Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chelsea's Wedding

I was driving through northern Alabama today and heard that Chelsea Clinton was getting married.

No snark, no sarcasm. I hope that she has a long, happy, loving marriage. The same wish that I have for every other newly married couple.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation Day 6

It's the last day of vacation. I'll shortly shut this computer off and pack it. Everyone is going through the routine of getting the stuff together and Milady is making sure that she's got all her souvenirs for family and friends. It's been a great vacation and tomorrow we start home. If all goes well, I'll sleep in my own bed tomorrow night.

It's been a hoot.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Am I a Hippie?

That's a question I've wondered about, so I took the online quiz. Turns out, I'm not a hippie. Not in the slightest.

You are 0% hippie.
 

Ok, you conservative soul. Do you even believe in global warming? Loosen that necktie a little, and try some organic food. It actually does taste better. And go to a farmer's market--they're fun.

Are you a hippie?
Take More Quizzes



Some of the questions left a lot to be desired. Like #8, Are you a Pacifist? There was no answer: No, I am a warrior.

Still, I am pleasantly surprised and greatly relieved that I am not a hippie.

Hat Tip to Excels.

Vacation Day 5

Today was a guy's day, where my sons and I sneaked off to do guy things.

We started at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation, where we looked at things like Norton Bombsights and warbirds.



Then, we realized that the grandkids had never ridden in a helicopter, so we made arragements for an introductory flight. That was a huge hit. PawPaw didn't go, cause I've ridden in helicopters. Hell, I've fallen out of helicopters. Still, it's something every kid should do, and it'll get them serious cool points when school starts.



Then, we went to Smoky Mountain Knife Works, where we browsed around multiple thousands of edged weapons. PawPaw picked out a new knife. The boys all got a little something of a souvenir nature.

Finally, we went to a muscle car museum where we were able to look at wonderful cars from a by-gone era. Mustangs, Camaros, Chevelle's, GTO's, lots of different cars.



Tomorrow is the last day we'll have before we have to head back to our lives. Whatever Milady wants to do is fine with me. Today was a wonderful day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vacation Day 4

A bunch of the family took the opportunity this morning to ride a zip line. I deferred, having ridden many zip lines in the Army. Here's my Vermont niece, Danielle, traveling through the treetops of a Tennessee forest.



These days, they use a whole lot more safety gear than we did. Pictures I see from our troops tell me that everyone uses a whole lot more safety gear nowadays. My mountaineering gear consisted of a single piece of nylon rope that I tied into a swiss seat, and a single snap-hook. That was all Uncle Sugar issued us.

Vacation Day 3

Still in Gatlinburg, we're getting the pace and settling into a routine. We normally gather together for breakfast and then divide up into groups, those of us who want to see the same things.



Yesterday we all went to see the Titanic exhibit at Pigeon Forge. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed. The early afternoon was spent at the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg. It's not the same caliber as the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, but it's not bad, either.



Then, home, for Milady's chicken and dumplings. The grandkids decided to go hot-tubbing after dinner.



As for PawPaw, it was time for a cocktail and bed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vacation Day 2

We did the grandkid thing today, taking the young'uns to a dinosaur museum in Pigeon Forge.



After the dino museum we went to Ober Gatlinburg, an amusement park on top of a mountain. While PawPaw isn't necessarily infatuated with amusement parks, I did enjoy the tram ride over Gatlinburg up to the park.



Then, we came back to the rental, and cooked Natchitoches Meat Pies, with mashed potatoes, gravy, and whole kernel corn. PawPaw is as full as a tick, and I think I'm going to watch a little TV with a Guinness in my hand.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gatlinburg

We made it to Gatlinburg last night, and started taking photos.

Here my mother and sister work on breakfast Sunday morning.



More as things progress

Sunday Morning Dawg(s)

We're on vacation and we're boarding the dogs at our house. My sister's two and ours. We've got a dog-sitter checking on them twice per day.

Here, the three of them examine a bowl on Friday Morning.



Next, a picture of my sister's dog Beluga.



Finally, a picture of her dog, Gracie.



I hope they're having as much fun as we are.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bonnie

This could get interesting. Tropical Storm Bonnie is on track to enter the Gulf of Mexico sometime tonight or tomorrow.



I'll be well north of the intended track, leaving tomorrow morning for a vacation in Tennessee. However, Bonnie bears watching.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vacation

Every other year, my entire family meets at a given location and we vacation together for a week. We rent a big house and all pile in together. This year, it's Gatlinburg, TN, where we've rented this place. Eight bedrooms, 8.5 baths, it's the lap of luxury and family from all over the US is headed for Gatlinburg.

Two years ago was Las Vegas, before that it was the Outer Banks.

This year in Gatlinburg there are approx 32 of us scheduled to arrive.

Tomorrow is going to be last-minute errands, my part of the family heads out on Saturday at 0-dark-thirty. It's gonna be a hoot.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Abstract Art

Compliments of the Grouchy Old Cripple, we find a good-looking young lady making art with Krylon paint and a .300 Winchester Magnum. It's kinda quick.



I'd have never thought to make art with a rifle. I like.

Hot

I finished the yard this morning and came inside to realize that the air conditioning is not working in the house. Then I did all the things that I could do, make sure breakers aren't tripped, checked the thermostat, those kinds of things. The outside unit isn't operating. Called the A/C guy and left a message.

Just Damn!

**UPDATE** I got in touch with a guy, John Deville, who runs his outfit, Climatec, He got me up and running in about an hour, checked everything, gave me a clean bill of health and a very reasonable service bill. If anyone in Central Louisiana needs A/C work, call John at 318-794-3620. He has the PawPaw seal of approval.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Man-Bag

There's a thread over at the High Road forum that talks about man-bags and concealed carry.

I carry a possibles bag when I'm carrying a muzzle-loader. The amount of accoutrement and impedimenta that hobby requires is simply more than pants pockets can accommodate. But a man-bag? Not hardly.

Even Miller Lite commercials are making sport of this affectation.



SO, my advice to all you people who might be considering carrying a purse. - - Oh, hell, nevermind. If you're considering it, my advice won't count for much.

Old Posts and Comments.

Blogging is a funny pasttime. Everything I've written is available online and people searching for answers (aren't we all?), use Google to find information. Some of them stumble on this little blog. When I check my referral logs, I'm continually amazed at what some folks are searching.

Back in '06 I was building a restroom in the back yard to complement the pool we were planning to install. One post talked about ground rods, and my method for sticking an eight-foot rod in the ground. It's a method my Daddy taught me, and it works well in Louisiana where rocks in the dirt are a bit of an oddity in our soft soil.

I still get comments on that post. I found the most current one this morning, where a commenter asks:
I just started installing a grounding rod. I just used the jab and pull method but was not putting water in the hole. The ground is soft and wet, the rod went down about 3 foot very quick and was pushing some mud up to the top of the hole. When it got down about 3 foot it hit a rock and I have not been able to get past the rock. I put the connecting clamp on the top of the rod then used a small sledge hamer, after about 30 hits it had gone down about another half inch.
What should be done now? Move over and start again?
Thanks for the tips,
I don't know. I'm just a blogger who started talking about the challenges of building a bathroom. I'd imagine you could dig up the rock, or move over a foot and try again. This is one question that keeps coming up, and what works in alluvial soil Louisiana won't work at my brother's place in granite Vermont.

If I were faced with the challenge of installing a ground rod in rocky soil, I'd ask a local electrician what technique works best. Seriously. Local builders know the codes and the conditions that are liable to be found in their local area, and they've found work-arounds for most of the problems they're liable to face.

But, the main thrust of this particular posting is not my amazement that people are still asking questions. My amazement is that I've become the number one Google search for the string "Chug Ground Rod". I'm no expert. I'm not even a dedicated hobbyist in residential electrical wiring. I'm just some guy who listened to his Daddy, who had long experience in alluvial Louisiana.

If I had a serious question about voltage, I'd ask Mostly Cajun, who seems to have some expertise.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Morning Dawg

Once a day or so, I put the leash on the dog and take him out into the front yard. It's a change and he always likes to explore in the front yard. My fuzzy mutt suffers in the extreme heat of a Louisiana July, but he still likes the front yard.



He sniffs around, exploring, then he's ready to go back into the air conditioning. Tomorrow morning he's got an appointment at the groomer's, so hopefully he'll be more comfortable. We've let his fuzz grow way too long.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

At The Auction

I bought a bell today at the auction. A big bell.



Those deck boards under it are standard 1X6 deck boards (5.5 inches wide), so that bell should be 12" at the widest point. Weighs about 30 lbs. I don't know where I'm going to mount it yet, but certainly somewhere in the back yard.

I've always wanted a big bell and now I can scratch that off the list. I wonder what the neighbors will think when the grandkids ring it?

I Write Like

There's a website up where an author can post a couple of paragraphs of prose, then let the computer analyze it to decide which famous author most closely matches my style. It's called I Write Like.

So I went to my e-zine, took a couple of paragraphs at random, and two out of three tries, they told me I write like David Foster Wallace.


I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!




Never heard of him. He's obviously a brilliant writer. Marvelous prose, brilliant composition. Just like me.

Area 51

Ha! Stolen shamelessly from Mostly Cajun.

You’ve all heard of the Air Force’s ultra-high-security, super-secret base in Nevada, known simply as “Area 51?”

Well, late one afternoon, the Air Force folks out at Area 51 were very surprised to see a Cessna landing at their “secret” base. They immediately impounded the aircraft and hauled the pilot into an interrogation room.

The pilot’s story was that he took off from Vegas, got lost, and spotted the Base just as he was about to run out of fuel. The Air Force started a full FBI background check on the pilot and held him overnight during the investigation.

By the next day, they were finally convinced that the pilot really was lost and wasn’t a spy. They gassed up his airplane, gave him a terrifying “you-did-not-see-a-base” briefing, complete with threats of spending the rest of his life in prison, told him Vegas was that-a-way on such-and-such a heading, and sent him on his way.

The next day, to the total disbelief of the Air Force, the same Cessna showed up again. Once again, the MP’s surrounded the plane. . .only this time there were two people in the plane.

The same pilot jumped out and said, “Do anything you want to me, but my wife is in the plane and you have to tell her where I was last night.”
Ha!

Government Power

There's a posting over at The Geek with a .45 that talks about government power as opposed to freedom, and the Constitutional basis for that power.

If you've ever read the Constitution, (it's only about eight pages, with amendments) you'll find that the language is fairly simple and easily understood by the majority of people who hold a high school diploma. That is to say, most people can read it and understand the basic thrust of the document.

Our system of government is supposed to be limited, with three branches of government that check and balance the power of the other two branches. The Constitution lays down basic rules for the governance of the nation and reserves certain rights to the people.

Over the past fifty years, the national government has lost sight of the limited powers of government. The idea that government can solve all the ills of the people is simply wrong, yet our elected officials continue to perpetuate that error. I'd be plainly enthusiastic about an elected official if they'd occasionally say, "We've got no business interfering in that activity. It's outside the scope of government." However, I've never heard an elected official say those words.

Indeed, the notion that government can stick it's nose in our business is exemplified in the Supreme Court, where in the McDonald case we actually had four Justices arguing that government has the power to regulate a given thing in absolute disagreement with the plain language of the Constitution. It's absurd on its face, yet we've come to expect that kind of response from that branch of our government. Just as in Kelo, where they ruled that private property can be taken from a citizen and given to someone else, for increased taxation. It's ludicrous in the extreme, which is what you get when learned people are more interested in jots and tittles than in the plain language.

It's something to ponder, come this election year.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday

I am told that BP finally managed to choke off the leak yesterday afternoon. They're hoping the patch will hold until the relief well is finished. Good for them. This spill has been an unmitigated disaster on so many levels. Ecological, social, economic, political. It's going to take a long time to clean up the mess and the first step is getting control of the well. Maybe they've done that now. I hope so.

The Dawg needs a hair cut. I'll have to call later and make an appointment. I'd do it myself, but I'd butcher it.

The heat of a midsummer July in Louisiana is staggering. The temps stay in the high 90s from about 9:00 a.m. till dark. At 80 percent humidity. I was on a tractor yesterday, running a bush-hog from 9:00 till about 11:00 yesterday morning. Then, I sighted in two rifles for the loads I'll use while hunting this winter.

At my private range, 100 yard line is in strong mid-day sun and between 11:00 and noon I was sitting at the bench shooting. Dehydration is an issue in weather like this and I think I got dehydrated yesterday. When I got home, all I wanted to do was sit in the A/C and drink water and iced tea.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sportsmanship and Safety

Dave Petzal talks about both at Field and Stream, with a caution that the rules don't always apply.

For example, one cold winter afternoon I was shooting wood ducks near a small pond. The ducks were flying over the pond and you had to time your shot so that the duck didn't fall into the pond, or good sportsmanship required that you swim for your supper. I didn't mind, so much as home was just 200 yards away. Several afternoons I walked back, freezing, in my skivvies.

We tried to try to shoot the ducks when they wouldn't fall into the pond, but accidents happen. I had just connected with a little drake, and he fell into the water. The evening flight ended and I kicked off my boots, preparing to shuck my jeans and take a little late afternoon winter swim when I saw a big alligator surface near the defunct duck.

I sat down and put my boots back on. I don't mind swimming after a duck I shot, but I DO mind swimming with an alligator. The gator was welcome to the duck, with my compliments.

Do I always retrieve what I shoot? I try to, but gators have to eat too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hot

I don't know how the rest of you feel, but I feel like this.



Stolen shamelessly from The Smallest Minority.

Deer Hunting

Like many of you, I enjoy whitetail deer hunting, although I haven't shot one in several years. Yeah, I'm on a lease and other members kill deer, but I'm the newest member of a very old lease and my hunting area is (currently) the least desirable, because five years ago that piece of timber was clear-cut. This will be the fourth year that I've been on this particular lease, and hope springs eternal. We've got about 100 days to the start of the season, and come late August or early September, I'll be starting to prepare the deer stands for another year's hunt.

The grandkids are already asking when we're going to the lease. With three or four young'uns on my Mule, we look like a gypsy caravan running through the woods. It's very cool being a PawPaw to young boys.

The reason I bring this up is that Phil Bourjaily, over at Field and Stream talks about trophy management.
The bad part is, whitetails have antlers. It wouldn’t be a problem if all their antlers were the same size, but they’re not. The fixation on big antlers and the amount of money people will pay to lock up land for trophy deer hunting is one of the most troubling trends in hunting. Unlike farmers, who may let you on their property, the new deer hunter-landowner won’t let you on at any time of the year for fear of scaring the trophies. It’s an accepted part of trophy deer management that you create sanctuaries where no human ever sets foot. All this because of antlers, which, I might point out here, are inedible unless you are a gnawing rodent.
I agree, to a point. That point would be when a nice 10-point buck walked out near my stand. However, for the most part, I don't give a darn about the quality of the antlers, although I am worried about the quality of the genetics in our herd.

Someone once told me that a spike buck has defective genes and will probably continue to be a spike for his entire life. That same wildlife biologist told me that a yearling whitetail deer will be a small four-point. Since then, my policy has been to harvest spike bucks when I can, to take that deer out of the gene pool.

Let me know if I got the story wrong.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bullseye

We come this afternoon to Bullseye, a very popular pistol powder sold by Alliant. Bullseye is favored by target shooters, following a long and popular tradition. For example, there are some cartridge loads that are so iconic, I've come to rely on them. If you want to wring the best possible accuracy from the .38 Special, the load you want is the CCI or Winchester small pistol primer, the 148 hollow based wadcutter bullet, and 2.7 grains of Bullseye powder. If you're shooting the 45 ACP, the load is a 230 grain round-nosed bullet, any large pistol primer, and 4.5 grains of Bullseye.



Listed at #13 on the Hodgdon Burn Rate Chart, Bullseye is a flake powder and it burns very, very fast. If Bullseye has any drawback, it's that it's easy to double-charge a cartridge if the handloader isn't paying attention. Double charges are bad juju in a pistol cartridge with fast powder.

However, a quick look through the Lyman Cast Bullet handbook shows lots of uses for the powder, in addition to the two I listed earlier. Virtually every pistol cartridge has multiple listings for the powder, including a .357 magnum load that gives over 1600 fps.

Bullseye is often useful in boutique loads, loads that have only one use. For example, for ultra quiet loads. Paco Kelly, in his article, Small Charges, talks about Bullseye even in the bone-crushing .45-70.
One of the play loads I love is to take the RCBS 500 grain without the gas check...over 12.5 grains of Unique for 1000 fps...and over 1000 lbs of punch with no real recoil. 25 grains of 2400 will break 1400 fps...for quiet loads start with 5 grains of Bullseye or Clays and work down. 450 grain bullets over 17 grains of 2400 will give you 1300 fps...
I don't buy Bullseye in anything but one pound jars, because it is so economical. With 7000 grains to the pound, I can get 3000 .38 Special loads to the pound, or over 1500 .45 ACP loads.

Bullseye is a great pistol powder.

Sunday Morning Dawg

With the high temperatures this week, the dog has been spending as much time as possible indoors. Although I often take him outside to do his business, the most common sight is when he begs by the back door to be returned to the air conditioning.



He's the waiting-by-the-door, Sunday Morning Dawg.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

IMR 4895

In the review of gunpowders on my bench, we come to IMR 4895. Originally used as a powder for the .30-06 it was produced by DuPont and sold to the government armories. After the Second World War, it was one of the first powders Bruce Hodgdon bought and repackaged for the reloading hobby trade.



This eight pound jug was purchased in March, 2006. There is probably two pounds of powder left in that jug. Every bottlenecked rifle caliber I load for has a recipe that uses 4895. From the .223 to the .45-70, I've worked up a load for that powder. Listed at #89 on the Hodgdon Burn Rate Chart, it's a medium fast rifle powder.

IMR 4895 is an old powder. It's been around forever, and newer powders have eclipsed it in many ways. In the reloading hobby, as in all of man's endeavors, newer is better and we tend to try the latest and greatest. Still, IMR 4895 is one of my go-to powders, simply because it is a well known commodity. It's still superb in the .30-06, but I find it especially useful in reduced charges for cast bullet work, both in the .30-30 and the .45-70, some of my favorite loads feature 4895.

The jug in the picture above is from a military surplus seller. Lots of 4895 was released on the market in years past as surplus powder, at attractive prices. I suspect that the surplus 4895 is long gone. However, it is so versatile that when I use the last of that eight-pound jug, I'll start shopping around and buy another 8-pound jug from somewhere. I trust 4895. It's a wonderful powder that's overlooked by lots of shooters.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Police Vid

This comes from the Billings Gazette, where Hamilton Montana officer Ross Jessop stopped a driver for running through a stop sign. This incident Routine nighttime DUI stop in Montana turns ugly. Listen for the first “click” as the suspect fires his 41 magnum revolver about two inches from the officer’s nose. The “click” is the hammer dropping on an expended round in the cylinder. The second round was live, but Officer Jessop had since recovered and made a strategic move to the rear of the vehicle, buying more time and a much more advantageous position for a firefight.

Jessup returned fire, striking Davis as he drove off. Watch Jessop call in the incident, casually picking up his flashlight.

A grand jury has ruled that Jessup was justified in shooting Davis.

I tried embedding the video, but Blogger didn't want to embed it. You can watch it here.

Jessup can ride with me anytime he wants to.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Shooting with Junior

My buddy Junior emailed me last week. He had some ammunition he wanted to try in my .30-30 Handi Rifle. This was ammo loaded for his 94 Winchester, Old Bill. The rifle had become broken when Junior whacked it with a sledge hammer.

Junior and I were concerned that cast bullets wouldn't shoot properly in the Handi Rifle because it has a 1:10 twist and it's rifling is microgroove. So, this morning I threw a couple of rifles in the truck and headed to Tullos, LA, where the Doughty mansion sits.

When I got there, Junior and I sat in the kitchen, catching up with each other. Then we moved to his gun room, where I looked at the work he's done on the Mosin and his boat rifle.

Then, with ammo and targets in hand, we went out into the front yard to set up the range. Junior has a short, front yard range. It's 73 yards from target butt to firing line.



This is a view from the firing line toward the target. That little white square in the middle of the photo is our target backing. Yeah, that's Junior's house off to the left. We'll try not to shoot the house.

Junior drove his pickup truck to the firing line and put a board across the bed to use as a benchrest. So, with targets posted, a suitable rest, and rifle and ammo, we were ready to begin shooting. I let Junior shoot, because I wanted to take pictures.

How'd the rifle shoot? Quite well. Using properly prepped .30-30 brass with the Lyman 311041 bullet and 1.9 cc of IMR 4895, Junior managed to keep them all inside an inch at 73 yards (the limit of his range). I'm going to have to duplicate that load.



I had a load I wanted to try. It's the .30-30 using the Speer 130 grain bullet and 33.5 grains of Reloder 15 powder. I estimate the velocity at something over 2300 fps, which is fine for the .30-30 cartridge. The little rifle fired it into just under an inch, which is again fine for the cartridge and the rifle. As a matter of fact, I'm quite pleased. This little single shot, with well under $400.00 in the rifle and scope, is turning in near MOA accuracy with two loads. I've got nothing to complain about at all.

All in all, it was a very good morning with a very good friend. We'll have to do this more often.

**Correction** Junior emailed me and told me that the cast-bullet .30-30 ammo was loaded with Varget, not IMR 4895. I read the wrong label.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sandbags

I had this pair of blue jeans that I really liked, soft, still had color, comfortable. Then Milady started commenting that the hole in the butt really detracted from the effect, and she wished that I not wear them in public. You guys have each had this conversation at one time or another.

At about the same time, my buddy Junior recommended that I make a couple of sandbags. "Fill 'em with rice." said he. Well, I've been known to listen to Junior's advice, but I really wasn't comfortable with filling the bag with rice. Rice is a food product and my bags are going to live in the garage. I don't want a rat problem, so, I went looking for a suitable alternative.

A couple of weeks ago, another buddy, David, was telling me about the crushed walnut media he uses to polish brass. Rather than buy walnut media for his tumbler, he goes to the pet store and buys lizard litter. When he compared prices online with what he could buy in the stores, they were very similar. The stuff runs a little over a dollar a pound, and with shipping and etc, it's easier to go to the pet store and pick up a 10 lb bag when he needs it.

I figured that ground walnut media would fill a bag just fine. So, I cut the legs off my hole-in-the-butt blue jeans and made some sandbags for shooting.



They're a whole lot lighter than sand and very, very firm. Plus, I can tell Milady that I recycled those jeans. This is a win-win situation.

Reloder 15

Continuing the reviews of rifle powders I like, we come to Reloder 15, again distributed by Alliant Powder.

Reloder 15 is a medium rifle powder with a broad range of applications, but it is truly superb in the .308 Winchester. So superb that the US Army selected it as the powder for their M118 special ball long range sniper round.



I began using it in .308 Winchester, but since learned that it's a good powder for .30-30 Winchester and .223 Remington. It meters like water through my Lyman 55 powder measure and gives very consistent velocity. I suspect that it would give good service in ammo that uses the .308 family of cartridge brass, like the .243 Winchester and the .260 Remington.

Reloder 15 is the preferred powder for my son's Savage 10 FLP, heavy barreled target rifle, turning in great accuracy with 168 grain Sierra MatchKing bullets.

If you're looking for a medium rifle powder with a great reputation, it's hard to do much better than this one.

Muslim Outreach

Fox news is reporting that the Obama chief of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration recently said that one of his foremost missions is outreach to Muslim nations. Seriously.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.
All this time, I thought the mission of NASA was to go into space. However, we don't even have much lift capability anymore. The Washington Examiner notes that there doesn't seem to be much of a feeding frenzy from the traditional media about Bolden's statement.

It doesn't fit the narrative.

Solar Flight

I see that there's a Swiss outfit that is working on a solar powered aircraft. This is test-bed technology and there is always something cool about test-bed aircraft, especially when they're in the proof of concept stage.

The idea is to see if they can power flight using solar panels and batteries, to fly round the clock. and eventually around the globe. This is cool stuff.

However, before we get all misty-eyed, reveling in "green flight", we'd do well to look at the aircraft itself and understand what is necessary to make this thing fly. Carbon, lots of carbon. It's made of composites, which in this day and age means carbon-fiber. Which is, after all, carbon. It uses batteries, the manufacture of which requires lots of carbon. It uses lightweight plastics, which requires... you got it.

It might be interesting to build a Sopwith Camel, or perhaps a wooden aircraft on the lines of the de Havilland Mosquito, then compare the carbon footprint of the two, sitting side by side.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Paleo Finds

It seems that an atlatl dart has turned up in a Rocky Mountain snowbank.
The dart was made from a birch sapling and still carried personal markings from the ancient hunter. When it was shot, the 3-foot-long (0.9 meter) dart had a projectile point on one end, and a cup or dimple on the other that would have attached to a hook on throwing tool called an atlatl.
Very cool.

I find stuff like this fascinating. Man has been a hunter for as long as we've been walking upright. I've never tried to use an atlatl, but understand that they're fairly difficult to master.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Ruminations on Freedom

After this Fourth of July and a number of editorials and blog posts, I've been thinking about freedom as it relates to the recent American experience. It's been said that voters get the freedom they deserve and my thinking had led me to believe that's true.

Politicians are a strange breed, at every level of government. They have every motivation known to man, from the purely altruistic desire to serve the people, to the unscrupulous desire for power. Some simply want to be in charge, others desire power, while some want to amass money. Often there are huge egos involved, with the self convinced belief that they are right while everyone else is wrong.

As a student of Louisiana politics, I've seen both the ridiculous and the sublime. I've personally known some great politicians and some of them have been good people. Others of them were crooks, yet the voters couldn't seem to discriminate between the two. So, when we elect a crook, or a power-hungry ego, or someone who simply has no ability to govern, we seem surprised when that person defaults to his or her more basic level of performance.

While looking at the case of McDonald v Chicago, I am amazed that the people of Chicago continue to elect Mayor Daley. He seems anti-freedom, yet the people have returned him to power on more than one occasion. He is a direct product of his father's political dynasty and seems convinced that he knows better than anyone else what is good for the people under his control. Now, his policies have been smacked down by no less than our Supreme Court, yet he continues to resist. His policies on gun control have been rebuffed time and time again. He continues in error and the people who elect him compound the mistake by allowing him to remain in office. I am astounded at the craven attitude of voters who would chose anything over freedom.

Do not misunderstand, I'm not anti-government. I believe that government has a legitimate place in the American experience. If you get more than a dozen people together you'll find that they make rules to ensure polite society, sometimes at the expense of personal freedom. However, our forebears laid down simple rules that are the bulwark of our government and said that there are some places that government should not intrude. Yet, over the years, citizens with the motivation of reasonableness and compromise have allowed certain freedoms to become curtailed to the point where we accept those regulations as normal and natural.

I'm no anarchist, nor even a dedicated libertarian. I think that government has a place and it's the duty of the voters to keep government in its place. In many regards we have failed miserably. When we come to believe that government can grant us things that we're not wiling to work for ourselves, we've begun the jog down the road to serfdom.

Some say that the Courts are our best defense against tyranny, but I say Damn the Courts. While many judges are honest practitioners, many are subject to the same defects as the rest of us. There is nothing sacred about a sitting judge. They bring prejudice and error to the bench on a daily basis. It's a rare jurist who can put aside their pre-conceived notions and make judgments based strictly on the law. One case in point is the four Justices who found themselves last week arguing against the freedom of the people as laid down in the Constitution. Their decision should have been easy, but they constructed hoops to jump through rather than simply saying that the Constitution wins.

The proper place to address freedom is at the ballot box, yet voters do not seem to understand how important basic freedom is to the American experience. We get the government we deserve, and of late I am truly concerned about our nation.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 4th

We're just winding down a big party at my house. Those family members who came from out-of-town were invited back to the house this morning for brunch and they've just now all left for their several-hours drive home. PawPaw is pretty much alone for the next few hours, when the grandkids, Milady and I are going to a small-town fireworks display.

I admit, I'm torn on the Fourth. I love our servicemen every day, and I especially remember absent friends on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

To me, July 4th is a birthday party for the nation, and while I honor our servicemen, I especially honor our founders. This is properly the remembrance for this holiday.

So, to all you servicemen and women out there, be careful and don't forget to duck. I love you and pray for you every evening. This afternoon, I'm going to eat a hot dog and sit in a small-town park to watch fireworks.

Sunday Morning Dawg

We had a party at the house today, celebrating my lady's mother. We toasted her 89th birthday and three generations came to the manse. Lots of family, food and love. The dog, of course, had plenty of people to play with and plenty of food to grub.



Here he's trying to cage a snack from the boys. Lots of food on the table, brisket, pulled pork, beans, tater salad, two green salads, rolls, and side dishes galore.



Here, he's learned to climb on the rattan table, hoping for leftovers. That is something he's not allowed to do.

He's the Hunting for Grub. Sunday Morning Dawg.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Gettysburg, Day 3

Old Bobby Lee hit the flanks of the Union Army yesterday and was fought to a draw. Great heroism yesterday, from both sides of the conflicting armies.

This morning, the General decides that the middle must be weak, and he sends Pickett to break the back of the Union Army. Against the advice of Longstreet, Lee ordered Longstreet to attack the center, using George Pickett's division of pale Virginians. Every field grade officer in Pickett's division was killed or wounded. The center held, although many Confederates crossed the stone wall that was the target of the attack.

General Lee decided that enough was enough and under cover of darkness began the retreat that would eventually end at Appomattox Courthouse, nearly two years later.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Daley again

It seems Mayor Daley has watered down his plans for Chicago residents. Under a proposed ordinance they will be allowed to purchase one handgun per month.
Instead of limiting possession to one handgun for every qualified person living in a home, it allows those persons to each register “one handgun-per-month.”
It also has a laundry list of restrictions. The firearm has to stay inside the main habitable space, but does not include porches, garages, the front yard, etc, etc.

No word yet on whether Chicago residents will be allowed to purchase more than one book per month, go to church more than once a month, or talk with a lawyer more than once a month.

Tar, Feathers, Daley. Some assembly required.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Chicago

The Mayor hisself lost the McDonald case and it looks like the city government is liable to put as many stumbling blocks as they can ... because they lost.
The mayor is expected to demand registration of all handguns, mandatory training for gun owners and a limit of one handgun per person. This last novel idea comes from Corporation Counsel Mara Georges, who according to the Associated Press "says the court ruled people can have a gun for protection, but didn't say they're allowed more than one."
Sounds like a spoiled little boy who didn't get his way. "didn't say they're allowed more"

Yeah, right. They can have one, and no more. Extend that logic to other facets of political life and you've seen the idiocy of Chicago politics.

The fact is that Daley is a spoiled brat and a bit of a bully. He has armed guards everywhere he goes, but doesn't think that the little people deserve the same protection. He's the epitome of all that's wrong with Chicago politics. He's a thug, albeit an elected one.

Mayor Daley is the best argument for term limits that I've ever seen. I'm normally one who believes that term limits are best served by the people, voting an asshole out of office. However, some people are so corrupt, so self-serving, so arrogant that they will perpetuate themselves in office at all costs.

It's a shame that tar and feathers went out of style. Daley could use a good humbling dip in the tar bucket.

Unique

Unique is a powder that defies definition. Listed at #31 on the Hodgdon Burn Rate Chart, it falls in with the pistol and shotgun powders. Sold by Alliant, they list it as a shotgun powder, but call it the most versatile powder made.

I have to agree that it's a very versatile powder. For pistol loads and cast-bullet rifle loads, it's hard to find an application for which Unique isn't suitable. The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook lists Unique as a suitable powder for hundreds of loads, in calibers from the diminutive .25 ACP to the rather serious .460 Weatherby Magnum. It may not be the very best powder for those applications, but it works in lots of calibers.



Unique was probably the first powder I bought for pistol work, back in the early '90s. I use it these days for .38 special and .44 special. I use enough of it that I buy it in 4 lb jugs. My favorite .38 special load uses 4.3 grains of Unique under a 158 grain semi-wadcutter bullet. It's a load that we've been using for years and is very pleasant to shoot. It's also very accurate in the revolvers we use. Unique is a frugal powder, in that I can get over 1600 of those loads from a pound of powder. That's a lot of shooting.

If I were limited to one powder on my bench, it would probably be Unique.

Meeting Engagement

On this day, July 1st, in 1863, the battle of Gettysburg began as a meeting engagement.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had invaded the north and had moved into Pennsylvania. The Union Army followed, trying to stay between Lee and Washington D.C. Sometime on June 29 or 30, a spy reported that the Union Army was much closer to Lee than he had imagined. Lee ordered his forces to converge on a little crossroads at a hamlet called Gettysburg. On the morning of July 1, 1863, John Buford's cavalry surprised Confederate General Harry Heth as he tried to move into the crossroads, seeking shoes for his troops.

The battle of Gettysburg was joined.