Saturday, March 31, 2007

Daddy's Guns - IV

It's interesting to see what a man keeps in his closet, what he thinks important enough to hang on to for many years. One of those things in Daddy's closet was a pistol. Years ago he told me he had a pistol that had belonged to my uncle Roy Terry.

Uncle Roy was a colorful creature, a lawman from the early part of the twentieth century. He worked for a variety of agencies and was well-respected as a lawman in his retirement years. When he died, my father took possession of one pistol, which Uncle Roy carried as a backup. Dad described it as a "Spanish 32" and I was never able to inspect it or research it.

Dad was right. The pistol in question was made in Spain during the First World War for sale to the French Army. The French factories were busy cranking out rifles, so the Spanish were contracted to make pistols. This pistol is called a Ruby. I cannot find a makers mark or any other identification. The slide is marked 7.65 MODEL AUTOMATIC PISTOL and the frame is marked MADE IN SPAIN. Other than that, all the markings have been lost to the years.

A simplified copy of John Browning's design of 1903 (think Colt Hammerless), this pistol was cranked out by a dozen or more Spanish contractors for the French Army. Knowing the prediliction of the French for surrender, the Spanish doubted that the pistol would ever actually be fired, so certain contractors scrimped on quality control to the point where it was actually unsafe to load the pistol. Some Rubys show excellent quality, some are horrible. The lot of them is a testament to hurried wartime production.

I know that Uncle Roy actually fired this particular example, and he was always fairly conservative about his firearms, so that question is answered as regards this particular example. If you happen to have a Ruby pistol and don't know its history, have it checked by a competent gunsmith before you fire it.

It's a .32 ACP, an interesting little design that paved the way to later Browning designs. Not particularly accurate, not particularly powerful, this is a weird little pistol with a weird little history. I don't know if I'll ever fire it, or if I'll tag it as a curio, write a brief history of it, and leave it in the closet for my children. Some of what we do when a loved one dies is dispose of those things that are no longer useful, and may in fact be dangerous. This little pistol may be donated to a museum, so that it will never again be fired.

Then again, it might be a fun little shooter. We'll see.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Daddy's Guns - III

This firearm, I never saw Daddy shoot. It is a Savage Model 720 shotgun, built on the Browning pattern, similar to a Remington Model 11. The forearm is cracked, but the blueing is 90% or better. Small surface rust with minor pitting occurs on the reciever and barrel.

The Savage Model 720 is an interesting shotgun, simply because it was made primarily as a military firearm. Ours has the P device, with the ordnance bomb and US stamped on the left side of the reciever. Research tells me that it was built during WWII and sold to the Army Air Corps to teach aerial gunnery. It has a 2 3/4 inch chamber and a 26" barrel and is probably choked for improved cylinder. It would make a great upland gun. The butt plate is broken, and this pattern of shotgun could use a nice recoil pad.

I suspect this shotgun was given to Daddy by a close friend who was in the Air Force in the 1960s. Some shotguns were sold at the local air base when the Rod and Gun Club closed, and I suspect the shotgun was in that group.

Still, it is interesting historically and is now part of our heritage. I'll fix the forearm, have a recoil pad installed, and put it in the gun cabinet for the kids.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Daddy's Guns - II

The second gun that Pop used most often was his duck gun. This shotgun was his favorite, the default gun when shotgunning. It is a Model 12 Winchester in 16 gauge. Manufactured in 1958, it came from the factory with a full choke barrel. Daddy didn't like the full choke, so he added a Poly-Choke to the gun.

There are a couple of interesting things about this shotgun, the least of which is the poly-choke. During my early childhood, Dad kept a pull-over butt pad on the shotgun. Sometime during the mid 60s, he removed the pad and found that the stock had rotted under that pad. He ordered a matching stock and forearm from Herters and spent the summer fitting the stock to the action. While he was at it, he added the forearm. While fitting the stock to the action, he spent considerable time fitting the stock to his hand. The wrist of the stock has a more severe bend than a factory stock and the wrist is narrower. The pistol grip is wider at the base than a factory stock. Dad wanted his hand locked into the stock at that point.

Ten years later, I read Rudy Etchen's book on stocks and was surprised to read that Etchen made his stocks the same way. Etchen liked a tight pistol grip on stocks. Go figure.

When Daddy got the stock to suit his tastes he finished it, then put it in the closet.

My brother Malcolm decided to have the stock customized and enlisted the aid of the rest of the family. He "stole" the gun out of Daddy's closet and took it to a local artist, who carved a duck in the offside stock.

We all spent a month on pins-and-needles, hoping Dad wouldn't discover that his shotgun was missing. When the work was done, Malcolm unveiled the project to Daddy, who wholeheartedly endorsed the effort.

Dad and his friend, Max, maintained a blind in the Catahoula swamp on a part of the river called French Fork until two years ago. I offered Dad any of my 12's for hunting ducks in that swamp, but he always took the 16. It fit him.

This one stays at my house for now, and I'll probably not shoot it, simply because I prefer the 20 ga for some work and the 12 for others. It'll be passed to one of the grandkids later. Whether they shoot it will be up to them.

Money-Grubbing bastards

Not my words! Say Uncle asks the musical question - When exactly did doctors become money-grubbing bastards?

And I thought I was the only one who had noticed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Daddy's Guns

My Dad didn't have a big armory. His guns were working guns, although with the pride that any craftsman takes in his tools, you wouldn't know that they were older than many of the grandchildren.

In 1984 (if I remember correctly) my siblings and I decided to purchase a .22 cal rifle for Daddy. He didn't own a .22, but he was building a house in the country, with a pond, and we thought that a little .22 would be appropriate, so we gathered our dollars and went out to find him a rifle. We ordered a Browning Auto-22, the little wasp-waisted model that loads through the stock. Dad mounted an inexpensive scope on it, via the cantilever scope mount in case he ever wanted to take advantage of the take-down feature. I don't know if this particular rifle has ever been taken down.

Several months after the scope was mounted, Daddy told me he was having trouble getting it to sight in. I asked him what type group he was getting and he held his hand up, thumb and forefinger describing a circle about 2 inches in diameter. I told him it ought to do better than that and told him I'd look at it the next time we were in the country.

Sure enough, a week later we were out at the country place, and Dad set up his bench, where he regularly fired the rifle. I asked him to post a target, so he stapled a target to a stake, then started walking. 110 long strides later he stuck the stake in the ground. "I usually put it along about here." I asked him again to show me what group size he was getting. He held up his thumb and forefinger in a circle, describing a two inch circle.

Two inches at 110 yards, from a 4 lb rifle, with a cheap-ass scope, and whatever ammo Wal-Mart had on sale. I looked him right in the eye. "Can't help you, Pop. It just doesn't get any better than that. Most of us would be proud to get that group at 50 yards."

During his later years, he used it to shoot turtles out of the pond and dispatch varmints that bothered the garden. I remember seeing him sitting in a lawn chair near the waters edge, then he'd raise the rifle, peer though the scope, and fire the little rifle. POW and a geyser of water would erupt from the pond. Then a red stain and another loggerhead turtle had made the fatal mistake.

Collectors has one of these for $345.00, plus shipping. Browning still makes them, and you can get a new copy for $557.00 MSRP. My brother David doesn't have a .22 rifle, so he's taking this one back with him to Vermont.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Requiem en Pace

Last night my father passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Blogging will be light the next few days.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pawn Shops

I got a call from the local pawn shop this week. Milady had a ring being sized by the jeweler they keep on site, and the ring was ready. This morning, my sister and I went to the pawn shop to pick up the ring. While we were there, I spotted a nice ladies ring in sterling silver and garnet. As luck would have it, today is my sisters birthday and the ring fit her. It was karma. I bought the ring and handed it to her. She was looking at some chairs, and finished her shopping by buying a set of Victorian chairs.

While waiting for the cashier, I wandered over to the gun counter and talked to Joe, who knows that I'm always looking for something. The something today was a Ruger Mark II. I've never owned one, but think it would be the perfect pistol to use to teach the grandkids pistolcraft.

Two rings, a set of chairs, and a pistol. The pawn shop did very well this morning.


I love comments. Lots of comments. Comments are good for a writer, and I generally don't respond to comments because I was taught as a writer that criticism makes me stronger and that I should learn from them, and that I should make my writing clear enough that comments aren't necessary.

Yet, I have noticed, and a lot of bloggers have noticed that allowing comments tends to bring out the worst in people. They get ignorant. The very worst we call trolls, the nasty little monsters who crawl out from under the bridges and harass people.

My harangue about the doctors and hospitals brought out some trolls and some really ignorant comments. Most people thought those posts were an indictment of the healthcare system.

For the record: I never talked about anything but doctors and hospitals. If you or your loved one ain't a doctor (you know, with MD behind your name) I wasn't talking about you.

I love nurses. I'm married to a nurse. The woman I call Milady, the victim of the latest medical incursion, my wife, has been a registered nurse for 27 years.

I love EMT's. When I'm standing on the side of the road, holding a victim, calling on radio for help and the ambulance rolls up, I breathe a sigh of relief. EMT's do tremendous work under horrible conditions. I love them like brothers and sisters.

Now, on to the trolls: Chris, in SE TX, says: I'm an engineer. My wife is an EMT.

Cool, Chris, give her a hug for me. I love EMTs. They do great work. I distrust doctors and hate hospitals.

Chris continues: I'm an engineer. When was the last time your car mechanic came by your house to make sure your car is still running good? When did he invite you to dinner??? Actually, Chris, my mechanic and I ate supper together last week, after we dropped a transmission in the front yard. My mechanic makes house calls. Doesn't yours? Oh, I forgot, you're an engineer. Most good mechanics don't want to associate with engineers. It might rub off and lead to a loss of third-grade skills. I personally don't let engineers in my yard. They're tough on the grass.

Chris rants: I'm an engineer. Do you f****** think I invite people I deal with PROFESSIONALLY to my house for dinner? Why the f*** would I do that?? Oh, Chris, you keep claiming to be an engineer (another one of my least favorite professions) yet you can't read. You're upset because your wife is an EMT and you read things into my posts that weren't there. Yet engineers are supposed to be precise. Well, Chris, use your precision to read this. Doctors. Hospitals. That's all I was ranting about. Oh, and using the F-Word in someone else's blog is considered ill form. I was taught that use of profanity is indicative of a poor vocabulary. Evidently you never learned to read or speak, which I've found is a common trait among engineers. Go back and do third grade over again. You'll be all right.

Chris continues: I don't know what you did for a living, but I seriously doubt it that you invited all kinds of NON-PAYING clients for dinner with your family. And, BTW, an EMT in LA makes about $8-11 per hour, a Paramedic about $14, a lot of times without benefits, no retirement etc. I'm a working cop, Chris, which you'd know if you read the sidebar. But, an engineer can't be expected to actually read something. For the 3rd time, Chris, I love EMT's. I was ranting about doctors and hospitals. Is your wife a doctor? Is she a hospital? I'm sure she is a caring, dedicated individual. I'm also convinced she is married to an idiot.

And yet, the parting shot. Chris sez: Oh, and BTW, to smear the reputation of ALL the health care workers because of LIMITED experience(s), is not exactly intelligent. Oh, Chris, you must have been the backwards child. I said nothing about healthcare workers. I said doctors. I said physicians. I said hospitals. I really think that a reading course would do you a world of good. No, actually, a reading comprehension course. Which I understand most engineers failed in third grade. Actually, Chris, in your case, prehaps you should quit your job and go back and do the whole elementary experience over again. Then, when you're ready, come back and we'll talk about engineers. I've got some great rants saved for engineers, but knowing how to read, and being precise in language will be a great asset. I'd rather not be accused of writing something I didn't write.

Chris is an idiot.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hospitals, doctors and the like

Milady is home from the hospital, and my sisters have asked if having her home will temper my general distaste for hospitals and physicians.

The short answer is NO!

Other thoughts, from better writers than I:

What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease. - George Dennison Prentice

If you trust Google more than your doctor then maybe it's time to switch doctors. -
Jadelr and Cristina Cordova, Chasing Windmills, 08-21-06

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits. - Mark Twain

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing. -
Redd Foxx (1922 - 1991)

A Hospital is no place to be sick. - Samuel Goldwyn (1882 - 1974)

The Projects

The Projects have always been a sticking point with law enforcement. Home to the most needy, they are also home to the criminal. While we in law enforcment do not equate poor and criminal, the seeds of perception exists. Not through racism or classism, but because we spend such a percentage of our working time there.

Bobby Jindal is proposing a measure to keep sex offenders, drug dealers and gang members out of the housing projects in New Orleans. He seeks to make it easier for the handicapped, elderly, and working people.

Some, of course, are not pleased with this initiative.
(Stephanie Montague)Enines says a proposal designed to get working people back to New Orleans is broken. The measure, which already passed the U.S. House of Representatives, would make it easier for elderly, handicapped and working people to get public housing in New Orleans. However, it would also prohibit convicted sex offenders, gang members and drug dealers from moving in.

Enines says, "The projects has always been for poor people, you understand, poor people. Now, all of a sudden you want to keep the poor out because they talk about the drug dealers and the drug users. Well, that's poor people. Whatcha gonna do with them now? You want to make the projects for subsidized and for middle class and for rich people, still leaving your black folks out, like, you know, like out here."

I don't know who Enines is, the article identifies her "as she plays dominos, a game she's mastered since she lost her home in New Orleans and moved to Renaissance Village". Oh! She's another one of the victims. All she's done since Katrina is master the game of dominos. Not get a job, not go to school, not try to better her position in life. No, she wants to sit around and gripe about how the government is holding everyone down.

I think that this line from Enines is most telling:
Now, all of a sudden you want to keep the poor out because they talk about the drug dealers and the drug users. Well, that's poor people.
And therein lies the problem. Enines herself equates being poor with being criminal. I don't want to subsidize people like her. Not only is she poor, but she's stupid.

There are a lot of us not born with silver spoons in our mouths. There is a sizeable portion of us who have worked for the things we have. There are a bunch of us who saw that the path to a better life was through education and put ourselves through college.

Enines, on the other hand, has mastered dominos. Not really a marketable skill. No wonder she's poor. Maybe she'd do better if she got off her fat ass and learned to work for a living.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Yes, thanks for asking

Yes, indeed, Milady is still in the hospital, though making progress. The tubes are removed and she is eating. She was on a liquid diet last night and sent me downstairs to buy a milkshake. Hopefully, food today and home before the weekend.

I see where Governor Blanco has decided to devote her attention to the business of the state and not run for re-election. Good for her. I have to give the devil her due: Blanco has been good for economic development. The work she's done in the past years may position us well for the future. Her performance in response to Katrina and Rita has killed her politically.

For those who might be concerned that she will become a lame duck, State Rep Joel Robideaux says Blanco still has her veto power, so "as long as she has a pen with ink in it, she's not totally a lame duck."

Pundits expect our retired senator, John Breaux to enter the race. He lives in Maryland now, is registered to vote there, and is in the political consulting business. Strange thinks happen in Louisiana politics and I wouldn't be surprised if Breaux came home and entered the race.

For damn sure, Bobby Jindal is going to have to adjust his talking points. With Blanco out of the race, the contest isn't about beating her. It's about what's best for Louisiana.

On a more personal note, I learn in email that my beloved aunt takes exception to my general characterization of physicians. I had overlooked the fact that her daughter, one of my cousins, is a practicing physician. I have never watched her practice, and she may have the technical knowledge of DeBakey, the healing touch of St Luke, and the compassion of Mother Theresa. Then again, she might not. I don't know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Magic Negro?

I'm not very sophisticated, but I can't figure out what these people are talking about. I'm sitting here stunned when I read this, and it's from the LA Times.
Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him.
A Magic Negro? Jeez!

Isn't that Special?

You all remember Show and Tell, that first grade exercise where the student brings something from home and explains it to the class. I bet the teacher's eyes crossed when she heard this one.
A 20-year-old Shreveport woman has been arrested after her first-grade son brought a rock of crack cocaine to school for show-and-tell.
Yeah, buddy! Crack cocaine. Tell 'em all about Momma's little pick-me-up. I'm sure the administration was charmed when the teacher showed up holding a bag of crack.
Police were especially disturbed by the child's understanding of crack cocaine. They said he seemed so accustomed to the highly addictive drug that he thought there was nothing wrong with bringing it to school.
And ya see? That's what kids do. They think that whatever Momma and Daddy (although there's no mention of a Daddy here) do is just fine.
Police did not release the name of the school, saying they are still investigating. Lachristie Thomas was booked on a charge of improper child supervision, a misdemeanor. Police say the six-year-old was placed in foster care.
Hooray for foster care. Momma should go to jail for a long, long time.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday morning

Soon as I finish this coffee, I am headed back to that edifice on Third Street. The large brick and glass campus where physicians practice their tortures.

If the common citizen tried what doctors do for a living, they'd be decried as torturers, sadists, inhuman monsters, drug addicts. Physicians routinely knife people, drug them, withhold food. Introduce noxious elements into the body, drug people into a stupor, stick needles in their arms and run tubes through every orifice. The Marquis de Sade would be proud. He'd also be humble, because the medical profession has taken his stock in trade to a whole new level.

The common person allows it, because the common person has a loved one in treatment and is hoping against all hope for a cure, for healing, for a return of the beloved. If you want to see the medical profession as it really is, without the tinted glasses of need, wander through the hospital when you're healthy.

Common people don't go to hospitals when they're healthy, because the horror is too much to comprehend. Healthy people stay away from hospitals because of the torture that is practiced there. Yet, somehow we let them continue, because the medical profession is compassionate and dedicated to public health. Yeah, right.

When's the last time you had a caring medical professional come to your door, concerned about you? It ain't likely to happen. The vast majority of medical professionals think of patients like a rancher thinks about cattle. Ranchers do whatever is necessary to keep a cow alive and healthy as long as it is productive and worth more than the slaughter house will pay. Once a cow can no longer produce, she is loaded on the next truck to the slaughter house.

My doctor didn't know me from Adam until I walked into his office, seeking consultation. He wasn't concerned about me. He still isn't. I don't get invitations to his house for Sunday dinner, he doesn't want to be my friend. No, I'm just another of his paying patients. Another one of the lowing cattle. Paying his bills. When I get to the point where I can't pay his bills, he'll shuffle me off to hospice without any tears at all.

Good cattlemen know that there are cattle being born every day. Physicians know that there are no shortage of patients. Cattlemen are honest enough to be purely profit-driven. Physicians aren't. They cloak their detestable deeds with noble aspirations of health and wellness.

Bullshit. It takes a sick sonofabitch to become a physician.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday morning update

It's Saturday a.m. I'm sitting here with coffee going through mail and dreading the trip to the hospital. I hate hospitals. I abhor hospitals. I have a sneaking feeling that hospitals are directly responsible for most of the problems we have with medical care in the United States. I distrust doctors generally, and hospitals particularly. Hospitals are generally a conspiracy of doctors designed to seperate me from my loved ones or my cash. They sprawl across the landscape, always growing, like a cancer against productivity. Here in Alexandria, one hospital in particular even wants to take over part of the city park, the little league fields, so it could grow.

The very fact that the situation was seriously considered in the city council shows just how insidious hospitals can be. They want to grow, let them buy some property outside of town and build the biggest damned hospital they want. I'm sure we can find something to do with their old, blighted property. Turn it into a museum, or a crack house, or something.

Yet, my lady is still in the hospital. The tumor was benign, but they extracted a section of colon, so it was still major surgery. She, on the other hand, is a nurse, and is used to working with doctors. She trusts the bastards. I don't.

Doctors, you see, are arrogant sons-of-bitches who think that they are worth the money they make. Most of them are seriously deficient in some way and retreat into medicine as a way to prop up their own fragile egos. Most surgeons are closet sadists who like cutting on people, and have license to do so. It's a sick, sick profession.

Were I in a combat zone and had three targets appear, a suicide bomber, an attorney with a briefcase, or a doctor with a Littman handing from his neck, I would have trouble deciding which to tag first. Either of the three would gladly bleed you, with the attorney being the only one who wouldn't break the skin. He'd just ruin you financially. Both the terrorist and the MD would gladly kill you in the name of their particular specialty. I think I'd have to shoot the doctor first, then the attorney and get the terrorist last. At least the terrorist is honest enough to admit he wants to see his victims dead.

I gotta go to the damned hospital.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thursday Update

Light blogging this week. Milady is in the hospital. She had surgery to remove a pre-cancerous mass. The surgeon got it out, she's doing fine, but still in the hospital. She'll probably be there through the weekend, so blogging will be light.

I do note with some interest that Governor Blanco has decided to run for reelection. That comes as no big surprise. There is some speculation that retired Senator John Breaux might throw his hat in the ring, but I doubt it, personally. He coulda been the Guvnor back when, but decided to stay in Washington and get in the lobby/consultant business. He's doing well by all accounts.

In other news, I see that this article talks about the local issue that Pineville and those areas north of the river face over the question of alcohol sales. Pinevill has long been a bastion of no alcohol sales. In 1981 a local option election opened up parts of Ward 9 to package sales of low alcohol. In 2005, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled on a Sabine Parish case that has implications for Rapides Parish. Mark my words, it'll come to a vote, and the leadership in Pineville had better stand up and be counted.

Personally, I'd prefer they come down on the side of freedom. Way back in the '60s, I was taught that we pretty much answered the question of prohibition with the 21st Amendment. Nationl prohibition didn't work and local prohibition doesn't work. The local election in 81 was a watershed for the folks north of the river, and the demographics have changed considerably in the last 25 years. If it came to a vote tomorrow, some folks might be painfully surprised.

Unfortunately, freedom isn't a concern of folks who would ban something.

So, when you see a politiciam waving a flag, ask then what they think about the ban of your choice.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I was over at Dave Petzal's blog and he was talking about recoil.

Touchy subject, that. There are so many variables that enter in to the felt recoil of a given rifle that it's hard to talk about with any consistency.

I'm not afraid of recoil. I routinely shoot max charges through my .54 Renegade, which uses a 530 grain Maxi-Ball. The recoil is stout, but slow. You can roll with it. You better be able to roll with it. I tried shooting it prone one afternoon and the steel buttplate came back against my collar bone. I thought I had broken something. Stiff charges of black powder, and stiff charges of smokeless, there has to be somewhere for the recoil energy to go.

My .45-70 shoots a 500 grain bullet with the same black powder and the recoil seems stiffer than the Renegade. After about fifteen or twenty shots with the .45-70, I was done.

Stepping down to .30-06, I wasn't happy with my Savage rifle until I mounted a good recoil pad on it. That rifle, launching a 150 grain bullet at something over 2900 fps worked me over pretty good. It's a seven pound rifle, set up for carrying in the woods. It seemed to recoil faster than my son's 7mm Mag, which is pushing a 140 grain bullet just a little over 3000 fps. My son's magnum has a heavy barrel on it, and it long ago got a good recoil pad. I imagine that rifle weighs 10 lbs or more. All thing being equal, the lighter the bullet, the lighter the recoil. The heavier the rifle, the lighter the recoil. The slower the bullet, the lighter the recoil. So, son's rifle, though a magnum, is heavier and launches lighter bullets only marginally faster. His magnum seems to recoil less than my standard .30-06. Go figure.

Now, though, with the Pachmayr Decelerator pad on my .30-06, the I'm good for target sessions of 40 to 50 rounds. My .243 is the same rifle, but the lighter bullet and the smaller powder charges let me fire it a whole lot more before becoming fatigued. I agree with Petzal that the .30-06 is probably the biggest rifle that most people can handle with accuracy. I find that I shoot the smaller caliber more often because the recoil is lighter.

One secret to managing recoil at the bench is to raise the rifle. Don't hunker down behind the rifle. Sit upright and manage your rifle so that you can fire from an uprght position. If your upper body can rock with the recoil, then you're in a better position to manage it. If your body can't rock with recoil, you're going to absorb it.

Of course, we'd all be better off if we got away from the bench entirely and did a whole lot more shooting from field positions. Those field positions let your body rock with the recoil and you won't notice it as much.

However, there is one firearm in my battery that I absolutely hate to shoot, primarily because of the recoil. A Remington Sportsman, in 20 gauge, the gun is modeled after Browning's squarebacked Auto-Five. That old shotgun was made in the mid 1930's and my son owns it now. Every time I ever tried to fire it, it reared up and smacked me in the chops. Shooting it was personally painful, but my son doesn't seem to notice it. He revels in recoil, so that shotgun is right for him.

Ain't recoil strange?

Sunday, March 11, 2007


After thirty-something years of taking kids to the doctor, and paying doctor bills, and worrying over their fevers and cuts and blisters and bones, I suddenly had my kids raised. And I didn't worry about a doctor, because I am, after all, immortal.

I could probably stand to lose a few pounds, and exercise more, and take better care of myself, but all in all I'm a splendid example of a man. I don't even take aspirin.

However, I am 53 years old, and the wife has been lobbying for me to go get a doctor and have him give me a look-see. So, on March 1st, I walked into the doctor's office to have him quantify what I suspected all along. It didn't quite work out like that. I strode into the doctors office a strapping middle aged man in the prime of health and came out a pitiful wreck. I'm surprised he didn't tie me to a wheelchair.

It turns out I smoke, to which physicians are opposed. I should probably lose 50 pounds, get some exercise, and take a pill every day to get my blood pressure down to normal levels. And as long as I was taking that blood pressure pill, then taking an aspirin for my heart, and taking Chantix to quit smoking shouldn't be much of a burden.

So, from taking no meds on February 28th, and thirty years earlier, now I take four pills a day. In the morning, a Chantix washes down with coffee. In the afternoon, a Benicar for my blood, along with a low-dose aspirin for my heart, and the second Chantix.

The only reason I'm writing about this is because the ladies at the church asked what I'm taking, and I didn't know. I don't look at the name of the drug, I just take it. They all read the blog, so they'll all know what I'm taking.

Chantix is the damndest drug I've ever taken. I still need to use willpower sometimes, but the cravings have almost disappeared. I'm on day 11 and scheduled to take Chantix for eight weeks. I'm going to beat cigarettes. It's finally my time to quit smoking and I think that'll be good for my health in the long run. Exercise is fine as long as it doesn't cut into my nap time.

Now, everyone knows my health status. My gun-oriented or political readers will understand that I'll go back to regular posting soon.

It is my experience that when people quit some activity, they tend to rail against it. That isn't my intent with these pages. I will note that the two types of people who most tend to cast aspersions on other practicioners are converted smokers and converted prostitutes. I may be being too hard on the whores, though.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


You've seen the photos. They're so common these days that searching for them is simple.

Members of the Religion of Peace advocating beheading someone.

Beheading is a big deal is Islam, evidently, yet they use the most inefficient methods of taking someone's head off. Now, I've cut the heads off of chickens, turkeys, pigs, deer, all manner of barnyard animal. It's a messy business. Lots of blood. It takes a sharp knife and some knowledge of animal physiology to take a head off easily. My victims were already dead, not struggling and screaming, so I imagine that cutting the head off a living victim is fairly difficult.

Yet, the Islam beheaders use a knife. From all indications, a dull knife.

For myself, if I were in the beheading business, I would already have rigged up a guillotine. Or invested in a chain saw. Either one of those will cut a head off rickety-tic.

Simply more evidence that Islam is a backward religion.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Whoa! Individual right

It looks like a 3 judge, DC Circuit panel has held that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is an individual right.
To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad).
This is huge. This makes the DC gun bans unconstitutional. The ruling states that the right existed before the government recognized it. It goes further:
Despite the importance of the Second Amendment's civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.
That statement from a constitutional perspective is huge. It means that service in a militia is not necessary to enjoy the freedom to keep and bear arms. As the Second applies to Washington DC's ban on firearms, the Court says this:
"Section 7-2507.02, like the bar on carrying a pistol within the home, amounts to a complete prohibition on the lawful use of handguns for self-defense. As such, we hold it unconstitutional."

Whoo-Hoo! The Second Amendment, along with the people of Washington DC, won a huge victory.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wednesday update

It's Wednesday, which is generally recognized as Hump Day, a time when the week is half over.

Here in Louisiana, we're experiencing wonderful weather. Morning lows about 40, afternoon highs in the lower 70s. Regular readers know that I motorcycle, and this week has been one that sees me two-wheeling to work every morning.

You never really learn defensive driving until you straddle a motorcycle. When I'm on a motorbike, I start with the full knowledge that every car on the road is out to kill me. Personally. I also know that any particular stretch of road may not be what it appears to be. A patch of oil, a broken bottle, an errant armadillo and something that a car could traverse takes extra caution from a motorcyclist. You've never really motorcycled until you've run over an armadillo.

It's the little things that will kill you, along with the big things, and there are some problems that are particulary two-wheel problems. Auto drivers don't have to contend with something called a Tank Slapper, which is an uncontrolled oscillation of the handlebars from left to right. Auto riders don't have to worry about a high-side crash, nor do they know one from a low-side crash.

Let's face it; the natural resting posture of a motorcyle is on its side. If you get off one and turn loose of the handlebars, it'll fall over.

Motorcycles are as addictive as crack cocaine, yet I can't imagine ever being without a motorbike. Those of you who ride know what I mean.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Duck Hunting

I haven't shot a duck over decoys in ..... well, I've never bought steel shot. It's been a few years, but I still keep a couple of duck calls on a string in the attic in case the spirit urges me to chase another mallard.

I see in this article, where some are agitating for the banning of motorized decoys.
That original, single "spinning wing" decoy has evolved into a wide array of motorized products that include wing-flapping swimming models and huge carousel-like contraptions with a half-dozen motorized-wing decoys moving in a circle.

That evolution has been fed by the intense interest of hunters -- many of whom feel they must invest in the expensive equipment or watch ducks fly into their neighbors' ponds.
Oh, yeah. Duck hunting has gone hi-tech. There are more batteries than shotgun shells in the boat some mornings. Yet, there is some small evidence that hunters who use those decoys kill more ducks.
All of this is happening against the backdrop of research indicating the technology is putting hunters on the southern ends of flyways at a distinct disadvantage. The consensus of numerous studies showed hunters using motorized decoys consistently killed more birds than those sticking with traditional methods, Helm said. Perhaps more important, the studies also revealed the effectiveness of the motorized decoys decreased the farther down the flyway they were used.
So, the ducks get used to seeing spinning decoys as they come down the flyway, and the decoys work better in up-north Minnesota than they do in down-south Louisiana.

I see, though, that there is a movement to ban or limit the tyopes of moving decoys that hunters use.
But changes may be coming. Wildlife commissions in six states have supported requests by hunters and banned or restricted the use of motorized decoys. And sportsmen in other states want to join that list -- including those in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation recently passed a resolution asking the National Wildlife Federation to support a ban on the devices. LWF Executive Director Randy Lanctot admitted the move was born out of self-interest, but included a lingering sense of uneasiness about the violation of fair chase.
Here's the deal, Randy. If you have any lingering sense of uneasiness about fair chase, that's your conscience talking to you. Listen to it. Fair chase is important. It's sporting.

Duck hunters pay a lot of money every year in the form of licenses, equipment, boats, ammunition, coats, boots, oh, the list is exhaustive. They want a return for their investment. It isn't going to happen. If we were truly interested in the return on our duck hunting investment, we'd sell all that sporting equipment and buy poultry at the market.

Men shouldn't hunt ducks because they're hungry. Duck hunting is a tradition, a ritual of passage. It's a way to connect with those that came before us, in the annual migrations of animals. I don't have an opinion on motorized decoys, but I do have an opinion on fair chase.

You never have to justify fair chase. If it's fair, you know it. If it isn't fair, then why dicker over it?

Monday, March 05, 2007

New Doves

I quit dove hunting years ago, when it became apparent that you couldn't hunt over a field in North Louisiana without it being baited in the opinion of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. There were a couple of times when state game wardens would look at a field and declare it legal to hunt over that field, then have the Federal boys come out and write tickets to everyone standing in the field. I didn't need that sort of heartbreak, so I quit dove hunting.

Walking across the parking lot this morning, I saw a dove land to peck gravel. It looked bigger than our standard mourning dove, so I walked over to get a better look at it.

It looked like this. The Eurasian collared dove. It seems we've got a new species hereabouts. I don't recall seeing that distintive collar, but I was busy looking for wing and tail identifiers. The bird I saw in the parking lot was bigger than our mourning doves, was grey, and was smaller than the local pigeon population.

The Louisiana DWF website says this:
There are currently at least 5 other different species of dove breeding in Louisiana: Ground, Inca, white-winged, rock (common pigeons), and Eurasian collared-doves. The latter is an exotic that is rapidly spreading across the south. At this time, the impact of the Eurasian collared-doves on mourning doves is unknown. It is larger and more aggressive than the native mourning dove.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday update

After I finished at the ball park yesterday, I came home to find my elder son disassemling his truck in my driveway. Something was bad wrong in the transmission and he wanted to see what the problem was. So, I changed clothes and got some wrenches and helped him get ready to pull the transmission. Darkness caught us as I was pulling the starter, so we folded the project for the night.

He went to get the grandchildren and I ordered a pizza. He and the kids helped me eat the pizza and they left about nine.

This morning, after church, we tackled the transmission and had it on the ground at noon. It took us most of the day to disassemble it, and we found that the front main bearing that supports the input shaft had ground itself into sand.

So, he has the input shaft with the inner race, and he has the outer race. He'll need to get the inner race of that bearing pressed off the shaft, then pick up a new bearing, a couple of roll pins and one round clip that we destroyed, along with some new transmission lubricant and we can put it all back together. I think we got all the little pieces of that bearing out of the gearbox, but we were finding pieces of it all the way back to the output shaft. I've never seen a bearing come apart like that one did. Some of the remaining balls in that bearing were dimpled like golf balls.

However, it's done for the present. I'm awaiting laundry tumbling in the dryer then bedtime. Tomorrow begins the week all over again.

Such is life.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Crack of the bat.

I love baseball. It's a civilized game. Truly American, with all of our foibles and problems. Popularly attributed to Abner Doubleday it is still a game that we spend lots of time, money, and effort on.

I wouldn't give a double-damn for any small town that didn't have a baseball park for the kids to play ball on a summer afternoon.

One local high school team is sponsoring a tournament, and your scribe is tasked with working it today. In a couple of hours, I have to pull on my boots and trek out to the local park.

Bringhurst Field is home to a number of teams, including the Alexandria Aces, our local farm club. A number of high school teams call Bringhurst home and scheduling is at a premium. All of the high school teams have to be finished at the field by May 15th, which is the Ace's opener for the summer. I was told last night that LSUA is starting a ball club and will use Bringhurst as their home field until they can construct a field of their own.

Bringhurst sits adjacent to the Alexandria Zoo. Batters know that if they shank a foul ball over the 3rd base bleachers, they run the danger of killing an ostrich. However, if they can slap a home run over the left field wall, it might land in the lion pen. It is truly cool to watch a ball sail over that wall, then hear a lion roar. No one tries to collect those home run balls.

So, I'll spend my day at the ball park.

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Evidence

I watch the global warming debate with some scepticism. There is lots of hypocrisy in the debate on both sides of the issue. It's unsettling to listen to people sqawk about global warming and the reasons why we're seeing minute changes in carbon dioxide levels and changes in icecaps. Then this study comes along, from Russia:
Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.

"The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.
Imagine that. The sun is heating both Mars and Earth. That isn't to say we shouldn't try to conserve and that we shouldn't try to be good stewards of our earth's resources, but the fact that the sun warms the Earth, along with Mars, is certainly an Inconvenient Truth.

Hat tip to Instapundit (like he needs the link).