Friday, June 30, 2006

Zach attack

We're having a Zach attack tonight. Our youngest grandson (age 3, soon to be 4) is here with his brother while his mother works. Milady and Zach are in the living room arguing about which piece goes in which puzzle, and I just finished washing the supper dishes. I'm sure Zach will get disgusted in a few minutes and want to go outside. PawPaw will be pressed into duty as outside watch.

While composing this little fluff piece, I am munching a piece of New York brand garlic Texas Toast. Great stuff, one of our favorites. I've bought a bunch of this stuff over the years and the name still jars me. New York and Texas sharing the same billing. This is a weird world.

Daughter in the paper

I was reading the Town Talk this morning and managed to see my daughter's picture in the paper. Page A3.

The article talks about local restaurants in the area and their practice of not providing ketchup with a meal unless the customer asks for it. You can read the whole thing if you want to, but the purpose of this post is a proud dad posting his daughter's picture in the paper.

Michelle is a pre-nursing student at LSUA and works full-time as a carhop at the local Sonic restaurant. I'm proud of her, going to school and working.

Now, if she can just get that RN and start making real bucks. Pawpaw would be extremely proud.

In other news, Pawpaw had a plumber come by this morning to put in a valve and water fitting so he can run water to the bathroom he is building in the back yard. The drain plumbing is almost completely roughed in. I have one more joint to complete and the roughing in will be done for the toilet and the sink, but the sun ran me indoors. I'll hydrate and go outside to finish that joint.

Sometime this weekend, I'll rough-in conduit for the electrical service and the potable water lines. Two holes, it ought to take about ten minutes. It'll probably take me a couple of hours. Then install a ground rod, some rebar and reinforcing wire. Next week, we pour the slab.

**Update** The drainage rough-in is done. It is 97 degrees F in the shade of my back porch. My baseball cap is sweat-soaked all the way out to the end of the bill. I think I am going to drink some iced tea, take a shower, and put my feet up for the rest of the day.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


There is this fellow in Guantanamo who is challenging his detention status there. The Government believes that he is clear and present threat to the United States and wishes to try him before a military tribunal. (Not a Courts Martial. From reading the decision, I learned that there is a difference between a military tribunal and a courts martial.)

The Supreme Court ruled on Hamdan today. It's a long, lengthy .pdf file, so be warned. There is lots of analysis and lots of what-if's and wherefor's. But the Supreme Court still uses English, a language I understand. They didn't order his release and they didn't allow the government to execute him. Yet.

Lots of pundits will offer lots of analysis about Hamdan. Lawyers will scream and cry and plead. The basics are really easy to understand. The Supreme Court still uses the English language and those of us who graduated from High School are conversant in that language. The conclusion is easy to read.
We have assumed, as we must, that the allegations made in the Government’s charge against Hamdan are true. We have assumed, moreover, the truth of the message implicit in that charge—viz., that Hamdan is a dangerous individual whose beliefs, if acted upon, would cause great harm and even death to innocent civilians, and who would act upon those beliefs if given the opportunity. It bears emphasizing that Hamdan does not challenge, and we do not today address, the Government’s power to detain him for the duration of active hostilities in order to prevent such harm. But in undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction.
Well, hell, that ain't as bad as it sounds.

Hold him until the War on Terror is over. Try him before a Courts Martial, then stand him up before a firing squad. Case over.

See? This legal stuff is fairly simple.


If you've ever read a map, you notice a series of numbers around the edges. This is the grid scale and digitizes the grid of the map to correspond to a spot on the groud. So, when you know the grid number of the spot on the ground, you can find it when looking at a map. Simple, no?

Actually, no. Complicated as hell. I was raised using the MGRS (Military Grid Recognition System) which our Army uses to find the way, to navigate. I learned the MGRS in 1973 and used it almost exclusively for 30 years.

Common civilian maps are marked in Latitude and Longitude, which is the standard worldwide for civil navigation. Ptolemy first used it in mapping in 150 A.D. The English changed it later, running the 0 meridian (the prime meridan) through London. Latitude and Longitude are mapped using degrees, minutes and seconds. The problem is that a round Earth doesn't translate well on a flat map. Everything is measured as being so many degrees east and west of London, and north or south of the equator. Ancient mariners have been using this system for years, and the practice has been passed to the present day. Like most navy systems, it's screwed up. The distances on a lat/lon map change when you get away from the equator.

One degree of latitude equals 60 nautical miles at the equator. When you get to either pole, all of the lines of longitude converge to a single point. You can cover them with your foot. That, children is a screwed up system. Yet, it's the system that is used by the majority of the world. I'll learn to use it, and be happy with it.

Last night, I was trying to give my buddy Junior, some coordinates to a deer camp. It is located, roughly, at 31 degrees, 41 minutes, 34 seconds North, 92 degrees, 12 minutes, 49 seconds West. Hopefully, you can see the map here.

We emailed back and forth trying to get the numbers to read into a particular mapping system. It seems that someone took the Lat/Lon system that everyone has been reading since Ptolemy and digitized it. The degree side is still intact, but the minute/second series of numbers has been digitized. We've managed to mix the two systems to make it totally unintuitive. This is totally screwed up. It is neither english, nor french. It is neither metric nor standard. It is probably nautical.

The problem is that we now have Global Positioning systems. Wander through any good sporting goods store and you'll see a selection based on features, ruggedness, and usage. We have these things in tanks, humvees, and your family car. Sportsmen carry them in their pockets. They use different mapping grids. It's confusing.

We need one standard, one grid, that covers the whole globe. Whatever it is, it should be universally adopted and used on all maps, all computer programs, all GPS devices. One system for the world. The power players in the mapping community need to get together and decide which system we are going to use, and relegate the other systems to the trash heap. If you need a name for it, call it the PawPaw system. That rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Shaped Charge

In case you don't watch the news, last night Israel sent forces into Gaza to try to rescue a kidnapped Corporal. The Israelis are finally getting tough with the nitwits that run Palestine, and I think it is about time. Politics aside, though, we get some good photos of Palestinian battlefield technology.

In battlefield technology, the shaped charge isn't cutting edge, except that it can cut through steel. Imagine an explosive device that manages to funnel the power of the blast into a predictable area, setting up a plasma jet that will cut steel. Well, by shaping the charge, you can do that. Any good combat engineer can make a shaped charge from composition C-4. Or, he can use a pre-made shaped charge. I myself have made expedient shaped charges for cutting bridge timbers. It isn't as good as a tamped charge, but it is effective nonetheless. In anti-armor technology we use shaped charges in the HEAT round. The HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) round uses a shaped charge to breach armor.

Here you see the Palestinian fighters setting a shaped charge to use against the Israeli forces. These photos are from Reuters and and come to us courtesy of Little Green Footballs. When that thing is detonated, it is going to create a standard shock wave, in a 360 pattern, throwing dirt and dust and debris everywhere. Some small portion of the shockwave is going to funnel forward and set up a plasma jet that will cut steel. That fighter is going to make a hell of a bang when the charge goes off, but whatever is in front of it is going to get the lion's share of the damage.

In this picture, we see the courageous Palestinian forces laying electrical wire to set off the shaped charge. We notice that the children are standing nearby, ready to run like hell if someone starts shooting at them. Any decent soldier, any decent commander would get the children away from there. These heroic Palestinian fighters would rather have the children nearby, because they know that the Israelis will think twice before firing in that direction. This photo documents the use of children as human shields by the Palestinians, and reduces them in my mind to Worthless Bastards.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Slow News Day

Not much going on around here today. Milady and I are going to Jena to see her mother, and Milady is cooking a crawfish fettucini. Her sisters will be there so we'll get to see them too. Her brother-in-law will be there too, and hopefully he and I can slip off and look at a deer lease I recently joined near Jena.

Someone asked in comments if New Orleans wouldn't be better off building on stilts like they do in other places. I haven't studied this idea and have no idea, but there are a bunch of hurdles to jump in that idea. The idea of handicap ramps would be the first hurdle I would see. There would be a hell of a lot of ramps to construct. This sounds like a bad idea on its face, but Americans have overcome greater obstacles, and the Corps flood maps are recommending that a lot of people are build at least three feet above ground.

However, I have been studying PEX piping for my backyard project. It appears that we can run PEX undergound and through slabs, as long as we sleeve it when it penetrates the slab. This is the latest in home improvement plumbing and has been in use in Europe for a long time (25 years), so maybe something is easier to work than PVC pipe. I may not need a plumber for this project after all. If any reader has experience with PEX, give me a heads-up.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I just checked Gut Rumbles. It seems Rob has passed away. The message from his daughter, Sam says that:
They found him at 2:00 this morning slumped over on the couch. He did not shoot himself and no pills or alcohol were found in the house. When I find out anything else I'll let you know. Out of respect for my family please do not leave nasty comments.

One of the original bloggers, one of the survivors of the blogsphere, one of my daily reads is gone, and the world is a lesser place for it.

I never met the man, but I am going to miss him.

Own or rent?

Good question. To own or rent is one of the basic questions taught in business courses across the nation. If you have a business and need someplace to conduct business, do you own or rent? It is cheaper to buy a suitable building, or better to pay rent for your digs? It's a simple economic question. One with mutiple variables, but the equations exist and solving the equation is fairly straight-forward.

The question become more complicated when you are talking about housing. Apartments are a way of life for many people. I myself have lived in apartments in the past, with the certain knowledge that they were owned by someone else. I couldn't take pride of ownership, because the apartment didn't belong to me.

Then we come to New Orleans. That great bug-a-boo of housing shortages. Especially low-income housing. It seems that the Oyster is upset that low-income folks aren't being allowed to return to subsidized housing, and links to this article. The money quote is here:
If the authorities do not open up the apartments by July 4, they pledge to go through the fences and liberate their homes directly. The group, the United Front for Affordable Housing, is committed to resisting HUD’s efforts to bulldoze their apartments “by any means necessary.”

If the government told you that they were going to bulldoze where you live, and deny you the right to return to your home, would you join them?
And therein lies the problem with apartment dwelling. It doesn't belong to them. It isn't theirs. It belongs to someone else, even if that someone else is a quasi-governmental entity. They can be evicted, they can be thrown out, they can be run off.

If I were an apartment owner that decided my property would better serve my economic situation by being bulldozed, then I would give the tenants a 30-day notice and get in touch with the bulldozers. That may sound cold, but economic realities are often cold.

Subsidized, low-income HUD housing should not be a permanent housing solution. Apartment living is good for some, but the possibility of being uprooted is one of the down sides. Every one of us has been told at one time or another, "You don't live here anymore." It's part of growing up. It's part of becoming an adult.


Waiting for the plumber. I need a plumber for my backyard project, to run water to it and drain off sewerage. Standard plumber stuff. This is phase 2 of a 4 phase project, putting a bathroom in the backyard. Phase three will be installing a pool. Phase 4 will be landscaping, decking, tieing everything together.

I'm going to do most of the work myself, but there are a couple of details that require a licensed professional. I met with an electrician last week and he told me what I need to have ready when he comes back to do the electrical work. When I finish consulting with the plumber, I'll be ready to rough-in the plumbing and pour the slab, then frame the building and get it under roof. Then, the plumber and electrician can come back, work their magic, then I can finish the building. I'm hoping to get all that accomplished by August 14th.

In a project like this, the planning is the hard part. How big is a door? How wide is a cabinet? How many 2X4 studs do you need? What amperage is enough for the project? All these questions have to be answered before the concrete is poured.

The best laid plans of mice and men.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday Worship

I just got back from church. I attend the Bethel United Methodist Church, in Deville, LA.

It's a wonderful little church in the woods. I like little churches best, because everyone knows every body. Yeah, I'm the newcomer, and the congregation is predominately older white folks. Yet, I feel at home.

I've been in big churches, where the worship services had production staff, with cameras and mixers and spot lights. I've listened to magnificent choirs that practice multiple hours for a single service.

Bethel ain't like that. We don't have a choir. We butcher the music. We beat it bad, then drag it outside and stomp on it. If you like singing on-key, this probably isn't the place for you, although we'd love to have you drop by for services one morning.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I'm hungry, Pawpaw

Yeah, me too.

I have the remains of that tenderloin I smoked earlier this week. I cubed it up and put it in a cast-iron skillet with some BBQ sauce, some garlic marinade and a splash of marachino cherry juice. Then I let it simmer for an hour on a slow fire.

Comfort food for the lady before she goes to work tonite. I'm home alone without adult supervision and that will probably require a western on the DVD player.

Uncle Vern

I was over at the Forum, reading this thread, and it reminded me of a story.

My (first) wife had an uncle. A crotchety old crank with a wicked sense of humor. We'll call him Vern. He lived on the shore of a little lake in a crumbling house that he didn't own. His place was on a huge plantation and he rented that place from the owners of the plantation. With the rent came hunting and fishing rights. After I had known Vern for some time, I learned that he was a retired Game Warden. A retired Federal game warden. He had worked in some of the finest game fields in the United States, and he had some stories to tell.

One afternoon while we were cleaning fish and drinking beer a woodcock flew over, and Vern began reminiscing.
There was this time when my buddy and I were headed for the LDWF offices in Pineville. As we crossed the O.K. Allen bridge, I thought I heard a gunshot.

This was late in February, and the only season open was for rabbits. The O.K. Allen bridge is real close to town, so we decided to go back across and investigate. We took the truck on to the levee and started easing along and sure enough, on a side trail we found a pickup truck and I heard another gunshot, down near the river in an alder thicket.

Well, we got out of the truck and I started around that thicket one way while my buddy went the other. It was thick in there, man, you couldn't see five feet, but every so often, a woodcock would flush and there'd be a shot, so I continued on. I finally found a hunter and his back was toward me, so I just eased up through the trees, real quiet like, and put my hand on his shoulder.

That fellow turned, and saw me, then said "Here. Hold this." He handed me the shotgun, then dropped his pants and loosed the worst, foulest, nastiest diarrhea I have ever smelled. It was explosive, and loud, and violent. I was kind of embarrased for him, squatting there in that thicket.

I told him, "Look, fellow, I didn't mean to startle you."

The guy told me, "You just did me a great favor, friend. I've been stopped up for a week and didn't think I was ever going to get it to turn loose."

When he was finished, I wrote him a ticket. I didn't want to arrest him and put him in my truck smelling like he did. I guess you could say I scared the shit out of him. I suspect he paid the ticket, cause I never went to court on it.

From that day on, Uncle Vern was known as the Old Fart. He died a couple of years ago, and I miss him sometime.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Alligator bites paper boy

Well, almost. The gator lunged at the paperboy, who jumped back. I bet. Somehow, the last thing a Pennsylvania paperboy thinks about is being eaten by a gator.

I'm not making this up, and it is too early on Friday to be in the bourbon. Go read it yourself.
POTTSTOWN, PA (AP) -- A man delivering newspapers at 5 a.m. Monday heard an unusual sound as he got out of his truck to retrieve a misthrown newspaper. He walked between two parked cars and saw a 4-foot alligator.

"He kind of lunged at me and hissed," said Bobby Kish, 46. "His mouth was open; I was about five feet away. It was enough to get my attention."
A four foot gator? You stomp those suckers and they run like hell back to the water. A four-footer might be dangerous to children and dogs, but a grown man should be able to hold his own against a four foot gator.

Of course, any proper paper boy would have capped that sucker right between the eyes and left it laying in the driveway for the neighbors to find. In the alternative, he could have gotten a rope on it and hauled it up in a tree. That would have been a charming sight at daylight.

New Orleans crime scene - Update

I've been hearing rumblings that the recent shooting of the five teens in New Orleans was a gangland-style shooting, but had no hard evidence except the normal scepticism of an old cop.

Today, though, Time Magazine looks at the evidence that gangs are involved in a turf war in New Orleans.
"It's an opportunity right now, where you've got a population coming back to a major city, for gangs to develop in certain parts of the city and try to take strongholds of certain areas," Mark Chait, special agent in charge of the New Orleans field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, pointed out in April.
And a damn disturbing opportunity, but one that the police should have been able to predict.

I've heard that there are some new players in the gangland field that is now New Orleans. They are trying to establish dominance and accumulate market-share in an area that is ripe for the taking. It's just business, after all.

It is the police's business to shut them down. Hard. If there are new players from up North, as some suggest, I'm sure that they will find Angola to be quaint and rugged. They probably won't like it there at all.

It's time to saddle up the boys and draw a hard line.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Reckoning

1981 in a small town in Central Louisiana. A thirty-ish homeowner was awakened in the middle of the night. If you asked him today why he was wakened, he couldn't tell you. Just that something happened and he was awake. He walked through his darkened house, his pistol at his side, then stopped at the living room window. His hand moved the blinds and he saw a dirt bike stopped in the street.

Our homeowner lived on a dead-end street in a subdivision of blue-collar guys and families. He had never seen that dirt bike before, so the homeowner decided to investigate. He went out into the semi-darkness, through his carport, street lights illuminating the front yard. At the edge of his carport, in the darkness, he saw movement on the other side of his pickup truck, parked in the front yard.

That homeowner noticed a sledge-hammer leaning on the wall of the carport and picked it up with his free hand, then moved toward his truck. As he rounded the front of the vehicle, he startled a young man prying the hubcap off the rear passenger wheel. The boy stood, and the homeowner could tell in the light that the kid was high-school age. And scared.

"What are you doing to my truck?"


"You want to steal? You want to take my stuff? I ought to shoot your ass right where you stand."

"No, mister." The boy was scared. "I didn't mean nothing."

"Well, then, let me show you what it's like. I worked hard for this pickup. How hard did you work for that dirtbike?"

The homeowner moved out into the street and swung the hammer with one hand. Hard. The headlight popped off the motorcycle and pinged down the street. The next swing went though the spokes of the front wheel. He worked on that motorcycle for a few minutes, until the muscles in his left arm protested. Handlebars, gauges, the last stroke broke the sparkplug off in the head. Then he looked at the boy. "That's enough. Take this piece of shit and get out of here. If you want to press charges, the police station is about two miles thataway." He pointed generally west with the barrel of his pistol.

The kid grabbed the bent handlebars and began pushing. The homeowner watched until he couldn't see the kid anymore. Then he walked back to the house, leaned the sledgehammer against the wall of the carport and went inside. He noticed that his alarm would ring in another hour, so he put on a pot of coffee and took a shower. He never heard from the police, or ever saw that kid again.

Some might say that this story is apocryphal, an urban legend. Maybe so. I have just enough inside knowledge to believe it is true.

Motorcycle Surgery

A Goldwing is a wired motorcycle. There are bundles and sensors and relays and connectors everywhere. My scooter was having problems with lighting and applying the brakes would kill the engine. It was a conundrum. Nothing made sense. It seemed as if multiple circuits were interacting in some weird way and conspiring to make my life a living hell, and to make my motorcycle a large paperweight.

Then, someone told me that the best Goldwing techs in the world reside at a place called JBJ cycles. I found the website and sent off an email, cold, with no hope of a solution. This morning I got a reply from Jack Wear, who told me that one culprit could be the bank angle sensor. That sensor measures the lean angle of the bike, and when the lean angle surpasses some preset limit, it kills the power to the bike.

I started testing that sensor today. In testing it, I noticed that the main connector to the back of the bike was dirty. Really dirty. Every circuit that goes to the back of the bike passes through that connector, under the seat. I pulled it apart and noticed some crud inside. I cleaned it thoroughly, got the crud out, and squirted a little dialectric grease inside to prevent corrosion. Then I put the key in the ignition and started the bike. Everything works. Tail lights, brake lights, hazard flashers, and the engine continues to run when the brakes are applied.

Success! I just now got everything buckled back together and took a short test drive. It's working. Thanks to everyone who provided input, and thanks to Jack Wear, for reminding me that the main thing to go wrong on a Goldwing are fuses, relays and connectors.

I'm still amazed at the internet. A motorcycle tech in Santa Ana, CA can help a Goldwing hobbiest in Pineville LA in just a matter of hours.

Prison Shooting

From the Town Talk, we learn of a shooting in a Florida prison. It seems some guards had been indicted for trading sex for other contraband. When the Feds showed up to arrest them, it went bad.
Corrections officer Ralph Hill, an Air Force veteran, had smuggled a gun into the prison and opened fire Wednesday morning as the FBI agents and Justice Department investigators arrived, officials and his attorney said.
Damn! Two good men dead and another wounded because some guards couldn't keep their peckers in their pants.

I worked in Corrections for periods of my career, both as a common jailer and as a shift lieutenant in a 500 bed parish lockup. There are some certainties about working in a prison that everyone should know, and some people forget.

1. The place is full of criminals. It takes great strength of character to work in a place full of criminals and not fall prey to the criminal mentality. Guards have to take the moral high ground at all times.

2. The place is mind-numbingly dull. The day-to-day activities of a prison are characterised by routine. Everything is the same thing every day. Sundays are a bit of a respite because most work details don't go out on Sunday. Every other day is mind-numbing. A Guard has to steel himself against boredom and work the routine every day. Security is dependant on routine. The simple things count. Things like locking doors and checking windows are critical. They are also boring.

3. The place is full of criminals. They will use anything to advantage. Sex, drugs, a set of crayons, cigarettes, and information are all bartering tools for the inmates, who don't have cash. If the inmate can sell information about a Guard for a sentence reduction, they'll do it in a minute. If a female inmate can sell herself to get leverage on a Guard, they'll do that too.

4. The place is mind-numbingly dull. Anything that happens inside a prison is noted and recorded. If not on videotape, then certainly in the minds of the inmates. One inmate having sex with a Guard is noted and recorded by hundreds of eyes who want to gossip, talk, and use that information. There are no secrets inside a prison.

Having sex inside a prison is the dumbest idea that ever crossed the minds of mortal man. It is neither refreshing, nor endearing. It is not love. It is not romantic. It is a common tool of commerce. If you want your love-life to be reduced to the bare essentials of arousal and release, then prison sex is the way to go. Be forewarned, it will be noted, it will be discussed, it will probably be videotaped. It is also against the law.

You might get away with it once. You might get away with it twice. The statute of limitations has a long reach. You will eventually get caught. You will certainly be fired. You will probably be prosecuted and convicted. There is nothing that an inmate likes more than turning a Guard into an inmate. It breaks the routine and provides grist for the gossip mill.

Sex in a prison is a dumb idea.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Orleans crime scene

Much has been made about the recent shootings in New Orleans and the crime spike that the city has seen since the New Year.

I don't think that calling in the Guard is a good idea. Military policing and civil policing are two different topics. Many of our good military police troops are also civil police officers, so they know the difference, but having mulitiple chains of command in a civil operation is never a good thing. It's not that I don't think that the Guard can handle the job. Quite the contrary. They'll do a great job. My complaint is that they shouldn't be asked to do the job that the civil authorities should have done all along.

A couple of summers ago, my last summer on the line, Toby Keith's song Beer for my Horses was in the top 40. The lyrics are applicable to the situation in New Orleans today:
We got too many gangsters doing dirty deeds.
We've got too much corruption, too much crime in the streets.
It's time the long arm of the law put a few more in the ground
Send 'em all to their maker and he'll settle 'em down.
You can bet he'll set 'em down. cause

Justice is the one thing you should always find.
You got to saddle up your boys,
You got to draw a hard line.
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune.
We'll all meet back at the local saloon.
We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces,
Singing whiskey for my men, beer for my horses.

During my trip to the Gulf Coast this spring, I was struck by how much damage had been done to the infrastructure, to the physical assets that make us a civilization. In parts of New Orleans, the devastation was total. Places along the Gulf Coast looked like a frontier, with folks living in tents and trying to get electricity back to their property. They were living like pioneers lived in the 19th century.

Life is rough in some of those places. It should come as no surprise that criminals have entered in to those places, taking advantage of the disarray. Ray Nagin and Chief Riley should deal with the criminal element simply, unambiguously, and ruthlessly. This is no time for giving criminals the benefit of the doubt. It's time to saddle up the boys and draw a hard line.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pork Tenderloin

I went to the lumberyard this morning to get dimensions on a door and a window, so that when I get to the framing stage of the bathroom project, I'll know what size holes to frame into the framing. Then I came home because the electrician was going to meet me here to discuss the project, and the plumber is supposed to call me back.

I stopped at the grocer and picked up a small pork tenderloin. I also found some fresh summer squash. Milady has to work tonight, and I like to feed her before I send her off to work. I put the tenderloin on the pit, at 250 degrees for two hours.

That picture is the tenderloin after two hours. Then, I wrapped it in foil to keep it from drying, added a couple of slices of Vidalia onion, then drizzled a little Cajun Power marinade sauce across everything before I sealed the foil.

Here's the tenderloin wrapped with the onion and marinade. It'll stay on the pit until Milady is ready to eat. I cut up those summer squash, added a few slices of onion, a few pats of butter and some salt and pepper, then wrapped that in foil and put it on the grill beside the pork.

The piit is closed now, and will stay closed for the next hour and thirty minutes. The pork is slow basting itself in the foil, the squash is absorbing butter and the onion and is melting slowly. When Milady awakes from her nap, I'll put on some potatoes au gratin and see if I can feed her properly before she goes to work.

I didn't get much done today, but Milady will be fed when she goes to work. I hate waiting on contractors.

Monday, June 19, 2006


While I generally can't tolerate Communists, you have to admire the Chinese sometimes. Like this latest trend in Corrections science.
Makers of the death vans say the vehicles and injections are a civilized alternative to the firing squad, ending the life of the condemned more quickly, clinically and safely. The switch from gunshots to injections is a sign that China “promotes human rights now,” says Kang Zhongwen, who designed the Jinguan Automobile death van in which “Devil” Zhang took his final ride.
Like a Bookmobile, or a blood-drive van, these things offer the latest in customer service. No more waiting in the main prison. Spend your last days near home, in the local lockup.

Then one day, the Death Van pulls up in front of the Courthouse. Got any condemned prisoners? Trot them out. Louisiana ought to order a couple of these things. Texas needs a half-dozen.

Helmets and Motorcycles

Tamara is talking about motorcycle helmets. I love my motorcycle and I ride it every chance I get.

I put on a helmet each and every time I ride. Whether it is for five minutes or five hours, I am going to be wearing a helmet if I am on the bike.

I carry an extra helmet on the bike, just in case I have to give someone a ride. Back in my single days, someone would want a ride on the bike, but say they didn't need a helmet. You don't get on my bike without a helmet. Period. That just doesn't happen. I have broken a helmet in a crash. My head hit the pavement and the sound was like a rifle shot going off in my ear. My first thought was "Damn, that would have hurt." I have no doubt that if I hadn't been wearing a helmet that day, I would have been killed.

That said, I don't think that the government should mandate helmets for motorcycle riders. When you get your endorsement, you should be required to sign a release that if injured, you will not burden society at any government health agency or apply for benefits based on your disabling injury. No SSI, no public health agency.

For the same reasons, I don't think that government should mandate the use of seat belts in autos. If you want to kill yourself, do it on your own dime. Make every driver sign a release. If they don't sign it, they don't get to drive. Very simple.

While I'm at it, I don't think I should have to get a permit to build a building on land that I own. If I screw up and diminish my land value, then it is on me. If I screw up and diminish my neighbor's land value, then let them sue me. Let local govt zone a section, certainly, but don't tell me I need a permit to remodel or add an outbuilding.

Helmets for motorcycle riders and seat belts in cars are simply nannyism at its worst.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Interesting lawsuit as reported in this article. It seems our good citizen, Mark Edward Marchiafava was wearing a revolver openly when he was accosted by the police.
Mark Edward Marchiafava claims he was the victim of false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery and unlawful seizure of property.

Marchiafava said Friday afternoon that on Jan. 28 he was in the parking lot at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Gonzales and was wearing an unconcealed blue-steel .357-caliber Magnum in a holster on his right hip.
I was wondering when a case like this would come up.

It seems that the Disturbing the Peace statute used to have a section that made it illegal to "act in any manner that would forseeably alarm the public." That was the statute I used when I got a call and someone was waving a gun around. I never arrested anyone for simply possessing a firearm because that isn't against the law in Louisiana. That "forseeably alarm" section has been repealed, so the public doesn't have a reason to press charges simply because they are alarmed.

However, a whole lot of cops, including myself, was taught under the old statute where if a member of the public could be alarmed a violation had been committed. That isn't so under current law. (If any lawyer is reading this, and you know differently, feel free to correct me.) Under current law in Louisiana, it is not against the law to openly carry a firearm, unless there are other things happening. You can't, for example, carry a firearm into a school without the very real possibility of getting arrested. Schools have been designated Firearm Free Zones in Louisiana. There are some exemptions, but those are generally few.

In Mr. Marchiafava's case, I would love to see a copy of the arrest report. I would especially like to see what they charged him with.

Of course, Mr. Marchiafava is suing their pants off, which is good. Cops need to pay attention to the law. Police administrators also need to stay current on the law. I've been a cop for a long time. It is considered a matter of faith that when a cop does something stupid, he is going to get sued. With the current climate of law enforcement in Louisiana today, it is almost a legal certainty that taking a firearm from a law abiding citizen will get you sued before you finish your report.

It'll be interesting to see how this one turns out. Hat tip to Junior.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dixie Who?

Evidently, there is a chick band who started in the South, playing bluegrass music. They paid their dues and started a rise to the top of the music industry, then one of the singers got her mouth into overdrive and basically culled her band from getting any airtime.
When Maines made her comment on March 10 2003, 10 days before Operation Iraqi Freedom unleashed "shock and awe" over Baghdad, the Dixie Chicks were probably the biggest act in country music. Yet within days, their music vanished from the charts and the airwaves, apoplectic rednecks crushed piles of their CDs with tractors, and the FBI was feverishly monitoring death threats against the trio. It was the most heinous pop-star outrage since Ozzy Osbourne urinated on the Alamo.
Yeah, well, that shit happens when you badmouth the country. These gals are performers and they should know that public perception is what an artist relies on to sell their product. When you piss off your customer base, sales fall into the basement.

Well, it seems as though they are at it again. From the same article:
"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."
Well, sweetie, here's the deal. You may not get it, but a whole bunch of folks do get it. I'm a patriot. I argue and fuss and carry on about induvidual political decisions. I participate in this great experiment we call freedom. For the record, I think our president is screwed up on a variety of issues.

But when it comes to the guys in the trenches, when it comes to the Red, White, and Blue, when it comes to My Country, I'll support it, and support the people who sing the songs that support my troops. I vote with my dollars, sweetheart, and I don't buy music that doesn't support the country. Entertainers should entertain. You don't entertain people by pissing them off.

Oh, we folks down here in the South like our women pretty and our entertainers a bit mad. Hank Williams was certainly controversial, but he knew how to entertain. His boy does a pretty good job of keeping us happy. Toby Keith, bless his heart, supports the troops with his time, money and efforts. We buy a lot of his music.

Even lesser known artists know how to pull our heartstrings. Guys like B.B. Major. I don't necessisarily agree with his politics, but he loves our country and I love his music. He doesn't piss me off from the stage. He and I can disagree on a variety of topics, but we agree on a love of the country and a love of great music.

The Dixie Twits just piss me off. And they wonder why I don't buy their records? Grow up, young ladies.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Honda Motorcycle Parts

My scooter is still broken and I need parts. Electrical parts. A friggin relay.

A 12 volt, 20 amp relay to be precise. I went to my local Honda dealer and asked about a relay. The parts guy looked in the computer, had me point to it on a screen, then wandered into the back of the store. In a few minutes, he came out and told me that they were $30.00 apiece, and they had to order them. They'd get them in a week. (Next Thursday).

I asked about a friggin valve stem. They ain't got that either.

I asked about a body screw. A 5 X 17 metric screw that holds the cowling on. Nope, gotta order it. Takes a week to come in.

I have been a customer of this store since 1996. I have never walked up to the parts counter and bought a part I need. You gotta order it. It'll be in next week.

I talked to the General Manager, who basically told me I was screwed. Not kissed, just screwed.

I called Honda Customer service, who basically told me Tough Shit. That's the protocol nowadays. It doesn't matter what you need, it takes a week. The Honda guy told me that sometimes they have to order the part from Japan. Yeah, right. The bikes are made here in the United States and we have to order parts from Japan.

Is it just me, or is it too much to ask that a dealer stock little things like valve stems? The customer with a broken motorcycle has to wait a week for parts, any parts. That sucks.

**Update** I went yesterday to NAPA, Advance, Bumper-to-Bumper, and two local stores looking for that relay. Nope, Honda is the only place to get them.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Training day

"This scenario is based on the most dangerous call an officer normally gets; the domestic disturbance call." The instructor had plans for us today.

I leaned over to my table buddy, an officer with 30 years of service. "You want to do this early, and get it out of the way?"

"I don't want to do this sh*t at all. Come on."

We wandered aimlessly around the building and found a shady spot under a tree. Then scouted about and found a couple of folding chairs. We propped up and started talking about the old days. After a half hour, two more veteran officers came out dragging lawn chairs and sat down. "Y'all finished?"

"Yeah, we're done." I replied.

"That's what I thought," he said. "Us too."

Below us, down the hill, a group of corrections cadets were practicing unarmed self-defense. Three of them were real lookers. One each brunette, redhead, and blonde. We continued to watch them all day. Instructors came out and chatted between classes and junior officers passed by on their way to various training scenarios, paying respects or asking questions. The inevitable "Y'all done?" was repeated a dozen times before lunch. Our captain came by with the same question, and got the same reply. "Yeah, we got through early."

It appears that they are trying to take three days worth of training and condense it into five days. Obviously, no one had a roster or really, much of a plan about the training today. The veteran officers had our own plan and it worked just fine. We sat under a tree, told lies and bullshitted all day long.

At about 3:00, a young officer came out and told us we were released. We put our chairs away and went home.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Ali was a warrior. A tank officer in the Shah's army and was in the United States for advanced armor (tank) training at Fort Knox, KY. The year was 1978. Jimmy Carter was president. I was a young lieutenant company commander and was tasked with being a social sponsor for Ali while he was in the United States. The Shah and the US were great friends and allies. I was briefed by the post protocol officer and told that basically Ali would come here unaccompanied and would require my services to make sure that he had someone to talk to while he was off duty. I was to show him what a Big Mac was and should make his visit memorable.

I was also briefed by the CIA. The Shah's army used M60 tanks that had been specially modified and I had a list of questions to ask about those tanks, on the QT, of course. I was not to let Ali know that I had been briefed by the CIA.

Ali, of course, showed up with a wife and daughter. My first official act was to meet him and his family at the airport, and go directly into OH SHIT! mode trying to get quarters for a wife and toddling daughter of an Iranian officer. Over the next few months I learned a lot about Ali and his family. He had served in combat, in Yemen, "killing communists", as he put it. His wife was the daughter of a prominent General Officer in the Shah's Air Force. His daughter was the apple of his eye.

Ali was a secular Muslim, but much of the culture pervaded his daily life. He was truly shocked when my wife engaged him directly in converstation. I told him to get over it. I was never able to engage his wife in conversation. He told me to get over it. His daughter would climb into my lap and send her mother into palpatations.

We invited them over for Sunday Dinner, and likely as not, I would find Ali's wife at my quarters when I came home from work. She and my wife became good friends and our toddling children were good playmates. I learned to eat curry at Ali's table. His wife, Reha, made an eye-watering, tear-jecking, nose-bleeding curry that was magnificent. She served things like mutton, and rabbit, and hot, sweet tea. We served things like steak, and gumbo, and cold, sweet tea.

Ali was my friend. He and I laughed about kids, and wives, and the differences in our cultures. The time came for him to return home early in 1979. The students there were raising hell and I tried to talk Ali into staying in the US. To declare that he was in danger. He refused, telling me that his duty was to return to Iran. I put him on the plane, waving goodbye to him and his family.

I learned later that Ali made it back to Iran. He and his wife and his toddling daughter were killed by the mullahs shortly after their return.

Ali was a good friend. I toast him occasionally.

Unarmed self defense

Today I was thrown to the ground, handcuffed, hit, kicked and night-sticked. Then, I did all the same to my brothers. All in the spirit of training. Once again, I am qualified on the handcuffs, the straight baton and pepper spray. I successfully passed (for about the 20th time) the written portion of the test and demonstrated proficiency under the Monadnock system.

Tomorrow is active shooter scenarios. To translate that into laymans terms, we are going to be clearing buildings while bad guys with paintball guns try to shoot us. I hate this part of training, because paintballs are messy and they hurt. I'll be bruised tomorrow afternoon.

Every profession has routine, systematic training designed to insure a certain level of proficiency and to assure that professional development is accomplished. We are going through that pony show this week. Much of it is theoretical. Much of it is unnecessary and much of it is routinely forgotten. However, our training office records our successful participation.

I'm given to understand that Thursday will be defensive (offensive?) driving. That ought to be fun.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Range Day report

Anytime you can shoot someone else's ammo, it is a good day, and I burned some ammo today.

Qualified first with my duty pistol, a Kimber .45 ACP. While the second order was on the line, I stapled up some more targets then wandered out to the line with the third order and qualified with my backup, a SW Mod 60. It's been two years since I qualified with that revolver and it felt good to post a good score with it.

Then it was time to shoot the shotgun, and I did my duty there. The rangemaster commented on my target, a simple "good target", which is high praise indeed.

About the time we were through with the shotgun, everyone was released and the rangemaster said that anyone who had a rifle could qualify with it. Another old cop had an extra AR, so I borrowed it and walked out to the line. We fired that course and took the targets in for scoring while we policed brass. I heard my Captain saying that I haven't been through the patrol rifle course with this department, so I shouldn't have been shooting the rifle. The rangemaster told him that even without the course, I had cleaned the target and that I should be left the hell alone.

So, today, I got a "Good Target" from the rangemaster, and cleaned the rifle course. I also shot a couple of hundred rounds of someone else's pistol ammo. It was a good day indeed.

Tomorrow is defensive tactics and unarmed self-defense.

Training week

I went to training this morning and I'm home just long enough to grab my range bag and change clothes. I had understood that today was going to be a classroom day, getting updated on personnel issues, and the law, and report writing. Well, we did the morning and the Captain comes in and tells us to be at the range at 1:00. About half of us had to go home to change clothes.

We're not in uniform this week, so most of us wore Office Casual. Slacks and polo shirts. I'm not going to destroy my slacks on the range, so I'm in jeans and a tee shirt now. And hydrating my ass off. It's gonna be hot on that range. I was hoping for longer than a half-day on the range, because I need to qualify with both pistols, the shotgun and the rifle. I bet this is going to be a "pistol only" day, which means we'll have to figure out other days to shoot the shotgun and rifle. Poor planning on someone's part.

Tomorrow is unarmed self-defense. I hope we get a full day of that, because that is where most of us need the training.

Gotta run.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tropical Depression One

They haven't named it, but they numbered it.

June 11th, and the season has begun. Get your bug-out kit ready.

**UPDATE** I checked at 1.30 pm today, it is now Tropical Storm Alberto.


Nine-thirty in the morning, and the footing is done. Not completely, but roughed in. There is a generally rectangular ditch dug in the yard. We'll have to fine tune it a bit when we install the form for the concrete. Then, there'll be more trenching to dig for sewer, water and electricity. In building anything you spend a lot of time digging down so you can build up. There is bound to be a chinese proverb there somewhere.

Temerature on my shaded porch is 90 degrees exactly. It is a hell of a lot hotter in the sunny area where I was digging forms. The NOAA website tell me that it will get to 99 degrees today. I doubt it, but they just might be right.

I think I might go to the grocery and get some meat to throw on the pit.

Nicotine Patches

Since being on the patch, I dream vividly. In full, living color. Weird stuff.

Last night, for example, I dreamed that Junior and I were gunsmithing in a shack near a creek. I had a broke Mod 94, he had a broke Parker 28 gauge. About the time we got those fixed, his brother shows up with a broken Sako bolt. It had a 24 inch barrel with all sorts of weird holes drilled in it. It looked like a gunsmith had a really bad day trying to mount a scope. Then there were raccoons coming in the back door and we had to run them off. There is probably some deep, dark symbolism attached to the raccoons, or maybe they were just raccoons. Ya never can tell with raccoons.

Night before last, I was deer hunting with my wife's brother. In a rainstorm.

I've read the instructions and you're supposed to wear the patch for a full 24 hours. They even said that wearing the patch at night would help with wanting a cigarette with my morning coffee. Bullshit, I still want a cigarette with my morning coffee.

However, I have footing to dig when I finish my coffee.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sattiday Mawnin

It's 9'ish and I've dug half the form for the project. The summer sun has pushed temps into the uncomfortable range, and my T shirt is wringing wet. Enough of that for now.

Yesterday, when I called the Honda dealership, I left a voice-mail at the parts desk. They promised they would call back. Yada Yada Yada. They've been open now for 28 minutes and they haven't called back. I think I am going to call the management and ask why the parts desk can't return phone calls.

Friday, June 09, 2006

96 GL1500 problems

My bike is a 96 GL1500 Goldwing. Steady, reliable, comfortable. The Goldwing motorcycle set new standards when it rolled off the factory floor in 1976 and continues to set standards today. I love my Goldwing, and with something over 150K miles on it, I figure I have another three or four years before it is time to trade.

The bike has been sure-fire reliable since I got it. In those 150 thousand miles, it only has needed a new alternator, tires, bulbs and other routine maintenance. Till recently. I was driving home one afternoon and braked at a stop sign. The engine died. I started it again and continued home. The engine continued to die when I applied the brakes. It brought me home, but not without a bunch of perplexed cussing.

I broke it down this afternoon and traced the problem to a faulty relay in the brake light circuit. I piddled with it a little while and got the problem resolved temporarily. Of course, my Honda dealership was closed at 5:30 when I called to see if they have the relay I need. I'll call them tomorrow, but I can almost guarantee that they'll have to order the relay. They are closed, of course, on Monday, so it will be Tuesday at the soonest, probably Wednesday before the relay is in.

Pawpaw is discontent when his motorcycle is sick. That old Honda out there is my magical carpet ride, guaranteed to melt the stress away whenever I need it. I can ride it right now, but I can't trust it until that relay is fixed properly.

There are very few things sadder than having a sick motorcycle.


As it turns out, I need a permit for the project I am working on in the back yard.

Lets be honest here. I want to do a good job, and I want the work safe and don't want to do anything substandard. I would like to save as much money as possible. The permitting folks are understanding that I want to do as much as possible to save the maximum amount of my money. However, as I am adding to an existing septic system, I have to get it certified. As a minimum, I need my treatment plant pumped out and a one-year service contract. I'm not sure what that will cost, but those are absolute requirements before the health department will give me a permit. I need the health department permit before the planning commission will give me a building permit.

I did get out this morning and located my water line and septic lines, and it turns out that they are within six feet of where I am building the pool house. That is good news, as trenching will be minimal. I'll dig a trench myself so the plumber will have the absolute minimum of effort when he hooks everything up. Stringing electricity out there might be a problem, but I am going to get some expert help with that.

I'm sweating every day. I'm starting to feel it in my arms and legs and it feels good. My work isn't physically demanding. Like most guys my age, I don't get nearly enough exercise. I'm not overdoing anything, but working a couple of hours in the morning and the evening with a shovel is a good thing.

I'm also trying to quit smoking. I have been a steady, addicted cigarette smoker for the last 35 years. Pack and a half a day. Sometimes two packs during high stress times. June 1st I started quitting. Every day since, I have quit smoking again. I intend to keep quitting till I get it right. I'm using the patch and it seems to help quite a bit. I may have to get the gum to finish for good.

I know one damn thing. I used to smoke quite a bit sitting near this computer. I also used to smoke a lot while writing. Working on reports, or an essay, or trying to get a sentence to flow, I'd sit back, light a cigarette, and let the words curl around the smoke. Smoking hasn't caused me any health issues. I'm a smoker and I've only taken off sick two days in the past four years. However, I know the years are advancing on me. I know the health risks. I know it is time to quit.

In my case, it isn't an issue of being scared into quitting, it is the cumulative effect of years of education and knowledge. Smoking is bad for me. I know that. But I like tobacco. I've always liked tobacco. And it hasn't bitten me yet. Like losing an old dog who has outlived his span of years, or putting down an old horse, I look at quitting smoking with mixed emotions. Yeah, it is the right thing to do, but damn, we had some good years. I'm a little sad, and a little melancholy about it.

Don't tell me how much better off I'll be when I quit. I know all that. Like telling someone how much better things will be once a loved one passes on. Yeah, I know that, but saying it is just a bit tacky. How'm I doing, you ask? After 35 years of smoke, I am down to a couple a day. Maybe three. I'm quitting and that is that. The pack I opened on May 31st still has cigarettes in it. I doubt I'll ever need any more.

Still, I have a building to construct and permits to obtain. Let the bureaucratic games begin.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Blogger was down most of the day. All the blogger sites I watch suffered from slow server issues all day long. I don't guess we should bitch, because we get what we pay for. With Blogger, that is exactly zero.

So, how does someone give up this much bandwidth and make money doing it? Or is Blogger some big altruistic organization who gives us all a spot on the bulletin board?

Not much in their FAQ about it.


It's amazing the things you have to do before you can do the things you want to do. Part of my building projects over the next several years will involve concrete trucks. Concrete trucks are heavy, and can't jump ditches. I don't want a concrete truck in my front yard, not because they'll damage the grass, but because they might collapse the sewerage line. Collapsing the sewerage line is a bad thing.

I live on a parish road, and the ditch, technically, belongs to the parish. You need the parish's permission to put in a culvert. So, I called the parish. They sent a fellow (nice guy!) out who looked at the spot I want to culvert, took some measurements, consulted his notes, and told me I need a 15 inch culvert. It I buy the culvert, the parish will install it in their ditch.

"What type culvert should I buy?" I asked him.

"Doesn't matter to us." he replied. "Just get a culvert, then call us back. We'll come out here and install it."

You ever tried to find a culvert when you wanted to buy one? Ha! Lowe's doesn't carry them. None of the building materials places I called had a culvert. I found exactly one concrete company that has culvert, but they must be made of gold. The tariff was entirely too steep. Extravagant. I just want a damn tinhorn culvert. Every redneck in the world has driven his truck off the end of a tinhorn culvert. Some stalwart individuals have tried to drive in to a tinhorn culvert, usually with disastrous results. The Deep South, and most of Texas, has a tinhorn culvert every hundred feet or so. There are millions of them in use, but no one sells the damn things. They must appear as if by magic.

Milady heard me muttering and recalled a Feed and Seed store that had a bunch of culvert stacked up near the highway. The only place in the parish that sells them, evidently. I called them and they sold me a tinhorn culvert. It's 20 feet long and heavy. They loaded it with a forklift into my trailer. Now I have to get that summbitch out of the trailer and on to the ground. Some rope, a stout tree, and my daughter at the wheel of the truck. Sounds like a plan.

What could possibly go wrong? Here! Hold my beer.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Blue berries

I was cutting grass over at Mom and Dad's place this morning. Mom has always kept a garden and an orchard and her blueberries. I was mowing aroung the blueberry bushes and noticed that they are producing quite nicely this year. After I was finished mowing she asked it I would like some berries, her fridge is full.

I brought home a Wal-Mart sack full of blueberries. I packaged them into quart freezer bags and filled four of them for a gallon total. Momma is 73 years old and she can still work me into the ground. She's always been able to work me into the ground, even when I was a teenager.

I'm going back tomorrow morning to spend a couple of hours on the bush-hog.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Pinnacle of Bush Derangement Syndrome

This is it, guys. I've found it. Bush derangement syndrome doesn't get any better than this!
The conservative politics of the Bush administration forced me to have an abortion I didn't want. Well, not literally, but let me explain.
In this article a self-professed "42-year-old happily married mother of two elementary-schoolers" tells us that she and her husband had sex and she got pregnant and it is all Bush's fault. This is the ne-plus-ultra of liberal thought.

Not one word about practicing safe sex. Not one word about personal responsibility. Not one word about a baby being a logical product of unprotected sex. Nothing about tubal ligations, or vasectomies, or abstinence.

It's all Bush's fault. So, she had an abortion that she didn't want.

She needs to have a long talk with her parish priest.

Brush busting myths

Rivrdog takes me to task in comments over my choice of deer ammo, and in doing so brings up one of the myths that seem to perpetuate the shooting community. The myth of the brush busting caliber. To put it plainly, there ain't no such thing. This is no condemnation of Rivrdog. He is entitled to his opinion.

PawPaw remembers as a mere lad, at a range at Fort Knox, KY, we were zeroing the M16A1 rifle. Pawpaw was standing in a foxhole with two sandbags supporting the weapon, firing at a target 25 meters away. And not hitting anything. Nada. No holes in the target. My Drill Sergeant looked downrange and noticed a piece of grass swaying each time I pulled the trigger. The grass was about halfway between me and the target. During a cease-fire, he walked out and harvested that piece of grass. He told me he though my bullets were grazing that piece of grass, and I should try again. I did, and I zero'd the weapon.

Sometime thereafter, Jack O'Connor took the same perception and thorougly debunked it with a series of tests. I wish I had kept the article, but that was thirty years ago. However, Jim Carmichael says in an article in Field and Stream,
When I hear hunters talking about brush-busting calibers, I often wonder what it is they’re shooting at. It seems to me that the whole point is to miss brush and similar obstructions rather than hit them. I’m simplifying, of course, but not by much, because we don’t hear about timber-busting calibers as much as we used to. One reason is that the myths about thumb-size bullets bulldozing their way through timber have pretty much been demolished.
Yet the myth persists. For myself, I don't shoot at a deer when there is anything between me and the deer. I might shoot between trees, over brush, under brush, or whatever, but I don't take the shot if there is anything I can see between me and the target. I don't shoot through brush because the deer deserves better than that.

The simple fact is that there is more than one way to skin a cat. There is also more than one way to kill a deer. Or a hog, or anything else that needs killing. Cast bullets work. They work differently than jacketed, but they work just fine. I wouldn't try to shoot a deer across a bean field with my old .30-30. There are better rifles for that sort of shooting. However, I like still hunting. Taking a rifle and watching an area that deer are known to frequent. Moving slowly through the woods, stopping frequently to watch and listen and learn.

The last three deer I killed were killed like that. All three were killed with cast bullets. None of them moved more than ten yards after being shot. It's a different style of hunting. Don't ask me how many shots I passed up because there was something between me and the deer. It doesn't matter.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Chief Riley should be fired

Chief Warren Riley, of the New Orleans Police Department, says in this article that he will confiscate firearms if there is another emergency in New Orleans.

In direct violation of the Lousiana Constitution, in direct violation of the US Constitution, in direct violation of the civil rights of the people of New Orleans.

Ray Nagin should immediately fire this nitwit. It doesn't look like he's too damned smart. This is the sort of thing that got his predecessor run off. Taking firearms from law abiding citizens is a non-starter. Whether the big-city cops like it or not, Lousiana is an open carry state. They really should read those books we send them... you know... the law books.

Range Report

I went out with the .30-30 ths morning. That little Meister bullet that Junior sent me was one of the candidates. I think I found a starting load. 0.7 ccs of Blue Dot gave an average velocity of 1203 and put four into an inch with no leading. Five went into 1.5 inches. There is always a flyer, and flyers make a good man cuss. The target is below, with all my numbers. You can click on the picture for the large version. The squares are an inch, the target was shot at 25 yards.

This little bullet comes from Meister at 0.312" and has to be sized down to fit a .308 barrel. It is originally designed for the .32-20 rifle and is used in Cowboy Action shooting. However, at 1200 fps, it makes a nice little plinking load. Recoil is virtually non-existent, barely more than a .22. This load will shoot. It'll take a little fine-tuning, but it will shoot.

After I got through playing with the Meister bullet, I wanted to chrony the 311041 load that I worked up with surplus 4895. The front sight on my Mod 94 covers six inches at 50 yards, so I used the bullseye to completely align with the bead on the front sight. When I had a perfect alignment, I squeezed it off. This target was shot at 50 yards.

My love affair with this bullet continues. My ability to cuss flyers is enhanced. Then I looked at the numbers. Avg 1892 with a standard deviation of 16. My ES is higher than I like it, but the group is wonderful. Four into one ragged hole, that flyer opening the group to 1.2". I'm through playing with this load. This becomes my woods-deer-hunting load for next year. All that is left to do now is load up a bunch of them and keep my eye in at different ranges.

I'm looking forward to the practice.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Used Winchesters

Two years ago, it was not uncommon to find a used Winchester in the pawn shop rack for $125.00. Not so anymore. Used Winchesters, at least locally, are commanding a premium. I looked at one Wednesday, a beat-up Angle Eject, with the rebounding hammer and the safety for $275.00. I told the counterman, who I have bought a lot of guns from, that this was the least desireable of the Winchester Model 94 line and was barely a $150.00 gun. He agreed, but said that Winchester was out of business and no one is making any more. I laughed and walked out the store.

Today I wandered in to his competition and scrolled across the rack. I spotted the familiar linkage of a Winchester lever and asked the guy about it. He took it down. I know this counterman, too, he has sold me stuff in the past. He got out the bore light. Clean chamber, but a little copper fouling about halfway down the barrel. A little elbow grease will fix that. Rifling is good all the way out to the muzzle. The reciever is post 64, and the serial number is 3.8 million, which puts the rifle made in 1970. No safety. Half-cock. Receiver drilled and tapped for receiver sight. The stock has been Bubba'd but I can fix that, or replace it. It's a standard 20" carbine. Winchester made millions of them, and Wal-Mart sold a bunch of them. Exterior finish is poor, it looks like it has been riding around behind the seat of a pickup truck. Price is $175.00. The owner didn't want to dicker. Matter of fact, he probably wishes he had added another $25.00.

I put it on layaway. Is it a good deal? No, not really. That rifle sold new for about $100.00 back in 1970. The economic reality of the situation is that without a manufacturer, there will be no more Model 94 Winchesters. Even though there were millions made, no one is making them today. Winchester lever action rifles will continue to show up on used gun racks for the forseeable future, but the prices will be higher than they were in the past.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Nanny State

Mostly Cajun links to this article, which is about our paranoia and the way modern day America has become risk adverse. Which caused me to remember.

Back in the day, the late '60s, there were two places for a geek to hang out at the high school. The chemistry lab or the radio shack (not the company, the room on the second floor near old man Hutchinson's room.) We'd either be working with beakers and bunsen burners in the chem lab, dreaming up ways to torment the assistant principal (a load of sulfur dioxide was a guaranteed way to get suspended) or trying to listen to NASA talking to whichever mission was in orbit at the time. My junior and senior year was a time of actual learning, scientific exploration, and an exponential explosion of the understanding of our physical world.

We also had this little thing called The Draft. You either made the grades, or your senior trip was to Saigon. The Army recuiter would hang out in the parking lot, no doubt tipped off by the evil, scheming Assistant Principal. If you dropped out, or were expelled, the recruiter was waiting in the parking lot when you came out. Either sign up, or in two weeks you get a draft notice. Helluva choice. I digress.

In my high school, scientific exploration was expected. You had to pass science and you couldn't do it just sitting in the classroom. Lab work was part of the deal. Biology, chemistry, physics was just part of high school. You either passed or took THE WALK out to the parking lot alone. Once or twice a year, someone screwed up in the lab and destroyed something. It was almost never fatal, but was looked upon as part of the learning process. Bubbling pure hydrogen into a soap solution made a nice mini-explosion if you were too close to a burner. We all learned not to do that.

Across the building, in the radio shack, high voltage was the order of the day. Charge a capacitor and toss it to a fellow student, then laugh like hell when he danced. Good clean fun.

Fast forward to September 1999. Summer is over and my youngest is back in high school. He faces the dreaded "What did you do this summer?" essay. We had been clearing pasture and I taught him how to make pipe bombs. Blowing a stump is a lot easier than digging it out, and you have to be careful not to explode yourself. Some PVC pipe, some black powder, some cannon fuse. Too little and the stump just sits there. Too much and pieces fall out of the sky forever. Smokeless powder versus black. Tamped or untamped. Differing soil conditions. Very scientific. Very noisy. Lots of running involved. Good athletic workout, sprinting away from a burning fuse.

He wrote the essay. I got a call from the school. In the middle of the workday, in a plainclothes assignment at the time and some of the teachers didn't know I was a cop. They were babbling something about Columbine High School and pipe bombs and firearms. ("What is that on your hip?"). It was all very instructive and representative of the way we have become overly concerned about risk.

We have become a nation of pussies.