Well, It’s Not A Perfect System . . .

Tomorrow we’re having lunch at a long-time favorite, Torchy’s Tacos, though it’s been a while since we’ve been to one. And we’ve never been to the fairly new one down here in Webster that opened a while back.

Then while Jan gets her toesies done, I’m going to make a Costco run for a couple of things, along with a office stop. After that it’s on to our weekly WalMart run, then the Post Office and home.

Thought For The Day:

From Our Gate Guarding Days –

A funny thing about us logging vehicles in and out is that the logs are almost never used. By anybody for any reason. Our first year, following a Marathon drill rig, I had to turn in the logs every night at the office. But not since then.

We still have logs from 4 years ago. I think twice someone has wanted to look at the logs to see if something was really delivered. But that’s it.

Early on, I ask a Company Man (the big boss) what the logs were really for, since nothing was ever done with them. He smiled and said, “It’s so if something bad happens, we know how many bodies to look for.”

When I noted that we were parked only about 200 feet from the drill rig, and that if the rig went up, we, and the logs, probably would too, he smiled again and said, “Well, it’s not a perfect system.”

New Brunswick, Canada

August 29, 2009

Cajun Country…

Today Jan and I took a drive along the Acadian Coastal Highway.

I had not realized that this is the area that the French were driven out of in the late 1700’s after the British took over the area after the Treaty of  Utrecht. This is where the Cajuns (Acadians) now in Louisiana came from.

It was really strange to see an auto repair shop called Thibodeaux’s, and a restaurant called Boudreaux’s.

Almost like home.

Anyway, the drive took us along the Atlantic Coast. For the last park of the drive we could see Prince Edward Island out to sea.  We also saw a lot of quaint buildings and villages.

The weather was pretty overcast, and then later it started raining, so I didn’t fool with getting any pictures.

As we were heading home, we stopped by a place we had been told about called Hudson Oddities.  As a child, the owner, Audrey Hudson, was always bringing home stuff she had found on the beach.

So much so, that her mother once told her, “For the love of god, child, could you please stop bringing garbage home from the beach”.  Not really taking this to heart, she decide to make a business out of junk from the beach.

One of the beach things she collected was bits of broken glass, that over the years had been smoothed and polished by the wind, waves, and sand,  rounding off the sharp edges until they looked like this.




and turns them into jewelry that looks like this.


Just beautiful.

After this stop, we headed home, arriving just as the rain started coming down harder.

Tomorrow we plan to make a 2 day trip over to Prince Edward Island, driving the truck over, and staying one night in a bed and breakfast.

Hopefully the rain will let up.  We’ll see.

August 29, 2010

Jan is home, YEAH !!!!!

I left Elkhart about 12:30 pm to pick Jan up at Chicago Midway from her 3 pm flight. By 3:30 we had her bag and were on our way home. A smooth trip both ways.

And it sure is great to have my sweetie back home.

Arriving at the RV park about 5:45 pm Jan showed a bunch of Landon photos so here goes.

Here’s new mom Brandi about 30 minutes after Landon was born.

Brandi and Landon

Here’s Piper holding Landon with the proud parents looking on.

Brandi Lowell Landon & Piper

And here, too. I think this is another day.
Piper And Landon 5

And, of course, here’s Grandmother Jan with Landon.

Jan And Landon 2

And here’s Grandmother Sonja with her new grandson.

 Sonja and Landon

And another one of Miss Piper.
Piper and Landon 2

Jan took a lot of photos that I’m still going through, so more later.

August 29, 2011

Coffee and Chores . . .

This morning started with our coffee, bagels, and Jan pretty much back to normal.

After working on client Internet stuff during the morning, after lunch I got back on my chore list.

Many of today’s things were rig-based, things I wanted to take care of before we travel on Wednesday.

First up was topping off oil and coolant levels, and then adding water to the coach batteries. (My engine batteries are sealed and maintenance free.)  As I started to do this, I decided to call Interstate Batteries to find out exactly how high I was supposed to fill my four U2400 6 volt coach batteries.

My batteries have a flange extending about 1-1/2 inches down from the top, and I had been told to fill the battery up to the bottom of the flange, but I’d heard different from other places, so I decided to go straight to the source.

And I got some information I didn’t expect. I was told by Interstate to fill the batteries to about 1/4” from the top of the fill opening. So I had to add a good bit of distilled water to each cell. In fact I didn’t have enough water to fill all 12 cells, so I’ll have to get some more tomorrow and finish up.

Next I got my socket set out and tightened up the passenger-side outside mirror. It had started to loosen up and was moving slightly from wind pressure as we drive.

About 4 pm our daughter Brandi called to check in and say hi. She said Landon’s got more teeth coming in and walking everywhere. We can’t wait to see him again in November.

Then I finished up re-caulking the shower base. I started cleaning out all the old caulk over the last few days, It looks like the previous owner had re-caulked it with one that was not mildew-resistant. So it was turning black underneath the clear caulking. So, after digging out all the old stuff, spraying it with bleach and letting it dry, I re-caulked it with a white, mildew-proof, silicone caulk. It turned out pretty good.

Shower Caulk

My last task for the day was to install a power line radio filter on my new radio to filter out any residual noise in the system.

Not sure what Mister was doing here. He knocked the trash can over and crawled into it, but It was completely empty so I don’t know what he was looking for. After a few minutes he gave up and took a nap.

Mister in Trash

Tomorrow Jan and I are going into Terre Haute to pick up some groceries, see the new movie “The Help”, and eat dinner, probably at Buffalo Wild Wings. We need a hot wing fix.

August 29, 2012

More of the Same . . .

Today was pretty much yesterday, redux, with a couple of extras.

First off, Jan and I headed out a little before noon to have lunch at La Carreta, our favorite local Mexican restaurant. They have a great Chicken Tortilla Soup that I always try to have a couple of times while we’re in Celina.

Then after lunch I dropped Jan off to have her nails done. Then after getting the truck washed, I picked up Jan at the nail salon. There are only 3 places in Celina that does pedicures, and apparently, this drives the prices up. Jan said she was very surprised to find out that her pedicure was $40, twice what she’s ever paid before.


Gate Waiting In Whitsett, TX

August 29, 2014

Now He Calls . . .

Our next door neighbor pulled out about 8am this morning, on his way to his new gate. So hopefully we’ll be on our way soon. But it’s possible the holiday weekend may delay things. But we’re parked with full hookups, and it’s free while we wait. So we’re good.

After we got settled in yesterday, I went online to the Thousand Trails website to cancel our upcoming reservations. As a backup I had us booked into the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails park for two weeks starting tomorrow, the 30th, to be sure that we had somewhere to be over the Labor Day weekend. Always have a backup plan.

For dinner tonight, Jan heated up our leftover King Food from this past Wednesday. Chinese is one of those foods that just gets better when warmed up as leftovers.

About 6:30, while we were eating, Jamie of Gate Guard Services called with a gate for us . . . in Shreveport, LA, about 450 miles away.

Now he calls.

The gate starts Monday, so we could get there in time. But Jan and I figured that since we’re here, we’ll stay and see what we get. I was curious about our security guard licenses, since we’re only licensed in Texas, but Jamie said we didn’t need anything for Louisiana. If he’d only called yesterday morning, we be there now.

One thing new here at the Whitsett yard is the Verizon signal here now. When we were here last year, it was 3G. Now I’ve got 4 bars of 4G, and it looks like they’ve got the XLTE upgrade since Speedtest.net gives 35Mps down and 20 up. Nice.

Hope it holds up wherever we end up on a gate.

August 29, 2015

Settled In . . .

Well, we did a rousing 26 vehicles in the gate today, but 8 of them were part of the Coil Tubing crew. And now, based on all the noise coming from the pad, they’re actually getting some work done.

When I got groceries on Friday I picked up another 35’ of water hose so we could connect directly up to the well. But after hooking it all up this afternoon, when I went to take my shower this evening, (when I got off at 6pm) the water pressure was so low I had to turn the pump on. I’ll check it out tomorrow and put my test gauge on it, but the pressure sure looked OK when I opened the faucet. Maybe the hose kinked or something.

Our tabletop AC is still working great. Even though our temps are staying in the low 90’s, the cool air is certainly welcome. The only occasional problem is when a wind gust will turn the hot air coming out the back, around to the front for a few seconds. But all in all, it’s great.

This past week the long-range weather forecast showed thunderstorms coming up this Wednesday and Thursday, but now they’ve gone away, and hopefully they’ll stay away. With day’s in the low 90’s and nights in the 60’s, you couldn’t ask for much better weather for August in Texas. Just hope it holds.

Now that we’ve settled in here, I need to go back and take a look at my water heater problem. It stopped working on electric after we moved awhile back. American Coach says there’s supposed to be a circuit breaker for it on the panel, but it’s not there.

And the access panel to the rear of the unit that’s underneath the dresser in the bathroom does not come off like it’s supposed to. And until I get that off, I can’t really troubleshoot the unit.

So that’s where I’ll start tomorrow.

August 29, 2016

The Life of a Gate Guard . . .

Our friend Barbara Spade, who’s a Ranger at Colorado River Thousand Trails, sent me a list of questions about Gate Guarding.

And this made me realize that we’ve added a lot of new readers since I last talked about the job in any detail, so I thought I’d answer her questions here for everyone.

So first, some background.

Oil and drilling companies pay people to sit at the entrance (the gate) to their work areas. This can be a drilling site, like where we are now, or a frack job, a workover rig, a coil tubing job, or a completion. It might even be a production area with a lot of big storage tanks where tankers come to pick up the crude and take it to the refinery.

We don’t work directly for the oil companies, but for a contractor who deals with them. There are 15-20 gate guard companies, including the one we work for, Gate Guard Services.

We’ve worked for them for 5 years, 3 or 4 months a year, and always for the same supervisor, Jamie Hime. The first two years we were in the Whitsett/Pleasanton area about 60 miles south of San Antonio, and the last three years we’ve been in the east Texas area, either near Bryan/College Station, or up near Carthage.

We like up here much better. There’s real trees and grass.

The gate guard companies like and use RV’ers because we bring our own housing with us. They supply us with ‘full hookups’ so for us it’s just like we’re at an RV park.

As far as pay, this year we’re making $125 a day, the same as we made our first year in 2012. The other 3 years we made $150 a day.

Now as far as Barbara’s questions, which are in bold type.

What is the canopy for?  Chairs?

One of us is always outside on this gate, 24/7 so the canopy gives us shade and keeps us dry in the rain. I just realized I haven’t taken a photo of this gate, so here’s one from our very first gate 5 years ago.

GG 06

I assumed that there was like an office trailer where you work and it would be something like our gate shack here.

All of our gates have been like this one, with us sitting outside. We have alarms that tell us when a vehicle is entering or leaving, so on some not as busy gates the guards stay in their rigs and then come out when a vehicle approaches. We’ve never had one this slow.

There are some gates where you work out of a trailer or guard shack. Which means you have to park your RV at a regular RV park.

You check in delivery trucks?

We check in and out every vehicle. It could be a semi bringing in diesel for the rig’s big generators, a flatbed bringing in equipment, a worker coming on shift, or a salesperson.

We get the person’s name, company, tag number and the time they came in.  When they leave we just note the time. We have been on gates where the person had to actually sign in and out. These are a pain.

Is there an actual gate like we are supposed to have here or do you just keep a log of who comes in and goes out?

Yes. Sometimes there is an actual gate, like there is here. But it always stays open. In some cases there’s no actual gate, but just a cattle guard. We have both gates and cattle guards here.

I assume it is a 24 hr. per day job so one of you has to be working.

This is a 24 hour gate so one of us is always out here, although we have been on 16-18 hour gates. The pay is the same.

Jan is the AM person and you are the PM person?

Some couples do work 12 hr. shifts, but Jan and I split it up. She works from 7am to 1pm. Then I work from 1pm to 6pm. Jan then works from 6pm to 11pm, and then I work from 11pm to 7am. Strange, but it works for us.

There are no hookups so you have a generator running all the time? Water comes from a tank on wheels and there is a permanent honey wagon?

Gate Guard Services furnishes us two support trailers as shown here.

Blue Moon Gate Support Trailers

The closest one, the big green one, is a septic tank system on a trailer. It is pumped out as needed, which is not often. We’ve only had to have ours pumped out once in 5 years.

The second trailer holds a 11.5kw diesel generator, a 250 gallon diesel tank, and a 500 gallon water tank, The generator runs 24/7, only being shut down every two weeks for an oil and filter change. The diesel tank and the water tank are refilled at the same time.

What about cell and internet reception?  TV?

This is the same as when we’re at Colorado River. We have a Winegard Dome for DirecTV and a Verizon Aircard for Internet.

If you need groceries one works the gate while the other shops?

I usually do the shopping once a week. Right now it’s a 30 minute drive into Bryan/College Station.

What if one of you fell and broke your leg?

Well, hopefully they wouldn’t just shoot us. In a emergency, we would tell the Company Man what had happen and head to the hospital, or wait for the ambulance. I would also let Jamie know what had happened.

Could you both leave to go to the hospital?

Yes. Logging vehicles in and out is not a life and death situation. Even in normal operation we occasionally miss someone who comes through while we’re taking a bathroom break. Some drivers will wait for you to reappear. Some won’t.

A funny thing about logging vehicles is that the logs are almost never used. By any body for any reason. Our first year, following a Marathon drill rig, I had to turn in the logs every night at the office. But not since then.

We still have logs from 4 years ago. I think twice someone has wanted to look at the logs to see if something was really delivered. But that’s it.

Early on, I ask a Company Man (the big boss) what the logs were really for, since nothing was ever done with them. He smiled and said it’s so if something bad happens, we know how many bodies to look for.

When I noted that we were parked only about 200 feet from the drill rig, and that if the rig went up, we, and the logs, probably would too, he smiled again and said, “Well, it’s not a perfect system.”

Hurricane Harvey’s Aftermath

August 29, 2017

Cabin Fever . . .

We haven’t left the rig since last Friday so about 12:30 we drove over to Willis to first have lunch at Whataburger and then pick up a few things at the nearby Kroger’s.

But Whataburger was not to be, as it was closed. Didn’t see any reason for it, since the next-door Popeye’s, Sonic, McDonald’s, and Chick-fil-A. The only other place that was closed was the Burger King down the road.

So Chick-fil-A for lunch it was. And a very busy place it was. But not really busier than I’ve seen Chick-fil-A’s at other times. And they brought our food to our table in about 5 minutes.

It’s easy to see why Chick-fil-A has the highest grossing locations in the US. At around $4,4 million average per store, they rank over $1 million ahead of  2nd place McDonald’s. And Chick-fil-A is only open 6 days a week.

Because of this, the last time Chick-fil-A released 100 new franchises, they had 24,000 applications. And if you lucky enough to be chosen for a franchise, the only cost is $1000.00, not the $1 million+ that a McDonald’s would cost.

Coming back to the Kroger’s we found it pretty much normal with only a few shortages. They had large stacks of bottled water everywhere, but the bread shelves were kind of bare, although they were restocking while we were there. The only other things in short supply were  rotisserie chickens, and for some strange reason, cat food. Dog food was fine.

As we were heading home, we were passed by a long line of power company bucket trucks . . . from Kansas. Looks like a lot of much-needed help is coming in.

Later in the afternoon I started working on my slide remote control. For some reason American Coach put the rig control panel in the overhead directly over the dining room table, which makes it a long reach to run the slide in and out.

Slide Remote 1

So I decided to use another of  the Wireless 4 Channel Remote Control Unit from yesterday’s AC remote control.

Remote Control for Slide and AC 2

When I removed the slide control panel I was happy to see that it had a nice long wire harness to make it easy to connect up to.

Slide Remote 2

My next task was to find 12VDC to run the board so I first pulled out the Inverter control board thinking I’d find something there, but the only wiring was the connection to the inverter.

So I popped off the cover on the power panel and found what I needed.

Slide Remote 3

Now it was just a matter of wiring it all up using a couple of saddle taps and spade lugs.

Slide Remote 4

And here’s the finished product.

Slide Remote 5

Not sure what’s in store for tomorrow, but it looks like the rain has pretty much stopped in this area, and we actually saw a brief glance of the sun this afternoon.

August 29, 2018

No Heart Attacks . . .

Well, after hearing back from the Rainbow Plantation Escapees Park in Summerdale,AL we’re all set for our October Florida trip.

Spent most of today at my client’s getting a new AC installed in the Shipping Dept. The old unit was in a through-the-wall mount about 8 feet above the floor, and over a workbench that couldn’t be moved.

But it was simple. We just removed the mounting screws and pushed it out and onto the ground, Easy Peezy!

But the new one was another story. At 12,000 Btu, it was bigger and at 88# it was heavier than the old one. So what you had was two old guys trying to get this unit up over our heads and into the wall opening. But we finally did it, and no heart attacks, either.

Then when we tried to plug it in, we discovered that the original unit was so old that it used the 6-15P 230VAC receptacle and plug.

AC 6-15P Receptacle

But the new unit had the newer plug, a 230VAC 5-20P one.

AC 5-20P Plug


By now it was getting to be my time to head home so I stopped off at Home Depot to pick up the parts to build up an adapter since no one seemed to carry one locally. And this is what I came up with. Should work with no problems.

TES AC Power Adapter

That was about it for today.

August 29, 2019

Switching Gears . . .

I spent a little time this morning correcting a dozen or so addresses that our mailing company said were not valid. Don’t know why they had a problem since it was pretty easy to fix them. Things like 6O6 as an address, rather than 606, or W 7793 rather than W7793. But I got them corrected and sent them over to the company.

The Ad cards should be hitting the customer’s offices the end of next week.

Later I dug out my SwitchBot Hub

SwitchBot Hub

to get it set up for my Mr. Coffee remote switch. Right now I can only control the coffee pot switch locally, within Bluetooth range. That of course, takes care of my timer scheduling problem. But the Hub will let me control the switch from anywhere I have Internet service.

Jan and I have switched gears. Over the last 18 months we lost a total of about 120 pounds, pretty much just by watching our calories. But we’d both like to lose some more.

But it seems to have become much harder in the last few months. Like our bodies are desperately clinging to the last extra fat. And apparently this is not unknown. Your body seems to readjust to the ‘new’ normal  and won’t let go.

So we’re both switched over the Keto plan, complete with Chaffles. Keto is basically a repackaging of the old original Atkins plan, with high protein, high fat, and no/low carbs. So pretty much no bread, tortilla chips, etc.

Following that, when we had dinner at Floyd’s Cajun Seafood this afternoon, with Jan getting the Grilled Catfish with Grilled Veggies,

Floyd's Jan's Catfish

while I forgoed . . . ah, forwent(?) my usual gumbo and got the Steak and Grill Shrimp with Green Beans.

Floyd's Greg's Steak and Shrimp

So we’ll see how it goes.


For Your Consideration:

No US Warming Since 2005

“In January 2005, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began recording temperatures at its newly built U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). USCRN includes 114 pristinely maintained temperature stations spaced relatively uniformly across the lower 48 states. NOAA selected locations that were far away from urban and land-development impacts that might artificially taint temperature readings.”

These new sensing locations were necessary because most of the old ones, some dating from the 1930’s and originally sited out in the open countryside, were now in built-up areas, next to office buildings, factories, and highways. All sources of localized heat. So NOAA decided to build a completely new system.

And that new system shows NO WARMING since 2005. So no warming in the last 14 years, and probably no real warming since the 1930’s. And this lack of warming matches up pretty well with the global satellite readings.

US Average Temp

So what now?

August 29, 2020

A Change Of Plans . . .

And A Lost Weekend.

Up until about 10:12 this morning, I was supposed to take Jan up to Brandi’s this coming Thursday so she could dog/cat sit while Brandi et. al. are out of town. But then this morning the plan changed and I’ll be taking her up there tomorrow morning and then getting her back next Sunday.

I had hoped to get a chance to work on the rig light problem tomorrow, but it looks like that’s put off until Tuesday.

Jan and I headed out about 1pm with our first stop at our local fav Los Ramirez Mexican Restaurant. And as with most of our places, we both have our favorites.

Jan’s is the Pechuga Rellena,

Los Ramirez Pechuga Rellana 3

while I had the Beef Fajita Taco Salad.

Los Ramirez Beef Fajita Taco Salad

Delicious as always.

Then it was on up to the Sam’s Club in Webster to pick up a prescription, and a stop at a new place for us, Five Bel°w. It turned out to be a higher price version of Dollar General, but with a lot less inventory. Apparently it’s really oriented toward tweens and teens, but Jan wanted to check it out anyway. After all, she is young at heart.

And she did find some stuff she wanted.

Then it was on down to the HEB in our area before finally making our way home about 5pm.

August 29, 2021

I Flirted . . .

After coffee outside, and before I came back in, I turned the shore water back on for just long enough to top off the rig’s 100 gallon water tank. That way we can just turn the pump on and off when we need it, which will limit the leakage from the water heater until I can get it replaced.

And actually, I don’t think this little bit of water will really hurt anything, since it’s just dripping down into the bay underneath. And that bay is just filled with sealed plastic bins. So it shouldn’t be a problem.

Back inside, I spent the morning looking at YouTube videos on RV Water Heater changeouts. And as I thought there’s nothing really difficult about it.

Just disconnect the power, water, and gas, remove the 16 screws on the door flange, and then start working it out. Then, reverse the process.

So next I started looking at the best place to buy the new unit. And I found a wide variation in pricing, from $980 from Camping World, $780 from WalMart Online, down to $700 on eBay for a new one, or $590 for a new, slightly bent one on eBay too, but that’s non-returnable.

So the best option, once again, is Amazon, at $641 with free shipping, but not Prime however. But it would be here in about a week.

But while I was looking for new water heaters, I flirted with a couple of other ideas. One, was to just replace the leaky tank with a new tank. Which would only cost about $200. But there’s the time needed to pull out the water heater, disassemble it, install the new tank, put it all back together, and then reinstall the unit in the RV. A lot of extra time. And I’d still essentially have a 21 year old unit, just with a new tank.

So, never mind.

I also flirted with the idea of a tankless unit, but I couldn’t find one that was electric, and not propane. There’s no one around here that will deliver propane to our rig to keep it in propane.

I actually was expecting to find RV tankless electric units since I know that new high-end rigs don’t even have gas anymore. Just all electric and a big, honking bunch of house batteries.

I now suspect that the RV’s may be using the smaller home units that work just fine since they don’t have to supply several bathrooms at one time.

So, never mind.

Wrapping up.

In other news, Hugo quit.

At least that’s what Angie said was the reason that, instead our usual looking Denny’s Ultimate Omelet that normally looks like this.

Denny's Ultimate Omelet 20210627

But instead we got this dinky offering.

Denny's Ultimate Omelet 20210829

Angie said that Hugo, our usual cook had quit, and the new guy they hired last worked in a pizza place.

Angie said she was not impressed.

And neither were we.

Thought For The Day:

Evil can only succeed if good men don’t point at it and laugh.