Monday, July 31, 2006

Tractor Tires

I own a tractor. A 20 horsepower 2 cylinder diesel Yanmar YM1600. It pulls a four-foot shredder. I bought it used about five years ago and basically ignore it except to check the fluids before I start it and change the oil once a year.

Last summer I noticed the tires had dry-rotted and pumped them back up till I finished mowing, then put the tractor in the barn and didn't think about it till this year. This little tractor gets run about 100 hours a season.

This morning I had to put tires on it. Firestone 8.3-24 R1 offroad/ag tires.

There are hundreds of thousands of these little tractors all over the US. They all use the same engine, the small diesel from Mitsubishi. In either the two or three cylinder variation, this engine powers IH, Case, John Deere and probably a couple of other brands. If it is a small diesel tractor, you probably have a Mitsubishi engine.

The tires never wear out on these tractors. They finally just dry-rot off the rims. I had a heck of a time finding two tires in this area, simply because there isn't much demand for them. I actually started last week trying to find some tires that didn't demand a king's ransom to buy and mount.

I got it done at a local place. I took the tractor off the trailer and sat in the shade swapping jokes and smokes with the tire mechanic, a guy about my age. He was kind of pissed, because, in his words, "The boss ran off all the other help and now he is on my case because he's behind. If you don't mind waiting, I'll change those tires right now, but I ain't getting in any hurry."

I propped up on a skidder tire and we talked while he worked. About half-way through the job, the boss came out and asked him to change one steering tire on a Kenworth tractor. He looked at me, and I shrugged my shoulders. He jacked that tire off the ground and changed it with the rim still on the truck, using tire irons. I offered the comment that it looked like he had done that a couple of times. He told me that he had been changing big tires for 29 years and that it was easier to change the tire on the truck than taking it off and putting it on the machine. In twenty minutes he was through, and got back to working on my tractor.

All told, with the jokes and the coke and everything, it took about two hours to put the tires on that tractor. I really enjoyed sitting and talking to a man who obviously understood his work.

That didn't last long

I see in this morning's Town Talk that Israel resumed air strikes after Hizbollah attacked an IDF tank. Evidently those guys just don't understand that a cease-fire works both ways.

It seems that the message got out to the residents, who Hizbollah lives among. If the civilians got the word, we can assume that the terrorists got it too.
By early afternoon Monday, roads from villages into the port city of Tyre and heading north along the coast were packed with thousands of refugees in pickup trucks and cars. With many of the main roads too shattered for use, cars drove on dirt side roads with white flags fluttering out windows or white sheets covering the roofs.
Getting out of harm's way seems prudent, indeed.

Hizbollah has no moral high-ground in this fight. They use reprensible tactics to attack the Israelis, both with rockets and on the ground. They hide behind civilians to further their goals. Captain Ed says it better than I could:
However, the world needs to temper their outrage over the accidental and collateral civilian deaths with a lot more outrage over the tactics of Israel's enemies. Hezbollah has from the opening momemts of this war targeted civilian populations on purpose, firing 2500 rockets at Israeli cities and displacing over 300,000 civilians in the process. They routinely position their fighters among civilian populations and dress them to blend into residential neighborhoods. Civilian deaths are not collateral damage in Hezbollah's strategy, but a key component of their battle plan.
The tactics of terrorists are despicable.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sumtin don't add up

Okay, I was over at SondraK's, and noticed this story on and IDF attack in Lebanon. It seems the Israeli Air Force attacked a building in the village of Qana at midnight, and it collapsed about 8:00 a.m. Following Sondra's links, I find that
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued that call after an Israeli air strike killed at least 57 civilians in the town of Qana, the site of a similar massacre of civilians by Israel a decade ago. (In 1996, an Israeli air strike on a United Nations compound in Qana killed more than 100 civilians who had sought shelter there.) Lebanese officials said the majority of the dead in today's attack were children. Hundreds of Lebanese civilians have been killed in previous Israeli attacks.
The IDF says that an additional strike was launched at 7:30 a.m., but didn't strike the building in question.

My questions are these; Which father or mother would take children into a damaged building? Why were children there in the first place? Didn't all the parents get the leaflet drop telling them to get the kids out of harm's way? Or, is Hizbollah again using children as human shields? Were these children placed in harms way for a particular purpose? There are too many unanswered questions about civilian deaths in a building that collapses eight hours after an attack.

This is just another ploy from Hizbollah. Those children were directly placed in harms way as camera-fodder for the media.

I see from the Houston Chronicle that Israel has agreed to a 48 hour halt to air attacks. Good for them. This shows the world that Israel is willing to suspend air operations for humanitarian concerns. It will also give the parents in the area time to move the kids north. One concern is that Hizbollah will not recirocate, and will continue rocket attacks. If they do, Israel will have the absolute right to continue to pound the launch sites. If I were running the Israeli forces and Hizbollah violated the armistice, I would conduct unrestricted warfare and demand unconditional surrender before another cease-fire.

Let's not forget that Hizbollah started this mess. They can end it at any time.

Hat-tip to SondraK.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I noticed last week that Zawahiri said "the whole world is our battlefield."

I also notice that Seattle has had a problem with a lone Muslim gunman.

Didn't take long to connect those dots, did it? Wonder how long it'll take for the rest of the world to connect them?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Winchester 94

They aren't making these anymore. Sometime earlier this year, the New Haven plant shut down as part of Winchester's cost-saving measures.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a lever action fan. If you do much shooting with me, you'll learn that the old .30-30 cartridge is every bit as useful today as it was when it debuted at the end of the 1800s. It created a lot of stir then as a hunting round, and it still generates campfire conversation today.

I bought another one today. It isn't new. In fact, it is older than my children. The reference website over at Arms Collectors shows this one was made in 1970. I was a junior in High School when this Winchester came out the factory. It has all the stuff I am looking for. It has no safety. It has a half-cock notch. It is tapped for a reciever sight, and it throws the empty brass straight up. It is not designed for scope mounting.

And, it is all beat to hell. This rifle was used, although the bore light tells me the rifling is in good shape. Cycling the empty action shows a little roughness in closing and this weekend I'll take it down and see what the problem is. The wood to metal fit is poor. It looks like someone tried to refinish the stock and failed. The wrist is poorly fitted to the reciever and the steel butt plate shows signs of being poorly refit. It is a beater rifle, yet Winchester ain't making these anymore.

Oh, it is a pickup rifle all right. That wear on the blueing looks like it has been slid in and out of a scabbard hundreds of times. It still sports the original semi-buckhorn sight which I intend to promptly replace with a reciever sight.

If I know Winchesters, this one has probably never been taken apart. There is very little information around on how to properly detail strip a Mod 94. While it isn't difficult, it will leave you scratching your head. Proper screwdrivers are important, as are the proper directions. One of the best I've found so far was written by my buddy, Junior, over at Castbullet. I'm betting that it has never been detailed for a thorough cleaning and that three decades of gunk and grit are hiding in the innards. We'll see soon.

What's something like this worth? The market is weird right now, because no one is making a Model 94. The Winchester plant recently closed and no one else has bought the licensing to produce them. We don't know if the Model 94 will ever again be produced and the market reflects the uncertainty. I'm not sure what it is worth even in the battered condition I found it. Similar rifles on Guns America are going for three times more than I paid for this one, yet these rifles will continue to show up in the pawn shop racks for the forseeable future. We'll have to let the market decide what they are worth.

Just for the record, if you guessed that I paid $200.00 for it, you'd be really high in your estimate.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Modern Battlefield

Oyster asks in comments: When you say the "modern battlefield", what do you mean, precisely? Does that include batttlefields in WWI and WWII, for example?

Good question, oyster. I might have better said "today's battlefield".

The concept of a modern battlefield is something that warriors talk about. It describes a mix of things that come into play in warfare, and includes such things as MOUT, the Air-Land-Sea battle, unconventional warfare, logistics and economies. It is much more than the tactical fight between opposing commanders.

Some might consider the US Civil War the first modern battlefield because it included for the first time, many of the parameters we usually set for a modern conflict. US Grant saw the war as a battle between economies and he focused his fight on destroying the enemy's ability to sustain a force in the field. Lee was defeated as much by his country's inability to sustain him as he was by tactical considerations.

In the European theater during WWII, our strategic forces concentrated on such things as ball-bearing factories, fuel supplies, and railroad stock as targets to bring the German army to heel. Patton rightly decided after the Ardennes campaign that the Germans were on their last leg because they were using horse-drawn carts to transport supplies.

During the Viet Nam war, we saw that an enemy in the field could be woefully smitten by our forces, but that political considerations at home would create the environment for an enemy victory. Vietnamese General Giap has said that he was nearly defeated in the field, but that the anti-war protests in the United States made military victory impossible for US forces.

All of these considerations enter into the concept of the Modern Battlefield.

My concern for Israeli forces is that the political will matches the military determination to finish the fight. Pressure is being exerted in international circles for a cease fire. Hizbollah is being beaten logistically and any army in the field that can't get beans to the soldiers will soon be defeated. I'm seeing concerns about "proportionality" for a conflict Israel didn't start. Yet, Fox news reports that Zawahiri understands the modern battlefield
"We cannot just watch these shells as they burn our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon and stand by idly, humiliated," al-Zawahiri said, adding that "all the world is a battlefield open in front of us."

"The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires. ... It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," he said. "We will attack everywhere."
We and our allies are beating back the forces of terrorism, yet I see calls in the media for a cease fire. If the international community will allow the IDF to do what they set out to do, they'll win this thing and Hizbollah will be utterly destroyed. The question is not now so much the military victory as it is the political victory. The IDF might see tactical reverses on the ground, they are going to suffer casualties, they are going to be entering into a hard fight, but if the politicos demonstrate steadfast resolve, the Israelis will be victorious.

The question is the same here in the United States.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Late night musings

I'm watching Fox news and reading about the fight in Lebanon. For the record, I think that Israel is doing the right thing. Hizbollah started this mess, misinterpreting the will of the Israelis that they had taken all they intended to take. That raid two weeks ago was a terrible miscalulation on the part of the Hizbollah commanders.

As I watch this fight unfold, I am concerned for the IDF, not because I don't think they can handle the fight, but because don't think the media and the international community can handle it. Israel has shown that they want to bury Hizbollah, and the fighters in southern Lebanon have had time to dig in, to get set, and they are spoiling to fight the IDF on their home ground. All they have to do to win is survive.

Pete Longstreet noticed back in 1863 that with rifles and normally matched forces, the advantage rests with the entrenched defender. That dynamic hasn't changed in the last 140 years. The Israeli Army is engaged against defenders who know the terrain and have had plenty of time to plan a defense. The defenders don't have an air force, or much artillery, but they are pretty good infantry. A couple of good men in a foxhole who know how to use rifles can bog down an infantry company for a couple of hours. If the defenders have fall-back positions, the fight might last longer. If three or four such positions are mutually supporting, the fight might last all day.

I am reminded that Israel has good armor, excellent artillery and great logistcal support. While amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics. The modern battlefield is a huge meat-grinder that costs in men, equipment, and material. Normal expenditure rates go out the window and are often tripled or quadrupled as the fight takes shape. Normally, whoever has the most stuff on the ground wins.

Fox is saying that the Israelis lost nine men today. That battle-count might pale in the next several days against an entrenched Hizbollah. I am reminded of the Marines fight on Iwo Jima, on Okinawa, and the Army's fight in the Hurtgen forest during WWII.

I think the Israelis have the stamina to prosecute such a fight. I'm not sure the diplomats and the media have the same stamina. It could get messy. It could get bloody, and it could sound the death-knell for Hizbollah.

The next few days could be really interesting.

Autorantic Virtual Moonbat

For added levity, I have added the Autorantic Virtual Moonbat on the bottom of the right sidebar. Anytime I want to read a left-wing rant, all I have to do is click the Rant button. Users are free to try it.

This is an invention of Sean Gleeson for the benefit of the blogging community. It's hilarious.

Of course, this virtual moonbat is not anything like my liberal friends. All names have been changed to protect the ignorant. Your mileage may vary. Only available by prescription. For prevention of disease and entertainment purposes only.

Rainy Wednesday

It's raining here in Central Louisiana, so I have time to linger over a second cup of coffee and think about things.

I read in the news about the Israeli airstrike on a UN observer post. Four UN observers were killed in the strike and Koffi Annan is upset about it. Rightfully so. Then I found this picture at SondraK's. I don't know enough about photoshop to know if this image has been altered, but if it is legit, we might understand how an Israeli pilot might have targeted it.

This purports to show a border observation post. From my experience, an observation post starts off with a couple of guys and a shovel. If the post overlooks something important, it gets bigger and more substantial every day. Eventually it looks like a permanent emplacement, with concrete and fences. This one shows the UN flag flying, which would tell a pilot that it is off limits. We also see a Hizbollah flag that would tell a pilot that it is a legitimate target.

Neutral observers have to take responsibility for their neutral status. They can't appear to favor either side in the conflict. To allow one side to use your facility for any reason tends to negate your neutral status and makes you a legitimate target.

Don't call the thunder unless you want to dance with lightning.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Second wall is up

My elder son came over today and worked the nail gun while I measured and cut. We completed the framing for the air-conditioning and framed the second wall.

Carpentry goes a whole lot quicker when you have a helper. Tomorrow we'll stand up the two remaining walls, install the second header boards, then I can go buy materials for the roof.

First wall

I got the first wall standing up today. I framed it on sawhorses and Milady came out to help me stand it up. I have it braced three ways, so it ought to be there when I get back to it. With the outside temperature at 88 degrees with 100% humidity, and sun on the slab it felt a whole lot hotter. However, I now have studs standing up and I can see some progress.

I called Home Depot yesterday when I was pricing lumber and went through the whole call center aggravation before I was finally connected to someone in the lumber department. When you are buying dimensioned lumber, you ask for it in a basic number format. A standard board, probably the most common board in the world is the 2x4 (two-by four). They come in varying lengths (studs, eight, ten and twelve feet are common lengths). If you are looking for a 2x4x8, you ask for a two by four by eight. The lumber man should know what you are asking for. The conversation went something like this.

Him: "Lumber Department, can I help you?"

Me: "Yeah, I'm looking for some lumber. What are y'all getting for 2x4 studs?

Him: "I don't know, let me look....." ... ... "$2.43."

Me: "Okay, good. How about 2x4x8?"

Him "Hang on"... .... .... .... "Uuuh, I don't see them in the computer."

Me: "Are you telling me you don't have any two by fours?... Y'all are running a lumber yard down there, aren't you?"

Him: "I'm sure we have some, mister, but I can't give you a price on them."

Me: "You just lost a sale, buddy. Go tell your manager that whoever is entering prices in that computer is a dumbass."

Him: "Yessir. You have a nice day."

I bought my lumber at Martin Building Materials, a local store. A person answers the phone there, and although she has to transfer your call, the people at the sales desk know the prices of lumber back in the lumber yard. They also have workers in the lumber yard that will load your truck. The best part was that their prices for dimensioned lumber were cheaper than the national chains. They don't have a webpage, or I would have given them a link.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Shrapnel and splinters

There seems to be some confusion over two individual types of metal used in bombs to cause personnel casualties.

Bombs kill in any number of ways. One is concussion. The shock wave of a bomb destroys things, including flesh. Another is from splinters. The torn metal casing of the bomb deconstructs in the blast to make splinters. These metal splinters are of varying size and often do horrific damage by cutting and tearing as they fly through the air. Shrapnel is little metal balls that are included in the casing to add an increased volume of metal. They fly outward with the spinters from the metal casing, increasing the lethality of the bomb.

This picture shows the difference between splinter and shrapnel. They were found as part of the detrius of a Katyusha rocket fired by Hizbollah into Israel. This photo demonstrates the difference between shrapnel and splinter. The shrapnel are the little metal balls. The splinters are the jagged metal obects.

Either could be used against personnel or equipment. However, Hizbollah is using shrapnel in the Katyusha, an area weapon. These rockets are not being fired at military targets. They are being fired almost exclusively at cities to terrify and harrass.

Hat tip to LGF.

One more time

for those of you who aren't paying attention.

1. We are in a War on Terror.
2. Hizbollah is a terrorist organization based in Southern Lebanon.
3. Hizbollah started this latest wave of violence by raiding Israel and capturing soldiers.
4. Israel responded by bombing bridges, roads and airfields to prevent the captured soldiers from being moved.
5. Lebanon is unwilling/unable to contain Hizbollah. As such, they are a terrorist state. (You're either with us, or against us.)
6. Hizbollah hides behind civilians. Hizbollah knows that the international organizations find civilian casualties repulsive. Hizbollah doesn't care. Hizbollah wants to use civilians as shields.
7. Israel dropped leaflets warning civilians to get out. Hizbollah stopped the civilians from leaving.
8. Hizbollah is to blame for all the civilian deaths in the region. All of them.
9. UN resolutions mean nothing. The UN is worthless as tits on a boar hog.
10. Israel is an ally of the United States in the War on Terror. If they are killing terrorists, that is a good thing. If some civilians get whacked along the way, they were warned. See #6, 7, and 8, above.

100% Southern

According to this test, I am 100% Southern, on both the basic and advanced level.

Here is the link to the test.

That should come as no surprise to anyone, as I have spent all my life in the Deep South. (Army time is considered Southern, because it involves shooting, sleeping under the stars, and chewing tobacco.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Deconstructing Dickiet

In Comments, Dickiet says:
DickieT said...
What is it about Katrina that made everyone suddenly a Liberterian. I was in a safe, dry neighborhood too until the Corp's levees broke.
You probably should stay out of New Orleans for now. Too much to learn by seeing for yourself.
But if anyone wants to see how to do it for yourself come to New Orleans.
If you want to see where the Nanny state will take you come to New Orleans.
Or wait a few years until you can hang out in the French Quarter, get drunk with the other tourist and go home to tell the church group how decadent those New Orleans people are.
Well, hell, Pardner, it seems like everyone thinks I became a libertarian over night. That didn't happen over night. It took years of experience, and I'm really not a libertarian. I agree that there are some things the gummint does better. I don't believe that taking care of people is one of them. People ought to take care of themselves, and if they do something stupid, they ought to take responsibility for it. I'm big on personal responsibility.

Ya see, Dickie, I too was once flooded by the gummint. Back in the day, they built a big ole levee in Natchitoches Parish, but they called it Interstate 49. Before they figured out the floodplain, they flooded me out of my house not once, but twice. Six years apart. I learned all about drywall and mold and recovery. I learned about gutting houses. I learned all sorts of things that I didn't necessarily want to learn. My lil ole house on Bayou Derbonne has been remodeled three times in the past twenty years. The Feds didn't help at all. I did it all myself. I didn't whine about it, I just did it. I have the Tee-shirt. I know all about hundred year flood maps.

You're right that I should stay out of New Orleans right now. I like New Orleans and before the August 2005 debacle, I'd visit a couple of times a year and drop a couple of hundred in the local economy. I wouldn't get drunk, but I would appreciate the architecture, eat at a nice restaurant, have a drink at Pat's. Unfortunately, you people can't quit whining long enough to get your act together. New Orleans showed me it was unwilling to change when it voted Ray Nagin back in office.

Ya see, Scooter, New Orleans is the king of Whine right now. If you want the tourist dollar, you have to act like you want it. The streets have to be clean. The sidewalks have to be safe. The service has to be excellent, and above all, we don't want to hear you whine.

This year for example, I went to Laredo, Texas. Where they are having a frigging drug war. Where they find bodies every day. But where the people have quiet dignity and act like they want my tourist money. I didn't hear a single person whine about their problems. They were all happy to see me. We dropped a bundle in los dos Laredos.

All I'm hearing out of New Orleans is a victim class whine. "We were evacuated. We lost everything. The levees broke." No one wants to go on vacation and listen to that shit. You want to be decadent? Fine. All we ask is that you have a little class, a little style.

There are a lot of folks in the USA who have been disastered. I've been through it twice, so there isn't a damn thing that New Orleans can tell me about it. When it happens again, when you have rebuilt the second time, when the bills are paid and you've done the work you need to do, then you can talk about it with adults. Until then, shut the hell up. You've got work to do.

Mayoreo y Menudeo

I saw these two words everywhere in the Spanish speaking parts of Laredo (both sides). There is another Mexican cutie in the photo, but all you see is her back.

Mayoreo and Menudeo. At first, I thought Mayoreo was a nice play on words to describe Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans, but the fact that these words were painted on nearly every storefront made me believe that perhaps it means Wholesale and Retail or some other phrase that is significant to cross-border shoppers.

Anyone care to translate this for me?

I love this photo, taken in front of a Mexican pharmacy. Lots of medicines that require a prescription in the US are sold OTC in Mexico. Here, Milady poses with a placard outside a main-street pharmacy.

You'll notice that the first three listed are Levitra, Viagra, Cialis. Numerous other brand-name medications are on the card too. Prescription medications are easy to find in old Mexico as OTC medications. Narcotics are controlled and require a physician, but other meds are sold across the counter.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Katrina and Beirut

This morning as we were packing, I noticed a CNN reporter interviewing US Citizens being picked up off the beach in Beirut. No screen shots or links.

Anyway, here comes this young mother with children in tow, being loaded on a US Navy landing craft and some reporter puts a microphone in her face. And she's talking about "We're from New Orleans and we lost everthing in Katrina and now we've been evacuated twice in one year." (Not a transcript)

My wife, my lady, looks at the TV and says: "How many times do we have to rescue you before you take those kids somewhere safe?"

All I could think was "Damn! What an idiot! Is there anywhere you go, anything you do, that you don't have to listen to Katrina refugees complain?"

I am calmed knowing that the dumb broad is on her way to Cyprus, again on the government nickel.

In other news, we made it home about 1:00. Everything is safe and all is right with the world. Laundry is working and I am about to go take a nap in my own bed.

I noticed on the driveway that my grass really needs cutting.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Observations of the border

1. Anyone who swims the Rio Grande doesn't know how to walk.

This photo is taken of the international bridge in Laredo, TX. Those folks walking across the bridge are Mexican nationals who work or shop in Laredo. I watched for an hour and a half. Steady, all the traffic the bridge could hold. Those who were shopping were buying those things that might not be available, or they were buying those things that were valuable for resale. At the end of the day, the traffic reverses and those folks who came over, go home. Those lucky enough to have jobs over here, pay Social Security and they are working for retirement, just like the rest of us working stiffs.

2. The women are beautiful, but not in the over-makeup, boob-job American sense. They are women as God intended them to be.

I don't know who this young lass is and it doesn't matter. She showed up in a photo I was taking of the street. Young, soft curves, delicate features in the morning light. She was shopping and she is representative of the young women who cross the bridge every morning. The older ladies have a soft dignity born of life. There is nothing artificial about them. What you see is what they are.

3. We were stopped by the border patrol about twenty miles north of Laredo in a common border checkpoint. The officers there cleared us quickly. We asked why there weren't more tourists in Nuevo Laredo and were told that there is a drug-turf war going on over there and they are killing about one person a day. The tourists are staying away and that is causing the border vendors a loss of business. We noticed on Wednesday that we appeared to be the only four gringos on the south side of the border, and that might explain the loss of cross-border American traffic.

4. The border problem is a whole lot more complicated than it seems at first glance. There are a lot of good people who will be affected, regardless of whatever the Congress decides to do about the border.

We've been east-bound since noon. We left Laredo after lunch and started home. We're spending the night at Baytown, Texas and tomorrow we'll make the final jump to central Louisiana. Vacation is about over.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nuevo Laredo

I learned some interesting things today. One is that Blogger evidently allows only two photos per post. I can work around that.

Here is something else I learned. Honda sells different motorcycles in Mexico than it does in the US.

This is the Honda Cargo, (CG125) a neat little runabout that the Mexicans use as a delivery vehicle. It works great for small deliveries. I also learned that Burger King makes deliveries in Nuevo Laredo. That is a great idea they should export to the United States.

Milady loves shopping, which comes as no surprise to anyone.

Here she is surrounded by costume jewelry. She didn't make any purchases at this shop, but did buy a very unique ring at a jewelry shop down the street. Jewelry is sold by the gram across the border. When asked a price, the jeweler would weigh the piece and do a little figuring on a calculator. That was the starting price. The haggling began and a price was negotiated. Milady saved considerably on her purchases.

I bought a couple of belts made of sturdy harness leather. When I asked about the price, the girl told me that they were $10.00 a piece.

Then I asked, "What if I buy two?"

"Eight dollars apiece."

"Suppose I buy three?"

"Seven dollars apiece."

I enjoyed Mexico, but I am still wondering why it seemed that the only Gringos in Nuevo Laredo were in our party.


We got into Laredo about noon today and immediately started shopping. Laredo is a beautiful old town, with narrow streets, duty free shops, and wonderful architecture. This is the first time I've been on the Mexican border so my observations are a bit jumbled.

This shot is of the central square of the old town in Laredo, TX. We walked down to the duty free shops and bought some liquor. After we made our purchase, the store owners had a guy who carried our shopping bag to the international bridge, where our purchase was checked by Mexican authorities, then we walked past the turnstiles, crossed the road, then came back through US Customs. We put our bags in the car and went to lunch.

After lunch, we went over to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where we took a carriage ride to the old market.

A view of Nuevo Laredo from the perspective of looking across a mule's behind. We bought some leather, and some jewelry, and some clothing. No problems there. US Dollars are universally accepted. There was some sort of weird butterfly infestation. There were literally millions of small butterflies in the old market. On the way back to the bridge, Jerome decided to buy some more tequila. He bought it at a duty-free shop and some guy who worked for the store took the bag and carried it to the bridge, where it was again checked by Mexican authorities and we took possession on the bridge.

I was amazed at the amount of cross bridge traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular. I don't see the problem with getting across the border. It is virtually porous. I didn't see anyone stopped going either direction. Anybody who actually swims the Rio Grande just doesn't want to walk across the bridge. One guy in Mexico asked if we could give him a ride to Fort Worth. We told him that we weren't going that way and he left.

Another thing that I noted was that we four were the only identifiable US citizens this afternoon in Nuevo Laredo. We stuck out like sore thumbs and we were treated with courtesy and dignity and respect. I never felt threatened or uncomfortable, but I was keenly aware that we were the only Gringos in the old market. The current exchange rate is a little over 11 to 1, and there are some very good bargains available in Mexico.

I wonder why there weren't more tourists over there this afternoon?


I was over at Michelle Malkins and saw this picture that I shamelessly stole from here. It was taken at a Hezbollah rally in San Francisco. Yeah, that San Fransisco.

Seems these idiots are on the side of jihad in the USA. My only question is: When can we start shooting them?

The President Speaks

Evidently, the press is in a tizzy because he used the S-word in a private converstation with Tony Blair. He said something to this effect: "See, what they need to do is get Hezbollah to quit doing this shit and it's over."

He's right. He is exactly right. And that is the way we talk down here. That is deep South, two men talking over the hood of a truck. It's plain talk. It's honest talk. I find nothing wrong with it at all.

Like our President, the vast majority of Southern men talk like that. We don't talk like that in front of a microphone, we don't talk like that when speaking to groups, but we talk like that one-on-one, which is exactly what the President was doing.

Those reporters need to quit doing that shit, and let private converstations remain private.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

San Antonio

We started a quick tour of San Antonio this afternoon.

If you're going to go to San Antonio, you have to stop by the Alamo. True heroism here, on both sides of the wall. Most folks think that Santa Anna assaulted the front of the Alamo. T'aint so. That front wall was located inside a large courtyard. Where PawPaw and Milady are standing was inside that court.

The other place every visitor to San Antonio needs to go is the Riverwalk. Located downtown, just blocks from the Alamo, the riverwalk is an eclectic blend of shops and restaurants and nightclubs. It's below street level, so it is eight to ten degrees cooler than the streets.

Tomorrow, we're going to piddle around San Antonio for a while, then head southwest, to Laredo.

Shopping our butts off

We left Waco this morning, heading for San Antonio. Roughly 150 miles. With the Interstate highway system, that is roughly a two hour trip. Rolling with the Texas traffic, more like an hour and a half.

We got to New Braunfels and decided to eat lunch. Milady and Ms. Pat picked up a brochure and learned that New Braunfels has antiques. Lots of antiques. We hit the antique alley, which is roughly a block off the town square. Milday picked up a really nice marble-top occasional table for the living room. It wouldn't fit comfortably in the car, so we took it to FedEx. We have the marble top in the car and the rest of the table has been entrusted to the FedEx system.

From there, we left New Braunfels, 30 miles from San Antonio and Ms. Pat hollered Cedar Garden. Some sort of pottery and hobby store, ensconsed in what lookes like two large hangar-type buildings. So we backtracked and went in there.

It's 5:30, and we're in a hotel in San Antonio. No pictures today, but I have some from yesterday.

This one is Mayor Jerome Scott and the lovely Ms. Patricia in the Armstrong-Browning library on the Baylor University campus.

We're going to chill out for a little while and go see the sights in San Antonio.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Vacation - Day 2

We woke up in Waco this morning and went to see the town, with native Jerome Scott as tour guide. We started at the Baylor University campus, where we toured the Armstrong-Browning library, a shrine to Elizabeth and Robert Barrett Browning.

The Armstrong-Browning museum is a tribute to the love between a man and a woman, a tribute to the poetic genius of Robert Browning, and a teaching library for the fine arts.

Above, a picture of Pawpaw and Milady under the How do I love thee? poem
After that dose of literary introspection, we ventured forth to the Texas Ranger Museum, wherein the history of that great law-enforcement organization is catalogued.

We were looking at a display of historic Winchester rifles, when Milady pointed at an 1873 Winchester and said, ""That looks just like my Daddy's rifle. And in .38-40, too. 'cept Daddy's rifle is in better shape than that one." I was stunned. It turns out Brother Harold has that rifle. I'm going to have to do some talking to Harold. Milady has a good appreciation now of Barbeque Guns. It seems every Ranger who ever retired has loaned a barbeque gun to the museum. 1911's were the far-away favorite, followed by SW 19's, 27's and 28's. Milady was looking at one case in which a wonderfully engraved SW 27 languished, when she noticed that the base pistol is the same as the one she keeps in the closet. Milady agrees that engraved pistols are attractive and wonders about the cost of a tastefully engraved Smith.

We finished up at the Dr. Pepper museum, where we learned all about bottling soft-drinks. Pawpaw worked for the Alexandria Dr. Pepper bottling company during his younger years, and was pleased that they had a copy of his old route truck. For some reason, Blogger won't let me upload an image of that truck, so I'll try to post it later.

Tonite, a steakhouse that the locals frequent. Tomorrow, we head toward San Antonio.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Vacation - Day 1

We're in Waco Texas, the ancestral home of Jerome Scott, Mayor of Pollock, and good friend. Jerome and the lovely Pat is with us on this trip. The first thing we did when we got into town was go look at the house Jerome grew up in. Actually, his grandmothers house. It is vacant, and for sale, so we wandered around. When we got back to the car, it wouldn't start. Jerome and I trouble-shot it and decided the battery had blown a cell, so we walked down the street to a flea market, then got some nice young man to drive us to Wal-Mart for a battery. While at Wal-Mart, I also bought a set of wrenchs and a VOM meter to check the alternator, then back to Jerome's gandmas house, installed the battery and checked the alternator. It is producing 13.25 volts, so we should be okay.

I tipped the kid $40.00 for his hour's trouble. It was a lot cheaper than hiring a wrecker on a Sunday afternoon.

Thence to the cemetary to put flowers on the graves. Waco has a great big ole cemetary, with trees in the road. Jerome explained that when they widend they could't stand to cut the trees down, so they just paved around them.

Click on the photo for the large picture. It looks like they just paved around the tree and painted it white. One large chunk of bark has been beat off the tree. I bet that guy didn't expect to find a tree planted in the road.

Note to Waco. Cut down the damn trees.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sheriff Joe

In other news, an Hispanic group marched to the offices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Maricopa County, AZ to ask him not to enforce the smuggling law.
"We have come here, we have begged, we have gotten on our knees," Bermudez said. "You have not worked with us. The only thing we can tell you is you cannot be our sheriff. You are pursuing something that goes against the Hispanic community, and we as the Hispanic community will do our most to have you removed from public office, and we will do it through the polls."
Bermudez is with some Hispanic group called Immigrants without Borders. My question to him is how can anyone immigrate without a border? How will you know when you get where you're going? You can migrate without worrying about borders... geese do it all the time. But the geese are always moving. North, south, back and forth. I digress.

Anyway, Sheriff Joe listened politely, then walked back to his office. Asking Sheriff Joe to not enforce the law is like asking Bill Clinton to not molest interns. It ain't gonna happen.
"I am going to enforce the law," Arpaio told protesters Friday. "You cannot change my mind."
Which is what he is sworn to do.

One protestor reverted to name-calling.
Another man, Cliff Clifton, shouted at Arpaio, calling him a "Nazi thug" and a "scumbag piece of garbage," to which Arpaio said, "Is that all you can say?"
Calling the Sheriff a nazi is not the brightest thing a protester can do. I'm sure Sheriff Joe handled himself like a gentleman. I wish we could say the same for the protestors.


I just noticed the Fox News banner. No story yet, but the banner says:
Hezbollah Chief Declares 'Open War' With Israel
From my reading of the news, the Israeli Air Force just turned his offices into a construction salvage zone. The pieces are still raining from the sky.

Is this guy a lunatic? The Jews are systematically pounding his organization and much of the country back to the Stone Age. He's scrurrying from place to place like a hunted rat, while Predator drones (or whatever the IDF uses) look for him. Every time he stops to catch his breath, someone paints his back with a laser and another missile comes whistling in. The guy is walking around like a moving boresight panel.

Of course, you have to wonder what reporter had the chutzpah to stand close enough to him to take his statement? That guy can't be real bright either.

Were I a reporter in Lebanon right now, the one question I would want him to answer is "What the hell were you thinking?"

Sole Plate

When building a building, you have to anchor the building to the ground. Building on a slab requires anchor bolts to be set in the edge of the concrete. Those anchor bolts stick up through the concrete about 3 inches at regular intervals. They are a tripping hazard and in a project like mine, it may be a few days before I start framing. Kids are attracted to new concrete like a moth to a flame and those anchor bolts present a safety hazard. It is one thing to trip over one. It is another thing entirely to fall on a 3/8 threaded rod. That makes a nasty wound.

So, this morning Pawpaw put down a sole plate. A sole plate is simply a piece of 2x4 lumber bolted to the periphery of the slab. Everything on the building will be nailed to that sole plate. Three of the walls were fairly simple. Measure, drill holes and bolt it down. The fourth wall has all my drains, plumbing access, and electrical access. Putting that one down was a pain in the butt. However, it is done and the anchor bolts are in lumber and the ends are ground down to the bolts.

Pawpaw is going on vacation next week. It'll be another week before I can start framing, but the sole plate is there and we're ready to start standing lumber up.

Rolling Victory

The jedi tankers over at the Tanker Brothers are hosting a little victory fast. In a pie-in-your-face move against ole Whatshername, he is putting together a band of stalwart bloggers to host a rolling hunger strike in support of victory in the War on Terror.

We all know this war won't be won in a day. Hell, we're almost five years into it now. All around us, terrorism is sucking it's last gasp. One province in Iraq is fully trained-up and we released the security back to the Iraqi forces. Hamas is being dismantled. Hezbollah has pissed off the wrong people. India is standing proud against terror. Ole Osama ain't leading many victory parades. Jordan announced that their jihadis are chomping to go to Iraq to be martyrs, and I'm sure the coalition forces will be happy to oblige them. There will be dark days ahead and we will suffer setbacks, but we're winning.

In support, I have signed up for Rolling Victory. It's the least I can do.

However, we still have to train our younger soldiers. I have directed Master Gunner to complete a DA Form 6 and post it so folks will know when their duty falls. Master Gunner is going to make a fine First Sergeant one of these days and he needs to learn how to do the paperwork. I am proud to stand beside him.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

First Use

Yesterday two of the grandkids came by while their Mother was at work. The least one, Zachary, immediately noticed the slab in the back yard. Zach is four years old.

See arrow below. You can click on the picture for a larger version.

That red arrow points to the drain for the toilet. Zachary walked on to the slab and I was showing him the drain pipes and how they work when my attention was diverted by Milady walking out the back door. I watched her for a moment then turned back to see Zachary with his pants down around his ankles, peeing down the drain.

I turned back to Milady, who was grinning widely. I shrugged. That's what it's for, I guess. He won't be the last one to pee down that pipe, but I'm hoping to finish it before we open it for business.

Rockets in Haifa

It looks like the Lebanese have fired rockets into Israel. Some sources say multiple rocket attacks overnight. Then, according to the linked article, they are asking the UN to broker a cease-fire.

That's likely to happen.

When any nation allows rockets to be fired from its soil, toward a neighbor nation's soil, that nation is responsible. Lebanon lets Hezbollah launch attacks from Lebanese soil, then claims that they want a cease fire. Lebanon has just declared war with Israel, whether they know it or not. The only thing the Lebanese govt could do to save face is to immediately round up all Hezbollah fighters, cache all the weapons, and turn the whole bunch over to Israeli IDF forces. Otherwise, the Lebanese govt is complicit in the attacks.

It looks to me like Israeli commanders are hard at work dismantling Hamas and Hezbollah. It's about time. I wish them Godspeed, and victory.

As an old tanker, I wish I could see some current battle maps. There is bound to be good tank country out there somewhere. I think I'll open Google Earth and wander around the desert a bit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Oh, Please!

I was over at the Forum and noticed this link, which took me to this article. It deserves fisking. It is so wrong on so many levels.
Acting on a tip, a New Orleans police SWAT team trapped an attempted murder suspect in Algiers' Fischer public housing complex and ran into one of the most dangerous weapons on the streets: the Chinese- and Russian-made SKS rifle.
Oh, really? The SKS is a semi-automatic service rifle that shoots an intermediate power cartridge. The most dangerous weapon for police is the one you don't see.
Police arrested Anthony Thomas, 18, who is suspected of gunning down a man in April, as he was hanging out with a group in which another man was carrying the SKS.
I had heard they were looking for Thomas, but the rifle was being carried by another man. It is not illegal to carry a rifle in Louisiana. This paragraph doesn't detail why the police were interested in the rifle. Looks like NOPD is still confiscating weapons.
Equipped with a folding bayonet and armor-piercing rounds, the rifle is a cheap and highly effective weapon -- the predecessor of the AK-47 -- that can blast through engine blocks as easily as it can bones, said Louis Faust, one of nearly 20 NOPD tactical officers who arrested five people, including Thomas.
Most SKS's are sold with a folding bayonet. It is triangular in cross section. As for the "armor-piercing rounds", the Russians routinely build ammo with a mild steel core. I don't believe for a moment that the intermediate powered 7.62X39 cartridge will shoot through an engine block. It is roughly equivalent to the common .30-30 Winchester. A capable cartridge, certainly, but not something you would use to disable automobiles. The rifle is not a predecessor of the AK-47, but a competing design normally used as an export product.
The SWAT team crept into a courtyard at the complex in the 2000 block of Leboeuf Street and the men loitering, one brazenly holding the SKS, NOPD Lt. Dwayne Scheuremann said.

The team set upon the group of five, who took off running. Soon, the man with the rifle tossed it along with a stash of crack cocaine, Scheuremann said. Another man in the group ditched a .45 caliber pistol and two bundles of heroin, he said.
How does one brazenly hold a rifle? Is this just dramatic license by the media?
Faust said the steel core bullets used in an SKS strike the body then follow bone, so a bullet can "enter your shoulder and come out of your toe."
Yeah, maybe if the guy is laying on his back when you shoot him. I've never seen a bullet follow a bone, especially an armor piercing bullet (which this isn't). If it'll pierce an engine block, why wouldn't it pierce a bone?
The SKS sells for as little as $100 in the streets and is highly accurate, Faust said. And the high-caliber ammunition it uses is meant for maximum bodily damage.
More sensationalism here. The SKS isn't particularly accurate, although it is a fairly serviceable rifle. It certainly isn't any more accurate than the half-dozen hunting rifles I currently own. The ammo isn't high caliber. It is a medium caliber. I don't know what that "maximum bodily damage" comment is about.
Scheuremann said many drug dealers have returned to the Fischer complex to sell heroin, which he says has emerged as the most popular drug in that section of the city.
The police need to set up a good Neighborhood Watch program in the Fischer project, and respond immediately to complaints. There is no reason for the good citizens there to be subjected to drug dealing.

As for the hype, the SKS is a good, sturdy, reliable firearm that shoots an intermediate powered, medium caliber cartridge. It was used as an export rifle manufactured in the USSR and sold to satellite nations. It has also been produced in a number of formerly Soviet satellite states. I borrowed one a couple of years ago to hunt deer in the thickets of northwest Louisiana. It gave yeoman service there. It could certainly be used to terrorize a housing complex, but could just as easily give service as a hunting rifle. There is nothing sinister about the SKS. There is something sinister about the way this article was written. Blatant sensationalism is never in the public interest.

Hezbollah starts war.

While I was drinking beer with Bill today, Israel went into Lebanon following a raid by Hezbollah that killed and captured Israeli soldiers. Israel naturally considers a raid by Hezbollah an act of war, and they have begun playing whack-a-jihadi as only the Israelis can.

Yet, in coverage after coverage, the headline is inevitably that Israel hits Lebanon. Or Israel Army enters into Lebanon. The mention that Hezbollah started this by entering into Israel is always buried down in the text.

Here's the story I'd like to see:
Hezbollah committed an act of war against Israel today, launching a border incursion that killed Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two soldiers not killed in the initial raid. Israeli forces retaliated, bombing bridges, strafing roads, and destroying infrastucture. Israeli spokesmen said that if the two captured soldiers aren't immediately returned, along with the criminals who captured them and the officers responsible for issuing the orders, Israel would immediately begin a coordinated land and air campaign determined to punish the Lebanese government.
It seems that when the Israelis respond to border raids, kidnapping, and indiscriminate killing of Israeli citizens, they are vilified in the world press. That's wrong. The story isn't that the Jews are responding to provocation. The story is that terrorists are still invading Israel.

Drinking beer with Bill

I went outside this morning to work with forms and got them away from the slab, then came inside to cool off. I was weak as a damned kitten from the poisioning yesterday. Milady told me that Bill is in town on his annual pilgramige and that he and his lady would be over for lunch. Bill is Milady's older brother. They live in Florida and come in once a year to pester people. Milady was putting on the full treatment for lunch, as good Southern ladies are apt to do when their big brother visits. The menu was a roast, potatoes, fresh lima beans, creamed corn, field peas, cornbread, and copious amounts of sweet tea. I'm going to be eating leftovers for two or three days.

I decided that the thing to do was to get some beer and hang out with Bill all afternoon. Bill lives in Pompano Beach. We only see him once a year. I like Bill. He's as full of sh*t as a christmas goose. So, this afternoon, I hung out with Bill, drinking beer and telling lies. We talked about golf, baseball, politics, cubans, vehicle registration, all-you-can-eat buffets, tractor tires, forklifts, soccer, and wimmen. They just left, heading to Jena. Bill wants a good night's sleep tonight, and he claims it is easy to get to bed early in Jena.

We'll see them again on Saturday. Milady's momma is celebrating her 75th birthday and the family, the extended family, is meeting at brother Harold's in New Roads. We intend to invade Harold, drink all his beer, eat all his barbeque, tell stories on one another, and generally make a nuisance of ourself. Then Bill heads back toward Florida, scattering confusion and wreckage in his wake.

After doing nothing this afternoon, I feel a whole lot better. The tractor still needs a battery. And a tire. I'll worry about that tomorrow.


Pawpaw poisoned himself last night. After a full day of moving tractors and mowing grass, Pawpaw went home and decided to clean toilets. I went to the Dollar store and got some supplies. I went into the bathroom and poured the cleaner into the bowl and watched interestedly as it foamed up. I got the brush and learned over the toilet and caught a huge lungful of what smells like chlorine gas. Suddenly, I could't breathe. Couldn't get a lungful of air. Coughing like crazy I went into the kitchen and tried to assure Milady that I would be okay.

I wasn't very convincing because I was scared, couldn't breathe and couldn't stop coughing. She prescribed fresh air and I went outside to find a breeze. After an hour or so, I took a shower and laid in the bed. Couldn't get comfortable and came to the living room to sit in an easy chair. Continued coughing, continued being scared, and weak as a kitten. Milady and I discussed the situation. She is a Registered Nurse. She said that I wasn't cyanotic, that my color was good. She said she would monitor me through the night and if anything changed she would get me headed toward an emergency room, but she didn't believe it merited a trip just yet.

I spent the night in that easy chair. She let me sleep there because I was comfortable and breathing. Milady says that breathing is a good thing. She said that she was concerned when I turned down supper. That's a good clinical call. When I turn down food, I'm sick. But, my pulse was good. I was breathing. There was probably nothing the hospital could have done. I was in better shape than most of the folks in the hospital and all the folks at the cemetary.

This morning, my chest is mildly sore, probably from all the coughing. I'm weak as a kitten. I've got a lot of work to do today. The tractor needs a new battery. I have to get those forms away from the slab. I still need to clean those toilets. I can still taste chlorine when I cough, but thankfully the coughing has subsided from constant to occasional.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Backyard Project - III

The concrete truck got here this morning and the finishers were waiting for it. The concrete is now in the form and curing. It has a nice smooth trowel finish.

This photo shows the concrete after it has been floated for the first time. I was amazed at the amount of water that came out of it and pooled on the surface.

I'm always amazed at concrete. But then, the simple things please me.

Now, I can put my fence back up, wait two days and take up the forms. Then start standing up lumber for walls.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sugar Ray

From my reading of the left-side progressive bloggers here in Louisiana, Oyster links to a post detailing Ray Nagins's latest foolishness.
I just caught word from one of my friends who works as a lobbyist in the Louisiana State Legislature of another gloriously stupid move made by Sugar Ray Nagin. He recently sent bags of Oreos to a handful of African-American politicians who supported Mitch Landrieu in the Mayoral election...including Karen Carter and Ann Duplessis among others.
Priceless. That is bound to ...what were his words.... start the healing process? You betcha.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Magnolia Dance Club

40-some-odd years ago, some Alexandria residents were concerned about the lack of places to go dancing. They formed the Magnolia Dance Club, a private group of people who meet once a month to dance. The club is getting older and a decision was recently made to get some new members. Milady and I were asked to attend and we have done so. These old geezers are a hoot!

One of the rules is that any lady can ask any man to dance. The only face-saving way to decline is if you don't know the dance. (I, for example, can't waltz, and decline when waltzes are played.) The dances are from 7:00 pm till 10:00 pm, and when I say 10:00, I don't mean 10:05. They pull the plug at 10:00.

Someone is tagged to host it and folks bring light munchies. Tonite, Milday concocted a salmon dip and a spinach dip. She is putting on the dog for this party. I normally don't see the salmon dip unless someone is graduating or getting married. It is magnificent. Give me a roll of Ritz crackers and a tub of salmon dip and I won't bother anyone for a couple of hours.

The theme for this meeting is USA, and everyone is tasked to wear something patriotic. The host is providing a fireworks display after the dancing.

One of the elder members shows up on a walker. His wife likes to dance and they attend each session. He dances the slow ones, but jitterbugging is out. We invited Milady's Mother as a guest for this evening, but she called to say she had to decline. She had been out in the yard digging ditches and was simply too tired to dance this evening.

Digging ditches?

Alphecca Speaks

If you don't read Alphecca, you should. He used to describe himself as a "gay gun nut from Vermont." Nowadays he claims "Alphecca is a proud member of "the lunatic fringe of the US right". Whatever. I have a sneaking hunch that if Jeff and I ever sat down with a bottle or whiskey we'd find that we're a lot closer to each other in philosophy than either of us suspect.

I've read his stuff for two years now. No, I'm not on his blogroll, nor is he on mine. However, Jeff often speaks truth to power, like this example.
Let that be a warning to the DNC because there are a hell of a lot of voters just like me. Don't give us anti-gun candidates. Stop all the bullshit about "sensible gun control" unless you want to hear about "sensible free speech" or "sensible restrictions on abortion". Put up candidates who honor our Bill of Rights and you'll win a lot of elections.

Furthermore (DNC, I'm still talking to you...) your candidates must do more than pretend to support gun rights, they must have a demonstrable voting record to prove it. When the Democrats begin defending the 2nd Amendment (and as an individual right as the other 9 are) as vigorously as the 1st and 4th, they'll have a cakewalk into the White House.
I'm registered Republican but many of the local candidates I vote for are Democrats. I really don't give a rats-ass who the candidate is as much as what he stands for. And, like Jeff, I am sometimes a single-issue voter. I will always come down on the side of individual freedom and the Bill of Rights. If a candidate wants my vote, he or she better convince me that my rights will be safe.

Here lately, the bell-weather test of civil liberties isn't free speech or abortion rights. It is gun rights. The right to carry openly. The right to carry concealed, the right to have my gun in my truck. The right for law-abiding Americans to enjoy the shooting sports. Give me a candidate who believes in the individual right of the people to keep and bear arms, and I'll show you a candidate who will defend the other nine of the Bill of Rights. That's the candidate I want in office and one that will get my vote.

Backyard Project - II

The vapor barrier is in the form, as is the reinforcing wire. The form has been marked for studs and marked for the anchor bolts. Plumbing is installed and the concrete truck is scheduled for Monday at 0830. This pour is a go.

It looks like I am finally about to come out of the ground on this project. I'm ready to see walls standing. The concrete finishers want cash money for this job. I know the guy running the pour and I trust him and know where to find him if I need him later. I told him he I'd be happy to write him a check, but he said "cash". I asked if we could put it on a card. He said "cash". I went to the bank yesterday and got some cash.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Understandings and Opinions.

Standard Mischief says in comments in the previous post:
If we have an "understanding", then we don't have a justice system based on law. We have one based on men and women in power.
Yeah, that's one way to look at it. Still, it is a good observation and one that we don't talk about much.

The simple truth is that the law is just a set of rules that govern how people interact in society. Those laws are set by the legislature and are interpreted by the Courts. Sometimes legitimate questions arise that are not answered by the legislature or the Courts.

The law is often replete with terms of art that aren't familiar to the person on the street. The law sometimes has clauses in it that affect other laws and laws enacted this year may conflict with laws passed last year. It's confusing sometimes. The men and women in power have to come to some sort of conclusion about what the law means, and then have to disseminate to their subordinates how a particular law affects the way those subordinates do their jobs.

When a law is passed that conflicts with another, then the various power players will ask the Attorney General for an opinion. These opinions are generally very specific in scope and detailed in application, but an opinion may raise other questions that need to be resolved. In dealing with a layered bureaucracy this takes time and the people on the street need to know how to deal with the issue of law.

Many times an issue will affect more than one agency. For example, if a law is passed that says that in domestic battery cases, the children have to be counseled, then the law affects not only the arresting agency, but the social service agencies too. In that case, the law enforcement agency might sit down with the social service agency and come to an understanding about any number of things, like phone numbers for 3:00 a.m. and who is going to respond to pick up the kids. This is just one hypothetical example.

Another example might be a change in the wildlife law that affects more than one agency. The Wildlife boys might call a meeting with the Sheriff and the City to work out an understanding about how a specific problem will be handled.

These meetings normally result in something called A Memorandum of Understanding that details a particular agency's position on a given issue. Understandings change over time, as the law changes or agencies change. It isn't anything sinister, it's just a logical response to confusing legislative mandates. It's all about getting the job done to the best of everyone's understanding.

I agree it may not be the best way to resolve issues, but it is a workable solution to what sometimes seems an insurmountable problem. It certainly isn't anything sinister.

Felons with guns and badges

Say Uncle links to this story which talks about a guy who served twenty years in the Army, then became a police officer, then they ran a background check and found that he is a felon. I have mixed feelings on this subject.

First of all, the background check should have been run before he ever took the oath of office. He's a policeman, by God and we run criminal histories as a matter of course.

Second, we are sworn to uphold the law. Even if we disagree with it. Granted, we have great discretion in arresting and great discretion in most activities on our job, but I think we can all agree that discretion is the greater part of honor.

Third, here in Louisiana we recognize that people, good people, can make mistakes and our laws reflect that. A felon can get a second chance in Louisiana and while it isn't something to take lightly, I am pleased that most folks get a second chance. We routinely grant first offender pardons to most offenders and those folks who get first offender pardons can also get their gun rights and voting rights restored. Sometimes it takes ten years, but that is prudent in my opinion.

I have known cops who had felonies on their records, but everyone knew about it and they had to jump through all the hoops to clear their records before they pinned on the badge. One youthful indescretion wasn't enough to blemish them forever.

I think Louisiana does the right thing and strikes a reasonable balance in this regard.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Article 87

Looks like that idiot missed movement. Missing movement is in direct violation of Article 87 of the UCMJ, and the lieutenant put himself in jeapordy of being charged.

Will he be arrested? Probably not. There is historical precedent to deal with here, and officers are not normally arrested, except for the most heinous of offenses. I'm sure he had been restricted to Post, which any commander can impose almost at will.

Will he be Court-Martialed? That's up to him. He can admit guilt and avoid a trial, even though this one is a slam-dunk. The elements are pretty simple. Were I his commander, I would listen to the counsel of the SJA and charge him with everything I could think of. Article 90 certainly seems to apply and that carries the death penalty.

He is not a conscientious objector. He doesn't claim that his orders are illegal. Just that the war is illegal. The Army can certainly order him to get on an airplane. He doesn't get to pick his destination.

The Lieutenant has peed in his Wheaties. No doubt about that. As principled as he may think his stand is, a felony conviction and a dishonorable discharge will follow him for the rest of his life. Not to mention the total distain of every other officer who has ever sworn an oath.

The Army can't tolerate an officer who publicly disobeys lawful orders.

Backyard Project

It's a heck of a lot of work building a bathroom. I've never done a project like this, so I'm double-checking everything before I do anything, and I'm still making mistakes. However, it is coming along at substantial savings over hiring a crew.

There is one crew I have to hire and they are the fellows who are going to finish the concrete. As it turn out, two associates of mine have a part-time job doing just that. I met with them yesterday and set a time to pour the slab. They looked at my forms and my footings and said that they could pour it like it was, but that it would be a better job if I did a little back-filling. Back-filling is putting dirt in a hole that you have already dug, so this morning I checked square and level on the slab again and started shoveling sand into the hole.

Of course, my wheelbarrow had a flat and I had to fix that. Then I started filling the wheelbarrow with sand, rolling it ten feet, and shoveling the sand into the form. Now, at 10:30 a.m. I am about half-way done and covered with sweat. It started raining and I decided to re-hydrate indoors.

While at Ace hardware buying an innertube, I picked up some L-bolts that I'll need to anchor the building to the slab. These are sunk in the wet concrete around the edge of the slab at intervals to bolt the toe plate down. Everything else gets nailed to the toe plate.

Dad called an offered a sheet of plastic that I'll use as a vapor barrier. I'll pick it up this afternoon or tomorrow. All that is left to do is finish backfilling the form. Check level and square repeatedly. Mark the form for the L-bolts so that they can be inserted quickly while the concrete is still wet. Install the vapor barrier. Await the concrete truck.

The pour is scheduled for Monday at 8:30 a.m. The finishers promise they will be here at 8:00. The NOAA website is calling for a 40% chance of rain on Monday. The saving grace is that the pattern is for afternoon showers and thunderstorms. Here in summertime Louisiana there is always a 20% chance of an afternoon shower.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

2 inch snubbie

Back in the early dim dark years of my police experience, I was standing at the dispatchers window one morning when I overheard a very veteran officer discussing a firearm he had for sale. A little 2 shot derringer in .38 Special. Imported by FIE, the marketer of Saturday night specials inexpensive revolvers.

So, I asked him what he wanted for it, and he said $20.00. I figured it was worth 20 bucks, so we traded money for gun, standing right there. What a little piece of crap this pistol was. It had an exposed hammer and a 2-shot double barrel that locked underneath the barrel by a mechanism that can only be described as functional. I fired it a couple of times, then dropped it into a drawer, effectively forgetting about it.

Fast forward 20 years or so, to 2003. That little pistol still resided in my drawer and I was retired. I carried it as a pocket pistol. I figured two shots were better than no shots and if I had to use it, I'd be at spitting distance anyway, so target accuracy wasn't a concern. I loaded it with a good low-pressure hollow point load that wouldn't destroy the pistol when the trigger was pulled.

Milady and I decided to go to New Orleans to meet her brother. Brother lives in Miami and was bringing another couple north on the annual pilgramage. The plan was to go to New Orleans, eat some oysters, drink some beer and do the tourist thing. As an afterthought, I dropped the little derringer in my pocket before I left home.

I kept that pistol in my pocket while we did the French Quarter. After dark, we were on Canal Street when the ladies decided to duck into a tee-shirt shop. I walked in with them to savor the air-conditioning. Brother and friend stayed outside the shop to take in the street scene. Brother is a natural extrovert. He has never met a stranger. I watched him through the plate glass store front, then realized that he was talking to people on the street. He had attracted the attention of a group of street people and their demeanor put my cop radar on intense alert.

There were four of them and they were moving around Brother like sharks. The leader of the group was holding Brother's attention while the rest of the group circled, looking for a way in. This was quickly becoming a bad scenario.

I took the little derringer out of my pocket and cupped it in my hand along my pants seam, then walked outside to Brother. "Hey, Brother. The ladies need you inside."

The leader of the street hoods looked at me like I had horns. "What's up with you, man?"

I turned my hand slightly so that the thug could see the pistol. "Nothing. We're doing a little shopping and the ladies need us inside."

His eyes widened slightly as he saw the pistol. "Yeah, well, time for us to get going too." He motioned with his head and the group left, walking northwest toward Rampart.

Brother never saw the pistol.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Raggedy-assed missile

I see where North Korea's missile, the Tay-Pong-Dong2 failed miserably after launch.

According to my sources, it failed 35 seconds into the flight and fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan. Then they launched a half-dozen Scuds, which also fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan.

My best guess is that in North Korea right now, there is at least one rocket scientist who will be tried and executed tomorrow. He's the guy in charge of the launch and he just made Kim Il-Jong look even more like a monkey than he did this morning. Lil Kim doesn't take well to derisive laughter and the whole world is laughing at him right now. That rocket scientist is in some serious shit.

In other news, my neighbors are shooting off rockets which might land in the pond behind the house. It's been raining all day, so the only particular danger is if I go outside and look up. I might get ashes in my eye.

Lil Kim would have done better to buy his rockets at the fireworks stand down the road. The colors are prettier.


So far, we've had a dry spring and summer. More Glowball warming, I suspect. The dirt in my backyard is cracking from the lack of moisture. Yesterday changed all that, and the NOAA is predicting rain again today. Fine. If you complain about rain in Louisiana, you need to get a life. It rains in Louisiana. Not necessarily when you'd like it to, not necessarily when you need it to, but it is gonna rain. Get ready for that. We normally get a dry spell in late August/early September that allows the farmers to get crops in. We also normally get a hurricane in late August/early September, so the farmers should plan around that too.

This is the first time I have lived in a subdivision in over 30 years. Last week I walked outside and counted six different sprinklers working in plain view of my driveway. Disgusting. Watering grass in Louisiana has always seemed to me the height of stupidity. In my unwatered yard, you will see two things in plain view. The first is grass. The second is a burn pile. Things that need burning get thrown on the pile. Scrap lumber goes there, as does scap foliage. That little tree that didn't make it in the drought? Throw it on the burn pile. The limbs that fall off the pine trees? Drag them to the burn pile.

When I plant a vegetable garden, it gets watered. Tomatoes need water. If I plant a tree I'll go out and water it for a couple of days to get it established. But grass? Hah! It can grow or die as it chooses. I've never noticed a shortage either way.


I just finished watching a special on TV. The Discovery channel aired a program where Jesse James went to Iraq on his dime and took a little goodwill with him.

Darn good show. Very well done, focusing on the troops and the teamwork that goes into building and maintaining equipment. Jesse focused on the troops and as I watched it, I was struck by one simple fact. The troops never questioned the mission. Granted, it may have been an issue of editing, but I doubt it. The show highlighted lonliness and heartbreak and I feel that Jesse tried to acurately show what it is like for our soldiers over there, but I never heard one word doubting the mission.

If the troops aren't questioning the mission, why is it fashionable in some quarters to question it? This isn't an issue of patriotism, it's an issue of perspective. We lost Vietnam, not on the battlefield, but here at home. If we lose Iraq, it'll be because we lose the will here to fight a global campaign.

I will grant that we have suffered defeats and we have experienced victories. Our path ahead is uncertain. It is one thing to eschew all wars, all conflict. That in itself is a great and noble prayer. I join in that prayer. We should be reminded of the words of Robert E. Lee, who said "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it."

However, when joined in a war that was brought to us, we should also remember the words of Ulysses Grant, "In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins." Such is the nature of the battle we find ourselves in today.

My liberal friends are calling for an end to our commitment to the Iraqi people and a common viewing of the news from that front is enough to try any mans resolve. Yet the message I get from the troops is that they do not question the mission. I have to ask myself which set of eyes is best positioned to judge.

Happy 4th, everyone.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fisking Cindy

Mother Sheehan herself had written us a piece for the 4th of July. No links from me, because.... I don't want to link to her. It's over on Michael Moore's site, which also gets no links from me.

It is highly readable, especially if you've been in the bourbon and are feeling especially mellow. I read it through and started to fisk it, but realized that I was reading the talking points of the left side, so I started counting them instead. The underlines are mine to help me keep count.
The star-spangled banner, which I can now see whipping in the wind outside of an airport terminal where I am writing this from does not fill me with pride: it fills me with shame and that flag symbolizes sorrow and corruption to me right now. The flag represents so much lying, fixed elections, profiting by the war machine, high gas prices, spying on Americans, rapid erosion of our freedoms while BushCo literally gets away with murder, torture and extreme rendition, contaminating the world with depleted uranium, and illegal and immoral wars that are responsible for killing so many. A symbol which used to represent hope to so many around the world now fills so many with disgust.
By my count that is seventeen talking points in a paragraph with two sentences. The first sentence contains ninety-six words, by my rapid, bourbon soaked counting. My count may not be accurate, but it is certainly representative.

Cindy's writing sucks.

Monday morning

I got up early this morning and got busy on the backyard project. I was swinging a sledge hammer to drive stakes. My elder son showed up about 9:30. I was about halfway done, but grateful for the help. This old 50 year old body can't swing a sledge like I could 30 years ago.

When you pour wet concrete on the ground, it tends to strain against the form. Concrete is heavy. You have to brace the side of the form so the concrete will stay contained. Bracing comes in one of two forms, and I used both. I drove 2X4 stakes at intervals around the form and braced short pieces of 2X4 lumber against those stakes. I also used dirt that I excavated from inside the form and back-filled against the outside walls of the form.

We're expecting rain today and tomorrow, and I hear thunder to the South. Hopefully the rain will fall on my backfilled dirt and help it pack solidly against the boards of the form. Sometime this afternoon I am going to call my concrete finishers and ask them when they want to schedule the pour.

All that remains is to put a vapor barrier and reinforcing wire in the form. Then this project will come out of the ground. I'm ready for that. I want to start standing up lumber and watch the building take shape.

More blogging later, but first a shower. I sweated so heavily my socks are squishing. It feels good to work hard at something that will benefit the family.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sunday thoughts

We went to church this morning, the Sunday before July 4th. The music director picked one of my favorites, the Battle Hymn of the Republic. As I sang those familiar words, I teared up just a bit, remembering that we are involved in a war not unlike the one that inspired the words to that iconic hymn.
I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
I too have seen Him in the hours before battle, when men make their peace before whatever entity they worship. There are no atheists in foxholes.

I am reminded that in this war, we are engaged with an implacable enemy who uses a faith in God to justify unspeakable horrors upon a civilian population. An enemy who hides behind the very populace he seeks to enslave. An unholy enemy who distains common conventions and declines to wear a uniform. An enemy who attacks from ambush and refuses to come out and fight. Unless my Army has changed very much since the days when I passed the guidon to the younger soldiers, then they are indeed building alters in the evening dew and damp, to sustain the souls of men who may very soon meet their God.

This, then, is my prayer.

Oh Lord, my friend.
Look after the warriors who wear the flag of our nation so that they may go about your work, freeing an enslaved people. Grant them your mercy and your succor so that they might know your peace. Keep them close to your bosom and safe in your word so that they might return safely to their families and loved ones.

As to our enemies, who also claim your protection. Ignore their heathen prayers and grant them vexation and confusion on the battlefield. Add chaos to their planning and mass them before our guns so that they might properly feel the wrath of our God. Apportion them for foxes and grant American forces the victory they so righteously deserve.

Thy will be done.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Levees are important to folks who live by rivers that are prone to flood. Many communities in Louisiana are protected by huge mounds of dirt that keep floodwaters at bay. Those same mounds of dirt obstruct the view of the river, and some people like the view.

This past week has seen flooding in Pennsylvania. Some towns were spared, some flooded. The Oyster points to this article where the money quote reveals quite a bit about the perspective of the citizens:
We CHOSE not to have levee protection built.

According to today's newspaper it would have cost between $20 and $30 million to include West Pittston in the levee raising project. How stupid of a decision was that? I dont know all the details of that decision. I do remember people saying they didnt want levees blocking their view off the riverfront. WTF? How pretty is that river front view when its in your living room I wonder? Mike said "screw 'em all". He will never go help those stupid rich bastards sandbag again. It's their own fault.

Then you have some areas of the Valley that were not considered for levee building because it was not feasible. So they flood time and time again. And continue to rebuild. With no levees. With additional flooding almost guaranteed. Wilkes-Barre recieved no damage. The areas that were hardest hit by this most recent flooding, are no stranger to flooding. I quote from our newspaper "flooding was significant in the usual areas-West Pittston, the Plainsville section of Plains Township, Mocanaqua, Shickshinny and the low lying areas of West Nanticoke and Nanticoke.
From that reading, we learn that the residents of West Pitton decided that flood protection was too expensive and opted to view the river and take their chances. When it floods, they rebuild.

I can only assume that the towns floated bond issues to pay for flood protection, or that the funding came from somewhere other than purely federal money. "it would have cost between $20 and $30 million to include West Pittston in the levee raising project" shows that the people didn't want to pay for flood protection. "So they flood time and time again. And continue to rebuild. With no levees." The people of West Pittston chose not to have flood protection, and they choose to rebuild.

How nice would it be if the people of New Orleans chose to rebuild? In a posting last week, the Oyster highlighted the comments of people who toured NOLA from the tsunami-struck region in Asia. He reports:
People who've seen the effects of a tsunami that was a hundred times deadlier than the Katrina aftermath are flabbergasted by the feeble recovery in parts of New Orleans.
That is a telling comment.

What is more telling is that the folks in New Orleans seem to expect the Fed to bail them out (literally) again. New Orleans floods, and I will grant that the problem last year was that substandard flood walls failed.

I've been flooded, and after the flood, you assess what is salvageable and what isn't. You get out in the muck and you clean it up. You cry a little, and you work a lot and you choose to stay or leave. You clean up your little piece of the world and you shame the neighbors into cleaning theirs.

I know that Landrieu, Vitter, and company are doing everything they can to get NOLA the funds it needs. I am heartened by reports from Congress that LA has a chance to share more fully in offshore oil revenues. Good for us. Good for Louisiana. That still doesn't explain why Nagin can't seem to get crime under control. That still doesn't explain why the recovery isn't progressing, that still doesn't explain why there is trash in the street. Those are local problems, and complaining about them doesn't help. Get out there and do something about it.

The recovery down there isn't complete. Sometimes it seems that the people from New Orleans are looking for someone else to rebuild for them. They should take a cue from the folks from Pennsylvania. Rebuild. Don't talk about it, just do it.