Blown Up Sir!

(You have the say the title of the post in your best impersonation of Bill Murray’s voice to get the full effect)

In a follow up to this post, there’s more news about the Army’s “one size fits all” fitness testing.

Following a three-year review, the Army has scrapped plans to use the same physical fitness test for all soldiers, choosing instead to have some reduced standards to allow women and older soldiers to pass, the service announced Wednesday.

It took a three year review, not to mention untold years of planning and preparation and designing the standards and preliminary testing and pilot programs and untold millions (or billions) of dollars for the Army to discover that boys and girls are different.

They should have asked me. I could have saved them some trouble.

The interesting thing is that with the new acceptance of “transgender” troops, now when a man with low scores wants to improve his chances of promotion, all he has to do is identify as famale. Viola! Dramatically increased fitness scores with no additional effort required…a la Will Thomas who couldn’t compete at the top levels of men’s competition so just decided to dominate the women.

Hat tip to The Gun Free Zone

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Setting blacks up for failure

I’ve long said that the Democrats and leftists are just as racist as they were from before the civil all the way through the end of Jim Crow and segregation – they just manifest it in different ways.

Who is the racist: the person who believes that all people are equally capable of success when provided equality of opportunity – or the person who believes members of certain races are incapable of success without the assistance of whites?

I think it’s pretty clear.

Here’s another sign that leftists are racist and are actively trying to undermine the ability of blacks and hispanics to succeed in life:

The Clover Park School District debated its new “culturally responsive” student discipline policy. It means student discipline would not be consistent based on conduct. Instead, a school considers a student’s race and background. It would likely offer harsher punishments to white students, even if the conduct is identical to that of a Black or Hispanic student.

In order to be successful in life, one MUST learn certain lessons at a young age. One of those lessons is discipline.

By allowing black and hispanic students to act out with lesser consequences than whites, they are failing to teach this important lesson to minority students and are blatantly, without question, setting them up for future failure.

In the immortal words of Coach Boone (played by Denzel Washington) in the modern classic film “Remember The Titans”:

Now I may be a mean cuss. But I’m the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field. I don’t give a damn about how sensitive these kids are, especially the black kids. You ain’t doin’ these kids a favor by patronizing them. You crippling them; You crippling them for life.

No less true today than it was in 2000 when the movie was released or in 1971 when the events depicted in the movie occurred.

There is no way that the highly educated, intelligent people who run the school system in Clover Park Washington don’t understand this concept. The only conclusion can be that it is intentional. They are knowingly sabotaging the development of generations of black and hispanic students.

That sure seems like an overtly racist act to me, and further evidence that the racial attitudes of the left have never changed from the days of Jefferson Davis, Bull Connor and Woodrow Wilson, they’ve just changed tactics.

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Well that was weird

So, yesterday, I couldn’t open my blog. It kept saying that the connection wasn’t secure, but I was able to get to it on my phone using my cellular data rather than my home ISP.

I called the ISP and asked them what was going on, they checked some things and reset my modem and said everything looked fine from their end so try again in a few hours and it would probably come back. Just some kind of internet routing issue or something.

Well, it never came back, but after logging into the wordpress dashboard from my cellular data, I noticed that the plugin that forces a secure SSL connection was saying that the SSL certificate was invalid.

So then I went to my hosting provider (from whom I get the SSL certificate) and everything looked fine from there.

Next I tried a couple of online SSL certificate status checkers. It was very strange…a couple of them said everything was good, but another one said it couldn’t find a certificate.

I went back to my WordPress dashboard and disabled the plugin that was saying the SSL certificate was invalid and tried it again. Still no joy.

Long story short, after trying various and sundry things, what I ended up doing was going back to my hosting provider and reassigning the SSL certificate to a different domain that I also have. After waiting a while I tried the other domain and the certificate worked fine with it, so I transferred the certificate back to sailorcurt.com and Viola, everything works again now.

It must have been something in my hosting provider’s backend that caused the issue. I’ve been using this hosting provider for wow, it’s gotta be over 10 years now and this is the first issue I’ve had so I can’t complain too much.

Anyway, if you’ve been having difficulty accessing the blog of the past day or so, that’s what was going on. Seems to be back to normal now.

BTW, I do a complete backup of my blog once a month so even if disaster strikes and it goes down hard, the absolute most I’ll lose is four weeks of posts and comments. I’ve never even had a thought that I might need it in the past, it was “just in case”, but after this I may increase the frequency of the backups. Although I don’t post that much and don’t garner more than a couple of comments per post at best, I’ve been at this for a long time so the database is quite large, backups take a while and take a lot of space, but it may be worth it to increase to a weekly backup and just delete older backup copies more often. I’ll give it some thought.

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Another mass shooting that won’t make national news

From the Western Journal:

A charity event in southeastern Arkansas devolved into a shooting gallery Saturday night.

When the bullets stopped flying, one person was dead and 24 others were wounded,

“Multiple gunmen just started shooting,” said Keith Finch, chief of police in the town of Dumas, according to KARK-TV in Little Rock.

25 people shot by multiple gunmen at a charity event. Sounds like ready made national news to me doesn’t it?

Not so fast…exactly what kind of charity event are we talking about here?

Wallace McGhee of the Delta Neighborhood Empowerment Youth Organization said the group had been holding the Hood-Nic event for 16 years without any trouble

Hm…an event named “hood-nic” Sounds like a charity event that’s going to be chock full of boy scouts, SPCA volunteers and Sunday school teachers doesn’t it?

Can’t imagine (cough [gang]) who the perpetrators (cough [bangers]) might be or who they (cough [rival]) were targeting (cough [gang]) in their (cough [bangers]) horrific attack. Darn spring allergies.

If you do see this story in the leftist national media, I’d be willing to bet that these minor details, along with the demographic data about both the shooters and shootees and only if they exploit the tragedy to tout some gun control scheme or another.

Because those evil mind controlling guns are out there, controlling minds – and turning unsuspecting innocent choirboys of color into violent criminals every day.

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Truck Update

I finally got estimates from the shop on repairing the truck. I’d pretty much written it off already but their response pretty much confirmed it.

A new engine, if and when they can find one, would run about $8k. The truck’s pretty beat up…I own a truck because I use and abuse them, not as a status symbol…so even with a new engine, it wouldn’t be worth near that much, and there’s no telling what else could give out down the road. There are already some iffy things on it that I’ve been thinking about getting fixed pre-emptively. I just don’t think it’s worth it to sink that kind of money into it.

Plus it would still be the same type of problematic engine that has a tendency to blow spark plugs under stress.

I could get the head replaced, but then I’d still have another head and the entire block with 250k+ miles on it and I don’t think I’d trust it to tow the camper after this experience.

And it would still be the same problematic engine that has a tendency to blow spark plugs under stress.

So, I decided to start looking for another truck.

I’ve had a problem for a long time with the trend in trucks. They used to be utilitarian work vehicles that could be had for a reasonable price.

Now, they’re basically luxury vehicles and finding one without all the stupid expensive extras is pretty hard. I don’t need a 7.1 surround, bluetooth enabled, Blu-ray capable entertainment system with voice control navigation and integrated Sirius/XM receiver,  I need to be able to hook up and tow a 6,500 lb trailer up a mountain reliably.  I don’t need Corinthian Leather power seats and power windows and power door locks and power sunroof and power headrest, I need to be able to throw a ton of gravel or dirt in the back and not have to worry about staining the seats or getting the carpet muddy after I’ve unloaded it at my job site.

You get the picture.

At any rate, I started looking at what I could find. I also started doing some serious research into diesel engines because diesel is king when it comes to towing. Basically, what I found was that Dodges and GMs have, until recently, had lots of problems with dependability and long term reliability. I hear that their newest offerings are as good as any, but I can’t afford the newest offerings of anything. I found very few models of any make newer than 2015 that were in my price range and they were “baby” trucks that don’t have the payload or towing capacity that I need.

I’m sorry if that offends any Mopar or GMC fans, but it is what it is. Personally, even though I’ve always had Fords, I’m not wedded to them emotionally and would have snapped up a Dodge, Chevy or GMC had I found one for a price I liked and had good reviews for dependability. Sadly, they just weren’t out there.

What I found for Ford was that the engines to get (for 3/4 ton trucks) are the 1999 – 2003 7.4 liter and the 2015 and earlier 6.7 liter (that one has a great rep and makes an astonishing amount of torque). Obviously, I couldn’t afford anything new enough to have a 6.7 so I tried to find an older 7.4 that I could afford. The added bonus with those is that the winch mount on my 2004 is compatible with the 1999-2003 trucks, so that would save me several hundred dollars in buying a new winch mount.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find anything that was in decent shape, within my distance limit (I’m not flying to California to buy a truck) that I could afford. many of them with lower mileage (less than 250k) were almost as much money as a 2015 model. I understand that considering the excellent reputation the 7.4L powerstroke has, but it didn’t help me out any.

After a week or so of futile looking I decided to expand my horizons and add gasoline engine trucks to the mix. Apparently they fixed the problem with blowing out plugs in 2007, but from 2007 to 2010 there were other reliability issues to contend with. In 2011 they introduced a 6.2L V8 16 valve engine that makes an impressive amount of power for a gas engine and has a very good reputation for reliability. The only bad thing people mentioned about that engine is that it has 16 spark plugs…an upper and a lower for each cylinder. Makes it an expensive PITA to change spark plugs, but that’s the only negative I’ve seen about it.

I quickly found a 2011 F-250 within (right at the edge, but it was barely in there) my price range. Part of what got it into my price range was that it was a commercial truck with few of the “normal” bells and whistles. It has shift on the fly electronic 4WD (I’d have been fine with locking hubs and manual shifting), it has A/C and cruise control, but that’s about it. Two speaker plane jane AM/FM radio, industrial style vinyl floor coverings instead of carpet. Manual windows, manual seat adjustments, manual door locks, manual mirror adjustments. Vinyl seats. Perfect.

As an added bonus it already has a front grille guard that will accommodate my 12k winch. That’s a savings of about $700 right there.

The only downside is that it has a topper (the kind that replaces the tailgate in the back, so if I take it off, I’ve got to find a tailgate from a junkyard somewhere), but I’m actually undecided on that at the moment. It’s got a ladder rack on top that I don’t need and I’ll definitely lose that, but it has upward opening doors with easy to access toolboxes on both sides. Those toolboxes are very convenient. Much better than having to jump into the bed every time I want to get something out of the toolbox. Also, the topper is tall enough that I can still put pretty big things in there, I just can’t “dump” things into the back like you can with an open bed. Unfortunately, I seem to do that a lot so I may end up having to pull the topper and sell it if I just can’t get used to it or it’s in my way too much.

At any rate, as a company truck it was a one owner vehicle and has surprisingly low miles: 141k. The carfax shows regular and complete maintenance records and shows that the spark plugs and coil packs were just changed at about 120k so they should still have 80k or so on them which is a plus.

It also has a class 5 receiver hitch and factory trailer brake controller. The truck/engine combo is capable of towing 12.5k which is comparable to what I’d have been able to handle with a 2003 and a 7.4L diesel, so I don’t think I’m compromising on performance.

I went and took a look at it last weekend. Drove it around for about an hour including taking it up on the highway. It ran great, drives well, handles smoothly (for a truck), has great power is just a comfortable truck. While I had it I tested the 4wd system, it shifted into 4wd smoothly and quickly and worked as advertised. Basically seems to be a solid vehicle. I made them an offer after I got back and now I have a new (to me) Emergency Escape Vehicle.

(click to make bigger)

One thing I’m going to do is get the transmission serviced and inspected. I’m taking it in for that on Monday. I’m thinking about having the timing chains replaced as a pre-emptive measure, but that won’t be cheap so I’m still mulling it over. I may do it myself but it will take some time as I don’t have the best place to do it (garage is too small) and you basically have to take the entire front end of the truck apart to get to it. Oh, and I definitely need tires with more aggressive tread to get up onto the property in TN.

The one thing about this that feels strange to me: every time I’ve ever bought a vehicle in the past, it’s because it was “time” and I was excited about getting a new vehicle. This time, even though I’m happy with my purchase and think I made the right decision, I’m not overly excited. In fact I’d describe myself as “ambivalent” about it. I really, really liked my old truck and although I still believe that from a practical standpoint, it’s the right decision to let it go, it just makes me sad. I’ve had that truck for about 15 years and we’ve been through a lot together. All things that have a beginning also have an end.

At any rate, now that the personal truck shortage has been alleviated, the next question is what to do with the old one. It’s still in Salem about 285 miles away, it has a lot of stuff on it that I want to get off and transfer to the new truck (winch, CB radio that I’ve had in every vehicle I’ve ever owned, 2500w power inverter, all the stuff in the toolbox, etc.) plus the mechanic that it’s at pretty much told me that there’s no place local in Salem that would give me a decent price for it, most likely about $200 for scrap. Heck, the winch mount on the front is worth probably $500. It cost $700 brand new and it’s in perfect condition. Plus it’s still a fully functional truck minus the head that needs to be replaced. I wouldn’t trust it to tow what I need to tow any more, but if someone needs just a general hauler for local use, it would be great for that. I’m thinking take off the winch mount and sell it and the truck on Craigslist. I think I can get $500 from the winch mount and probably $1-2k for the truck “as-is”.

The problem is getting it back home. I initially thought I could get get a car dolly from U-haul, but unfortunately, they don’t make one big enough to handle a 6500 lb truck. They also don’t have a trailer that can handle that kind of load.

I checked all the other rental places like Penske and Hertz and same story. Getting a little disheartened, I decided to check with commercial auto transportation places. I found a couple and got quotes. $550 to bring that truck home. That’s pretty much a non-starter. So then I started looking into equipment rental places. I finally found one in the area that has a trailer that will do the job. It’s $125 a day which is reasonable for an 18′ tilt bed equipment trailer. The trailer itself weighs 3200 lbs, plus the truck weight of about 6500 is a total load of 9700 lbs…well within the ability of my new truck. The trailer can handle 12,000 lb loads so it’s easily able to handle the truck.

They actually have a trailer that’s even closer to what I need that’s 600 lbs lighter with a load handling capability of over 7,000 lbs, but it’s only 16 feet long. The wheelbase of the truck is about 13 feet and the body is 20 feet long so I just don’t think that one is quite big enough. I may not have enough back and forth wiggle room to get the truck’s weight balanced correctly on the trailer and there would be a lot of truck hanging over the front and/or back ends of the trailer. I think the 18′ is a better bet even if it is a little overkill in the weight handling capacity.

Of course, one of the downsides of renting from a company that typically works with construction companies is that they aren’t open on the weekends so I’ll have to take a day off work to make the trip during the week. I made a reservation for Thursday and Friday next week. That will give me time to get the truck into the transmission shop to make sure the tranny is in good shape and up to the task.

So, hopefully within the next 8 days, the old warhorse will be back in town and I’ll be able to transfer all my personal gear to he new truck and sell the old one to offset some of these unplanned expenses at least a little bit.

So…..I know this was long and if you hung in there all the way to the end, thanks. I just needed to vent a little bit. Sometimes writing this stuff all out helps me review and solidify my reasoning to make sure I’m thinking it through all the way. Call it a sanity check. At any rate, that’s where we’re at. Hopefully within a couple of weeks this whole ordeal will be over and my household will be back to “normal”…such as it is.

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Leverage

In financial circles, being “leveraged” means paying for things with loans.

I never thought I’d say this but right now, being leveraged to the eyeballs is good fiscal policy.

Inflation is close to 8% and rising rapidly, which means every day, your dollars are worth less.

So the money you borrow today, you don’t have to pay back with today’s money, you’ll be paying it back with tomorrow’s money, which is worth less. The things you buy with today’s money will be much more expensive in the future when you’re actually paying for it.

So it makes financial sense to borrow as much money as you possibly can and buy everything you might want now before it becomes much more expensive.

But, it’s important to do it now while interest rates are still low, because that’s about to change:

The Federal Reserve is expected to begin raising interest rates this week for the first time in three years as policymakers look to cool red-hot inflation, a move that comes at a precarious time for the U.S. economy as it confronts a continuing pandemic and a war in Europe.

Basically, the money you’ll be paying back for the loan will be worth much less than the money you borrowed in the first place. With interest rates low and inflation so high, you’ll actually be gaining value instead of losing it.

But when the Fed finally gets off it’s @$$ and starts raising interest rates, that dynamic is going to change.

Remember the ’70’s and ’80’s? I do. 21% interest on an unsecured loan was considered a good rate. Car loans were typically in the 12% to 15% range and mortgages were close to 10%.

Coming soon to a bank near you.

I’m glad I’ve got my fixed rate 5% credit card, my 2% mortgage and my 4% truck loan right about now. That’s why you always, always, always get fixed rate loans when the rates are low. People who took out variable rate mortgages to get that tempting 1.9% rate are about to get hammered…right at the time that they’re already struggling to buy groceries and keep gas in the tank.

Hey, maybe Mayor Pete was onto something. Maybe it really is a good time to buy that $44k electric car while the interest rates are still low and money isn’t yet completely worthless.

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Apparently being a slave is a pretty good gig…

…because Colin Kaepernick is begging to be enslaved again.

Kaepernick tweeted Sunday, “For The past 5 years I’ve been working out and staying ready in case an opportunity to play presented itself. I’m really grateful to my trainer, who I’ve been throwing to all this time. But man, do I miss throwing to professional route runners. Who’s working?? I will pull up.”

As a reminder, this is how Kaepernick portrayed the NFL in his Netflix Special a while back:

“What they don’t want you to understand, is what is being established is a power dynamic,” Kaepernick says. “Before they put you on the field, teams poke, prod, and examine you, searching for any defect that might affect your performance. No boundary respected. No dignity left intact.”

The black athletes then jump from their football background to a slave auction background. Gone is their football attire, they are all cast in chains instead. White slave owners then bid over the players at auction.

No one’s ever accused leftists of being overly logical, but the cognitive dissonance of this one is almost comical.

“The NFL treats black people like slaves…sign me up!”

I guess if the gig pays well enough, the indignity is worth it.

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Duck Duck Go sells out

So, I just heard that Duck Duck Go is getting into the censorship game.

Weinberg announced March 10 that his company would begin shadowbanning outlets that it considers “associated with Russian disinformation” amid the conflict in Ukraine.

I switched to the Brave Browser a while back when Mozilla made it clear that they hold conservatives in contempt. I see no reason to support a company that hates me. I’ve been using Duck Duck Go for years as a more private alternative to Google (I refuse to use anything associated with Google or Alphabet if I can avoid it) but I didn’t realize that Brave has its own search engine too. I’ll switch to that for now and see how it goes.

Hat tip to The Last Refuge.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

So, at some point, I’m going to have to make it back to Salem to pick up my truck. The original plan was for my wife to drive me there in her car and then both of us drive back independently. It’s about a 4 hour drive.

But, now that gas prices are going up, I decided to take a look at other ways to get there.

First I checked for flights. Salem is a suburb of Roanoke which has a regional airport that I know the major airlines serve, so I took a look. First, there are no direct flights from Norfolk to Roanoke. Every one would have to go through a hub, and would take a minimum of 8 hours (not counting checking in, getting through security etc). So then I checked from the Newport News airport which is about 45 minutes from here. They do have direct flights, but the costs are in the $350 range. Incidentally the only way to get a flight from Norfolk, even with a transfer, for less than about $300 is to book it at least 3 weeks in advance.

So that’s out.

Next I checked Amtrac. There’s a train station in downtown Norfolk, so maybe I can take the train. That’s what I’d do in Europe if I needed to get somewhere that far away. Heck, on a trip to Germany several years ago, my wife and I took a high speed train from Karlsruhe (where my company’s headquarters is) to Paris and got there in 3 hours for roughly $250 for both of us (round trip). That would have been about a 5 or 6 hour drive each way.

But, alas, the only Amtrac service would go through Hampton, and then to Northern Virginia, and then back south to Roanoke, would cost $133 and would take between 13 and 14 hours.

So I tried bus service. Greyhound would be only $77, but departs at 3:40am and would take almost 9 hours. That’s actually a viable option if I had no other alternatives, but it’s hardly the most efficient or convenient from my point of view.

Finally, I checked how much it would cost for a rental car. One way from here to Roanoke at National (that’s what my company uses so I’ve got a membership there) would be $69.72 total with fees and taxes and everything. Now, granted, I’d have to pay for the gas to get there which at current prices would cost somewhere around $50 so the total would be closer to $120, but I can be there in around 4 hours. My time is valuable to me. 4 hours of my life is well worth the extra $65.

If I rent a car, I can depart on my schedule, be there in 4 hours, drop the car off, uber to the mechanic for about $12, pick up my truck and be home in time for dinner.

If my wife takes me, we have to pay for gas for her car in both directions, so we’d only be saving a total of maybe $35, but she loses 8 hours of her life as well.

And they wonder why Americans don’t take public transportation like Europeans do.

By the way, because of my membership and the fact that I rent cars for work a lot, I actually have some bonus points I can use that gets the car rental down to about $45, which ends up making that option virtually the same cost as my wife driving me, so that’s definitely the way I’ll do it. Most people wouldn’t have that option so I didn’t mention it before because even without it, the rental car and driving it is still likely the best bet for most people.

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