Sunday, January 31, 2010

To the NFL

This is making the rounds.



Ha! Trademark Dat!

Sunday Morning Dawg

This morning, we find the dog on the rattan divan, taking his leisure near Milady. He turns to regard me quizzically as the shutter snaps.



I give you the Sunday Morning Dawg.

*UPDATE* This picture was taken earlier this week, when temps were mild and we weren't sick. The latter part of this week has seen the stomach bug pass through me, Milady, elder son, and the grandkids. Since Thursday, it's been a weekend for the record books. For the record, this morning, I feel about 90%, Milady is at about 50%, Elder Son sounds like he's at 30%. I'll be at work tomorrow, but I can't vouch for anyone else.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saints Fans

With the Super Bowl just a week away, we're told that the NFL is trying to say that they own the "Who Dat?" rallying cry of die-hard Saints fans.

I doubt that opinion will stand a challenge anywhere in any Court. The Louisiana Democrats want Governor Jindal to file suit.
The Democrats' governing body Saturday called on Jindal to defend the rights of Louisiana citizens to use the term "Who Dat" and the New Orleans Saints' fleur-de-lis symbol.
And in the linked article, the reporter gets it all wrong. Who Dat is a Louisiana euphemism that pre-dates the Saints, but when you start talking about the Fleur-de-Lis symbol, you've gone way too far. That isn't a Saints logo, it's a Louisiana logo. It came here with the Acadians and it's been univerally adopted by Louisiana. My sons put the Fleur-de-Lis on decorative ironwork, people hang them on walls, we embroidery they into fabric.



The NFL is dead-wrong on both symbols. They appropriated them for their use, they've got no right to them. They're both in the public domain.

I'm still not a Saint's fan, but if Whatsisname Benson wants to get a little goodwill back, he'll tell the NFL to Shutthehellup.



On a more local note, the bigger question becomes how the mayor's race will fare in the face of all the Super-Bowl hype. The mayoral primary is on Saturday, February 6, 2010 and the game is on Sunday, February 7, 2010. Turnout is always a big deal in Louisiana elections, and I'd feel pretty safe in saying that the electorate is just a bit distracted right now.

There will be some interesting politics going on in the Big Easy this week. I'll be watching The Oyster for informed commentary.

Hat tip to Mostly Cajun for the cartoon.

Chariots

Have you guys seen this? Chariots!



This is redneck goodness at its best. I don't see any real use for these things, except the double-plus-bonus-goodness of having a motorized contraption, the only one like it on the block. I could see a bunch of Shriners running these in parades, or youngsters racing them.

You get to race a chariot without all that horsey stuff flinging through the spokes, and you can increase the horsepower without actually increasing the horses.

Billl has all the details. The main link is here.

**Update** I see that The LawDog has already modified one for police work. The redneck penchant for application always leaves me in awe!

The No-Spin Zone

Via Hot Air, we learn of a wind turbine in Minnesota that's not spinning. It seems that the hydraulic fluid is cold and the wind turbine is frozen in time. They plan to get a contractor to install equipment that will heat the fluid to release the turbine, but it seems to me that installing powered equipment, either electrical or gas, will reduce the net efficiency of the wind turbine.



During the summer of 2008 we took a driving trip across the great Southwest and I was amazed at the huge wind turbine farms Boone Pickens has installed across west Texas. Mile after mile of these things, spinning resolutely to provide power from the wind that blows freely across the southern plains. I thought it was a great idea then and I haven't changed my mind on wind turbines. It may never make us totally independent of foreign oil, but if you can generate electricity from these things, it helps diversify our energy structure.

However, not all technology is transplantable. What works in dry hot conditions might not work in wet cold conditions. The folks in Minnesota have found that out. What is a good idea in one place might not be such a good idea somewhere else.

Culture

I take my fine arts in small doses, savoring what I find. Last night we were present at the concert of the district honor band. Our grandson, Michael, had auditioned and won the seat at second trombone. So, for an hour, we were stirred by big-band music, from patriotic to whimsical. It was a totally enjoyable hour and afterwards, I took the party to a local steak house to honor the young maestro.



He's the brown headed kid, 2nd chair.



Here, he's clowning in the back hall after the performance.

We're very proud.

Friday, January 29, 2010

In my pocket

From Say Uncle, we learn of a meme going around, about what we carry with us daily.

This is a picture of what's in my front pockets every time I go out.



Top to bottom, left to right. Cell phone, lip balm, memory stick, Buck 3-blade stockman, keys, assorted change, Smith and Wesson Model 60. In my back pockets we'll find a standard billfold on one side and a badge case on the other.

That's my standard walking-around load. I guess anyone is free to exercise this meme.

Geese in the Yard

I walked outside to the truck this morning and noticed geese in the front yard. This is part of the gaggle that hangs around here, but I haven't noticed them any where but in the pond lately. When I grabbed the camera and went back outside, I found that they had moved across the street to the neighbor's yard.



With a good pellet rifle, I could be eating goose for lunch.

Bullets

If you're a new shooter, you're probably not as amazed as I about the revolution in the bullet industry. Simply stated, bullets are better now than they were 20 years ago. Back when I started playing with guns, there were only two ways to improve the effectiveness of a bullet. More weight, or more speed. There are those who clung to the idea of increased velocity and those who clung to the idea of increased mass.

Then, a few designers started playing with the technology of bullet making. Nosler might have been the first, coming out with their revolutionary Partition bullet. The Partition set the stage for bullet manufacture, designing a bullet that worked across velocity levels and performed its intended function at varying ranges and velocities. Other manufacturers followed, bringing out bullets with bonded cores, plastic tips, and internal structures designed to get the most out of a piece of gilding metal and lead.

In many ways, I'm still an old-school guy. I use cast bullets for most of my shooting and I still consider the Remington Core-Lokt plenty of bullet for most game. However, I'd have to be blind to see that bullet manufacture has changed the way that lots of folks think about cartridges today. John Taffin has tested the .223 against Corsican ram and tells us:
Rick reached the top, got on the rams, and laid down in the wet grass waiting for a shot. Using his pack as a rest he lung shot the biggest ram which was not standing perfectly broadside but at a slight angle. That Black Hills 60 grain .223 Soft Point entered at an angle through the lungs and the expanded bullet was found under the hide on the offside shoulder. Once again, results were dramatic, instantaneous, and all conclusive. I would expect in future years and future hunting trips, both men will insist I bring along the .223 Handi-Rifle complete with the Optronics scope and a supply of Black Hills ammunition.
Using a .223 against ram? Who'd of thought it.

We see other examples across the shooting press. For example, Dave Petzal tells us in an article about one lady using a .270 on all manner of big game:
As bullets get better (and A-Frames are about as good as they get), caliber is less and less important. I would hesitate to use a .270 on a grizzly, but if you can kill a 1,000-pound moose with one you can do in a 600-pound bear. If I had not been frightened by Elmer Keith during my formative years, I would not use a .338 so much.


Bullets are getting better and we can now use smaller calibers to do the job that would have taken a large boomer years ago. It's still the hunter's job to put the bullet where it matters, and for myself, I still intend to get close enough and use enough gun. But, with today's bullets, enough gun might mean that we don't need to dislocate our shoulder every time we pull the trigger.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sick

There's some sort of wildly aggressive stomach bug making the rounds and PawPaw has it. Last night and today has been an interesting experience.

I'm not sick much. I've only taken sick days three times in the past eight years. Two four years ago, and two today and tomorrow.

Milady is a registered nurse and she's making me do all the smart things. Still, I'll be glad when things return to normal.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SOTU

Our President is going to give his first State of the Union address tonight. I don't have tome to watch it, I'll be going to the funeral of a dear fried. No, that's not metaphor, I'm actually going to the funeral home.

The state of the union tonight is worry. He doesn't have a package and the message he's sending out is mixed. Hopefully, he'll get his act together tonight and assuage the fears of the nation.

What are we afraid of? I'm worried about what my health insurance is going to look like next year. Seniors are worried about rationing and juniors are worried about having to buy insurance they might not need. Employers are worried about the business climate and bankers are worried about whether or not they'll be the target of prohibitive regulations. Manufacturers are worried about whether the banks will start lending again and employees are worried about whether they'll have a job tomorrow. Realtors are worried about the housing markets and investors are worried about the stock market.

But again, I have to go to the funeral home. That might be a metaphor after all.

Cool stuff

Today, the Navy brought a simulator to the high school and set it up in the parking lot. One and all were invited to take a ride. It was reminiscent of the Link trainers I remember from years ago, but this thing seats 12 and is a recruiting tool. Of course I took a ride.

It was based on a scenario where a SEAL team is landed ashore, designates an industrial target and multiple weapon systems destroy it by fire. At various times during the simulation, the viewer was on a submarine, swimming with the SEAL team, aboard a guided missile cruiser, aboard an aircraft carrier, and flying with FA18 Hornets. I was impressed that they set up the fire mission as a TOT (Time on Target) where multiple weapons systems fire at differing times to put all the ordnance on target at the same time. Of course, the good guys won.

I asked the recruiters if they had one for the Marine Corps and they admitted that they did, but that it only showed lots of poorly dressed people slogging through mud and dust and sand. Not an overly impressive demonstration.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh, Really!

Remember James O'Keefe? He's the young film-maker who drubbed ACORN last year in a series of sting videos. Yeah, him.

It seems he got arrested today, trying to tap Mary Landrieu's phone lines.
Alleging a plot to wiretap Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
Ain't that a hell of a note! Hey, guys. That's not cool. Not cool at all. People go to prison over that sort of thing.

I'd love to hear the story on this one.

Monday, January 25, 2010

On the Saints

The Saints won the NFC championship last night and are headed to the Super Bowl. Good for them. My co-workers were ecstatic over the game and I don't give a damn. I haven't been a Saints fan in years. Let me explain.

When Tom Benson threatened to move the Saints unless the state bailed him out, I thought that it sounded a lot like a tawdry divorce. One party ain't getting enough money, so they threaten to leave unless the other party coughs up the dough. That's either prostitution or abuse, depending on how you look at it.

I don't care if a pro team wins or loses if they have a stake in the area. Hell, I've been a Cubs fan for years, and for years before that, I was a Mets fan. I'll follow a losing team. I'll worry and watch and bite my fingernails. I don't mind a team going through a rough stretch, but I don't like a quitter, and the Saints lost me when they threatened to leave the state.

Listening to the fans today, I'm reminded of people stuck in abusive relationships, trying to rationalize their joy. Things are going well and when things go well, everyone is happy. When things turn sour and one party threatens to leave, that's abuse. All I've got to say to Tom Benson and his Saints is "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out." Watching the fans today is like watching a battered spouse. It ain't pretty. It's a sick, sick relationship we have with the Saints and the sooner it's over the better for everyone concerned.

I despise the New Orleans Saints.

Garage Door Opener

I got home today to find my garage door opener defunct. It sounds like the transmission has gone out. Heavy grinding noises from the part that drives the door. Little wheel not spinning. Dammit!

As it turns out, our local Sears store has them in stock and Milady is on her way to pick up a new one as I type this. I'm not crazy about the idea of installing a new garage door opener, and it really is subject to claim as to whether I'll have the time to tinker with it this afternoon, as I have to leave in an hour to go observe a soccer game at the high school, but the new one will be on my workbench when I get home tonight.

That old opener has been hanging from the garage ceiling since we bought the place and I'm sure it's the original one that was installed when the house was built in 2000. It's ten years old and has been giving us a few problems. Hopefully, we're about to solve all the problems.

**UPDATE** Elder son, who is an industrial maintenance mechanic had it up and running in just about an hour. The skill set in this family is incredible.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Dawg

When I get up to make coffee in the morning, likely as not it's still dark outside. The dog sleeps in the laundry room and he'll commence whining, wanting to get outside of his little room. So, I pick him up and put him outside so he can do his business while I continue making coffee.

After a suitable period, he starts whining again to come into the house. It's heart-rending, pathetic whining that's calculated to tug at the heart strings and prompt a human to open a door. I ignore it.

In this snapshot, he sits outside whining to come inside. As I type this post, he's whining still.



He's the Sunday (early morning edition) dog.

UPDATE WITH EXTRA BONUS PICTURE: The dog got a haircut on Saturday. I went to the range and when I got home, Milady was shearing him. He seems to enjoy it. This picture shows him cavorting after being released. He looks a little uneven, but it'll grow out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Woodworth Range

The Woodworth range is closed. So I was told by the LDWF dude there. I went this morning to fire some handgun and rifle loads and when I got to the range, I noticed that the firing benches were stacked on the 50 yard line and there was earth moving equipment in the parking lot.

LDWF dude cited "safety concerns" and said that they were going to have to move the berm 45 degrees. I asked when and he said that the range has been closed two months and he didn't know when they'd get started, much less when they'd be finished. I told him that the website says that the range is open and I drove out and found it closed. He told me that the website wasn't his concern. His concern is keeping the range open.

I told him that was bullshit.

I've already posted a stern letter to the secretary of LDWF, Mr. Robert Barham. I told Mr. Barham what an asset that range is to central Louisiana and how important it is to the shooting public. I also told Mr. Barham that the local employees close the range on a variety of pretexts and it's a matter of claim as to whether someone might drive out when it's supposed to be open, and actually find it open.

With the Woodworth Range closed, I went to an undisclosed place and did my shooting for the previous post.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries really pisses me off. I am truly angry that they use our tax dollars and can't manage to keep a simple little range open. I'm going to give Barham about a week to respond to my letter, then I'm going to start raising hell at my elected officials.

On the Range

I went out to the range today for a couple of specific purposes. I wanted to test some various handloads for velocity in the Smith and Wesson Model 28 and the same load in the Marlin 1894 to see what difference there might be from a handgun barrel and the longer rifle barrel.

We started with a standard wadcutter loading, using a 148 grain hollow-based wadcutter loaded over 2.7 grains of Bullseye. This has proven to be a very accurate load in my revolvers.
With the Model 28-2, average velocity was 624.1.
With the Marlin 1894, average velocity was 602.4.
Interesting! The HBWC target load actually lost velocity in the longer Marlin barrel.

Next, we tried a light .38 special load, using the TL358-158 SWC bullet, loaded over 4.3 grains of Unique. This load has also proven to be a very accurate load in a variety of revolvers.
In the Model 28-2 we saw average velocity of 790.8.
In the Marlin 1894 we saw average velocity of 950.9.
That's an increase of 160 fps. I don't know yet what I'm going to do with that informaiton, but there it is.

We moved on to the .357 magnum case. First, we tried the TLC358-180 RF (Ranch Dog) bulet over 12.0 grains of 2400. This is a fairly stout magnum load throwing a heavy bullet.
The Model 28-2 showed us an average velocity of 1022 fps.
The Marlin 1894 showed us an average velocity of 1340 fps.

Then, we tried the same bullet, that TLC358-180 RF, but this time over 15.0 grains of Hodgdon Lil'Gun powder. You might recall that this is a gas-checked bullet.
The Model 28-2 gave an average velocity of 1190 fps.
The Marlin 1894 gave an average velocity of 1592 fps.

Understand, all these velocities are out of my guns, over my chronograph. All these bullets were lubed with Liquid Alox and while I was cleaning the barrels, I looked for lead and didn't see any on the brush or the patches.

Additionally, I shot the Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk.

With the Skeeter Shelton load, 7.5 grains of Unique under a 240 grain semi-wadcutter, I realized an average velocity of 971 fps. Recoil was mild to moderate and the revolver was very controllable. I did not get to post a target, so I was shooting directly into the berm, but I was able to pick off dirt clods.

Then I stepped up to the full-house load, 19.0 grains of 2400 under that same 240 SWC bullet. Average velocity was 1345 fps and recoil was interesting, although not severe. I knew I had a serious handgun and a serious load. Accuracy was okay, although these were the first shots from this revolver and as I get used to a single action, I'm sure my groups will improve.

Both loads from the .44 were fun. I can see the utility of having both of them in my ammo cache, and I'll probably shoot more of the Skeeter loads than the magnum loads. Still, the heavy load is nothing to be afraid of. I fired about 15 rounds of the full-house stuff with no ill effects. My Model 28-2 had more apparent recoil with the Lil'Gun load and I'm accustomed to firing full magnum loads through that revolver.

It was a very interesting morning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Over All Length

Over-all Length (OAL) is important when we're reloading for more than one gun, especially if one of those is a repeater. If you get the cartridge too long for the gun, it won't cycle.



For example. This .357 cartridge, at 1.570 inches, works just fine in my Marlin 1894C.



On the other hand, this nearly identical cartridge at 1.616 won't go through the 1894. It's too long. One cartridge is 0.046 inches longer than the other and that makes all the difference.

You've been warned.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie. It's what's for supper.

I've always wondered about this recipe. We use ground beef, but it makes sense that a shepherd would use... sheep. I bet that ground or shredded mutton would go really well in this recipe. However, using beef is the way we make it and the recipe is a simple, easy, quick belly-filler.

Shepherd's Pie.

2 lbs lean ground meat
1 can cream mushroom soup
Onion, chopped
Bell pepper, chopped.
Instant mashed potatoes (or you can go whole-hog and peel potatoes).

In a large dutch oven, brown the ground beef, during the later stages, add chopped onion and bell pepper and sautee them as the beef finishes browning. Drain. Add mushroom soup with a half-can of water. Set beef mixture aside.

Make mashed potatoes. Add mashed potatoes to the top of the beef, keeping layers separate. Top with grated cheese. Bake until cheese is melted. Serve with iced tea.

This recipe will feed a bunch of hungry grandkids. You can half it (or double it) easily. My grandkids will be over here in another hour for the Thursday night feeding, and this is what they're having.

Skeeter's Load

This morning, I followed Junior's advice and started looking for a .44 load that would run 950-1000 fps. Google is a wonderful tool and it took me to a website called Dark Canyon. The webmaster there has reprinted some old articles from way back and one of his sub-pages is on Skeeter Skelton.

I grew up reading Skelton and I've always liked his style. So, I started looking through his notes and found out that he likes the .44 Special at about 1000 fps. There is one load there that calls for Unique powder. I keep Unique on my bench. I think it's a wonderful powder for a lot of applications.

As a matter of fact, back years ago I bought several pounds of Unique from someone who was selling-out of the business. It's still in the old carboard container with the pull-up top. It's marked $16.00, but I got it cheaper than that. I've had that Unique a long time. I'm working on the last pound, so I'll have to buy some more soon.



Two of Skeeter's .44 Specials on the left, along with two of yesterday's .44 Magnums on the right, with the obligatory .22 Long Rifle for scale.

I normally don't take reloading information off the web, because it's hard to know your source. Reloading is potentially hazardous, especially if you're listening to every knucklehead with a keyboard. I like getting my recipes from multiple sources, cross checking data to make sure that what I'm doing is safe.

Skeeter tells us in a Shooting Times article dated February 1969:
Because the 429421 plain base has never given me any leading problems in my .44 guns, I choose it over the 429244 and save the trouble and expense incurred by the gascheck. Since the introduction of the .44 Magnum, I have quit using heavy handloads in the .44 Special, and now put together a mild, but hotter-than-factory combination of the Keith bullet, sized .429”, over 7.5 gr. of Unique. Velocity runs around 940 fps, a definite improvement over the cream puff factory round. I use only solid head .44 Special cases, since the old balloon head versions are wont to stretch erratically, making trimming a requisite before a bullet with a crimping groove may be effectively used.
And that's good enough for me.

My Unique was probably boxed up within a few years of that article. We'll see on Saturday how Skeeter's load works. I'm betting it'll do just fine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

180 grain bullets

Rivrdog asks in comments if there are any factory 180 grain bullets.

Short answer? Lots.

Cast Performance makes a 180 grain lead bullet. From the picture, it looks like it comes with a gas check.

As does Hornady. This is a jacketed bullet that might do well for those who don't like cast bullets.

Hunters Supply makes a 190 grain bullet that looks like it would be a nice slug. It's not gas-checked, but it might do all right.

Remington makes a jacketed hollow point. And Sierra makes a full-jacketed bullet.

Speer's got a 170 grain Gold Dot bullet that might put a serious thumping on something.

If you're looking for factory bullets in the 170-180 grain range for the .357 I'd begin with any of those. There's a lot to like in the .357. It's a very versatile cartridge. Those bullets are just a quick search from one vendor. A more detailed search might turn up dozens more.

At the Loading Bench

Those half-dozen regular readers know that over the Christmas break, I lucked into a Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk. I haven't even fired it yet, but today I did load some ammo for it.



For the very first time, I used Wolf large pistol primers. I had read that they were dependable primers, but I might have trouble seating them. I had no trouble at all. I use a Lee Auto-Prime. I've head that little tool for almost 20 years and never had a lick of trouble from it. It's primed thousands of cases with nary a bobble.

All the reading I've done on the .44 Magnum indicates that Alliant 2400 is one of the go-to powders for the caliber. I happened to have a pound of that on my bench and last week I had cast a bunch of 240 grain semi-wadcutters. I looked in the handbook and found a load that should give me about 1300 fps from that bullet without exceeding the maximums.



Those two on the left are .44 magnums, with a .357 I loaded yesterday and a .22 Long rifle for scale. I started with 240 grain bullets because those are traditional in this caliber. I've been looking at the Lee 310 grain flat tip bullet (C430-310RF) and I might have to buy that mold this summer. I'll get used to the pistol with the 240 grain ammo and make up my mind later.

I'm not sure if I'm going to like the .44 magnum. I've always been a .357 guy and bought this pistol mainly because I got such a good deal on it. However, two of my sons are drooling after it, so if I decide to turn it loose, all I have to do is draw straws. The third son hasn't seen it yet, so there might be three lusting after it.

I haven't been to the range since before the hunting season. I'm ready to spend a good part of Saturday morning testing loads and seeing some friends I only see at the range.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recoil Therapy.

Od NFO talks about recoil therapy and I'm in the mood for some. I got a pound of Lil'Gun powder off the freight truck yesterday and this afternoon I loaded some of the Ranch Dog bullets (Lee's designation would be TLC358-180-RF) over a max charge of powder. It's a big ole honking bullet, 180 grains, gas checked with a wide, flat meplat. I intend to shoot it my Model 28 and my Marlin 1894. This is a bullet that Ranch Dog designed for the .35 Remington, but some of us have adapted it to the .357 magnum.



I had tried this bullet with Blue Dot but wasn't happy with the velocity. It was running about 1100 fps and recoil was easily controllable in that big revolver. Some folks recommended Lil'Gun and Junior sings rave reviews on it. I'm just under Hodgdon's max charge and I'm going to compare the velocity from the 6" Model 28 and the velocity from the 16" Marlin carbine. It should be an interesting experiment.

This is my first time out with Lil'Gun powder and I'm excited to see what it'll do. The Hodgdon data center tells me that I should expect velocities in the 1400 fps range out of the pistol. What it might do from the carbine is yet to be seen.

I'll shoot them on Saturday morning.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wadda Day

I awoke this morning with plans for the day. Playing in the woods with my grandsons. I went outside and fixed a flat that had appeared on Milady's car yesterday, re-stowed the spare and returned everything to normal. Then I went out to the bath-house to pack an ice-chest for the days outing. Found a terrible sewerage problem that entailed a trip to the hardware store and much cussing while clearing a clogged sewer pipe. Reseated the toilet in the bath-house with a new wax ring, then went to the lease. Had fun. Took a .410 shotgun and let the boys shoot at cola cans. Completed some instruction on basic gun safety and peppered the cans with birdshot.



On the way home, we stopped by Dairy Queen and had a blizzard. Got home and learned that Milady's truck wouldn't start. Went to Auto-Zone and bought a battery. Installed same. Cleaned shotgun. Kids went home.

I'm going to get a shower.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New York Times to charge for online reading

I notice some folks saying that the New York Times is going to offer subscriptions for online reading. Okay, if that's their market plan, so be it.

I won't pay to read an online periodical of any kind, and I suspect a lot of people won't pay to read something online.

The newspapers in this country are going through a rough stretch and they've got to decide how to configure their product to survive into the future. Newspapers haven't yet figured out how to prosper in a changing information age. We still subscribe to the local paper, but they've forgotten how to provide basic customer service. The way I figure it, newspapers survive by advertising and by articles that reach a broad section of the local readership. The bigger the market saturation, the more they can charge for advertising inches.

If a newspaper completely covers a local area, they can guarantee to advertisers that an ad will reach everyone in town. Basically, advertising should cover printing costs and profit, subscription prices should cover delivery costs. But, newspapers should guarantee delivery as part of the subscription price. Lately, delivery of the local newspaper is problematic at best. Sometimes it shows up on time in the morning, sometimes it doesn't. That's no way to run a business.

If you charge me to read a newspaper online, I won't read it online. It's simple as that.

The Sticker

I've seen this picture floating around the intertubes, and most recently my friend, David sent it on.

I don't understand the cluelessness of this guy, although sometimes the best humor is found where someone has no idea what he's doing, but plunges blindly ahead regardless of the outcome. I have found myself in that condition in various situations.



I can't imagine what this guy was thinking, but I can laugh at his plight. And yeah, the sticker on the back glass of the pickup says OBAMA, although I've never seen a sticker like that. I suspect this photo has been photoshopped.

The Future

I remember ordering things from Sears and Roebuck. From the catalog. Three times a year we'd get a new Sears catalog and pore through it. If we wanted to order something, we'd get out the pencil and write all the information concerning our purchase and whereabouts and drop it in the mail. Several weeks later we'd be surprised when the mail man (it was always the US Postal Service and there were no women delivering mail) would bring a package to our door.

Today I click on a couple of blue links and make an order from a computer that's not connected by wire to anything. Later that day I get an electronic message from the shipping company, telling me that they've started moving the package from across the country and tell me when it'll be delivered to my house.

One day last summer I was waiting for a package and clicked on the tracking link. I saw a notation that the delivery guy had given my package to the lady standing by the mail box. I called Milady on the phone she carries in her pocket and she told me that she had placed the package on my work bench before she left home to run some errands.

Thirty years ago, this would all have been fodder for science fiction. I'm awaiting a package this morning, and I know that it left Jackson, MS, at midnight this morning. It's on-time for delivery tomorrow.

We don't have flying cars yet, but we live in the future. I am continually amazed.

Sunday Morning Dawg

This morning, we have the Regal Dog, in a classic dog show pose. Of course, with all that hair, it would be impossible for my hirsute mutt to win anything.



I don't know what he was looking at, but it's a good pose.

He's the Sunday Morning Dawg.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

DC-3

Via Instapundit, I see that Stan Brock (Wild Kindgom) and Remote Area Medical are taking a DC-3 full of supplies to a remote area in Haiti. Good for them.

The DC-3 is still a magnificent aircraft, used today in some parts of the world. Wikipedia says that some 400 of them are still flying, which is remarkable for an aircraft first designed almost 80 years ago. My uncle flew them in the China-Burma-India theater during WWII and was a member of the Hump Pilot's Association until his death.

I can remember as a kid, watching DC-3s fly overhead, either in civil garb or dressed for the military. They were once a common sight in these locales. I'm glad to see that the old bird is still moving around.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Santeria Chicken

My daughter-in-law has one of the coolest jobs in the world. She's an archeologist for the city of St. Augustine, Florida. Over at her blog, she talks about finding weird stuff, like headless chickens in holes in the ground.

Seriously, that's what she does for a living. She calls them Santeria Chickens and they're remnants of a religious ritual practiced by the folks who practice Santeria.

The more I think about it, the name Santeria Chicken sounds like a recipe. I've made baked chicken, broiled chicken, barbequed chicken, all kinds of stews and soups with chicken. I can't imagine a recipe called Santeria Chicken, and it's probably just as well that I can't.

Seriously, the girl's got the coolest job in the world.

Haiti

For those of you who just woke up from a three-day drunk, Haiti took a hit earlier this week. I understand that they're burning tires to light the night.

I've never been there, but from all accounts before the earthquake it was a depressing, third-world hell hole with rampant poverty and corruption. From Wikipedia:
Haitian politics have been contentious. Most Haitians are aware of Haiti's history as the only country in the Western Hemisphere to undergo a successful slave revolution. On the other hand, the long history of oppression by dictators, including Fran├žois Duvalier, has markedly affected the nation. France and the United States have repeatedly intervened in Haitian politics since the country's founding, sometimes at the request of one party or another. People's awareness of the threat of such intervention also permeates national life.[citation needed]

The country has a particularly high level of corruption.
Sounds like a wonderful place to live, doesn't it? Mostly Cajun has more:
Haiti already was a third-world hell-hole. Poorest of the Caribbean nations, one of the poorest in the world, never able to parlay anything like an industry or tourism or anything, poorly governed, right in the middle of Hurricane Alley, you name it, if it was bad, Haiti ended up with it. Started out as a Spanish colony, then a French colony, suffered under slavery until shortly before the French Revolution. Then slaves revolted, the French post-revolutionary government stepped en to restore slavery and French government, then just gave up and left the island to slaves and former slaves, and the new government had an “emperor for life”, then the little nation slid into every horror of bad government imaginable. In its 200-year history, Haiti has seen 32 coups.
Now, after the earthquake, it's truly a hell-hole. The damage, from all accounts, is general to the entire island.

Back when I was a soldier, I relieved a bunch of GI's who went to Haiti in support of Operation Uphold Democracy (1994). They told me that Haiti was a beautiful island nation with wonderful vistas and sparkling beaches. It should have been a premier tourist destination, but the corrupt govermnents wouldn't let the people prosper.

Those people need our prayers, at the very least.

Chrony

Every serious firearms hobbyist needs a chronograph. When you're reloading and looking at the figures in the books, you're never really certain what velocity you're getting out of your load, in your gun, through your barrel.

A good chronograph is fairly inexpensive, running from a basic one at $80.00 to a top of the line at over $200.00. A chronograph will tell you lots of things, like bullet velocity, high velocity, low velocity, average, standard deviation, and extreme spread. I use mine several times a year when I'm working-up loads.

There is just one problem with owning a chronograph and that's this one. Eventually, you're going to shoot the darned thing.

I frequent a forum entitled The Gun Counter and contributor Felix sends us a picture of his chronograph, in demotivator format.



Nice group. I don't know what he was shooting, but he got it, for sure. I've shot mine, one shot with a .30-06. The basic rule for chronograph owners is that if you've never shot your chrony, you will shoot your chrony.

Thankfully, the Chrony folks are very understanding and have excellent customer serice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lubing bullets

I use Lee's Liquid Alox for lubing bullets. It's the fastest, easiest way I know to lube a bunch of bullets. Lee says to put the bullets in a butter container and roll them around, but I use a zipper bag.

First, put all your cast bullets in a zipper bag and squirt in some liquid alox. If the weather is cold, run the lube through the microwave for 30 seconds.



Next, seal the zipper bag and knead it in your hands until the bullets are coated in that sticky alox.



Then, open the zipper bag and spread the bullets on waxed paper. That picture has about 170 bullets on that waxed paper and it took me longer to type this blog post than it did to lube the bullets. I'll let them sit on the waxed paper overnight and put them away when I come home tomorrow afternoon.



Some people say that Liquid Alox is messy, but I just lubed 170 bullets and didn't get a drop on me. True, it takes overnight for the lube to harden, but I'm going to be sleeping all night.

This method works for bullets with traditional lube grooves as well as it works with the tumble-lube bullets. When I'm lubing bullets for my .30-30, I lube them one night, run them through the sizer to seat gas checks the next, then give the sized bullets another coat of liquid alox.

For the record, those are Lee's TL430-240-SWC bullets. It's a 240 grain, 44 caliber bullet with the tumble-lube grooves. I cast them from raw lead into which I added a bit of linotype. It closely resembles Lyman #2 alloy. These bullets are destined for my Ruger Super Blackhawk.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bo-Whoop

Phil Bourjaily, over at The Gun Nut, writes about a shotgun once owned by Nash Buckingham. It's a 1927 HE grade Super Fox that Buckingham used as a duck gun. He lost it after a game warden made a license check.
Bo Whoop is an HE grade Super Fox made in 1927 as a long-range duck gun for Buckingham, who, along with being a much-beloved outdoor writer, was a famous waterfowl shot. It weighs 9 ½ pounds and has 32-inch Full and Full barrels bored especially to shoot 3-inch loads of 4 shot. Buckingham shot it for over 20 years. Then, December 1, 1948, he and friend had their licenses checked by a warden after a duck hunt. Buckingham leaned Bo-Whoop against the fender of his car, forgot about it, and drove away.* The gun was never seen again. Buckingham had another Fox made – Bo-Whoop II – but the whereabouts of the original have been unknown. Until now.
It's a beautiful shotgun.



And, the sale is legal.
By and large, American double lovers believe this is the real thing and not some elaborate forgery. And, apparently, despite the mysterious circumstances of the gun’s disappearance, this sale is legal. It will be interesting to see how much it brings. All I know for sure is, I won’t be the one with the winning bid.
I don't know how mysterious the disapperance was, he drove off and left it on the road.

I did the same thing once. A bunch of us were finishing up a rabbit hunt and I leaned my Stevens 311 against the pickup truck while I loaded the dogs, then poured myself a cup of coffee and later drove away with my shotgun leaning against the rear fender. I didn't get far before I realized what I'd done and turned around to find the shotgun laying in the middle of a dirt road. The muzzle had been dinged up pretty badly, so I had the first inch of the barrel cut off and had a big white bead installed. The barrels were originally full and modified and after they were cut down, they became improved cylinder and almost cylinder bore. I went on to use that shotgun for several years and with the opened chokes, it was a heck of an upland shotgun.

I sold it in a pique of poverty several years later and that's one gun I've always regretted selling.

Still, that Fox is a beautiful shotgun.

Hat tip to Field and Stream.

Primers

I'm out of large pistol primers, and I can't find any locally.

Midway is out, as is MidSouth and Natchez. Widener's has Wolf large pistol primers, but I've never used them. I generally stick with Winchester or CCI for my primer needs.

It appears that the ammo shortage is just about over, but the primer situation has me aggravated.

Midway says that they're expecting some large pistol primers in on or about 1/15/2010, and that's coming soon. I expect that if I check on Friday and they have some, I'm going to order a couple of thousand. The only problem with that is that the hazmat fee makes the per-primer cost go way up.

As long as I'm paying that hazmat fee, I guess I oughta get a pound of L'il Gun and a pound of Varget. I've been meaning to try both those powders.

**UPDATE** I ordered 2K large pistol primers and a pound of Hodgdon L'il Gun. They were out of Varget. The primers are coming in the door at 4.2 cents apiece, which is the highest I've ever spent for primers. I've heard that L'il Gun is the bees knees for .357 magnum and I want to try it with 180 grain bullets.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Frozen pipes

I awoke before daylight to 18 degree temps and no hot water. It would drip, but it wouldn't run. I went to church and Milady stayed behind to watch the drip. She says it broke loose about 9:20. No damage, no problem.

They're predicting similar temperatures for the low tonight. If I go to bed without a faucet dripping, I deserve to have my butt kicked.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Every night I'm home, when I'm watching TV, the dog climbs up in my lap for a good scratching. So, while I'm relaxing in the evening, likely as not, I'm scratching the dog. Milady and I call this "abusing the dog". Eldest son grabbed a picture of the process the other night.



Not a pretty picture is it? Can you tell that the animal is in great distress? The glazed eyes, the slack jaw? Oh, yeah, he's in terrible pain.

This week's Sunday Morning Dawg.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bullets

I was piddling around on the bench today and I thought I'd play with the camera. What's a good subject for learning about macro photography? Bullets.



These are all .30 caliber jacketed bullets that I keep on the bench. From left to right; 125 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter, 130 grain Speer flat tip, 155 grain Hornady A-Max, 155 grain Sierra MatchKing (Palma), 165 grain Sierra GameKing, 168 grain HPBT (milsurp), and last, but certainly not least, 170 grain Remington Core-Lokt.

I like the way the short depth-of-field blurs out everything but the bullets.

Milady's Fettuccini

My lady makes a fine fettucini sauce, and like most of our recipes, it's fairly easy. All you need is:

Onion
Bell pepper
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
8 0z Velveeta cheese
1 can original Rotel tomatoes
1 cup half & half

You can do this light or rich. If you want to use fat-free cheese, soup and half & half it's a fairly light sauce. If you want to use the good stuff, that's okay too. It's also an easy recipe to double. If you're feeding a crowd, this is quick and filling.

Chop the onion and bell pepper and sautee them in a little vegetable oil. Add the other ingredients and simmer.

To this mixture she adds 2 packages (12 oz each) prepared crawfish tails and lets it simmer slowly on the stove for a half-hour. You can use anything, shrimp, crab meat, chicken, whatever light seafood or poultry you prefer. Below is a picture of the sauce. Milady is stirring in the crawfish. This is a double recipe. We're feeding a crowd of about 15 tonight.



Then, boil a pot of fettuccini noodles, drain and put it in a casserole dish and add the sauce Stir it together, top with plain bread crumbs and run it into a 350 oven until the bread crumbs are toasted. Here's what it looks like, finished and ready for the table.



Serve with hot garlic bread.

Oh, Damn, it's good.

Initiative

Initiative is one of the tenets of combat, whether in the field or on the strategic board. If you've got the initiative, you've got the enemy responding to you. I'm reminded of a quote that I can't find right now, and it's probably apocryphal, but some say that when US Grant was with his staff at the beginning of the Wilderness campaign, there was a great discussion about what General Lee might do. Grant listened for a time and said something to the effect that he was heartily tired of hearing about what Lee might do. Grant knew what he intended to do and he'd let Lee figure out how to respond to those plans.

That's taking the initiative.

I see that we're still trying to decide what went wrong during the Christmas bomber incident. The one where the guy set his underwear on fire? Now I'm hearing that we're setting up new procedures to keep this kind of thing from happening.

A couple of thoughts.

1. When we're responding to the latest ploy, we've ceded the initiative. We're responding to them and that's a bad idea.

2. We always train for the last war. It seems in this conflict, we're always closing barn doors after the horse is escaped.

3. If you're a national security type and you talk to the media, you're telegraphing our plans. That's never a good idea. You don't think Al-Queda watches TV or reads the newspapers? You need a new line of work.

It looks to me like we've ceded the initiative to the bad guys.

Redfield Scopes

If you're an old fart like me, you remember Redfield scopes. They were a leading line back in the '50s and '60s, capturing a major portion of the rifle scope market. Most of us remember the Redfield Widefield scope, which gave us state-of-the-art for the times. Some of those scopes are still seen on older rifles and most of them are wonderful scopes. As Redfield declined, Leupold ascended to become the eminent scope maker in the United States.

If you've been watching the sporting news at all, you know that Leupold recently bought the Redfield name and intellectual property. They're bringing out a new line of scopes under the brand, trying to resurrect the name. The website says that the new scopes will be unveiled at SHOT show.

Dave Petzal talks about the new Redfield scopes at The Gun Nut, and says they're bringing out four models initially. A 2X7, 3X9, 3X9X50, and a 4X12. All made in the United States and priced from $129 to $219. They're supposed to be good, no-frills hunting scopes updated to this generation.

I'm a fan of Weaver and Swift scopes. I have both on my rifles and like them a lot, but I'm not impressed with the trend lately of putting bells and whistles on a scope. All I want in a scope is simplicity, reliability, good glass, and durability. My favorite hunting rifle carries a Weaver K-6, which is about as simple a scope as you could possibly put on a rifle. It's a fixed power scope and suits me just fine. Swift and Weaver both use Japanese optics. While it's hard to argue with Japanese optics, (Canon and Nikon make some wonderful lenses), the Redfield line is marketed as a US made scope, and that has a certain cachet for me.

I'm glad to see Redfield back in the game. Now, if they'd come out with a serious no frills fixed 10X and price it under $200.00, they'd sell a boat-load of them.

Frozen Iguanas

This reporter from ABC News in Broward County Florida finds cold iguanas falling from threes.

It turns out that when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F, the iguanas go into a type of hibernation and fall out of the trees.

Heh!

Hat tip to Weazel Zippers.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Laid Off

My eldest son called me with horrible news today. He's been laid-off. He was laid-off last year from a job in the manufacturing sector, spent some time on unemployment, then landed another job.

We'll blame that first one on President Bush. His first job was lost due to the economic turn-down in heavy manufacturing. Suddenly, customers didn't need what his plant was producing, so he was let go. It sucks but there it is.

The most recent job, he was working for a government contractor in the detention industry. The government outfit was ICE, the immigration guys and the contractor was GEO group, an outfit that runs prisons. He was working at a detention facility in Jena, LA, where they held immigrant detainees before being deported to their home country. According to my son, President Obama doesn't want people deported. The gummint has tightened up on the criteria for deportation and the population is down in the facility. Way down. Less deportees means they need less folks running the place. They had a big meeting today and a number of people were let go.

It sucks, but there it is again. We'll put this lay-off firmly at the feet of our current President. Mr. Obama owns this one.

Of course, he's doing such a wonderful job with the economy. Lots of people laid-off. Here's a graphic from Instapundit.



Here's what Glenn says about the chart:
And forget unemployment — note this chart of how many actual jobs there are. So while the official unemployment number seems to have leveled off, some might say that’s just, er, hiding the decline in actual employment.
Hiding the decline. Heh!

My son will be fine. He's got a strong family and a tight support group. However, there are lots of folks who don't have a good support group and this country has lost lots of jobs.

The country is in the very best of hands.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cold

It's cold in Central Louisiana, with the temperatures tonight expected to get down in the low 20s. Some of you folks in the frozen north may think that those temps are mild, but for around here, that's serious weather. We dodged a bullet today because the rain came through before the temps started dropping and it looks like the rain has left the area, so we missed a chance at serious ice.

Down here we don't have the equipment for winter weather because we get so little of it. If something gawd-awful were to happen and we'd get a foot of snow, we don't have any snowplows, so we'd just be screwed until it melted. We've had some fairly severe ice-storms in my memory (1982, 1993) and some folks were without power for weeks. Thankfully, I'm not concerned about that. This looks like it's going to be a dry time with high pressure and very cold air. So far, schools will be open tomorrow, although that's subject to change if the bridges freeze. Just a little ice and everything will come to a screeching halt.

They're calling for a low of 15F locally tomorrow night.

It might be a good time to build a fire.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Withholding

I noticed on my retirement check that the Income Tax withholding had increased. About $10.00. Not that the ten bucks is that important. My retirement check is a very small part of my income, but because it goes into a special account and I noticed the difference in the deposit.

President Obama promised that the middle class wouldn't see any tax increase, and based on the tiny amount of my retirement check, any increase in withholding represents what might be an unacceptable reduction in income if I were on a fixed retirement budget. Fortunately, that isn't the case, but for lots of retirees, that is the case.

As the story turns out, it's a simple change in the withholding tables, which doesn't represent a tax increase, but it does represent a reduction in income for lots of retirees that aren't as fortunate as I.
The trick, when looking at the new withholding tax tables for 2010 as compared to post-stimulus 2009, buries an increase in federal withholding taxes–for all income categories–basically giving the government an interest-free loan until current year taxes are filed next year. Some would blame the increase in withholding on the Making Work Pay tax credit being spread out over 12 months as compared to 2009, which was only over 9 months, but this would be impossible as some middle class wage categories carry an increase in the withholding tax of over $200 per pay period.
As far as I'm concerned it's a damned dirty, low-down trick to try to balance the budget on the backs of retirees. The government is basically extorting an interest-free loan from those least able to afford it. We should remember that come election time.

Potato Soup

We had potato soup tonight. This is a big, hearty meal that's listed on the Weight Watchers menu list and is very weight friendly. You can see the recipe at the link above.

PawPaw changes the recipe a little.

4 lbs red potatoes, cut into small chunks
4 cups fat-free chicken broth
4 oz tasso, cut into small pieces
4 oz fat-free condensed milk
2 oz fat-free half&half
4 oz shredded carrots
1/2 purple onion, chopped

Wash potatoes and cut them into small pieces. Put the potatoes, onion, carrots, and tasso in a soup pot and boil them in the chicken broth. You might need to add a little water, but it will cook off. Cook the potatoes until they become "mushy". Turn off heat and add condensed milk and half&half. Let it sit about five minutes while you set the table.

Serve with saltine crackers and maybe a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

I'm still amazed that someone makes fat-free half & half. This is a very good potato chowder and although the original recipe says to make it in a slow cooker, you can cook it on the stove in just about an hour.

Bon Apetit!

Deployment

I see that the soldiers of the 256th Brigade Combat Team (Tigers!) are deploying to Iraq. That's the unit I retired from (1/156) and it's tough to see them go. My unit is now called 2nd squadron, 108th Cavalry, based out of Shreveport. At the time I retired, it was a heavy tank battalion, fielding M1A2 Abrams tanks.

They're a storied brigade, with a long and honorable history that dates back to 1769, when it was a militia unit in New Orleans.

Godspeed, Tigers. Be safe. Do Louisiana proud.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cold

It's cold this afternoon. I got home from school early because there was no heat in the building and the principal turned everyone loose. No students, this was an in-service day for teachers. Still, it was cold in the building.

Central Louisiana is looking at some unseasonably cold weather this week, with temps getting down into the teens. We're not set up for that kind of weather, so this might get interesting.

Folks have been asking me all day to opine how cold it might get by Friday. My stock answer is that the weather-weenies can't predict past 72 hours with any probability of success. It might be 70 degrees by Friday, or it might be 17, we'll just have to wait and see.

I've got to go back to school later for a soccer game. I've put on my warm-woolies and I'm taking a thermos of hot chocolate.

In a related note, I see that the University of Bristol has re-looked the data and shows that there has been no increase in atmospheric carbon over the last 150 years.
In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.
Interesting.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Back to work

Today marks the last day of my Christmas holiday. Tomorrow it's back to work. The calendar shows two long days, with athletic events after the main school day. Think 14 hours a day and you'll have a pretty good idea.

Blogging is liable to be light over the next week as I get back into the groove, so don't be surprised if I'm absent over the next several days. It's okay, I'm just busy.

Y'all carry on and I will too.

Chicken Noodle Soup

After church today, Milady and I were talking about lunch and I started poking around in the pantry. The 'fridge held some leftover chicken that I peeled from the bone. I also found a half-bag of petite carrots leftover from Christmas. The pantry revealed a box of Swanson's chicken broth and a bag of egg noodles.

I put the chicken, carrots and broth in a pot and let it simmer for awhile. Then I dropped in a double handful of egg noodles.



This isn't your Mother's Chicken Noodle Soup, and it's certainly not that ersatz mess they put in cans. It's quick, easy, and very good on a cold Sunday afternoon.

Cooking doesn't have to be hard.

Sunday Morning Dawg

The dog often feigns disinterest in my activities, unless it involves food. Here he studiously ignores me with the camera. He knows there's no food in that little black thing and the flashing lights bother him.



The first Sunday Morning Dawg of the new year.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Auction

We went to an auction Saturday afternoon. It's a local auction, run by Earl Hayes, and it's recently moved to Pineville. I told him I'd give him a little free advertisement, so if you want to go to a local auction, it's held every Saturday afternoon in the strip mall at 1634 Military Highway in Pineville, LA. Doors open at 11:30 p.m. and the auction starts at 12:30 p.m.

They've got an eclectic mix of merchandise, from nicknacks to major furniture. You never know what you'll find on a Saturday afternoon. It's a good place for bargain hunters. In the photo below, they're selling some Mardi Gras decorations.



The auctioneer is Jerome Scott, a close personal friend of mine. Here, he's working the customers, responding to heckling from the friendly crowd.



I bought a 40 drawer parts organizer for the reloading bench and Milady bought a doll.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Thistles

Late last week I noticed some thistles growing in the gravel beside a walk and I pulled them out by their roots. Thistles are a bane to this area, a noxious weed, and I detest them. I dropped them, roots and all, on a paved walkway intending to dispose of them after they'd died.



I was near that part of the back yard today and checked on them. Not only are they not dead, they're blooming. After having been pulled up by the root. I admire tenacity and perseverance, I do. Is there nothing that will kill a thistle short of burning?

Riflery in the decade.

Over at The Gun Nut, Dave Petzal talks about the ten most significant rifle-related developments of the decade. Let's look at a few of them.
1. The transmogrification of the AR-15 into a bona-fide sporting rifle and an industry unto itself.
I gotta agree with this one. I'm not particularly enamored of the AR series of rifles, simply because I carried one for so long. That rifle is a tool for me. However, it's been in use as the US main battle rifle for over 40 years and lots of folks have grown up with it. It's a platform that's thoroughly loved by lots of people. Just because I'm not crazy about it doesn't mean that a whole lot of folks don't think it's the cat's meow. Ask Zumbo.
4. Long-range shooting comes of age. Four hundred yards is the new 300 yards, and 500 is on the way. We have the accuracy, the optical gear, and the ammo. Now all we need are enough ranges where you can shoot at these distances.
This is another I agree with, where I don't have a dog in the hunt. It's hard in heavily forested Louisiana to find a place to shoot that's over 100 yards. However, I can see the appeal of long range shooting. When you read the stories from the front, where long-range shooting has a definite place in the toolbox of the soldier, we've trained a whole bunch of folks to shoot at long range and do it accurately. I won't shoot at a game animal past 200 yards. That's my personal limit. I would like to learn to shoot at paper accurately at 300 or 400 yards. Sounds like a lot of fun.
6. Rifle of the Decade—the Marlin XL-7. The best working gun, for the least money, in the history of Western Man.
This one surprises me. I've never seen a Marlin XL-7, but Junior wants one and Marlin has long been known for making very good barrels and making excellent lever-action rifles. I own a couple. They are very good rifles. Now that Marlin is in the bolt-rifle business, I'd expect them to be very good, also. I'll have to take a closer look at the Marlin XL-7.
7. The general level of accuracy in factory rifles. I can name you four, for under $500, that will shoot MOA or better.
He's right. Back when I started playing with rifles, making one shoot MOA was time consuming, expensive, and frustrating. Three or four inches at 100 yards was considered average. Nowadays there are several new rifles that will shoot minute-of-angle right out of the box. The quest for accuracy is never-ending and some manufacturers have learned to do mass manufacturing very precisely. American ingenuity lives.
9. Savage, which is changing from a company that makes inexpensive rifles that shoot very well to a company that makes very sophisticated rifles that will shoot with damn near anything regardless of price.
Readers here know my fondness for Savage rifles. I think they make great rifles and I've noticed that they're becoming more sophisticated as well. They've led the way in innovation, first with the AccuTrigger, now with something they call the AccuStock. I haven't tried one yet, but I'm liable to this year. Prices on many entry-level Savages are still very reasonable and if you want a true bare-bones rifle you can customize to your heart's content, there is the Stevens line of rifles. I think there is a lot to like in a Savage rifle. And last, but not least.
8. The Supreme Court’s Keller decision. Article II lives!
Yes it does. The Heller decision was huge and it'll take years to find out just how significant it is. It'll be the basis for a raft of other cases, some of which are pending right now. Heller answered a basic question and now we've got to let the Courts figure out what it means. Still, it was a huge decision and a tremendous victory for gun rights.

Happy New Year!

Milady and I went to a party last night, an eclectic mix of small town folks, politicians, educators, cops, nurses, students. Just a bunch of folks who know one another. Lots of food and drink and all the conversation one could ask. I talked about everything from politics to home schooling, to police work, to the movie industry, to ... oh, you name it. It was a good party.



This little dog made the rounds, getting scratched from everyone present. We old folks waited for the ball to drop, made a toast to the New Year, then left to let the younger folks continue the revelry. PawPaw was up way past his bedtime last night.

Today we're having family over for lunch. The menu is blackeye peas, cabbage, corn bread, iced tea. It's a very traditional New Years day meal, at least in the Deep South.