Monday, August 30, 2010

Weaver Scopes

Once upon a time, there was a little scope company in El Paso, TX, the Weaver outfit. They made scopes for American hunters that were legendary in their time. Good, solid hunting scopes. The K4 and K6 were magnificent and the target line of scopes, the T36 and T24 were regarded favorably among the benchrest guys.

Then, the company passed, as all do eventually. Weaver scopes are today made in Japan, and they're good optics. My .30-06 Savage wears aWeaver K6, and I'm really pleased with that scope. There's nothing to tinker with, no power ring to use. The scope is a 6 power. It's been dropped from deer stands and it's been dinged around in pickup trucks and four-wheelers. It just works. It holds its zero really well, it has enough power for the shots I intend to make and it's rugged.

I own variable scopes. They're okay, but I've long preferred fixed power scopes. Recently, I find myself surfing Ebay, looking at old Weaver and Lyman scopes. There are some remarkably good prices on what were once considered top-of-the-line rifle scopes.

If I bid on one and win it, I hope I won't be disappointed in the quality of the optics.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Humor

My ole buddy David sent me some charts that seem to explain a lot of things.



That might be true for some guys, but when I do something wrong, I know about it right then.



For some folks, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know lots of Beatle songs.



That's the truth. When I hear a car alarm, I figure that some idiot set off his own alarm. Then I check to see if it's my truck.

Thanks, David.

Sunday Morning Dawg

I was walking around the school last week and found a small yellow ball. The dog likes to carry and play chase with little tennis balls, but I thought he might take to the little yellow rubber one. So, I brought it home and dropped it on the floor.



He's rather possessive of it. He gets rather outraged when I try to take it from him.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Abolish the Department of Education

Every Republican candidate in the next several years should adopt a platform plank to abolish several government agencies, starting with Education. Not reform it, not rename it, abolish it. Put all those bureaucrats out of work, via legislation.

I've been working in the school system for eight years and it's been my distinct impression that the DOE is mandate-driven and more concerned with grant applications than actually spending money to educated children. During the Bush era, the cry was No Child Left Behind and from all I can see, it actually set education back several years. I don't know if we'll ever recover from NCLB. I try to stay abreast of educational issues and this latest Race to the Top, sponsored by now Sec'y Edu Arne Duncan.

Heritage.org talks about this latest education initiative and how it seems to be more of a teacher-union protection scheme than anything else. One paragraph in particular strikes home.
Proven education reform leaders like Louisiana and Colorado also lost points and finished out of the money because their state’s chosen reforms threatened union priorities. Meanwhile Hawaii (which the Data Quality Campaign ranked 17th for education data systems, which the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked 34th for the strength of their charter laws, and which got a D- from the National Council on Teacher Quality) finished third and will receive $75 million. Oh, but they had 100% “buy in” from the unions. So much for Secretary Duncan’s claim that RttT was committed to “putting the needs of children ahead of everyone else.”
So, Louisiana loses because we put education reform ahead of teacher unions, but Hawaii gets the unions to buy in and gets funded. Where does Obama hail as his home state? Amazing.

The Department of Education is a drain on our tax dollars and should be immediately abolished. That seems like a good priority for Republican candidates everywhere. Then we can begin abolishing other agencies, like the EPA, and BATFE

EPA Lead Ban - Nevermind

It appears that the EPA came to its senses and decided that they had no authority to regulate lead bullets used in ammunition.
Just two days ago, the EPA announced that they would take comments until the end of October as to whether they agreed that lead-based ammunition and fishing sinkers amounted to such a dire threat to the environment that the EPA should ban both. Looks like they heard enough comments, at least on ammunition:
I know that I, and a bazillion other folks had filed comments on the proposed ban. That's grassroots work at its finest. Some of the big players weighed-in too.
Agreeing with the position of the NRA and the firearms industry, the agency explained in a news release that it “does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).” Further crushing the hopes of anti-gun and anti-hunting activists, the release added: “nor is the agency seeking such authority.”
I bolded that last line, because I find it interesting that an government agency publicly says that they're not seeking to expand their authority.

Maybe the left-wingers in the government have decided that gun control is a battle that they don't want to fight. It's become a loser for them. However, the comment period will remain open until September 15th, while the agency tries to decide if it wants to regulate lead fishing sinkers.

If the EPA thinks they stirred up a hornets nest now, wait till they try to regulate the fishermen. That's got to be another losing battle.

Hat tip to Hot Air.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where's Your Congressman?

I found this over at the Cripple's.



Good question.

Remember, Twain said America has no distinct criminal class, except Congress.

Harry Reid Endorsement

It looks like the NRA is withdrawing its endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
After careful consideration, the NRA-PVF announced today that it will not be endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for re-election in the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Nevada.
Oooh! Snap!

I guess that Harry pissed them off when he supported the Kagan nomination for the US Supreme Court.

Harry Reid and Sharron Angle remain locked in a tight race. It appears that many voters will be holding their noses because they like neither Reid nor Angle.

Hell, I know the way they feel. I like neither Vitter nor Melancon, yet that's what the polls are saying will be my choice.

Tomorrow morning is the primary election for US Congressional seats. As a Republican voter, I'm pulling the lever for Todd Slavant for US 5th district, and Chet Traylor for US Senate.

I've got to vote my conscience and Vitter seems to be a sleaze. He's been good for Louisiana, but his "great sin" doesn't make sense when you run on a family values ticket.

Hat tip; Say Uncle.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Graphs and Charts

It's easy to look at a graph and a chart and try to understand what's happening. If you look at this CBO chart, you'll find what the stimulus has cost us over the last several years. The red is the stimulus, the blue is the cost of the War in Iraq.



I lay the blame for that squarely on Congress' doorstep. They pass the budget. So why did the deficit spike in 2008? Simple! The Democrats took control of Congress.

There are Congressional primary elections in Louisiana this weekend, and I'm not voting for any incumbent. Not one.

Best Deer Rifle

Sometimes I get asked, what's the best rifle/caliber/bullet for deer hunting?

That's easy. Deer are fairly easy to kill. A good deer is about the same size as a good goat and I've killed goats with a knife.

The plain fact of the matter is that whitetail deer have been killed with virtually every caliber known to man. Whether it's a fast stepping .22 caliber, or a massive .45 caliber, you can kill a deer with it. Ethical hunters don't want to needlessly injure a game animal, so they try to pick calibers with enough power to do the job cleanly. Certainly, the old .30-30 is a capable deer cartridge, as are any of the .30 caliber cartridges. As are the 6mm calibers, the .25 calibers, the 7mm calibers and all the rest.

Deer are fairly easy to kill, if the hunter can place the bullet in the vital organs. So, the requirement is that the ethical hunter must be able to place the bullet where it will do the proper job.

It's late August and in most places the regular gun deer season will be opening in about eight weeks. It's time to tune-up our sights and make sure that we can hit the game properly for a fast, clean kill. In short, it's time to get to the range.

After a quick session on the bench to verify your zero, get away from the bench and practice with normal shooting positions. Standing, kneeling and sitting. If you can only afford one box of ammunition, use five to zero the rifle, use 10 to practice your positions, and keep the remaining five rounds for the game fields.

I bet you won't need any more ammo than that to bring home the venison.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

EPA Considering ban on lead bullets

I talked about the petition a couple of weeks ago, and evidently the EPA is considering regulations that would ban lead bullets in the United States.

Remarkably, their commenting period ends two days before the Congressional elections in November. What exquisite timing. The remarkable thing would be to have the EPA ban lead bullets just before the elections, and during the hunting season. You've never seen a backlash like that would cause.

The odd thing is that they're considering this under the auspices of the Toxic Substance Control Act or 1976. In that legislation, Congress specifically exempted ammunition from consideration under that act.

The EPA is run by a woman named Lisa Jackson, a virulent anti-hunter. Personally, I think that a good dose of tar, feathers, and a long pole ride out of town would be good for Ms. Jackson.

The National Sports Shooting Foundation is all over this and there are links at the website where shooters, hunters and fishermen can go to leave comments. Be polite. Be firm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Damndest Wreck I've Ever Seen

From WDTN Channel 2, we get this video of a one car auto accident caught on a cruiser's camera.

Damndest thing I've ever seen.



Thanks to Joe Hecksel.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Military

I'm a fan of our military personnel, especially those serving now. We've been embroiled in a war since 9/11 and the people who stepped forward are my heroes. Each and every one.

Desert Storm was my war, and when we whipped Hussein's Republican Guard at 73 Easting, and later when we ravaged his forces at the Highway of Death, I thought I had seen superlative military valor.

I was wrong. The men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown valor beyond my altogether insufficient capacity to recognize it.

Say Uncle posts today on how some places exempt military personnel from the required training to obtain carry permits. He reports that Tam commented
There’s a different set of rules for shooting someone at West Town Mall than there is for shooting someone in Fallujah
She's right. There is a huge difference.

I am so very proud of our Armed Forces and I stand in awe of their accomplishments.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bullets and Comments

Rivrdog and I were talking about the .243, and in comments he asked what bullet I was using for my favorite reload in that caliber.

A while back I was surfing the Accurate Shooter website and got on to their .243 page. One thing led to another and I started thinking about Reloder 22 and some Hornady blemished bullets I had bought a couple of years ago.

Because the bullets are blems, the seller wouldn't identify them by maker or number, but I got a few knowledgeable reloaders together and we looked at bullets, the consensus being that they are Hornadys and they appear to be the 6mm caliber, 100 grain boat tailed soft point with cannelure, #2453.

Understand, reloading is very variable, and each barrel is different. My load map may not be safe in your rifle, but the load I'm going to talk about is safe in mine. It shows absolutely no pressure signs of any type. If I'm not very sure about what I'm doing, I stick with published recipes. With that caveat out of the way, we can proceed.

My rifle is a bone stock Savage 10 Hunter model. It still wears the original tupperware stock. I haven't done anything to it except to mount a scope and shoot it. It turns in good accuracy with most ammunition, but when I combined the Hornady blem bullet and Reloder 22, something special happened.



This is not a cherry-picked target. This load will make a group like this every time I do my part. I like my hunting rifles to be sighted 2" high at 100 yards. When I looked through the chronograph and saw that the bullet was traveling over 3100 fps, I was floored. Combine that big-for-caliber bullet with that speed and we've got one heck of a hunting load.

I consider the .243 to be an overbore cartridge and it's my experience that the slow burners work good in overbore cartridges. Listed at #126 on the Hodgdon chart, I consider Reloder 22 to be a slow burner. It's good in the .243 and the .25-06. I also use it for some loads in the .30-06.

If you haven't tried Reloder 22 in overbore cartridges, you're missing a treat.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Sometimes the dog sits beside me with a disgusted look on his face, like I've forgotten something vitally important.



Food? Check. Water? Check. He just came in from outdoors, so I don't know what the problem is.

Sorry, pup! Until I figure it out, you'll just have to make do with what you've got.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Links and hits

A link from Say Uncle is good for about 800 visits.

He linked on Friday to a blog post on Tuesday and my sitemeter jumped about 800 visits.

I write this blog to amuse myself, to keep in touch with loved ones and to jot down stuff I might want to remember later. It's a journal of what's going on in my life. I check the sitemeter once a month or so from idle curiosity.

This little blog gets about 250 visits a day. When it jumps to over 1000, I start looking at the referral logs.

Interesting.

Wondering

Every so often, I get the hankering to build a rifle. When this muse gets under my skin, I know exactly what I want.

Savage short action, with a varmint taper barrel, chambered in .243 Winchester with a 1:8 twist. A good stock, probably a Bell and Carlson Duramaxx. Good trigger, probably an Accutrigger if I can find an action with an accutrigger, or a Timney or Rifle Basix if the action doesn't have an Accutrigger. Swift scope.

In short, a poor man's target rifle. What would I use it for? I'd like to lay on the line with the rifle mounted on a bipod and shoot targets 300 yards away. Or set it up on the bench and let the grandkids learn about such things.

The funny thing is, I've got rifles that will do all these things, but I want to build a rifle. I haven't done it yet, but the hankering keeps coming back.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti

I'm on the hook for supper, and I've decided on a chicken spaghetti.

It's a simple recipe.

Onion
Bell pepper
Whole cooked chicken
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can original Ro-tel tomatoes
8 oz Velveeta Cheese
1 cup half-and half (I use fat-free)
1 pound spaghetti.

Peel the chicken from the bone and cut meat into small pieces. I generally just pull it apart with my hands.

Chop the onion and bell pepper and sautee in a little oil. Add chicken, Ro-tel, cream mushroom soup, cubed Velveeta cheese and the half-and-half. Let it simmer for a half-hour or so.

Boil spaghetti. Drain.

Mix everything together in a baking dish. Bake it until it firms up. About a half-hour or so, in a 350 degree oven.

Serve with garlic bread.

It's what's for supper.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grilling

I love my big charcoal drop-box pit, but it's way too big for cooking a couple of steaks. The thing takes five or six pounds of charcoal to heat up the pit, and that doesn't make any sense for cooking two little ribeye steaks.

Last week, Milady was at the auction and found an outdoor George Foreman grill. This thing is electric, but I bet it'll cook a steak just fine. She got a heck of a deal on it, and I don't believe it's ever been used.



Sorry about the photo quality, it's so humid outside that when I brought the camera to the patio, the lens immediately fogged over.

However, inside, I have marinating two little ribeye steaks. They've been in a garlic/herb marinade for the past hour, and they're looking good.



When Milady gets home we're going to nuke some potatoes, crank up that little grill and see how it does. I'm betting it'll do just fine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gun Handling

Say Uncle embedded a gun handling video and when I watched it, I thought that the skills were pretty good. When I went to AR quals last week, we talked about magazine changes and they showed me a technique I'd never seen.

Of course, I haven't been considered an operator in twenty years, but some of the skills are still applicable to an old cop in his autumn years. The technique is fairly simple. When you experience a stoppage, push the rifle away from you and rotate it so that you can see into the ejection port. If the bolt's back, you've run dry, so engage the magazine release with your trigger finger and snap the rifle, rotating it clockwise. This flings the magazine out of the rifle, emptying the mag well for a fresh one. With practice, it's pretty quick and the video shows the guys making mag changes with expert speed.



The best of all worlds would be for the magazine to drop free as soon as the release is pressed, but with the AR platform, that doesn't always happen. With the nine magazines I currently have, only two of them will drop free. However, this little technique will eject the most stubborn magazine I've found.

The fact that the video is set to Johnny Cash is a double-added bonus.

Hat tip to Say Uncle.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to Work Monday

I went back to work today, prepping for the opening of school on Wednesday. I enjoyed the time off and still have a list of stuff that I would like to have done on my time off.

When I was a kid, we went to school on the Tuesday after Labor Day and were finished the Friday before Memorial Day, barring any unforseen events like snow or hurricane. Nowadays it seems fashionable to start school early in August. I'm not sure I understand why, but we've all go to live with it.

As we live through the heat of August, I am comforted by the fact that September and October approaches and in the great circle of events we have to live through August to be able to enjoy October. In just a few more weeks I'll start making regular treks to the hunting lease to prepare for the autumn hunting seasons.

I'm really looking forward to that.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Morning Dawg

It's hot outside and when I take the dog outside, he does his business quickly then waits by the back door.



With the heat index at 107F, it's too hot to stay outside.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Maintenance

I just finished cleaning the AR I shot yesterday. If there is anything that gets dirtier more quickly than an impingement AR, I'd love to see it. I fired about 100 rounds yesterday and that machine was filthy.

No, I haven't tried a piston gun, and I'm not likely to. Mine works fine as long as it's clean and I've had years of experience cleaning an AR-15. I know what needs to be clean and what can use a quick wipe-up. The rifle is back in the bag now, ready for duty. The magazines are topped up with fresh ammo and I'm ready to carry it around for another year. With luck, I won't need it.

My son is going to be over this afternoon after work so that I can help him with a project. Hopefully that won't take more than three or four hours.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

LaRue Tactical

While we were training today, a young fellow came out to the range to let us look at some new products from an outfit known as LaRue Tactical. They're based in Leander, TX, near Austin. I don't recall his name, but he was a nice guy, wearing a Combat Infantryman's Badge embroidered on his shirt.

Us old farts know that tactical isn't a piece of equipment. It's a state of mind, but he had some neat toys and he let us play with them. He gave me a cool piece of tactical equipment, and I told him I'd darned sure use it. There are those of you who remember that there are seven places on a GI .45 auto where it is possible to open a cold bottle of beer, and this product is in that spirit.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the LaRue Tactical Beverage Entry Tool.



You can click on the picture for a bigger photo. This thing is made of high-tensile steel, shaped like an armadillo (the state bird of Texas), and can open bottles or cans of your favorite beverage. It's all together fitting and proper that LaRue Tactical makes such a device. In the words of Willie Nelson,
When the gun smoke settles, we'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back at the local saloon,
And we'll raise up our glasses against evil forces, singing
Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses.
It is altogether fitting and proper that such a tactical devise exists.

Go surf the LaRue Tactical web site. If any of you Texicans would like one, they make it also in the shape of your Gret State.

If you order one, tell 'em PawPaw sent you. I'm probably going to order a half-dozen as small gifts.

Training Thursday

I've been agitating for a class for several years. It seems that before we can carry and use (I hope to God I never have to use it) a rifle, we've got to qualify with it, just like the pistol and shotgun. Okay, fine. When it came time to qualify with the rifle, the young scamp, high-speed-low-drag guy running the range, checked in his range computer. (Range computer.. that ought to tell you something), and told me I wasn't qualified to carry an AR-15.

"The hell you say." I fixed him with a steely gaze. "I've been carrying and using one of these since you were in diapers, son. I've probably got magazines in this bag that are older than you."

"Regardless," says he,"Even with your long service and ancient magazines, you ain't in this computer, and I can't qualify you until you've been through the course."

"Fine" says I, having long knowledge with idiot bureaucracies, "Schedule me for the next class.

So, after much agitation and aggravation, they scheduled a class for us old farts who had never had the class. On the front row of the class this morning were three old farts who had a combined law-enforcement/military experience totaling over 120 years. Like they're going to teach us something about the care and feeding of the AR-15 series of rifles.

We went through the power-point presentation and went to the range, to zero the weapons. I fished a magazine out of my bandoleer and flipped it to the range officer. "Check this magazine. It's got a date on it, and I bet it's older than you."

"My God," says he "this magazine is older than I am. How long has the ammo been loaded in it."

"I loaded that magazine after Desert Storm. I've been keeping it for a special occasion, like a fine wine, or a good bottle of Scotch. I intend to fire it today and take your ammo home as Fresh Stock."

"Fine," says he. "Shooters to the line!"

I am now duly qualified with my old AR. It doesn't have any fancy bells nor whistles on it, not even optics. I did it all with iron sights, 40 year old magazines and 25 year old ammo.

The AR series of rifles is like an adult Barbie-Doll. You can dress it up any way you like and one young warrior came out with a short barreled model with every known accessory mounted on redundant Picatinny rails. As usual, he had problems with it. My old AR, with ancient ammo, operated without a hitch.

I did learn that one of the latest and greatest things today is something called the Single Point Sling. This is the latest marvel in tactical gear and no one who is anyone would be seen without one. I marveled at it, knowing that good troopers have been using these things since the 1850s. They called it the Saddle Ring Sling.

It's funny how things come into and out of fashion. But, I'm now qualified with the AR-15 that I've been carrying for almost 40 years.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

5th Congressional Race

I learned today that our Representative, Rodney Alexander, has a Republican challenger for the US 5th Congressional District in Louisiana. Sam Hannah had a pretty good editorial over a the Concordia Sentinel, and I googled the challenger, Todd Slavant of Ouachita Parish.

I like what I see. Just a small quote from his website:
Todd believes that the current leaders in Washington are too timid and unwilling to make the hard decisions that will put our country back on the right track. Appetites for frivolous earmarks, enormous entitlement programs, and stealthy special favors are problems that must be tackled.

Because there is not a regard for the limits on government, Todd believes the only solution is to place citizens in Congress with no agenda beyond defending the Constitution and clearly communicating the will of the people in Washington. It's time to fight the good fight, put forth a clear alternative to massive debts, uncontrolled borrowing, insolvent social programs, and the encroachment of freedom under the guise of fairness.
There's a program I can get behind.

Todd's got an uphill fight against incumbent Rodney Alexander. Rodney is the guy who loves pork projects and at a Tea Party meeting two years ago, defended his record, saying that he spelled the word PORC, or Projects of Regional Concern. We nearly booed Rodney off the stage. His latest ad says that he's a firm believer in the Constitution. I'm a firm believer that Rodney has outlived his usefulness.

There is no Democrat qualified in the race and only these two Republicans. This is a winner-take-all election, and we know that Rodney is going to pull out all the stops to make sure he's re-elected. It would be a shame to return Rodney to Congress.

I'm behind Todd Slavant, and that's who I'm pulling the lever for in August.

Hat tip to Nick Bouterie for the link.

Centerfire Wednesday

I went out to the Sheriff's office range this morning and shot hunting rifles. My Savage .30-06 and my Handi .308. I've got both sighted in for the loads they're going to use this hunting season, and they're sighted 2" high at 100 yards. The Savage is hovering around an inch at 100 yards and the Handi at about 2" at 100 yards. But, they're both shooting very consistently, so I expect that my technique could still use some tweaking.

These rifles won't be put back on the bench until spring, all my shooting from now till then will be from hunting positions.

While I was there, one of the department precision shooters came to the line to burn some powder. He's shooting a Remington 700 VLS in .308. As we shot, I noticed that he was shooting Federal Gold Medal Match ammo. We both finished shooting at the same time and started picking up our gear. I noticed the brass laying at his feet and asked what he was going to do with it. "Nothing", says he "You want it?"

You betcha. There was 30 pieces of brass laying there and I'm not so rich that I can afford to leave brass laying on the ground. Knowing it's truly once-fired brass, I can probably get four or five reloads from it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ban on Lead Bullets

If you read The Gun Nuts, you'll learn that the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the EPA to ban lead ammunition and fishing accessories in furtherance of their huggy-feely agenda. Never mind that lead is a naturally occurring element that is found all over the world. Never mind that hunting and fishing license fees and sales of ammunition, sporting goods and fishing implements fund the Pittman-Robertson funds that fund wildlife areas. Never mind that active shooters and sportsmen donate money to public and private organizations that preserve wildlife.

This is a back-door attempt to make life miserable for hunters and fishermen. And because some ammo crosses the line from hunting to target shooting, they want it all banned. All of it.

I've already written my Congressman, and fired off emails to the EPA guys. The EPA folks who need to hear from you are Jackson.lisa@epa.gov and Owens.steve@epa.gov . Be nice, but explain to them that we donate millions to wildlife causes and pay lots of excise taxes to fund wildlife restoration. Explain to them also that dozens, if not hundreds of companies make a living from lead ammunition and components and employ thousands of people nationwide.

A ban on lead sporting ammunition will cost the economy millions in lost wages and opportunity costs. This is a bad idea in good times, but in a down-turn economy, it is a catastrophic idea.

Rimfire Tuesday

Yesterday, grandson Ethan told me he'd like to go shooting, so I made arrangements to take him and his brother to our private range this morning before the temps got into the triple digits.

Ethan is 11 and his Quinton is 8, so I wanted to start them out with rimfire cartridges, specifically the .22 Long Rifle. I have a Stevens Model 62, which Savage originally marketed in Canada. In the US, it's sold as the Savage Model 64, a generic semiauto with a 10 round magazine.

After a brief safety lesson (the Four Rules are paramount), we set up the bench, talked about how to operate the rifle, and began shooting. I started the boys on the bench, for several reason, not the least of which is safety. Until they're a little more familiar with their gun-handling skills, PawPaw wants to control the muzzle very carefully. Of course, you can click on the photos for larger versions.



That's Ethan at the bench. We did some dominant eye work and Ethan seems to be left-eye dominant. He wanted to set up on the southpaw side of the bench, so here we are. Firing at paper, he did real well. Then Quinton wanted a chance, so we talked again about safety and set up Quinton on the other side of the bench. Turns out, he's right-eye dominant. Go figure.



We banged away happily at the paper for a while, switching brothers and sides of the bench as necessary. Then, I brought out my Ruger Mark II. Quinton was really impressed. According to him it looks like a pistol he's seen in a Star Wars movie.

Another safety briefing and a quick explanation about the difference between optics and iron sights and we were ready for the first pistol lesson.



That's Ethan trying his hand with the Mark II. After both boys had run several magazines through the pistol, we went back to the rifle, shooting steel targets that stay hung near our berm. The kids had a ball ringing steel and before you know it, we were out of ammo.



That last photo is looking downrange from about the 40 yard line. Two little boys can go through a couple of hundred rounds of .22LR pretty quickly. I'm going to have to get a couple of more bulk packs.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Mortgage Forgiveness

It seems that the internet is exploring a rumor that came out last week that the Obama administration was thinking about giving Wall Street a bailout, to forgive portions of mortgages that are underwater. It's no secret that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hold toxic mortgages, worth more than the value of the assets pledged.

While we might fault the Bush Administration for our financial troubles, (and indeed, it's fashionable to do so in some circles) there is plenty of blame to spread around. It seems to go back all the way to the Carter administration when lenders were accused of racism because urban blacks weren't able to get mortgages at the same percentages of white applicants.

Bad mortgages are bad business and holding toxic paper is something that no one wants to do. Yet, bailing out people who knew full well what they were doing when the papers were signed is no way to put the economy back on the right track. Both the lenders and the borrowers share in this mess and getting out should be painful.

A recent Rasmussen poll shows that many voters don't think that a government forgiveness of mortgages is a good idea. I don't think it's a good idea, either. This would send the wrong signal and reinforce behavior that got us in this mess in the first place.

A better idea (though still horrible) would be to forgive mortgages that are current and have been current for the past 12 months. Those folks know how to manage money and would immediately pump most of that money back into the economy.

Either way, they're both bad ideas. The country can't afford to spend good money after bad. The country can't afford to bail-out people who made bad investments.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lily White SPLC

The Southern Poverty Law Center is (probably) the world's leading civil rights watchdog. They track hate groups and use the power of law to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

The SPLC was formed as a small civil rights firm in 1971, they're based in Montgomery, AL and have been a leading force in civil rights legislation over the years.

I didn't know that the leadership is lily white. And, based on the salaries they're pulling down, there's not much poverty in the SPLC.

Interesting.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Milady left us on Friday morning, heading for a family reunion in Alabama. The dog is pining listlessly, wondering where Momma went, and if he'll be fed while she's gone. If I could speak dog, I'd tell him we'll be fine. I know where she hides the ice cream.



She'll be home this afternoon and everything will be all right with the world.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Same-Sex Marriage

Earlier this week I talked about same-sex marriage, and it seems that the internet is all abuzz about the federal judge in California who declared that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Here we have a Catch 22. Basically, the opponents of same-sex marriage declare that the federal government has no interest in defining marriage and should leave it to the states. But, when a state attempts to define marriage, they run the risk of being sued in federal court. Whereas the proponents of same-sex marriage seem to pursue their claims in the federal courts, and the Congress has no intention of getting involved in this quagmire.

The latest CBS poll that I've found says that most Americans are opposed to same sex marriage, but a plurality thinks that civil unions might the the way to go.

I don't care. I don't believe that same-sex marriage will be the downfall of our civilization. I'm becoming more and more convinced that the state, whether of the local political jurisdiction that we Americans know as states, nor the greater state that is defined as the Federal Government, has any business trying to define interpersonal relationships, except as it involves contractual relationships.

If I enter into a contract with a person, that's not the business of the government. If we fulfill the contract, that's also not the business of the government. If one party claims a default on the contract, that may or may not come to the attention of the government, purely through the civil courts.

It turns out that others are agreeing with me, and making the argument more cogently than I might make it.
Imagine if government had no interest in the definition of marriage. Individuals could commit to each other, head to the local priest or rabbi or shaman — or no one at all — and enter into contractual agreements, call their blissful union whatever they felt it should be called and go about the business of their lives.

I certainly don't believe that gay marriage will trigger societal instability or undermine traditional marriage — we already have that covered — but mostly I believe your private relationships are none of my business. And without any government role in the institution, it wouldn't be the business of the 9th Circuit Court, either.
Exactly.

As the debate stands now, we've got two groups trying to make their case, one through public opinion and one through the Courts. If marriage were not the province of the state, then the state wouldn't care who married who, and we wouldn't be having this debate.

Don't misunderstand. I consider marriage to be the most basic of human contracts, and when I married my wife, I made vows that I intend to keep for all time. I'm certainly not trying to make light of the marital contract. I just don't believe that it's any of the state's business.

Friday, August 06, 2010

New Computer

My old trusty laptop crashed earlier this week and I needed a new one. I bought a Toshiba Satellite C655 Series. Found the best deal at Office Depot, out the door for under $400.00.

I'm getting it set up and now I've got to recover bookmarks and lists. Some of the old ones will probably go away, but I've got a bunch of old ones I want to keep. There are friends on this internet that I've never seen in person but feel like we're old friends.

This machine screams, compared to my old one. I hope to keep it cleaner than the last.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Cannon Safe

There's a report from Baton Rouge about a gun safe that survived a break-in attempt. It's pretty impressive.

I've seen some comments on the various forums about one that Tractor Supply stocks. I'm not naive enough to believe that it will actually hold 21 long guns, but I might drop by their store and have a look at it.

Thunder

Gene Hill once said that thunder may be the oldest sound to reach the porches of man's ears.

I'm listening to pre-dawn thunder. I walked out into the dark yard and saw lightning to my east, south, and north. We are comfortable with late afternoon thunderstorms in these latitudes, but early morning storms are a rarity in this season. I went to the weather maps looking for a front line, but all that shows is an unse3ttled air mass above my parish. Nothing of a classic front signature, just an unsettled air mass.

Strange. With the heat we've been experiencing, any rain would be a blessing, but the afternoon promises to be hot, and now more humid than ever.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Straight marriage struck down

Not really, but I'm told that a district Judge in California has overturned the ban on gay marriage in that state. Everyone is sure it will go to the 9th Circuit on appeal, and maybe eventually to the Supreme Court.

Personally, I don't have a dog in this hunt. If I have any stance on the matter at all, I'd have to say that I don't believe that the state has any business sanctioning marriage at all. What business of the state's is it if I'm married or single?

My thoughts are not perfectly formed in the matter, but I've always thought it was silly to have to get a license to marry the person you love.

Dental work

I broke a tooth last week in Gatlinburg. Eating (of all things) spaghetti. I went to the dentist today and when I told him what I'd done, he laughed and told me that he sees more teeth broken on soft food than on hard food. He proceeded to poke around in my mouth and found another tooth that was close to letting go, so while I was in the chair, he deadened the gums and put temporary crowns in place. I go back in four weeks for the permanent crowns.

He didn't hurt me, but I'm sore from having my jaw jacked open. I think he had both hands and a knee in my mouth.

But, his cute dental tech told me I could eat whatever I want to eat, so I'm thinking about a big ole greasy hamburger, after a meeting at the church.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Crashed

My old laptop crashed today and I'm running on Milady's netbook. My computer guru brother-in-law and I talked computers last week, and now I'm in the market for a new laptop. I don't need much computer because most of what I do is fairly low-tech. I would like CD/DVD burner, because I can't burn CDs on this netbook.

They have gotten cheaper over the last five years. When I bought my laptop back in 2005 I paid over $1000.00 for it, and now better machines are under $500.00. Luckily, I've been in the habit of storing files on a memory card and I was able to get the files off the old machine before it completely crashed. I haven't lost anything important.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Milermore

Milady and I were heading toward town today and we heard a noise. She asked me what the noise was and I said that it sounded like a Milermore bird.

"What?"

"A little known species," I expounded, "a small bird, about the size of an English Sparrow. Drab in color, mostly brown and grey. Most people have never seen one."

"Oh, really?" says she.

"Indeed," says I, "they eat late season berries and seeds, but especially enjoy the small berries from the hackberry tree. But the berries give them gas, from whence we derive the name. When they fart, you can hear them for a mile or more."

She doesn't believe me.

Bounty

Fox Phoenix is reporting that a Mexican drug cartel has put a price on Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"It's offering a million dollars for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's head and offering a thousand dollars for anyone who wants to join the Mexican cartel."
That's certainly bold.

It seems to me that the cartels are feeling the heat and now's the time to crank the flames on them. It's sad that we don't have anyone with cojones running the country.

The President has a responsibility to protect the states from invasion and he has abrogated that responsibility. We've got the Interior Department putting up signs along the border telling Americans that it's not safe to venture into our national parks because of drug smuggling and human trafficking. Now, we've got cartels putting bounties on elected officials.

The United States has the most highly trained military force in the world and most of that force has experience operating in arid mountainous terrain, like we find in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet we're powerless to secure the border in Arizona. Yet, when the state of Arizona tries to fix the problem that the Feds won't recognize, they're sued by the same Justice Department that refuses to deport illegal aliens.

This country's broken, both financially and morally. Don't get me started on the most ethical Congress ever.

Hot

All three weather services that I use agree that the outside air temps are over 100 F. It's hotter than a whatchacallit out there. I got outside early today and mowed the lawn. After a week in Tennessee, the yard needed a trim. Then I piddled around cleaning out old boxes that I've been carrying around for twenty years. Fifty pounds of paperwork and old files was reduced to a single pound of paper that I might have need of in the future. For this afternoon I'm going to surf the web for a little while, then take a nap.

Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Videotape

There was a nurse who worked in a jail with me and from time to time I'd see her, hold my arm at an awkward angle and say "It hurts when I do this." She'd laugh and say "Well! Don't do that!" That's good advice.

There seems to be an interest and a question about whether it's legal to videoptape police interactions. We all remember the Rodney King tape and the role it played in police work. Today, almost everything we do is recorded. Jailers are familiar with being recorded and know that almost everything they do is recorded on the security videos that abound in jails and prisons. School Resource Officers know that almost everything they do is liable to be captured on video at some point. Indeed, most street cops use video increasingly in this digital age. If a picture tells a thousand words, a videotape tells a chapter.

The question seems moot, with more and more consumer devices being able to capture video. Technology is overtaking us all and smart phones, tiny cameras, security cameras abound. Yet, there are questions being asked in places like Instapundit and on Yahoo Questions and state laws vary. Indeed, some citizens have been arrested for videotaping the police.

Here in Louisiana, it's perfectly legal to videotape police interactions, so we've gotten used to it. For me personally, it's not a problem. In my opinion, if I'm doing the job the way I'm supposed to do the job, I fear nothing from videotape. It's a useful tool that documents my job performance, whether I control the camera or not. Because I work for the people, I have little or no expectation of privacy while I'm on duty, so I have no privacy to protect.

While I'm not adverse to being videotaped, I don't feel bad about seizing a tape that has evidentiary value. For example, I was called last year to break up a fight and after the carnage, I was able to watch a videotape of the festivities. I seized that tape and put it in evidence. I gave the camera-person a receipt for the tape and I suspect that he was able to claim it after the case had been prosecuted.

I don't mind being taped as long as the camera doesn't interfere with the way I do my job. I would recommend that the camera stay far enough away that it doesn't intrude into my active area. Moving in close for a dramatic shot may not be the best idea. There are statutes about interfering with an officer. As long as you're not interfering, I don't have a problem. I would suspect that most of my brethren don't either.

Sunday Morning Dawg

We got in yesterday afternoon, about 6:30 p.m. and the dog was anxiously awaiting us after a week on the road.

What does a dog look like when he first sees his people after a week?



He was very pleased we were home. I was pleased also. So, I shared a ham sandwich with him.