Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Turn around, stupid

Just watching MSNBC, Scarborough Country, to a clip from Canal Street, New Orleans. This reporter chick is telling horror stories, and complaining that she hasn't seen any police officers since being on Canal Street this evening. During the filming, and listening to her moan about a lack of police officers, we see three different police cars pass behind her at three different times. All she needs to do is turn around, or better yet, take three steps backwards and get run over.

Wadda Maroon.


I was surfing over at Alphecca, and he sent me over to this website. What a riot.

I can't tell if this chick is writing a parody site, if she is just clueless, or truly in the depths of denial. Of course, all the talking points of the dismal left come screaming through. I left a comment on her site, telling her that if she were ever in Louisiana, I would take her shooting, and please, to list me on her blacklist because I would consider it a distinct honor. Her reply is:
PawPaw: I can see that you are a gun nut and that your site is intended to spread lies and hate. You even talk about the recent hurricane without mentioning Bush's direct role in the hurricane through his active promotion of global warming. But there is nothing on your site that is derogatory about me. Without that I'm sorry to say that you just don't make the cut (yet).
She's right. I am a gun nut. But lies and hate? Someone tell me where I have spread lies or hate. I link everything. Then we get to Global Warming and Bush's direct role in the same sentence with Hurricane Katrina.

Hey, sweetie. Time to get a clue. Bush has been on vacation since Katrina became a threat. He probably didn't even turn on the news till someone told him there was a problem. And global warming doesn't cause hurricanes. A recent article in the New York Times explains it.
Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.
But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.
But, rather than confuse you, I'll just send you to the historical record that shows that earth has been warming since the last ice age. Six thousand years ago, it was 15 degrees cooler on average than it is now. The history of man is basically a warm spell.

Then, we find this direct quote on the purpose of gummint:
First off, if government isn't going to solve people's problems, why bother having it. Our forefathers created this country so that the government could provide for its citizens including safety, welfare, healthcare, etc., all in a non-discriminatory manner.
Oh, My Gawd! Sweetie, you really need to take a civics class. Just Googling Preamble to the Consitution would tell you what the government is supposed to provide: a common defense. Here is the whole preamble, for your general edification.
We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
There now, you see what the Government is supposed to provide? The rest of it is up to us, because adults are supposed to be able to take care of themselves. We don't need the government to provide for us.

As a matter of fact, our forefathers created this country to get the king and his bureaucrats off our backs. Read the Declaration of Independence all the way through. The founding fathers talk about why we need to be seperate and independent from Great Britian. You can find it here. Oh, and as for .... what were your words?.... "non-discriminatory manner"... Great Bejus on a Shingle, woman! Are you an idiot, or do you just play one on your blog? The Founding Fathers considered slavery an acceptable institution, and women were not allowed to vote. I think we have come a long way since then, but the purpose of government is still only to provide a common defense.

It is moonbats like you who give liberals a bad name.

The invitation still stands, though. Any time you find yourself in Louisiana, let me know and I'll take you shooting. We'll have a short civics class, too, then I'll take you to a honk-tonk and teach you to two-step. It'll be a blast.

UPDATE: After reading more of this site, I am convinced it is a parody site, designed to highlight the weirdness of the Moonbat Party. Probably written by one of Karl Rove's minions, or perhaps as a group blog to make Karl laugh over breakfast. That Jesse Jackson for President post is a hoot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

In the aftermath.

Somebody has got to say it, and I guess I will. I hope you all don't take this wrong. What happened to New Orleans and the surrounding areas is a tragedy of the first magnitude. My heart goes out for them. Lives lost, billions of dollars in damage, and living souls are still at risk in the city. I am humbled at the honor and dignity the people mustered during this, their most troubled hour. They proved that even in the direst of times, the human condition is resilient and capable of shining even during the darkest night.

But, the lesson is here; that the worst hasn't happened yet, and will happen again. It may not happen in my lifetime, but it may happen next month, or next year. What New Orleans is going through was predictable. Lots of folks predicted it.

I talked about it this past June, in this post: The pertinent quote is here.
Here's the scenario: A big hurricane hits the coast of Louisiana somewhere near the mouth of the Mississippi and comes up the river, bringing a storm surge and torrential rains. Or, it comes in near Lake Borgne, sending a storm surge into Ponchartrain. Either way, New Orleans is screwed.
Here is a webpage that FEMA has had up for awhile, and it is still available. Click on the link and look at the pictures that FEMA predicted. This ain't rocket science folks.

New Orleans is below sea level, surrounded by water. When the levees break, the city floods. Period. End of story. You can't stop water from flowing downhill. This was a near miss. One of these days, the big one is coming.

Certainly, other parts of the United States have areas that are prone to disaster, and I am not one of those who quakes at every disaster prediction. California has earthquakes, the Pacific rim has volcanos. Almost every place else has tornados. The east coast and Gulf coast are prone to hurricanes. When it is your time to go, Providence will find a way to collect you. For all I know, I might get run over by a garbage truck tomorrow morning. That isn't the point. Everyone dies.

So, to everyone reading this little missive, pray for the survivors, pray for the lost and the dead and the homeless. Give generously. But ask yourself, do you want to live in a city that will certainly flood again? Do you want to invest time, money and energy in a place that will take it all away simply because water flows downhill?

Monday, August 29, 2005


Well, Katrina has been downgraded, and the Big Easy dodged the bullet. New Orleans still exists, but they'll be digging out for a while. This was destructive, not catastrophic. Two things conspired to save the Garlic City, both almost Providential. The storm lost intensity as it came ashore and it zigged to the east at the same time.

Some pundits will say that this storm was overhyped. Don't you believe it. This storm was a killer, and New Orleans was sheltered by the Hand of God. The Big One is coming, and New Orleans needs to learn from this lesson. If not for the unexplainable northerly turn, it could have been much, much worse. Many of us expect that when the big one decides to strike, New Orleans will become a bay on Lake Ponchartrain with some really interesting fishing structure. The leadership down there needs to make some changes that will insure the life of the city into the next millenium. Thinking that New Orleans is invulnerable is not an option.

My sister is trying to find information on the North Shore. Her house is there in St. Tammany parish and all the phone lines are down. She is safely ashore at Momma's place, but she is concerned about her home and her property. We'll see if her place survived, but not tonight.

Thanks for everyone who looked in for us, prayed for us, was concerned for us. Now it is time to start cleaning up, digging out, and getting on with whatever is next. Regular blogging will resume here tomorrow, with more on grandkids, politics, and gun stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Here it comes

The first rain band just passed over my house. I'm up in central Louisiana about 180 miles from New Orleans. No danger of getting any damaging wind, because I am on the west of every predicted storm track. The folks east of me are going to catch hell, but not like New Orleans and the folks along the coast.

But, it is raining outside, 180 miles from New Orleans. Just to give you an indication how big this thing is.

Pray for the folks left in New Orleans. All the homeless and disabled, and all the public safety personnel. They are in for a rough ride. Pray for them tonight.


According to my buddy over at YRHT, he is gone from the New Orleans area. I talked to my sister in Mandeville, LA this morning, and she is safe at Momma's place in Deville.

Katrina is the most dangerous storm I have seen in a few years. For those of you not familiar with Hurricane strength, Katrina is currently showing sustained winds of 186 mph, and is classified as a Cat-5 hurricane.

For some perspective, go here and look at the tornado classification chart. Tornados are typically a local weather event, affecting linear geography that is maybe a couple of miles long and maybe 400 yards wide. Most of us have seen the devastation that a tornado can do.

Now, imagine an F3 tornado that is 200 miles wide. That is a bad storm. Katrina might surpass that and grow gusty winds over 206 mph, which would put her in the F4 tornado classification. Add a huge storm surge and you get some kind of idea of the energy that is about to be unleashed on the Gulf Coast.

Katrina is a vicious bitch, and she has fire in her eyes.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Remember that Michael Yon post I talked about? The more I thought about it, the more something bothered me, so I went back to look at it again. Here is the pertinent part:
Prosser shot the man at least four times with his M4 rifle. But the American M4 rifles are weak--after Prosser landed three nearly point blank shots in the man’s abdomen, splattering a testicle with a fourth, the man just staggered back, regrouped and tried to shoot Prosser.
The man had been shot four times with our battle rifle (US M16A4) and continued the fight.

Another example here with another terrorist:
Mark Bieger was overwatching from another Stryker and shot the man with the first two bullets, dropping him to his knees.
Chris Espindola also shot the man. Amazingly, despite being hit by four M4’s from multiple directions, the man still lived a few minutes.
Guys ask me why I use the .30-30 Win as my SHTF rifle. Because the 5.56mm cartridge used in the M16/AR15 platform is not a battle-worthy cartridge. Anytime you have a person sustaining multiple center mass hits and standing up, that battle cartridge isn't worthy of consideration.

It is one thing to shoot someone in the legs, or arms, and have them continue the fight. It is something else entirely to get good abdomen shots and have them stand back up. I've said before on this blog, that I don't shoot to kill. I shoot to stop. If I wound the guy, I'll get him medical attention. Our troops in Iraq will do the same thing, but they need a better battle cartridge.

The M16/AR15 platform is an okay platform. We've had 40 years to get it right. It is light, maneuverable, and fairly accurate. We could easily and inexpensively upgrade it to use a better cartridge. Someone in a position of authority needs to made the decision and make it happen.

I won't carry one in the current configuration.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More from Mosul

If you don't read Michael Yon, you should. He's embedded with American soldiers in the fight in Iraq and has compelling testimony about what we are doing over there.

Far removed from the high-level decisions that are made about how to fight this war, Yon goes inside a US Army battalion and writes about the warriors that inhabit it. He talks about the frustrations and the successes. He carries a camera where other men carry rifles. His latest posting is a strong, decisive look at a small-unit firefight.

You don't have to look for it on the net, you can just click here.

Textbook example

My daughter went to the college bookstore to buy books. This isn't her first rodeo, but she came to Dad for help. We shopped and got her the books she needed, and while I am always ready to help my children with education expenses, I am amazed at the difference in the price of fiction, non-fiction, and text books.

Don't tell me about buying used. You can buy used at, too. We're talking about new books here.

So, let me get this straight. You can buy the Editors Picks of fiction and non-fiction books for about $25.00, new and hardcover, but new textbooks cost over $100.00? Someone is ripping off college students, and frankly, I don't know why caring professors everywhere don't put a halt to it. Any textbook printed should cost no more than the latest and greatest on the New York Times bestseller list.

I mean, it's a book, right? Has pages and covers and words in the middle? Then why should a chemistry text cost four times what the #1 bestseller costs?

Matter of fact, no state sponsored college or university should be able to buy any book that costs more than the average price of the books on the New York Times fiction list.

I think I am going to write my legislator.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Daily Cough

For reasons that even I can't understand, I went over to the Daily Kos, and found this little snippet:
Two more weeks, folks, before we take them on, head on.

No calls for a truce will be brooked. The DLC has used those pauses in the past to bide their time between offensives. Appeals to party unity will fall on deaf ears (it's summer of a non-election year, the perfect time to sort out internal disagreements).

We need to make the DLC radioactive. And we will. With everyone's help, we really can. Stay tuned.
It seems that the Democratic Leadership Council has pissed in someone's Wheaties. Say what you will about Kos, he is a fairly influential blogger, and a good weathervane of the moonbat branch of the Democrats.

It would appear that there is some divisiveness brewing. I hope the Dems stay strong and that the centrists prevail. I like the two-party system because I think that it keeps everyone honest. There are enough swing voters out here in the hinterlands that both parties better pay attention to us.

GWB's inattention to small, trifling domestic issues have pretty much negated the groundswell of support the last election gave him. Frankly, I am torqued at him about illegal immigration and his stand on 2A issues. I would love to see honest tax reform, more Border Patrol funding, and a repeal of No Child Left Behind.

The Dems need the Republicans (hereinafter referred to as the Stupid Party) to keep each other honest. And vice-versa. I went to the Stupid Party after the Dems left me behind on failed social policy. I don't regret the move, but I don't feel like the Dems represent me in their current configuration. Frankly, I question the sanity of anyone who would look on Hillary Clinton as a party savior. I think she is the greatest threat to National Security since her husband left office. She scares the living hell out of me. I digress.

It seems that the Dems are in for a nutroll in the next couple of weeks. It oughta be interesting.

Great News

From Centcom, we learn that the Iraqi Army has established an NCO Academy.
This week, the 1st Iraqi Army Brigade succeeded at implementing the first Non-commissioned Officer Academy in the country. Iraqi soldiers from the most recent class were the last group to be instructed by the U.S. Soldiers who had developed the training. During Saddam Hussein’s regime, an NCO corps did not exist in the Iraqi Army. The class will continue after the U.S. instructors leave, and will be taught by NCOs from the 1st IA who assisted earlier courses.
This is great news as you can't have a professional army without a professional NCO corps, and having an NCO Academy is the best bet they have at getting good NCOs.

No military echelon is complete without trained, dedicated, professional Non-Commissioned Officers. Sergeants (and Petty Officers) form the backbone of any fighting unit. Their expertise is invaluable, their experience is essential.

Hat tip to the Skipper.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I see at Reuters, they are talking about re-introducing lions, cheetahs and elephants back into North America. Cool!
Scientists are proposing reintroducing large mammals such as elephants, lions, cheetahs and wild horses to North America to replace populations lost 13,000 years ago.
I don't think we need any more wild horses, though. We've got plenty around here. The Army training area at Peason Ridge is awash with equines. I understand that out West, the horses and burros are a pain in the wazoo. Let those scientists keep their horses.

I think elephants would do well in the semi-tropic environment of Louisiana. Lions and cheetah might thrive too. The scientists might have to think about what that would mean to the native species, like man.

There is a general provision in Louisiana law that if someone is threatened by a wild animal, that person generally can legally shoot the animal in defense of human life.

An elephant in Momma's okra would qualify, I guess, and a lion in the chickens certainly would qualify.

I need a bigger rifle. Something with H&H behind the caliber designation.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Velocity Measurement

Recently, a reader from the Carnival of Cordite asked what velocities we can expect from factory ammunition. For years we have expected that the velocities from factory ammunition will vary somewhat from the velocity we actually measure, for a variety of good reasons. Barrels vary. The factory usually takes their readings from specially designed pressure barrels. Temperatures vary widely during the shooting year, and temperature affects pressure. Pressure affects velocity. We don't often find the same velocity in the field that we find in the ballistics tables, although the companies have been trying lately to get closer to the velocity that the shooter will see in the field.

Still, the question was a good question, so I loaded a couple of rifles into my pickup truck and went out to find the answers. I went over to Wal-Mart on my way to the woods and picked up some ammo. I tried to get a slow round and a fast round, so I purchased the Remington Express 100 grain Pointed Soft Point Core-Lokt in .243 Winchester and the Remington Express 170 grain Soft Point Core-Lokt in .30-30 Winchester. These two types represent standard ammo that can be found virtually anywhere in the United States. The Remington ballistic tables are here.

The rifles were also standard rifles that anyone might find on the hunting grounds. The .30-30 was the same Winchester 94 that I wrote about earlier. It has a 20 inch standard barrel and peep sights. The .243 is a Model 10FXP from Savage Arms. This rifle is brand new, having recently been purchased at Wal-Mart. It is last years model and came with a scope. It has the synthetic stock and looks a lot like this rifle.

I went to my Dad's place in the woods and set up the chronograph. I enlisted my brother as a range assistant and we began shooting. The results were suprising.

In the above picture, David is squeezing the trigger on the Savage. This was one of the first six rounds fired through this rifle, and I expect that velocities will increase as the barrel becomes broken in. Note that he is using a position we call pickup prone and is making good use of the Kelly-Tappin machine rest that stays behind the seat of my truck at all times.

In this photograph, we see David from another angle. Here we can see the chrongraph on a tripod and a target downrange at the base of a pine tree. Dad wants to kill this pine tree, evidently, as he always puts the target holder at the base of that tree. For the record, we were shooting in partly cloudy conditions with little or no wind. The ambient temperature as measured by a circa 1964 Coca-Cola thermometer was 96 degrees in the shade. The relative humidity approached 100 percent. It was a standard Louisiana summer afternoon.

The results? I was surprised. The Remington ballistic tables list the .243 Win, 100 gr PSPCL as having a muzzle velocity of 2960 fps. My measurements with my rifle and my Chrony showed an average velocity of 2997 fps.

We switched to the Winchester 94 and the .30-30 ammo. The Remington ballistic tables show this ammunition ( Rem Express .30-30 Win, 170 SPCL) as having a muzzle velocity of 2200 fps. My rifle and my Chrony showed an average velocity of 2159 fps.

So, it looks like my measurements are real close to the Remington factory tables. They are to be commended for putting together such a table. I am considerably surprised at how close the velocities were.

I don't see my brother but once a year, or so. He lives in Vermont and when he comes down to visit Momma, we only get to spend a couple of hours together, so it was good to spend some time shooting with him.

Now, I have to get some powder and bullets and start working up reloads for the Savage. I expect that this box of factory ammo is all I am ever going to put through it.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Able Danger

It seems that the blogosphere is up in arms about the Able Danger working group and what they knew or didn't know prior to September 11, 2001. The link above will take you to Google, and you can pick your medicine and take your poison. I don't have an opinion on Able Danger.

That working group found some things and learned some things, but in the light of pre-9/11, not much was done about it, because the idea that a terrorist group would strike the United States was insane. Nobody believed it would happen. Nobody.

The United States experienced a sea-change on September 11th, and what was previously insane was now reality. I know that I experienced a change of life that September morning, and I suspect that most of us were shocked, confused, and confounded that day. There were a lot of tears. I know that I cried watching the carnage unfold, replaced by a pure white hot anger. That anger has subsided into a grim determination to protect those I am responsible for. Threats that I dismissed on September 10th are now evaluated for concerns that arose on September 11th.

I am convinced that the Intelligence Community did the best they could with the information available to them on the days prior to 9/11. They were operating in a different world, with different expectations than the world we all found on the morning of September 11th. I cannot fault them for a change of perspective.

I don't fault George Bush for continuing to read to a group of children as the events unfolded. He couldn't stop what was happening, but he could continue to comfort a group of children. I don't fault John Kerry for feeling unsettled and confused that morning. We all felt that way.

September 10th, we were on top of the world and at the height of our prosperity. September 11th, we were at war. Times changed, and that morning, time stopped for just an instant while we all took a breath and began life in a world we hadn't envisioned.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ten Quarters

Yesterday I was asked to sign a petition being circulated in support of Rodney Alexander and Governor Blanco. It seems Rep Alexander wants to submit a bill requiring that everyone who meets eligiblity requiremants will be able to draw from the Social Security retirement system.

I'm a retiree from a state system, and one of these days I will be a retiree from a parish system. For many of those years, I paid social security taxes while working second jobs. Some of those second jobs were pretty lucrative, netting almost the same money as my primary job. Raising kids is expensive.

Many government employees today pay into the Social Security system, but because they get a retirement check from a governmental agency, their Social Security retirement benefit is reduced by some formula amount. Heretofore, I had not expected to draw much in the way of Social Security benefits, because I fit into the category of having a state government retirement. Que Sera.

Still, I paid a bunch of Social Security taxes over the years, and I should be able to draw an amount comensurate with what I paid in. Under the current system, I am penalized becasue I have planned for retirement, in that I will be eventually drawing from a state system and a parish system. The Social Security I paid will be lost, and that just ain't fair.

I support the intiative of Rep Alexander and Governor Blanco in this legislation. I hope it moves forward.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Traffic Circles

This fellow talks about traffic cirles. Many drivers today have never seen a traffic circle, but there is still a big one in Alexandria, LA, on MacArthur Drive, the main drag through town. You can see a picture of it here.

It sucks. It sucks big. It was built back during the Louisiana Maneuvers, which was our run-up to WWII, to move troops around Alexandria. The Army, in all their wisdom, put in a traffic circle, and it's still here, confounding traffic to this day. There used to be two of them, the South circle and the North circle, but the North circle got swallowed up in Interstate Highway construction. The North Circle was a horrible place, about forty yards across, and two major highways emptied into it. The State Police put a troop headquarters next to it so they could walk to the wrecks. Two wrecker companies put up shops beside it, too. It was that bad.

When I was a kid, we used to get our pellet guns and ride bicycles to the South Circle, park in the median and hunt squirrels there. It is big enough for that. The diameter of the South Circle is a couple of hundred yards across, and the center of it is grown up in timber. One day we were hunting in there and a city policeman came and ran us off. It seems that the City of Alexandria had annexed the circle, and we couldn't hunt there anymore.

I learned to drive on the South Circle. It was the first road I had ever seen with banked curves, and yeah, you could get some pretty good velocity going around that circle, if the traffic was light and you had a belly full of beer. (Don't ask me how I know that.)

As a late teenager, a bunch of us would meet there late on a Saturday evening, after we had dropped our dates off, and hold an impromptu NASCAR race around the circle. Back then, there wasn't enough traffic to bother with, and we never got into trouble. We had to pull vehicles out of the ditch a couple of times, but someone was always there with a pickup truck and a chain.

One night, we talked a state trooper into clocking us on a straightaway. He agreed, and we had an opportunity to see what our cars would really do around that traffic circle. If we got caught doing that today, the whole bunch of us would be in jail. Including the trooper.

It was a different world back then.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Another first!

Well, getting older is certainly interesting. Along with the slowly expanding waistline, this old world keeps on giving me opportunities to do things I ain't never done before.

Today, for example, I put $50.00 worth of gasoline in a pickup truck. All in the tank. It isn't full, but damned near. I put over two dollars worth of gas in my damned lawnmower. The riding mower. I was feeling expansive and frivilous, so I went ahead and filled the little push mower and the weed-eater. Probably spent another buck on those two items.

And I found a fire-ant bed while I was mowing, so I have to go out and kill those little sumbitches. I hate fire-ants, but we've covered that topic.

Ain't life grand?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

That gas thing.

In the previous post, I ranted a little bit about gas prices and things like supply and demand and why gasoline costs what it does today.

The cost of gasoline makes me proud that I am an American. Follow my logic here for a minute:

Auto makers have just about squeezed all the easy mileage out of the current crop of cars. Using current technology, they have done just about all they can do to get more miles out of a gallon of gas, using the training they have at their disposal. We are probably never going to see 200 mpg cars in our lifetime. Get over it, it ain't gonna happen. Fuel-cell technology? Yeah, maybe ten years down the road.

But, the US is a nation of tinkerers. With fuel prices like they are now, some guy somewhere is in his shop, tinkering with an engine. He is likely looking at valve angle, and thrust ratios and alternative fuels. And he doesn't have anything to lose. He is working on his secret project from one paycheck to another, fueled by the American dream.

Two guys in a bicycle shop worked for a bunch of years to invent powered flight, not so long ago on the timeline of human endeavor. Some other guys working in garages launched the automotive age. Yet some other guys working in garages brought about the revolution in personal computing that we witnessed during the latter years of the last century. Guys like the Wright brothers, and Gates and Job, launched entire empires out of little shops, and people thought they were crazy. Maybe they were.

Maybe the story of Thomas Edison and his light bulb will demonstrate what I mean, but I think the next big breakthough will be from more humble beginnings, like the Wright Brothers

Somewhere right now, some guy somewhere is working on something so revolutionary that the trained engineers have already looked at it and decided it won't work. All their training and experience tells them that the technology can't succeed. The engineers are wrong.

I know this about that. One of the most common compounds on the earth today is water. It is made from hydrogen and oxygen, two of the most flammable substances found in nature. We've got tons of it. Wanna make hydrogen? Run it through a wet-cell battery. You'll get hydrogen. It burns.

Some guy somewhere is in his shop right now, working on it. The engineers are behind the curve, because this guy is thinking outside the box. Way outside the box, but in a few more years, he'll have an engine that runs on tap water. I am as confident about this as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Right now, everyone thinks he is crazy. Tell that to the Wright Brothers, the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs. Tell that to Mr. Honda and Mr. Edison and Mr. Bell.

It's gonna happen. I bet it is going to happen in the United States.

Great Googly-Moogly!

I paid $2.50 (Yeah, that is American Dollars) for a single gallon of gasoline today. I remember back in the early '70's when gas went from 21 cents to 35 cents. I almost had a stroke at the pump. I was coming home on leave from the Army, and was driving from Fort Knox, KY, to Alexandria, LA, and like to have crapped myself when I saw what they wanted for gas on the interstate. 35 cents? You gotta be shitting me? I can still get it for a quarter at Knox!

Now, at the pump down the street, the same gas costs ten times as much. Jeez! Now I know why they call it a pump. Someone's getting pumped, all right.

Didn't we just take over an oilfield in Iraq? Isn't there oil in Alaska somewhere? How about off the coast of Florida? Or California? We need to be pumping that shit out of the ground. Damn a pipline! Dig a ditch to the refinery and run that shit right down the ditch.

I read somewhere that the problem is the lack of refinery capacity. Well Dammit, build more refineries! The environmentalists complain? Well, screw them! Gas is too damned expensive. We've got to get our priorities straight and when I'm paying over $2.00 at the pump, we gotta get the supply of gasoline back where it belongs.

Hell, it's getting so I can't afford to pour gasoline on a fire ant bed. You want to kill fire-ants? Pour a half gallon of gasoline on a fire-ant mound, then drop a match on it. Yeah, it leaves a black spot in the grass, but the fire ants are made to feel decidedly unwelcome.

Bigger tankers, more refineries, and gas back to 35 cents a gallon. Pay the tanker skippers a little less, and let them drive drunk. The cute tiny baby seals can't help me get the price of gas down, then they're just in the way.

I oughta run for office.

Range Day

Today was a range day. A good range day. Of course, to a gunny, they all are good days, but some are better than others.

The big boss of my agency likes hiring retirees from other agencies. He hires a goodly number of young'uns, and we have home-grown some magnificent cops, but the boss sees the wisdom of hiring guys who have already served twenty or more years as police officers who can do jobs that the young officers don't want to do, or don't have the experience to do.

Last Friday we had to qualify with the pistol, and the range was full most of the day. We went throught the drill, but had to focus on moving people through the course, and didn't get to have a lot of fun. At the end of the day, the range officer told us that he would hold a shotgun line and a patrol rifle line on Monday afternoon, for those of us who wanted to qualify with those weapons. So, Monday afternoon, eight of us showed up to qualify with the shotgun and rifle. Of the eight, three were retired troopers, three were retired soldiers, and two had retired from other agencies. In short, we had an old fart's range day.

I've worked with all these guys over the years. Good officers all, and we got together on the range and started harassing each other. The firearms instructor scheduled to run the range was a veritable rookie, with less than five years as a cop, and this year is his first as an instructor. Luckily, he has a sense of humor, and knows when to run his range, and when to shut the hell up.

For example, on one particular course of fire, the instructor got a little flustered and gave us the wrong firing order. To a man, we shouted, "No, goddam it, Look at your sheet." We know what we are doing on a firing line, having been there since before this rookie was in grade school.

And yes, we all qualified with everything we picked up. So, I report to my lone assignment tomorrow, thoroughly qualified on the weapons I normally have within arms reach. The best part of the day was spending it while laughing with friends. Guys I don't see but maybe four or five times a year. It was a good day.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


No, that's not a racial slur, I am talking about the bird. The fowl.

Rob talks about chickens over at his place, and what he says is correct. Momma raised chickens for awhile and they are the filthiest, nastiest critters that God let exist in His world. They'll eat anything, including each other. But this ain't about chickens, this is about guineas.

Guineas do well as free-range birds. They'll pretty much stay around your place if you provide water. Don't worry about food, they'll find it. One thing about a guinea is that they love to eat ticks and redbugs (chiggers) and all manner of crawly bugs. If you have guineas roaming your place, you won't have ticks, or redbugs in your yard. I understand they will take care of termites, too, but I have no experience with that.

Another thing about guineas is that they are loud, noisy, attention-getting critters. They make great watchdogs. They roost in trees and if someone moves in the yard at night, the guineas will wake and all hell will break loose. If you have guineas in your yard, you don't have to worry about someone skulking around in the dark. The guineas will let you know. Of course, if you have guineas, you don't want to try to sneak into your own house at 3:00 a.m. after a night of drinking and carousing. The guineas will wake your wife.

Having guineas is a double-edged sword.

Oh, and guineas have predominately dark meat. They make a great gumbo.

Sunday afternoon

Funny how things work through my brain. I had a sure-fire subject for blogging a couple of days ago but couldn't get to a computer. This afternoon, I have an hour or so to play here, and I can't for the life of me remember what I wanted to blog about.

Not that it matters much, because this blog is something I do on the spur of the moment. If it is serious writing, I say it over at The Frugal Outdoorsman. I've been writing a long time, in the tradition of Gene Hill. Mainly first-person essays that look on the simple things in life, things like campfires and woodsmoke, mortality and global warming. Transient stuff that requires thought. Some of my better stuff can be found in the Woodsmoke section of The Frugal Outdoorsman. Go over there and give it a look.

Blogging is different from e-zine writing. Different from newspaper writing, different from novel writing. Now, I've done all four. They each have similarities, but blogging and newspaper topics are extremely perishable. When a story is breaking, better to have three lines today rather than 50 lines tomorrow. Both blogging and newspaper writing are easily correctable, and the better bloggers post corrections as soon as they are convinced they are in error. The big difference, as I see it, is that I have certain pre-dispositions toward various stories, and this is my blog. I make the rules, I live with the results. Newspapers have to answer to their public, and many of them are Offical Journals of various governing bodies. They have to bow, at least symbolicly, to fairness and balance in the way they cover a particular issue. I don't. I try to be fair, but I have no compelling ethical standard that keeps me honest. I am a blogger. The only ethics in these writings are the ones I bring with me.

Click over to Woodsmoke, and read some of my stuff. Then come back and tell me what you think.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Hog Lard

Right now, I am the #1 Google search for the term Hog Lard.

Geeze, what a way to be Number One at something. An obscure reference to animal fat and bullet lube, and I'm Number One.

What are people cooking with these days? Does no one cut hog lard into flour to make biscuits? Do they write about it and post the recipe?

Come on, folks. Now, I have cemented my #1 status with three references to Hog Lard.

Shootist or Shottist

I used the word shotist in a preceding entry, and Junior called me on it as a typo. He claims the proper word is Shootist.

I took the spelling of that word from Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, and in the translation I mispelled it. The proper spelling on the eastern side of the Atlantic is Shottist. My cite is here, from Coopers Commentaries. You have to scroll down to find it, but the applicable paragraph is here.
I have been somewhat amused at the spate of indignation I have aroused by insisting that the proper word is "shottist" rather than "shootist". Several people have leafed through a series of dictionaries to tell me that I am wrong about this. Apparently it is a matter of English-English versus American-English. I have been presented on two occasions to audiences in Great Britain and in South Africa as a shottist, and I assume that a proper English language dictionary would support me in this. Our British cousins spell color with a "u" and refer to a fender as a wing. Other examples will occur to you. Personally I prefer shottist, but it appears that I cannot insist upon that.
Either way, I am wrong to spell it shotist.

I was always taught that a shootist was a person who made his living firing guns, as in a gunfighter of Old West lore. Conversely, I was taught that a Shottist is a person who enjoys firing and caring for weapons, primarily as a hobbyist. It may be that one is a current usage and one is an archaic variety, but I will defer to my betters. Jeff Cooper is certainly in that category, as is Junior, who is a shootist of rare experience.

I would personally prefer to be known as a shottist, but if the other spelling is customary on this side of the Atlantic, I will bow to it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Kelly-Tappin Machine Rest

Busier than a cat in a sandbox, I went back to work today after my Summer Sabattical, and my second son is here spending a vacation, and we are still babysitting grandsons during the last of their summer vacation. Next week, everyone goes back to school and life returns to normal. Maybe blogging will be more normal too, although there is really nothing normal about blogging.

Yesterday, second son and I went to shoot some reloads I made for him for his 7mm Rem Mag. It is an accurate load, averaging a half minute, and we were pleased with it. We just didn't know how fast it was going.

We took a target stand to my Dad's place. He and Mom live way the hell out in the country on a retirement place, and he has plenty of room to let the big dogs roam. We set up the target stand, and the chronograph, and got out the Kelly-Tappin Machine rest.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Kelly-Tappin rest, it is a highly specialized piece of equipment that was developed by Paco Kelly and John Tappin, of Leverguns fame. It is not currently being made by any major manufacturer, so the discriminating shotist has to construct it himself, if he wants one. I consider the Tappin-Kelly rest to be absolutely crucial to wringing the utmost accuracy out of any available rifle or pistol.

To make a Kelly-Tappin rest, the shooter must find a suitable piece of discarded carpet and a piece of string. Roll the carpet into a cylinder approximately 18" long and 12" in diameter, then secure it with string. Lay that cylinder on the hood of your pickup truck or shooting car and place the forend of the rifle on the cylinder. Place your elbows on the hood of the truck and you will find that you are in a rock-solid shooting position.

Be especially careful not to shoot a hole in the hood of your vehicle, nor to clip the antennae with a stray bullet. Doing either will affect the performance of your vehicle engine or sound system.

Messrs Kelly and Tappin offered the rest to the shooting public as a public service. As far as I know, it is neither copyrighted nor patented. They prefer to simply be referenced as the originators, and gentlemen of great inventive capacity. Forward all checks to their publishers. I digress.

The reloads did fine, showing the velocity that I hoped we were getting. Something over 3000 fps. I also chrony'd my Sharps reload, and verified my zero on my beater rifle. I got to shoot with my son and my Dad, and that made yesterday something special.

More blogging as time allows.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Stuff I like

July 2004 I found a beater rifle for rough use. It is a Winchester 94, in .30-30 Winchester (.30 WCF) and it was in a used gun rack in a pawn shop I like. The price was right, I picked it up cheap because it looked like hell on the outside.

I wrote the rifle up here, over at my other place.

It became my truck rifle, nestled behind the seat of the pickup, but something was missing. It needed an ammo carrier. I was surfing the web and came upon an outfit called Ace Case. I ordered some of their long soft gun cases and a couple of butt-cuff ammo carriers.

I love the long cases. Ace calls them the Musket Case, M#66, and they are soft, simple and washable. They are perfect for transporting a weapon when you might not want a hard gun case. The price is the best part, as they are 3 for $18.90. I have a half-dozen, and they are great.

The butt cuff was something else. Constructed of elastic, the darned thing would slip forward on the stock of the rifle, evetually becoming lodged under the lever of the rifle. I took it off the stock and dropped it into a drawer with unused holsters. It nagged at me as I would find it occasionally, and my brain worked on a fix.

This morning I was puttering around the shooting bench and found the answer. Voila! I was cutting up an old sweatshirt for rags and took a scrap of fabric from the sweatshirt, sewed it to the butt-cuff on both sides, and placed it between the stock and the butt plate of the rifle, securing it firmly in place. It can't slide forward now.

Here you can see the black butt-cuff from Ace Case, and the scrap of purple sweatshirt. It is held in place with the butt plate, and nine rounds of .30-30 goodness are ready to go. The whole shebang is in an Ace Case behind the seat of my pickup, ready to serve as goblin deterrent or SHTF rifle, whenever it is needed.

Go pay Ace Case a visit. I like their stuff.

Monday, August 08, 2005

This poor schmuck....

Has got some explaining to do. Poor bastard didn't realize his wife had gotten out of the car and left without her. Since Yahoo's links don't last as long as a fart in a windstorm, the money quote is here:
After filling the tank, the husband drove away -- without noticing that his 30-year-old wife had got out of the car to go to the toilet.

The woman, who had no money or documents with her, contacted the police who eventually traced her husband to Milan, some 210 miles north of Pesaro, Ansa said.
How the hell do you explain that?

Hat tip to The Skipper.

Harbor Freight

Rob talks about Home Depot and the tool department.

Home Depot ain't chit.

We recently got a Harbor Freight in town, and the minute I walked in there, my eyes glazed over, my wallet got loose, and my nostrils dilated. There are more tools in there than anyone ever needs. And cheap? Yeah, they're cheap. Some of the tools are crap, but if you know what you are looking for, it is nirvana. Everything from a pack of paintbrushes for $3.00 to a knee-mill for $3500.00. It's all there; air tools, electric tools, hand tools. Compressors and dollys and everything a guy could want.

I wandered in there one day with the grandsons and the eldest turns to me with a look of sheer glee, "PawPaw, there isn't anything in here but tools."

"That's right boy! Stick with Pawpaw and you'll learn something."

Whistle-blowing and Dinosaurs

Oyster, over at YRHT, links to this article that details the travails of Bunnatine Greenhouse. Mrs. Greenhouse is a high-level procurement officer of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and she is upset and confounded about the way the Gummint awards procurement contracts for the troops in Iraq.

The contract process is difficult and nightmarish at times, both confusing and perplexing. Yet, somehow, the soldiers wind up getting the bullets and the beans because leaders at every level make sure the troops are fed and supplied.

This rant isn't about contracting or supplying the troops, it is about whistleblowing, and the right way or wrong way to do that.

Professionals know that decisions are often made above our personal level of authority and our leaders look at the bigger picture and make decisions based on information that we underlings don't have at our immediate disposal. Sometimes those decisions are the correct ones. Sometimes those high-level decisions are flawed. Whatever, it wasn't our decision to make.

In a previous life, I was a government worker of some small status, supervising personnel and equipment in support of state government. I gave my bosses my best advice and watched with amusement as decisions came back down the agency, sometimes totally devoid of understanding of a particular problem. One decision paper I recieved actually ordered us to violate state law to get around a certain problem. I balked at that one and got a review started that changed the procedure before anyone actually went to jail.

There is a way to blow a whistle, and a way not to blow a whistle. Mrs. Greenhouse should be smart enough to know the difference. There comes a time when a difference of opinion with your bosses is a good thing. There also comes a time when a difference of opinion is fatal to a career.

In my personal case, that time came when I could not do what they wanted me to do and maintain a clear conscience. The choice was simple: Retire or be fired. I retired. I could have fought the good fight, giving myself unwanted stress and maybe a heart attack in the process, but it was simpler just to take my retirement and retire into the sunset. As it turns out, that was the right choice. I parlayed that career into another one, made a move, and went forward serving the people I live with. I'm making more money now than I ever made and I am truly doing the job I always wanted to do. The difference is I'm not fighting my bosses anymore. I don't feel like a dinosaur railing at the meteor that will strike me down. As it turns out, I was right and times have changed. The department continues to do the job they are appointed to do and serve the people of this state.

Elected officials are elected to do a job, and they all believe they have a mandate. They all believe their ideas are the best ideas currently on the table. Governments change over time. Career bureaucrats often have trouble transitioning from one government to another, with the various changes of philosophy that accompany those transitions, and Mrs. Greenhouse is stuck in that position.

In every case, you have to make a decision; Do you want to be right, or employed? Mrs. Greenhouse should make up her mind. This government will change, too, given enough time and a fickle electorate. I doubt that Mrs. Greenhouse can hang on long enough to see the change. I wish her all the luck as she makes that decision.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Raining outside, Sunday afternoon is drizzly, mixed with thundershowers. And PawPaw is without adult supervision, as Milady is providing care for the hospitalized.

Supper planning is upon me, and I know that there is the retired carcass of a lemon-pepper baked chicken in the fridge, along with some smoked sausage, some onion and bellpepper. There are spices in the rack and rice in the cabinet. Sounds like Jambalaya for supper.

Jambalaya is easy to make, with as many variations on recipe as there are cooks. I make mine simply, which is how folk food is supposed to be made. What I am going to do is simple.

Pull the meat off the bone of that baked chicken. (about 2 cups)
Cut up a couple of links of smoked sausage.(about 2 cups)
Sautee some onion and bellpepper.(about 2 cups)
Add the meat to the pan and sautee the meat with the onions and peppers
Add some rice, about 2 cups. Add water to cover the rice, then cook it on a low fire till the water is gone.

Yeah, I think I am going to turn this durned computer off and go make a Jambalaya.

Then, find a movie or something on the Tube to watch.

Bon apetit!

Submariners rescued

I watched this story with hope, and that hope has been realized.

They're out, safely. Thank God.

Enemies of the past, even in the Cold War we stood ready to assist mariners in distress. The preservation of life is the first rule of the sea.

All I really know about submarines is what I learn from my step-son when he has been drinking. He served undersea and wore the dolphins. I was a tanker and don't understand what is like to navigate the world's oceans in a steel tube.

When my tank broke down, I could get out and walk. When a submarine breaks down, the crew is potentially in grave danger. I wouldn't want that job.


I watch a lot of the History Channel, and yesterday was the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. In a couple of days, it will be the bombing of Nagasaki.

Just one thought for those who wish us harm: We are the only country ever to use nukes as a war-shot. We've still got a bunch laying around.

Just one thought for the anti-nuke crowd: I hope we never have to use them either, but I like knowing they are available if needed.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Crawfish Fettucini

Milady made a big crawfish fettucini last night. Today was the least one's birthday and we made a big production out of it, and had everyone over and Pawpaw cooked on the pit outside. During the festivities, Milady's work called and yada, yada, yada, to make a long story short, one of the nurses had a death in the family and called in and they are one nurse short, and Milady answered the damned phone, so she has to go to work.

Now, Milady's fettucini is a concoction fit for the Gods, and fit for Pawpaw. Everyone is gone and I am left here alone with the aftermath, and I got feeling a little peckish, so I go look in the refrigerator, thinking to nuke some for supper. Hell-fire and damnation! It ain't there! There was a big ole casserole dish of it left, and I recall seeing her leaving with something in a bag.

Well, hell! Pawpaw has got to scrounge for himself for supper tonite. And I had my mouth all set for crawfish fettucini.

Cool Stuff

This is one of the cool things that the internet is good for. When all else fails and you are bored or down in the dumps, go look at some webcams. (Not those webcams, you nitwit!). These are courtesy of the National Park Service and provide some scenic vistas to calm your shattered nerves. Or to help you plan your next vacation. Go look. Go look now.

This one is a webcam from the Lost Creek Ranch, Moose, Wyoming.

Standard cautions apply. If it is dark outside, you ain't gonna see much. These are active webcams.

Hat tip to SondraK.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sick young-un

The littlest one is over tonight, and he is fighting some kind of sinus infection. We are medicating him and he is running a low grade fever. Milady is an R.N., so she has the situation well in hand, but when the littlest one is sick, everyone focuses on helping him to feel better.

For you old fogeys out there, or those with teenagers, there is a kids program callee Blues Clues. Mindless stuff, but it seems to keep the boy still and happy. He is sitting in Milady's lap watching TV, and I may have to go into the bedroom and turn on the tube before I start singing alphabet songs

I thought that part of my life was over. I thought that Sesame Street was a left-wing indoctrination of the pre-school set. And Barney the T-Rex, what mindless drivel that was. If I had the contract to act in the Barney Suit, I'd open a vein. If Barney ever showed up on my front porch, I would have shot him off with the shotgun I kept by the door.

Yet, here I sit, in my dotage, watching Blues Clues. Maybe bourbon will help.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Raising Kids

Rob talks about raising kids, and he and I have the same philosophy. Supervise them well, and give them all they can handle, when they indicate they are ready to handle it.

My boys were raised on a small family farm, and they grew up using machinery long before city boys would even have thought to ask about it. Each of my sons could drive the tractor at age 5, shoot a shotgun by age 8, drive the truck by age 10, and use a chainsaw about that same time. It was important, because we were way the hell out in the woods, and if something was imminent, they needed to know how to deal with it.

For example, a tree falls on a fence and we find it about the time the cattle are trying to get out of the pasture. I stand by the hole in the fence and tell my son. "Go up to the house, get the tractor, the chainsaw, some barbed wire and a length of chain, and get back here so we can fix this before the cows get out."

Or, one of the boys would call me at work. "Dad, there is a leak in the water line going to the barn."

"No problem, son. Do you know where the cutoff is? Cut it off till I get home, but call me back and let me know if we need any fittings so I can get to the hardware store before it closes."

Or, I'm sitting at the kitchen table when one son dashes into the house and comes back through the room carrying a shotgun. "What's up, boy?"

"Snake outside needs shooting."

"Be careful."

That's how you raise kids in the country. No use coddling them. Let 'em learn as soon as they show a desire to learn. Let 'em try and fail, then let them try again. They'll learn like that. Supervise for safety until you are certain they know what they are doing.

Later on, when they are teens, you will have a basic working relationship with your kids and you will know you can trust them. You can trust them to bring the truck home in one piece, you can trust them to act like gentlemen in public, you can trust them to handle freedom because they understand responsibility.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I've been reading the paper and the bloglines and then I went to this page and noticed that I haven't posted anything in two days. That isn't fair to my readers, so I thought I would give you the headlines of the last few days, with appropriate comments. No links. You have Google. Use it.

Democrats Pissed At Bush. - (Yawn)

War in Iraq Continues. - (Stretch)

Someplace in Ohio has Congressional Race, with predictable outcome. - (Moan)

Louisiana Gets Money to Repair Marshland. - Actually, this is good news as Louisiana is going to start getting royalty dollars from all the oil and gas pumped out from under the state. The money is supposed to help restore the marshland we have lost since we started pumping that oil and gas. In a related story, a rider was tacked to the energy bill that will extend I-49 on both ends, from Shreveport north, and from Lafayette south. Road dollars are always good for the local economy.

Now, if we could just get a good four-lane artery through the center of the state. I don't much give a damn whether it is an interstate highway or not, just a good high-speed route from Natchez, MS, through to Texas, where the roads are generally good. Route it through Alexandria, or route it through Natchitoches, I don't much give a damn. We need a four-lane east-west road somewhere between Killer 80 in the North and US 190 in the South. Personally, I think the best route would be from Natchez, MS, westerly through Jena, Winnfield, and Natchitoches, continuing through to Many, across Toledo Bend, to Nacogdoghes, TX.

Or, from Natchez, MS, through Pineville, Alexandria, Leesville, toward San Augustine, TX. Either way, it wouldn't matter much. The center of this state needs a good four-lane road.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The way it is.

I was raised as the eldest child in a large family. My Dad is an extremely fair man, but he doesn't quibble over fairness. It just is, sometimes and if you want to hang out with Dad, you best understand his point of view.

I was surfing over at Restroom Revelations, and came upon this story about dealing with adult children. It reminded me of the time I learned that I had been thrown out of the house.

I had been in college for a year, and went off to basic training for the Army. Upon my return home, Mom and Dad picked me up at the airport, and I had two weeks before I was required to register for the fall term at college. We got home from the airport and I lugged my duffel bag into my room while Mom made afternoon coffee. I walked into my bedroom, dropped the bag, realized my bed was missing. In place of all my stuff was a couch, a sewing machine, and some of Mom's stuff. I went to the bathroom, then wandered around the house, looking for my bed. I was nineteen years old.

I walked into the kitchen and Dad was sitting at the table, coffee cup in front of him. I cleared my throat. "Where is my bed?"

Dad looked at me. "I don't know, son. Where is your bed?"

"Well, Dad, it was in the bedroom when I left six weeks ago. I can't find it."

Daddy stirred his coffee. "No, son, that was your Mother's bed. She let you use it while you lived here, but you don't live here any more."

I'm sure I stammered. "Well, okay... can I sleep on the couch for a couple of weeks until college starts?"

Daddy smiled. "Sure, son. You are always welcome to visit here, but you don't live here any more."

My Dad and I have a wonderful relationship. Mainly because neither one of us minces words with the other. He will always be the Dad, and I will always be the boy that Doesn't Live There Any More.

I thought it was the law?

I was stumbling around Gut Rumbles and Rob talks about gun locks, so I thought I'd talk about the conversation I had today with the Assistant Manager at Wal-Mart while we were finalizing the purchase of the firearm.

I bought a gun today and was mystified when I paid for it because it didn't come with a trigger lock. This is the same gun I blogged about here.

As we were finishing up the paperwork and he was doublechecking all the numbers and answers on the ATF forms, he asked if there was anything I needed before we finished up. I mentioned that I needed a key to the trigger lock that was on the rifle. He said "Oh, yeah!" and took out the department keys, removed the trigger lock from the rifle, and dropped it into a drawer. He then boxed up the rifle and escorted me to the front door before handing it to me.

I went and put the rifle in my truck, curious about Wal-Mart's concern with me carrying a boxed firearm out of the store. They certainly didn't show any concern about the pistol in my pocket. Of course, that firearm was out of sight and no one but me and Milady know that I carry it with me everywhere. (Ooops, I guess that secret is out.) I digress. This post is about trigger locks.

Not that I need another trigger lock. I let the grandkids play with them, mainly because they are fairly useless as locks go. There are probably a half-dozen of them in the bottom of the toybox in various stages of disrepair. They are useful for keeping a three-year-old entertained for about fifteen minutes, but as locks they are worthless.

For the record, there is not a single firearm in the house that the grandkids can reach without adult assistance. If the unthinkable happens and they manage to get near a firearm, it is safe because they have been taught about firearms. My grandchildrens safety is uppermost in my mind, and having firearms in the house insures their safety.

Back to the original question: I thought the law required that I be issued a trigger lock when I purchased a firearm? I darn sure didn't get one today.

The Kingfish

The Oyster talks about the Kingfish, Huey P. Long, the late great governor and senator from the Gret Stet.

Huey was a populist, no doubt about it, and was the determined enemy of big business. My Great Uncle, a retired State Trooper, was a bodyguard for Governor Long, and was in fact, off duty the day that the Kingfish was assassinated. My Grandmother was in the room when Uncle Roy got the call, and she relates that he picked up the phone, listened for a minute, then said, "Well, hell. I didn't do it, I was in Alexandria all day."

I can't testify to the truth or veracity of the following vignette, because I wasn't there, and the people involved are pretty much dead, but my Uncle told us on more than one occasion, that Huey wasn't adverse to taking money to line his own pockets, or the pockets of cronies. One story Uncle Roy told was about the roads in Louisiana. During Huey's term, the state of Louisiana launched on a big road building campaign. Because of the nature of road-building in the 1930's, the concrete had to be made close to where the road was being constructed and the cement powder came in 50 lb sacks to be mixed with sand and gravel at the site. According to my Uncle, the concrete company kicked back a nickel to Huey for every bag of concrete used.

To make matters worse, (again, according to my deceased uncle), the roads were constructed to be a foot narrower than standard roadbeds of the time, but the state was billed for the whole road as if it had been constructed to specification. When Huey found out that he was being cheated, he forced the company to kick back a nickel a bag on every bag that should have been used to build the road to standards.

My Uncle claims Huey made a lot of money in the concrete business while Louisiana was building roads. I don't know if it is true or not, but it makes a great story.

Louisiana has had her share of scoundrels and saints, and sometimes it is harder than hell to distinguish the two. As Mark Twain once said, "We are closer to the French than to the Angels."


We returned today from our mini-vacation to Vicksburg. Part of Saturday afternoon was spent touring the battlefield. The last time I wandered that battlefield was on a class field trip during the mid '60's and I was too young and inexperienced to understand it. I studied that siege during my professional training as a soldier, but it was simply an academic study of terrain and tactics, bereft of the emotional impact that comes from walking the ground.

It was hard to walk around Vicksburg, and I didn't spend enough time there to do the subject any real justice, but I am struck by certain lessons from history that stay with us across the millenia.

1. Pemberton was an idiot. He allowed himself to get hemmed up behind fortifications and allowed Grant the honor and privelige of a classic seige. All Grant had to do was to wait until Vickburg started to starve. That is basically what happened. Pemberton finally had to surrender because he was out of food, ammo, and water.

2. Grant probably wasn't a genius, but he was in charge, and he understood that war is a struggle between economies. Destroy the economy of your enemy and he will lose the ability to fight. That is what Grant did at Vicksburg when he crossed the Mississippi, burned Jackson, then turned to Vicksburg. His army lived off the land, consuming everything edible and left the citizens of Vicksburg to starve. Six weeks later, they folded.

3. History is sometimes like a train wreck. Little bitty events that make no sense at the time have compelling repercussions that change the course of human endeavor. The very fact that Grant was the Commander at Vicksburg is one of the great military anomalies of that century. Only a few years earlier he had been all but drummed out of the Army, roundly accused of incompetence and of being a drunkard. The fact that he was in command at Vicksburg is one of the compelling head-scratchers of that era. The fact remains that he was the pre-eminent general of both armies. He was not well-liked, but he understood warfare like no man before him. His subordinate, Sherman, took good notes, and carried Grant's brand of warfare across the South. Some are not sure if Georgia is recuperated fully, even to this day.

Most of all, I was humbled by the individual and small-unit bravery and distinguished service exhibited by so many unknown people. Boys and men from all over the United States gathered at Vicksburg to fight for an ideal. People from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and many more that I can't list, all came together through force of arms so that this nation would become stronger, become united, and put to rest for once and all the question of division.

I walked down the trench lines and paused beside the numerous markers commemorating individual soldiers and units that fought at those spots. I looked across the cannon at the opposing lines and tried to imagine the horror of those weeks. I didn't walk the whole battlefied, just selected spots, but it was sufficient to make me aware.

It is hard for a soldier to walk across a battlefield. Hard even 140 years after the battle is decided.