Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weaver Scope

Regular readers know my fondness for Weaver scopes. I've got a fixed 6-power on my Savage 110, and I've been casting about, looking for a scope to put on that Ugly Rifle I salvaged from the used gun racks.

Several days ago, I cane across a cryptic reference to new line of scopes from Weaver, the Buck Commander series. Evidently the Buck Commander is some type of sporting show, but the little review I saw was fairly favorable about the scope. I looked online, and MidwayUSA doesn't have them yet, but they're listed at SWFA with a retail price of $184.95. I was interested, but not particularly intrigued.

I had a few minutes to kill this afternoon and went into Louisiana Archery, a local sporting goods store. I've traded with the guy in the past and wanted to see what scopes he stocked. Lo and behold, he had one of the new Weaver scopes in 2.5X10X42 so I asked to look at it.

Suggested retail on this scope is $287.95, but the SWFA price is $184.95. When the guy took it out of the case, I was pleasantly surprised. The optics are clear and the eye relief is rather generous. Set at 2.5 power, he and I estimated the eye relief at about 5 inches. Cranked all the way up to 10 power, it seems to be a fairly standard 3.5 to 4 inches. Both the focus ring and the power ring turned smoothly. This seemed like a fairly nice scope. The guy had it marked at $199.95, and I mentioned that I'd rather spend my money locally than online or at a big box store. He told me he'd take off 10% for being a loyal customer.

I bought it immediately. I got it for less than SWFA prices, and now I can quit looking for a scope. It's got plenty of magnification for the deer woods. In fact, I doubt I'll ever put it on 10X when I'm hunting. It will probably stay somewhere in the range from 2X to 6X for hunting.

After I've shot over it a few times, I'll post some sort of review.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hebert

Back in the mid '70s, there was this kid in one company I was assigned to, his name was Hebert. In south Louisiana, the name Hebert is pronounced A-bear. The mists of time have obscured his first name, but Hebert was an infantryman, a lowly rifleman. Before Hebert joined the Army he had been a barber. Back in those days each rifle company was assigned one barber kit. The First Sergeant kept it in the orderly room, and soldiers could check it out and give themselves a haircut if the financial or transportational difficulties were such that a soldier couldn't get to the PX, or afford a $2.00 haircut.

Hebert was a licensed barber in the state of Louisiana. Army regulations forbade him charging money to ply his craft, as did the licensing board of the state of Kentucky. He couldn't charge money for his services, but he could drink beer. So, every Saturday morning, Hebert would hoof it down to the orderly room, check out the barber kit, and set up shop in the latrine, providing haircuts in exchange for cold beer. Hebert loved his beer and he'd crack one beer with every customer.

If you wanted a good haircut, you'd best be in line early, about 8:00. Like old-fashioned barber shops everywhere, the conversations might turn in any direction, and there's no telling what you might discuss, but the one thing we couldn't discuss was how quickly the barber was becoming drunk. As a customer stepped up to sit on the stool, he'd hand Hebert a cold beer and after about the sixth customer, Hebert was hammered. The haircuts got rather interesting, and after the ninth customer a GI buzz cut was all Hebert was capable of providing. By 10:00, the customer line was mainly interested in watching Hebert perform his craft from the fog of a beer induced palsy. Eventually, Hebert would put the barber kit away and go lay down to sleep-off his wages.

I don't know what happened to Hebert. I lost track of him as I've lost track of so many of the soldiers I served beside. Yet, this morning I remember him standing in that latrine, a cold beer in one hand and barber clippers in the next. Next! And the next soldier in line wondering what kind of haircut he was about to get. Heberts haircuts were legendary.

That's what service is all about. Not the adventure, not the danger. Someone once famously said that we don't fight for God, nor Country, nor any of those other high-sounding words. We fight for the guy next to us. For our buddies. For guys like Hebert, who share the same mud and the same blood.

Hebert and I weren't in danger together. Our biggest concern was the wrath of the First Sergeant. As ends every relationship in the military, one or the other of us got orders and moved to another assignment.

I wonder whatever happened to ol' Hebert?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday afternoon around the pool. A bunch of grandkids and pictures of the two youngest.


Lucas, talking to his Aunt Sonja.


Elyas being busy. Some part of that kid is always a blur.

That's the way a PawPaw spends Sunday afternoon.

Huey story

Reflecting on the post below, when I was at Fort Riley Kansas, they taught us to rappel. First down a relatively steep cliff, then down a big board wall, then from the skid of a Huey.

The Huey was just barely hanging in the air with a full load of eight infantrymen. You could feel the airframe move whenever someone shifted their seats. If you rappelled from the aircraft, you'd rappel in pairs, one from each open door of the aircraft. Your rope was 50 feet long. So, when it was your turn, you'd get on the rope, stand on the skid and look at your buddy across the aircraft. One of you would nod, and you'd both step off the skid, fall about 10 feet, then stop your descent with your brake hand, swing under the aircraft, then on the outward swing, release your brake hand and continue toward the ground. Nothing to it, easy-peasy.

The only problem was that as the load lightened with infantrymen going to the ground, the aircraft would lift slightly as the load went away, two grunts at a time. If the pilot wasn't paying attention, the aircraft would lift slightly, and eventually, the end of your 50 foot rope would leave the ground.

I don't care how fit you might be, how quick your reflexes, how lightning-fast you can react to a situation. When you feel the end of the rope go through your brake hand, you are not fast enough to grab the end of the rope before you find yourself in free-fall. Trust me on this one. You ain't quick enough.

I never saw anyone get hurt, but I've seen lots of guys grabbing at the end of that rope, wildly trying to grasp it, before they fell that last foot, or five feet. For a bunch of twenty year old kids, that's high comedy.

Sunday Morning Dawg

We made a quicki trip to Gulf Shores, AL over the weekend to see nephew Josh get married. It was a lovely wedding. We visited with family and ate seafood and laughed and told lies. When I walked in the door, the dog was patiently waiting for us.


Looking at the picture, I see that he needs a haircut. We'll take care of that next week.

Friday, May 27, 2011

UH-1

That's the Huey to you old warriors. Old NFO reports that it's been retired.


The Huey was the helicopter of my misspent youth. I've flown many miles in the damned things, short hops as a passenger. I learned to rappel from a Huey and I've gotten out of them when it was so dark all I could see was the dim lights from the cabin and a piece of rope dangling in the darkness.

What an adventure the Huey was.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

AWF

I just finished the last day of school and I'm AWF. That's A-W-F, AWF!

As unlike off, where you take a day off from something. AWF is carefree vacation mode. I've earned it, and I'm taking it. There was a time when I worked constantly, never taking a day off and only occasionally taking the odd week for vacation. When I retired, I had accumulated three years of combined annual and sick leave.

I still don't take sick leave. If, God forbid, I get sick or injured, I'll take it then. I've been off sick only four days in the past eight years and I thank God for my health. But, my accumulated vacation time, I take it. With the detail that is my current assignment, we work a lot of extra time that we can accumulate to take when school is not in session. The last day of school was today, and I'm AWF!

I've got about two weeks of honey-dos, then I'm going to start getting ready for deer season.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tumblers

Last week I mentioned buying a tumbler. I've been reloading since 1975 and never felt the need to own a tumbler, but recently I've been re-thinking that. SO, last week I ordered a little tumbler from MidSouth Shooting Supply. It's a new item from Smart Reloader, the SR737 Nano.


Just hours after I ordered it, too late to cancel the order, I got an unbelievably generous offer from a reader in Arizona, John, who said that the had a Dillon CV-500 case cleaner that he hasn't used in a while and he'd send to me, free to good home.


The MidSouth order came in today. I put the little tumbler together and put some media in the bowl, along with a handful of .243 cases. It tumbled for about an hour and shut down. When I felt it, the base was warm, so I unplugged it for awhile until it cooled. The brass was clean. After it cooled, I plugged it back in and it started jiggling again, so maybe it will be good for light cleaning jobs.

John has emailed me several times this past week and sent a UPS tracking code. The Dillon is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to using that machine.

Thanks again, John.

Career advise

As linked by Instapundit, career advise for newly minted PhDs.
5. Join the Army. You can be an officer, and you’re guaranteed to receive a monthly salary, good benefits, and great deals on car rentals for the rest of your life. The only risk is that you might get killed.
Not completely tongue-in-cheek advise. The Army needs good officers, as does the other branches of the military.

The only downside? You might get killed. Whereas in academia, they'll just bore you to death.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First Splash

Milady helping the youngest grandson, Lucas, with his first splash.


This is why we built the pool.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday morning

I woke this morning and found that I hadn't been raptured, so I made coffee and went down to the church house, none of those folks had been raptured either. I noticed cars in the parking lots of churches along the way, it looked like those folks had been left behind as well.

I guess we'll just have to wait until the Lord works in His time.



Until then, we'll take faith in those ways we've always taken faith.

Sunday Morning Dawg

The dog is a scaredy-cat when it comes to lightning and thunder. He's ready to bolt under anything that he thinks might give him cover and concealment.


He's quite comical during a thunderstorm.

Let Freedom RIng

Breda open carries and finds out it's no big deal.

I live in an open carry state, though very few people think of Louisiana as such, yet my review of the law is Louisiana tells me that open carry is perfectly legal. It all stems from the Napoleonic Code on which many of our laws are based, wherein an honest person wears his weapons openly, and concealing a weapon is only necessary if a person has nefarious purposes. The basic law can be found at RS 14:95 and has a few exceptions, most notably carrying a firearm near a schoolhouse.

Louisiana also has a concealed carry permit, available through the State Police.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tee shirts

I wear a tee-shirt every day. When I'm in uniform, on duty, I wear a cotton tee-shirt under my uniform. The vest is tough on tee-shirts and at the end of a shift, they're usually sweat-soaked. I know all about Under Armour. I don't like it. Personal preference. There's nothing wrong with Under Armour and lots of guys love it. I'm not one of them. I generally prefer Fruit of the Loom, but I'll wear Dickies tees when they're available.

While folding clothes this morning I notice that my tee-shirts are ragged. Holes in them. Worn out. One day next week I'll stop by the store and pick up a couple of four-packs of navy blue pocket tees. Then spend an hour cutting all the old shirts into shop rags. I usually get four shop rags from each tee-shirt. Recycling is wonderful.

Wisconsin

I don't think I've ever set foot in Wisconsin, but if you've been following the news, an important legal battle has been shaping up in that state. Wisconsin is having the same type of troubles that other states are having; budget problems, a bloated bureaucracy, a huge union presence and the reverberations of our national fiscal problems. So, the governor decides to try and balance the budget and he introduces legislation to limit the bargaining power of the public-service unions. During the legislative debate, a number of progressive leges decamp the state, denying the government a quorum. Eventually, the legislation moves forward and the battle moves to the Courts, where at the same time we have an election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Prosser is the conservative and Kloppenburg the liberal. Everyone thinks that it will be a close election and the unions go all-in supporting Kloppenburg. Initially, Kloppenburg thinks she's winning and even goes so far as to declare victory. When the votes are finally counted, Prosser wins by over 7,000 votes.

Kloppenburg calls foul and demands a recount, so the people of Wisconsin suffer (and pay for) a recount. When that is completed, Prosser wins again by over 7000 votes.

In the meantime, the budget bill that originally started this whole hoorah has made its way to the Courts and the people of Wisconsin are going to see the benefits of reining in the public-sector unions. There is one other tactic that Kloppenburg could try and that's a lawsuit. It probably wouldn't prevail ultimately, but it would tie up things long enough that Prosser wouldn't be seated on the Supreme Court in time to hear the budget case.

Wisconsin is a microcosm of the woes that affect budgets all over the country. From individual cities and town to the states and the national budget itself, we're fighting money troubles in the public sector. The entitlement budget is threatening to overwhelm us all, and there are serious questions that must be asked and answered. One recent example is the guy who draws social security disability because he wants to be treated like a baby.

There are those in this country who deserve our assistance. I work daily with kids who are profoundly disabled and require our assistance. I also work daily with others who have made being disabled a crutch to prevent future productivity. Yet, the system has become so skewed that almost any deviation from the norm is considered a disability.

Serious adults should be asking questions, most especially who we can support and who we can't. Public sector unions have waxed and waned, their moon is in eclipse. We simply can't afford them. Likewise, the entitlement budget has grown to such proportions over the years that they threaten to overwhelm our budgets. Serious adults are asking questions about entitlements. There are some people we simply cannot afford to support and those people should be cast aside.

Sometimes it's not enough to wake up and smell the coffee. Someone actually has to get up and make the coffee.

Thunder and Lightning, oh my!!

We awoke this morning to a thunderstorm. Lightning and thunder and rain. Blessed rain. We'd been in the midst of a drought, so PawPaw was pleased to hear the commmotion. I stood on the back porch and watched the rain while coffee dripped and now I'm indoors re-thinking my Saturday. This might be the proverbial day of rest.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Making Beads

Milady is making beads out of rose petals, a trick she learned while on our Gatlinburg trip last summer. She needs a way to polish beads, and she thought that maybe a tumbler would be just the ticket.

I've never owned a tumbler, but I've heard good reviews about the Smart Reloader Nano tumbler at MidSouth Shooter's Supply. I already had some bullets on my wish list, so I simply added the tumbler and clicked on the button.

So, we'll try to polish beads using the tumbler. Am I a nice guy, or what?

ATF Recovers it's own gun

I don't know how many of you have been following the Fast and Furious program, where ATF allowed guns to go into Mexico in an attempt to track them. As it turns out, they recovered one.
The federal drug agents discovered the AK-47-type assault rifles wrapped in cellophane and hidden inside two giant trash barrels. Agents believe the confiscated weapons were heading to drug cartels in Mexico. Problem is, a serial number on at least one of the weapons traces back to the ATF.
Well, damn. I bet that's embarrassing. Actually, I hope it's embarrassing.

Rapture

Did y'all know that tomorrow, May 21, 2011 is supposed to be the Rapture, when Jesus Christ descends to the Earth and all true believers are called to Heaven?

Maybe so, but I'll put my faith in the scripture of Matthew 24:36.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Still, it's interesting to note these things.

Rising Tide

It seems that the Atchafalaya Basin is soaking up the flood water released into it by the Morganza spillway.
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the first bay of the Morganza control structure Saturday, Col. Ed Fleming, commander of the New Orleans District, said the floodwaters would reach Interstate 10 near Butte LaRose in St. Martin Parish within 24 hours.

The water still hasn't arrived there. At 12:30 p.m. Thursday, the floodwater was reported three miles south of U.S. 190 on the east side of the Atchafalaya River levee, according to Sgt. Jimmy Hankins, Corps public affairs.

Gov. Bobby Jindal credits the slow movement to the drought. The thirsty ground's absorbing the water faster than anyone expected.
Ain't that a hell of a note? Butte LaRose is still on the map for flooding, but the water is slowly making its way down the basin.

I'll take that as a good thing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Morganza and Wildlife

The Atchafalaya basin is a haven for wildlife until the water comes up. Like wise the Saline swamp just east of my house. When the water comes up in the Saline/Catahoula swamps the deer and hogs flood the highlands at the edges and go back when the water subsides.

Below, a video of deer escaping the Atchafalaya basin. These four got lucky, they found a way out.



All the folks who have hunting camps in the basin might have a hard time finding deer to hunt this year.

War Powers

Then there's that whole thing about the Libyan incursion and the War Powers Act. Tomorrow is the deadline, or all US Forces have to be pulled.

Presidential Elections

Jim Brown used to be a politico here in Louisiana, and now he does a radio show. He's concerned because the President isn't elected by the popular vote.
So why, in the presidential election do we have an electoral system that allows voters in the majority of the states to be disenfranchised?
Simply, Jim, because we don't live in a democracy. The United States is a republic and the president is elected by the states, through a device we call the electoral college. I'd think that a guy who used to be the Louisiana Secretary of State would understand the system and not ask idiotic questions, but perhaps I'm expecting too much.

Over the years, there have been some with the idea to change the electoral system to one of a popular vote. They forget that to do that would require that the Constitution be amended and that takes time. I don't think that the states could get it done before the next presidential election, even if they were so disposed to do so. Naw, I don't see it happening, but Jim's got to crow about it.

Ya see, Jim Brown is a Democrat. The worst kind of Democrat. And Obama is a Democrat, so Jim would like to see Obama re-elected. It ain't gonna happen, Jim. Obama threw the Jewish vote away today and I don't think that the Muslim vote is going to make up for what he lost.

Obama sides with Palestine

I'm told that our President gave a speech today and he sided with the Palestinians, saying that Israel should return to it's 1967 borders. Really.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is endorsing the Palestinians' demand for their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, in a move that will likely infuriate Israel. Israel says the borders of a Palestinian state have to be determined through negotiations.
That ought to lose him the Jewish vote.

I agree that Israel should insist on the 1967 borders. The ones that existed on June 10, 1967 when the cease-fire was signed. At that time, Israel had conquered the Golan Heights, the Gaza strip, the West Bank of the Jordan river and the entire Sinai peninsula. The Israeli armed forces won a complete military victory against forces much larger than themselves. They won it fair and square and I personally wouldn't have given back a foot of land that I won with blood.

Our President threw Israel under the bus today, as he is wont to do with friends and allies. Just another reason why I'll never vote for him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ribeye

About three blocks from the school, there's an old-time butcher shop, M&M Martin Meats. It's on Lee Street, which is the historically industrial/black section of town. They still cut meat and they cater to the black trade, but there are those of us who know the appeal of a good neighborhood butcher.

This afternoon on the way home, I got steak-hungry and decided to stop at the butcher shop. He had a fine little USDA Select ribeye and I asked him to cut a couple of steaks about 3/4ths of an inch thick. While he was cutting the steak, I went to his produce department, which consists of a box of potatoes, and picked out two nice russet potatoes.

When I got home I marinated those steaks in a garlic/herb marinade and put them in the fridge. When Milady came home from work, I put the 'taters in the microwave and heated up the grill.

Several months ago, Milady brought this little grill home from the auction. It's electric and I can hear the purists moaning, but a good steak deserves to be cooked on a piece of gridiron, and this grill has a gridiron. It's made by George Foreman and I think it's just dandy for a couple of steaks, or a dozen hot dogs.


As the steaks sizzled to a nice medium rare, I sipped on a Sam Adams beer.

Steak and baked potato. It's what's for supper.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring floods and drought

An old blues song about levees breaking. After you've listened to it, lets think about something.



I was watching TV the other night, a show called Inspector America, and he made a good point. Water is both an asset and a problem. We've got to have it, and too much of it will kill us. His point was that Nevada and the great American Southwest is under a drought. Lake Meade, just north of Las Vegas, is down 155 feet from normal pool stage. We all know from reading the newspaper that west Texas is on fire, in the midst of a horrific drought. Yet, here in Louisiana we're awash in water. We're literally opening floodways and spillways.

Now, Louisiana has some of the most capable pipeline workers in the world. I'd put our pipeline folks up against anyone. I also know that water will flow down a pipe. How come we can't run a pipeline to Lake Meade and shift some of this water to the west? Maybe with a couple of side pipes to west Texas?

It's a thought. Who'd pay for it? Hell, I don't know? We'll figure that out, but we've got lots of water seasonally, and other folks need it. There might be an opportunity here to make a dollar.

Hat tip to Bayou Woman for the song.

Powder

I was piddling on the bench last week and realized that I was just about out of three of my favorite powders. I use Alliant Reloder 15, 19, and 22 and I'm just about out of those three. Reloder 15 is my go-to powder for the .308. I use Reloder 19 in the .30-06, and the slowest of the three, Reloder 22 shines in the .243 Winchester with heavy bullets.

I clicked on to Powder Valley and saw that they had all three in stock. That accursed haz-mat fee is always a problem unless you're buying bulk, and I wanted a five-pound jug of RL15 and a pound each of RL19 and RL22.

While I was looking at the choices, I saw a new powder with which I'm not familiar. It seems that Alliant is marketing a new line of spherical powders under the Power Pro label. Five speeds, Varmint, 2000MR, 3000LR, and 4000MR. They're all spherical powders, manufactured in the USA. I looked at some data and Google'd around and found that some guys like 2000MR in the .308

The price of the new spherical powder is less expensive than the price of the stick powder. That's a no-brainer. While I was ordering powder I added a pound of 2000MR to the list. We'll try it and see how it does. I don't think it will take the place of RL15 in my .308 lineup. RL15 is a known powder in use by the Armed Services, and I'm going to have five pounds to go through, but it never hurts to give a new powder a test run.

Now, I need to order some bullets.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Morganza

The Morganza spillway opened yesterday at 3:00 pm, local time, for the first time since 1973. The video below is taken by helicopter, without narration and shows the opening of the first bay in the spillway. In the opening seconds of the video, notice the water on the far side of the locks. That's normally dry land. None of that water is there when the river is at pool stage. The road over the spillway is Louisiana Highway 1 and it's the route I take to get to Baton Rouge and points south. Milady has kin-folk in New Roads, LA which is just south of the spillway. Normally, it's about 60 feet from the roadway to the bottom of the spillway.

I attempted to embed the video, without success. The link is here. Here's another video, courtesy of PBS.



Parts of south Louisiana won't feel this water until Tuesday. As the week goes on, they'll open several bays a day until they get the flow they want.

Sunday Morning Dawg

The boy-o came over to visit and during the visit needed refreshment. Of course, the dog was nearby in case any part of that cookie hit the floor.


Later, they pestered each other on the floor.


Supervising grandkids. It's what a dog does.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Refineries Threatened

More on the Damned-if-you-do, Damned-if-you-don't scenario of opening/closing the Morganza Spillway. Here is a list of the refineries that will be impacted by the decision.
Below are the refineries which are threatened unless the Morganza is open:

Alon USA Energy Krotz Springs, Louisiana : 80,000
Chalmette Refining Chalmette, Louisiana: 192,500
ConocoPhillips Belle Chasse, Louisiana: 247,000
Exxon Mobil Corp Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 504,500
Marathon Oil Corp Garyville, Louisiana: 436,000
Motiva Enterprises Convent, Louisiana: 235,000
Motiva Enterprises Norco, Louisiana: 234,700
Murphy Oil Corp Meraux, Louisiana: 120,000
Valero Energy Corp Memphis, Tennessee: 180,000
Valero Energy Corp St. Charles, Louisiana 185,000

And here are those in danger if the Spillway is open:

BP America Production Co 10,703
Petroquest Energy LLC 8,757
Apache Corp 4,986
ConocoPhillips Inc 2,661
Stone Energy Corp 2,232
Chevron USA Inc 1,467
Dune Operating Co 1,407
Swift Energy Optg LLC 1,241
The article goes on to talk about things like shipping and other economic concerns in dealing with this flood. If you don't think this won't cost you money, think again. I'm not talking about tax dollars, I'm talking about you, personally, out of your pocket.

Bayou Woman

These past couple of days, Blogger, my blog istrument of choice has been down. Like Doc Holliday in the movie Tombstone so famously said, I had to find my entertainment elsewhere. I stumbled across a little blog written by a woman in the deep bayou country and she mentions Bayou DuLarge, a small community at the very end of the road.

I've got a good friend who lives in Bayou DuLarge. Cholly (Charles) Matherne. His kids and mine grew up together and Cholly and I became close hosting each other's kids. We have drank much whiskey together. After raising kids, we moved away from Natchitoches, LA, me to the Alexandria area, Cholly back to his roots on the bayou. Just south of Cholly's house on the bayou, there is a large (huge) pile of oyster shells at the end of the road. A barrier to further auto travel. Beyond that is the marsh. The people of south Louisiana use oyster shells like the rest of us use gravel. It's a paving material and a damned fine one.

We went to visit Cholly one day, down on the bayou and when we got out of the car in his front yard, I hollered, "Hey, Cholly! What's for supper?" Cholly laughed and said "I don't know, lets see!" He walked across the road to his dock on the bayou, tugged on a rope and pulled up a crab trap. It had about a dozen big blue crabs. "Looks like we're having crab for supper."

Pray for those folks. The Mississippi might get them in the next couple of days.

River Rising

In case you've been focused on other things, the Mississippi River is rising, causing a slow-moving flood to inundate portions of Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. All attention this morning is focused on the levee system, which should hold as the flood waters crest and recede. The US Army Corps of Engineers has already dynamited one levee in Missouri to relieve the pressure on the system and the flood is heading downstream in the form of a slow moving crest of water that's expected to pass my area in the next day or so. Imagine a natural disaster that is man-made, moving slowly in marvelous springtime weather. The people of Louisiana are familiar with the drainage of the nation, because the vast majority of the water in the United States flows past our doorsteps.

The problem this morning is the Morganza Spillway, one of the secondary structures that comprises the structures around Old River. Mother Nature wants to move the main channel of the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya channel, moving the whole river to the west and shortening the trip to the Gulf of Mexico. The Corps doesn't want that to happen, for lots of reasons, and they've erected structures at Old River to keep that from happening. Both the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya are very important to Louisiana and have a huge economic impact. If the Mississippi moved over into the Atchafalaya basin, the people of Louisiana would have huge adjustments to make

When they open the Morganza to relieve the pressure on the main levee system, they're dooming whole communities. Small villages and town that are in the way of the inundation. In effect, they're trading one town for another. All the people in the Atchafalaya basin have been told to get ready for an historic flood. It's a damned if they do, damned if they don't situation. The Corps of Engineers is willing to trade Butte LaRose, LA for Baton Rouge, LA.

There is a great discussion of the Old River Control Structures at this link. Go read and see the whole problem, set down on one webpage. Added to the wish-list of Mother Nature, we've got the problems associated with the levee systems and barge traffic. If a barge happens to get loose from it's moorings and accidentally hit the top of an already stressed levee, then the whole structure might come tumbling down.

This is an historic flood. Any time that the Morganza opens is historic. The people of the Atchafalaya basin are resilient, strong, and self-sufficient. They all know that one day the main flow of the Mississippi will come through their communities and that event will require all the resilience they can muster. The question is whether the Corps can put the Mississippi back in it's channel once the flood is over. So far, they've been successful in doing so, but Mother Nature wins every time. She's got millenia to undo what man has done and in the end, she'll have her way. One of these days, the main flow of that river will drain through Morgan City, LA. That day might be tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Intruders

One of my jobs around the school-house is to challenge intruders. This is normally easy, simply finding out what they're doing at the school, and most often, helping them find something. The other morning a concerned parent told me that she had noticed an unsavory type hanging out shortly after the last bell, and I told her I'd keep my eyes open. So, during the final hour, I noticed a young man who seemed out of place. He was dressed in blue jeans and a white tee-shirt, which is not the school approved dress, so I watched for a minute before I approached him.

Then, when his back was turned, talking to a young lady, I approached. "Excuse me, young man, can I help you find something?"

He turned and I recognized him immediately. One of our alumni from last year. I put my hand out to him. "What are you doing, Slick? I figured you'd be in the sandbox by now."

"No, Officer D," he shook my hand, "not yet. I got a little leave and thought I'd come flirt with the girls."

"Well, okay," says I. "The Marines are always welcome here. You let me know if you need anything."

"Yessir, I'll do that!"

With that, I left him to his flirting. He's a good kid and was an okay student, a reluctant scholar. Yet, he made the grades and finished honorably then joined the Marine Corps. From his ramrod straight demeanor, Parris Island didn't hurt him one bit. I'm glad to see the kids I worry about make a mark for themselves.

Like I told him, the Marines are always welcome. Likewise the Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Red beans

It's been a while since I talked about red beans. More particularly, red beans and rice, one of the staples meals of Louisiana. In many parts of Louisiana, red beans and rice were the Monday staple. They're cheap and they don't take much standing-over-the-stove time. There are several ways to cook red beans, and the more traditional method is to start with dry beans, soak them overnight, then put them on a low fire all day long. Or a slow-cooker.

There's another method that is quicker. Canned beans. I can hear the purists howling, but my recipe has been known to turn heads and fill bellies.


Ingredients.

Eight cans (15 oz) red beans
Two pounds smoked sausage
Oil
Flour
Chopped onions
Chopped bell peppers

Dice peppers and onions, then sautee in oil. Add a little garlic if you like. Set aside when they're sweet. Cut sausage into rounds. Sautee those as well. You want to get a little grease from the sausage to make the roux. When the sausage is fried, remove the meat, then make a roux with your flour and oil. You might have to add oil if you don't have enough sausage grease. When your roux is the color of a pecan, add some water, then the onions and peppers, then the sausage, then the canned beans. Put everything on a low fire and let it simmer, stirring it when you walk past it.

You can easily halve this recipe with four cans of beans and a single pound of sausage. Or you can triple it if you're feeding a crowd. I normally feed crowds.

About 30 minutes before serving, make a big pot of rice. With the crowd I normally feed, I'll make five cups of rice. Serve with iced tea.

Bon apetit.

Computer security

We learned that Milday's desktop computer had become infected with a particularly nasty little trojan and I started casting about for solutions. I called my brother-in-law, Steve, who has been in the business for thirty years and picked his brain. He told me about a microsoft product, Microsoft Security Essentials. It's a free download and Steve said that he and his peers have decided that it's just about the best on the market right now.

I downloaded and installed it. It found the trojan in short order and deleted it. I think her computer is protected now. It's firewalled and I've set the program to make automatic scans.

Thanks, Steve!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Derby

I was busy yesterday and didn't get to listen to the two most exciting minutes in sport, but I understand that Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby yesterday.

No, I don't follow horse racing. I was stationed in Kentucky for three years and living in Kentucky made me aware that horse racing exists. I watched Affirmed run in 1978 and he went on to win the Triple Crown. As it turns out, Affirmed is the last horse to win the Crown, which consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Congratulations to Animal Kingdom. The Preakness goes off in two weeks.

Sunday Morning Dawg - Mother's Day Edition

It's time for a bath, and we start by playing with the ball.


Then, suddenly, Milady comes out of the bathroom and catches the dog. Oh, No! It's bath time.


He's still got the ball. Three minutes later, the ball is forgotten, and he's truly a doused mutt.


He's smelling sweet for Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day everyone.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

New Coctail

You've heard of course, about the new cocktail? The bin Laden?


Stolen from Mostly Cajun, who got it from John Cox.

Lessons from Chile

According to Investor's Business Daily, Chile is poised as a model for economic growth in Latin America, could even be a model for the United States.
The same day Chile released its data, Goldman Sachs raised its 2011 growth forecast for the country to 6.4% from 6%. In its annual regional business index, Latin Business Chronicle ranked Chile as having the best business climate in Latin America in 2011.
How well would President Obama do if the US economy grew at 6.4 percent per year? He'd be unbeatable.
So Chile's found ways to do more, "like the A student who finds a way to rise even higher," as Latin Business Chronicle Executive Editor Joachim Bamrud told IBD. Bamrud says Chile has been turning heads with investors the past year and a half because of its emphasis on improving its corporate environment, its tax regime and its economic freedom, all of which rate highly.
If a country's business climate is good for business, investors will follow. Our President should take note.

On the Abbattobad Mission

I'm hearing a lot of wanking from both sides of the aisle, about how our President undertook a mission to enter an allied country and assassinate an enemy. They're forgetting one important consideration. We're at war with Al-Qaeda.

You see, we've been entering allied countries for years. Eisenhower did it several times (Algiers, France, Belgium). MacArthur did it (Philippines). George HW Bush did it (Kuwait). Clinton did it (Kosovo). George W. Bush did it (Afghanistan). The history of presidents entering supposedly allied countries and conducting military operations is easily examined.

I'll grant that normally, the US Government does not, should not, enter allied countries and conduct assassinations. There are laws to stay the hands of American presidents in that regard. However, we're at war, and the Bush doctrine says that you're either with us, or against us. The idea that someone in the Paki government didn't know that bin Laden was living there is laughable. They can deny it all they'd like, it's still laughable.

When we're at war, things change and whether we like it or not, we're at war with al Qaeda. They've declared war on us, and like a stallion killing a mosquito, we've still got toe deal with al Qaeda. The real question, in my mind, is how long we stay in a country. We entered Pakistan, from all accounts, with a limited military objective. We've been doing that for several years now, with drone attacks. We conducted this operation in a matter of hours. The operation was extremely limited. We left quickly. So quickly that we were in and out before the Paki government knew we were there. We didn't threaten the Paki civil government and collateral damage was severely limited, if not non-existent.

It's no secret that I don't like this President. However, I don't see that he did anything wrong by ordering the military to enter into Pakistan to take out a sworn enemy. We've been doing that for years. If the Pakis don't like it, they should have taken them out themselves. As for our domestic nay-sayers, read your history. This ain't nothing new.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Messing with the Dog

This guy did some good editing with this little video. He's messing with his dog.



I think it's funny.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Military brass

Some time ago, I came into a limited quantity of military brass for the 5.56X45 cartridge, affectionately known to the rest of us as the .223 Remington.

I've never used military brass as reloading fodder, and because this brass was originally fired in my rifle, I thought I'd give it a go. Now, we all know that the military crimps their primers into the brass and I'd have to deal with that crimp. However, all the literature I've read told me that it was fairly easy to remove the crimp from small quantities of brass using a standard chamfer tool.

So, after resizing and de-priming, I used that chamfer tool to work the crimp from the primer pocket. It wasn't a big chore, but if I had a thousand rounds of military brass, I'd find a better tool.


You can click on the picture to enlarge it, but the tool takes the crimp out, easy-peasy. It leaves a little angle on the edge of the primer pocket, but I don't see that's a problem.

I took out my priming tool, and in just a few minutes had new primers seated.


I don't know why I've been so bugged about using military brass?

National Day of Prayer

Today has been designated the National Day of Prayer. I was standing at the school house, overseeing the students at their lunch break, and one little gal, cute as a bug, started organizing an impromptu group prayer. She stood up and made her announcement, and in just a few minutes, there were about 200 high school students standing in a circle, holding hands, rich, poor, black, white, hispanic and asian. All in a circle with their heads bowed. That little gal got in the middle of the circle and called down the Lord on those assembled, blessed everyone and what is normally a rowdy, hormone-laden bunch became quiet and subdued and let her finish her prayer.

About the time she finished, the bell rang, signaling the end of the lunch period, and they immediately became a rowdy, hormone-laden bunch of kids again, moving toward the next class period.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

NRA

I just re-upped for three years in the NRA. I keep thinking I'm going to pull the pin and get a life membership, but I never seem to have the cash when it's time to do the deed.

Oh,well. I've been a member on-and-off for the past 30 years. Maybe next time.

The photos

The White House had decided against releasing photos of Osama with his head blown apart.

I think that's a good call, for several reasons. Not the least of which is that releasing the photo won't do anything to discourage the conspiracy hounds. In this age of photoshop and internet tinkering, there is no proof that will satisfy the conspiracy buffs. From what I know about bullet wounds, the photos would be pretty gruesome and there's no reason to release something like that. Photos of that nature are obscene and profane and there is no reason to have them in the public domain.

His daughter says that he was killed by US Commandos. The White House says he was killed by US Commandos. The US Navy says they dropped him in a deep hole in the Arabian Sea. That's good enough for me. I don't need to see any photos.

Good call, Mr. President. Now, go get Zawhatshisname.

Islamic customs and traditions.

I've been reading all the foo-faw about how we didn't bury Osama in accordance with the religious dictates of the Mohametan faith. Yeah, well, they treated him better than I would, which would have included pork parts and his head on a spike.

I understand that the CIA is going through his computers, and that there is a treasure trove of information on those memory chips. Soon, we'll start dispatching teams to pick up al-Zawahiri. Hopefully, they won't treat him any better than they treated Osama. My choice would still be pork parts and a spike.

So, Islamist worriers, if you want to make sure that Zawhatsisname gets a good Islamic burial, kill him yourself and bury him at your leisure. You can make sure all the cultural niceties are observed. Unless you want us to take care of it, which will probably entail being sewn into a mailbag with a cannon ball between his feet and dropped over the fantail of a US Navy ship.

Either way.

Sons of bitches.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Summer Shower

We're having a summer shower and the boy is showing me how he can drink rainwater from the downspout.


Oh, yeah, we're probably going to need a dry shirt before supper time.


Where else are you going to learn to drink water straight from the roof? No place but PawPaw's House.

Free Drinks

If you don't know it by now, the Naval Special Warfare Development Group got Osama bin Laden yesterday. The news has been trumpeted from every media outlet, including the White House.

Good job guys.

You'll never have to buy a drink as long as I'm in the club.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Of course, it's dangerous

I hang out at The Firing Line, a firearm forum that seems to be fairly well run. They talk about guns and shooting and reloading and all things that go BANG!

At that forum, as in all other forums, the moderators have to worry about liability and getting sued in our over-litigious society. If something reeks of not being absolutely, entirely safe, or outside of accepted practice, it's frowned on. I understand the motivation of the forum owners. I get it, okay?

However, young'uns ask questions and it's up to us old-timers to bring them along properly. One thread recently dealt with an age-old practice of building hot .38 special loads for use in the .357 magnum revolver. So, I told the young'un about the Lyman 358156 bullet. It's an old one, designed by the renowned Ray Thompson, who designed bullets to push the limits of the cartridge. Ray's idea, at just about the time that the .357 was gaining acceptance, was to make a bullet with two crimp grooves. The upper groove was for regular .38 Special cartridges. The lower groove was to make .357 ammo when you didn't have any of those newfangled .357 cartridges handy.

Was that dangerous? Well, if you didn't know what you were doing and loaded a hot cartridge and put it in a gun that wasn't designed for it, you ran the risk of blowing up your revolver. Still, the Lyman 358156 sold a lot of molds, and it's still available today. Lyman sells enough of those molds to keep the item in production, so the production history of the mold tells me that it is an idea worth producing, and the simple fact of the matter is that it's a damned fine bullet.

I"ve been piddling around the gun world since 1964 and I've seen a lot of weird and wonderful things. In all that time, I've seen just exactly three guns damaged from handloads. Two of those were on a shotgun range, and the other was a revolver that was so old it shouldn't have been loaded with anything. One memorable shotgun was a Browning Superposed that had been loaded with what must have been a double or triple charge of Red Dot. The barrel was bulged just beyond the forcing cone and we had to open the action with vise-grip pliers. Back in those days a new Browning Superposed cost $400.00, which was about a month's pay for a working man. The owner was considerably distraught. I digress.

We can't be completely safe in everything we do. Handloading and shooting are risky hobbies, yet we've managed to make them as safe as we can. Millions of rounds of ammunition are loaded ever year by hobby-tinkerers in their garages and that's what makes our hobby interesting. Just because it's different doesn't make it unsafe, although there are risks associated with using powder and low explosives to drive projectiles down a range.

I'm reminded of a story that Jim Wilson tells about the legendary Texas Ranger Charlie Miller. It seems ... well, hell, I'll let Jim tell the story:
One time, probably back in the '50s, Miller and a bunch of other Rangers got called into the main DPS headquarters for some firearms training. Now you can imagine Miller walking around in his white shirt and khaki britches with his rather pronounced belly sticking out over the grip of his 1911 on halfcock with the safety tied down and all. One of the young firearms instructors finally just couldn't stand it any longer and walked up to Miller and asked, "Mr. Miller, isn't that thing dangerous?" Charlie just glanced up at the boy, the way your banker does when you're trying to borrow money and said, "Son, if the damned old thing wasn't dangerous, I wouldn't be wearing it!"
Below is a picture of Charlie Miller's pistol.


I'm not proposing that we use gunpowder to blow stumps out of a pasture, and I'm not proposing that we do something that's inherently unsafe, but loading ammunition pre-supposes that you've done some research and you've learned to use your tools. If you put a triple charge of fast pistol powder in a brass case, seat a bullet on top of it, then pull the trigger, something is liable to turn loose. But, we've got to experiment, we've got to push our own boundaries, we've got to venture into the unknown, or we'll never make that next great breakthrough that expands human knowledge. And, if some young'un can benefit from my woeful experience, it's my duty to impart that wisdom to him or her. If a young'un asks a question and I've already experimented with that problem, then it's up to me to lead him in a safe direction, to show him how the problem has been solved successfully before. Just because it's outside the norm, doesn't make it immediately risky.

The point of this whole rant is that sometimes our hobby is dangerous. We manage the risk, we follow safe practices, but there is danger involved in everything we do. If you want to be completely safe, then wrap yourself in bubble-wrap and take up knitting. Just be careful of those damned knitting needles. You might put your eye out.

Sunday Morning Dawg

I was taking pictures of the grankids yesterday and noticed that my camera wasn't focusing. The little motor inside the lens seems to have slipped a gear in autofocus mode. Well, hell. I use a Canon Digital EOS Rebel XS camera for grandkid and dawg photos, and having a camera that won't focus gets you pictures that look like this.


That ain't worth a crap. If I can't take pictures of dogs and grandkids, then there's no use to have a camera. With my eyes, the autofocus feature is absolutely mandatory. You don't want to look at life through my aging eyes. Crisp focus is crucial.

Then, I remembered the lens on my old Canon 35mm film camera. I dug it out of the camera bag and stuck it on the newfangled digital camera. Whoo-Hoo! Success.

The dog was sitting at my feet as I tinkered with the camera and I got this shot with the new camera body, old lens.


That's much better. Interestingly, the old lens fits on the new camera body, but the new lens won't fit on the old camera body. Go figure.