Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shooting Hogs

This video (Quick-time required) shows one of the easiest shots in hunting. Drilling a pig in the brain. What is truly impressive is that the guy does it with an air rifle.

I once killed a 350 pound pig with a .22 short, making the same shot this guy made. If you look at a pig head on, and draw an imaginary line from the left ear to the right eye, then another line from the right ear to the left eye, the two lines cross over the brain of the pig. The hunter has a good representation of a central nervous system shot and as long as he puts the bullet within an inch of that spot, the hog will drop like he's been poleaxed. It's like tripping a switch. One minute the hog is up, the next minute he is down.

The upside of this shot is that the pig is anchored and if you walk over and stick a knife in the carotid artery, the heart will continue to pump until the pig bleeds out. With no blood inside the pig, cleaning him for butchering is much easier.

The downside of that shot is that if you miss, you won't hit anything vital and the pig will come looking for payback. A big feral hog is properly armed with tusks kept sharp by eating. He's fast, low, and very hearty. He'll hurt you if he gets a chance. There are a couple of us who believe that a feral hog is as close as we'll get to dangerous game in Louisiana.

I personally wouldn't try that shot with an air rifle. I don't run as well as I used to, and I damn sure can't climb like I used to. I wouldn't try it with a .22 again, unless someone was close by with a repeater in the .30-30 class.

Jena High School burns

It seems arsonists have destroyed Jena High School.

Just damn.

Much of my wife's family graduated from that high school. My wife among them.

LaSalle parish lost LaSalle High in Olla to a tornado in 2004. This last disaster brings the parish to just exactly zero High Schools. None, nada, zip.

It's a hell of a note.

Tree trimming

I came home today to find a crew in my front yard. Cutting limbs away from the power lines. I walked out to greet them and the chief told me, apologetically, that he had to cut the limbs.

I told him I really didn't care if he cut them off smooth at the ground. I have no real love for pine trees and there doesn't seem to be a shortage in Louisiana. He could cut them all, as long as he hauled them off.

Trees are a blessing sometimes, but when the occasional ice storm comes through, or a big wind knocks one over, your electricity goes out. I'm agin' that. Yeah, I have the ability to build a fire to keep warm and I have my propane stoves to cook, but I'd just as soon the lights stayed on.

What that crew leader didn't know was that I am the guy who raised hell at CLECO last month. It seemed everytime the wind changed direction we were losing power to the house. That royally chapped my behind. I started calling and politely asking to talk to the next boss in line. I kept calling until I talked to some guy who could get it done.

I love a stately tree. The engineering that went into building such an edifice could only have come from God. Oaks and pecan, ash and hackberry, they are all lovely to observe. Even the wind-whipped loblolly standing alone in a pasture speaks of torment and stress and perseverance against the odds.

Yet, if that lovely tree is standing near my power lines, it is only so much pulp. Cut that sucker down and haul it off.


I got home today and found that in the midst of daughter's finals and term papers, the printer had died. Gone tits-up. Finis.

So, second son and I sallied forth to the local Wal-Mart. He for thermal underwear, me for a printer. If you want a scanner/fax/copier/printer it's about $80.00. They're giving the things away.

The printer I had been using was three years old and did a pretty fair job of printing text and the occasional picture. It cost me over a hundred bucks. The printer I brought home tonight is a better printer than the one I had, and it is smaller and lighter. No, I didn't spring for the copier/scanner model. I have a scanner. It works. When it dies, I'll go whole hog and throw away the printer I just bought.

Two ink cartridges are going to cost more than the printer. With kids in college, ink becomes a major expense. I wish they had some sort of tank device where you could buy ink by the quart and pour it into the cartridge. I suspect that Hewlett Packard gives away the printers so you're forced to buy ink for the damned things.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Long days

I'm working a string of fifteen hour days, so blogging is suffering. So be it.

Duty first.

However, the electric stove posting below is drawing comments, so maybe here I can respond to some of them.

I'm an old-time camp cook, drawing from years of experience from fire and smoke and pots that hang on chains. My buddy Junior and I cooperate on a website known as The Frugal Outdoorsman. We post campfire recipes here. Junior runs another site dedicated to Mississippi River Delta Blues and he has a recipe section here. If you're looking for down-home recipes, those two sites are good places to start looking. My beans recipe is a variation on a theme that Junior started here.

Milady likes an electric cooktop and works her magic on it regularly, as does my Mother. I wouldn't dream of messing with her electric stove. If she likes it, I'll learn to live with it.

However, my gas burners are outside and when I build my shop (part five of a five part project. We are currently on part two.) there will be a gas stove in attendance out there. I can cook on gas when I want to, or I can stay inside and rant about the electric stove. Milady is used to my rants about electric stoves, and she isn't thrilled when she has to cook on my gas stoves. Marriage is all about a sense of humor and cooperation.

It's time to pull on my boots and get back to work. I'll check in later.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Damn Stove

I hate an electic stove. Just hate them.

Can't cook on the damned things, because I can't see the fire.

Naturally, I live in an all-electric house.

damn, damn, double-damn.

I want to cook some ham-beans. It's an easy recipe. You take a pound of dried white beans, either great northerns, baby limas, or big limas, and you boil them for ten minutes, then simmer them for three or four hours with chopped ham till tender. It's a recipe as old as the hills and people have been cooking ham beans since man learned to dry beans and smoke ham. It's folk food. Of course, it goes without saying that some spices help. Like onion and bell pepper and salt and black pepper. This ain't a recipe, it's a rant. Damned stove.

And over the years, I've cooked hundreds, ney, thousands of pounds of dried beans, and simmering is crucial. And I can't get this damned stove to simmer. It's either a rolling boil, or nothing. I've been fighting it for two hours now, and it may be getting ready to simmer. I'm not sure.

With a gas stove, I'd lean over and look at the flame, adjust it to a quarter inch and go to another project, secure in the knowledge that the beans would simmer. Not with this damned electric stove. It's got ten settings and none of them will give me a simmer. I get a rolling boil or nothing.

I've cooked ham beans on campouts, with camp stoves and on open fires. I've cooked them on gas stoves and big commercial galleys. Everywhere but on this sorry, non-adjusting, no flame, excuse for cooking, electric stove.

Its enought to make you throw your hat in the creek.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Deer Hunting

I spent the afternoon in my deer stand today, at tree-top level in a young pine plantation. It's thick in there, by God, so thick that it is hard to see fifteen yards. The stand at that location is a fifteen foot tripod stand that I picked up from another hunter who didn't want to move it.

You can click on the picture for a larger image. This view is from the stand, looking toward the east. My shooting lane is the track you see heading away from you.

Here is the view to the west.

No, I didn't see any deer. I did get to watch wrens working the top of the trees and robins working the understory. Just before dark I watched robins by the hundreds pour from the forest floor and form a large flying flock. In the space of three minutes, I saw all the robins take wing, form up, and fly off toward the southeast. They must have been going to a roost site.

I also heard a coyote make a rabbit kill, and heard the steady thump-thump-thump of an engine powering a pumpjack. Our deer lease is in the middle of a working oil field. Many of the wells are run by electric motors, but I heard one motor rythmically thumping away.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


One of the threads over at The Gun Thing talks about concealed carry revolvers. I started talking about mine over there.

It's the Smith and Wesson Model 60, the first revolver that Smith made in stainless steel. It is neither pinned nor recessed, and carries a two-inch barrel. It is altogether an excellent carry piece. Xavier probably wouldn't like it much because it is stainless, but in the heat and humidity of Louisiana, stainless is my preferred metal for firearms that might be neglected.

Back in the day, a trial commenced where one guy was accused of battering someone else with a firearm. That is a felony in this state. After the trial, and all the appeals had been finalized, the judge and evidence custodian were going through the evidence room disposing of old evidence when this revolver gained their attention. Fresh from the scene, it had been bagged in a clear plastic zipper bag and there was still blood on the frame and trigger guard. The little revolver was broken as evidenced by the fact that the hammer was halfway back and the trigger was misaligned with the frame.

I happened to be walking down the hall when the Judge asked what he was going to do with it. I offered to take it. The judge tossed me the bloody revolver and told me to be at his office that afternoon. When I appeared later, he caused a minute entry to be made into the record, wherein that revolver was titled to me for the furtherance of law enforcment within the parish. Under the laws at the time, that was perfectly legal.

All this was back before AIDS, HIV, or any of the more common blood-borne pathogens had been catalogued. I took the little revolver home, stripped it and washed it in the kitchen sink. I dried it and took it to the bench. After an inspection, I determined that the trigger guard was bent, binding the trigger and holding the hammer halfway back. I clamped the frame in a vise, grabbed the trigger guard with a pair of pliers, and pulled. The trigger popped forward, the hammer fell to rest. I took off the sideplate and looked at the innards and convinced myself that the gun was okay. A trip to the range confirmed the proper function or the piece.

The judge in question has since passed on to his mortal reward, after a distinguished career in jurisprudence, a long and happy retirement, and a legendary affection for sour-mash whiskey.

The little revolver has been with me for over 20 years. I carried it during plainclothes assignments and since my first retirement and subsequent employment it has been my CCW piece. Sometimes it rides in a Don Hume beltslide holster, sometimes it is just dropped into a pocket. For ammmo, I either load it with the old Federal Ny-Clad ammo or my own reload of a hollow-based wadcutter loaded backwards over a mild charge of Unique. I don't use +P ammo in this little gun.

While it is often difficult to rehabilitate a criminal, firearms don't have as much problem. This pistol originally led a life of crime, but since became an honored member of the law enforcment community. It has assisted in countless dozens of arrests and has proved a deterrent to many other crimes. In 2001 I showed it to one young goblin. It was immediately effective as the goblin decided to depart posthaste rather than become more closely acquainted. I put it back in my pocket and went about my day unmolested.

One of these days, one of my kids will have it. I am convinced it will serve honorably into the future.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Electrical - Done

Today I got the electrical system operating in the pool house. Lights that turn on and off, receptacles that work, outdoor motion sensor light is operating. Everything tests out good.

This project isn't nearly the size that Mostly Cajun works on, but for me, a peckerwood carpenter and electrician, doing a new electrical installation was fraught with apprehension. I studied amperages and loads and put in capacity for expansion. Then, I went carefully with installation, checking and double-checking my work. You can do a lot of things with electricity, but one thing you can't do is run from it.

My greatest fear was that when I threw the switch, I'd watch a summer's work burn to the ground. That fear, thankfully, was groundless. Everything else out there is grounded to an absolute certainty.

Tomorrow, I'm going deer hunting. I'm not going to get up early enough to be out there at the butt-crack of dawn, but I'll get there. I plan to be in my stand when other hunters are moving around. They'll push the deer and I'll be in place. I may even take my brother-in-law to lunch.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I carry a pocket knife. Every day, every where. I can't imagine being without a knife.

No, it's not some whiz-bang tactical knife. I don't like anything "tactical". Tactical is an exercise for the mind, not the equipment.

My current pocketknife is a Buck two-blade Trapper. I've carried this knife for a year or so. It has a clip point blade and a spey blade. Yes, I know how to use the spey blade. It gets sharpened as needed on an Arkansas stone I keep on my workbench.

Once upon a time, boys carried pocketknives. Constantly. My fourth grade teacher knew to a certainty that every little boy in her class, and most of the girls, had a pocketknife tucked away somewhere. If, for some reason, she got a box in the classroom, or needed to cut a cord, she'd ask "Who's got a knife?" and twenty little boys would start digging in their pockets. We'd unfold a blade and head toward the front of the class.

Now that I think about it, the visual image of that scene is something to contemplate. Twenty fouth graders, with open pocket knives, headed for the teacher. She was truly a trusting soul. Excuse me while I wipe the laughter from my eyes.

My youngest, Joey, always liked blades. Liked them a lot and carried constantly. Sometimes, Joe would have as many as nine blades tucked about his person. Ask Joey for a knife, and there was no telling what he might draw from his clothing. It might be a set of throwing knives, or a nine-inch Bowie. You just never knew. Did he cut himself? Yeah, as did my other sons. The lesssons in learning to properly use a blade sometimes cause pain.

Sunday past, my son and I were assembling a deer stand on the tailgate of my pickup truck before carrying it to the woods. The grandkids (age 4 and 7) were crawling around in the bed of the truck, pestering us and poking each other. I took out a knife to open a box, then folded it and laid it aside. We continued assembling the stand, till we heard the youngest one cry out in pain. He proclaimed that blood was coming out and I saw the opened knife.

A bandaid fixed the problem and he learned a life lesson. Leave PawPaw's knife alone. He's still a little young to have a knife of his own, but in another couple of years he'll be ready.

Every little boy should have a knife. It teaches the responsible use of power. A pocketknife teaches that a tool can be misused to hurt yourself or another person and that there are very real consequences when a tool is misused or used carelessly. It also teaches that just because you have that power doesn't mean you should use it. All other lessons flow from that one.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday Supper

Thanksgiving is upon us and we're going to my Mother's house for the Thanksgiving meal. Momma feeds upwards of fifty people every year and my sisters are at her house right now, doing prep work and preparing. The turkey is smoked and I'm sure Daddy has something in the oven or on the pit. Probably a ham.

That leaves the question of the Wednesday evening meal. Milady decided to ask the family over for a seafood meal tonight and they all accepted. We're feeding 25 people in about six hours. We've been doing prep work all morning, and straightening and dusting and vaccuuming. As I live only six miles from my mother, we are closely convenient for a side trip.

The menu is :

Broiled red snapper, stuffed with a seafood cornbread dressing.

Crab cakes, served over angel-hair pasta, topped with a cheese fettucini sauce.

Pistolettes, baked lightly.

Green tossed salad

Iced tea. The adults, of course, may opt to cocktail.

For Dessert, choice of peach cobbler with ice cream, or chocolate cake.

Hopefully, this small repast will keep everyone fortified until the main meal tomorrow morning. I hope, at the very basic level, no one starves to death. There is still peanut butter and jelly in the cupboard.

I hope all my readers have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving day. When you're saying grace tomorrow, be sure to remember our veterans and our warriors in the field.

Law and Order CSI

I'm a fan of the Law and Order series, and all the variants, CSI, SVU, etc. Milady and I watch them at night when we're together and they are great entertainment.

While talking with some high school students last week I had the opportunity to highlight the difference between police work and the Hollywood version.

DNA results on TV are blazingly quick. On TV, you get the results that afternoon, or the next morning. In real life it takes 6 to 12 months. Months.

Drug analysis on TV is virtually instantaneous. In real life, it takes 6-8 weeks.

Fingerprint analysis is getting faster in real life. If I can get my latent into an AFIS reader, I can get the results in an hour or so. Those results will probably be that the latent I took can't be identified in the database. There are very few good fingerprints recovered from a crime scene. There are even fewer that are actually used to solve a crime.

One trick I learned as a young investigator took some planning, but I spent an evening once, with a clear piece of glass and a SIRCHIE latent print set, taking latent fingerprints of myself. When I got five good prints, I put them on a latent card, a strip that easily fits in a pocket. When I'd interview a suspect, I'd take the latent strip out of my pocket and drop it on the table in front of the suspect. Then, I wouldn't refer to it again, for any reason. If the critter asked, I'd tell the suspect to not worry about those prints, that I'd have them analysed later.

Those prints got me a lot of good confessions. When the defense attorney asked later about a set of prints that his defendant was talking about, I'd tell the attorney that there were no usable prints taken at the scene. Which was the absolute truth.

A crime lab is a valuable tool, and one that we rely on to put the icing on a criminal investigation. Crime lab results are truly useful in eliminating possible suspects from prosecution. While you're waiting for the results, you still have to do good police work. In most scenarios, the police work is completed and the case is sent to the DA long before the lab results are in hand.

Don't believe everything you see on TV.

Raid in Atlanta goes wrong

A raid in Atlanta went wrong and a 92 year old woman is dead, and three police officers are wounded.
The woman, identified by relatives as 92-year old Kathryn Johnson, opened fire on the officers from the narcotics division at a house at 933 Neal Street, according to officials. Authorities say they received a tip of drug activity taking place at the home and officers were headed to the house with a search warrant.

The woman's niece, Sarah Dozier, says that she bought her aunt a gun to protect herself and that her aunt had a permit for the gun. Relatives believe Johnston was frightened by the officers and opened fire.

Assistant Chief Alan Dreher says the officers had a legal warrant and "knocked and announced" before they forced open the door. He said they were justified in returning fire when they were fired upon.The plainclothes Atlanta Police officers were transported to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment. One officer was struck in the arm, one officer was struck in the shoulder and one officer was struck in the thigh. All are expected to recover.
There is a whole lot of this story that ain't being told.

Officers that are executing a search warrant have to be extrememly careful about a number of things. First, you have to be damned sure you have the right house. Second, you have to make sure that you are easily identified. Third, you have to bring enough officers to properly secure the house once you're inside.

I spent a lot of my career in plainclothes. Depending on my duties, I'd either wear a coat and tie or khakis and a polo shirt. When I'd execute a warrant, I'd bring along a minimum of six officers, and we'd suit up in vests and jackets that had POLICE plainly stenciled across the front and back. If I could get some uniformed officers to go with me, I had them. In executing a search warrant, the more the merrier.

Then, before you head out, everyone gets briefed. Everything is double-checked, and everybody knows their duties. Normally, I wanted one officer on the team that had enough experience to stop everyone and say "Don't do that. You're gonna get somebody hurt."

I'm not going to pass judgement on another officer. Large city policing is different from small-city policing. I always tried to make sure that one officer on the team personally knew the people that we were going to search, and that officer knocked on the door. That is a whole lot easier to do in a small community.

Sometimes it takes two or three minutes to have somebody inside come to the door. If the occupants are asleep or in the bathroom, it isn't uncommon to wait a few minutes before the door is opened. Kicking doors down is often counter-productive and is a good way to take a trip to the hospital.

I personally decry the seemingly common tactic of deploying a SWAT team for conducting search warrants. Those guys have a place in police work, but I think that the rank and file relies on them too much. SWAT should train more and be used less. When you need the team, you need them badly, and they should be in magnificent physical condition, superbly trained and equipped, and ready to take on the worst possible scenario. I love a good SWAT team, like training with them, like watching them deploy, yet I hate having to call them out. They should be saved for the time when things are headed for the crapper and lethal force is likely to be needed.

A common search warrant isn't the time nor place for SWAT. It's a whole lot better to work smart than it is to work strong in executing a warrant. I'm not even sure if the SWAT team was called for this warrant. They aren't mentioned in the article, but it seems likely that the officers had to force themselves into the home. And, three officers are down, so maybe calling the team would have been prudent. There are a lot of details left unreported in the article.

I said earlier that I'm not going to pass judgement on other officers or agencies before all the information is in, but based on the information in the article, something went terribly wrong between the briefing and the execution.

That's a shame.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Red cider

It's cold tonight in central Louisiana. Almost no wind, under a crystal clear sky with a new moon. The temperature will drop down into the low 30s and by daylight, there will be a frost on the ground. On nights like this, I like to make red cider, a recipe I learned from a friend long ago. It's the height of simple.

Go buy a bag of cinnamon red-hot candies. Tonight I'm using the 5.7 oz bag of Hy-top Cinnamon Imperials. Empty the whole bag in the top of your coffee maker, in a filter where the coffee goes. Fill the machine with apple juice where the water normally goes. Turn the machine on.

Drink. Enjoy.

911 calls

I see this post over at TFS Magnum.
It took 15 minutes and two phone calls to 911 to get deputies to respond to an emergency call made by State Sen. Tim Burchett as he broke up a burglary attempt at gunpoint. Now he questions why it took so long for deputies to arrive.
The article, from WATE6, a Knoxville station, says that there was a deputy parked across the street when he made the call.

Maybe so. It doesn't say if the deputy was working a call at the time, or if that particular deputy was ever told of the 911 call.

Here's the way the 911 system works, at least around here. A citizen calls 911. The 911 dispatcher decides what agency should respond and calls that agency. The agency dispatches the nearest free unit to the address in question. All this takes time. When I was on the line, sometimes I might be fifteen miles or so from the address the dispatcher gave me. It takes time to drive that distance. If the closest deputy is busy with another call, then someone has to come from farther away.

No law enforcement officer wants to delay response to a 911 call. We want to get there as quickly as possible. However, rolling Code 3 with lights and sirens, we still can't be there instantly. Travel takes time.

Luckily, this wasn't a life-threatening call. It was a burglary that the Senator foiled. He even fed the critters cookies while waiting for police to arrive.

There are broader lessons here, lessons about what YOU would do when confronted by an intruder and the police are still five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes away. We're coming, but it takes a few minutes to get there. What are YOU going to do to take care of your own safety?

Hat tip to Say Uncle.

Tamko Rustic Black - revisited

I noticed shingles on the ground last night when coming in from the backyard. Dammit.

Milady and I bought this house in November 2004 and almost immediately, shingles started falling off. I can't explain it from analyzing the shingles that hit the ground. They appear to be properly nailed and most of the tabs are glued down, yet inexplicably, six or eight shingles will turn loose and hit the ground. In the time I've been here, I've been on the roof eight times to replace individual shingles. Luckily, I haven't surfed a loose shingle to the ground. Yet.

This morning, my stepson and I replaced another half-dozen shingles that had worked loose. Tamko, rustic black shingles. They are easy to match, available at most supply stores.

I've roofed a few buildings in my time, and decided a long time ago that roofing wasn't a career path that I wanted to follow. It's good for some, but not for me.

I'm just about ready to call someone about putting a metal roof on this house. The idea of having a roof that I'll never have to replace has a certain appeal.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Turkey Gumbo

I was able to score a few smoked turkeys at a fundraiser on Saturday. This morning I was able to check Milady out of the hospital, and we decided that we wanted a gumbo. I sauteed some onion, green pepper and celery, then took the legs, thighs and wings off one of the turkeys, peeled the meat off the bone, added some chicken stock, sausage and roux. It's bubbling gently on the stove right now.

In another hour or so, I'll make a pot of rice.

The grandkids are making happy noise in the toy room. Milady is asleep in her own bed, and the sons and I are watching TV.

If I were any happier right now, I don't know if I could stand it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Use of force

Evidently, some students at U of Cal are upset about the campus police using a taser on a student who was trespassing at the library. They tazered him a couple of times while arresting him. Everybody is up in arms.

Let me just say this about that. Too bad. The guy should have gone while he had the chance.

Every law enforcement officer has to deal with these idiots from time to time. It's fairly easy. You ask them once, you warn them once, then you say the magic words; You're under arrest.

Louisiana law allows me to use whatever force is necessary to effect an arrest and a goodly portion of the police academy is spent talking about Use of Force. It's fairly simple:
A person shall submit peaceably to a lawful arrest. The person making a lawful arrest may use reasonable force to effect the arrest and detention, and also to overcome any resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested or detained.
That's it. I can use reasonable force to overcome resistance. I get to decide what is reasonable, based on my training and experience. I have lots of training and over 25 years experience.

If I ask you to leave and you don't, you probably aren't going to like what comes next. I have spent most of my adult life dealing with idiots, meaning folks who can't take a gentle hint to depart. While I won't go into the particulars of technique, it involves joint locks, strong empty hand techniques, OC spray, the baton, and handcuffs. When it's over you still leave, except in the back of a cruiser and then you have to make the phone call for bail.

Save yourself the trouble of making bail. When an officer asks you to leave, say YESSIR and depart.

Hat tip to the LawDog.

Hospital Update

Milady is doing fine after surgery. I spent the day at her side, pestering the heck out of her. The surgeon came in for evening rounds and watching the two of them interact is interesting.

He knocked on the door and came in while she was in the restroom. "Where'd she go?"

Me: "In the bathroom."

Him: Knocking on the door. "Are you all right?"

Her: "Yeah, I'm okay. When am I getting out of here?" She came out of the bathroom, pushing her IV pole.

Him: "Oh, a couple of days. Sunday maybe. We'll see."

Her: "You reckon you can give an order for a hep-lock? I'm getting tired of pushing this pole around. I'm drinking fine and this fluid has me going every ten minutes."

Him: "Yeah, I can do that. Just stay in the room. I don't want you wandering around." With that, he left. He was in the room just long enough to piss her off.

Milady is not one to suffer fools gladly. She puts up with her surgeon because she trusts him, which is more than I can say for her trust of the nursing staff at the hospital. She was muttering earlier about their ability to start an IV, which I understand is something that any neophyte nurse should be able to do. Evidently a rookie blew a vein in her left wrist and she is upset about that. Starting IV's is a part of nursing that she takes very seriously, and her exerience at this hospital isn't good in that regard.

Bottom line is, she's fine. Hopefully she'll be home by the end of the weekend.

Standards of Care

Milady has a staph infection and is in the hospital. She ran me off at about 11:00 last night. She is scheduled for surgery this morning to clean and drain the site and I am heading for the hospital as soon as I finish my coffee. The surgery is not life-threatening, any more than any other surgery and we are confident of a quick recovery. I'll probably bring her home Saturday morning.

Milday is a registered nurse who deals daily with staph infections and she diagnosed and predicted this hospitalization as soon as the problem began. When admitted, she took charge of her own health care. She is a nursing supervisor at a long-term care hospital that treats the Developmentally Disabled and her unit recently passed an audit on nursing standards with flying colors. She is a subject-matter expert on nursing standards. She is normally a kind, gentle person who cares deeply about the most vulnerable of our citizens.

She defends the nursing profession against all comers, but believes that the best way to promote the profession is to insist on the highest standards of professional care. She will bring smoke and scunion down upon the nurse who gets sloppy within her domain. I observed her last night as I played the role of dutiful husband. She was friendly and open with her nurses, but was watching them like a hawk watches a mouse. I know from personal experience that she can transition from Sweetness-and-Light to Avenging Angel within the span of a heartbeat. It is not a pretty sight, nor one for the faint of heart. Those are her standards, by God, and they will be maintained for the good of the patient and the profession.

Her surgeon, thankfully, is a doctor with whom she had had a long and congenial professional relationship. They trust each other completely and she is in good hands with him. He will practice his craft this morning with absolute confidence and mend her completely.

It's time for me to put on my shoes and head for the hospital.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I just saw the first robin of the season. Up north, the robin is the first sign of spring. Here in the Deep South, the robin shows up for the start of winter.

I've been watching geese for two weeks. Normally the geese arrive a few weeks ahead of the robins.

Not a lot of folks know this, but robins are fine eating. A mess of robins, a dozen or so, make a fine stew. Just breast them out, add veggies, and simmer in a brown gravy till tender. The meat will fall off the bone. It is dark meat, full and flavorful with very little fat.

I offer the recipe simply as old-time folk knowledge. Robins, of course, are protected songbirds and harvesting them is strictly illegal. I myself would never consider harvesting robins in this day and age. I've been told that the best way to take them is with a pellet rifle, making head shots so as not to puncture the breast. All this information comes from old-timers who did such things years ago. Or so I've heard.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mel Martinez, Trent Lott?

I see that Mel Martinez is the new RNC chair and Trent Lott is minority whip.

Haven't the beltway Republicans learned anything? Do they know that we call them the Stupid Party.

Jeeze, this is just one disaster after another. Trent "Gimme more Pork" Lott, and Mel "soft on illegal immigration" Martinez do not represent the base of the party. What are they trying to do? Lose 2008 too?

I ain't believing this.

I'm going deer hunting. Call me after Christmas.

Abramoff to Prison

Well, lookee here:

Jack Abramoff, the discredited, convicted lobbyist is still testifying. According to the blog over at ABC News, he talked to investigators yesterday about "six to eight seriously corrupt Democratic senators."

We also understand that he is talking about Karl Rove. At this point, that is almost a bonus.

I'm not going to hammer on the fact that the alledged senators are Democratic. Only that they are corrupt. We have heard a lot about the Republican "culture of corruption", and I'm sick of it. Sick of corruption in government.

At this point, one party talking about the other being corrupt is kind of like the pot talking about the kettle.

And what's up with Nancy Pelosi fronting Jack Murtha as Majority leader? Murtha has corruption issues all his own.

I am just about disgusted with both parties. And don't talk to me about the libertarians. Is anyone ready to bring back the Bull Moose party?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Just being there.

This has been one long week. We started the week with election day, which was a normal eight hour shift. Then, I was tasked with escorting a football team to the bi-regional playoff's. Not a hard detail, just gather up fifty players and the coaching staff, load them on buses and move them 100 miles, play a football game and bring them home safely. After a normal eight hour shift. That turned into a nineteen hour day.

Then yesterday, Saturday, the local high school had a couple of events occuring simultaneously, so I was tasked again with providing a law enforcement presence for multiple events that became a 14 hour day. I'm off today and have to be back at work Monday morning.

As I was working the extra details I was listening to the police radio on my shoulder, hearing my brethren all over the parish, working extra details like mine. Providing a presence. When we work those details, we are the Po-Leese, and field all manner of requests that have nothing to do with police work.

Do you have a key to that gate over there?
Where are the restrooms?
Is there a concession stand on this side of the field?
Have you seen a white purse laying around here?
Where's the Coach?
Could you watch my bicycle for me?
What were all those ambulances and first trucks doing in front of (obscure place name) last night?

It's called Protecting and Serving and it takes many talents, not the least of which is tact and diplomacy. Folks come to an event and the first thing they see, the first thing they truly see, is the cop standing out front. They expect us to know all the answers and to immediately serve whatever role they have come to expect of us. Few of those roles have anything to do with Enforcing the Laws of the State. The fans come out to have a good time and a police presence reassures them that order will be maintained.

For all you rookies out there, listen up. Police work isn't about kicking in doors, or solving homicides, or dramatic car chases. You'll get a chance to do all that, but those are very rare occurances. Mostly it's about being there. Trouble doesn't start when the police are present. After a long day when most of the population is playing, you still have to look sharp, be alert, have your gear polished and your boots laced. You will help old folks walk across a bad stretch of pavement, you'll point to concession stands, you'll answer bone-headed questions and you better, By God, be polite and courteous to everyone. You are expected to know everyone and see everything.

It's called Protecting and Serving.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tax Cuts

Wait a minute. I'm confused. Way back when I registered to vote, I understood that cutting taxes was the province of the Republicans. We've all heard the chant from the progressives that the GWB tax cuts were designed to help the wealthy. That evil Chimpy oil baron Halliburton cabal trying to shelter the rich from paying their fair share of taxes. Who are the rich, you ask? Beats me, but I ain't one of them.

As I've grown older, I've made more money. I don't consider myself rich by American standards, being comfortably middle class in housing, income, and employment. Last year, my wife and I were shocked to see the total amount of income on line 37 of our combined 1040. She's been doing what she does for over 25 years, and I've been doing what I do for over 25 years, and experience counts for something in the pay column, although we are both just working stiffs.

Then there's this thing called the AMT, or Alternative Minimum Tax, which targets taxpayers making $100,000 to $500,000. I don't qualify for that yet, thank God, but bracket creep and normal career progression are such that we might have to face it soon.

Guess who is riding to the rescue? The Democrats. Yeah, those tax cutting Democrats.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), the presumptive chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, this week put fixing the AMT at the top of his agenda, calling it far more urgent than dealing with President Bush's request to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire in 2010.
Why does Charlie Rangel want to do that? The answer is down one paragraph.
The focus on the AMT is hardly surprising, given that victims of the tax have been concentrated in high-cost urban areas such as Washington, New York and San Francisco -- places that tend to vote Democratic. Rangel, Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the presumptive House speaker, all represent states hit hard by the AMT, which is sometimes called the "blue-state tax." To map states with the highest concentrations of AMT taxpayers is to draw bull's-eyes over California and the Northeastern seaboard.
The hell you say!

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for paying less taxes. Reagan came into power on tax cits. I believe that the economy is strongest when an individual makes his own investment decisions without the confiscatory bother of income taxes. I hope Charlie Rangel cuts taxes to the bone. For all Americans. Rich and Poor alike.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Punching through the layer

Set the scene: July 1980 in a rural town in Northwest Louisiana. Very rural. From the post office, you can look directly across the two lane road into a cornfield. It's early morning and the dew is still on the grass. The corn is tall and heavy on the stalk. A deputy leaves the sub-station and before he is very far out of town, nature calls. The coffee he drank at daylight needs to go away. He turns the cruiser through an open gate and drives down the turnrow for a short distance before the puts in in park and climbs out of the car. He is in a small nondescript cornfield about three miles from town.

He steps through the first row of corn and unzips his pants. While relieving himself he looks past the rows of crops, then looks closely at the plants in the third row. His head jerks, then he looks again. He zips himself up, walks back to the cruiser and calls the station.

Over the course of the next hour, the world descends to tour his little cornfield. Detectives, narcotics, the newly-elected-sheriff-hisself. USDA, the State Police and the County agent. The report writing will go on for hours. Deputies of all stripes will be posted as guards and news agencies will come and go. The new sheriff sets up a command post at the substation and starts contracting for a combine.

Our small town deputy has found a seven acre field of marijuana.

No, I wasn't the deputy. I know him and he'll remain anonymous in his retirement, but still talks about the day he stopped to take a leak.

I was there the day we burned the evidence. Your scribe was a rookie, the enamel not yet dried on my sparkling badge and I was pressed into service to keep out the curious and the mildly hippified who wanted to be there when we lit the torch. The sheriff had combined the whole crop, after pictures were taken and samples obtained. Critters had been arrested and the news agencies briefed. The crop was piled in the center of the field and allowed to dry for four days, under constant guard, then a forester had been contracted to burn the excess.

He brought in stumpage from a cut-over and laced it with dry logs from the local sawmill. I can hear his briefing today as plain as it was that dry, sunny day so long ago. "Boys, I've got to punch through that inversion layer at 5,000 feet with a big dose of hot air. We've got to get it going straight up, so the smoke will disperse above the layer. If we don't do this right, and the smoke stays low, the whole north end of the parish will be high until sundown."

He made it, by the way. The critters went to jail for a long time. The head honcho is still there today, and I don't know why I am recalling this story, except that I am in a mood to reminisce.

It was a beautiful sight.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The morning after.

Well, I see that the Democrats have made dramatic inroads, and have in fact accomplished a remarkable feat. They've captured Congress. Congratulations to all the winners.

The voters have spoken and the major word spoken is Change. We'll see how that plays out, and this post isn't to analyze or whine. The voters have spoken and that is what a democratic republic is all about.

I understand that the President is going to speak at 1:00 p.m., and if it were me, the speech could go one of two ways. The first, and best would be to acknowledge the part that voters play in a republic and that we all have to bend to the wishes of the voters. That is fourth grade civics, but in large part it holds true. He should tell the people that he intends to work with the elected leadership in the Congress and move the United States in a direction that is consistent with the wishes of the voters.

The second way would be to hire a comedy writer and deliver a stand-up routine, a roast if you will, of the last couple of weeks. The United States needs a good laugh this morning. I don't think we'll hear the President cracking jokes this morning.

The election really isn't going to affect me much, in a micro-sort-of-way, except that I need to go ahead and buy that evil assault rifle I've always wanted, in case the new Congress decides to ban them again.

The American people never cease to amaze me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election returns


According to the Sec of State's website, there isn't much gonna change in the Louisiana Congressional delegation.

1st District. Bobby Jindal (R) has it sewn up with 88%.

2nd district. It looks like Karen Carter has pushed William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson into a runoff. That's good for the folks of the 2nd district. That's good for Louisiana. Jefferson has gotten about all the votes he is going to get and right now, he is standing at 29%. However, at this hour, that district is only reporting 258 out of 492 precincts. Most other districts are reporting much larger precinct percentages. It is now 10:15 pm, local time. Might be that the fix isn't in yet on that race. This one may be fun to watch. However, Jefferson should know that he is in trouble. Big trouble. Historically, Louisiana congressmen don't have any trouble getting re-elected and Dollar Bill is running 29%. He should concede. Many more have voted against him than have voted for him.

3rd District. With 493 of 540 precints reporting, we have Charlie Melancon (D) 14 points ahead of Craig Romero (R).

4th District. Jim McCrery (R) has 58 percent of that one.

5th District. Rodney Alexander (R) doesn't need to worry. He's carrying 68%.

6th District. They've returned Richard Baker (R) with 83%.

7th District. Charles Boustany (R) has the nod, at 71% of the vote.

In Louisiana, that's 5 out of 7 in the Republican column. Yee-haw. Now, if the rest of the country can get their act together, and maintain the Republican Congress, there may be hope after all.

I guess we'll know all about it tomorrow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

World Opinion divided

We learn that world opinion is divided on the Saddam Hussein sentence.

I call bullshit.

A ruthless, murderous dictator has sat in the docks, been tried by his own people and convicted in the harsh spotlight of world media attention.

I note that the courts that tried Saddam held jurisdiction in the same land that gave us Hammurabi's Code, arguably the first legal code committed to writing. The Iraqi people have a long and honorable legal history. Through their courts, they have decided that he should hang. Hanging also has a long and honorable history as a way of dealing with tyrants.

For myself, I think he should be returned to the septic tank in which he was found, have a toilet installed, gather a group of Kurds and feed them nothing but Taco Bell until the toilet backs up. But then, world opinion would probably be divided over that sentence, too.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday news

Saddam was convicted and sentenced to hang. Based on the reports I've seen, the verdict goes immediately to appeal and the appelate courts have their say in the matter, if the sentence is upheld, then the law requires it be carried out in 30 days.

This is the first week of November. We could see Saddam hang by the New Year. That's a hell of a lot better than we do executions here in the United States.

I'm feeling marginally better. Still weak, but I don't want to cry each time I swallow. I can't remember the last time I was sick. I guess I'm glad that the worst of it happened on a weekend, although my weekends are precious and these past two days have been a total waste.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association is supposed to announce the matchings for the High School Playoffs. Bolton is in the playoffs for the first time in five years. It should be interesting to see who they are matched against.

I think I am going to cook a pot roast for supper. My grandfather's recipe. It's fairly simple, to wit: In a black iron pot, sear your roast all around, then remove it from the pot. Add a half cup of oil and a half cup of flour and make a dark roux. Add water till the pot is about half-full, then add the roast. Peel an onion and drop whole into the pot. Cover and cook in a 350 oven for four hours.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Not, not the weather, although it is pleasantly cool outside. Me. I've got a cold.

Hacky cough, slight fever, sore throat, back ache, no stamina, nose running like a fountain. All the classic sypmtoms. Milady, who is a registered nurse, applied her considerable talents to my discomfort. Two tylenol, gargle with listerine. Get my butt in bed. Last night I climbed into bed at 7:00 and climbed out at 8:00 this morning. For a fellow that usually gets 6 hours, that may be part of why my muscles ache. Too much mattress time.

I am blessed, generally, with good health. Yeah, I'm overweight and have some bad habits, but I've taken off sick only two days in the last five years.

I don't do "sick" real well. The grandkids are over here this morning and I am letting them run on autopilot. Saturday morning cartoons are on the TV, so I don't have any PawPaw duties to fulfill right now. They're happy to leave me alone.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Winning the War

Michael Ledeen, over at NRO makes some good points about the war on terror and why it is more than just Iraq and Afganistan. His main point is that the war on terror is a regional one, with worldwide implications.
The debate over the appropriate number of American troops in Iraq is a typical example of how our failure of strategic vision distorts our ability to win the war. So long as the terror masters’ killers can freely cross the borders from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iran in order to deliver money, weapons, expertise, and manpower, it is hard to imagine that any conceivable number of American soldiers could defeat them.
It's a great article, go read it.

I note that since WWII, we have forgotten how to wage a world war. Regional conflicts have global implications. To limit our military response to a particular country creates a safe haven for our enemies. During WWII, we invaded Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Italy, France, and Belgium (I'm sure I'm forgetting someone) before we got around to invading Germany. There were no safe havens for Nazis (or the German Military) and we went after them wherever we found them. Eisenhower held together an often fractious alliance without losing sight of the real issues, which was the defeat of Hitler.

Like Mr. Ledeen, I suspect that a lot of us, on both sides of the aisle have been asking the wrong questions about the WOT. If you ask the wrong question, then the answer isn't helpful and the debate is bogged down. Lets ask the right questions.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday ruminations.

I'm fairly disgusted with most of the politicos hereabouts. The few that don't aggravate me are keeping quiet, which is the preferred manner of keeping for political creatures.

So, that said, my prognostications for the coming election.

Nationally, the Congress might change hands, it might not. I feel like the Stupid Party (of which I am a secular member) might lose it. The thing to remember about Congressional races is that they aren't national. They are very local. For example, my personal congresscritter, Rodney Alexander, is going back to Congress waltzing. His opponent is too little, too late. After the election I am writing Rodney a scathing letter about his spending habits, but that is between he and I. He really needs to pay attention to Porkbusters.

All over the U.S., local elections are deciding the members of Congress. The big question is not whether one party is better than the other, but which party is marginally less bad than the other.

I see that John Kerry has his foot in his mouth again. I look at the two senators from Massachusetts and realize that there are voters dumber than the ones here in Louisiana.

I see the Governor's race is heating up, here in Louisiana. That one's not till next October, so there is a lot of jockeying going on. What is interesting is the number of pretenders who say that they are not running.... yet. Right now, there are two in the race. Blanco, and Foster Campbell. Expect a host of others to join in as we get closer to summer. Historically, the launch of the governors campaign has been the July 4th weekend, at the Penecostal Campground in Tioga. All the politicos are there speaking and at that point we get a pretty good idea about who is running.

As to the mayoral race in the city of Alexandria, who cares? That race has gone to the swine. My only concern about that last sentence is that I may be unfairly slandering the barnyard pigs in the parish. Most of us moved out of Alexandria years ago, anyway. The Alexandria race is a diversion. It really doesn't matter which of the two gets to be mayor. It's my home town, and I love it, but it seems that common sense never seems to catch hold in Alex.