Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beans

Rivrdog asks in comments:
Can o'beans? Waitaminute. This is one of the famous Backwoods Chefs and you don't make scratch beans?
Say it ain't so, PawPaw. If it IS so, tell me which can(s) you open so I can have the best beans available in a can.
Old friend, only God can make beans from scratch, but lots of companies boil them for you, add a little tomato sauce and call them pork 'n beans.  For myself, I like Showboat brand beans, available everywhere
 But, that doesn't mean that we have to be heathens.  They need a little help, and that's where the can 'o beans changes from cook to cook.  For myself, I'll add a little prepared mustard, some brown sugar, I'll chop an onion and a bell pepper, If I've got some pork (and I do have a couple of leftover pork chops in the fridge) I'll chop those fine and add them too.  Then, you can get creative.  I've been known to add some bourbon whiskey, or a little good beer, or maybe even a touch of BBQ sauce.

Dried beans are good for lots of things, and some of my recipes call for dried beans, but I'm also partial to canned beans.  They're cheap, readily available, and they store forever.

Happy!

What are the happiest cities in the US?  According to Brian Williams, the top five are all in Louisiana.




Oh, yeah, if we're not dealing with hurricanes, or floods, or corrupt politicians, we're a happy bunch.  We've got our problems, like anybody else, but the optimism of the people is infectious. Louisiana is a great place, and we've got good reason to be happy.  Jambalaya, gumbo, etoufee, all these things are easily in reach. Festivals and forests abound.  The women are pretty, the men are (mostly) sane, and we don't have any troubles that we can't fix.

I had to capture this screen graphic to give you an idea of how Louisiana stacks up.  The top five cities int he US rated on a happiness scale.

 Laisssez bon temps rouler

Hat tip to my sister, Frannie, who led me to the links.

Thunderbumper Thursday

The Weather Weenies are calling for rain today, and that's okay with me.  The patio is finished, the smoker is under the roof, and if it rains, it rains.  PawPaw don't care, it's not going to affect anything I have to do today.

As a matter of fact, I think that today might be a good day to use the smoker.  To that end, I've been marinating some ribs in my rib rub.

That'll do just fine.  Milady is at work and I've finished my chores for the day.  Early this afternoon I'll put those on and let them smoke for several hours.  When she gets home this afternoon, we'll put on a can of beans and feast on baby back ribs.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie is a comfort food, and God knows where it comes from.  Some say it's Irish, some say it's English, some say...  well, people say lots of things.  If it's a true shepherd's pie, it was probably made from lamb, because shepherds herd sheep, but hereabouts, we use beef.  'Cause we don't eat much mutton.

A good shepherd's pie combines three things; meat, gravy, and potatoes.  Any shepherd's pie combines these three things, and I've played with the recipe a lot over the years.  Tonight, while talking about supper, Milady said that she'd like to make a shepherd's pie, and I'm okay with that, so we'll use her recipe (which is different from mine, but still very good.)

You'll notice that when I post a recipe, I don't talk about certain things, like salt and pepper, or the oil that we use to sautee an onion.  I assume my readers are smart enough to know about salt and pepper, or how to sautee an onion.

Milady's Shepherd Pie

Ingredients
One onion, chopped.  I don't care what kind of onion you use.  I happen to have a sweet Vidalai, so we'll use that.
Ground beef.  We're using about 1.5 lbs tonight.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Mashed Potatoes  (fresh, or out of the box.  I don't care.)  Fresh is better, boxed will do.
Grated cheese.

Preparation

Chop that onion and sautee it in a large skillet.  Black iron works best, but use what you have.
When the onion is clear and sweet, add the beef and cook it.
Put on the water for your potatoes and prep the mashed potatoes.
Drain the beef, return to the skillet and add the cream of mushroom soup, and a little water.  Let that simmer for a while.

In a large Dutch oven, or a casserole, pour the ground beef mixture in, then top with mashed potatoes.  Add grated cheese and run it into a 350 oven until the cheese melts.

Oh, damn, that's good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday, Trivial Tuesday

Lots of stuff going on, none of it connected, destined to fill up my day.

PawPaw needs a haircut.  I'll get that done this afternoon.  My standard #2, it's been almost eight weeks since I"ve had a haircut and I"m positively shaggy.

Later today, after running her errands, Milady is going to drink a gallon of laxative because tomorrow she's scheduled for a procedure.  Simply a look-see, not a big deal.  The prep is the worst part of the process.  Of course, she's on a strict preparatory diet, so no food.  After we're done tomorrow, I"ll take her to breakfast.  A big breakfast with eggs and bacon, and hasbrowns.  She'll be hungry.

Had a close family friend show up on our doorstep last night, seeking sanctuary.  Of course, we're always happy to provide sanctuary.  Hubby is an asshole, and she's had enough.  You've heard this story before.

While I'm across town today getting a haircut, I need to pick up a bottle of whiskey, because I'm out.  And toilet paper, because I don't want to run out later today.

Yesterday, I realized that I haven't done any recreational shooting in several months, (since the beginning of summer, anyway).  I need recoil therapy in the worst way.  I think I"ll slip off Thursday or Friday and find some.  I need to feel a rifle punch my shoulder.

Monday, July 28, 2014

More On the DC Gun Ban

I noticed Saturday afternoon that the Court in Washington DC had struck down their gun ban, but I figured I'd nave to wait until Monday to learn more about it.  Sure enough, this morning after chores, I clicked over to Volokh and learned some interesting new interpretations.
As reported by the Washington Post, D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier has approved an order which allows District residents to carry a handgun IF AND ONLY IF the handgun has been properly registered with the District Police, pursuant to the District’s handgun registration ordinance.
Okay, so residents can carry handguns that are properly registered.  But what about non-residents?  I'm glad you asked.
 Fox31DC reporter Emily Miller reported the non-resident rules slightly differently on her Twitter feed late Sunday night: “STUNNING DEVELOPMENT: DC Police Chief Lanier just told force not to arrest a person who can legally carry a gun in DC or any state.” “More — DC police chief using guidance from AG — grants full reciprocity for all open and concealed carry from others states.” “Only gun arrests now in DC can be DC residents with unregistered guns and non-residents who are prohibited under federal laws.”
That is interesting.  It looks like full reciprocity for non-residents.  We'll see if that stands, or if the District will apply for a stay until they can cobble together some regulations, but in the meantime, I like what the Court has done.   The Washington Post fives some additional reporting on the Judge's motivation.
Legal experts have said that in many cases all parties in a lawsuit are given the opportunity to appeal a ruling before it takes effect. However, it was decided at some point Sunday that Scullin’s ruling took immediate effect, and that set off efforts to bring the city into compliance.
Scullin, a senior U.S. District Court judge who normally sits in the Northern District of New York, wrote in his ruling that he was stopping enforcement of the law “unless and until” the city adopted a constitutionally valid licensing mechanism.
Interesting.  It looks like the next move is up to the city. And, reading the comments at the various news sites reveals an over-abundance of hippy tears.

Cry me a mug full.  Hat tip to Tam.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Morning Dawg

Checking the mail on Saturday afternoon, the dog didn't find anything of interest and decided to head back toward the air conditioning.

Yep, ti's hot out there for a fuzzy mutt.

IT feels like 106 out there.  Being inside is a great idea.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

DC Gun Ban Struck Down

This is huge, and it comes right from Alan Gura's blog, about a decision handed down today (yeah, on a Saturday) by the senior district judge for the District of Columbia.
In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.4 Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.
Well Done, Mr. Gura.

Let Freedom Ring.

Plumbing

Plumbing on a Saturday morning is one of the joys of home ownership.  Toilet flange, wax ring, you don't want to know the rest.  Hammer-drill and Tapcons.  No pictures, this is basically a family-friendly site.

However, now it's done and just got off the phone with elder son.  The new word is Power Steering Pump, which is plumbing of a different kind.  It's shaping up to be a great Saturday.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Speeding, and Speed Limits

The speed limit on most roadways is set too low.  That's a given, and any traffic cop can tell you that when he (or she) is not in uniform.  The reason why is complicated, and fairly simple if you understand how traffic flows.  The simple fact is that most speed limits are set by political considerations, rather than the design of the roadway.

We've all seen it.  You're tooling along on a nice, level, well maintained roadway and you come into some town.  The speed limit deceases by some amount, usually 10-20 mph, and you slow through town.  So, we slow down and drive through town, until we get the outskirts, and we speed up.   The simple fact is that most of us would do that anyway, because towns have more traffic entering the roadway, and red lights, and small-town cops.  Who write tickets.  But most of us slow down going through town even though it is precisely the same roadway, built at the same time that the other, faster roadway was built.  It's a psychological thing.

I've taken traffic management courses over my career, and basic Traffic Management 101 teaches you about the 85th percentile, which basically says that you want to set the speed milt on a roadway so that 85% of the motorists will drive at or below the speed limit, and 15% of the motorists will drive at or above the speed limit.  As this article points out.
This “nationally recognized method” of setting the speed limit as the 85th percentile speed is essentially traffic engineering 101. It’s also a bit perplexing to those unfamiliar with the concept. Shouldn’t everyone drive at or below the speed limit? And if a driver’s speed is dictated by the speed limit, how can you decide whether or not to change that limit based on the speed of traffic?
The best method of setting a speed limit is to observe traffic from a place where motorists don't know that they're being observed.  Gather your data, and set your speed limit at the 85th percentile.  Then round up to the nearest 5mph (when have you ever seen a 57 mph speed limit).

Our cars are safer, our roads are safer, and in many cases, the speed limit remains the same.  Why is that?  simple, it's politics.  One of my very dear friends is the mayor of a small town, and the US government recently upgraded the US highway that runs through town.  What was before a poorly maintained two-lane highway is now a beautiful, new four-lane highway,  Outside of town, the speed limit is 65.  Hit the town boundary and the speed limit drops to 45 mph for less than a mile, until you hit the other boundary.  Why"  Safety"  Not likely.  It's the same level, new, four-lane highway.  More likely the reason is revenue.
The other reason speed limits may remain low, which John Bowman, Communications Director of the National Motorists Association strongly insists on, is that cities and police departments use traffic citations as a revenue generating tool. As Bowman says, when speed limits are artificially low, it’s easier to give out citations and pull in fine revenue.
Go read the whole article, but the simple fact remains that if you're interested in traffic safety, you have to understand how traffic flows, and that in most of our country, cities and towns, the speed limit is simply set too low.

Finally Friday

After the two-week project of mid-July, I spent yesterday recuperating and this morning cleaning up the work area.  Putting away tools, cleaning patio furniture, straightening, and puttering.  I had a half-load of sand in the bed of my truck, so after mowing the front yard and side lot, I drove the truck over to two holes and used that remaining sand to fill the holes so a horse (or grandkid) doesn't step in them and break a leg.  Took the truck to the driveway and hosed out the final dregs of sand.  Put the lawnmower away.  Came inside, poured a glass of tea, complaining to the dawg about how hot it is out there.  Turned on the computer, and clicked on Accuweather.

Great Jumping Jehosephat!  It feels like 113F out there?  With 70% humidity and strong sunlight, it's hotter than Old Billy Hell out there.

I think I"ll find something to do inside for the afternoon.  I may feel a nap coming on.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Doctor Shoots Patient

In what seems to be a justifiable self-defense shooting, a doctor in Pennsylvania shot a patient who was undergoing an episode.
A psychiatric outpatient opened fire Thursday inside a psychiatrist's office at a hospital near Philadelphia, killing his caseworker and slightly wounding the doctor, who reportedly shot the gunman with his personal firearm, authorities said.
The suspect was reported in critical condition after the shooting at 2:20 p.m. in an office at the Mercy Wellness Center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said at a news conference.
Good job, Doc.  You probably saved some lives in your clinic.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That's A Wrap

Phase V of summer project 2014 is done.  4 cubic yards of dirt out, 4 cubic yards of sand in, 220 pavers laid, cut in, and finished.  It's done.

Five of my grandsons helped me with this project, and I couldn't have done it with out them.  Special thas to my stepson, who showed me hoe to use a wet saw and fit odd-sized pavers into a hole.

I couldn't have done it without y'all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Sand

After excavating the hole yesterday, today we filled it with sand.  Sand is an absolutely critical part of a paver job, and I learned this from my grandfather's knee.  He never used gravel under pavers, unlike all the YouTube videos today.  More sand is better, but a good base is at least 4" deep, so that's what I've always tried to do.  Coincidentally, one shovel-depth will give you a good base, over 4" of sand.

So, today we moved sand.  I'm unable to get any equipment in the tight spaces of my backyard, but there is always the shovel and wheelbarrow drill.

That's what the base looks like.  Just a nice bed of sand, the same process that the Romans used 2000 years ago, and the same process that my grandfather used 50 years ago.  Tomorrow, we'll do the final leveling and install the pavers.  I'll be glad to be finished with this project.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Muggy Monday

It's muggy out there today, with the temps in the high 80s and bumidity in the low 70s, it feels like it's in the high 90s.  Muggy, wet, with a little breeze augmented by a large fan pushing air across the work area.  The boys and I spent the morning digging dirt out of the hole for phase V of the summer project.  We've taken a lunch-time break, and we'll commence about 2:30, when the shade is better in that particular spot in the yard.  We got a little less than half of it dug this morning, and thankfully there is no serious rain in the forecast till later this week.  We'll dig this afternoon until it's done, then tomorrow we'll fill the hole with sand.

I'll be a happy sonofagun when this phase of the project is finished.  I can do Phase VI by myself, there's not much to it, simply installing a base for my fire pit, and helping Milady re-arrange furniture on the new patio.

UPDATE  My dirt crew in the pool, about 4:30 o.m. after the hole is dug.  They did good, over about 4 hours, and they deserve a swim to cool off.
Tomorrow, we fill the hole with sand.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Apollo XI

I am reminded that 45 years ago today, Apollo XI landed on the moon.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface, and Michael Collins orbited in the command module.

Even today, the only footprints on the moon are American footprints.  I remeber watching it on live television.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Overcast these last couple of days, and the dog is harassing the cat.

Yeah, he's out of focus, but he was moving.  I had the camera set wrong for the shot.

That's a little better.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Brisket blogging


Twelve hours at 250F.  Dalmatian rub.  Pecan-shells for smoke.

I'll let them cool for a bit, then slice them.  We've got to be in Jena for noon, so we're leaving here at 10:30.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finally Friday

It's finally Friday and Milady should be home in another hour or so.  Tomorrow we celebrate her mother's birthday, 94, I believe, and I'm on the hook for a couple of briskets.  So, this afternoon I went to the grocers and selected two nice packer-cut briskets.  Just before bedtime I'll crank off the smoker and put the meat on.  Low and slow is the secret to a good brisket.  Over they years, I have modified my brisket recipe somewhat, to make it simpler.  In 2005, I gave this recipe for brisket, but today I do it differently.  Of course, that recipe went in the oven, and it still works, but now I'm using the smoker, and this recipe works as well.

Ingredients

Packer cut brisket
Salt
Pepper
Beer

That's it.  A packer-cut brisket is sometimes called a whole brisket, or an untrimmed brisket.  It has two muscles, the point, and the flat, and while you can separate the two and cook them separately, I find it just as easy to cook the whole brisket and use the fat as seasoning while it renders through the meat.  Lots of folks use fancy rubs on their brisket, but the better cooks use what they call a Dalmation rub, which is simply white salt and black pepper.  You can add more seasoning if you like, but all the beef really needs is salt and pepper.

Preparation.
Take the brisket out of the package and find the fat cap.  That cap will be on top while we cook.  Liberally salt and pepper the brisket, then put it in a cooking pan.  Pour half a beer over the brisket.  Drink the rest.

Cooking
Put the brisket into the smoker, pan and all.  Set your temperature for about 225F and leave it alone for about ten hours.  When you take it out of the smoker, let it rest for a few minutes, then trim any extra fat, and separate the point from the flat muscle.  Slice across the grain of the meat.  Place into serving dish, then sit back and enjoy the accolades.

Brisket is easy.

More Sand Filters

My post yesterday on sand filters generated some questions, better answered here than in the comments.  So, let's see if I can address them.  I'm no expert, and Google is your friend, I'm sure that better answers can be found online, but I'll give them a shot based on my experience.

Milady and I installed the pool in April/May 2007.  The sand in the filter is seven years old.  We noticed earlier this year that the filter wasn't catching as much of the normal crud that moves through the system as it should, so we started casting about for answers.  Obviously, the filter wasn't doing as good a job as it should and in our research we learned that locally, people tend to change the sand in their filters every three to five years.
Our pool carries approximately 15,000 gallons of water and the installer gave me a filter to handle that amount of water.  It's a Triton II, a fairly standard design, and easy to access.  So, to the questions.

Mostly Cajun asks if sand wears out>  When I opened the top of the filter, I could see that the sand was dirty, and the sand didn't feel like good river sand.  It was less abrasive, didn't have those nice sharp edges we associate with sand, and it just felt different, and it looked dirty.  Of course, it has been filtering water for seven years, so I expected it to be dirty.  I back-wash it regularly when I sense a reduced flow, but the filter didn't seem to be catching as much dirt, so we decided to change the sand.  My particular filter takes 300 pounds, and a local lumber yard was running a sale on pool filter sand, so I picked up six bags on sale.  It took me about an hour to scoop out the old sand and pour in the new sand.  Not a bad job, but a dirty one.

Rivrdog asks if that filter could be used for primary filtration of creek water?  I don't know why not.  We don't cover our pool during the winter months, and when I start cleaning the pool in the springtime, it's pretty cruddy.  The filter cleans the water quickly, although before drinking, you'd need to sanitize it and have it tested, but it would be clean water.

We use a salt system, which uses a charged grid to release the chlorine in the salt to sanitize the pool.  It needs to be cleaned regularly, normally twice per year, a process that takes about 30 minutes and is fairly straightforward.  The salt system has up-sides and down-sides, but the biggest upside is that it uses salt rather than toxic chlorine to sanitize the pool.  The salinity of the pool water is about the same as human tears, so the grandkids don't come out of the pool with red eyes.  And pool salt is cheap as regular salt, because it is simply salt.  I have used livestock feed salt on the occasion that I could't find pool salt.  Morton salt is Morton salt, and I could probably use table salt.  The pool normally uses six or seven, 50 lb bags of salt per year.  Total chemical expenditures on my pool normally runs about $50.00 per year.  Salt is cheap and it's the only chemical I put in it.

That's not exactly true.  In the winter months, when the water temperature gets below 50F, the system quiits making chlorine, so we have to supplement a little bit.  Milady normally picks up a little bucket of chlorine tablets and we'll drop one in the skimmer during the winter months.  So, add another $30-$40 for the chlorine tablets.  Those little buckets, when empty, make a great container for storing range brass and cast bullets.

I hope this answers your questions.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pool Filter Sand

I just finished changing the sand in the pool filter.  It's a Triton, and thankfully I didn't have to cut or remove any of the pool piping.  Just unscrew the top and swing the baffle out of the way.
The rest of the procedure is pretty straignt-forward.  Remove the sand with a coffee can and a shop vac, then fill with clean sand.  300 pounds of clean pool filter sand.  It's a dirty job, but not particularly difficult.  Follow label instructions, your mileage might vary.  But it's done for another four years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Phase IV Complete

Phase IV of the summer project is complete, and phase V is on the project board.  We'll commence sometime next week, when PawPaw get less sore.  Every muscle in my body aches, that good ache that comes with hard physical labor.  A photo, though, to commemorate the crew and the project.  Without further ado, I give you my paver crew.

Five of my grandsons, and each had a hand in the project, from working concrete, to digging out the dirt, to filling the hole with sand, to scree-ing the sand and installing the pavers in a pleasing patern.  It's 12 feet by 12 feet, with two cubic yards of dirt, two cubic yards of sand, ten bags of Quikrete, and over 100 pavers of varying size.

Good job, boys.  Next week, we rinse, lather, repeat.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blog Buddy

This morning while I was fighting a trucklload of sand for the paver project, my phone rang.  Old NFO was passing through town and asked if I wanted to eat lunch.  Oh, hell yeah.  We made plans to eat at a local barbequie joint, and to meet in an hour.

I've been commenting on his blog for years and he's been commenting on mine for years, and we've never met, until today.  When he drove into the parking lot, I knew immediately it was him, because his license plate says OLDNFO.  That's easy enough to figure out.  We shook hands, went in and ordered lunch.  Beef, 'tater salad and beans.  Talked for an hour like the old friends that we are, we've just never been in the same room together.  No pictures, just because we didn't think about it.

Along toward the end of the meal, Jim asked me "who are those guys".  I looked around and saw three officers, strapped, but wearing shorts and red tee-shirts.  I told him that I didn't have a clue, and that I didn't know anyone who wore red tee-shirts and shorts.  A few minutes later, one of them turned around and I recognized a guy I worked with twenty years ago.  He rose to great ranks in the Louisiana State Police and retired a year ago.  I asked what they were doing, and in his typical fashion, told me that they were trying to eat lunch.

The Louisiana State Police is famous for eating lunch.  They spend several hours each day deciding where to eat lunch.  I understand the motivation.  The main decision that a State Police Sergeant, Lieutenant, of Captain makes ever day is where to eat lunch.  However, I remarked that I had never seen LSP in short, and besides , he was retired.  Evidently, he was on the range today in some advisory capacity, and they do, in fact, wear shorts (but very tactical shorts) on range day.  Go figure.

Jim has miles to go before the day was over, taking care of family business, and I had another load of sand to move into the paver bed, so we parted.  However, he did give me a challenge coin.

Thanks, old friend.  I'll put it in my collection.  Many thanks for a pleasant lunch.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shovel and Wheelbarrow

We began Phase IV of my summer project this morning, excavating dirt.  We got the dirt out of half the patio expansion, and tomorrow we load it with clean sand, then hopefully on Wednesday we install pavers.  Three teenaged boys, three shovels, a wheelbarrow and an old man.  It's amazing how fast that hole progressed.  That hole is 12 x 12, and I estimate that we moved over  two cubic yards of dirt today.

If this part of the project goes according to plan, we'll begin the next phase next Monday, which is to install pavers on the other half of the expansion.  Rinse, later, repeat.

Chicago, CHicago

In the midst of all the scandals, the myopia, the lack of leadership coming from the Obama administration, Chicago, the president's erstwhile home town, is having a rough summer, and the residents have their hands full with gangs, violence, murders, drug-dealing, all the things that come with a dysfunctional city government that doesn't look out for its people.  However, this is the President's hometown, and the mayor is a long-time Democratic operative.  It seems like the people are finally waking up.
“With the president setting aside all these funds for immigrants and forsaken African-American community and African-American families, I think that’s a disgrace. And Barack is from the heart of 55th in the City of Chicago… He will probably go down as the worst president ever elected. Bill Clinton was the African-American president.“
I don't know the guy's political leanings, and don't ascribe any party to his comments.  He might be a tea-partier.  Or he might not.  Here's the photo ascribed as being the guy from the quote.

The Rebel Pundit has more, and there's lots more to see at the link.

I do note that Chicago has been having a rough month.  150 people shot and at least 26 killed, and the month isn't halfway over yet.  And, the president is having a rough month as well.  When you lose your neighbors, you've lost a lot of political capital.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Learning

Milady and I kept a couple of the grandkids last night, and two young boys (6 and 3) add a lot of energy to a household that's normally quiet and relaxed.  This morning, quiet and relaxed ain't on the agenda.  Of course, the boys decided that they needed to get in the pool, right after breakfast.  Grandma concurred, because we have a pool, and we believe that every child who lives in Louisiana needs to learn to swim from a young age.

Plenty of pool safety, of course, but we want our grandkids ot be comfortable in the water.  I think we're getting there.



I've got chickens on the smoker, and in a few minutes I"ll start peeling 'taters for 'tater salad.

Sunday Morning Dawg

It's firmly July in central Louisiana, and the heat of summer is upon us.  Temps in the 90s and high humidity make it miserable outside and the term "dog days" makes a lot of sense.  All the dog wants to do is find a shady spot and try to stay cool.

Hang on, pup, it's going to get better.   It's summer time in Louisiana, but this too will pass.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gaza

Gaza is a complicated place, but a place from whence the terrorists shoot rockets indiscriminately into Israel.  Evidently, it's okay to shoot rockets into Israel, but when the Israelis respond, everyone notices.
Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque and a center for the disabled where two women were killed Saturday, raising the Palestinian death toll from the offensive to more than 120, Palestinian officials said.
Wonder why the Israeli Air Forces hit a mosque, a holy place of worship, and a center for the disabled?  That's simple.
 The Israeli military said the mosque concealed rockets like those used in the barrage of nearly 700 fired by Gaza militants at Israel over the five-day offensive, while saying it was investigating claims about the other sites hit.
Oh!  So, the Mahomets were using their mosque, their holy place, as a warehouse to store military weapons?  That makes it a legitimate military target, and the Muzzies don't have anything to complain about.  That's war, and the Muzzies should understand that.  Too bad about your mosque.  If you don't want it destroyed, don't store rockets in it.  

I don't feel sorry for the Muzzie bastards.  Quite the contrary, I have a great deal of contempt and dislike for them.  They've pretty much managed to turn me into an Islamophobe.  It wouldn't bother me at all if Israel went in with tanks and infantry, and drove the Gaza residents into Egypt.  I'd applaud such a resolution.

Cooler Next Week?

Accuweather tells us that parts of the US are in line for a cold front next week, a larger bubble of cooler air moving down from Canada that should cool temps in the midwest and stall out over Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, bringing rain, storms, and high humidity to my acre in central Louisiana.

Oh, joy.  The "S" in steamy is right over my acre.  Next week looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.  My saving grace is that the weather-weenies are wrong about half the time so we'll just have to wait and see what actually happens.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Project Phase IV

Phase IV of my summer project has commenced, with the pulling of a cord.  This morning I cranked my parents old tiller to facilitate the loosening and removal of dirt.  This is a patio project to increase the size of the patio by about 288 sq feet (12X24).  To remove that much dirt to a depth of three inches requires that I move the equivalent of just a litle over 3.5 cubic yards of soil, and that I do it all my hand, because there is NO WAY to get any equipment in there.  So, it's shovel and wheelbarrow.for me, in the 90+ degree temps common in Louisiana this time of year.

That's a llot of shoveling, and several dozen  wheelbarrow trips.  I've already taken six wheelbarrow loads out of that patch of ground, and you can barely tell that I've done anything.  But, as in all things, a little here, a little there and before long it will be done.

This winter, when I've got my firepit set up and the smoker cooking meat, it'll all be worth it.

Brenda Potatoes

A simple little recipe, taught to my by my good friend, Brenda, who I met in college.  She and my first wife were classmates, and Brenda spent a lot of time hanging out in our circle of friends.  I count Brenda as one of those friend that lasts forever, and I am eternally grateful for many lessons of life, including this potato recipe.

Brenda Potatoes

Margarine
Potatoes
Onion
Cheese
Salt
Pepper

Wash those potatoes and cut them into circles.  Cut an onion and separate it into rings.  For this recipe, I used 6 red potatoes and about a half a big yellow onion.

Assembly:

In a casserole dish, coat it with margarine or butter, then layer potatoes, onions, and cheese.  Salt  and pepper to taste.  When the dish is full, you're done.  You can dramatically increase the size with no problem.  Just put margarine all over your dish, and layer onions, potatoes and cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Bake in a 350 oven for an hour.  It's done when the potatoes are fork-tender.  I always let it rest for about 10 minutes between oven and serving, and I sprinkle more cheese on it while it's resting.

Isn't that easy?  I knew you'd like it.

Thanks, Brenda.

The Draft

Selective Service is the draft agency, compelled by law to acquire rolls of men who are available for military service.  Those of us born in the '50s are painfully aware of the draft, having lived with the threat of the draft hanging over our heads during the Vietnam War.  Many of us signed up during that period, and others waited for the draft, while yet others avoided the draft at all costs,   President Nixon ended the draft in 1973, but men of draft age are still required to register with the Selective Service in case the nation needs them.  The Selective Service rolls along, collecting names, registering and classifying men who are eligible for military service.  If you don't voluntarily register, you can be held liable under various US statutes.  It's part of being a citizen.

Occasionally, the Selective Service sends out notices, which it did recently, to 14,000 Pennsylvania men, born between '93 and '97.  But they got the wrong century.  Yeah, these guys were born between 1893 and 1897,
The glitch, it turns out, originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation during a transfer of nearly 400,000 records to the Selective Service. A clerk working with the state's database failed to select the century, producing records for males born between 1993 and 1997 - and for those born a century earlier, PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said Thursday… The Selective Service didn't initially catch it because the state used a two-digit code to indicate year of birth, spokesman Pat Schuback said. The federal agency identified 27,218 records of men born in the 1800s, began mailing notices to them on June 30, and began receiving calls from family members on July 3. By that time, it had sent 14,250 notices in error.
They started getting calls from people, saying "Grandpa died several years ago, I don't think that he's going to be able to register."

The youngest of these men would be 117.  I don't think many of then will pass the PT Test.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hot!

After yesterday's work, I spent the morning cleaning up my work area, putting tools away and generally piddling around the yard.  It seemed awfully hot out there, and when I came inside, I looked at Accuweather.

Only 89F?  That ain't bad until you consider the 70% humidity and the lack of wind.  RealFeel of 111F?  The heck with that.  I'm going to stay inside this afternoon.  There are chores inside that I can be doing as well.  It's hotter than a whatchacallit out there.

Summer Project 2014

When the contractors installed the pool several years ago, they got just a little sloppy (or didn't think about) the concrete deck that they poured around the pool.  When it came time to start considering this patio project, simple measuring revealed that the pool deck wasn't square with the house, being about two inches out of square from one end to the other.  I consulted with my sons, who provided good input varying ideas, and valuable advise, but the consensus seemed to be that I should add concrete to the bothersome edge of the deck to make it square with the house, so hat pavers could be laid in a visually appealing manner.

So, two days ago I began digging to lay forms, construct the forms, and backfill so that I could add concrete to make the pool deck "square with the world".  I also did some judicious measuring to make sure that the pavers would fit into the hole I had created. Tuesday was dedicated to building the form for the concrete. about four inches on one end, about 2 inches on the other, but everything being 12 feet from the back edge of the house.

In the picture below, we see the form, and my measuring tape in the top of the frame.

Yesterday, I enlisted the aid of two grandchildren.  I claimed PawPaw right, and told them I needed them, pressing them into service.  they told me they'd be there after chores.  While awaiting them, I went to the Quikrete website, looked at their online calculator, and estimated the amount of concrete I needed.

Once the boys arrived, we headed to the lumber yard for concrete, came home, and commenced pouring the slab.  We worked like little monkeys for about two hours, because concrete waits for no man.  We got into a rhythm, each  of us at a particular part of the mixing, pouring, finishing routine and suddenly, we were through.

I have to give it to the Quikrete guys.  Their calculator was spot-on.  When we finished pouring the form, I had two-handfuls of concrete left.  After finishing the rolled edge, we found a nail and etched our initials in the semi-set concrete, a time honored tradition in Southern concrete work.

Elder grandson (who is driving-age), took a glass of water, while Milady slipped him a few bucks for his time, then decided he needed to be elsewhere, doing teenager things.  Younger grandson decided to hang out for a while.

PawPaw decided to slip on a bathing suit and join him.  We swam for an hour or so, then Milady dispatched me to the local pizzeria for pizza.  A nice refreshing swim, and a good pizza is the perfect end to a day of concrete work.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Ray Nagin Sentenced

Ray "Chocolate City" Nagin, the infamous mayor of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina was sentenced today in federal court for multiple counts of corruption.  He got 120 months.

Under current practice (as I understand it) he'll probably serve 8-9 years.

Stealthy Freedom

I've been watching a Facebook page, My Stealthy Freedom, where Iranian women post pictures of themselves without their head-covering.



When I think of our freedoms, and the Democrat's arguing about a Republican War On Women, and then I go to that page and see a place where a woman can be criminally prosecuted for revealing her hair, I wonder lots of things, but mostly I wonder where we're missing the whole argument about freedom?

The main text is Arabic, but there are enough English subtitles so that you get the idea.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Not an Indian

Legal Insurrection highlights a photo of potential presidential candidate Elizabeth warren riding on a parked motorcycle.

Iowahawk tweets that there's still no proof that anyone in Elizabeth Warrens family ever rode an Indian.

I think that the visual of Warren on a bike with ape-hangers is appropriately disturbing.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Summer Project 2014

Each year I plan a project for the summer, and this year Milady and I decided to increase the patio space to better accomodate our family when we entertain.  We decided to contract an awning, and I'd move the dirt and install pavers.  Today began the first phase of the project, installing the awning.

A before shot.  As always, you can click on the pictures for a bigger view.

The crew is just arriving, has been instructed on where the awning is to go, and they're going to get tools and materiel out of the truck.

Installing the framework.  Lots of measuring and leveling, this was a professional crew.

Copious amounts of sealer.  We want no drips when this project is completed.

Installing the roof/ceiling panels.  They snap together with high seams.  I don't see how water can get to the seam-joints.  That's a good thing, I don't want water getting into those joints.

Installation complete.  They were here just less than three hours, and the awning is installed.  Very professional, little wasted motion.  That awning is 20 feet X 8 feet, which adds 160 square feet of shade to the patio.  Now, all I have to do is dig out one shovel depth, add sand, and lay pavers.  I have a sneaking hunch that my part of the project is going to take several weeks.  But, I'll be able to work in the shade.

Wheel Adapters

I've got this little utility trailer, you've seen a bunch of them.  Guys haul stuff in trailers and I'm no different.  The only question is which trailer to use, the large one or the small one..  The load decides the trailer, but the little trailer gets the nod, about 75% of the time.

The only problem is the crappy tires that come on those trailers and my propensity to load them right to the weight limit, then drive down crappy roads.  I get blowouts.

Those little tires aren't designed to carry a whole lot of weight, but my boys (who are much better welders than I) widened the trailer a bit, and extended the trailer a bit, and beefed up everything in between.  With the added capacity of the trailer, I got more blowouts, and I got tired of buying those crappy little tires, so we searched about for an alternative.

Luckily, those wheel hubs are 5 lug, 4.5 diameter, (5X4.5) which also fits the old Ford Ranger and several other vehicles.  Second son scrounged some Ranger rims, but when we bolted them up, the dish in the rims was too deep, and the inside of the tire scraped (locked-up) on the inside frame of the trailer.  That's no good.

So, PawPaw ordered some wheel adapters from EZAccessory.com I ordered them on Thursday, and they came in this morning.

I got the two-inch version, but you can get them in various thicknesses.  They're a good looking adapter, made from billet aluminum, and fairly light weight.  But, they look beefy enough to stand up to the abuse I'm sure to give them.  About an hour after I took them out of the box, I had them bolted up, easy-peasy

Yeah, they stick out past the fender a little bit, and I may decided to get some wider fenders for the little trailer, but they sell fenders down at Tractor Supply.  But, I bet I won't be blowing those tires out.  And, I can keep the crappy little tires as a spare in case I do run into trouble.

I think that's going to work pretty good.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Sunday Morning Dawg

The dog was getting some scratching the other night and decided to take a selfie.  I'm not sure how he managed it without thumbs, but he got it done.

That's as unfortunate as most selfies usually are.  I"ll try to keep the cell phone away from him in the future.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Good Point

Oleg Volk makes a good point at his blog, which I normally read for firearms information. Oleg is a very influential photographer in the firearms internet and one of my daily reads.  He's also an emigrant from the old USSR, so he speaks to this issue with a certain expertise.
Back in the USSR, something as simple as waxed paper was unavailable. The explanation I got was that it was possible to make them into primitive printing plates with a typewriter. Not sure how true the explanation is, but it fit well with the paranoid attitude of the Soviet government. The point is that I had no idea waxed paper existed until after I left the USSR for a more free world.
Interesting, they didn't have waxed paper in the old USSR.  Citizens didn't know that it existed. But, Oleg cautions us.
 The process is repeating in the United States. Every year, something becomes illegal or plain unavailable. Last year, it was laser kits over 5mW. Previously, chemistry learning sets lost many of the chemical materials previously supplied. Next year, it will be something else. And once a few years pass, the next generation won’t even know that they are missing something.
On this day, the one after we celebrate our independence, it's instructive to listen to those who came before us, and those who came from other places, to try and understand what freedom means.  I remember walking into a pharmacy in the late '60s and asking for saltpeter.  The pharmacist simply smiled and asked if I was making black powder.  I told him "Yeah" and he cautioned me to not blow myself up.   But, he sold me a vial of saltpeter and asked if I had a recipe.

I doubt that would be possible today.

I also bought my first shotgun, at age 12, for cash across the counter without filling out any paperwork at all.  In 1965 that was perfectly legal.  Nowadays, not so much.  But we were freer then.

As we reflected on our freedom yesterday, let's reflect today on the freedoms we've lost, and resolve to regain them.  That's an honorable, admirable task for freedom-loving people everywhere.

Let Freedom Ring!

Friday, July 04, 2014

July 4th

Today is a day for parades, and hot dogs, and fireworks.  Barbeque, flags, and festivities.


Remember those who are working today; the nurses and aides, and cops and firefighters, and the retail folks who keep the store open so you can buy another bag of ice.  Give thanks for the soldiers standing the line, and the sailors on the ships.  But most of all, give thanks that you live in the last great hope of freedom.

This great experiment in self rule is still alive and well.  We've got our problems, but we've got each other.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Lawn Mowers

I've got this push mower that I've had for seven or eight years.  Little green and yellow, hunnert-dollar Wal-Mart special.  You've seen a zillion of them.  I use it for cutting around trees, in the back yard, and in the ditches where the big mower won't go.  It thrives on abuse, and only needs a new spark plug occasionally.  Once a year or so, I change the oil and the air filter.  It runs good, although it has its little quirks.

The starting procedure is easy.  It's got one of those little push-bubble carburetors, and I give it five pushes, then pull the starter cord.  It runs for about five seconds, then dies, so I give it two more pushes and pull the cord again.  It starts and runs as long as there is gas in the tank.  It's been a great little lawn-mower.

Yesterday, I started the derned thing and like always, it ran about five seconds then died.  No, problem, I gave the carb two more squirts and pulled the rope.  It started and ran, but I realized that I was still holding the short end of the  rope in my hand.

Well, shit.

It was running, so I tucked the little rubber handle in my pocket and did the mowing I needed to do.  If I let it die, that was the end of mowing until I put a new starter rope in it, and I've seen that dragon before.  It's a nasty, horrible job that deals with springs and rotating parts and is designed to make me loose my Christianity.  Before I'm through with that job, I'll be cussing like a shipwrecked sailor.

Monday, I;ll take that starter mechanism over to Squyres (our local lawnmower shop) and have him put a new starter cord on it.  I'll even buy a new air filter, just to show my goodwill.

Fundamental

I've blogged before on this topic, our Louisiana Constitution, which says, in part: "The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed.  Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny."   and, I cautioned that we, as a state, would have to figure out what that means. It seems that our state Supreme Court has helped us out.

The Louisiana Supreme Court issued some opinions earlier this week consolidating some cases and ruling on the constitutionality of La RS 14:95.1, our law that prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms.  It seems that RS 14:95.1 survives strict scrutiny and stands as written.  (Link to .pdf opinion here).  As the Times-Picayune reports:
While the law is designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals who are likely to offend again, it also means people who've been convicted of felonies may not hunt with guns. Convicted felons are barred from firearms during the 10-year period that begins when they complete their punishment for the underlying felony. Conviction under the law, Revised Statute 14:95.1, carries a punishment of 10 years to 20 years in prison.
Felons can still hunt in Louisiana, they simply can't use that implement defined as a firearm.  For the record, I hunted deer for many years with a traditional muzzle-loading rifle, a Thompson/Center Renegade, and did quite well with it.  Traditional muzzle-loading guns are not defined as firearms  In the alternative, a felon can use archery.  He's not prohibited from hunting, he's prohibited from using a firearm.

That seems like the correct result to me.

**Update** Volokh looks at the opinion, as well.

Hardwired for Booze

Some studied indicate that man is hard-wired  to seek out alcohol, as our primate predecessors used the scent of ethanol to find food.
Dudley's theory suggests that the alcohol concentration of ripe fruit would have served a purpose for both the fruit-bearing plant and the primate. In tropical forests, fruit can be hard to track down. However, the scent of alcohol from ripe fruits travels long distances, and may have helped primates to find their next meal.
Being attracted to the scent of ethanol from ripe fruits would have been evolutionarily adaptive, enabling the primates to find fruit easier. It was also helpful to the plants, because the primates helped to disperse the seeds in the fruit.
But the gains of eating these alcoholic fruits doesn't end there. Once digested, the theory goes, the alcohol would have stimulated feeding, encouraging the primates to "gobble up the food before anyone else got to it." Humans know this feeling today as the aperitif effect, which you may have experienced if you've ever had a cocktail before a meal and found yourself hungry. Or craved cheese fries after a night out.
I guess that explains why I crave a cheeseburger after a few drinks.  Or an big plate of eggs, grits and hashbrowns down at the IHOP

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

R.I.P Junior

Junior Doughty, the webmaster for Junior's Juke Joint, and The Frugal Outdoorsman, passed away yesterday,

Junior was a good friend of mine and we collaborated at Castbullet.com for many years.  Junior lived life on his own terms, and he enjoyed every bit of it.  He was a magnificent story-teller, a great writer and editor, and an altogether wonderful fellow.  The world will be a less interesting place with him gone.  My thoughts and prayers to his family..

Just an hour ago, I got off the phone with Junior's daughter, Kim.  Junior passed away at home, of a heart attack. Visitation will be from 5:00-10:00 pm on Firday at Hixson Brother's in Jena, LA.  Funeral Saturday at 2:00 pm.

Rest in peace, Junior.

Amazing CNC machining

Posted manly so that I can find it later, this is the damndest machining center I've ever seen.



I watched my grandfather do some amazing things on an old metal lathe that he kept in his shop and I can't even imagine what he'd have turned out with something like this.


Just Damn!

Worst President Since WWII

That's what the new Quinnipiac poll is saying, that President Obama is the worst US President since WWII.  Regular readers here know that I've been saying that for years, and this administration can only be compared to two prior presidencies in my living memory.  James Earl Carter for ineptitude and incompetence, both in domestic and foreign policy, and Richard Nixon's for sheer criminal chutzpah.

As Hot Air notes:
It’s no secret that Barack Obama’s popularity has plunged over the past 18 months of his second term, but just how bad has it gotten? According to a new poll from Quinnipiac, Americans pick him as the worst post-WWII president of all. A third of respondents choose Obama for that dubious honor, while 28% pick George W. Bush:
It's probably racist to point out that the first black president is also the worst president in living memory, but I judge the man on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin.  If that makes me a racist, I'll live with it.

Hey! It's Arthur

While I was traveling yesterday, the NOAA upgraded a small disturbance in the Atlantic to a tropical storm.  Our first of the season, it got organized pretty quickly and looks to be poised to threaten the East coast this morning.

So, there you have it, the first named storm of this season, and about to dump copious amounts of rain on the Atlantic coast over the next several days.  Y'all batten down the hatches, Arthur is about to come a-visiting.

**Update** Astronaut Reid Wiseman tweets a shot of Arthur taken from space.

He says it looks mean, hopes it heads out to sea.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

We're Home

We left northern Mississippi and drove home today, taking our time, stopping to look at things that interested us.  Like this:
The Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS.  Clarksdale is the epicenter of the blues music scene in Mississippi.  Directly across the street is the Blues museum,  It's a cool spot to visit, and while it wasn't yet open, we stopped long enough to pay homage to the blues greats.

An interesting mural on the other side of the building.
Northern Mississippi used to be extremely poor, some of the poorest counties in the country.  You can still see evidence of crushing poverty all along Highway 61, but change has already begun.  Lots of tourist industry in the area.  Milady, I, and our BIL and SIL dropped a fair bundle, both on lodging, meals, entertainment over a four day period, and while we spent some time in the casinos, we also spent time talking to people.

I was talking to a porter yesterday and he told me that before the casinos came in , Tunica county was the poorest county in Mississippi, and now it's one of the richest.

The Mississippi Delta country, north of Jackson along the Mississippi river is a place of great natural wealth, both in the soil that supports crops and the people who spring from that soil.  It's a great area if you want to experience southern culture, and I recommend it to the inquisitive traveler.

Heading Home

In another hour or so, we'll be heading home, pointing it south to return to our own bed and get ready to finish the week.  Hopefully, we're starting a large project tomorrow that will take me most of the month.  I'm going slow, pacing myself, and as long as I make progress every day I'll be happy.  More about that later.

Today we're driving, and our GPS is giving me a route that I've never used.  It tells me that this is the fastest route home, and I'm willing to take the chance.  I generally agree with the GPS, except on local routes where I know the roads, but this one is routing me through southern Arkansas.  However, I want to look at some new country and I don't think I've ever been in the southeast corner of Arkansas.  Today, just for giggles, I'm going to follow the GPS precisely, making the turns and lane changes that it gives me.

We'll see, but we should be home before the calendar turns over.

Beal Street, Memphis, Tennessee.