ground into a fine powder; as fine as talc.   If the wind is out of the south and a vac truck rolls by hellbent for who knows where the dust cloud blows right across the Dakota Alert beam and it goes off.  Not all the time but enough to be occasionally aggravating.   I can’t fault the Dakota Alert.  The dust cloud that rolls across here is impenetrable.   I would still not hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a premium driveway alert system.

**************

One last thing and I will turn y’all loose.  Every Fall when it turns cool the mice start looking for a place to nest up.  Tuco the Dog started pointing the Big Ass Suburban two days ago and I have learned not to question her nose.   I put a trap under the hood on the wheel well and another on the left rear leaf spring and baited both with a smear of peanut butter.  Peanut butter is mice crack I am thinking.  Both traps had victims in them this morning.

Just a word of caution here.  If you have pets and use a poison like D-Con, it don’t matter how good you get it up out of the way of the pets.  Those poison mice are gonna crawl off to die and if your pet eats one of them they get the poison too.   Be careful!

End note:  That Dawg Don’t Hunt by Slim Bawb from the Ghost Dog album.

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Don't Be Afraid of Change - #2

February 2011. First gate guard assignment outside Muenster,TX in the Barnett Shale.  Everything in this pic is GONE 'cept for the Bigg Ass Suburban!

February 2011. First gate guard assignment outside Muenster,TX in the Barnett Shale. Everything in this pic is GONE ‘cept for the Big Ass Suburban!

One of the things I like about myself is I have never been scared of change.  I’ve changed careers, wives and hair styles with with aplomb and grace.  Don’t bother me a bit most times he said with an almost straight face.

Back in February 2011,  Me and Little Blondie decided to do the oil field gate guard thing and we stayed in the Barnett Shale until the following January.  The Barnett was closing down;  we were such rooks we didn’t even realize it until months later.   We were working for Gate Guard Services out of Corpus at the time making the then standard $125 per day.   GGS is a wonderful outfit if you are a noob just getting your feet wet for the first time in the oil patch.  We were fortunate to choose them initially and I still recommend them for first time gate guards.

When the Fort Worth GGS office had no decent gates left to give us, we called the GGS office in Carrizo Springs, South Texas and sure enough they had a gate for us — in Far West Texas!  We ended up outside of Iraan /Ft. Stockton / Balmorrhea for the next few months.  I am glad we didn’t stay any longer than that.  West Texas is a different environment if you are an oilfield gate guard.  The distances are greater, everything is more expensive and gate assignments are not as plentiful  –all for the standard $125 a day.  We both loved West Texas but certainly did not care for being a gate guard out that way. I would not recommend it.  I hear the gate guard companies are now having to pay a premium rate to get gate guards to go out that way.  I guess word got out, huh?

Three months out there and GGS got outbid on the contract and we were huntin’ another home.  Ended up this time outside of Catarina, Puckerbrush Country, South Texas by providence and the grace of God. We were still with GGS, still making $125 a day.  Well sir,  we asked for more money.  Other gate guard companies were beginning to see the light and pay their guards more; not GGS.  Then they came out with their non disclosure agreement and it chapped my ass–bad!  After a year or better outside of Catarina for GGS, an opportunity came up at a gate 30 feet away from us  — at $200 per day.  I had been watching the goings on at our neighbors for a good while and I knew that other gate guard company did not have the choice equipment nor provide the support that GGS did.  I also know that I was a low drag gate guard who took care of most of the problems in house and we were a no snivelin’ household.  GGS knew this but they didn’t care to pay for it. Why not jump ship and get paid handsomely to do what we were already doing?  Ummm, do the math!  300 days average per year on the gate for GGS equals $37,500.  Same number of days on the gate for the new outfit equals $60 grand.  That NDA BS punched our ticket as far as I was concerned.  Adios Gate Guard Services.

The new folks.  October 2014 north of Los Angeles, TX

The new folks. October 2014 north of Los Angeles, TX

I am going to do something uncharacteristic here and name some names because they deserve it.  When we jumped ship we went with KC Services out of Laredo.  They paid top dollar for gate guards at the time  – $200 per day.  They are still at the top of the scale as far as I know.  That was 2 years and 3 months ago.  Along the way, we had to take care of some problems ourselves and do without the hand holding that GGS is known for.  You have to have your Big Boy pants on to work for KC.  We knew that going in and whenever we had to deal with a problem or there was a minor glitch in the plan, Little Blondie would look at me and say “That is why we are making the BIG money!”  ‘Nuff said!   KC Services number is (956)-791-0064.   Anna is the office manager.  Kim is the Boss Lady.  These are GOOD people friends and neighbors!  I loved them alot.  Before you go rushing for your iPhone to call ‘em up just be *******strongly*********  advised that if you are an inherent whiner or a sorry slacker this is NOT Repeat NOT the gig for you.  They will eat you alive and spit out the bloody pulp.  In the same vein, if you are a noob, stay away.  Get that first gig with GGS or somebody that don’t mind holding your hand an itty bitty.  I don’t care how full of yourself you are, how you really believe down in your hearts of hearts you and wifey are going to be the best gate guards ever,  the Puckerbrush and the daily grind of this gate guard job have a way of turning even the best intentioned folks inside out.

So along about the end of September, the  Ranch Manager drove up and the window slid down indicating it was time for a chat.

Him: “You heard anything?”  He usually starts a chat like that.

Me: “No sir. You?”

Him: “Got a call from Houston. They are replacing your company here on the gate.  I told them you needed to stay because I don’t sleep good at night when you are not here.  You know this.” 

My mind was going a hunnert miles an hour.  Talk about left field!  I had no clue this was coming down the pike.

About all I could do was say “Well thanks.  I appreciate that.”

Him: “They said they were going to call you and the new gate guard company was going to be in touch with an offer. Let me know what you decide, OK?”

Me: “Yes sir.”  The window went up and he drove off.  He don’t say much.

I got a call from Houston Corporate three days later and they did in fact want me to remain here with the new company.  They told me who the New Folks were and that they would be in touch.  Alrighty then.  3-4 more days go by and I am wondering why the New Folks haven’t contacted me.  The separation date was October 6 and we were pushing right up on it.  Hell, I was out most mornings hauling detritus collected over two years off to the trash trailer.  I was picking stuff up and storing it away in the DTB. I even got the go ahead from the Big Man here on the Ranch to pull the No Princess Palace over to his facility and squat for a week or so if I got blown out of here.  In the meantime, KC called me with an attractive assignment down on the border that was just a daytime gate.  Real tempting……

The dreaded iPad gate guard checker inner thingy

The dreaded iPad gate guard checker inner thingy

I just kept waiting on that phone call from the New Folks.  One hot ass afternoon I was sitting in the cool of the inside and I spied  a strange Superduty tentatively deciding if they wanted to come in the gate or not.  When you been at the same place for over two years, vehicles that don’t belong just scream back at ya.  I grabbed up the clipboard and stepped out into the furnace to see what they might be wanting.  It was the New Folks.  They decided they might oughta check out this gate guard that Corporate rated so high in person instead of blowing it off with a phone call.  Extra credit for them.

The next 2 hours was just a blur of stacks of paperwork, shirts and pants and an iPad.  Then a few minutes of “We are the new sheriff.  Here are the rules.”   Boil it all down and I have to wear khaki pants and a logo’d shirt and cap….. and use an iPad instead of paper logs.  On my end, I got a raise on my single guard daily rate and I am an employee with full benefits in 90 days.  I welcome the help on the taxes –that was getting to be a pain!!! and it will be nice to get some company health insurance.  They also do direct deposit weekly - that is sweet!   The iPad that everybody carries on so about?  I signed on to do a job that uses an iPad.  I knew that going in.  That’s all I’ll be saying about that.

I am 10 days or so in with the New Folks and I have had to make a few minor changes.  I can’t wear a short sleeve t-shirt out in this UV.  Already too much sun damage on the old bod and I don’t need no more.  Next thing is I am gonna give them back those khaki pants  – too Wal-marty cheap for me.  Last few years when I am not Wearing the   Wrangler 13MWZ Jeans,  I like the 5.11 Men’s Cotton Tactical Pant . They wear like iron and they feel substantial on this wrinkled old ass. They just do.  (I appreciate it when you click those Amazon links folks.  The light don’t stay on here without a few pesos to pay the bills)

 

 

 

 

 

End Note:  Undone by Nathan Hamilton from the Receive album.

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$80 Oil, Ebola and iPads

Irraan,TX - January. 2012

Irraan,TX – January. 2012

Many things in this ol’ world have next to nothing to do with me so I try to concentrate on the things where (A) I can make a direct difference or (B) I am directly affected good or bad.   We were in the Barnett Shale Late Winter 2011 / Early 2012 when things started to go south. Maybe somebody was looking out for us and maybe it was just pure dumb luck but we got out with no downtime. Beginning in December, the assignmenst started to get leaner and less attractive.  By January, it was a

Continue reading $80 Oil, Ebola and iPads


Time to go inward...........

Selfie.   Summer 2014

It’s time to go inward, take a look at myself
Time to make the most of the time that I’ve got left
Prison bars imagined are no less solid steel

Time to go inward would you believe that I’m afraid
To stare down the barrel of the choices I have made
The ghost of bad decisions make mountains out of everything I feel

—-Time to go inward…… Rodney Crowell

Selfie. Summer 2014

Been getting some email from folks checking in on me to see if things are okey dokey at my house. They are. I’ve said it before that if I don’t have much to say, I

Continue reading Time to go inward………..

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