Friday, February 27, 2009

Rex Rains is now offline

As February comes to an end, most of us here at the OOIDA headquarters will think of it as the month we lost an extraordinary friend and staff member – our peerless Webmaster Rex Rains. Rex died Feb. 17 after a long and wretched battle with cancer. He once described it to me as hand-to-hand combat with a – I will omit the expletive – invisible enemy.

He was born in Wichita, KS, and was a veteran of the U.S. Army. The most important elements of his life were clearly his four sons, Zach Rains and Noah Rains, of Dexter, MO, Jacob Rains of Kansas City, MO, and Rex Rains II of Rock Ledge, FL. And of course, his mom, Geneva, known to us as “Mother Rains.”

He came to OOIDA as our first PC tech many years ago. For more than 10 years, he served as Webmaster for all of our OOIDA, Land Line Magazine and Land Line Now Web sites.

Rex was 48 when he died. He said in Webmaster years, 48 was the “new” 68. He explained that this was because as a Webmaster, you spent your whole – I will omit the expletive – career in a little office glued to a computer writing HTML code, fixing stuff, posting, updating info, solving problems, giving people new passwords and much more.

He often groused that it had been 12 years since he had seen daylight.

It’s sad when you lose someone that’s a regular part of your life. Then why is it that when we speak of Rex, we can’t help smiling? Let me explain.

His dry sense of humor was matchless. He was a great cook. His homemade beef jerky was superb, and he made plenty for all. He had great musical taste, played several instruments, and was THE virtual guitar king. At Halloween, he put everyone else’s efforts to shame. The year he dressed up as a Girl Scout will forever stand out in OOIDA’s employee history.

His nickname was Crack Daddy and for whatever story is told in an attempt to explain that name, none of them had anything to do with illegal drugs.

He was a military history buff and that likely led him to be part of a project that produced extensive documentation on the Holocaust.

Most of you reading this didn’t know him personally, but everything you’ve read on this Web site and the other OOIDA sites for the past 10 years has had the expert fingerprints of Crack Daddy Rex Rains all over it.

Maybe it’s because his job provided interaction with virtually every department in the organization, or maybe it’s because Rex was such an out-of-the ordinary guy to know, but the number of people who turned out at his funeral Saturday and the wonderful stories that were told are evidence of how much he will be missed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

TWIC gives the mule skinners blues

Maybe this story will bring a smile to one trucker who has spent hours traveling, applying and paying more than $100 to enroll in TWIC.

It’s not uncommon to see state workers dressed in colonial-era clothes helping mules pull a canal boat through the National Canal Museum historical park in Easton, PA.

Unfortunately for those clad in velvet, ruffles and buckled shoes these days in Easton, PA – that means a federally required biometric security ID.

The museum, is fighting a requirement that its “mule skinners,” as CNN recently reported, enroll and receive the Transportation Worker Identification Credential. It seems all mariners holding U.S. Coast Guard-issued credentials must obtain the TWIC, CNN reported.

Click here to read the story.

U.S. Rep. Charles, Dent., R-PA, who has requested a waiver from TSA for the mule-drawn boat operators, recently asked new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano if TWIC was necessary for the museum workers. Dent “even displayed a picture of two mules, Hand and George, tugging a canal boat in the company of two park employee mule drivers in colonial working attire,” CNN wrote.

“Hand and George, while sometimes are ornery, they are not terrorists,” Dent said, according to CNN.

Kind of makes you wonder what Harry Truman would say.