Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Month

I just finished sitting down and writing checks to pay bills. Yeah, I know it is easy to do online, but I like the routine of actually sitting down and looking at statements and writing the checks. I'm old fashioned in a lot of ways and this is one of them. It's a habit I started after the divorce. On the last working day of the month, sit down and write out the checks. When money was tight, I'd mope around for a few days, broke and discouraged. Now that the money is better (and the kids are mostly self-sufficient) it is fun to look at the checkbook and see a positive balance.

To all you struggling parents out there, it gets better with time. Believe me.

I took a little of my extra cash and made a large (for me) order from Midway. Dies for .30-06, ammo boxes, scope covers. Things I had been putting off buying, but are nice to have. In a couple of days I'll have them. I basically dumped my wish list into the checkout cart and put it all on the check card.

Funny, I like paying bills the old fashioned way, but I'll order online in a heartbeat.

Now, though, my wish list is empty. I'll have to put a few little items in it for Christmas, so the kids won't have to wonder what the old man wants this year.

I know that my regular readers are disappointed with the blog lately. I apologize. Next week I'll get that Midway order and spotlight a few products that I've been wanting to spotlight. There will be more gunny stuff for the gun folks at least. Nothing much politically has stuck a chord lately. The world is getting madder by the minute and I'm not sure what I feel about it that I haven't already said.

Tomorrow night, the home team kicks off their football season. It's a standard rivalry game and we are playing outside our district and our league. It'll be interesting to see how the boys do. Pawpaw, of course, doesn't give a damn about football but is forced to attend the game to protect and serve the people of the parish. I'll get to see some cops I haven't seen in a while, and if the crowd behaves I'll get to spend some time hanging out.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cast Boolits

I hang out at the Cast Boolits forum. They had some server issues and made plans to fix them.
Fatal error: Call to undefined function: fetch_userinfo() in /home/gunloads/public_html/castboolits/includes
/class_core.php on line 2475

It looks like they may be down for awhile. Damn!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Filling cases

I just finished reloading with my second son, Matthew. Matt shoots a 7mm magnum, a Savage 110 (what else?). They don't make the particular model that Matt shoots. It is a heavy barrel and was originally vouchered out by Savage as a varmint model. Savage quit putting together that model the year I bought it.

A 7mm Remington Magnum for varmints. Yeah, right.

Anyway, he can shoot that thing. He cranks that 6 X 18 scope up to 18 power and gets steady on the bipod, anything out to 500 yards is in imminent danger of perforation. The load we settled on gives him half-minute accuracy with 140 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets. 4831 powder, CCI 250 primers. The bullet crosses the screens at 3025 fps. That isn't terribly fast for the 7 mag, but it is fast enough, and it is accurate to a fault.

Matt's best friend, John Clyde, sent a box of brass and asked if we'd load some for him. I make a practice of not loading for friends, for a variety of good reasons. Clyde is more than a friend, though. He's family. During the last years of high school, he probably ate as many meals at my table as he ate at his momma's. He shoots a Weatherby Vanguard in 7 mag, and Weatherbys are noted for a long throat, so this ammo ought to be just fine in his rifle. The bullet will jump to the rifling, but the load isn't a max load and pressures ought to be fine. I keep telling myself that.

The ammo I am giving him is better than factory. I put on the dog to give him good hunting ammo, with weighed charges and once-fired brass that was fired in his rifle. He'll do well with it, if he can control that flinch. He's been shooting 175 grain loads that kick like the hammers of hell. The 7 mag isn't noted for being particularly shooter-friendly in the recoil department, although 140 grain bullets are a lot friendlier than 175 grain bullets. The last time I saw John Clyde shoot, he had a classic rifle flinch. That probably affected his accuracy more than anything. That and the fact that the rifle was hammering him every time he fired it.

If I could get Clyde to a range, we'd sit for a couple of hours and work up a load that works good in his rifle. I can't get him to sit still for that long, though. John Clyde is busy. He's always been busy. John is just an average shot, although he is a fine hunter. He always manages to kill a couple of deer during the season.

Yeah, that ammo will be just fine.

Sports Central

Ernest Hemingway once said:
There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.
Peter Capstick added dangerous game hunting to the list.

The rest are merely games.

I notice that we are beginning a football season, wherein players from Junior High to professional will be enrobed in pads and fiberglass and will strive mightily under the afternoon sun or evening lights to move a pointed ball down a marked field.

There are rules, of course, but without the hype, it would be a game played by young boys in sandlots, like baseball is supposed to be.

This type talk would get me lynched in Texas, or Alabama, but football is merely a game. If you took an honest poll, you'd probably find that not one person in 10 gives a tinkers damn whether or not football is ever again played. The Nielsen ratings guide shows that 14.3% of American households watch Monday Night Football, and you can believe that for every fan who watches the game, there is someone else in the home who doesn't. That 10% figure may be high. Probably less than 10% of Americans are football watchers.

Yet the hype is unbelievable, the salaries are astronomical and the news agencies dedicate time to it. Actually, very few people care about it.

It's not a sport. It's a game.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Everybody is talking about the weather, how hot is has been lately. We're in a weird weather pattern with late night thunderstorms and hot, steamy days. Ernesto is set to ravage Florida. I feel for those folks, but as hurricanes go, Ernesto ain't shown me much.

For a while in early August, we went through a dry spell and the grass had quit growing. Now, the every night rain has it growning with a vengance. If I wait much longer to mow grass, I'm going to have to get the tractor out and go rent a New Holland bailer.

So, when the weather cools this afternoon I'll get out and start the lawn mower. If it takes two days to get it mowed, it'll just take two days.

Daddy has some bush-hogging he wants to do and that will be later this week. Bush-hogging isn't as hot as pushing that little Briggs and Stratton engine around the yard. I'm told that the Farmers Almanac is predicting a cooler than usual winter this winter. I'm looking forward to them being right about that. I could use a little cool weather.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Redfield rings came in today from Brownells, as the latest attempt to solve my scope mounting problem. The tech at Brownells and I decided to go with extended rings, which allow me to mount the scope farther back on the receiver for proper eye relief.

You can click on the photos for a larger size. Those are Leupold mounts, with Redfield extended rings, #47221. I got both the front and rear extended rings to make sure I had enough clearance to bring the scope back into proper relief. After mounting the scope I had my daughter measure the eye relief, and it is just under 3 1/2 inches from my spectacle lense to the scope. This should be sufficient to avoid getting whacked during recoil at the bench. I tend to hunker down over the rifle at the bench and my particular shooting style has the scope a wee bit farther from my eye during position shooting.

Because Blogger gives me two pictures per post, another one of the rifle with the scope mounted. I'm not sure I like that extended rear ring in conjuntion with the extended base. It may be too much of a good thing, or it may be just what the doctor ordered. We'll see. I may change my mind later, and try to get one standard base, with a standard rear ring. The appearance would be simpler, more elegant, although I needed that extended front ring.

Savage 110, .30-06, with Accutrigger. Weaver K6 scope, Leupold bases, Redfield rings. Now, to order brass and bullets and start working up loads. I'm looking forward to it.

Shooting in Vermont

I was over at Jeff's place, reading his very good stuff, when I saw this post about a shooting in Vermont. It seems some goblin got upset after his girlfriend dumped him and decided to take a gun to the schoolhouse where she worked. Two people are dead, two more wounded. He couldn't find the girlfriend. When police drew close, he shot himself in the head, twice. He is expected to recover.

One wonders what might have been done to stop this tragedy. Jeff, of course, is all over this.
I'll repeat what I said, given his history of arrests on various charges over the last six years in Massachusetts -- at least one of them for violence, why was he NOT in jail? If we need more jail space, build more jails. That is the only way to really protect society -- by keeping these creeps in jail for meaningful lengths of time. It might not rehabilitate them but at least they can't terrorize the rest of us while they're incarcerated.
And you know Jeff is right. Massachusetts has been dinging Vermont for years about gun problems without doing anything to solve their own problems. Yet this goblin from Mass goes to Vermont, borrows a gun and shoots up a school. If Mass had locked this idiot away, none of this would have happened.

This isn't a gun control issue. The guy should never have had a gun, much less be able to commit murder with it. On the ATF 4473, this guy would have never been able to buy a gun. He was currently under information or indictment for a felony (block 12b), he is a fugitive from justice (block 12d) and he was the subject of a restraining order (block 12h). Anyone who would loan him a gun is a lunatic, and should be prosecuted as a principal to the crime.

All law abiding citizens nationwide would have been better served if the good people of Massachusetts had locked him away and kept him there. They failed miserably. Two people are dead and others injured over the failure of the Massachusetts criminal justice system. Now, the people of Vermont have to pick up the slack, to incarcerate this thug for the rest of his natural life.

One good lesson from this is that there are predators among us. Criminal deviants who have no sense of morality or decency or ability to abide by the rules of civilized society. They exist solely to prey on the decent citizens of society. I could make a list of them, people who have no desires except as relates to their own depraved needs. Many of them are locked away, but many of them are not.

In the final clutch, this goblin decided to commit suicide, but had neither the courage nor ability to complete the job. In addition to being a deviant, he proved himself a coward. Now, the good citizens of Vermont will be tasked with his upkeep.

That is indeed a tragedy.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I was reading Wonkette this morning, and noticed this post about pork, specifically, Senate Bill 2590 which would "require full disclosure of all entities and organizations receiving Federal funds". That sounds like a good idea to me, until we learned that one Senator has a secret hold on the bill. That hold stops the movement on the bill, regardless of the wishes of the rest of the Senate.

I called my Senators. Senator David Vitter, (R-LA) staffers tell me that Senator Vitter is a cosponsor of the bill and does not have a secret hold on it. He supports the bill.

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) could not be reached for comment. She is on a tour of the damaged areas of Louisiana and is busy leading that tour and trying to drum up support for our damaged state. Her staff tells me that they don't have any idea if she is for or against transparency in government and they don't know if she has a hold on the bill.

How about that? Senator Landrieu's staff doesn't know if she is for or against transparency in government. That is quite a statement. Perhaps Mary should go over that during the next staff meeting.

UPDATE: Wonkette reports that Mary Landrieu isn't the one holding the bill. It is interesting that her staff doesn't know that when called by a constituent.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tamko Rustic Black

I finished the roof on the pool house this afternoon. Tamko, rustic black shingles, to match the house.

My daddy taught me how to roof, a long time ago. It's not a skill you forget, and of all the building trades, I am fairly competent on a roof. I hate it, but I know how to do it. That roof, by God, is done. Hopefully, I won't have to climb up there for twenty years, although around here, a roof only last fifteen years. Next time, the grandsons will be old enough to help and I will superintend while they roof it.

My daughter snapped that photo as I was laying down the last line of shingles, prior to putting the ridge crest on it. Funny, I just noticed that my fascia board has one heck of a gap at the crest. I think my son was on that end of that board. We'll cover that with aluminum fascia.

Like me, my oldest is just a peckerwood carpenter, incompetent by any trade standard, but his main trade, his love, is sheet metal. People who know the sheet metal business say that Barrett is one of the best. He learned the trade in the Air Force, where he was a body and fender man for large Boeing aircraft. He parlayed that into contract work for a while after he left the service, then quit it to raise a family and have the stability of home. He is taking a job at a local manufacturing plant on the mechanical maintenance crew.

I'll have him working his magic when we put the siding on the house. Still, that is a helluva gap in that joint, isn't it? But, the roof is done. A couple of hours a day and eventually this project will be finished.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I ain't believing this.

I'm having hell with scope mounts for the Savage 110.

You'll recall my post earlier, where the Burris mounts didn't fit the rifle.

Dana at Brownells sent me some Leupold rings and bases. I found them in the mail this afternoon, so I went out a few minutes ago and tried to mount them. Tried being the operative word. I got the bases mounted and set the rings, but couldn't screw the top of the rings to the bottoms, because they hadn't been drilled and tapped.

Yes, gentle reader, you read that correctly. The Leupold rings aren't drilled and tapped to accept the mounting screws that Leupold provided for that purpose. Leupold is renowned for quality in their scopes. Their mounts are considered rock-solid. It's a shame that I am sending them back. Hopefully, someone at Leupold will read this and go beat the guys in the ring department.

I'd really like to get this rifle sighted in before deer season. I planned on writing it up for The Frugal Outdoorsman, and I still shall. It'll be an interesting article, because I intend to highlight the loss of quality control of a large, well-respected optics company. For record, this set of rings is a Leupold STD medium rings, #49901, matte.

I guess I'll order a set of Warne, or Weaver, or Redfield.

One problem that I now know I have with this rifle/scope combination is that the front ring is so far forward that I can't get the proper eye relief. I'll need some sort of base that allows me to move the front ring back about an inch from the normal mounting point. Both Warne and Redfield make bases like that. We'll see what Brownells has in stock when I call them tomorrow morning.

Cat Killing Coons

Did y'all read about this problem they're having in Olympia Washington? Raccoons.

Yeah, it seems that they think raccoons are cute, and the coons have done what coons do. They're terrorizing the neighborhood and killing the cats. The residents, of course, are unsure what to do about the problem.
The problem got so bad that residents Kari Hall and Tamara Keeton even started a Raccoon Watch after having an emotional neighborhood meeting attended by about 40 people.

"It was a place for people to mourn and cry," Hall said.

At the meeting, they encouraged people to stop feeding the raccoons. They also decided to keep their pets and pet food inside. And they decided to carry pepper spray to drive off raccoons that attack again.
Mourn and cry. Yeah, that always works. Pepper spray might work in the short run, but a good .22 rifle would work better.

Every Southern country boy would know immediately how to handle the problem. It would involve culling the little bandits. I'm surprised the coons haven't started killing the dogs. If you've never seen the damage a big ole boar coon can do to a pack of hounds when he's cornered, you really don't understand the raccoon.
Tony Benjamins said that in previous years, raccoons would come within 5 feet of cats with no problems. "We used to love the raccoons. They'd have their babies this time of year, and they were so cute. Even though we lived in the city, it was neat to have wildlife around." But this year, things changed.
Yeah, well, that the problem with wildlife.... It's wild.

Some of the descriptions are fairly graphic:
The raccoons are so bold they bit Lisann Rolle when she tried to fling three of them off of her cat, Lucy.

"I was watching her like a hawk, but she snuck out," Rolle said of Lucy. "Then I heard this hideous sound - a coyote-type high pitch ...

"It was vicious. They were focused on ripping her apart."
Uuuh, yeah. That's what they do.

Here is the thing. When people domesticate animals, like pets, they assume responsibility for the feeding and care of those animals. Part of that responsibility is protecting your animals from depredation. If you let a coon tear your pet apart, it isn't the coon's fault. It's your fault for letting it happen.

Evidently the people of Olympia have forgotten all that.

Hat tip to BMEWS.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Kurds Testify

Kurds today got the first chance they have had to face the man that ordered the wholesale destruction of their villages.
"On April 16, 1987, in the evening as the cattle were returning home and the sun was setting in the sky, about eight to 12 jets covered the sky," said a Kurdish villager, Ali Mustafa Hama. "The jets started firing on the villages of Belisand and Sheikwasan. "The explosions were not very loud. There was green smoke rising from the bomb later … Lots of citizens immediately had red eyes and began to vomit."
This testimony is crucial to demonstrate what a thug and murderer Saddam Hussein is. The Kurds are finally getting an opportunity to tell their story in a courtroom of their countrymen. Justice is being delivered to the murderer of Baghdad.

I hope he swings. I really do. If anyone deserves the death penalty, it is Saddam. Yet, the Iraqi people will decide his fate. It is well and proper that they should do so.

I note that this is the first example we have ever had of a ruler ever using chemical weapons against his own countrymen. Saddam Hussein is truly a worthless bastard. I made the case earlier that he shouldn't have been captured, but should have died in the operation. Maybe I was wrong about that and this trial will give the Iraqi people the opportunity to come together as a country.

We'll see.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I called Brownells this morning about the scope bases for the Savage 110. It turns out that the scope blocks I ordered were for the older model rifle, without the Accutrigger. Mine is the other one.

However, Dana at Brownells did a masterful job. I'm going to mail her the bases and rings, she is going to send out some Leupold bases and rings that fit my action, all the credits will be applied, and she is going to eat the postage. You can't get better customer service than that.

Back 20 years ago I met my gunsmith, Mr. Pop Hyams of Natchitoches, LA. When you'd bring a gun in with some type of weird disability, Pop was likely to say, "Well, we'll check with Mr. Brownell on this problem. Come see me in a week and I'll have it ready. The big Brownell catalog was always prominent on the shelf over Pop's bench.

Today that same catalog is prominent on the shelf above my bench. Mr. Brownell is still solving my problems, and solving them with grace, style, and attention to the customer. They're a great company. If you need gun parts or supplies, give them a chance to fill your order. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The will to fight

I just finished reading an article at the New York Times, that bastion of liberal thought. That in itself is amazing.

What is even more amazing is the man who penned it. Ben Stein is probably the smartest man alive today in the United States. His command of the English Language is masterful. As with most truly great writers, his prose is simple, elegant, and eminently understandable. Go read it. Now.

Ben says, in part,
If we don’t win this war against the terrorists, there’s not going to be business as usual ever again. If the terrorists get to their goal, there’s not going to be a stock exchange or hedge funds or Bain Capital or the Carlyle Group or even Goldman Sachs. If the terrorists get their way — and so far, they’re getting their way — there’s not going to be business, period.
That describes my understanding of this war, and far more elegantly than I can say it. I believe that we are engaged in a war with Islamic jihadists and that the stakes are Western Civilization. Everything should be focused on the fight and everything else. Everything else. Everything else should be subservient to the goal of winning this fight. Everything else.

That includes all domestic considerations. If an asset is valuable in both foreign and domestic policy, then the use of that asset should be dedicated to defeating Islamic Jihad. If there is extra money available in the budget, then that money should be allocated to the war against Islamic fascism.

Some people believe that Islamic jihad isn't a threat here. Their memories are short, and they aren't listening to what the jihadis are telling us. They intend to conquer us and to impose a world-wide Islamic caliphate. That is their stated goal, and they are willing to do it incrementally, slowly, with great patience.

I would like, more than anything, to be left alone. To work my job, to help my children, and grow my grandchildren. To save my money, to work my little projects, to live out my life in this country I call home. Islamic jihad wants to change all that and it pisses me off. It's personal. They've told me they want to change my life.

Islamic jihadists have launched attacks against my country. They use American dollars to further their interests. They intend to bring our government to its knees and impose their will on our citizens. This war is intensely personal.

We can't even decide if we are willing to win.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Scope Blocks

I ordered some scope bases from Brownell's for the .30-06 Savage I picked up last week. Sometime last year, I bought a fixed power Weaver scope (K6) that I found on sale. The plan is to mount the scope to the rifle, and scope bases and rings are an integral part of that plan.

The bases and rings came in yesterday. Tonite I decided I had time to mount the scope so I got everything out, then noticed that the scope bases look wrong.

First of all, they don't look like the ones in the picture. This is my first time to use Burris rings and bases, so I don't know what they are supposed to look like. I do like the idea of both rings dovetailing into the bases. Mechanically, that should provide a rock-solid mounting.

One base is contoured to match the curve of the reciever. The other is not. It is still square. Also, both bases look almost identical except for that radiused contour on one and the square bottom on the other. As the reciever top of my Savage is contoured on both ends, the bases just don't look right. So, the mounting job is off till I can get in touch with Brownell's on Monday.

I have no doubt that Brownell's will make it right. Their customer service is legendary. I also have no doubt that when I call Monday morning that I will talk to someone who knows what I am talking about and can intelligently solve my problem with the least possible hassle. I trust Brownell's explicitly. There aren't many companies I can say that about.

Saturday morning

Saturday morning on the deer lease. I took the tractor this morning and mowed the three feet of weeds and brushy plants that have grown up in my shooting lane in the last several years. This is my first year on this particular lease, but the older members tell me it is a good location, just that it is tight and hard to get to. They all prefer box stands on long shooting lanes.

This one is small and narrow. While on the tractor this morning I used my GPS device to measure it. While not nearly as accurate as a Total Station, my little device opines that it is 333 feet from the stand position to the back wall of the shooting lane. That is a perfect distance for the .30-30 rifle.

The stand sits in a pine plantation where the trees are about five years old. It is a snarled mess of briars, pine trees and woody volunteer plants with a smattering of young hardwoods. The thicket grows in an almost impenetrable wall against the sides of the lane and the cleared area is only 25 feet wide (five passes with a bush-hog).

I noticed two game trails traversing the lane as I mowed it. We'll have to see later if the animals will use it during the winter. As the weather moderates, I'll plant it with rye grass and wheat. I used to plant a mixture of rye and wheat over my pastures for winter green feed and found that the mixture of the two plants provides forage until late in the winter. Deer love it, especially during a harsh winter. The combination of the rye grass with the wheat grain is a siren song for animals of all types.

When I came in last night I stumbled over a box containing a Ram-line stock and Firesights for that latest Mod 94 I bought. By midnight I had them installed. Williams is packaging a Foolproof receiver sight with a firesight front bead and that is the combination that now sits on the Winchester. The stock is the Cadet version, with 12.5 inches length of pull. It is designed for younger shooters, but I like it because I tend to creep the stock of a normally stocked rifle. I am considering using that stock as a template to cut down the wooden stock I took off the rifle. The stock on my Antique Carbine has always felt just a little long. Cutting it down and installing an inexpensive recoil pad might make that little rifle a lot handier.

We'll see.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Once upon a time

Once upon a time, there was this young detective. He had done his time on the line and had done his time in other details and was finally tagged as an investigator. Our young hero was put on the burglary detail and followed burglaries large and small trying to capture those miscreants who break into buildings and steal other folks stuff.

Then comes one criminal who was locked up, for trial, but escaped from jail. Subsequent investigation revealed that the suspect had left the area. Absonded, as it were. The criminal stayed missing for a couple of years, successfully eluding the dragnet that the young detective cast.

One day, in the summer of 1989, that young detective was at a meeting of other law enforcement types. He talked to an FBI agent who told him that the FBI office was quiet and they were looking for something to do. The FBI offered to inquire into old warrants, and get new Federal warrants for Interstate Flight to Avoid Prosecution. Our young detective sent the FBI guy all the pertinent information and in due course, a warrant issued in the federal district court for Interstate Flight.

Then, in early September 1989, our hero gets the call. His fugitive has been apprehended in the US Virgin Islands. As the story goes, the FBI has a resident office in the Virgin Islands. The guy there had looked at the wanted poster that day and after work had gone to a little bar for a drink. When he looked down the bar he spotted our fugitive and the cuffs were applied. Our fugitive was suitably appalled.

Our hero was told to get on the next thing smoking, get down to the Virgin Islands, retrieve our fugitive, and bring him back for trial.

"Hey, Chief", our hero stood in the door of the office. "I'm liable to get down there, the paperwork will be all screwed up, and I'll have to spend a week or more till they let me have him."

"Bullshit!" the Chief replied. "You will pack one clean pair of underwear. One pair of socks, one shirt. You can wear the same pants and you won't need a jacket. Get your ass down there and get back."

Our hero landed on the US Virgin Islands on the last flight before Hurricane Hugo slammed into the island during the early morning hours of September 18th. He spent a week on the island with one shirt, one pair of socks, and one set of boxers. He was considerably luckier than other folks who lived through that disaster. The paperwork was, in fact, all screwed up. Most of it had been scattered across the island and lost in the undertow. For most of that time, there was no running water, no electricity, and no air-conditioning. As vacations go, it was an unbridled disaster.

I tell you this story to remind everyone that we are in the middle of a hurricane season. Some have opined that this season is a mild one. Be careful what you pray for.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I was over at the LawDog's looking around and saw this post on emergency medicine.

The AED (Automatic External Defibrilator) is a great, wondrous, magnificent device. It saves lives. It is simple to use. It costs about a grand. If you are having a heart attack, you would gladly spend that grand for one.

Any fool can use an AED, if that fool has had the course. I think they should send a trained monkey out with every AED sold. All the first responder would have to do is whistle and point, and the monkey would spring into action. That would be cool to watch.

If you haven't had the course yet, go get the course. It's easy, it's fast, and it might save a life. AED's are very cool. Having a monkey trained to use it would be cooler yet.


I use Winchester Large Rifle primers for most of my rifle work. I've had good results with them, and I can buy them locally. All of my rifle loads were worked up using WLR primers and I kind of feel lost without them. I knew I was getting low on primers so I walked into my favorite supplier and found they were out of Winchester primers entirely, and they didn't have any CCI large rifle magnum (#250) primers. I use the #250s for my son's magnum loads.

I did buy a pound of IMR 4831 while I was there. They stock it for me and another guy who likes it, so I buy it when I visit their store.

But, no primers that I can use. They had box after box of 209 primers, which the inline guys use for their muzzleloaders, and they had box after box of Small Pistol Magnum primers. Why they have those, I'll never understand. The pistol loads I build for my .357 magnum pistol all use standard primers. Even the slowest pistol powder is lots faster than most rifle powders and pistol powder generally lights up easily. I've never felt a need for magnum pistol primers.

So, I've got to order primers online. I'd rather have bought them at my local store and support the local economy. I'd rather not mess around with hazmat charges. Yet, I really don't have a choice. I need primers.

So, I'm shopping for primers.

Junior, let me know if you need any. I'll be ordering them tomorrow. Leave a comment, cause I can't check email during the day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


It seems that the Guardian (yet another British newspaper) has some information on the guy who spilled the beans on the British bomb plot.

The information may have been obtained through *gasp* torture.
Reports from Pakistan suggest that much of the intelligence that led to the raids came from that country and that some of it may have been obtained in ways entirely unacceptable here. In particular Rashid Rauf, a British citizen said to be a prime source of information leading to last week's arrests, has been held without access to full consular or legal assistance. Disturbing reports in Pakistani papers that he had "broken" under interrogation have been echoed by local human rights bodies. The Guardian has quoted one, Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who has no doubt about the meaning of broken. "I don't deduce, I know - torture,"
That is very interesting.

I thought torture was supposed to be unreliable? It seems to have worked this time.

Of course, what the left calls torture and what I consider torture are two entirely different things. I've talked with guards who served at Guantanamo and what they describe to me isn't torture, yet we routinely see it characterised as such. So, are we suppose to believe that torture is nothing more than simply inconveniencing someone, or are we talking about hanging-from-meathooks-while-their fingernails-are-pulled-out torture?

From the definitions I have seen lately, it's hard to know, isn't it?

That is another problem with letting the politically correct define our words for us: We forget what they really mean.

Passenger profiling

I think it is wild that I can read the London Times, almost in real-time, from my laptop on the kitchen table. They don't require registration, either, which is nice. I refuse to register, and often just spam up the registration scheme with fake emails.

Anyway, back to the story. It seems that the is thinking about profiling certain passenger types.
The passenger-profiling technique involves selecting people who are behaving suspiciously, have an unusual travel pattern or, most controversially, have a certain ethnic or religious background.
Makes sense to me. You see, there is a certain profile that the terrorists follow. You'll notice that there weren't any septuagenarian grandmothers weilding boxcutters on the 9/11 flights. Subjecting them to the same criteria as young Muslim males is just silly. It smacks of stupidity.

However, the all-too-easily offended are concerned that some people who fit a particular pattern of suspicion might be inconvenienced.
The system would be much more sophisticated than simply picking out young men of Asian appearance. But it would cause outrage in the Muslim community because its members would be far more likely to be selected for extra checks.
Too frigging bad. Maybe if the Muslims start cleaning up their act, turning in terrorists because it is the right thing to do, we won't look upon all of them with suspicion.

You see, the problem is that people who fit a particular pattern are the ones causing airliners to fall out of the sky. Young muslim males who act generally weird and hijack airplanes are the ones who are causing the problem. Names like Muhammed, or Achmed, or any other Middle Eastern name. You don't see many folks named Gavin, or Taylor causing problems by smuggling bombs. Yeah, we had Theodore Kaczynski building bombs, and we had John Lee Malvo shooting people, but they were the exceptions that prove the rule. And I note with some amusement that Malvo was hanging out with an older male who called himself John Allen Muhammad. Ya see, there is that Muhammed thing again.

This ain't profiling. This is common sense. We've already let Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Haznawi, Ahmed al-Nami, and Saeed al-Ghamdi hurt us once. There is no good reason to let them hurt us again.

The loyal local Muslim community needs to realize that we aren't hearing much out of them. They need to vocally reject terrorism and start bringing in the perpetrators.

Or, quit bitching when we profile them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Well, hell.

That about sums it up. A tease:
The Lebanese "knowingly allowed (aka aided and abbetted)" murderous terrorists to proliferate in their sovereign nation. Like spoiled teenagers, they now refuse to take any responsibility. Of course there are some truly innocent civilians, but there were hundreds of thousands of beautiful German babies and mothers in Dresden and Berlin who were blown to bits. If an attack emanates from your country, the entire country is responsible. That is how life works and it is sometimes unfair.
Go read the whole thing.

Hizbollah Wins!

I said a few weeks ago that the only thing Hizbollah had to do to win was to survive. It appears they have done so.
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah declared that his guerrillas achieved a "strategic, historic victory" over Israel.
I'm afraid he is right. Of course, it will be interesting to see if he leads any victory parades.

All this started happening while I was out of town at a funeral. What were you people thinking?

I am amazed that there is a cease-fire that doesn't include the dissolution of Hizbollah. Lebanon rolled over and allowed Hezbollah to keep their weapons. It looks more and more like the Lebanese government is the government without legitimacy and that Hezbollah is really running the show. That seems strange to me. I'm told that the French will be the main force in the UN contingent in south Lebanon. The French Foreign Legion has a lot of experience operations in the Mid East.

And August 22nd is fast approaching. That date has become significant among we who notice such things. I'm told it is significant in the Middle East as well. The next few weeks should be truly instructive regarding the chances for peace in the Middle East and I'm going to keep a close eye on it. I give it a chance somewhere between slim and none, but I'm willing to be wrong about that.

School Daze

First day of school today in central Louisiana.

I haven't even had a chance to look at the newspaper. I didn't discipline myself to get into the swing of things, and I let myself sleep too long this morning. So, I got up in a rush, made a pot of coffee for the thermos, threw on a uniform and headed out the door. Even Pawpaw gets in a hurry sometimes.

For those of you who haven't figured it out, Pawpaw is a school resource officer. I'm a highly qualified police officer with specialized training who walks a beat at the local high school. It's good work, if you can find it. Steady hours, working with kids, looking after the administration and faculty. In this day and age of terrorism, Columbine, and the myriad problems on the streets that tend to bleed over into the schools, the powers that be here decided that we needed resource officers. There is a sizeable percentage of officers who get tired of writing tickets, or working wrecks, or doing any number of other things in police work who find that working in the schools is uniquely suited to their experience and ability. I love my job and hope to do it for a long, long, time.

It was a good first day. The best I've had in my time at the school. But, Pawpaw is tired and the elder son is due over here in an hour or so to work on the pool house. We're putting up fascia today.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Speed traps

I've been thinking about speed traps lately. As a cop, I have long loathed the idea of catching speeders simply for revenue, yet small towns are consistently in need of ready cash, and the steady progression of the small town Mayor's court is like a payday, as regular as Friday, that helps keep the coffers filled. However, the practice generally sucks as it routinely taxes citizens for driving through town.

Small town mayors (hell, big town mayors too!) like four lane highways, with a good median and ample shoulders. They lobby unceasingly for them, then they want them to go right through town. As soon as they get the highway, they set the speed limit at some ridiculous limit, about thirty mph under what the highway is designed for. Then, they instruct the cops to enforce the speed limit. The poor cops ought to write Welcome To Podunk in reversed script across the hood of their cruisers, because the only official welcome a traveler gets is when he is invited to mayor's court.

There is a place and a reason for traffic tickets. Revenue enhancement isn't one of them.

You see, a highway is designed for a particular speed. Interstate highways can sustain higher speeds than unlimited access four-lanes. Those four-lanes can accomodate higher speeds than two lane paved roads. Two lane paved roads are infinitely better at moving traffic than a gravel road, and gravel is better than a dirt path through town.

Putting a four-lane highway through town and setting the speed limit for a two lane highway is ridiculous. First of all, it pisses off motorists. But it also limits the growth of a city. In the Texas example, the first thing a small town wants is a loop around it. Businesses that depend on high speed traffic and good industrial roads locate on that loop. The town grows out and people build homes outside the loop. To take that example to the logical conclusion, look at Shreveport, LA, which has three loops, the Inner Loop, the Industrial Loop, and the Outer Loop. Yet the downtown area remains prosperous, focusing on businesses that uniquely prosper downtown.

One small town mayor recently told me that he wants the speed limit through town set low, so people will stop and give business to his downtown. I asked him what business relies on flow-through traffic and he couldn't point to a single gas station, convenience store, or restaurant that might entice a traveler to stop. The gas stations are on the edge of town. The businesses downtown focus on the resident. He has a high-speed route through town, yet nothing at all for a traveler. All he gets downtown is increased traffic without the benefit of sales. He'd be better off if that good, strong highway passed around his town because business there would enjoy the benefits of cheaper land and room for growth. His town would likewise grow and revenues would increase.

Speed traps aren't the answer. Getting people to stop for gas and soda is only part of the answer. Growing businesses is a better answer.

If you simply want people to slow down, destroy that good four-lane highway and gravel a nice path through town. The traffic will slow down considerably.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I'm blogging from Tuscaloosa, AL this afternoon, having recently pulled in and found a motel. Milady is having a combination funeral/family reunion this weekend. I've been designated the photographer.

We made good time. In motorcycling parlance, I whacked Mississippi, traveling at speeds over 80+ mph virtually the whole way. Mapquest calls it 365 miles and I traveled it in just over 6 hours. If Louisiana had better roads, we'd have done better. I traveled on 2 lane roads from our house, to Natchez, MS. We picked up good high speed roads in Mississippi and stayed on them the rest of the way. The road network in North Louisiana sucks, and doesn't seem to be getting any better. Alexandria/Pineville has just exactly one 4-lane road leading out of town, and it is an Interstate.

There is a town in Mississippi called Chunky. Whazzup with that? There is also a town called West, MS. It's in the north/central part of the state. Strange.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


As a tanker, ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) used to scare the hell out of me. Some guy with a shoulder-fired missile could hide in his hole and let us roll across his position, then pop up and fire an anti-tank missile into our grill doors. The chance of killing a tank with one of these things is low. You have to hit the tank just right. And, it's pretty much a suicide mission. If the missile gunner manages to hit the tank, it probably isn't going to get into the crew compartment. Oh, yeah, you will damage the tank and get a mobility kill. Knock a track off, or disable the engine, but today's tanks have complex armor to protect the crew and the fighting compartment. A third generation missile like the Hellfire is a good weapon in the right hands, and is certainly capable of killing a tank. Earlier generations are less likely to pose a lethal threat to modern armor.

Even disabled, the tank has a big gun, and machine guns, and you are certainly in range of those things. Also, tanks travel in packs. There is always another tank around. He'll come over and neutral steer on your position and grind you into soup.

There are some things a tank can ignore. Single infantrymen fall in that category. Unless the gunner is bored, a single infantryman on the battlefield is pretty safe from a tank. Unless he has a missile, then all bets are off, and it is a pretty good bet that the tank will come out on top.

I see that Hizbollah has gotten some Saggers and some old TOWs, both capable missiles on a 1970's battlefield. This ain't the 70's any more.

I remember the thermal sights on the old M60 series tanks. You could actually see into a tree line, past the foliage that grows thickly along the edges. When a missile crew was set up in the woods, you'd get a glow in the thermals and would call artillery on it. No sense letting a missile team feel secure. You see, the old Sagger was a pretty dumb missile. The missile gunner had to stay glued to the sights and fly the missile to the target with a joystick. If a tanker saw a launch signature, the immediate drill was to fire at the missile, back down the wire toward the gunner. If you could get him to duck, he lost his missile.

Nothing makes a missile gunner duck like main-gun fire from a tank, followed by artillery on his position.

I'm sure the Israelis have tactics to counter the rag-head missile teams.


Qualifying began today for a number of upcoming races. I see the usual suspects qualified for the Mayoral race in Alexandria. We have a mayors race in Woodworth, too.

You can check qualifiers for all the races in Louisiana at the Secretary of State's webpage.

In Grant parish, I see my pardner, Jerome Scott has qualified for mayor. It'll be interesting to see if anyone qualifies against him. Jerome is a great mayor, recently named Elected Official of the Year by the local Knights of Columbus. He returns his salary to the town. A part-time mayor, he spends most of his time at Town Hall. Pollock has a fine mayor in Jerome Scott and I hope they keep him. He sincerely loves the little town and he wants to help it grow.

Iranian soldiers

Captain Ed reports that Iranian soldiers have been found among Hizbollah dead.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have been found among Hizbollah guerrillas slain by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, Israel's Channel 10 television reported on Wednesday citing diplomatic sources.

It said the Iranians were identified by documents found on their bodies, but gave no further details on how many were discovered or when. Neither the Israeli military nor Hizbollah representatives in Beirut had immediate comment on the report.

Embarrasing. Iran has been claiming that its support for the terrorist group is purely moral, but the presence of soldiers carrying ID cards puts the lie to that tale. Iran is using Hizbollah as a proxy against Israel, even if those troops are there in an advisory capacity.

The only Iranian soldier I ever personally knew was a warrior in the Shah's army. Ali was a battle-hardened veteran with excellent combat skills. He really enjoyed killing communists. Ali was a professional soldier who was killed by the Mullahs in the late 1970's. I doubt the Iranian army was able to sustain its professionalism after the purges of Khomeni. If they were executing company grade officers, then the field grade and general officers probably didn't fare any better.

Still, the Israeli army is battle-hardened and is suitably positioned to kill Hizbollah and any stray Iranian who gets in the way.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Terrain Association

Mostly Cajun says, in comments:
I used to pride myself in army land-nav, when I could locate myself within a hundred meters on a paper map by looking at landmarks. The GPS makes that obsolete for the most part.
Me too.

I know the Cajun used to be a tanker. When we were younger soldiers, either at Disney Barracks, on in the 4th Brigade, they taught us land nav. They'd take you out in the woods and instruct you on a map and compass, then turn you loose in the woods to maneuver through a predetermined map course. When it came time to use those skills in a tank, you quickly learned that the compass was worthless. It is a magnetic device and a tanker, by definition is surrounded by 53 tons of steel. Even at night, when you'd laager the tanks for chow and fuel, the leadership might walk out a hundred meters or so and look at a map while sitting under a tree. With five tanks arrayed in a semicircle, there is a half million pounds of ferrous metal. That much steel will skew the compass reading. For tankers, compasses are worthless.

What we learned to do was read a map on the move, by associating known points on the ground. A stream crossing, a road intersection, a particular mountaintop. With those things in mind it is easy to associate your location with a spot on the map. It didn't have to be precise, because we were tankers, By God, and if we were within a hundred meters of a spot, we owned it. Let the infantry worry about 8 digit grid coordinates, we were Armor, and compasses were for people with three mile per hour minds.

During my last tour before retirement, I was assigned to a NG Armor batallion (1/156, LANG). We assigned assembly points to the companies and while visiting a company I noticed that the commander had changed the location of his assembly point by about 1500 meters. A commander has perogatives that he should discuss with his higher commander, and it wasn't any of my business, so I made a mark on my map and said nothing. Later I heard a radio message from our evaluators to our commander. The colonel said that I should answer the message, so I picked up the mike and gave the evaluator a coodinate to our location. When I dropped the mike, the Commander told me that I was screwed up, that I had given the wrong coordinate.

I replied, "No, sir. We are at that grid. The company commander changed his assembly area."

The boss swiveled on the young captain. "Is that so?"

"Yessir. The major gave the correct coordinates."

At that point, I had not picked up a compass in the field for ... oh... eighteen years. Terrain association had served me well and continues to serve me well. I can read a map with the best of them.

Having said all that, this little GPS is a darlin. I can see that it will become real useful.

New Primer Mixture

It looks like Los Alamos labs has come up with a new priming mixture.
Chemist My Hang Huynh developed a new type of primary explosive, which are the explosives that, for example, ignite the main charges in a bullet or conventional bomb. The lab owns three patents.

Huynh said the new explosive is cleaner, safer and less expensive to produce than traditional lead azide and lead styphnate primary explosives, which have been in use since 1907.

The new primary explosive is made with iron, nitrogen, carbon and oxygen instead of lead. Lead is toxic to humans, and chronic exposure can result in birth defects, miscarriage and learning disabilities.

That is great news. Lead exposure is a bad thing and we who reload cartridges are exposed to it. We do our best to minimize lead exposure, but Dick Lee reported that when he did testing for airborned lead, it was found from handling spent primers. Having a lead free priming mix will certainly be an improvement.

However, all my cartridge recipes are set for the lead-styphnate primers. New primers mean new performance criteria, new pressure levels and new ballistics. Not better or worse, just different. When this new mixture comes out, we have to refigure every-damn-thing.

Yet, every time I buy a new pound of powder, I have to refigure everything. That is what reloading is all about.

Hat tip to Say Uncle.

Land Navigation

Whew! What a weekend. Saturday, I helped a son move, then hosted a birthday party for a grandchild, then went to visit my Mother over at her house. Luckily, all of those things occurred in the same string of towns I call home.

Sunday, I overslept for church (Boo on me) then did a little carpentry, went out to tour the deer lease, then came home to find I was hosting a dinner party. Milady felt like cooking and had invited the kids to help eat it all.

So, life intruded on blogging, which is how it is supposed to be. This is a hobby, after all.

I purchased a GPS reciever this weekend, a Magellan eXplorist 100. It is a basic entry-level receiver and cost about $100.00 at Wal-Mart. I last used GPS units during my stint in the Guard at the turn of the century. They were bulky units and fairly complicated. This little Magellan is small, simple, rugged. The controls are intuitive for folks who operate computers. The old Army units gave position resolution down to 10 meters, which is close enough for infantry operations. This one is advertised to give position resolution down to 3 meters, which is excellent. It is also lightweight, and fits in your shirt pocket.

I sincerely hope the Army has since upgraded their GPS recievers.

I gave the Magellan a good test drive this weekend. GPS devices are small recievers which track signals from positioning satellites and perform math to triangulate position on the ground. I was surprised that I could set it from my kitchen table, tracking three satellites almost immediately after I turned it on. Upon taking it outside, I began tracking eight satellites almost immediately. The more satellites you track, the more accurately you can plot your position.

You can't turn it on when you are running down the road. It has to be still for a moment to locate itself with the signal from the satellites above. Then, it accurately supplies trip infomation, including direction of travel and speed. The speed reporting is surprisingly accurate, within a mile-per-hour or two of the speedometer on my pickup truck. Waypoints are easily set at the touch of a button and it will provide directions if you want to backtrack, or it will provide straight line bearing and distance to any waypoint you earlier set.

At the deer lease, it initially had a little trouble locating itself, but sorted itself out within a few minutes. As we toured the property, I made waypoints by tapping the button and jotted the locations down on a piece of paper. Were I alone, I would have taken time to notate the locations with the editing screen and I easily accomplished that when I got home and matched up coordinates to my notes.

One piece of north Louisiana piney woods looks pretty much like any other, and one section of gravel road is similarly similar. When I got home, I started inputting coordinates into Google Earth and soon saw where I had been. The overview of satellite photography with my recent trip helped make sense of the tour I had t taken and looking at the map helped cement the various locations in my mind. I saved the map to the hard drive of the computer and I can call it up and print it if necessary. It is interesting to note that my deer stand is located at a distance of 21.8 miles from my kitchen table, on a bearing of 006 degrees. It's not very useful information, but it is interesting.

I can see that this device will be eminently useful in land navigation, and much easier to carry and use than the GPS devices I have earlier used. More expensive units combine mapping ability internally with the ability to download information directly into the computer.

This device, like all other devices will never take the place of a good map and compass. Land navigation is a demanding discipline and the responsibility of knowing your location should never be taken lightly. I'm sure that the batteries will go out when you least expect it and the clouds will overcome the horizon. Haze and darkness will render the most advanced of us dependent on the same tools used for centuries to cross unfamiliar terrain. The map, compass and Ranger beads are indespensible.

However, for trekking around a deer lease, this little device is quite useful.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Tropical Storm Chris

Tropical Storm Chris just went away last night. The National Weather Service says:

This is a a good thing. If I were a conspiracy nut, I might decide that Castro had been working on a hurricane dispersal device and this was a successful test. As it is, the people of Cuba are lucky that the storm dispersed. They are operating under enough duress without having to deal with a tropical storm.

Friday, August 04, 2006


At 12:55 pm, it is 97 degrees on my shaded porch and I am through carpenting for today. It's too damned hot out there. I went to the lumber yard and got the lumber for the roof joists and a 2X12 that will become my ridge board. The roof should be sufficiently strong. I got one joist nailed to the header before I had to come inside. I'll go outside later and unload the pickup. Those 2X6 boards cost too much to leave them outside in the weather before they are nailed down.

I'm done for the day. Unless it cools considerably. It is not worth heat exhaustion to continue, so I intend to siesta.

Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I've framed the pool house and before I put the rafters up, I have to stabilize the building. Stud frame construction is flimsy until the walls, footers and headers are all nailed together. I have seen folks construct buildings only to have them fall when the rafters were put on. Having your building collapse is inconvenient and potentially dangerous. At any rate, when it collapses, you have to start over.

Talking with Daddy last Sunday after church, he cautioned me to sheath the building before putting the roof on. I'm sure I would have remembered, but it never hurts to be reminded. Riding a bunch of rafters to the ground would probably have tempted me to cuss. There is cussing enough in carpentry without doing something stupid.

So, I am sheathing the building with 1/2 inch CDX sheathing. It's plywood, for you non-carpenters. Sheathing the building gives it stability as the plywood is nailed to studs, headers and footers. Plywood makes the building rigid and adds support to the walls. It's going to take nine sheets, and I have five installed. With temps in the upper nineties, I'm taking my time.

Yet, if I swing a hammer for a couple of hours every day, this thing will eventually be completed.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hello, Chris

UPDATE: Chris isn't a hurricane yet. It's still a tropical storm. It is expected to become a hurricane later tonight. Sorry about that. I mis-read the graphic.

Chris turned into a hurricane since the last time I checked and Accuweather predicts it will hammer Cuba and enter the Gulf sometime this weekend. All this is subject to change, of course, as weather has a habit of doing.

However, everyone within reach of this thing should keep a weather eye peeled.

We who live under threat of hurricanes know that while the season starts June 1st, historically, the threat isn't really intense until August and September. Here on August 2nd, we have the first named hurricane about to enter the Gulf.

It's time to hunker down, folks, and check your bug out bag. Make sure you have batteries, working lights, food and water for three days as a bare minimum. Test your bug-out plan and get in touch with the folks who will sustain you if you have to leave. Lawdog has a good post on travel plans. Ignore it at your peril.

Hopefully, we've learned a lot in the past year about hurricane evacuations, but I have a sneaking hunch that the plan won't survive contact, intact.

That is all.

A rosy glow

Momma was fond of saying that "Horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies take a rosy glow." Maybe so, but it's hot out today, and I am sweating like a horse. Accuweather tells me it is 85 F outside, but that it feels like 99 degrees. I know that it is damned hot out there, and the thermometer on my back porch says it is 87 degrees. The predicted high is 98F. We'll see.

During summer weather I wear bluejeans, a tee shirt and a baseball cap, which I am bad about losing. I scatter ball caps around the landscape, littering with graphics. One of my caps was found at Momma's house, and I left one yesterday at an Auto Glass shop owned by a friend. It behooves me to have extras laying around. There is one cap, with my favorite team logo that is kept clean. The others are working caps, apt to become greasy, sweat stained, with sawdust thrown in for good measure. Because I am absent minded about my caps, it doesn't behoove me to spend much money on them. The one I left at Momma's was a campaign hat from a Sheriff's race. The one at the auto shop was a High School baseball cap. The one I am wearing right now says Baylor Track and Field. I buy them at Goodwill stores. The Baylor hat probably sold new for $15.00 or so. It is a nice cap, with a plastic brim insert and embroidered letters. It still had the tag on it when I bought it at discount for $1.99. It's a good cap to sweat in.

My youngest son looked at one of my caps last week and had to supress his gag reflex. That cap needed washing, in the worst kind of way. It has since taken a trip through the washing machine and dryer with a load of bluejeans.

I learned a long time ago that the surest way to keep cool under a working load was to perspire. Let the sweat soak into your clothing and the evaporation will keep you cool. I'm normally hot until my shirt and jeans are sweat-soaked, then I maintain a rational comfort level until I can get inside. It works, but hydration is important so that you can continue to operate.

My indicator of when it's time to take a break is when the brim of the cap becomes so sweat-soaked that perspiration drips from the brim. When that happens, drop your tools and find something cool to drink. Whatever you're doing will keep for an hour or so while you cool down.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Quarter Icee

You all know the Icee. The frozen slush drink of the corner convenience store. When I was a young'un, the Icee was a wondrous treat. In the summertimes of the early 60's, the Icee was winter in a cup. There was no better way to cool off than with one of these little treats.

Us kids would cycle down to the store once we were old enough to ride our bicycles on the service road. We'd scrounge enough Coke bottles at 2 cents per, and turn our deposit money into an Icee. Or, if we were with Grandma, we'd beg like puppies until she relented and coughed up a dime. They came in three sizes. Dime, fifteen cents, and the Quarter size. We'd normally spring for the dime size, cause we were continually broke. Occasionally, the fifteen cent Icee got the nod, if we were feeling flush with change.

The Quarter Icee was extravagant. No one needed that much brain-freeze. The cups stacked up at toward the back of the machine and tempted us, but were completely out of reach in our persistent poverty. There is nothing more broke, more poverty stricken, more devoid of loose cash than a ten year old kid.

In high school, the fashion changed. No one would be seen with an Icee. Oh, we had the money, little as it was with our afternoon jobs. Working ten hours a week at the princely wage of $2.00 per hour, other purchases were considered more important. And the Icee just wasn't cool for a high-school man. It was a kid's drink suitable only for Elementary and Junior High.

When we got to college, we learned that the Icee had additional utility. By adding liquor, you had a frozen beverage with snap. I never recall seeing a frozen margarita during my college days, but the standard cola Icee with a shot of Jim Beam could cool you off with the added benefit of being able to carry it anywhere. The strawberry Icee with a shot of vodka was proper for the ladies. Yet the Quarter Icee eluded us. It was too big, too extravagant. To get the proper Icee/booze mixture required too much of the hooch in the Quarter size. The fifteen cent was just about right.

Fast forward forty years, and I am at a convenience store, filling up the truck. Going inside for the restroom I happen to spot the old familiar Icee machine. I walked up to it, and grabbed the big cup. The Quarter. I put it under the spigot and turned the handle, listening to that old familiar squirting sound, then stopped, found the half-dome lid, installed it, and filled the cup to the brim.

I walked to the counter, got the cashier's attention, and dropped a Quarter on the counter.

"What's that?" he asked.

I held up the cup.

No, sir. That is $1.29."

As I rummaged through my wallet, I realized one universal truth. With all my age and experience. With the ability to make a decent living, provide for my family, drive a nice vehicle, and keep a positive balance in my checkbook, I still cannot buy a Quarter Icee.