Sunday, October 29, 2006

Surplus 4895

There are a couple of powders that reloaders like to have on their bench. These powders are univerally recognized as having a wide range of applications in various cartridges.

Unique, manufactured by Alliant, is one of those powders. It has a wide range of applications in pistol calibers, and is also one of the standbys of cast bullet loads. Most data in the Lyman Cast Bullet handbook includes a load that uses Unique.

These powders may not be the best, the most efficient, the fastest, or the designer powder for a particular cartridge, but they are effective in a wide range of calibers, giving good performance with each load.

Last spring I bought a jug of surplus 4895. The jug came labeled as IMR 4895 with the understanding that it was surplus, not canister grade powder. I started using it for cast bullet loads in the .30-30 Win and found that it gave good accuracy. Particularly, that 27 grains of that powder launches the Lyman 311041 bullet at an average 1927 fps with no leading. The load shoots into the bead of my front sight, which covers just under 3 inches at 50 yards. The group at that distance is just about an inch and a half. This is excellent hunting accuracy. My ballistic calculator shows that sighted 2 inches high at 50 yards, it will be on target at 125 yards and down two inches at 150 yards. At 150 yards it will still carry 843 foot pounds of energy.

Stepping up to the .35 Remington cartridge, I learned today that the same 4895, 34 grains, drives a 200 grain Remington Core-Lokt bullet at about 1850 fps. This load prints on the target at 1.1 inches at 50 yards. This is also excellent hunting accuracy. It has the trajectory of the .30-30 load above. Sighted an inch and a half high at 50 yards, it is down two inches at 150 yards and carries 863 fpe. No deer sized animal could tell the difference between the .35 Remington load and the .30-30 load. 90% of all deer are shot at ranges under 100 yards, so these two loads will take care of most of the hunting I do.

Well, okay, you say. How about a real cartridge? One that can reach out and touch something. How about the .30-06? With a 150 grain Hornady SST bullet over 52 grains of that same surplus 4895, the bullet leaves the barrel at 2925 fps. Sighted in to be a little over an inch high at 100 yards, it is close to target center at 175 and only 4 inches down at 250 yards. At that same 250 yards, it is carrying over 1700 lbs of energy. Did I mention that particular load gives great accuracy from my rifle, putting 4 shots into 0.75 of an inch at 100 yards.

These figures come from actual shooting, by the way. The velocity figures are out of my guns. I used a ballistics calculator to give the long range figures because I have no where to shoot past 100 yards.

Surplus 4895 is an extremely versatile powder, one that should be on every reloaders bench. Unfortunately, the supply seems to have dried up. When I burn through the eight pounds I have on hand, I might have to buy the canister grade 4895, either from IMR or from Hogdgon. IMR has a lot of data on 4895 in a wide range of cartridge sizes. I've only used it in the above three cartridges, each with a particular niche. 4895 has proved to be very useful in each of them.

As an aside, I'm told that Alliant Reloder 22 is singularly versatile in magnum cartridges. I have no experience with it, but I know one reloader who won't use anything else in .270 Win and .300 Win Mag. He's sold on Reloder 22 for large cases.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Compromise, generally, is a good thing as relates to domestic affairs. Compromise is also indicated when treating with allies.

With enemies, compromise is deadly. There are people in this world who want us dead or subjugated. It doesn't matter why they want this, or if they have any just claim against us. Subjugated or dead. Those are the choices. Their words are plain.

There are those Americans who don't hear those words, or don't undertand the meaning of those words. Rhetoric has weight and words have meaning. When the President of Iran talks about the destruction of Israel, does the opposition think the is kidding? When al-Queda talks about attacking the United States, does anyone rational think that they don't want exactly that? When Moslem leaders talk about establishing a worldwide caliphate, do we believe that they don't mean exactly what they say?

We are at war, people. This is a war for our way of life. If you think life as a gay person is hard in the United States, imagine what it may be like under Sharia.
Written in Arabic, the fatwa comes from a press conference with the powerful religious cleric, where he was asked about the judgment on sodomy and lesbianism. “Forbidden,” Sistani answered, according to OutRage, “Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”
As regards women's rights, we have to look at a cleric in Australia, one of our closest allies.
In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

I got a picture from the Gateway Pundit that demonstrates compromise that we can all agree would have been disastrous for the United States as we know it. Yet, this poster was a political cartoon represting Democrats from 1864.

Is there anyone who thinks that the United States should have compromised with the Confederacy in 1864? Is there anyone who thinks compromise with Hitler was a good idea? The French find themselves now in a current intifada with Muslim youth. There are lessons here that must be learned and we must be blind not to see the threat.

Victor Davis Hanson talks about a book in he recently read, A review of Robert Spencer’s The Truth about Muhammad, Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion (Regnery Publishing, 2006)
The mistreatment of women, polygamy, child-marriage, stoning of adulterers, cutting off the hands of thieves, mutilation of enemy corpses, the sentence of death for apostasy, the subjection of dhimmi or Christians and Jews, even the killing of writers who displease the faithful — remember the sentence of death against Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, still in force — all have their precedents in the things Muhammad said and did. And as Spencer documents in his conclusion, this invocation of Muhammad is continually made by the jihadist terrorists themselves, who accurately link their violence to incidents and sayings from the life of Muhammad. To pretend that these devout Muslims are ignorant of their own religion’s traditions or are “hijacking” them is willful blindness.
We are willfully blind at our own peril.

**UPDATE** The poster shown above was not a Democratic poster, but a poliitical cartoon drawn by Thomas Nash that reflected the Democrats’ peace plank in their party platform, adopted at their national convention in Chicago in August 1864.

Strawberry Jam

Daddy had a hankering for strawberries and Momma had a bunch from her late-crop strawberry patch. She converted the surplus into jam. Fresh, homegrown strawberry jam.

I happened to be over there doing some piddling task and Momma asked me if I'd like to take home a pint. Would I? Why of course!

So, for breakfast, I'm having biscuits and strawberry jam. In all of heaven, there is surely not this much flavor.

Note to my sisters: Nyah-nyah-nyah. I got mine.


Vampires stalk the night.

I live in a household infected with vampirism. No, not the lust for blood, the stalking the night hours.

When I worked the line, I worked a rotating shift, some days, some nights. Milady worked an evening (2-10) shift. Then, I got an opportunity to work straight days, and she, of course, got promoted to a new position that requires her to work a straight night shift. She's been on this shift a little over a year, and she is pretty much nocturnal. Even when she has some time off and tries to maintain a daylight schedule, she normally awakens about 1:00 a.m. and stalks around for a few hours. The rising sun makes her sleepy.

We also have in this house a college student who keeps a normal college/working girl schedule. She normally collapses about midnight and awakens in time to shower and get to class. Whenever that is. I'm never around for that part of her day.

In the guest room we have a grown, working son who recently took a job close to here. He's crashing here during the week until he can find digs close to his job. He's looking for a piece of land to build on and commuting to his home fifty miles away during the weekend. Did I mention he works a night shift?

In this house there is someone always awake and someone always asleep. Security is not a problem in this house. There is always a loved one awake, standing guard. Stalking the night.

When I was in the military, in field units, we often ran all night. Combat ops are 24/7 operations and training for combat ops should be 24/7 operations. I was lucky to have commanders who understood that, and who also understood sleep planning. Sleep planning is important. You gotta sleep or you can't function over the long term, so there is a time to be up and a time to be down. In the military, in law enforcement, and in the medical professions, we never close. We're always open. Somebody has to be awake and alert.

One of the things I learned in the military, and as a cop, was how to sleep. I have the basic ability to sleep anywhere, from a foxhole to a king-sized bed, it doesn't matter. All I have to do is cease movement, relax the mind, and sleep soon follows. When we went on the fishing trip a couple of weeks ago, my daughter took this picture while we were traveling between fishing holes.

Yeah, that's me. Pawpaw hisself. The boat was traveling to a new location. Twin diesels roaring with the accompanying vibration, the boat was rocking and the bulkheads were steel. Naturally, I thought it was a good time for a nap. I wedged myself into a corner and took a break. It's a lot like sleeping in a moving tank, or an APC. If I had been wearing a CVC helmet, plugged into the comms, I would have been in dreamy slumber.

The only problem with vampirism is that when you get your sleep, you are awake. I need 6 hours, and I fell over at 8:00 p.m. last night. At three a.m., I sat up, blissfully refeshed and fully awake. Milady is due home in a couple of hours, and I'm working on a pot of coffee.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

FIeld and Stream

I grew up reading Field and Stream magazine. I used to stalk the library shelves in school, waiting for the newest edition. When I could afford a copy off the shelf at the local store, I hoarded it under my pillow till bedtime. Field and Stream was a trusted companion through much of my youth.

I didn't know that they were online, although I should have suspected it. Yet when I looked down their header bar, I saw a little link called Blogs. Blogs?

Sure enough, Dave Petzal is blogging under the banner Gun Nut. I don't always agree with Dave, but I always read him. He's been an outdoor writer long enough that he's found his style and has some authority when talking about hunting rifles.

They also have a newsy blog format called Field Notes. Interesting stuff, pretty ladies, good stories, all done in the quality and caliber we expect from Field and Stream. Well done, folks.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ranking Congressmen

The American Conservative Union ranks our Congress critters on how they vote on conservative issues.

Bobby Jindal scored a 100, while Alexander only scored a 96 for 2005.

They rate the Senators, too. Landrieu got a 44 rating, while Vitter got a 96 rating.


Pool House Project - Siding

Milady and I wanted siding on the pool house that I've been working on, and winter is coming on, and I didn't feel like messing with it, so I called around and found a young siding installer who was hungry,understands cash, and wanted to take a side job.

Today under leaden skies, he got'r done. I think it looks great.

He said he really enjoyed the job and had a lot of fun with it. He's been telling everyone that he is siding an outhouse, and I guess that is what the project it. An outdoor bathroom in a separate building.

I told Milady that she has the best looking outhouse on the block, and she had to agree to the truth of that statement.

That worked so well that as soon as I get the plumbing and electrical roughed in, I just might hire someone to do the drywall.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ground Rod

I installed the ground rod to the project house this weekend.

It's a half inch ground rod, eight feet long. Driven straight down into the ground. No, I didn't use a hammer. If you use a hammer, you'll swell the end of that soft copper ground rod and you'll have to cut or file it to get the connector to fit.

My daddy was a telephone man, and he installed a lot of ground rods. An old trick is to dig a small hole in the dirt and fill it with water. The hole doesn't have to be big, about the size of a cereal bowl, maybe four inches deep. Fill that hole with water and put the pointed end of the ground rod into the hole. Jab it into the bottom, then lift it and jab it again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The water flows down into the hole, making mud. Keep jabbing. You'll notice the ground rod sinking into the ground. Keep jabbing, gently, up and down. Refill the hole with water as needed.

Occasionally, pull the rod completely out of the hole, allowing the hole to fill with water. Keep jabbing the rod down in the hole. Repeatedly. Kneel down when necessary. In about a half hour, you'll be below kneeling level.

It took me and my son about a half hour to drive that ground rod into the ground. The grandkids helped, holding the hose and occasionally filling their dad's shoe with water.

Today while I was a Lowe's, I bought a ground rod connector and eight feet of 6 gage ground wire. The breaker box is installed and I have a good ground to that box. Tomorrow I start drilling holes and pulling wire.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I'm reading a lot about what might happen if we wake up in November, and Pelosi is Speaker of the House. Gloom and doom prevails among conservative pundits.

Hey, Guys and Gals. Wake up! It ain't over till it's over, and even if the Dems take the House in November, it still ain't over. Yeah, a lot of Republican congress critters deserve to get fired, but that doesn't mean we have to forget why we're conservative in the first place. Lots of Democrats, especially from the South are conservative, though populist. I can't see that things will be much different with a Democrat House. Go vote. Do your part. Then whine and complain if you don't like the result.

The second cogitation has to do with a rumor I've been reading among my liberal friends. It goes something like this: George Bush and Co decide that they are Annointed By God to rule the United States. After the election they declare martial law and prevent the elected successor from taking office. The plot thickens in that, supposedly, this dastardly plot has all ready been hatched and compliant officers are being promoted to insure the success of the coup d'etat.

T'ain't about to happen, folks, for the simple reason that all of the officers of the Armed Forces of the United States are required to swear an oath that first requires the officer to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." The enlisted oath is essentially the same. The military would immediately recognize a constitutional crisis and move to end it.

In the event of such a circumstance occurring, I would probably go to the nearest AmVets lodge and find out when the Old Farts brigade was leaving for the front. Even in retirement, I don't know of anything that releases me from my oath, and we all take that oath very seriously. So do the active duty officers of all branches, regardless of which party affiliation is typed on their voting card. The first obligation of a soldier is to support and defend the Constitution.

Any officers that supported a coup against the Constitution and survived the confrontation would be tried in a military Courts Martial, stripped of their commission, and probably hanged.

Then, of course, we'd find a judge, swear in the new President, and immediately begin telling him how bad he was screwing up.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

All these things

Milady and I were out last night, and went by a favorite honky-tonk to check on the management of the place. The band, a collection of guitar, drums and keyboard did one number that Aaron Neville recorded a few years ago. All These Things. The refrain goes:
Your love's so warm and tender
Your thrill is so divine.
Yet it's all these things
That make you mine.

The singer attributed that song to Aaron Neville, and while it is true that Neville recorded it, All These Things is a staple of southern redneck dance hall music. It was written by Joe Stampley when he was lead singer for a band called the Uniques. It was first recorded in 1966.

In 2001, Joe was performing a concert at a festival in Jena, LA when he played this song. He remarked to the crowd that if they were born in 1967 this song may have played a large part in their being here.

I remember dancing to this song at the Homecoming Dance at Bolton High School in 1970. Joe was performing that night at Curl's Club in Mansura and I'd bet even money that he played it there too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Opening morning

This morning is the opener for muzzleloading in the gret stet of Louisiana (Area2). I am not in the woods.

I'm not ready for deer season. I'm still two weeks away. This is the first year in a long time where I haven't bought a license for the muzzleloader opening.

I won't be in the woods next Saturday morning either. Next Saturday opens the season for the regular gun season. Every nitwit that owns a rifle will be out in the woods and all the deer movement patterns are going to change. Next Saturday I may be in the woods for an afternoon hunt, but not the morning.

Junior and his brother, the General/doctor, are hunting the family land where I killed my last deer. I wish them all the luck. The General recently retired from the military and moved back to Louisiana after a long absence. I salute his service and offer the profound wish that his retirement be long, healthy, and productive. He retired to a little community the locals call Chinquapin. With his credentials in history, there should be something locally to let him piddle away his hours. Chinquapin is steeped in history. Much of the history I know of that area is grossly intermingled in legend, supposition, and bullshit. If there is anything Junior's family should be able to identify, it is bullshit. If the General could separate the bull from the facts, even in some obscure area that historians love, that would be a great help to the locals. Welcome home General, and well done! Now, get busy.

In local news, my alma mater put away visiting Marksville last night in the best game of the season. The Bears played a tough game, keeping the fans on their feet during nearly the entire contest. That game was high-school football at its best, with mistakes, arguable referee calls, good coaching on both sides of the field, and two high school bands. The half-time show even included a limousine, bringing the Drum Major onto the field. It was a great show, with great football. The fans got their money's worth during the entire time and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Did y'all read about this?

This guy, Bowen, takes a swan dive off of the Royal Omni Hotel in New Orleans. That's pretty rude, as most folks are trying to party in the French Quarters. He landed on the roof of the parking garage, but you can bet he harshed the mellow of a bunch of folks, not the least of which were the first responders that had to scrape him off the building.

That's rude. Just rude. If you've never been a police officer, or a paramedic, trust me on this one. Finding a fresh body puts a damper on the party. It really chills the warm glow. But Bowen isn't content to let that be the end of it. Oh, no. They find a note in his pocket, which explains his angst. It seems he has cut up his girlfriend and cooked her head in a pot.

That is truly rude. Socially unacceptable.

I was talking to Milady this afternoon over coffee, and we discussed this little event. Milady holds that cutting off your lovers head and cooking it in a pot is probably an indication that the relationship is in trouble. I'll say!

The one upside to this story is that with rents at an all-time high in New Orleans, this is one French Quarter apartment that will probably go cheap. If you can live with cooking smells. Somebody is in for a heck of a bargain.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

.338 Federal??

I guess I'm the last guy in the gunny world to hear about the new .338 Federal. I've never seen one, never shot one, never even heard about it until yesterday. I like it.

Announced in December 2005, Federal Cartridge company launched a new cartridge, based on the .308 Winchester case. They basically jammed a .338 bullet in the case. This makes a lot of sense from a practical perspective.

The trend lately has been for cartridge manufacturers to launch wide short cartridges. The Winchester line of WSM cartridges is the first example that comes to mind. This new cartridge from Federal isn't a magnum, it's a .308 on steroids.

Federal claims that it will launch a 180 grain bullet at 2830 fps for 3200 foot-pounds of thump. In comparison, the much-loved 7mm Rem magnum launches a 175 grain bullet at 2860 fps for 3180 foot pounds of energy. Yet, in doing so, we're comparing apples and oranges. The .338 bullet is wider than the 7mm bullet, so it will have more thump when it hits something soft. The wound channel is going to be bigger, and the wider bullet is going to displace more tissue.

A more valid comparison would be with the .338 Win Magnum, which launches a 200 grain bullet at 2900 fps. The .338 Win Mag has long been known as a great elk rifle, useful for bigger game. It has also been known as a recoil monster, with only the most dedicated riflemen able to use it to its full potential.

Yet, there are a number of us old-time riflemen who think that faster isn't always better. The largest buffalo herd in the world was driven nearly to extintion by men who shot black powder cartridges with big slow bullets traveling at under 1500 fps. The legendary .45-70 is still known as an extremely capable game cartridge.

One reason that ammo makers bring out new cartridges is to take advantage of advances in powder manufacture. Handloaders and ammo makers have more powders to use than ever before. I do things with my new Savage 110 in .30-06 that folks couldn't do fifty years ago. The .30-06 of WW1 and WWII fame pushed a 150 grain bullet at 2750 fps. I can approach 3000 fps routinely with that load, yet I'm using new powder in a new rifle with good metallurgy.

The new .338 Federal has several things going for it.

1. It will be chambered in new rifles with new metal.
2. It chambers in a short action, using a parent case that we are all familiar with.
3. Recoil should be reduced as compared against .338 Magnum rifles.
4. That big .338 bullet will kill better than a .308 bullet at the same velocity.

I think Federal has a winner here.

Poitical Discourse

Junior and I have been talking lately about the loss of civility in political discourse lately. It's depressing. It's juvenile. The level of political discourse lately has arrived at the same intellectual level as a third grade recess argument. I feel I may be unjustly denigrating third-graders.

Someone said that all politics is local, and that applies up through the US Congress. Congressional races are local races and we each get to decide who our Congressmen might be within the framework of the election process. Many of the folks I vote for are Democrats. Some of the folks I vote for are Republicans. In local races, the local politics are much more important than the party affiliation.

Milady is a Democrat. Most of my siblings are Democrats. Some of them are liberal Democrats. Many of my personal friends are Democrats, yet in large part we share the same values, go to the same schools, attend the same events, and want the same things from our government.

Frankly, I am aggravated about the state of the Nation, and I lay that firmly at the feet of the Republican party. We have a Republican President, a Republican House and a Republican Senate, yet we can't make any headway on Republican values. The centrists in the party are too concerned with holding power and the neocons are concerned with... hell, I can't figure out what they're concerned with.

The Democrats are getting just a bit shrill for my taste. I'm hearing a lot of noise from them, but not much of a plan. What plan I hear doesn't match my idea of what good government is about. The Democrats wandered off an left me years ago. The Republicans are in danger of doing the same thing.

Don't talk to me about the Libertarian party. The very basic desire to be left alone is what the Libertarian party is all about. Folks who want to be left alone aren't joiners, and political parties need joiners to do the grass-roots work. The Libertarians are doomed as a viable political party.

It's enough to make you want to throw your hat in the creek.

Power Distribution

I went to Lowe's today to look at power distribution centers for the project pool house. We're going to need lights, outlets, a refrigerator, a small air conditioner, and eventually the swimming pool pump hooked to that breaker box. I wanted enough capacity for six circuits, but didn't want to buy a box that would carry an entire household.

The electricity feeding the pool house is US standard 220v AC, through a 60 amp breaker. The little boxes I saw at Lowe's didn't impress me, until I looked at something GE manufactures that is called a "Room Addition Panel". It is rated at 125 amps, which is over double what I need, but it comes in a box with four breakers, has room for twelve breakers, and listed for just $39.95. With tax, out the door, for just a little over $43.00. That's a heck of a deal for a breaker box.

I've looked everywhere, but can't find a link to the darn thing. GE makes a bunch of stuff, in a bunch of countries, and my Google skills aren't up to par lately.

I haven't worked on that project house for about three weeks, and it's time to get cracking on it again. Hopefully, I won't earn the nickname Sparky.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

On Nursing

From the Times Picayune, we get a story about the nursing shortage in New Orleans, and the nursing shortage generally across the United States. The meat of it is here:
Rather than scrimmage for nurses in the tight local market, East Jefferson General Hospital dispatched its chief operating officer in August to the Philippines, a former U.S. territory that annually sends thousands of English-speaking nurses overseas.

Sixty-one Filipino nurses have agreed to trade in their meager wages for life in a struggling foreign city. The immigration process is arduous, however, involving a visa application, background check and a nursing certification exam, and some of East Jefferson's newest workers will not arrive for six months to a year.
There is a nursing shortage, not just in New Orleans, but throughout the United States. A Google search for Nursing Position turns up approximately 12.5 million responses.

Milady is a nurse, and the mail she gets from headhunter firms is incredible. The nursing magazines that find their way to our mailbox reveal that the leading hospitals in the leading markets are looking for nurses.

A hospital can't function without nurses. Doctors give orders, nurses ensure care. Hospitals realize that there is a nursing shortage, so they recruit nurses.

One nurse of my acquaintance recently moved to Texas. She found a job within hours of landing on the ground. My sister is contemplating a move from Knoxville to the Alexandria area. She found a job over the phone. A licensed, registered nurse can find a job just about anywhere with good salary and benefits. If you want a career in the military, nurses do well in uniform. If you want to travel, there are nursing agencies that provide temp jobs across the United States.

Nursing colleges are at full capacity. They turn away applicants every semester based on the number of available instructors. From the same article:
Kishner says there also has been a bottleneck at universities, which turn away nursing school applicants because of a perpetual shortage of instructors. That shortage has become more acute since Katrina, as higher wages have helped keep veteran nurses at hospitals when they might otherwise go into teaching.
Nursing is not just for the ladies. It is an equal-employment career field. With specialized training, nurses command additional salary that employers are often happy to pay. Nurse-practioners are in strong demand, as are nurse-anesthesiologists. Trauma nurses are also in demand.

The down-side? There is a nursing shortage across the United States. Nurses often work long hours in less than optimum conditions. The work itself is demanding, stressful, sometimes heart-breaking. Nursing is a profession, rather than a job. It requires a dedication that sometimes causes stress at home. Milady, the love of my life, is currently finishing a string of 12 hour days that her employer requires, preparing for a certification by an accrediting agency. I haven't seen much of her lately. I support her in her career, and I'm thankful that we don't have small children in the home that need her.

If you're a college freshman or sophomore looking for a challenging career, consider nursing. If you're looking for a career change, consider nursing. The possibilites for a motivated, intelligent nurse are limitless.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Army Strong

Blackfive has a copy of the new Army Recruiting video loaded. Go watch.

It looks like they finally got it right.

The Army, my Army, is a huge bureaucratic machine, filled with warriors of every stripe. Historically, the United States has relied on the strength of my Army. In battles large and small across this green earth, my Army has stood on the ground and projected the will of the people of the United States.

In the past several years my Army has gotten leaner, stronger, more agile. It can't put fifty divisions in the field any more, but it can project power better than ever before. When this country wants formations of highly trained, highly motivated people to take one step forward and hold the ground, it relies on the Army. We do that better than anyone else in the world.

There's strong, then there's Army strong.

Friday, October 13, 2006

How Taxes Work

We Saw That said, in comments:
sorry have to disagree with you. sheriff hilton is a scam artist. the tax you mentioned is "in perpetuity" that means that these children (not even born yet) that you claim are so precious to this scam artist will have have to pay this tax with no say about it. thats unamerican. its taxation without representation.
No need to be sorry about disagreeing with me. Lots of people disagree with me. That is what makes America great.

However, I have to remind you that we still live in a democracy, where votes count. The tax we're talking about is a local tax, a half-cent sales tax that was voted on by the people. The tax does not need to be renewed, but nothing is perpetual. Perpetuity is a long, long time and things change, over time.

Let me tell you how it works, locally at least. There exists in the Louisiana tax code a mechanism for levying and repealing taxes. I'm too lazy to look it up, but basically, if you get enough folks to agree that we don't need a tax, the mechanism exists to repeal that tax.

In Rapides Parish, if you can get 20,000 people to agree that we don't need the tax, then the tax will be repealed. That's all it takes! 20,000 people. If you get that many to agree with you, you can get just about anything repealed or imposed here in Rapides Parish. Depending on the election that the repeal intitiative is placed on, you might get it done with 16,000 people, but 20K will give you a good margin.

Why 20,000 you ask? Simple. A lot of people won't go vote in an election, for a variety of reasons. Either they aren't registered, or they're too young, or they're too apathetic, or they think their vote doesn't matter. 20,000 votes will settle a lot of issues in Rapides Parish.

And for the record, I've known William Hilton for a long time. In my opinion, on the short list of very good people in this world, William Earl Hilton on that list. He is a good man. He is a good sheriff. In this opinion, like all others, you are certainly free to disagree with me.

Thanks for your comment.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Schoolhouse Shootings

It seems everyone is concerned about schoolhouse shootings, and they should rightfully be concerned. School shootings are a fact of life. They are nothing new, having been happening since 1979.

Back in 2001, Sheriff Hilton of Rapides Parish became concerned about school shootings following the Columbine debacle. He got a tax passed and put a deputy in every school in Rapides Parish. This was a wise decision on his part. All of his school deputies are fully qualified law enforcement officers, all certified by the state. Many are members of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).

As much as we all bemoan the fact that we need resource officers, it is still a fact that we need those officers in our schools. In the worst case scenario, we have those officers there, trained, dedicated, and determined to thwart the intentions of an active shooter. They routinely train on "what-if" scenarios drawn from real life, focused on the school setting.

The resource officers serve other purposes at the schools, depending on the school served. They act as hall monitors, direct traffic, counsel with students, assist with special needs students, confront intruders, assist in security at events, answer questions, and yes, occasionally make arrests.

There is a difference between serving in an elementary school and a high school, because the kids and the school is different. The beat is different. Not that one is more important than the other, just different. Our children are our future and each one is precious.

Resource officers are community police officers in the great tradition of community policing. They are beat officers who know their beat intimately and understand the population they serve. Because they are attuned to the natural rhythms of the school they are in place to serve the community, on duty, alert, prepared for any eventuality. If the principal needs to call a police officer, he can do it on the intercom, because the officer is all ready there.

It's a great program and we are lucky that Sheriff Hilton had the foresight to implement it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lights on the water

When the kids were younger, we spent a week or so each year on the beach in Florida, soaking up the white sand and letting the kids get thoroughly sunburned before it was time to go back to school. They needed something to write about for that first essay.

We never made it down to Grand Isle, the Cajun Riviera. This was my first trip, I believe. I've been to Holly Beach, near Cameron many times, but I never made it to Grand Isle.

This is the moonlight on the water from Grande Isle, taken over the barrier dune. Milady and I went to the Daquiri shack and met friends on a motel balcony. Those lights on the horizon are oil rigs. I counted 33 across the arc of the horizon, yet somehow they didn't intrude on our party. I've looked at the lights on the water from various shore locations and wondered about the men and women manning the ships that move offshore of our nation. Here, it was oil rigs. Pumping the lifeblood of our nation. 33 rigs from just one beach perspective. And those are the ones you can see from the beach. There are a lot more you can't see, over the horizon.

Yet the moon on the water was just as beautiful and the lights on the water were just as compelling, each having a story to tell.

There is a lot of industry along the Louisiana coast, amongst the marshes and bays and channels. Most of it oilfield service.

Here, a view from the main ship channel of Port Fourchon, LA, where we put out of. The waterway is absolutely bumper to bumper with ship traffic, repair facilities, docks, piers, dry docks, and shipyards. There is lots of money made every day in Port Fourchon. Eighteen percent of all the oil coming in to the United States flows through this little port. The port also hosts the service for the Lousiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), a huge offshore pumping station that offloads oil tankers too big to get in to shore. Via pipeline, LOOP directly connects to 35 percent of US refining capacity.

Oil, and oil field service are huge industries in Port Fourchon. Yet the fishing is great. Port Fourchon is also home to commercial and recreational fisheries professionals who take folks like me out into the water.

Here, a view of Southerner, a sister ship to the one we chartered. These are 57 foot long charter fishing vessels that can accomodate 15 passengers a day. We didn't see Southerner except early in the morning and again when we met her in the afternoon, coming in. As a matter of fact, we didn't see any other fishing vessels that Sunday at all. Southerner's catch was mainly shark, so they were fishing other waters.

Look at all the industry on the shore behind her.

Monday, October 09, 2006


As I've said earlier, I am very happy with the offshore fishing trip. I've never been out of sight of land, and this was a good time to do another thing that I've never done. In Louisisna you have an opportunity to spend a lot of time on the water, but there are lots of waters in Louisiana. Up north, you have freshwater lakes, swamps, marshes, sloughs, rivers and streams. Down south, you have brackish marshes, lakes, rivers, sloughs and swamps along with the freshwater variety of each. If there is one thing Louisiana has plenty of, it is water.

I'm fairly proficient on small boats, freshwater fishing and recreational boats. I can paddle a canoe and row a rowboat. I've owned pirogues and jon boats, but I had never been out of sight of land, and I am ignorant of things from the sea.

It's going to take a while to understand everything I have learned during that one brief foray offshore, but dammit, I want to go back and learn more. There is a whole lot of Louisiana that I know very little about.

Still, time for pictures

My lady caught one of the very first fish on the boat. Here she poses with it. A red snapper, caught over sunken oilfield wreckage in about 70 feet of water. The oilfield is everywhere you look in Louisiana Gulf waters. There is a tremendous amount of metal in an oil rig, most of it environmentally benign. Those parts that are unusable are scrapped, sunken, marked and used as structure for the fisheries. Lots of fish come from Louisiana waters. The stuffed redfish you find at your finer restaurants probably come from Louisiana, as that species are caught both commercially and recreationally. They are mighty fine eating and our catch was primarily red snapper

This photo is my daughter with her lemonfish, the only one caught on this trip. It's a darned large fish. In the photo, the tail was on the deck. The fish itself probably weighed 40 pounds. Daughter was quite proud. The fellow holding the fish is a deckhand, Adam, who took care of the ladies with grand wit and humor. The deckhands made this trip pleasant.

Looking at those pictures, I am amazed that I managed to not get an oil rig in either one of the photos. Oil field equipment was everywhere. Yet the water was blue and the fishing was great.

Monday Morning

We got back from the fishing trip last night about 11:00 p.m. PawPaw reeked of fish and salt water. He took a shower and went directly to bed, then up this morning for duty at 5:00. No pictures to upload yet, but we'll take care of that this evening.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. The water was calm, with just enough gentle swell to remind us that we were onboard a boat. The fishing was excellent. 15 fisherman took 88 keepers, mostly snapper (both red and mangrove) with a few grouper, grey triggerfish, and one huge lemon fish (cobia) in the catch. We also caught black-tipped shark, but none were eligible as keepers.

The deckhands were magnificent, taking wonderful care of the passengers. They baited hooks, took fish off the line, cleared snarls, and gaffed fish as required. The fact that the deckhands were obviously young, fit, and bronzed did little to dampen the spirits of the (mostly) female passenger list. The crew also cleaned the fish, so when we left the dock, we had cleaned fillets ready for cooking.

All in all, a wonderful experience. More later this afternoon, when I can download photos.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday evening

I went to the Bolton-Buckeye game last night. It seems that Buckeye has some games on Thursday night, because they know that tomorrow is the opener of the squirrel season, and most of the natives are in the woods tonight at squirrel camp. The Buckeye Deville area is awash in the kind of natives that would go to a squirrel camp, and I'm sorry that I'm not there.

Bolton won, by the way, 38-7. It was a good game, and Bolton deserves a break.

Milady and I went out this afternoon, looking around and came back with an auto GPS for the car. A Magellan 3000T. It's a spiffy little unit, and fun to watch while you're driving. We'll give it a workout on the trip this weekend. I also should remember to take my little handheld GPS. When we are far from land, I want to be able to tell the skipper where to point the narrow end of the boat.

I wish I had something pithy and insightful to say about the Foley scandal, but nothing immediately comes to mind. He might become best known for being the guy that lost the Congress to the Democrats. The rest of the Republicans have been less than inspiring. How is it that they forgor that the Republican party is against buggery and child molestation.

In my mind, rather than launching an investigation, every Congressman who knew anything should have immediately called the FBI, or the Capitol Police, or someone authorized to conduct a criminal investigation, given full statements, and let the chips fall where they may.

Then I notice that there is some question whether the Congressional page in question was a minor at the time. If he wasn't a minor, and the contact was consentual, then the problem of criminality becomes one of appropriateness. There are lots of things that people do that are truly inappropriate, but are not criminal.

Unless something pops up in tomorrow's paper, I'll see y'all on Monday.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sex Offenders

Mark Foley. Until recently a congressman, now just another dirty old man.

One with a criminal twist. He likes teenaged boys.

I spent the greater portion of my career as a parole officer chasing down sex offenders. Let me tell you about them. There are generally two types of sex offenders. Those who are caught up in a crime simply because of age, i.e. the nineteen year old boy who gets caught with the sixteen year old girl. These type offenders are generally not a problem. They see the error of their ways and correct it. The other type, the classic "Chester-the-molester" will be the topic of the remainder of the discussion.

These guys are generally white males, aged 20 to 60. As time goes on, we are seeing more black offenders, but generally, the predatory sex offender is a white male. They share some general tendencies.

1. A sex offender doesn't believe what they do is illegal. Thru some defect of the mind, they have rationalized their behavior to the point where they think what they do is not only legal, but understandable. They are amazed that anyone else sees a problem with it.

2. A sex offender is normally fairly intelligent, at or above the average. They can rationalize their behavior to family, friends, victims and the police. They have rehearsed and they are good at it.

3. They are generally multiple offenders. If you've caught them with one victim, look around for others. There will be others.

4. A sex offender will try to deflect blame. They'll blame anything, including alcoholism, drug addictions, societal prejudice, and the victim for their plight. They don't believe they have done anything wrong, so it must be someone else's fault.

5. A sex offender will recidivate. Every time. They will do it again.

Sex offenders disgust me, but it doesn't surprise me that Foley was able to fool other congressmen and staff into believing that it wasn't really a problem. Sex offenders are very good at hiding what they do.

Should the Speaker resign? If he knew what was going on and didn't do anything about it, yes, he should resign. Should Rodney Alexander resign(my Congressman), the fellow who reportedly first learned about the problem? If he did anything to cover it up, yeah, he should resign.

Anyone who knows anything about a child molestor should go to the police. Make statements. Do everything possible to shed light on the offender.

Sex offenders are the lowest, vilest, most predatory criminals currently loosed on the public. Our children are safe only when they are locked up.

Monday, October 02, 2006


A few months ago, the crew that Milady works with chartered a fishing boat to take a party out into the Gulf. They asked if I would like to go.

Well, yeah!

I've never been offshore. The biggest boat I have ever been aboard is the ferry that runs between Hatteras and Okrakoke. And the stern-wheeler that is tied to the dock in Vicksburg. And I have never been out in blue water. This ought to be quite an experience.

So, I did some online looking and found the link to our charter. It looks like a first class operation. We meet the boat at the dock, 0600 October 7th.

I'm looking forward to this trip. It ought to be a lot of fun.