Monday, February 29, 2016

Just Damn - Officer Down.

A young police officer was killed in Virginia on her very first shift.  While I was out playing on the weekend, a cop lost her life.  I'm sorry that I didn't know about it sooner.

Just Damn.
A Virginia police officer was shot and killed by an Army staff sergeant assigned to the Pentagon on the first day of street duty.
Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon died Saturday after she and two other officers were ambushed by a man with a rifle as they were responding to a domestic disturbance, authorities said. The 28-year-old cop had been sworn in the previous day and was working her first day on the street with her training officer, who was also wounded, police said.
It's every cops worst nightmare, every mother's worst nightmare, every father's worst nightmare. Certainly every supervisors worst nightmare.  My condolences to everyone concerned.

I've buried two of my officers, both seasoned veterans that were killed on active duty.  I can't begin to describe the depth of emotion that losing a police officer evokes.  The sadness, the horror, the unspeakable rage that we, as police officers can't act on.  Losing and officer is a very personal, private time where you work to apprehend the murderer, take care of the surviving family, work through your own grief and mourning during the funeral, and try to come to work every day.

My deepest condolences to the family of Officer Ashley Guindon, and my steadfast knowledge that her fellow officers conduct themselves with the highest standard of conduct that the badge requires.

Occupational Licensing

It seems that we have occupational licenses for just about any group of people that want them. Private investigators, barbers, accountants, auctioneers.  You name it, there is an occupational licensing group that tries to make sure that only certain applicants are allowed to perform certain work.  You name it, there is a licensing scheme.  Plumbers, electricians, water-system operators.  Government is everywhere.

Glenn Reynolds is in favor of licensing reforms, and he says so again today.
And “racket” is exactly what it is
 Yet, Professor Reynolds is in one of the biggest licensing schemes in the nation.  He trains lawyers at the University of Tennessee as amember of the faculty there.You can't practice law until you pass the bar exam, and you aren't allowed to take the bar exam until you graduate from law school.  It's an occupational licensing racket at it's finest.

We could say the same for the medical profession.  You can't practice medicine without a license.

Professor Reynolds rails against occupational licensing while he benefits from it.  He's a tenured professor at a law school.

Be careful what you pray for, counselor.  You just might get it.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Family Shoot

No pictures today.  We set the range up after lunch, and two grandids wanted to shoot, so I put the timers on practice mode, make sure that the teenagers were safe, and their Dad and I sat on the deck while they practiced.

In just a few minutes, one of them sang out.  "PawPaw, something is wrong with this gun.  It's free-wheeling."

"Clear it and bring it here."

He was shooting my Uberti Cattleman, the clone of the 1873 Peacemaker.  Sure enough, the bolt wasn't coming up to lock the cylinder.  So, son and I took out the screwdrivers and looked for the problem.  As it turns out, the bolt/sear spring had turned loose.  As far as I know that's the spring that came with the gun, but the spring broke at the ... well... a picture is worth a thousand words

Luckily, I had a couple of spares in my kit, so we took one out and replaced it.  Put the gun back together.  The bolt wouldn't come up.  Damn.  Took the gun back apart, the replacement spring had broken in exactly the same spot.  In fairness, these were older springs and the replacement has a few dabs of spot-rust on it.

I had another that looked newer, and we used it.  As of now, the Uberti is running fine, but there seems to be something about those flat springs that breaks at that spot.

With the gun running, they shot up all the ammo I had loaded (grandkids are bad about that), then their parents scooped them up and went home.

I'm out of sear/bolt springs, so I went to MidwayUSA to look for some Wolff springs.  Wolff makes a darned fine wire spring rather than the flat spring.  The spring shooting season is coming up, and even though that particular revolver is my back-up, I need spare springs.  And, of course, they're on backorder.

Well, Damn.  I went to Brownells, and they're backordered there too.  I'll wait a couple of weeks and see if they come off backorder, then I'll get a half-dozen to put in the spares kit.  If not, I'll order them directly from Wolff.

Some folks don't think that shooting wax, like we do, is hard on a  revolver.  The simple fact is that we're pushing that lockwork fairly quickly.  Every CFDA shooter I know has learned a little bit about gunsmithing simply because our guns break.  Milady and I have put about 10,00 rounds downrange this year.  We're snatching hard on the hammers and running them quick.  And, our round-count is probably a little less than a lot of the really competitive shooters. When you're coming out of the holster, cocking and firing in less than a half-second, you're pushing those springs pretty quickly.  Do that several thousand times and something is bound to turn loose.

But, in the final analysis, all the revolvers are working right now.  The spring shooting season is upon us and the guns have to be ready to take a beating.  We're running them hard.

The View

No, not the TV show filled with brainless twits, The View From North Central Idaho, a blog run by Joe Huffman.  Joe is a heavy-hitter in the gun rights blog world and he links to a lot of interesting things, with good commentary.  His link this morning is about the mass shooter recently in Kansas, the guy who just drove around senselessly shooting people.  That takes us to a Washington Post article that talks about the shooter and the investigation since:
Walton said that the shooting spree was only stopped when a lone police officer headed inside the factory and killed the gunman, helping avoid a far greater loss of life.
Kudos to the officer, who followed training and confronted the gunman.  That's the way to stop a shooting spree; by shooting the shooter.  Well done to the anonymous officer.

But, we learn more about the shooter:
Investigators were initially unsure how Ford obtained the weapons, given his criminal record in Kansas as well as Florida; as a convicted felon, he could not possess guns.
A convicted felon, he couldn't own guns.  So, where did he get them?
 On Friday, federal authorities filed a criminal charge against Sarah T. Hopkins, 28, of Newton, Kan., alleging that she transferred the guns to Ford last year despite knowing he was a convicted felon.
She bought the Glock semi-automatic handgun and the Zastava Serbia, AK-47-type semi-automatic rifle that Ford had when he was killed, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said in an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.
Reading further, it looks like a classic straw purchase.  She was in a relationship with him, and bought the guns in an illegal transfer.  She could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  Tood bad, so sad.  We violate federal law at our peril.

The lesson to draw here is that no gun laws currently in existence could have stopped this spree because multiple laws were violated to make this possible.  Straw purchases, convicted felons having firearms, not to mention the sins of murder and mayhem.  Gun laws don't stop criminals.  Only good people with guns stop criminals.  Both of these lessons are plainly evident in this sad, sad marrative.

Hat tip to Joe Huffman, a writer I've been reading for years.  For reasons I can't explain, he has never been on my blogroll, but I've recently atoned for that mistake.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

First Paid Gig

Our grandson, Michael, is a musician.  He's always been a musician, since early childhood.  He plays brass instruments and the trombone is his first love.  He got some scholarships and he's now a pore-and-starvin' college student at the local teacher college, studying (you guessed it) music education.  He wants to be a teacher and a band director.  Music is his life and his love.

Last week he told us that he got his first paid gig.  A local brass band wanted him to come play a weekend gig at our hometown casino.  He's only nineteen, so he had to be escorted through the gaming floor to the bar where he'd be playing, but they paid him cash money, all the bottled water he could drink, and one menu item from the restaurant.

Milady and I went out to watch him pay.  He's the white boy on the far left.



We ate supper, played a little bit, and watched him play.  We stayed up past our bedtime, but we saw our grandson make his first money tooting his horn, which is worth commemorating. As Milady said, "It's good to slip our traces once in a while."

Friday, February 26, 2016

Financials

Describing the value of a company is important to making decisions, and lots of things can be learned from looking at a balance sheet.  I learned to do all this in business school, but I haven't practiced it since the early 1980s.

A little homework is in order, so I've been doing a little research, and I'm going to leave this link right here so I can find it later.  LINKY TO BASIC BUSINESS FINANCIALS.  All investors should be able to get a balance sheet and an income statement.  Most of what we need to evaluate a company's health is right there.  Business is about numbers and those are the numbers.

For example, if you're trying to figure out the intrinsic value in one share of a company's stock, you'd do well to find its net worth (assets minus liabilities) .  Divide the result by the number of shares outstanding and you have the book value of one share.

It's good to remember these things, and the ratios sometimes escape me.

Deaths - Final Data for 2013

That's the title of a report just issued by the Center for Disease Control.  It looks at how people die in the United States, and it's an interesting read.  But, you won't see it trumpeted by any of the gun-banner folks, because it seems that violent firearm homicide doesn't make the list.  Not the top-15 list anyway.

You're most likely to die from heart disease in the US, although the other leading causes of death are Malignant neoplasms, or respiratory issues, or even accidents.  I understand that if your heart stops beating (heart disease) or if you quit breathing (respiratory issues) cause death, and I'm fairly ignorant about malignant neoplasms, but those don't sound good either.  Accidents come in fourth (falling down stairs, getting run over by a garbage truck, etc).  You can go to the list and see it all, and the leading causes of death in the US even include suicide at #10, but I don't see violent homicide anywhere.

The simple fact is that you're most likely to die when your heart stops beating, or when your lungs quit filling with air.  Or by falling down stairs than you are to be killed in a violent encounter with a gun.  The report doesn't even talk about firearms deaths until page 10, and there they distinguish between suicide and homicide.
The age-adjusted death rate from firearm injuries (all intents) did not change significantly in 2013 from 2012. The two major component causes of firearm injury deaths in 2013 were suicide (63.0%) and homicide (33.3%). The age-adjusted death rate for firearm homicide decreased 5.3%, from 3.8 in 2012 to 3.6 in 2013. The rate for firearm suicide did not change significantly.
You're still more likely to die by a fall than by a violent homicide.

Hat tip to Firehand.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Let Freedom Ring

I see that the Iowa Legislature is considering a bill to let children under 14 years of age handle handguns with adult supervision.  Seriously?? I had to read that twice to make sure I got it right.
House lawmakers debated a series of gun bills Tuesday including one that would allow supervised children to use handguns.
 The bill would allow children of any age to use handguns with adult supervision. Current law prevents anyone under the age of 14 from using handguns. 
Here in Louisiana, we or them a bit younger than 14.  Especially in PawPaw's family.  If you can't run a handgun by the time you're 10 or 11, we've neglected your education.

Like this, for example.

  Or this, perhaps.

It'll be a few years before either of those kids are 14, but they're well on their way.  By the time they're 12 or 13, they'll be looking like this:

PawPaw loves bragging on his grandkids, and mine are the finest in the world.

But, some Iowans are freaking out, like it's the end of the world.
“What this bill does, the bill before us, allows for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds to operate handguns. We do not need a militia of toddlers. We do not have handguns that I am aware of that fit the hands of a 1- or 2-year-old,” said said Democratic Rep. Kirstin Running-Marquardt.
Iowa needs to get a grip.  Training kids to be safe with handguns should start at a young age.  While I admit that a toddler might not know enough to be trained, but PawPaw will attest that by the time they're four or five, they can start learning.   With close adult supervision, good training habits, and a healthy regard for the attention span of children, any training can start early.

Somebody once said:  Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Floor Update

Phase 1 of the flooring job is nearly done, ad will be completed very soon.  The floor is laid, all the doors are cut-in, everything is done except the quarter-round, which will be completed very soon.

Milady is pleased.  The dawg s adjusting well to it.

One shot down the hall.

You can see the quarter-round in the lower left corner of the photo.  That will be laid on Friday, whe the material for the kitchen, dining room of phase II gets here.  We'll commence that on Monday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Two Signs

Two signs that are legendary in my home town, both from the same store.  I was driving down Lee Street today and noticed that the signs are still up.  The store itself closed several years ago, moved to another location, but these signs were iconic for most of my life.  Residents here will immediately recognize them.


The sign at Hokus Pokus Liquors.  Full neon, the wings of the ghost would flap when it was lit up.  Really a pretty sign and it was a landmark of Lee St for years.  It still is, I guess.

Business was so brisk and the on-street parking so crowded that they purchased a lot across the street for parking.

This sign wasn't neon, but everyone knew where the Beer Crossing was.  And, believe me, a lot of beer and hard liquor cross the street under that sign.

I keep thinking someone is going to take those signs down.  Maybe the owners, but it was a nostalgic trip back in time when I realized that they are still where they've been all these years.

But They Have All That Gun Control

To date, homicides in Chicago for 2016 are approximately 100 percent higher than they were at this same time last year.

Amazing. The most rigid strict gun control in the US, and they're setting new records in murder.  I'm just sayin'.

Hat Tip: Say Uncle.

My Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds.

There's a great meme in the movie Tombstone, where Doc Holliday talks about hypocrisy.  He starts off, early, saying that he's no hypocrite, then later that his hypocrisy "will only go so far".  Later in the movie, on his deathbed, Wyatt finds him receiving the Last Rites.  The priest departs and he tells Wyatt, "My hypocrisy knows no bounds."  Let's watch, shall we?



Our dear friends in the Democratic Party find themselves in the same predicament over the death of Justice Scalia.  The president wants to make an appointment, but lots of folks are saying that he should not make an appointment during an election year.  That's sound political advise, except that the parties (and there's plenty of blame to go around) have said the exact opposite thing when the shoe was on the other foot.

The most recent and notable politico to be hoist on his own petard is our affable vice president, Joe Biden.  He had this to say about appointing a justice during a political campaign.
“should not, should not name a nominee until after the November election is completed. The Senate, too, Mr. President, must consider how it would respond to a Supreme Court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year. It is my view that if the president goes the way of Presidents Fillmore and Johnson and presses an election year nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until ever — until after the political campaign season is over.”
Evidently, he said that in 1992, during the ending months of the Bush 1 presidency.  If there was a vacancy on the bench, he wanted the incoming president to make the nomination.   Of course, now Uncle Joe is trying to clarify his earlier position.
Explaining his 1992 statement, @VP says it was about "a hypothetical vacancy on the Supreme Court."
So, it's all right to hypothesize  about what should happen if there's a Supreme Court vacancy, but in the actual event, all that speculation goes out the window?  There's a reason we plan for events, Joe.  There's a reason that we have a Congressional Record.

Update: If you’re keeping score, this means that the current president, current vice president, current Senate minority leader, and incoming Senate minority leader have all gone on record in the past in favor of obstructing a Supreme Court nominee.

You are a hypocrite, Joe.  Plain and simple.  You made yourself plain in 1992 and you've made yourself plain today.  Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Floor Update

The flooring is going well.  He's put in better than half the living room.  Tomrrow he starts on the hall and finishes the living room.  Wednesday will be quarter-round installation.


It's dusty, it shows construction dust, but that will clean easily.  Tomorrow when he starts cutting-in doors down the hall, there will be more dust because he's got to cut some molding.

Milady has decided to run it right on into the kitchen, dining area and washroom.  Vinyl plank can be laid anywhere as it's impervious to moisture.  Milady thinks that one floor across all those areas will tie the living area together, so Wednesday we'll order another 400 square feet.  We want to make sure that we get it all in the same dye-lot, so the sooner the better.

The journey continues, but in a couple of weeks, we'll have new flooring across the main living area.

I think this job is coming along just fine.

Holsters, Again

Okay, guys, lets talk about this one ore time.

There's a blog post over at Wirecutter's place about a guy who shot himself in the ass with his concealed carry pistol.  The original story is here.  You can click on either link (or both) to read the full story.  Graphic photos of a through-and-through ass-cheek shot, and I won't replicate them here.  Let's just say that the fellow will have a very interesting scar

The original story is  supposedly in a gun-related web magazine.  I've read the article through twice and for reasons I can't understand, there is no mention of the gun make. model. or type.  That's piss-poor reporting.  It's a gun magazine.  Neglecting to tell the full story is simply asinine.  From my reading, I can't tell you what type of gun the fellow shot himself with.  There is no sense speculating.  If, someone reads the story and finds the pistol type, let me know, please.

The article blames the discharge on the holster.  Reportedly, the guy went with a Blackhawk Nylon IWB Holster, Size B.  Not a bad holster, as holsters go, but decidedly not the best.  I'll let him tell you in his own words.
“I holstered the firearm in the new holster at home and made sure it was secure and comfortable, and then drove three miles over to our storage facility. I spent 10 minutes in the storage facility, just climbing around stuff and going through boxes. When I left, I walked outside and opened the car door. I went to go get in the car and just heard a loud bang,” Matt explained.
 “There’s no way that just happened. That did not just happen. And then I grabbed by butt and felt a hole in my pants and said, ‘Ok that just happened.'”
Luckily, the guy is going to be okay, but with a really nice scar on his butt.  Clic on any of my links for the full story, but let's take a minute and talk about holsters.

I've been a daily carrier for thirty years.  I can probably count on my two hands the number of days in those past thirty years that I have not carried a handgun.  As I sit at my kitchen table, typing this blog post, I'm carrying a gun.  It's a decision I've made a long time ago.  And I've learned a few things.

First and foremost, I cannot tell you how to carry your gun.  That is an individual decision based on gender, age, body type, personality, clothing preferences, daily activities and a host of other considerations.  I can give you some basic pointers, but you're going to have to decide how you carry your gun.  No one else can help you with this. Inside waist band, outside waist band, small of the back, strong side or crossdraw, you're going to have to figure it out for yourself.

Buy a good holster, or have a custom guy make you a holster.  However, don't feel bad if that holster doesn't work for you.  I've bought a lot of holsters over the years and a goodly majority of them were worn for an hour, or a day, and pitched in the spares box.  You are going to have to decide what works for you, and there is no market for used holsters.  You can give them away, you can swap with friends, but you are going to spend money on holsters you never use.  Get used to it.

When you're trying a new holster, you might want to carry for a day or so, unloaded.  If it's a semi, take the magazine out.  Carry the gun, and check it at the end of the day.  Has it been fired?  If so, that's not a good way to carry the gun.  If you're carrying a revolver, unload it, but figure out a way to check to see if it's been fired.  Maybe put an empty brass case in the cylinder and when you check it later, see if the cylinder has moved.  If so, you've shot your self in the ass.

Carrying a gun every day is an adult responsibility, and if you're an adult, you can figure out how to do this safely, but you've got to figure it out based on your own needs, desires, and preferences.  I can help you, but I can't make the decision for you.  You're going to have to figure this out for yourself.

Oh, and if you shoot yourself in the ass, you're doing it wrong.  Don't blame the holster or the gun.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

And... We're Off!

Furniture moved. carpet and pad ripped out, tack strip hacked out of the floor, we've done the demolition.  My installer laid down  couple of strips of flooring to give us an idea what it would look like.


Milady is pleased.  I learned a long time ago to let the lady of the house pick the colors, styles, and textures.  As long as she's happy, I' thrilled, and she is very happy about this installation. Work will commence in earnest tomorrow morning.

Remodeling

In another hour or so, PawPaw's personal space will be thrust into turmoil.  We're ripping out carpet and installing a new floor in the living room.  We're going with vinyl plank, which my floor-installer stepson says is very good flooring.  All the warmth and appeal of wood, with the durability of vinyl.  These things are in the box, laying on the living room floor, and the individual planks look like wood.  Stepson claims that they install it in commercial buildings, it looks great, lasts like concrete, resists scratching because the color is all the way though it, and is impervious to moisture.

Milady chose a Moroccan Oak color, the page is here.  It looks like this:

This is a long-awaited upgrade.  But, in the short term, we've got to move a lot of furniture so that the new floor can be installed.  Which means PawPaw's desk has to move as does most of the  furniture in the living room.  All that, including PawPaw's desk will reside in the garage for the next week or so.  If posting gets spotty, don't be concerned.  I'll be back in full force as soon as the new floor is installed.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Melt Down

Drinking coffee this morning, I stumble across this eye-opener about undergrads at Rutger University who were subjected to a conservative lecturer.
Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos made an appearance at Rutgers University, and his ideas and rhetoric so traumatized the delicate flowers who heard him that many of them attended a "group therapy" session afterward.
Really?  Group therapy after listening to stange new ideas?
 One student at the event told the Targum that they “broke down crying” after the event, while another reported that he felt “scared to walk around campus the next day.” According to the report, “many others” said they felt “unsafe” at the event and on campus afterwards.
Dangerous ideas have a way of shaking your world-view.  Once you're away from the insular world of academia, new ideas come at you nilly-willy, making you question your beliefs.  It's so unfair.
 Imagine, if you can, these students – attending one of the top undergrad colleges in America – going out into the world after graduating and trying to get a job.  They will devolve into a pile of Jell-O at the first sign of resistance to their spectacularly idiotic worldview.  They are not only unemployable.  They will have to be institutionalized for their own sake.  How can anyone possibly work with someone who collapses into tears when his ideology is challenged?
It reads like an Onion parody.  College, especially the undergrad years is precisely supposed to be about encountering new ideas, learn critical thinking skills, learn how to accumulate ad internalize new data and to become something we call... educated.  College is supposed to make you feel "unsafe" and to challenge your perspective on the world.

Evidently, Rutger University is failing miserably at educating young students. More's the shame.  Most of those whine-babies will be unemployable in the real world.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Crawfish

It's crawfish season in Louisiana.  Tasty little crustaceans, seasoned with a variety of red pepper, salt, black pepper, garlic, lemon or orange, it seems that everyone has their own recipe for boiling crawfish.  Normally, a sack of crawfish runs 35-40 lbs, depending on the grower and the size of the individual crawfish.  I can't eat a whole sack, but Milady and I have taken to eating crawfish every Friday for dinner.


Luckily, there are several boilers in the area.  Folks who boil crawfish for the retail trade and sell them by the pound.  I'll stop on the way home this afternoon and pick up several pounds, with corn and potatoes.  That'll suit us just fine, and I don't have to boil, nor get out.  We'll eat crawfish at the kitchen counter and be ready to start the weekend.

For those interested in learning how to do a south Louisiana seafood boil, there are plenty of good tutorials out there.  This article at Foodbuzz looks pretty good, and provides all the basics.  I like my crawfish spicy, but Milady takes it up another notch by making a horseradish cocktail sauce and dipping the already spicy tails in that sauce before eating them.

Crawfish is what's for supper at PawPaw's house on Friday nights during the winter/spring season.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bandannas

PawPaw decided that his cowboy attire needed an upgrade, so today during some down time, I went to a fabric store to look for bandanna material.

Our local fabric store is Hancock's Fabrics, and I don't spend a whole lot of time in there.  To say that I was overwhelmed at the selection was an understatement.  A nice lady helped me narrow down my choices after she found out what I wanted to make, and she helped me to find a good cotton print to make into a bandanna.  I bought a yard each of a basic red print and a basic blue print.

There are a wealth of videos online, so I'll YouTube around to get ideas, but it seems that a simple square of fabric shouldn't be too much trouble.  I'll try to decide how big I want it and get Milady to hem around it.

Holy Moly, I didn't realize that there were so many ways to tie a bandanna around your neck.  I might have some fun playing with this.  I bought cotton, but it looks like a nice piece of silk might give this old cowboy a certain flair.



Heh!  We're going to have a little fun.

UPDATE** YouTubing hot and heavy, I may have been premature with the cotton material.  I may have to go buy some silk.  We'll see how this works out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Virginia, Dear Virginia

Hot Air links to an article over at the Washington Post.  It's behind a paywall, but their summary of the article gives us enough information to get the general gist.  It seems that Virginia is thinking about resurrecting the electric chair.
At the same time, with vanishingly few exceptions, lethal injection has become the consensus method used for the dwindling number of executions — the only technique regarded as relatively humane, meaning absent obvious manifestations of the intentional infliction of pain.
 Yet as so many states move forward, Virginia is considering a step back. That’s the direction the commonwealth would go if it enacts legislation forcing convicts to die by electric chair if lethal injection drugs cannot be found.
The problem with lethal injection is that fewer and fewer pharmaceutical companies are willing to sell drugs to state correctional departments for use in the death penalty.  I get it.  If lethal injection is the preferred method in a state, and they can't get the drugs to implement the execution, there's a problem right there.

I'm not a death-penalty abolitionist.  I believe that the death penalty has a place in society, but I believe that it has been misapplied in some cases, and botched in others.  Then there is the inconvenient (I'm using sarcasm here) problem with the Eighth Amendment, which says:
 Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
I'm no lawyer, but I understand plain English. My high school teachers were very precise in their instruction about the use of conjunctions. By my reading of that amendment, a punishment must both be cruel AND unusual to be unconstitutional.  It might be cruel, but not unusual, or it might be unusual, but not cruel and still be perfectly constitutional.  Any constitutional lawyer or judge who tells you differently is simply illiterate and not applying the plain meaning of the sentence.  Or, they're making the argument that the death penalty should be abolished on other grounds.  They're free to make that argument, of course, but the simple language of the Eighth Amendment doesn't support it on grounds of high school English.

The Amendment is plain.  If anything their argument is fuzzy.  If they want to amend the constitution, they're free to do so.

However, the plain meaning of the sentence has been corrupted by several decades of legal thought, and the death penalty is so seldom used that it might now be thought unusual to even profess a desire for a state to want to use it.  The electric chair at one time was simply not unusual, but many consider it cruel because of the well-publicized botched executions using that method.

I would argue that hanging is an effective method.  It's low cost, relatively pain-free when done properly and certainly not unusual.  Many countries still use hanging as a method of execution, and while it may be considered barbaric, it is certainly not unusual when considered in worldwide usage.

Another method that I don't see anyone talk about is carbon monoxide poisoning.  People die from that all the time.  By all accounts, one simply goes to sleep.  It should be easy enough to rig up a carbon monoxide chamber.

If Virginia wants to continue to use the death penalty, that's okay with me.  But, I think that there are better alternatives than the electric chair.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Paris Attack Survivor: Everyone Should Have a Gun

A musician for the band Eagles of Death Metal, the band who was playing at the Bataclan during the Paris terror attacks told an audience that their tough gun control did nothing but leave people unarmed and vulnerable to attack:
“Did your French gun control stop a single [expletive] person from dying at the Bataclan?” Hughes said. “And if anyone can answer yes, I’d like to hear it, because I don’t think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I’ve ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms.”
“I know people will disagree with me, but it just seems like God made men and women, and that night guns made them equal,” he said. “I think the only way that my mind has been changed is that maybe that until nobody has guns everybody has to have them.” 
Wisdom there.  Eighty-nine people died at the Bataclan theater, with another 368 injured.  In a gun-free zone. In a place where there was not supposed to be violence.  Where people came to listen to a concert.

Which is why I tend to avoid gun-free zones.  That's where the victims are.

Who Will It Be?

As the shock of Justice Scalia's death sinks in, various pundits start pondering the inevitable, who will replace him?  Fox News has a short list of possible nominees, and as you look at the various sources, the same names start popping up.

A very learned analyst at SCOTUSblog  looks at the possibilities.
The fact that Lynch was vetted so recently for attorney general also makes it practical for the president to nominate her in relatively short order.  There is some imperative to move quickly, because each passing week strengthens the intuitive appeal of the Republican argument that it is too close to the election to confirm the nominee. Conversely, a nomination that is announced quickly allows Democrats to press the bumper sticker point that Republicans would leave the Supreme Court unable to resolve many close cases for essentially “a year.” 
Whoever the president nominates, that person must be confirmed by the Senate, alnd Mitch McConnell isn't doing himself, or the country any favors by saying that he'll bock any nominee sent forward by Obama. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see McConnell block everything that Obama wants to do, especially those things that will affect the country for several decades, but McConnall didn't have to telegraph his punch.

Why lay out the strategy so plainly?  Why give the Democrats something to complain about?  If McConnell would simply have sent condolences to the Scalia family; sent a representative from the Senate to the funeral; observed all the proper formalities, then if asked could simply have said that the Senate would consider the president's nominations as they arrive.  Then, after a couple of weeks of hearings, and after a simple party-line vote, the nominee would be rejected.  Then Obama would make another recommendation, then a couple of weeks of hearings, and some political jockeying, and another party-line vote, and by that time we'd be in the middle of the summer, and it would make political sense to delay the confirmation until after the election.

But, Mitch isn't that smart.  He's painted himself into a corner and now he either loses face, or loses face.  That's all he's got left.  Mitch McConnell is an idiot.  And he's one reason that we call the Republican party The Stupid Party.

As this Fox article points out, there is plenty of hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle.
In the immediate aftermath of Antonin Scalia’s death, Democrats and Republicans, along with liberal and conservative commentators, are making arguments that are parsed as principled, but really naked partisanship.
They are taking positions that they would reverse in a heartbeat if the Supreme Court vacancy occurred under mirror-image circumstances. In fact, many of them have taken the opposite stance in the past.
So the high-minded rhetoric really rings hollow.
Indeed it does.  Were the parties reversed, they would be making exactly the same arguments.  I'd reassure the asseblage when we remember that it was Chief Justice John Roberts that gave us Obamacare not once, but twice.  It is hard to know which way a jurist will fall when the stakes are high.  Just because they are selected as conservative (or vice-versa) doesn't mean that they'll stay that way.

As usual, I fart in the general direction of John Roberts and his court.

I'll pray for our country.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Antonin Scalia Found Dead



It's all over the news, the internets, and probably the paper this morning.  Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the judicial standard-bearer of the conservative movement and the court's most provocative member, died Saturday. He was 79.
He was at a ranch outside of Marfa, TX.  He went to his room Friday night, and after he didn't show up for a meeting Saturday, they sent someone to check on him.

Justice Scalia was a conservative, a brilliant legal thinker, and a full-throated voice for freedom.  As such, he'll be missed, deeply missed.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family.  I offer them my heartfelt condolences.

His passing will set up a cat-fight to appoint a successor.  It might get ugly, with the Democrats pushing President Obama to appoint a successor quickly.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on the president to defer his action, saying that appointing a successor in an election year might go counter to the will of the people.

The President, of course, has said that he'll appoint someone quickly.  With President Obama's track record of appointing people, I'll pray for our country.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Red and the Hoffman Device

Once upon a time, in Chinquapin Parish there was this fellow named Red.  Red was a recurring criminal, a multiple felon, and he lived out near Los Adaes.  It's not often we find Spanish names like Los Adaes in Louisina, but the Spanish had more influence in Louisiana than many people believe.

Anyway, back to Red.  He lived out in the woods in near that old Spanish fort.  And PawPaw had him under supervision.   We called him Red because he was ... well... Red.  Red headed, freckled, just a big ol' redneck from back in the woods.  He liked to smoke dope and burglarize houses and he claimed that he worked in the pulp-woods, which gave him plenty of time to case houses.

First, though, we need to talk about the Hoffman Device.  A Hoffman Device is a tank gun simulator.  Used in maneuver training, it provides blast, smoke, and a visual flash, not unlike a real tank gun round.  PawPaw is intimately familiar with these devices, having used them extensively during armored force-on-force training.  It looks like this:

Basically, you mount it on a tank gun, and load those tubes with simulators, which are basically a quarter stick of dynamite formulated to give flash, bang and smoke.  The charges are electrically detonated.  You wire the charges into the tank's firing circuit, and when the gunner pulls the trigger on his Cadillac control, the device fires, giving flash, bang, ad smoke.  Loud, flash, bang, and smoke.  You can hear these things from about a half-mile away through the woods.  Farther if the terrain is more clear.  The charges are encased in a waterproof plastic housing and I recall some white styrofoam in the mix.  Two wires come out of the charge, which provides the firing impulse when the gunner plls the trigger.

But, back to Red.  One beautiful spring morning, I was drinking coffee at the Sheriff's Office when the door to the booking office opened and Red stumbled through the door.  He was followed by two fine Wildlife and Fisheries agents ( a group I affectionately refer to as Possum Cops). We'll call them John and Dave.  Red was, of course, handcuffed.

I was considerably amused.

While John booked Red, Dave told me the story.

"John and I weent out to a landowner this morning.  He suspected that people were poaching deer in his forest land, so John and I decided to take a walk, to hike the woodlot and see if we could find where they were coming in.  We had been walking through the woods for about half an hour, along the back side of his property, walking along a four-stand barbed wire fence, when we heard an explosion.  Loud damned explosion.

"John and I knew that the next property over was an open pasture with a pond in one conrner, so we jumped the fence and came through the woodline and heard another explosion.  We saw water jump about 40 feet in the air.  As we came up over the little spillway, we saw Red standing there with a box of these funny looking things, a truck battery, and a Honda Big Red three-wheeler."

At this time, Dave hands me a box of Hoffman charges, which I recognize immediately.

Dave continues, "Well, Red sees us, drops everything ad jumps on the three-wheeler.  We thought we had lost him, but John said he'd go back for our truck while I chased Red.  We knew that there was a gate on that pasture that fronted Los Adaes road, and I told John to pick me up there.  I start trudging across the pasture, and when I top a little rise, I see Red loading his three-wheeler into a blue Chevy pickup truck.  He jumps in the cab, then jumps out, unloads the three-wheeler, and takes off to the south."

Dave looks at the box.  "What are those things?"

"Hoffman charges," I reply.  Electrically detonated tank gun simulators.  Basically a quarter stick of dynamite with the blasting cap already inserted."

Dave continues. "That explains the battery.  When Red motored off toward the south, I knew that the whole pasture was fenced, so I sat on the tailgate of Red's truck.  In a few minutes, John made it around, and a minute or so after that we heard Red coming around the pasture.  He figured he was caught, so he gave up.

"As it turns out, the battery he was using to set off those things, was the battery out of his truck.  He figured that no one could find him, because he blocked the gate with his truck.  What he forgot was that he couldn't start the truck without the battery.  He didn't count on John and I walking on the other side of the fence.  We got lucky."

"What are you charging him with?" I asked?

"Oh, various and sundry counts of the Fish nd Wildlife code.  Usual stuff, Fishing without a License, Fishing with Explosives, Resisting Arrest by Flight. Whatever else we can think of." Dave looked again at the Hoffman charges.  "Are those things dangerous?"

"Yeah," I replied. "Don't hook a battery to them."  I reflected.  "Y'all are going to be busting beaver dams later this spring, aren't you?"  I looked in the box, which had six charges left. "Make sure you've got plenty of wire and a good twelve-volt battery."

Red went to court later and lost his fishing rights for three years with a healthy fine.. The judge made him serve 90 days, but didnt' revoke his probation, for reasons only a judge will understand. Several months later we had some other run-ins with Red that I'll recount later.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lone Wolf

It seems this guy walked into a restaurant in Ohio and started hacking people with a machete.
CBS News has identified the suspect as Mohamed Barry, however neither 10TV nor Columbus Police have confirmed the suspect’s name.  CBS News also reports Barry has a Somali background and may have traveled to Dubai in 2012.
Let's review.  The guy is named Mohammed, he has a Somali background, and he may have traveled to Dubai in 2012.  The article doesn't mention it, but I wonder what his religious background was?

If I had to hazard a guess from the limited information in that one paragraph, I'd be pretty safe in guessing that he's one of those Mahometans from the Religion of Piss.   I won't hold my breath waiting for other Mahometans to decry the cowardly attaack.

Louisiana Politics

Our new governor, John Bell Edwards has ignited a shit-storm that he might not be able to recover from.  It's a good thing that he doesn't have a beard, because he'd be combing raw sewerage out of it right now.

There are two things you don't mess with in Louisiana.  The TOPS program, and college football. In a speech on Thursday, Edwards threatened both of the.  We'll talk about TOPS first.

TOPS, or the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, covers tuition for in-state students who maintain a certain grade point average in high school, with a required curriculum.  Students who want to take advantage of the program have to take certain courses and maintain their grades.  It is a very popular program that by some estimates, helps about half the college students in public schools in Louisiana.

Of course, in a bid for new revenue, Edwards suspended the TOPS program.
"The Louisiana TOPS scholarship fund is now so depleted that, if the legislature does not raise revenue, fewer high school students will receive awards and current recipients are in jeopardy of losing their existing scholarships for next year. Even with additional revenue, higher education this year will need to cut $42 million. This will be combined with a $28 million cut in TOPS scholarship funds."
PawPaw has a grandkid going to school on the TOPS program.  The kid kept his grades up, got scholarships, applied for TOPS and was able to cobble together a scholarship program that lets him go to college.   Now, Edwards has suspended that program.  Some don't believe that he is able to do that unilaterally.
Jason Droddy, executive director of policy and external affairs for LSU, said Thursday afternoon that it was unclear what the outcome will be because “we’ve never been through this before.”
 “We just don’t know a whole lot; I don’t know exactly how it will affect students,” he said. “TOPS is a contract between the state and a student. And we’re just the facilitators.”
If that isn't injury enough, Edwards also insults us by threatening to make college athletes ineligible.
“The LSU main campus in Baton Rouge will run out of money after April 30,” he said. “There is no money left for payroll after those dates. The Southern University system and the University of Louisiana system are in the same boat. Without legislators approving new revenue this special session, some campuses will be forced to declare financial bankruptcy, which would include massive layoffs and the cancellation of classes. If you are student attending one of those universities, it means that you will receive a grade of incomplete.”
What a grade of incomplete means to student athletes is t hat they'll become ineligible to play NCAA sports, like football (and basketball, and track, and etc).

If Edwards lets that happen, he won't survive (politically) his first term as governor.  I am told that there are already recall petitions floating around.  There are a lot of things you can do in Louisiana, but messing with TOPS and football are not those things.  Edwards has ignited a shit-storm from which he may not recover.

Cosmo Teams With Bloomberg

Cosmopolitan magazine is teaming with Bloomberg's Everytown to make gun control a thing among readers of Cosmopolitan.According to PJ EMedia:
Cosmopolitan announced on Wednesday that it has partnered with Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety (I'm not going to link it) to push a gun control agenda.
I didn't know anyone read Cosmo anymore. Is it even available on newsstands?  Regardless, Bloomberg's message is falling on hard times, with millions of Americans endorsing gun ownership.  President Obama drives that, becoming the greatest gun salesman in modern times.  If he's looking for a legacy, he's found one right there. Over he last seven years, gun manufacturers have prospered beyond their wildest dreams, outperforming the Dow and the S&P500.  They're selling everything they can make.

But, Cosmo's continuing descent into irrelevance is comical.
The magazine will run a propaganda piece in the March issue called "Singled Out," warning single women they may be dating a man who is a firearms owner. And he may become "disgruntled."
If I was dating a woman who read Cosmo, I'd be disgruntled too.  Fortunately, even before I met Milady fifteen years ago, the women I dated were strong, determined women who knew about guns and probably owned several.  We didn't talk about it, unless the subject just happened to come up, but any southern woman dating a man should expect that he owns guns.  And vice-versa.There is no reason to bring up a subject that should be painfully obvious.  Of course I own guns.  Why do you ask.

Shortly after I met Milady, we were hanging around one Sunday afternoon and she asked me to look at a revolver she called a "Saturday Night Special".  I asked her to take it out and she showed me a pristine SW Model 28-2.  Decidedly not an inexpensive firearm.  Of course, as our relationship firmed up and deepened, shooting was a part of it.

Now, several years later, Milady is a seasoned competitive shooter in her own right.

Of course, if Cosmo wants to team with Bloomberg, that's okay.  It's a free country.  It must suck, though to be on thhe losing end of both business and history.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Turned A Profit

Well, lookee here.  It seems that the US Postal Service turned a profit last quarter, for the first time in several years.
The U.S. Postal Service turned a profit in a financial quarter for the first time in five years, though President Obama still proposed the agency slash 12,000 employees in his fiscal 2017 budget.
That's great news.  Evidently they're turning their operation around, after losing money for years.  I generally like the US Postal Service, although they've been "behind the power curve" for several years. They face stiff competition from other package delivery services (like UPS and FedEx).

I have noticed from my several package deliveries that the USPS is making it's money on package delivery.  I have a package coming this week from Fernley, NV, and the USPS is the one delivering it.  It should be here tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Random Thoughts

Cleaning the competition guns yesterday, and I held up Milady's Liberty Edition to look at something closely.  I saw daylight between the grip frame and the receiver.  There's not supposed to be light coming through there, so I got out the screwdrivers and tightened those screws.  One of the five was missing, so I called Traditions to get a couple of spares on the way. They'll be in next week.

While cleaning the other revolvers, I put a screwdriver on the screws.  There are six screws on a Uberti grip frame and five on a Ruger.  Of the twenty-two screws I tried, eight of them were loose.  Note to self:  Check those screws regularly.

I awoke this morning with a gnarly feeling.  Congested with a trace of sore throat.  I believe I'm getting my annual cold.  Lovely.  Just friggin' lovely.  I'll stop on the way home and get some listerine.  Gargling with that stuff helps knock it out.  I might pick up a couple of cans of soup while I'm at it.

Politics keeps getting weirder and weirder.  The front-runners right now are a real-estate tycoon and an avowed socialist.  It ain't over yet, but right now it's looking like the year of the not-establisment candidate.

Peyton Manning is catching a lot of flak over saying that he intended to thank God and drink a lot of beer.  I'm pretty sure that Maning's season is over for a while, and he won't be training for the next several weeks.  If he wants to drink beer, I don't see a problem with that.  And, I'd remind the assembled Christians that our Lord's first public miracle was when He turned water into wine.  Beer is proof that God loves us and He wants us to be happy.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Crime and Politics

Instapundit points us to an article at the Daily Mail, telling us that St. Louis, MO has surpassed all others as the crime capital of the US on a per-capita basis.
Compiled from data released by the FBI charting crime in the first six months of 2015, the 'Gateway City' is followed by Memphis, Tennessee, Detroit, Michigan, Birmingham, Alabama, and Rockford, Illinois, to round out the top five.
The violent crimes listed by the FBI include rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and murder
This ties in nicely with a National Review pictorial, showing the party affiliation of the mayors of the most crime-ridden towns.


Reading down through that Daily Mail article, which gives a list of the most crime-ridden city in each state, I see Louisiana's very own New Orleans.  Variously described as a third world hellhole, it's also known as a bastion of the Democratic Party in Louisiana.  So, I clicked over to the Wikipedia page to see when the city last had a Republican mayor.  As it turns out, the last Republican mayor of New Orleans was a fellow named Benjamin Flanders and he left office in 1872.  Since then, it's been one Democrat after another.

The current mayor of New Orleans is Mitch Landrieu, of course a Democrat, and the city council is filled with Democrats.  New Orleans has recently been in the news for wanting to remove Confederate monuments from the city.    I'm sure that removing the statue of Robert E Lee from Lee Circle will immediately quell the criminal element in the city, making New Orleans a beacon of hope, justice, and fairness.

Or not.  Perhaps the city council and the mayor should focus on real problems.  But that would lead to insufficient opportunities for graft.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Willie

Talking with my son this weekend, he asked me to tell the story about Willie.

The small town of Chinquapin is a mythical town in northwest, LA.  Celebrated in movie and song, it's home to about 20, 000 souls and everyone in that area knows where I'm talking about.  PawPaw spent his early law enforcement career in that town, working as a parole officer.

One of the folks that PawPaw had under supervision was a small-time crook named Willie.  Willie ws a black man, in his early 30s.  He stood about 5'6" tall and had about half the teeth that God had originally given him.  He was't violent so much as opportunistic.  If he saw something laying around, he'd steal it.  If he saw an open door, he'd walk through it.  That's what got him sent to the pen in the first place, and that's the predilection that made him the subject of this story.

Willie was in jail, yet again, for stealing.  Willie was well known to the jailers and the criminal system in general, so while awaiting trial. (He couldn't make bond, because of a parole hold). So, the jailers made him a kitchen trustee.

The jail, like many others in the early '80s was atop the parish courthouse.  One elevator led to the jail, directly from the main hallway of the courthouse.  Like many of those old courthouses, it had been built in the '30s, an imposing building with white limestone exterior.

That jail elevator was about 50 years old, and had been updated over the years, but still had problems from time to time, as all old elevators do.

One day, about 3:00 in the afternoon, Willie was out of his cell, helping clean the kitchen and get ready for cooking the evening meal.  As he walked down the hallway from his cell to the kitchen, the elevator door opened.  Willie, being the opportunistic fellow that he was, stepped into the elevator, pushed the button for the first floor, and rode down to the main hallway of the courthouse.

Back in those days, deputies worked eight hour shifts.  The standard shift was 7-3, 3-11, and 11-7.  So, at 3:00 pm, we had an outgoing shift and an oncoming shift.  That was exactly the wrong time to make a jail break, because there were two shifts of deputies at the courthouse.  So, when Willie stepped out of that elevator at 3:00 pm, he noticed two shifts of deputies milling around in the Sheriff's office across the hallway.

The deputies noticed him too, and the footrace was on.

Willie ran out the front door of the courthouse and turned left, for reasons only known to him.  Two blocks away, Willie came to a bridge.  It looks just exactly like this. You can click for larger, and you'll notice a parking lot under the bridge.


Willie entered the bridge from the west end, with about 10 deputies in hot pursuit.  Willie had taken about 5 strides when he noticed two police cruisers enter the bridge from the east end.  Willie knew he was surrounded,   Police cruisers ahead of him, foot-chase cops behind him ad Willie did the only thing that made sense at the time.  He dove.

Witnesses say that Willie executed a beautiful, technically perfect swan dive off the railing of that bridge.  With cops two steps behind him, the witnesses claim that it was glorious to behold.  Willie took a flying leap onto the bridge railing, set his hands outstretched for a classic swan dive and leapt into the air.  His hands folded over his head, his feet came up over his head as he dived headfirst.

Directly into that parking lot.  Luckily the asphalt is only about 20 feet from the bridge railing.  The chase team called for an ambulance where they scooped him up and took him to the hospital with multiple bone-breaks and a fairly severe concussion.

PawPaw interviewed Willie several days later.  He had a massive, turban-like head bandage and casts on hoth arms that went from the elbow to the fingertips.

"Willie, " I asked him.  "When did you know you had screwed up?"

"I thought I was good, Mr. D", Willie replied.  "I thought I had made it, right up to the time I felt my fingers breaking."

**sigh**

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sunday Family Shoot - Mardi Gras Edition

The weather was beautiful and the family was assembled, so the only thing to do was shoot.  We were shooting wax bullets in the back yard, which is a magnificent way to teach young shooters.  Even the kids got a chance to shoot, with their fathers providing backstop safety.


PawPaw at the rail, son Joey providing hands-on instruction, grandson Elyas  learning to shoot.

Son, Matthew, coaching grandson Lucas.  Ypu'll notice all the kids have eyes and ear protection.

Son, Barrett and granddaughter Jaida.  PawPaw, of course, providing support at the rail.  After the young kids were through shooting, the sons and teenagers wanted to strap and do a few quick matches.

Grandson Ethan in PawPaw's hat, (the sun is bad this time of day) and grandson Jeffrey in the silly hat.  It's Mardi Gras, after all, and silly hats are de rigeur.  They were coming off the line.  Jeffery had a very good day, shooting in the 7s and no Xs.

Son, Matthew in a goofy hat.  Not exactly CFDA compliant, but my Sunday Family Shoots are not CFDA events.  Of course, all the safety rules apply, but we bend the dress code a bit.

Grandson Jeffrey and soon Barret on the line.  More goofy hats.  That's how we roll at PawPaw's house during Mardi Gras on the Sunday Family Shoot.

Super Bowl Sunday

It's the day of the big game, and a major part of PawPaw's life.  Not because I care a whit about football.

I met Milady at a Super Bowl party in 2001.

She and I had been chatting on Yahoo!, and I happened to mention that I was going to a Super Bowl party at a little bar in Natchez, LA.  I told her that if she wanted to meet me face-to-face, I'd buy her a drink and we could get to know one another.

Just before halftime, she walked in the door of the place.

We met, laughed, had a drink, and she talked to all my buddies that were regulars at that little bar.  After the game, I walked her to her car and asked her if she'd like to go out the following Friday.  She accepted and we went dancing at a little bar she frequented.

That was on the last Sunday in January, but ever since, we've looked on Super Bowl Sunday as a minor anniversary.  So, I mark Super Bowl Sunday, but I don't give a whit about the game.

Sunday Morning Dawg

It's been a while since I posted a dawg photo, and he's whining this Sunday morning, wanting to go pester his cats.  Of course, he's already been outside twice this morning in the pre-dawn.


PawPaw is trying to catch up on the Sunday news via internet, before the dead-tree paper arrives.  It'll be another hour or so until the paper gets here.  In the meantime, I've got a pork butt in the slow cooker that will be pulled for sandwiches at lunch.

I hear that there is a football game later, but I doubt I'll watch it.  I don't have any dogs in that hunt. The kids are coming over for lunch and I bet that we'll be shooting wax in the back yard.

Tomorrow we'll get back to regular programming.  I'm enjoying these parolee stories and trying to decide if I want to talk about Pinky or Willie first.  Both of them were colorful characters.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Hick'ry

Every little country store has a bank.  Or, at least around here, they call it a bank.  Little country stores are cash-heavy enterprise s, or they were in the '80s before the advent of debit cards.  The "bank" was the cash bag kept in the store to provide change for the days business.  Normally $300-$500, depending on the needs of the store.  Any excess went to a real bank as the day's deposits, but every little business kept its bank for day-to-day operations.

There was this little store in northwest Louisiana.  We'll call it Anne's Store because Miss Anne ran it.  She had been in the store business most of her life.  She got there every morning about 5:00 a.m., opened the place, put on coffee and started a tray of biscuits in the oven.  It was a small store in a one-horse town and it provided a place to get bread, sandwich meat, milk, basic groceries.  Miss Anne also ran a breakfast/lunch counter.  As such, the store became a meeting place, a spot for working men to park their trucks out back and meet with crews.  The logging industry was big in that area.

I was the parole officer assigned to that area.  As such, I drank coffee at Miss Anne's counter several times per month.  Many of my parolees worked in the logging industry, and when they came by in the mornings to meet their crews, I could check on them.  Being one of the few police officers in that geographical area, I was on speaking terms with just about everybody.  Like small towns all over America during that time, there were no secrets.  Even though I worked for The State, I knew the local constabulary and they knew me.  We worked together frequently, depended on each other, shared information freely.

Next door to Miss Anne's Store, there was another building, an old, defunct general store.  It had been closed for a decade or longer before I was assigned to the area.  It sat there vacant, the ragages of time slowly taking a toll on the building.  In the very back of that store was a small storeroom, with a restroom.  A standard toilet and wash-basin.  Which brings us to a fellow we'll call Hick'ry.

Hick'ry (not his real name) was somehow familialy entwined with the past operators/owners of the store building.  As I recall, the building itself was entrapped in that legal limbo called "an heir property".  Hick'ry himeself may have owned a portion of the building. Hick'ry had been to the pen a couple of times for burglary and after his latest conviction had come under my supervision.  Hick'ry also happened to live in that small storeroom in the building next to Miss Anne's store.  One bare lightbulb, a cot and a small restroom provided all the basic needs that Hick'ry desired.

One morning, I got up early and headed over to Miss Anne's store.  I wanted to get there early and check on a couple of parolees I hadn't seen that month.  They were pulp-wooders and met the crew at Miss Anne's.  I got there just before daylight, and Miss Anne met me at the door.

"Get in here quick," she said.  "I've been robbed. Somebody broke in here and got my bank."

I asked if she was okay, and she was.  She hadn't been robbed so much, as burgled, but I drew my revolver and made her stand by the front door as I cleared the store just in case the burglar was still there.  After I was convinced we were alone, that the burglar had gone.  I told her to call the sheriff's office.  She led me to the little stainless steel sink beside her cook-top and showed me a muddy footprint in the sink.  The window above the sink was open.

I went outside and got my flashlight, walked around the side of the building to the window.  The ground outside was soft and I could see a trail of footprints leading across to the abandoned general store.  I followed the trail around the building to the back, where the final muddy footprint ended at the door to that storeroom.

I unholstered my revolver, pushed lightly on the door and it swung open.  The floor of the storeroom was littered with beer cans.  Hick'ry lay on the cot.  Drunk.  Very drunk. He was snoring loudly and Miss Anne's bank bag lay on his chest.  I backed out of the room and took a breath.  About that time the deputy rolled up.  He was a young fellow, named Tony.

"Morning, Tony." I greeted him.  "You want to make an arrest?"

I showed Tony the trail leading from the store, I showed Tony the muddy footprint on the storeroom step, then I pushed the door open and showed him Hick'ry sleeping, drunk, with Miss Anne's bank bag on his chest.  "That, sir, is what we in law-enforcement call a clue."

Tony snorted.  "Help me get him up."

We put the Habeas-Grabbus on Hick'ry, cuffed him and stuffed him.  I stayed with Tony long enough for him to get Miss Anne's statement.  A couple of weeks later, Hick'rys parole was revoked and several months after that he pled guilty to yet another count of burglary.  The judge sent him back down the river for an extended stretch.

I wish they were all as easy as that one.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

OC Spray

If you look on any cop's belt, you'll likely find a small can of OC spray. Oleoresin capsicum, also known as pepper spray, is manufactured by several companies for use as a less-lethal chemical agent.  OC attacks the mucous glands, sends them into overdrive and causes a sharp, burning sensation.  Nowadays, it is part and parcel of the police experience.  We've all been sprayed with it as part of our training, and we've all regretted it.  It sucks.  You can hear your eyelids slam shut (an interesting auditory experience) and in about 30 seconds, you have a mucus ball hanging down from your nose to your navel.  After about 15 minutes, the pain begins to subside from excruciating to merely crippling.

After about 30 minutes you start to get it together, and all you want is copious amounts of water to wash the resin off your skin.  When training at the academies, we normally plan the OC demonstration for the last part of the day.  This allows the trainees to return to their home or dorm, jump in the shower and get the final indignity of the day.  As the OC resin comes off your skin, it re-activates and runs down your body to your nether regions.  Then comes the final Oh-My-God-What-Have-I-Done experience as your private parts take on a warm, tingly... lets draw the (shower) curtain on the final act of this tragedy.

The early '80s were a magical time to be a cop.  Gaston Glock had just come out with his plastic pistol.  Radio technology was getting better, we were getting radar units in the vehicles.  PawPaw was a parole officer and we had just installed new radios in our vehicles.  The new 150 Mhz High-Band radios.  With newfangled repeaters, we could actually talk from one side of the parish to the other.  If you were up on a high hill.

About the mid '80s, pepper spray came out and the department scheduled training for us.  We suffered the indignity and were certified to use OC spray.  And, I tell you all that to tell you this:

Regular readers will notice that mobile homes run through my narrative.  Lots of folks in rural areas live in mobile homes.  It's economical, it's fast, and it's convenient.  Some trailer houses give very good value.

One sunny morning I was out seeing my caseload, working the territory, and the next stop was a guy who lived in a mobile home.  My normal routine was not to climb the redwood steps, but to knock on the side of the trailer on the metal siding.  This particular morning, as I knocked on the siding, I was surprised to see a large hog stand up from under those redwood steps, snort loudly, and take three steps toward me, grunting with each step.

It was a big ol' hog, I estimate about 200 lbs on the hoof.  Not a cute little shoat, but a big ol' hog.  PawPaw decided to test his OC spray, so I took it off my belt andn gave that rooter a snoot-full.  A good one-second blast.  It wasn't covered in our training, but I figured that a hog has mucous glands just like I do.

That hog squealed, turned and stampeded under the trailer.

The parolee came to the door.  "What was all that racket?"

"A hog." I replied.  "You own a hog?"

"No," he replied.  About that time we heard running water, so he stooped and looked under the trailer.  "What the hell?!?"

It appeared that the hog, in his mad flight to escape, blinded by OC spray, had become entangled in the PVC plumbing apparatus.  Pipes dangled and water squirted, and it was a hell of a mess.  I believe that hog had dragged most of the plumbing out from under the house in his frenzied stampede.

I stood and handed the parolee a Monthly Supervision Report. "Here, sign this before you get muddy."

I felt sorry for the fellow, but there was no escaping the fact that OC spray is very effective as a hog repellent.  I reported my observations to my superiors later that day.

Cowboys

I know just the way he feels.


Stolen shamelessly from Angel.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Road Work

Being a parole officer in rural Louisiana back in the early '80s had its challenges.  Generally, the radio system sucked, so we cobbled on to the statewide network that covered the state, but even the old Motorola 39.5 Mhz system couldn't reach everywhere.  Many times we were out of radio range from anything, so we relied on our wits and our humor to keep us safe.  There were no cell phones.

I recall one parolee who live way out near The Lake.  Hilly country, he had wedged a new (used) 14 X 70 mobile home into a pine thicket and called it home.  The only problem was, once he got the trailer leveled, the main entrance door was about eight feet above ground level, while the other end of the trailer was stuck in the side of the hill.

So, doing what he had to do. He cobbled together a stairs and small porch out of whatever lumber he could find.  Custom made, to fit his trailer.  It was rickety, tall, not well engineered, but it suited him.  He could get in and out of the trailer.

This fellow had gone to the pen over a simple burglary charge, served one year of three and came out on parole.  His family were pulp-wooders.  Folks who cut short pulpwood and sold it to the local paper mills.  On a good day, a fellow with a chain saw and a strong back could make a hundred dollars.  It was a living. And, he was a big ol' boy.  About 6'4", 260 lbs, and all muscle.

We had to see our parolees in the field, which meant NOT IN THE OFFICE, and we had to make home visits.  The best time to see a pulpwood-hauler is when it's raining.  So, one morning after an all-night soaking rain, I drove out to The Lake to see this fellow.  As I drove up his gravel drive into the pine thicket and entered the clearing where he had wedged the trailer, I noticed two things immediately.  First, his truck was there, which meant he was there.  And second, his porch was missing.  Gone, Vanished.

I figured it had collapsed, and I wondered briefly how we were going to have our little chat, but I grabbed a stick and tapped lightly on the front door, pondering how he was going to get down to ground level so he could initial the supervision report.  I heard his footfalls come, thump, thump, thump down the length of the trailer, and a realization struck me, so I took a couple of steps to the side, out of the way of the front door.

The door opened, and one booted foot came out, and he took one step to the ground.  "AAAAAHHH!" Thump!  The sound when he hit the ground was like a bag of wet Portland cement being dropped.

He looked up at me in amazement.  "What the hell happened to my porch?"

I asked him if he was all right?

"Yeah, I'm okay" He looked around wide-eyed and confused. "The porch was here last night when I came in!"  He looked at me again, confused. "Are you sure you haven't seen it?"

I shrugged my shoulders.  "Nope.  It wasn't here when I drove up."  I was trying to suppress laughter.  Keeping a straight face.

He looked around again in amazement.  "Some sonofabitch has stolen my porch!  While I was asleep, some sonofabitch slipped in here and stole my porch."

I handed him a supervision report.  "Here, sign this."

He signed the report, then handed it back to me.  Looked up at his open front door.  "How the hell am I going to get back into my trailer.  The back door is locked, and the keys are up there!" He pointed at the open door.

I offered to drive him to his parent's place so he could borrow a ladder.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Iowa Caucuses

The Iowa caucus is over and the winners have been announced.   From my perspective, it's hard to get much knowledge from them, and certainly not a clear winner.  So, let's look at how it shook out.

Republican
Cruz - 27.7%
Trump - 24.3%
Rubio - 23.1%
The rest of the field split the remaining votes, with none of them garnering over 10%.
Those results are interesting because the top three fairly closely split the vote.  It should give some o the folks in the undercard enough information to suspend their campaigns, but for the top three, it may be a long slog to the convention.

Democrat
Clinton - 49.9%
Sanders - 49.6%
O'Malley - 0.6%

This is interesting.  The Democrats have just about evenly split between a lying, cheating, power-hungry, unethical criminal and an avowed socialist.  Pore ol' O'Malley simply couldn't get any traction.  I understand that he's dropping out of the race.

Next week, we look to New Hampshire, then after that the Super Tuesday elections on March 1st.  Later that week, on Saturday, five other states choose.  By that time, this race should be shaping up nicely.

But the opening round is over, and it's left us with more questions than answers.

Demotivator

Tried my hand at making a demotivator poster.


Not bad, for a first time out.  I think I might have some fun with this thing.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Lean

In the previous post, Old NFO makes a comment that he claims is a nitpick, but I'm not sure.
The only thing that would worry me is that left hand being out ahead of the muzzle... That's a nitpick, I know.
That's a good point, and I'll have to ponder that.  It's part and parcel of the game, ans we see a lot of shooters pushing that off-side hand out in front of them as a counterweight.  Our game is a game of milliseconds and tiny angles.  When you start doing the math, it's amazing that we hit the target as often as we do.  We have rules on holster angles, but nothing that tells us how to stand, so lots of folks have experimented and lean backwards a bit to increase the angle of the holster in relationship to the target.

For example, this little cartoon shows a very familiar sight.


And there's that off-side hand acting as a counter weight.

Here's another photo of two very good shooters (and very good friends) going head to head last summer at the Southern Territorials.  You'll notice the lean.


Some of the guys lean back so far that it looks like they're doing the limbo.  Everybody has to find their own style and their own comfort zone.  It's true that our hand is out in front of the muzzle, but I don't believe anyone has brought that up as a safety issue.  I do the same thing, I get that hand out front as a counterweight so that I can get just a degree or two more angle on that holster.

I'll have to ponder this some more.

It Begins

Our great experiment in self-government kicks off again tonight, like it does every four years, with Iowa starting to thin the herd.

PawPaw is probably going to sleep through it.  Nothing I can do will change the outcome, and because Iowa is a caucus state, the weather will probably play a bigger role than the individual candidates.

I'm sure that there will be plenty of prognostication in the morning, which is also Groundhog Day.  I'm sure there is some irony there that I'm missing, but I think it's funny.