Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why I'm not tatted up...

Or: One Drunken Night In Wichita Falls, Texas.

I'm 43 years old, a US Army veteran and have no tattoos.

When I was a kid, only people who wanted to be rebels and be different got tattoos. Now it seems every swinging dick out there has one.

What the hell is being different about getting a tattoo now? Every body's got them. So now I'm the antirebel! I'm the one who's different and unique because I don't have a tattoo!

But there was an almost in there...

It happened a long time ago, it involved copious amounts of beer, a weekend pass, four army buddies and a rusty 1971 Datsun B-210.

I did my basic training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1983. After basic a few of us were put on "Hold Over" for a few weeks while we were awaiting orders.

That meant a lot of idle time between picking up cigarette butts and painting black rocks white and white rocks black. Ah, the life of a private in the worlds strongest army!

Anyway, a few of us would head down to the enlisted men's club on Friday night to drink beer, shoot darts, play pool and drink more beer, talk about what badasses we were, drink more beer, wax poetic on how were were going to kick Ivan's ass all the way back to Moscow because we were THE Baddest of THE Badasses, and drink even more beer, dump dollar after dollar into the jukebox to listen to Bruce Springsteen & Tears for Fears, and drink even more beer. The four of our gang were sitting at a table this one particular Friday night and while I was pondering the three waitresses waiting on one table (or was that three tables being waited on my one waitress?) my buddy Brock said to me:

"Hey Wolfman! (that was my moniker at that time in my life...) Lets' got to Texas and get tattoos!"

"Sure" slurred I...

"Like, dude! we can all get the same one! We're brothers forever Dude!"

So me and Brock and our two other buddies hashed it over and decided it was a fabulous idea. So the four of us headed out to his car where he promptly puked his guts out for several minutes, produced an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels... We started passing the bottle back and forth as we drove out the main gate headed south...

Those of you who might ask, why go all the way to Texas from Ft. Sill to get Tattoos? Well, at that time Tattoo parlors were illegal as hell in Oklahoma and the closest one we heard of was in the closest town from Lawton, OK was in Wichita Falls...

We get there in the wee hours and drive around looking for the place... and we finally found it.

Now all during this time we were switching drivers because each one in turn was getting drunker by the minute as that bottle O' Jack was dwindling it's amber nectar...

I get behind the wheel for the last hour or so and by this time I'm pretty well sober... I think it's my Oirish genes that give me my cast iron liver...
So everyone files into the shop and looks over all the artwork... Pretty good stuff sez I, but I'm having my doubts.
I'm the last one. Everyone gets a cool dragon with a scroll with our basic training company nickname in it (The Wolfhounds, how ironic) and this is where I say,
Are you fucking crazy?
I'm not getting one of those!
I was ribbed and had my balls busted all the way back to the Fort... But when the weekend was over, although no one said it... There was regrets being felt...
IT's really amazing why none of us were locked up... We were that drunk.
Oh, to be 17 and stupid again!
On second thought, nah!
And so goes my short, sad but poignant story of why I'm the AntiRebel!
No tats on me!
Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A few mishaps...

Not every day goes smoothly here on the railroad. Sometimes bad things happen. From time to time things happen and it puts trains on the ground. Luckily in these two instances, no one was hurt.
A SCFE inbound train from the Bryant yard "Picked" a switch, putting one of the two locomotives on the ground along with two cane cars.

Look at the forces involved... Bent that rail like a pretzel.

Definitely ungood.


Here's another one...

About the same thing happened, but towards the rear of a train as it was pulling into a storage track in the yard.

Hey Carl, do you think we can fix it?

Sure! We'll gust tackweld and duct tape it back together and it'll be right as rain in a few hours!

All jokes aside, my job, while it's rewarding, is very dangerous. I don't even want to think about what would have happened if someone was standing near either of these two derailments.

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The scare of my life!

Or should I say I'm so damn glad I'm in a union...
I've been here almost three years. Come in, do my job, don't cause trouble and I believe I'm a pretty good railroad freight conductor and employee.
After my shift tonight several of us were called into the head office for a meeting... This wouldn't be so bad if it was at a normal time... But it was 11 PM. No one is at the head office at 11 PM unless something really Ungood was about to happen.
We walk into the building and the first thing I notice was the security guard outside the office where were to go...
Not Good.
The only time security is called at times like this is when someone is asked to turn in their ID badge and escorted off the property. The three of us were collectively shitting our pants. My one buddy was almost about to vomit right there in the office. He was shaking so hard I was worried that he'd come unglued right there. 22 years with the company, good employee, great engineer, wife & kids at home... Mortgage... Everything to lose and for something this stupid?
We walked out with sick stomachs and wobbly knees an hour later with our jobs, but barely. I have truly never been more frightened in my life. Sure I've had the shit scared out of me several times in the past, but this... Watching everything I'd ever dreamed of be flushed down The Commode of Life....
So much for stopping off after work for some good St. Patty's good cheer.
I'm really not going to get into it right now because a few things are still in arbitration and there's a few grievances pending, but I will tell you this, if they sacked everyone in the Railroad Operating Department for something as stupid and petty as this, they'd need to replace 80% of the department.
I've badmouthed unions in the past, and still will, but for this I'm truly glad I'm in one.
Thank you my brothers in IAM Local #57!
Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday Evening Show!

Myself and my engineer were coming back into the mill Sunday evening when I just glanced out my window and saw this... Apparently the Space Shuttle had a launch and I forgot all about it! Kennedy Space Center is at least 100 miles north of where we are, but it being so flat (Kind of like southern Oklahoma with palm trees) we do get a great view of the launches if the skies are clear. These pictures came out pretty good considering I was sitting in a moving locomotive, not necessarily known for the smooth ride they give! Please click on the picture to get the full frame enlargement!
What a sight I tell you! Someday I will have the time to go up to Titusville and watch one up close and personal. The closest I ever go was once I saw a Minuteman II launch from Grafenberg AFB while I was living in Arizona. Before that it was on the black & white Philco in my boyhood home watching the Apollo launches.

What a fantastic sight I tell you!

In this one the solid fuel rocket boosters have been jettisoned and are falling into the Atlantic.

I've used Paint to mark where you can see the boosters falling. Great stuff I get to see on my job!

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Moor Trane Pix!

Cruising into the yard, chillin! It's been a just another day on the slightly High Iron ( 90lb. rail for our mainline as opposed to the the 140 lb. rail on the Class I's) for RT, a slightly disheveled Mr. Conductor! (I've gotta lose some weight... I've got more Chins that a Chinese phone book!)
Some real Einsteins work here... Nice "Trash Buket" we have on the engine... Yep... How some of these fuckers passed the aptitude test amazes me. I had one guy ask me right before we changed the clocks in the fall what time he had to report the next day... Duh! And yes, that's a Tractor Supply catalog... It's got all the stuff we need out here!

My computer I use to keep track of the empties I take out and loads I pick up... Last night I wanted to rip it out of it's mountings an toss it out the goddamn window... Modern technology at it's best!

Getting some more throttle time... All Aboard!
I absolutely LOVE my job!

After all the bitching I do, when all is said and done, at the end of the day I really, really do love my job... I actually get PAID to do this!
Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, March 13, 2009

New people to check out!

I have two new blogs for you guys to check out! The first one is a good friend of mine, or as they say in Australia, he's a good mate and a fare dinkum bloke!

I've known Eddie for nine years now and I consider him family. He's been like a brother to me throughout all my trials and tribulations. A fellow soldier, Aussie and someone I can truly say is my best friend. Check out his blog here:


We're a lot alike...

Another blog I stumbled upon is Big Daddy's Salute to 80's Big Hair...

He's just starting out, but he and I have the same, ehem, I guess you could say fetish... I LOVE his blog!

Check out Big Daddy here:


More photos coming up in the next few days... Stay tuned!

Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trouble with landlords...

I had said earlier that I had just recently moved... I'm still in Clewiston but where I was living was becoming unbearable.
Just about a year ago, through no fault of my own, (yes it was in an oblique way... more bad decisions when it comes to women I seem to attract) I was forced on very short notice to find a new place to live. I lived in a local motel for about a month when a buddy of mine turned me on to a local woman who had several rentals.
I called her and we met at the one place she had close by. An older single-wide trailer in a really nice subdivision. Totally furnished, all I had to bring was my toothbrush. I had a little more than that, but not much. Everything was included, including the Satellite TV...
Price.... You don't want to know... I could afford it, but you'd shit if you knew what I was paying for a 30 year old single wide...
But I was desperate.
I was living in a motel.
I was going to the Laundromat weekly. (Que? Se habla Hispaniola? me no habla englaise senor...)
And it had it's own washer~dryer...
So I moved in. And the problems started a month later. Again, I'm NOT going to tell you what I was paying for this place, but for the money I was forking over every month I expect shit to work.
I get up for work, hit the remote and the TV is out...
That afternoon I get home from work and call the landlady... She's quite apologetic... She forgot to pay the bill... Next day the TV is back on.
And this happens every month from then on. I have to call her to remind her that she needs to pay the TV bill.
It gets worse.
I should tell you at this point in my little rant that she insisted in me paying cash... No checks. I had no lease, just month to month deal. And I dropped off my rent every month in an unmarked envelope at a local bar...
Every time I did it I felt like some bookie's runner dropping off the receipts and was expecting the vice squad to pinch me at any moment.
Anyway, I digress...
It gets worse.
Around the middle of last August my central air takes a shit. Call the landlady. OK sez she, she'll be right on it! No I don't know how many of you have ever spent an August in south central Florida... 100% humidity, high 90's in the day, down to a cool 85 F at night.
I was melting.
Three fucking weeks and still nothing!
I finally had a chat with my neighbor, who had a friend who did HVAC on the side... For a 12 pack of Busch lite and $30 in parts he had me chilling in about 25 minutes. I know, I could have done that to begin with, but when one is paying an obscene amount of money a month just for a place to crash you fucking expect to get shit fixed.
So, besides the TV going out every 30 days, everything is peachy for the next few months, I even had a pretty good time during the two tropical storms that blew through.
Then comes Thanksgiving.
Again, I'm from Pennsylvania originally, so to me when it gets cool here I don't really get excited. But sometimes it does get below freezing here. The night after Thanksgiving it dropped into the mid-30's and when I came home it was a tad bit chilly, so I decided to put the heat on.
It ran for a grand total of 22 minutes.
Call the landlady again...
Oh, Tommy! I'm so sorry! I'll get right on it...
November turns to December...
Still nothing on the heat.
I've got a few space heaters for the really cold nights but really, it's been a fairly mild winter so I haven't had to use them all that much.
Around December 26th the water heater takes a huge shit.
What the Fuck!
Another call... "I'll get right on it!" sez she...
Three, three fucking weeks it takes to get a new water heater...
I know, I put up with too much shit to begin with, but that's the way I am... I try to avoid confrontation at all costs.
It's a weakness of mine.
Anyway, after taking cold showers for three fucking weeks and the heat still isn't working a cold front decides to make Clewiston it's home for a week...
Highs in the 40's and hard freezes every night. Low 20's three nights in a row.
I'm done.
My engineer, SA, tells me he spied a house in the nice section of town for rent... Furnished. I call the number, see the house... Nice little place... A real house! Not some shitty trailer. For $350 less a month I was paying for that shitty trailer! And the landlord, the owner, also owns the motel I lived in last year and remembered me and was quite happy with me moving into his house... Wrote the check for one month's rent and 1 month's deposit and signed a lease right there and then.
I moved out of the shithole that day. Pretty sad I could fit everything I own into my car... but I've been there before too.
The place was furnished, but barley. I did have to buy a bunch of things like dishes, pots and pans and flatware, a microwave, blender and toaster oven, but other than that I'm happier than shit right now.
Anyway, that's my latest experience with landlords... I should buy a home, but with the economy the way it is and me really not knowing if I want to stay here for 20 years I'll just rent for now.
And I'm crossing my fingers that shit stays cool for now.
Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I feel bad...

I joined Classmates.com a few years ago just for shits & giggles... And did get back into contact with a few people I went to school with... Nothing really spectacular. I was kind of a dickhead and a brooding loner (weirdo) who would have probably been typecast in one of those shitty 80's teen movies.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I got a message from a woman who remembered me... We chatted and are hitting off pretty well.
Besides the distance factor, she's still in the Philadelphia area and I'm in Purgatory...
I really don't remember her at all...
That's why I feel bad. She's been relating all these funny stories from school (I know you guys won't believe this, but I was voted Class Clown...) and how I used to make her laugh... I am attracted to her, but I feel bad.
I haven't a clue who she is.
Go figure.
I'm just going to take it slow and stay friends for right now.
Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, March 08, 2009

An RT Exclusive!

I know, I know... Where have I been....
Long story and I'll relate that later, but first, I want to clear up some rumors. I have not been in jail, I've not been running guns in Guatemala, I've not been on the lam... I've just been stuck here in Purgatory working on the railroad.
The Internet has been very far down on my list of priorities, but now the sugar crop is winding down and I now have more time to vent my spleen.
Anyway, I've got an exclusive for you!
I actually got and short interview a few days ago with our new President and I asked him some questions about this new economic stimulus bill.
This is the actual transcript of that interview!
I shit you not!
RT: Good morning Mr. President, I'm very glad to meet you, would you like a beer or something?
BO: Nice to meet you RT, and no, 9AM is a little early for beer.
RT: Well, I think I'll have one... Smoke em' if you got em'
I lit up a Winston and got down to the questions.
RT: This new brain fart, I mean, stimulus bill you've introduced is going to cost how much?
BO: Well Tommy, somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 Billion dollars, to start.
RT: Billion? To START?
BO: Yes, but that's what needs to be done, and fast!
RT: I admit something needs to be done, But where are we going to get that kind of money?
BO: Well Tommy, there are several places we've been looking to, one place is the taxpayers, or just print it like there's no tomorrow. There's several options we're looking at.
RT: Print more?
BO: Sure... The Government controls the Mint anyway, and I figure If we pump a shitload of Franklin's into circulation it'll stimulate the economy.
RT: What about the tax cuts you've promised?
BO: Yes, every American taxpayer will actually get a more money in their paycheck every week.
RT: Yep, I figure it's about $13 dollars a week.
BO: There you go! More money in your check!
RT: Mr. President... A case of beer costs $13.57... That wont even buy me an extra case of my favorite adult beverage, and will even put a bigger slump on the brewing businesses!
BO: Well Tommy, you could always buy a cheaper beer!
RT: I drink Miller for Christ's sake! How cheap do you want me to go?
BO: We are giving everyone a new analog-to-digital TV converter box!
RT: I have Satellite TV.
BO: Buy a new Hi-Def TV then! That'll stimulate the economy!
RT: Yep, sure will! The Chinese economy!
BO: Now let's not get testy, Tommy. I'm doing my best.
RT: I have an idea.
BO: Let's here it! I'm always open to new ideas!
RT: OK, Mr. President, how many registered voters are there in the US?
BO: That's easy! 72 million.
RT: That's just the Democrats.
BO: Are there any others?
RT: Yes.
BO: Really?
RT: Yep. There's somewhere in the neighborhood of 201.5 million registered voters in the US.
BO: Are you a Democrat?
RT: No, I'm registered as a Republican.
BO: I thought all you Crackers, I mean people who live in Florida, were Democrats, you know, what they call Dixiecrats?
RT: Do you know what a Dixiecrat is Mr. President?
BO: No.
RT: A Republican who's registered Democrat.
BO: Oh.
RT: Did you just call me a Cracker?
BO: Not at all!
RT: I'm a Republican, but the older I get, the more I lean towards the Libertarians.
BO: What's that?
RT: A republican who likes to get high from time to time.
BO: Oh, I can relate to that!
RT: I bet you can!
BO: So you said you had an idea, lets hear it.
RT: OK. Like I said, there's 205 million registered voters here in the good old US of A. How about giving every one of them a one-time payment of 2 Million dollars. That would stimulate the shit out of the economy!
BO: Give the taxpayers 2 mil? Are you crazy?
RT: it is after all our money. We worked for it.
BO: No it's not, it's ours! But that's neither here or there. How would that stimulate the economy?
RT: Well, for starters, If I had 2 Mil right now I'd have all my debts pays down to nil, have a new house and my first brand-new car in 20 years, and a nifty little nest-egg for when I get too old to work on the railroad.
BO: I still don't get it. Banks are going into failure, car companies are going bankrupt and you want to just give all that money back to the, ahem, people? How would that help?
RT: For starters, 201.5 million, times two, is $403 Million dollars.
BO: Yes.
RT: That's 201.5 Million loans payed back, news cars purchased, news houses built and sold. Car companies are in business, which means people are back to work in Detroit and elsewhere building cars. More jobs there. People are building and buying homes again, Putting construction workers back to work, and the whole thing grows. More TVs bought, the stuff everybody wants... All those banks that are going tits-up are getting the bad loans paid back... It'll be better for everyone.
BO: What about universal health care? That's the real reason the economy is in the cellar.
RT: Health care? How do you figure?
BO: Well, if everyone had health care, they'd be in better physical and mental condition and they'd be more apt to make sounder judgments. That's why all these banks and corporations are failing, poor judgment!
RT: But my plan would be cheaper and still work. I don't have health care 6 months out of the year and I make good decisions.
BO: You're divorced, aren't you?
RT: Hey, low blow! Yeah, I've made some shitty decisions when it comes to women...
BO: See, if you'd had Nationalized Health care, you'd be in better shape and have never made those mistakes!
RT: But Canada has Nationalized health care and there's plenty of divorces there!
BO: It's a fluke.
RT: What about the UK, Australia, France, and the rest?
BO: The old Soviet Union had a good record...
RT: See where that got them?
BO: You're not getting it.
RT: Yes I am... But I digress. My idea.
BO: Yes, your idea. That would make a whole lot of new millionaires out there. More rich people. ( A sneer crossed his face at this point)
RT: Not really.
BO: (snickering) Not really, tell me then!
RT: Make a few caveats. One, with the 2 mil, make it a stipulation that they must pay all of their debts down to 0 with the money. Everything, even the C-note you borrowed off uncle Phil in 1987 for that chrome nekkid lady with the 'luminated wings out of the JC Whitney catalog for the hood of your 1974 Chevelle. That would pump a shitload of money into the failing banks.
BO: That'll never work.
RT: Next, tell them they have to invest the rest wisely... Anyone calling Bernie Nadoff will be shot.
BO: Again, what about Health care?
RT: Well if I had 2 Mil, I wouldn't need a health care plan! Again, I'd have a pretty spiffy Tom Cruse smile and my hemorrhoids wouldn't be bleeding anymore!
BO: You too?
RT: Yeah, God, it feels like my ass is on fire sometimes!
BO: No! The Tom Cruse smile!
RT: Oh, yeah! See, and that would be a shitpot cheaper than $800 Billion... And stimulate the shit out of the economy!
BO: No, it wouldn't. It's wind up a lot worse. We need to pass this bill and pump all that money into the economy through the financial institutions and auto companies, social programs and universal health care.
RT: But what about the taxpayers?
BO: Fuck em'... I mean the economy will rebound... It's because of the last Administration's policies that we're in the mess we're in now.
RT: I thought that was Bill Clinton's policy back in the 90's of forcing Freddy Mac & Mae to approve mortgages to people who couldn't afford them in the first place?
BO: Shut your mouth!
RT: I mean Mr. President... I mean... ( At this point I started to sound like Arlo Guthrie in the Alice's Restaurant Massacree) I Mean... Shit. It's our money. Don't you think the people should have some say on how it's spent?
BO: The people don't know what they're doing in the first place, so it's up to me to decide for them.
RT: Oh, really? Thank you for letting me know I was too stupid to decide my own fate...On that note I think I think we should end this interview. Thank you Mr. President for this enlightening interview.
BO: Thank you Tommy, I've enjoyed it! (and at this point I could have sworn he said something under his breath about not closing Guantanamo Bay base, but expanding it...)
With that he left my humble home, whispering to the Secret Service guys something... I don't think I got across to him though... Strange, I've seen a lot of black Crown Victoria's with tinted windows in my neighborhood lately and there's been a weird popping and hissing on my phone since he's been here.
So this was my interview with the new President! A monumental event for this humble railroad conductor/blogger!
Sleep safe America, we're in good hands!
Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden