Saturday, December 30, 2006

Age and Time

It amazes me what some people will believe.

You've got to see this story from about two groups arguing about how old the Grand Canyon happens to be.

On the one side, we have the scientists who are pretty good at measuring things, within the last 10,000 years or so:
The difference between the views of some groups is--literally--millions of years apart. "The Grand Canyon was formed millions of years ago," said William Ausich, president of the Paleontological Society, who signed a letter along with presidents of six other scientific organizations. "It is the job of the National Park Service to present the best scientific information possible to the public and the book is complete pseudoscience."
Then we have the Creationists, who defend this statement:
Mark Looy, vice president of Answers in Genesis, said four staff members of his organization contributed essays to the book and believe the canyon is much newer. "The canyon was formed as a result of the aftereffects of Noah's flood, a worldwide global flood," he said. "Most of the canyon was formed by a lot of water over a relatively short period of time."

Okay, Mr. Looy, tell me how old these galaxies might be?

According to NASA and the Hubble folks, these galaxies are 4 billion light years away. Think about that for just a minute. The light from those galaxies has been traveling for 4 billion years. I'm sure that's give or take a couple of hundred thousand. So, we can reasonably infer that the universe is at least 4 billion years old.

I am a Christian. I'm also a science fan. I'm not overly educated, but the differing beliefs are easily reconciled in my mind.

God doesn't lie to me, but He is not constrained by space or time. We are. He gave us mathematics and logic to use as tools to understand His universe. More importantly, he gave us the power to observe, to discern, so that we might properly wonder at His creation.

Goldwing Repair

Our successful excursion into the bowels of Goldwing wiring has my Wing up and running. I'd get on it tomorrow and drive anywhere in the country, yet motorcycles are designed for tinkering and mine needs a couple of things.

Like an oil change. That isn't much of a problem, as Wix makes filters for it. I have a filter and seven quarts of oil on the workbench. (No, the Wing doesn't take seven quarts. That's what I have on hand.) The very first thing you do when you change a Wing's oil is to remove the lower cowling. Three screws (5X14, Honda Part #93891-05014-07). These things are easily lost. I need a couple for replacements. Two of mine have vibrated loose over the last ten years and fallen to the road. I need a couple for replacements. The guys over at Honda Direct list them for $2.50 each.

Two frigging dollars and fifty cents each for a screw? You have got to be kidding me. These are machine screws I'm talking about. Not some gold-plated titanium aircraft part. These things hold a piece of plastic to a piece of metal. They ought to be $2.50 for a box of ten. Hell, I just went and bought three big honking lag bolts and paid 11 cents apiece for them. I'm not about to pay $2.50 for a machine screw that is going to vibrate out and fall on the road.

Somebody makes these screws. I've just got to find them. I guess I'll take the one remaining one I have and hie myself over to Fastenal next week.

Friday, December 29, 2006

That's a wrap!

CNN reports that the Arab stations are broadcasting the news that Saddam Hussein is dead.

Also hanged with him were Barzan Hassan, Hussein's half-brother, and Awad Bandar, former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court.

Because I am Christian, I believe in heaven and in hell. I also believe that there is a special place for despots and Saddam is just now feeling the heat.

Maybe after the fact

Looks like Saddam Hussein is about to hang.

And not a bit too soon. Lots of folks are trumpeting the fact, MSNBC, Jules Crittenden, Michelle Malkin He's about to swing, and this report may even now be after the fact.

History will say a lot about Saddam Hussein, one of the truly evil men of this era. The simple fact that he existed colored the entire second half of my military career and provided me one of the truly adventurous deployments of my twenty-plus years of service.

There is a truism in the Army that we always train for the last war we fought. That's true in that a good portion of my career was spent training for a Vietnam style jungle environment, or an East Germany, watch-the-Red-Horde-pour-through-Fulda Gap scenario. That isn't always the case, however. In the '70s some far-sighted Army officers saw the need to train heavy brigade sized forces and looked about to find an area that would support large formations locked in manuever. They picked Fort Irwin California, and in 1979 the National Training Center was launched.

The fact that it is a desert environment was truly prophetic. From NTC, we taught brigades to fight as brigades and taught heavy (tank, infantry, artillery) forces to exist, maintain, and succeed in a desert.

There were some truly forward-thinking officers that chose a piece of California desert to build a state of the art training center. Those guys, whoever they are, saved countless thousands of lives.

And sometime soon, if not after the fact, Saddam Hussein will swing into eternity. When the news is made fact, a lot of us who sweated, worked, and bled to make it happen will pause, have a drink, and toast the guys at NTC who made it all possible.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The One Question

Like Kevin, over at the Smallest Minority, I am unabashedly conservative and am becoming more libertarian as I mature. Kevin has done a wonderful job of preaching in the wilderness about individual rights and recently he penned a masterful piece about gun rights. I recommend it to you all.

In it, he asks the one question that everyone who advocates abrogating the 2nd Amendment should be forced to answer.
Can you demonstrate just one time, one place, throughout all of human history, where restricting the access of handheld weapons to the average person made them safer?
That question was originally asked by Joe Huffman with an open challenge to anyone who would like to take it. As far as I know, no one has answered it with a defensible YES answer.

Unfortunately, those people who would take your rights first try to take your guns. We've seen this repeatedly through human history. To subjugate a population, you must first make them unable to resist.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Living nativity scene

As part of my church's ongoing Christmas celebration, I got volunteered to play Joseph as part of the living nativity scene. The church performed it on December 20, 21, 27 and 28. I was on the roster for tonight.

I have fulfilled my duty. There were sheep, cattle, donkeys, and one jackass on the set. We won't discuss who the jackass was, but he's glad we're through too. It was cold out there by the manger, watching the livestock eat the set. I hope my feet thaw out before daylight.

I've done sillier things, but I can't recall when.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Saddam's appeal

Looks like the appelate division has spoken:
BAGHDAD, Dec. 26 -- An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling to execute deposed leader Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity and said he could hang within 30 days.

"From tomorrow, any day could be the day of implementation," chief judge Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin said at a news conference in Baghdad.
That's the way to do it. No pissing around like we do here in the United States.
On Nov. 5, a five-judge panel unanimously sentenced Hussein and two of his seven co-defendants to death by hanging. Four other defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 years to life, and an eighth was acquitted.

The high court also upheld the death penalty of two of Hussein's co-defendants, Shahin said, but returned the case of another convicted man to the high tribunal after deciding his life sentence was too lenient.
That's interesting. An appeals court who returns a defendant to the district bench because the sentence was too lenient. I like those guys.

But, the bigger lesson is that a defendant can be sentenced in November, file an appeal and have a decision on that appeal in December. Not bad at all, and from my way of thinking, the US Courts could take judicial notice. Punishment is no good as a deterrent unless the sanctions are quickly enforced. Wilbert Rideau could have benefitted from time limits like these.

I understand that the preferred method of hanging in the Arab world employs a braided wire cable, much like we use on a winch.

Goldwing repair

I own a 1996 Honda Goldwing Interstate. The Goldwing marque set the motorcycling market on its ear back in 1975 and continues to be the leader in comfort, innovation, and dependability. Mine has carried me across country, and is still a solid, dependable bike, with some 140,000 miles on the odometer. I wouldn't hesitate to give it a basic servicing and ride it across the country again. This is my second Goldwing and if the good Lord allows me to ride, there will probably be a third one in a couple of years.

However, with a bike this old, things happen. Last fall, I had a problem with the bike I couldn't diagnose. The motorcycle ran fine until you applied the brakes, then the engine died as if you had cut the ignition switch. I traced wires and called techs and no one could help me with the problem.

Until this morning. My second son, a mechanic by training and trade, helped me look for the problem and after an evening of poring over schematics he had an idea of what the problem might be. He suspected a interittent ground connector in the bank-angle sensor, or the brake light circuit. As it turns out, there was a burned ground lead in one of the main connectors. Matt told me that when the connector got hot, that connector would lose connectivity and would trip the bank-angle sensor, which told the bike it was on its side. The sensor killed the ignition, just like it was designed to do.

A trip to the parts house, a couple of connectors, some dialectric grease, and my scooter is running again. Try as we might in the garage, we were unable to duplicate the fault. I think it's fixed.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Remington 870

The Remington 870 shotgun is a marvel of manufacturing. They're made as inexpensively as possible, yet they are virtually bulletproof. Long a standard of police work, they're also well known in the duck blinds and bird fields all over the world. I don't know how many Remington has made since 1950, but the population has to be in the millions.

Tonight my daughter brought me her boyfriend's 870. It's a garden variety 870 Express Magnum with a 28 inch barrel. It wouldn't lock up and he asked that I look at it. It took a while, but I found a problem that I have never seen in the 870 line.

I took the barrel off and looked first at the locking notch in the barrel extension. Sometimes a piece of shot gets wedged up in there and won't let the locking lug engage the notch. It was clean. Then I took the trigger group out and inspected it for breakage or damage, or more loose shot. Sometimes a piece of shot gets in there and locks the trigger group. It worked fine took.

Scratching my head, I took the bolt out and inspected the locking lug. It was clean and serviceable. Sometimes trash gets in there and keeps the bolt from sliding completely forward. Nope, that bolt was just fine, although over lubed. We cleaned it and I started inspecting the forearm when I noticed it was loose.

The spanner bolt that holds the forearm to the action bars was loose. Really loose. I tightened it and reassembled the shotgun. It locked up fine. Evidently, that spanner collar had worked loose over the years until the bolt wouldn't slide forward enough to lock the action. If the forearm won't pull the bolt completely into battery, the shotgun won't lock up. Basic common sense, yet it was the last thing I looked at, and frankly, I was out of ideas.

Thirty minutes into the job, we were done. Boyfriend's shotgun is working fine. He owes me one, and that is a fine position to be in.

Christmas Morning

It's rainy here, and Milady is asleep in our bed. She crawled in this morning just before 7:00 and put her cold feet against my sleeping body. That is a standard practice that has evolved over our marriage and I suspect is fairly common among couples. It is my job, my calling, to warm her when she sleeps. When there are cold feet in the bed, then I know my wife is there, and all is right with the world.

Once I got her warm and toasty I crawled out to begin my day. She and I sleep on differing schedules because of the nature of our work. I'm a daytime deputy, she is a nighttime nurse. She'll awaken early this afternoon and we'll enjoy her two days off. The children are at other folks homes this morning, enjoying Christmas with the other people in their lives, and that is just exactly as planned. Christmas is in the heart, not wrapped in tinsel under a tree. We did the tinsel thing last week and I was truly in the Christmas spirit till I went to bed last night. When I awakened this morning, I found it finished. This morning I find myself with a pot of coffee, this computer, a darkened kitchen and the rest of the year stretching before me. Today I am at peace with the world, and if that is the best of God's gifts to me, I'll take it.

We're entertaining friends later this afternoon and my one task is to prepare the meal. We're serving something Milady calls Taco Soup and the recipe is simplicity itself.

Get out a skillet and a crock pot. We have the large oval one.

Brown a pound of good lean hamburger and a half-pound of good breakfast sausage. I use Jimmy Dean's. When brown, dump it in the crock-pot.

Add to the crock-pot (don't drain anything)
2 cans of pinto beans
2 cans red beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chopped green chilis
1 package taco seasoning
1 package Ranch dressing mix.

Put it on low and let it cook for a couple of hours. Serve over corn chips, we use Fritos, and garnish with grated cheese.

Bon apetit!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, again

I just got back from church. Our pastor had a Christmas message, but preached from Phillipians. She admitted that she didn't know why she wasn't preaching the traditional Christmas message, but that she was moved by God to preach from Phillipians 4:4-7. Her sermon dealt with why God does things and the fact that we are often unable to understand God's mind. We just have to accept. She dedicated the service to all the service-members who are serving away from home in whatever capacity they are ordered to serve. I thought it was a nice touch to remind us all of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are in some place other than home for the Christmas season.

At any rate, I have to go out and get some last minute foodstuffs before the stores all close. While I was checking email, I went over to Hog on Ice and found this little blurb. It sets up Christmas against the modern backdrop of current events and says it about as well as anyone has said it.
Oh, yeah. While you're having fun, remember that Christmas has something or other to do with that "Christ" guy. In a world where most religions see God or the gods as selfish, capricious jerks or apathetic administrators who don't care about human suffering, Christianity alone recognizes God as a person who loved us so much He came to earth in the form of a man and allowed Himself to be tortured to death by His jeering enemies so we could be free of the consequences of our own evil deeds.

A lot of religions require the sacrifice of human beings to please gods. Christianity's God sacrificed Himself for the benefit of human beings.

As end-of-the-year gifts go, that one is hard to top.
I concur.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

New Camera

Evidently, every PawPaw needs a video camera, to take those holiday videos that no one ever watches. So, for my birthday, I got a JVC GR-D370 video camera. It uses tape, of all things.

I have to get a firewire cable to download video to the computer, and that search will wait till I get to town. I have a 4-pin to 6-pin cable, but evidently what I need is a 4-pin to 4-pin to connect to the computer, as my computer doesn't have a 4-pin slot. The manual tells me that I can download still pictures from the camera to the computer using a standard USB cable, but for video I need a DV cable. Whatever that is.

This camera uses the little digital video cassettes, and I'm sure that there is some utility to those, but to properly edit and manage my video, I'll need some way of getting the video out of the camera and into the computer.

One day next week I'll put both the camera and the laptop in the truck and go searching for a cable. Radio Shack ought to be able to hook me up.

Everyone else has figured out how to do this, what with the monumental success of YouTube. There has got to be an easy way to get video out of the computer and on to my hard drive. Or am I missing something?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

I'm off work this morning but have to go back tonight. After tonight I'm taking off till after the New Year. It'll be a time for reflection, for projects, for relaxation. Regular readers may notice a difference in the blog postings, because I intend to relax for the next two weeks.

I may even drink a little whiskey.

Should I forget, or be otherwise occupied, I want to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone who regularly reads this little blog. Further, I hope that the New Year brings joy and prosperity to each of you.

Merry Christmas.


I know what a cup is. Measured from a standard US measuring cup, it is 8 liquid ounces. These are US measurements.

When I pour a cup of coffee in the morning, I use a coffee cup that holds 6 ounces. Like most of us, I have an eclectic mix of coffee mugs in the cupboard, but they all hold about six ounces. There ain't no demitasse cups in my cupboard.

I have a 12 cup coffee maker. I make a full pot every morning. My particular coffee maker is a Proctor-Silex, but I've noticed that all the brands have about the same weird-assed markings on the carafes. Normally, I get about 6 or seven cups of coffee from a 12 cup coffee maker, depending on the mug I use to drink my brew.

I just took the carafe off the coffee maker, filled it to the 8 cup line, then measured the water in the carafe with a measuring cup. My coffee maker, at the 8 cup line, holds just exactly four measured cups of water.

SO, the cup markings my US coffee maker are just exactly half a cup. What sort of dumb-ass marked the cup measures on the pot?

Note to coffee-maker manufacturers: Use standard measures, or mark it at 6 ounces and call it a nine-mug coffee maker.

Not that I expect anything from the manufacturers. I'm sure that the engineers who design these things know that they're lying to us. I'm used to being victimized by engineers, who in my experience are no better than lawyers, and I hold lawyers in complete and utter contempt. We need engineers and lawyers like we need septic systems, but it isn't something that a civilized person wants to be familiar with.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Press

A reloading press is a lifetime acquisition. Most single-stage reloading presses are over-engineered to the point where they'll never wear out in a lifetime of hobby use. I have a Lee Challenger press that I've been using for the past twenty years and it remains just as serviceable today as it was the day I took it out or the box. I have loaded thousands of rounds of ammunition on it and taught others to reload on it. It works great.

For the past year or so, I've been jonesing for a new press, for no other reason than greed. Having two presses on the bench is a time-saver for more production than the yearly hunting ammo. If I want to load a couple hundred rounds of .30-06, for example, having one press set up for one task and the second press set up for another task makes a lot of sense.

Because the Challenger press is lightweight, made of aluminum, I wanted something with a little more substance.

Last night, Milady presented me with this.

The Lee Classic Cast Press. This thing is cast iron. 1-1/8 inch ram. It's big enough to load .50 BMG if I ever feel the need to do that. I can't find a shipping weight, but it must weigh 15 pounds. This thing is built like a tank, and based on the reviews I've seen, I'll probably never want another single-stage press.

I am a lucky, lucky man.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday again

Wednesday again, and time flies. This week isn't as busy as the last, and we're well into the Christmas season.

Today is a milestone, of sorts. PawPaw will attain the ripe old age of 53 sometime today. And, my drivers license isn't due for renewal for another year.

Three years ago, Milady hosted a surprise party for me. I didn't realize that there was a surprise party until I came in the backdoor of the house and stepped into the bathroom. I kept my toothbrush in there and my toothbrush had been moved. I realized then that she had straightened for a special occasion and that either I was going to a party or I had been evicted.

Two years ago I spent my birthday in a court room.

Last year I worked a fifteen hour day on my birthday.

This year, I get off at 3:00 and all the kids are coming over for a combination birthday/christmas party.

My married children spend thanksgiving with us, and go to the other parents for Christmas. As Milady normally works Christmas, and when I was working shift I worked Christmas, this doesn't pose a burden. We just have Christmas early.

So, tonight the grandkids will open presents under our tree and we'll exchange gifts with our children, and Milady has something especially sparkly under the tree.

I hope she likes it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Wolves and Gators.

No, this isn't a football matchup. It looks like Wyoming is having the same problems with wolves as Louisiana had with gators twenty years ago.

Guys on the ground, the wildlife managers and the ranchers know how many wolves are on their ground. Any person who works the land knows what is on his land. Some predators can be tolerated, some cannot.

I knew, for example of a bobcat that lived behind my pond. Saw it regularly. Told the kids not to molest it. It kept the mouse population down. I also knew of a panther that lived in the woods behind the house. I didn't mind it being out there either and was fairly certain that it would maintain its distance from livestock. The coyotes that roamed the bayous and hilltops bothered me more than the feline predators. A pack of coyotes will do some damage if they focus on a lifestock animal, plus, they hunt at night so you often don't find the damage till the next morning.

The folks who come up with regulations are often slower than the folks who work outside to arrive at suitable regulations for the treatment of predators. We saw this when alligators were making their comeback from endangered to commonly seen.

One afternoon I found a gator in my pond. I knew they were still protected, so I called the Fish & Wildlife guy. "Don't you have a rifle?" he asked. I got the message. From that day forward I managed my predators on my land. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is shoot, shovel, and shut-up. We call it the 3-S's and it accounts for big part of my management plan.

The Wyoming ranchers have probably all ready adopted it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Botched execution

I see where Florida botched an execution. Florida and California have suspended executions till the procedure can be fine-tuned. That's all well and good.

Folks have been botching executions for as long as there have been people. Botched hangings led to the electric chair, or the gas chamber. The problems with those devices led to lethal injection.

Some take issue with the death penalty and that debate has gone on for years. It will continue to go on.

Captain Ed takes issue with the death penalty, and names three prisoners who were exonerated through the use of DNA evidence. He uses that as an argument against the death penalty and goes forward to offer life without parole as an alternative. Life imprisonment is a poor alternative, without closure for the victim.

While it is true that we didn't have DNA evidence when a lot of the current prisoners on death row were convicted, we have it now and it has helped to clear people who were wrongly convicted. Everyone in the criminal justice system is happy when an innocent man goes free. We don't want to see anyone in jail who doesn't deserve to be there, but one part of sentencing is to provide closure for the victims. Therein lies the problem with a life sentence.

Often, it isn't.

Victims families are told that a prisoner who murdered a loved one will be held until they die. This promise is often a lie, best illustrated by the case of Wilbert Rideau. Tried three times for murdering Julia Ferguson in 1961, the facts of the case are not in doubt. Rideau robbed a bank and kidnapped three persons. Before the crime was completed, he had shot one and knifed one. Julia Ferguson was his knifing victim. His case was fraught with legal problems, but the facts have never seriously been disputed. He was sentenced to die, but kept winning retrials until in 2005 he was again retried, convicted of manslaughter and released.

The fact that there were problems with the makeup of the juries used to convict him did not change the facts of the case. Rideau murdered a woman who didn't deserve to die. He cold-bloodly stabbed her to hide his identity. After each trial, the family of Julia Ferguson was told that Rideau would never be a free man, that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

That was a damned lie. The case of Wilbert Rideau is a blot on the record of criminal justice in Louisiana, both because of the methods used to convict him and the fact that the system couldn't keep this cold blooded murderer locked up.

Wilbert Rideau is the reason that a life sentence will never provide closure for the victims, nor for society.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Then there was Ney

All good cops cultivate whatever sources of information are useful. The people who live and work on the streets are excellent sources of information, not to mention a certain source of entertainment. Back in the late '80s I was working in a parish near Toledo Bend and there were a great number of landings and marinas whose population swelled during the weekends. What was probably the last whorehouse in North Louisiana flourished there during that time, under the guise of a bar and motel near a marina. Lots of fishermen came in during the weekend, away from spouses and girlfriends and that part of Louisiana took on a wide-open attitude. Vice was everywhere, bubbling just below the surface.

One source that I cultivated was a black street prostitute called Ney-Ney. Ney-Ney was supporting herself by giving oral sex at rock-bottom prices and she was willing to negotiate on her rock bottom prices for groups. She was a good source of information about people coming and going (no pun intended). She and I came to an uneasy truce: If I didn't see her actually plying her trade, I'd leave her alone and she'd pass along information that I normally didn't have access to. Occasionally I'd slip her a twenty so she could go home early.

One day I saw her limping up the road on crutches with a cast on her leg and I asked her about it.

"Well, hell, white boy. I was partying with a bunch of rednecks last weekend and when we was through, they put me out of the truck."

"You broke your leg getting out of the truck?"

"Naw, Damn! We was a bunch of us in the back of the truck and when they was through, they threw me out of the truck. It was going about 40 miles per hour. Mister Brandon (a local constable) picked me up and brought me to the hospital. If them white boys come back, Mr. Brandon is going to take them to jail." Ney-Ney hobbled up the street toward a local hangout.

Three or four days later I got a call from Dispatch of a report of a white gentleman in a red GMC pickup having a heart attack. I rolled on it from the north, and another cop rolled on it from the south. We arrived at the vehicle almost simultaneously. A white-haired fellow was in the front seat. His head was back and he was twitching. I called for an ambulance and got out of the cruiser then noticed a cast containing a foot sticking out of the passenger window.

"Ney-Ney," I hollered. "Get off him!"

Ney sat up, a surprised look on her face. I told her to get in my cruiser and wait for me there. I cancelled the ambulance and went to talk to the fellow.

He zipped himself up. "I paid her $50.00 and I didn't get my money's worth."

"And you're not going to, this afternoon anyway. Do we need to take you to jail and call your wife to get your truck, or are we going to call this a lesson?

"We'll call it a lessson."

"Yeah, an expensive one," I continued. "She'd have done it for five."

I dropped Ney off at her apartment and told her to stay off the highway during broad daylight.


Thanks, guys, for all your input on the two posts below. On reflection, the pepper spray story was about cruelty, and the cops actions were inappropriate, and probably illegal.

It is a cold cruel world out there.

A lot of writing is about getting a response from the reader. If I can't get a response, then the writing isn't up to par. In standard print media, we get a response through sales of magazines, books, or newspapers. In this media we get a response through comments.

Some have asked why I blog, and writing is part of it. This is a medium that is fairly new in our history and a lot of us are still trying to figure out how to use it. I blog for a variety of reasons. One of them is to get some of these stories down on paper. Published writers have said that I should write a book about police work over the past thirty years, incorporating these stories and others. I don't know if I'll ever do that, or if I'll incorporate those stories in some other media form. The important thing is to get them down on paper.

Police work, like most other trades, has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. Some for the better, some for the worst, history will decide what we've done right and what we've done wrong. Fortunately, we're still fine-tuning our craft and I hope we reflect what American society is.

One thing that I tell students is that whatever laws we enforce, we don't get to make the laws. Cops don't write the rules. The rules are made in the legislatures and the city councils. We try to apply them to a real-world scenario. If you don't like the rules, don't blame it on the cops. Get involved, hammer your city councilman. Write letters to your Congressman. Go to the local office of your guy or gal in the statehouse and let them know, in no uncertain terms what you are thinking.

If you don't like a law, work to change it. Don't expect us to ignore it just because it is unfair, or it is poorly written, or you really don't see any harm.

That's what being a citizen is all about.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oooh! Outrage!

Evidently, the commenters are unhappy with cop humor. Tough.

We don't see the best in society. No one calls us when things are going well. We get to see the wrinkled underbelly of our culture and most of it isn't pretty.

I've laughed over corpses, because my mind didn't want to deal with what was laying at my feet. Sick? Twisted? Yeah, maybe so. Get over it. I had to.

You want entertaining cop stories. You don't want to hear about 4 year old rape victims, or children burned in ovens.

You don't want to hear stories about hating to come to work on Friday night because of one woman who at 8:00 calls in a domestic disturbance. You go arrest hubby and she drops the charges on Saturday. Next Friday we're back to domestic disturbance because she can't handle him after he's had a few drinks. This goes on for months, yet she drops the charges every time. And expects us to come running whenever she calls.

Only one Friday night she doesn't call and the shift progresses normally. Until Saturday, when someone calls it in, and we get there and he's strangled her with the phone cord. Because, basically, he was tired of going to jail every Friday night.

Then there was the young adult guy who was sniffing gasoline while he smoked marijuana. One Sunday morning he gets the sequence wrong and burns the house down while his parents are at church. The punch line? They didn't even know he was in town that weekend, or they wouldn't have left the house alone. They didn't trust him to be at their house alone, yet when they drove up from church to find their home smouldering, they suspected he had done it.

Ya'll probably don't want to hear stories like that, either.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wednesday all ready?

Yeah, it looks like Wednesday, although the days are starting to run together. Of course, it's about 8:00 p.m. and I'm still at work.

Still, tomorrow starts the Christmas season for me. Tomorrow night we go to Milady's office party which is going to be held a some restaurant. I intend to be polite and not drink. I'll get Milady home safely.

Friday night is my office party. I intend to eat copiously, drink responsibly, dance, tell lies, and listen to bullshit. When you put a couple of hundred cops in the same room, with wives and whiskey, there isn't any telling what you're liable to hear.

Here's one from last year. An old-time cop who spent a lot of time in a small sheriff's office was talking about the early '80's. They had just been issued pepper spray (OC) for the first time.

"I was patrolling up north in the parish when the sheriff came on the radio, said he had just passed a hitchhiker on the Scenic Highway, and someone get up there and get that bum out of the parish, so I rolled that way. Sure enough, about five miles from the parish line, there was this guy hitchhiking, thumb out for the world, and he was headed north, so I pulled over and told him I'd give him a lift to the parish line.

"He got in the cruiser and we hadn't gone a more'n a mile before I realized the guy was gamy. Real gamy. Smelled like he hadn't showered in a week. I knew I was going to have to drive around for an hour or so to get the funk outta my car, and it was July and hot outside. I told the fella he needed some deodorant. When we got to the parish line, I handed him my canister of OC, told him it was a new deodorant my wife had bought. He got out of the car and unbuttoned his shirt and sprayed each pit. He dropped my spray on the passenger seat and I turned my car around to head back.

"When I looked in the rearview mirror at him, he was flapping his arms like he was trying to fly north toward Shreveport. I don't suppose he ever got off the ground, though, because he wasn't running quite quick enough."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blowin' Leaves

There is this parking lot where I work. It's not a large parking lot, holding about 90 vehicles, but it is beautiful, dominated by five large live oak trees.

Live oaks shed leaves constantly. They drop their acorns in the fall. Our yardman normally keeps the lot cleaned, but he's been out sick, and we hired a temp. The temp needs great doses of adult superivision, and no one thought to tell him about the parking lot and blowing the leaves. Until today. Somebody mentioned it today.

It rained last night and the leaves are wet. Cars have been running over acorns and the nuts are ground into the consistency of cornmeal. Wet cornmeal. And the yard guy is out there blowing wet cornmeal and wet leaves with a big Stihl leaf blower.

It's the damndest mess you ever saw.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blanco wants exit plan

Governor Blanco wants an exit plan for withdrawing military and police forces and returning them home to their families.

Not from Iraq, but from New Orleans.
BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Saturday that she will order State Police and National Guard troops to remain in New Orleans past the end of the year, but stopped short of making a long-term commitment to backing up the storm-damaged city's strained police force.

Yeah, it's time to get the Guardsmen home. They've served long enough in a place without an exit strategy, in a hostile environment, with unclear rules of engagement, and with no real civil government.
Blanco said. "We can't do it indefinitely. If we tried to do this indefinitely, it would cost us an arm and a leg."
Oh, the cost!

I'm beyond words.

Sunday church

I go to a small country church where everyone knows everyone else. It's like a large extended family with lots of aunts and uncles. You cannot be anonymous at my church because the congregation will simply NOT allow it.

My wife and my mother share the same first name. I've never called either by their name in this venue, simply because I don't use names of private persons here.

Anyway. Dad is going through a hard time medically and I got to church this morning and didn't see his car. I knew the congregation would want an update, and I've been working 15 hours days this week, and I haven't kept track of my parents, so I called Pop on the cell phone to check on him. He's feeling better, just puny, and was staying home this morning. My wife, being a night nurse, and me being a daytime cop, I haven't seen my lady for three days. She's normally asleep beside me when I get up in the morning, but we haven't spoken three words since Thursday afternoon.

So, we get to the part of the service where we share joys and concerns. The pastor look right at me and asks "So, How's Miss **** doing? Remember, my mother and wife have the same Chrisian name, and I panic. I think they're asking about my mother, and I'm not even aware that anything is wrong. So, I stand, and smile sheepishly. "I don't know... I talked to Pop this morning and he didn't say anything. I guess I need to check on that." Then I sit down.

The pastor looks at me like a lost puppy. And says words to the effect of "No, dummy, your wife."

So I stand, and say the only thing I can say. "I guess she's okay. I haven't seen her in three days." Then I sit back down. It wasn't one of my finest moments.

NOLA Death Watch

I'm watching the results come in on the Carter-Jefferson race in New Orleans.

Jefferson took his precincts in Jefferson Parish, 11,934 votes to Carter's 4967 votes, with all precincts reporting.

New Orleans parish is still coming in. At 10:34 p.m. local, we see that Carter has 5,093 votes to Jefferson's 4,780. This with 106 of 392 precincts reporting.

I can't believe that Jefferson carried Jefferson parish, with over 66 percent of the vote. What are those people thinking? In NOLA parish, the vote could still swing either way. You can watch the results here.

This is just too bizarre for words. It's like watching a friend go slowly insane.

UPDATE: At 11:30 p.m. with 194 of 392 precincts reporting, it is Carter 9863 and Jefferson 9650 in New Orleans parish. Jefferson still has that 7000 vote lead that Jefferson Parish gave him. This is like watching a train wreck.

UPDATE: Sunday morning, the bloggers are all over this one. Here, and here, and here. The Oyster weighs in here.

New Orleans just shot itself in the foot. With a shotgun. Some are wondering what Speaker Pelosi's take on the matter will be, and whether the crook will get a committee seat commensuate with his seniority. I predict he will. The people have spoken, after all, that they prefer a crook representing them in Congress. The Congressional Black Caucus (a racist organization) will support him. Jefferson is the poster boy for the Culture of Corruption that the Democrats railed about prior to the election.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

18 degrees?

Milady's thermometer registered 18 degrees as she was leaving work this morning.

Accuweather has Alexandria/Pineville LA at 20 degrees as I type this. Accuweather tells me also that warmer weather is on the way. I know how to deal with warm weather.

In short, it's colder than a whatchacallit out there. I'm glad I'm inside. This is Louisiana, folks, and it doesn't get that cold down here except once every ten or twelve years. We're a sub-tropical climate, or we were until Thursday, when it got truly cold.

PawPaw remembers some truly cold weather. He has pictures of kids slipping and sliding on a frozen pond.

My neices from Vermont tell me I don't know squat about cold weather, and I admit my ignorance.

Working last night at a detail, some citizen mentioned that it was cold and I replied that yeah, it was chilly, but the mosquitos had been hammered back. So, there's that, anyway. The mosquitos shouldn't be too bad today.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Savage 110 - .30-06

Mounting a scope is frustrating sometimes because a lot of it is a "try and see" procedure. Manufacturers make rifles in all shapes and sizes and scope builders make scopes in all shapes and sizes. The key is to throw the rifle to your shoulder in firing position and have the reticle come sharply into focus. That is easier said than done.

Then there is the esthetics of the mount itself. When you mount the scope, you want it to look right. Until yesterday, I wasn't happy with the way my scope was mounted to the Savage. Back 40 years ago, or longer, the scope mounting companies settled on one of two systems. The Weaver system (which is a takeoff from the 1917 Picatinny system) and the Redfield system, which uses dovetail joints to attach the scope to the rifle.

I've always preferred the Redfield system. So, when I was mounting my scope to the rifle, I tried to get Redfield mounts that fit the rifle and scope. The only problem is that the Redfield system doesn't lend itself to adjustment. It locks up rock solid. With a standard front mount and standard rings, the front of the scope was too far forward, which meant that the rear of the scope was too far forward and eye relief suffered. In short, I couldn't see through the scope. That wouldn't work.

My next step was to send call Brownells and see what the techs had to offer. They recommended extended rings, which I ordered. When I installed those extended rings, the eye relief was almost right, but I had to crane my neck slightly forward for proper viewing. I sighted the rifle with that system, but after a number of range sessions and a couple of hunts, I wasn't happy with the scope mount.

So, I started looking for extended bases. The base mounts to the rifle, the rings mount to the base, the scope sits in the rings. After a great deal of searching the Brownell's catalog, I clicked on my old standby, Midway USA, and found a set of Burris extended bases. I mounted them yesterday after work, and set the extended rings in those bases. Voila. Everthing came together.

So, this morning, I can throw the rifle to my shoulder in street clothes and the reticle comes immediately to my eye. With a hunting coat on, it is still almost right. With the rifle snugged in tight on a bench, I don't have to crane my neck forward to see through the scope. And it's only cost me, what? Two sets of bases and two sets of rings? The scope itself is a Weaver K6, a classic fixed power scope. I will probably never take it off that rifle.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday afternoon speed typing.

I've been busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest, and it doesn't show any signs of slacking up.

I'm scheduled to work some extra duty in about an hour, and working all weekend, so blogging will be light until Sunday after church. Unless I decide to go to the deer woods, or the range, which is sounding like a wonderful idea.

This afternoon's event is unscheduled, which means someone screwed up and didn't tell administration or the deputy that an event was scheduled. I've double-checked and it is not on the schedule I was given a month ago. I had originally scheduled LIFE for this afternoon, that little activity I so enjoy when I'm not working. However, I now have to put LIFE on hold while I do my duty.

I will do my duty.

The question that organizers of events have to consider is just exactly what type of deputy they want working an event. Do they want a deputy who is happy, contented, working a schedule, or do they want a deputy who is just about three-quarters pissed off because the coach can't get his head out of his butt and make a schedule he is willing to live with? That is a very important question, especially when I have vast assets at my control that can be brought to bear, and a virtually unused ticket book.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Congress to work 4 days a week.

Yeah, they've got to be in town on Monday evening, and they get off on Friday afternoon.
Which, I have to admit, is a more stringent work schedule than the Republicans kept.

It seems that Stenny Hoyer is making a schedule and trying to get some work accomplished. I applaud him, yet some are whining.
"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."
Hey, you dumb SOB! No one assigned you the job. You asked for it. Campaigned for it. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, if you and the rest of the Republican Congress hadn't pissed away the opportunity to lead, you would still be having a three-day workweek. Now, get to work and shut-the-hell-up.

Kingston continues the stupidity:
Time away from Washington is just as important to being an effective member of Congress as time spent in the Capitol, Kingston added. "When I'm here, people call me Mr. Congressman. When I'm home, people call me 'Jack, you stupid SOB, why did you vote that way?' It keeps me grounded."
Oh, Jeez, Jack, you're making this too easy. I called you a stupid SOB from down here in Louisiana. Your constituents call you that to your face. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Then, the House Minority Leader chimes in:
Setting a calendar that satisfies 435 members is impossible, said the current majority leader, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who will become minority leader in January. "Between the travel issues, the members' work schedules, the family and district issues, it was a Rubik's cube," he said.
Well, hell, Boehner. There's the frigging problem. If you're in charge you don't set a schedule that satisfies the memebers. You lead. Frankly, the people of the United States don't give a tinkers damn about whether the member of Congress are satisfied. We expect them to lead. Your failure to lead, sir, is the major reason that the American people made you the minority party.

Now, Representative Boehner, get your head out of your butt, and get to work.

Hat tip to No Quarters.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Getting a raise

It looks like I'm getting a raise. Governor Blanco, through the powers of her office, is giving all the cops, firefighters, and corrections officer a $125.00 raise in the supplemental pay.

Supplemental pay is an interesting concept. Normally, a cop is paid by the city or parish in which he works. There are great, huge differences in the pay rates of the various agencies. Generally large outfits pay better than small ones, however that is a generality and isn't always true.

The politicos in the state, years ago, decided that since a great portion of our time is spent enforcing state law, that the state should pony up some of our pay. The current state supplemental pay comes to $300.00 per month for each first responder.

State Police don't get supplemental pay. They are already paid completely by the state. Probation and Parole officers don't get supplemental pay, nor does the State Fire Marshall's office, or any of the horde of inspectors, detectives, or investigators that the state sends forth to harry the populace. Supplemental pay is for us local guys, set at $300.00 per month. It looks like I'm going to get a raise to $425.00 per month, courtesy of the Queen Bee herself.

Before anyone sheds any tears for the State Police, spare me. Those boys, whose primary duties involved writing speeding tickets and working wrecks, get paid a princely salary, with lots of perks. No one in the State Police is underpaid, and most of them retire to luxurious leisure, taking their pleasure in exorbitant style.

Before all the cheering and huzzah-ing dies down, we must remind ourselves that the Governor is a political beast, facing a substantial challenge in 2007. There are a lot of folks who would like to see her go away. Look for raises for teachers, for state employees, and any other way she can spread the government largesse while running her campaign. This raise is pure politics folks, with more to come.

Of course, I'm not going to turn the money down. That would cause huge headaches in the payroll department and I'm going to keep those folks happy.

Monday, December 04, 2006


This from CBS/AP.
(CBS/AP) A 45-year-old man was hospitalized after four sheriff's deputies rescued him from the jaws of a nearly 12-foot alligator Wednesday, while he was naked and high on crack cocaine.
The hell you say.
Adrian J. Apgar was taken to the hospital in critical condition with an apparent broken right arm, leg injuries and his left arm hanging by a tendon. Hospital officials did not immediately release information about his condition. It was not clear why Apgar was in the lake. Judd said Apgar was naked and told deputies he had been smoking crack.
Well, hell. The reason he was in the lake was because he had been smoking crack. You don't swim in lakes at night with 12 foot alligators if you're sober.

They caught the gator, by the way, and it was destroyed as it was overly aggressive.

Gators are everywhere in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida. If you've got more than a half acre of water, it is an even bet that you have gators. Get used to it.

We are not the top of the food chain, especially if you've been smoking crack.

Pretty Lame

I'm a pretty lame traveler, when you think about it.

When you see it on a map, it's even more apparent.

The red is the states I've visited. The white states show my sloth. I really need to get out more. There is so much of this country I want to see, and I haven't taken the time to see it.

Hat tip to these folks. And to this one for the link.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Seasoning cast iron

Termite mentions, in comments:
Cast iron in the dishwasher?!?! OH THE HORROR OF IT!!
Actually, it won't hurt it, but it will take most of the "seasoning" out of it, and you'll have to reseason it. i often don't even use soap when I clean my cast iron skillets, just hot hot water and lots of "elboy grease". Then dry well, and wipe down with a very light coat of either mineral or vegetable oil.

The Termite
Yeah, okay.

I've heard those old wives tales too, and to tell you the truth, I bought into them too for a long time. The simple fact is that they ain't true. A lot of folks have a particular cast iron skillet that is used exclusively for cornbread and they never give that skillet more than a wipe with a paper towel. I'm not going to convince them and we'll just have to disagree. So be it.

Seasoning in a cast iron pot is lard, fat, oil, that seeps into the pores of the iron. It imparts an almost non-stick surface to the metal. A well-seasoned cast iron pot is a thing of joy. Nothing sticks to it, but from time to time (every five years or so) you need to thoroughly clean the metal and re-season. My pots, and most of the cast iron I've seen, gets a crust on the outside. This crust is oxidized carbon from food splattering on the outside of the pot. Eventually, you'll look at it and gag, then it is time to clean the pot thoroughly. Washing it in a sink ain't gonna do it. You have to burn that stuff off, in a hot fire.

So, you go outside and build a fire. When I lived in the country, I'd use a brush-pile of various hardwoods and deadfall I had accumulated over several months. I'd put the pots in that fire and light it. When everything had burned and the ashes had cooled, I'd pull the pots from the fire. Occasionally, one would crack from the heat, and that is just part of the charm.

But, all that crust would be gone. Then I'd take them inside, give them a good washing with soap and water and re-season them. It's simple. Give the inside a good coating of Crisco or other solid shortening, then put them in a 450 oven for a half-hour. Take them out of the oven, let them cool and repeat the procedure. When they've cooled a second time, take them out, wipe them with paper towels and store them away.

I'm convinced that what makes a cast-iron pot non-stick is the smoothness of the interior surface. The seasoning (shortening, oil, fat, whatever) floats out during heating and keeps food from sticking to the surface. If the surface is smooth, nothing can stick to it. If the surface is rough, then food has an opportunity to stick.

Bon apetit.


The Instapundit (yeah, like he needs the links) is talking about cookware. My favorite, my most treasured cookware gets one single line.
Cast iron is good. Once again, however, for me the dishwasher issue rears its ugly head. Again, your results may differ.
Oh, please.

Dishwashers don't hurt cast iron, although some prefer to hand wash them. I currently regularly use eight pieces of cast iron cookware, and am constantly looking for more. Yeah, I know that Lodge makes new cast iron, but I prefer to find mine at yard sales or flea markets. The heritage cast iron has a nicer patina than the new stuff. Also, the new cast iron seems to be rougher than the old stuff. I'm not sure if that is part of the manufacturing process or if the smoothness of the old stuff reflects years of use. Still, we have a new dutch oven that I'd like to use sandpaper on to smooth it out. When you can, buy heritage cast iron. When you can't, buy new.

Some folks swear by Griswold cast iron. I've never seen the difference between an old Griswold and an old Lodge. They both work fine, which is to say, like cast iron.

We keep the smaller skillets on a pot rack above the kitchen island, and this isn't a display rack. We use these skillets for a number of tasks. The larger skillets and the dutch ovens are kept under the counter. The majority of our cooking is done on cast iron. Looking at that picture, I notice one of the frying pans is missing. It's probably in the dishwasher.

When Milady and I set up housekeeping, one of my tasks was to determine which cast iron we kept and which was sent forward to the children. One of my sons has a cast griddle that his great-grandmother used. I have no doubt that with just a modicum of care, my pots will be used three generations from now. If that ain't durable, then nothing is.

For good heat transfer, durability, ease of use, and just general "cool" nothing beats cast iron.

So, to Glenn Reynolds, I give this advice. Go visit a flea market or garage sale and pick up a piece or two of cast iron. Run them through the dishwasher and tell me if they're hurt. I'll wager not.

Islamic surrealism

As I drink my Sunday coffee and prepare to attend Church, I am struck by this posting from Little Green Footballs.
A hitherto unknown group calling itself the Just Swords of Islam issued a warning to Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip over the weekend that they must wear the hijab or face being targeted by the group's members. Addressing female students, the group said: "We will have no mercy on any woman who violates the traditions of Islam and who also hang out in Internet cafes."

According to the group, its members used rocket-propelled grenades to attack 12 Internet cafes and a number of music shops in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

It said the places were targeted because they were "distracting an entire generation of Palestinians from their duty to worship [Allah] and jihad so that they could serve their Zionist masters and the Crusaders."
I don't even know where to start on this one.

Whoever these Just Swords are, they sure know how to treat women, don't they? This is the face of Islam. It's not a religion that any thinking person would want to associate with. Islam treats women as chattel and requires men to impose their will upon the females in the household. How can a man love a woman yet treat her as property? How can a family exist where half of the union is seen as a lesser entity? How can any thinking person support such a religion?

I am reminded of the words of Alan Jackson.
I know Jesus and I've talked to God and I remember this from when I was young. Faith, hope and love are the good things he gave us. And the greatest is love.

Islam surely isn't a religion of tolerance, kindness or understanding. It's a religion of submission.

I, for one, will not submit.

Friday, December 01, 2006

McCain loses election

Did y'all see this? Evidently, John McCain put his name on a ballot for committeeman for the Republican party, in his home district in Arizona, and lost.
Haney also noted, with some satisfaction, that McCain himself ran as a state committeeman Tuesday and lost. But McCain spokesman Paul Hickman said the senator, who did not attend, did not seriously seek a spot as a committeeman at the next state party convention. McCain submitted his name but will soon move from the precinct. "He didn't campaign for it and didn't expect to win," Hickman said.
What the hell was he thinking?

His spokesman says that he didn't campaign for it, and didn't expect to win. That is disengenious at best. A sitting US Senator can't even draw enough votes in his own precinct to get elected to the Republican committee, and he wants to run for President? He better get his act together at home before he decides to run for a national office. Personally, I wouldn't vote for him for dogcatcher.

John McCain has earned his stripes as a warrior, as a POW, as an honorable American. I have nothing but admiration for his uniformed service to our country, but as a Senator, he leaves a lot to be desired.

I've known for a long time that John McCain is a bonehead, but I never expected to see absolute verification of it in print.