Just Another Amazing Autumn at Remlinger Farms, Rain or Shine

This is something of an autumn tradition around our house. We’ve been doing it for years and years, and each year it’s a little bit different, but always just as awesome. This is Remlinger Farms in Carnation, Washington.

We always go opening day. The crowds are light, but it’s just how we kick off our Halloween season. This year, for the first time in 7 or 8 years, the weather did not cooperate. When it’s raining in Seattle, it’s often sunny in Carnation, but his year we just got soaked. Continue reading Just Another Amazing Autumn at Remlinger Farms, Rain or Shine

Review: Seattle’s Northwest Puppet Center

Northwest Puppet Center in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood has been one of our Seattle favorites since we first reviewed them seven years ago.

Today, as part of our 2013 Northwest Tour, we give our take on this can’t-miss attraction.

From their website: Continue reading Review: Seattle’s Northwest Puppet Center

West Coast Gasoline Pump Prices To Soar Before Memorial Day

Dateline: Terry, Montana
May 10, 2013 – 6 pm MDT
By: Bob van der Valk

This is “The End” for any hope of gasoline prices on the West Coast, specifically Southern California, before Memorial Day. Today’s AAA Fuel Gauge for Los Angeles-Long Beach showed the average gasoline price already over $4 per gallon. The two major oil company refinery upsets in Southern California this afternoon will result in spike for gasoline prices starting on Monday with retail pump prices expected to hit $4.25 per gallon. The remainder of the West Coast including the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest gasoline prices will follow suit.

The CononoPhillips 76 refinery in Wilmington reported flaring this afternoon. Then the kicker came in the form of the ExxonMobiil refinery suffering a “power bump” putting their Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) unit out of business.

ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA 5-10-13
ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA 5-10-13

Because of it the ExxonMobill was flaring Friday afternoon at its 149,000 b/d refinery in Torrance, Calif., with the shut down of their FCC unit, which had been kept running while other units in the refinery were going through a planned turnaround. Now all of the units at this refinery are down.

The FCC is out of service and the refinery is flaring,

The refinery issued an unplanned flaring notification to the South Coast Air Quality Management this afternoon citing a breakdown. The flaring event began at 2 p.m. PDT and is expected to end before midnight.

ExxonMobil began a large-scale, multi-week turnaround May 3 on Torrance’s lone crude unit, an alkylation unit, a delayed coker unit, a sulfur recovery unit and a hydrotreater.

“Although we anticipate impact to production, ExxonMobil expects to be able to meet its contractual commitments,” a company spokesperson previously said about the planned maintenance.

The fluid catalytic cracker was not involved in the turnaround and had been operating via gasoil feed stored in railcars before a power glitch affected the unit.

Late Friday afternoon David Dumais, deputy fire chief of Torrance Fire Department, confirmed the following by phone.

* Upset occurred during maintenance turnaround,
*Refinery started turnaround this month on units including crude unit, alkylation unit, coker, hydrogen
plant on May 2, 2013.

Any or all of the above article can be re-published with proper attribution to the author and the Bakkken Oil Business Journal.

Feel free to contact me for updated information.

Bob van der Valk
Managing Editor
Bakken Oil Business Journal
Terry, Montana
(406) 853-4251

Overheated Car Teaches Kids Pre-Mechanics

It was a lazy summer day when we were driving back from having all kinds of assorted fun on the road when my driver noted the car was overheating. We were almost back to our hotel, so we managed to skate in without stopping on a wing, a prayer, and since we didn’t have either of those things on hand, sheer luck. Continue reading Overheated Car Teaches Kids Pre-Mechanics

Let’s Draft Vets Over 60

About the Author – Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana and is a US Army veteran. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1964 and was honorably discharged in 1966.

We need a new direction for any war by allowing a draft of our nation’s over 60 veterans. We will use the acronym “OOF” (Official Old Farts) and wear special berets to better cover our bald spots.

I am over 60 and the U.S. Armed Forces think I’m too old to track down terrorists. You can’t be older than 42 to join the military. They’ve got the whole thing ass-backwards. We have been sending 18-year olds off to fight instead of taking us old guys. You shouldn’t be able to join a military unit until you’re at least 55.

For starters, researchers found 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds. We old guys only think about sex a couple of times a day and some twice a year. That leaves us more than 28,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy and just leave us alone while we are in a fighting and argumentative mood.

Young guys haven’t lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier. ‘My back hurts! I can’t sleep, I’m tired and hungry.’ We are impatient and maybe letting us kill some extreme jihadist, who desperately deserves it, will make us feel better and shut us up for awhile.

An 18-year-old doesn’t even like to get up before 10 am anyway. Old guys always get up early to pee, so what the hell we might as well get our guns and fight for our country. Besides, like I said, I’m tired and can’t sleep and since I’m already up, I may as well be up killing some fanatical terrorist son-of-a-bitch.

If captured we couldn’t spill the beans because we’d forget where we put them. In fact, name, rank and serial number could be a real brainteaser.

Boot camp would be easier for old guys. We’re used to getting screamed and yelled at all day and used to eating soft food like SOS. We’ve also developed an appreciation for guns. We’ve been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house.

They could lighten up on the obstacle course however. I haven’t been in combat but never saw a single 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side in my career in the Army, nor did I ever do any pushups after completing basic and advanced infantry training.

While we’re at it, the running part is kind of a waste of energy, too. I’ve never seen anyone outrun a bullet.

An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him. He’s still learning to shave, to start a conversation with a pretty girl. He still hasn’t figured out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes, not the back of his head.

These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm’s way.

Let us old guys track down those dirty rotten cowardly terrorists. The last thing an enemy would want to see is a couple million pissed off old farts with attitudes and automatic weapons, who know that their best years are already behind them.

And how about recruiting women over 50 in the change of life? You think men have attitudes??

If nothing else, let’s put them out on border patrol. They’ll have it secured the first night!

To join this worthwhile cause, please sign up in the comments section under this article at:


Include your age, experience and rank while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and any comments you may wish to make about this movement.

A veteran – whether active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve – is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to: “The United States of America,” for an amount of “Up to and including my life”.

The above article includes part of one which was originally posted by Tom O’Halloran on Twitter. Tom’s Twitter address is: TPO_Hisself

Jessica and the Swift Fox

Swift fox family living in Montana

Montana is used to having fugitives chased by the authorities in their forests and prairies. But this article is not about some big burly tough guy averting law enforcement; it is about the hunt, for a small elusive fox to find out if they still exist in Eastern Montana, by a demure looking young woman.

A big buck tripped the shutter on the camera just as he came into range

Jessica Alexander, who much like Evelyn Cameron ending up taking beautiful pictures of people, landscapes and animals, came to Eastern Montana with the good intentions of chasing the swift fox with her cameras, She is has also been taking pictures of the land, people and the animals to be found around taken by those same cameras she uses in her extensive swift fox research.

Jessica Alexander setting up the camera in her quest to catch the swift fox in action

On a cloudy, rainy day in early June 2011 Jessica Alexander walked into the Badlands Café and Scoop Shoppe in Terry, Montana with a laptop and some notebooks under her arm. Being very inquisitive, some might call it nosy, I introduced myself and asked what she doing in Terry. Jessica replied she was homeless and came into use our Wi-Fi connection for her laptop.

Jessica then proceeded to tell me she is on a master’s graduate project with Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota to determine the status of the swift fox population in Eastern Montana.

In 1806 Meriwether Lewis described the swift fox in his journal as: “The most beautiful fox that I ever beheld”. The swift fox population in Montana all but disappeared after eating the same strychnine poison being put out to kill coyotes in the early 1900’s. The swift fox was trapped in Canada for their fur and were much in fashion with the ladies in those days. They are scavengers and usually feed on rodents, birds and road kill.

Now it has been put up to Jessica Alexander to gather information, which will be used in the management of the species in Montana, for a study being conducted in cooperation with the between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. A family of swift foxes were replanted at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and the Blackfeet Tribe reintroduced swift foxes on their lands between 1998-2002.

Wild fox research includes camping and roughing it in the outdoors

The swift fox has a light orange hue but was called “yellow fox” by pioneers, who marveled at the animal’s inquisitive nature. It is named for its lightning speed, which can reach nearly 40 miles an hour in a sprint. The swift fox has the unique distinction of being the smallest canine in North America, weighing just 5 pounds, about half that of a red fox, and standing roughly 12 inches tall.

Jessica is trying to catch “Swifty” in the act by placing cameras near their suspected dens and hangouts but so far to no avail. For this article Jessica shared some of the many pictures of other wildlife caught in their natural habitat with her cameras.

The Andy Pehl ranch on 10-Mile Road in Terry, Montana was used as one of the sites after Jessica trailed a red fox to its den and caught some of the denizens curiously peeking at her while she installed her cameras.

A red fox caught peeking at one of Jessica's cameras

Jessica is currently traveling between Miles City and Sidney setting up her cameras in the hopes of catching on camera and proving the swift fox is alive and well and living in Eastern Montana.

About the Author – Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana is a Petroleum Industry Analyst with over 50 years of experience in the petroleum, gasoline and lubricants industry. He has been quoted by the news media and his opinions are also solicited by government entities. You can reach Bob at: tridemoil@aol.com or (406) 853-4251

Busting the Myth About Oil Company Profits

What can we do to stop commodity speculators from causing the rapid hike in gasoline prices? Arrest them, put them in jail, and try them before a jury before we hang them?

Early last week, President Obama started that ball rolling by telling US Attorney General Eric Holder to stop oil market fraud. Eric Holder promptly announced he was appointing a “working group” focused on rooting out the cases of fraud in the oil markets that might affect gasoline prices. This might work in any other business but the petroleum industry is not going to be simple to control. Continue reading Busting the Myth About Oil Company Profits

Japan Earthquake Could Test U.S. with $5 Gasoline Prices

The fallout on the fuel market will be severe following the 9.0 Japanese earthquake on Friday, March 11. 2011, since Japan will have to supplement their nuclear energy power production with coal, natural gas and oil-fired power plants. 

Information is short and hard to obtain about the status of the nuclear power plants in Japan.  Not being a nuclear physicist it is hard to sort the facts from the hysteria but going on past history we are being fed pap by official press officials of the Japanese government about the real situation in dealing with this cataclysmic event. These same officials withheld vital information after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed more than 6,000 people. Continue reading Japan Earthquake Could Test U.S. with $5 Gasoline Prices

California Gasoline Pricing Depends on Location of Gas Station

On March 7, 2011 the average price in California for regular gasoline increased 15.5-cents from the previous week. The average statewide price for regular was $3.874.

Following the gasoline margin breakdown for per the California Energy Commission as of March 7, 2011; Continue reading California Gasoline Pricing Depends on Location of Gas Station