Friday, June 29, 2007


We're southbound again this noontime, as Milady and I are taking the other two grandkids to Gulfport to introduce them to the beach.

Regular readers will recall we made this trek two weeks ago with one set of grandkids. Now, it's the other sets turn. Then, I will have had enough of the beach for the summer. I love the ocean. I can sit and watch it for hours. I can get out on the ocean and have a good time. What I cannot do is sit in the sand for more than six or seven hours.

Our family took a vacation to Kitty Hawk several years ago, and rented a condo on the beach. I would sit for hours and watch the ocean. It's very calming. Getting out on the beach is more problematic. Here's a picture from that vacation, from the deck of the condo.

I haven't decided yet if I'm taking the computer this weekend, so blogging might be light to non-existent. Y'all have a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Immigration Bill

I understand that in a couple of hours, the Senate will recommence consideration of a bill reforming immigration. That same bill that was killed on the floor of the Senate last week and has been labeled as amnesty. I understand that a decided majority of the American people are against this bill, yet the Senate has turned off their phones, decided to NOT listen to the people, and will vote this morning for cloture.

The US Senate is supposedly the most deliberative body in the world. In the history of all mankind. Their work on this bill has been a mockery of the deliberative process. I place the blame on that at the feet of Harry Reid. From all indications, he's an asshole.

I have written and called my Senators, and to their credit, they've voted to kill this monster whenever given an opportunity. My Democratic Senator, Mary Landrieu and her junior Republican, David Vitter are both congratulated for doing the bidding of the people. Senators represent states. Originally, they weren't elected by direct election, but were appointed by the legislature. Historically, they listen to the people only as it affects their individual state.

If the Senate kills it this morning, good. If they don't, it really doesn't matter.

From my recollection of high school civics, there is another deliberative body that must approve this nightmare before it becomes law, and that is the US House of Representatives. The House is a free-wheeling body whose members all serve two year terms. They're all up for reelection in 2008. Representatives represent the people. Historically, they listen to the people and vote based on the wishes of their individual districts.

As I type this post, at 7:40 on a Thursday morning, I read that pundits are counting votes and peering into crystal balls, trying to cypher the vote this morning. It'll be a close call, but will serve to identify Senators who listen to their people. If they vote for this thing, they've turned off the phones and their common sense.

However, it is all for naught. This dog will never pass in the House. It is dead, dead, dead.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ground Hornets

Ground hornets are little burrowing insects that nest underground. They vary in size, but the most common in these latitudes is about half the size of the tip joint of a man's thumb.

I was bush-hogging at Momma's today, trying to knock back some of the 56 inches of forage that Louisiana grows in an average year. A little meadow that fronts the road had overgrown pretty badly during the past two years. For reasons only known to my Dad, he refused to let me mow it, and I learned today he refused to let other people mow it.

Today, Momma directed me to get on the tractor and get that little meadow under control. I always do what my Momma tells me to do. About halfway through the mowing I noticed a bunch of flying insects swarming along the ground in the track I had just mowed. Ground hornets. I gave them a wide berth as I finished mowing.

This evening at dark, I went back to that meadow with a gallon of gasoline, a quart of kerosene and a torch I made from a piece of mimosa branch and an old tee-shirt. I've been lucky dealing with ground hornets over the past two decades and I've learned that the best way to deal with them is to watch them until you can see where they are going into the ground, then liberally soak that area with gasoline.

Carefully get away from the gas, soak the torch in kerosene, light it and pitch it into the gasoline soaked area. WHOOSH! The hornets go away.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear the environmentalists now. Gasoline in the earth! Using fire to control insects! Lemme tell you, it works. I stayed in the meadow till the fire went out. While I was there, I used that torch to make the bag-worms in the pecan trees feel decidedly unwelcome. Burning out bag-worms with a torch is a time honored tradition among the pecan growing set.

I'm going back out in the morning to do some more bush-hogging behind the house and to clean the track around the property boundaries. When I start, I'll tractor out to the front meadow and mow that little patch of weeds that housed the ground hornets. What'ya want to bet that they won't give me any problems?


There are some calls a dispatcher just doesn't want to hear.

Sometime in the early 1980s, a trooper called out on a routine traffic stop on the side of an interstate highway. The trooper obtains the drivers license and the vehicle registration, and somehow, gets himself in front of the vehicle. In the Chevy sedan is one white male and one white female, both in their late 20s.

The driver, knowing that he has multiple felony warrants outstanding, decides to run down the trooper. He guns the engine and starts forward. The trooper, in a remarkable display of dexterity, throws himself across the hood and grasps the windshield wiper with his left hand. With his right hand, the draws his pistol and puts two rounds through the windshield into the chest of the driver. The driver, in his death throes, stiffens his foot, propelling the vehicle forward, across the median, across the oncoming lane and into the opposite ditch, where the vehicle strikes a culvert, ejecting the trooper, who was later found to have a slight concussion and multiple bruises and contusions.

The dispatcher hears this come across his radio.

"Uuuh. Is this thing working?"

The dispatcher answers "Unidentified caller, you are on a police frequency. State your business.

"Uuuh. It looks like the trooper is knocked out and the driver is dead. I've got the radio and the troopers gun. Maybe you better send an ambulance out here."

The dispatcher goes directly into crisis mode, trying to figure out where this citizen is, which trooper is injured, and trying to get resources directed to the location. Then, the dispatcher hears this message.

Uuuh, it looks like the passenger is trying to get out of the car. Can I just go ahead and shoot her now?"

That dispatcher earned all her money that evening.

Contempt of Court.

There's something strange going on in Jena, LA. The Town Talk covers it in an article this morning.

Some background: There were some racial tensions at Jena high school earlier this year. Some white students hung nooses in the tree in front of the school and the black community took it as a threat.

Hanging nooses in trees in front of a school is a dumb idea. It is easily construed as racist and I, personally, have no problem agreeing with the black community that someone should be punished for that behavior. It was divisive, it was uncalled for, it was in bad taste. High school kids tend to run their mouths, calling names and acting like asses. High school administrators squelch that behavior whenever possible, through a number of tactics. These might include having sit-down meetings with entire classes of students, punishing the guilty parties, and reminding everyone of the requirements for civilized behavior.

Sometime later, on December 4th, the mouth-running turned into a fight at the school. The reported facts are pretty sparse but the fight culminated in one student, Justin Barker, going to the hospital for multiple head-thumps. Justin, thankfully, was not permanently injured. Six black students are charged with battering Justin. The first of those six begins trial this morning.

With an all-white jury. The Town Talk reports that of a venire of 150, only 50 people reported for jury duty. Those 50 were Caucasian. The other members of the venire failed to show, and no black person reported for duty. With no black citizens on the jury, the deck is stacked against the black defendant. That isn't to say that an all white jury won't give him a fair trial, it is to say that the presumption of color-blind justice is impossible to maintain. In this case, the jury was stacked by those who failed to report.

Jury duty is the highest responsibility of a citizen to insure that the criminal justice system works like it is supposed to work. To have a fair trial, the jury venire must reflect the racial make-up of the parish. I have known judges to go to great lengths to insure that the jury venire was fairly and diligently drawn from the pool of eligible citizens. I have also known judges who dealt harshly with those who decided for one reason or another to neglect the call for jury service.

Were I the judge, I don't know how I would have handled the fact that 2/3 of my venire failed to show. I suspect that I would have postponed the trial for a week and ordered the Sheriff to round up those hundred citizens who failed to report. I would order a hearing on Wednesday for those citizens to explain to the Court why their failure should not be construed as Contempt of Court. The hearings would be short, sweet, and fairly pointed. Jail time would result for those who failed to convince me that they were not trying to undermine a basic keystone of American jurisprudence. The vast majority of those citizens would be ordered to serve 30 days in jail.

Then, when the news got out that failing to report for jury duty would result in jail time, we would call a new venire and commence trial.

My take on the "Jena Six"? I don't know. I haven't seen the facts. That is what trial is for. Those folks demonstrating in front of the Courthouse haven't seen the facts either.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Camp Boxes

Any of you who have ever done any tent camping probably have an assortment of boxes to haul your gear out into the wild. Some campers try to take all the comforts of home into the woods. Others delight in taking as little as possible into the woods. I've done all types of camping, from riding in a motor home, to starting out on a trek with nothing more than what I could carry on my back. Each type camping is satisfying. I'm not here to disparage any type of camping or outdoor activity.

My grandaddy was a fellow who loved to tinker. When possible, especially when camping, he would tinker together some little item that made a camp more convenient, more comfortable. He liked being in the woods, and he liked roughing it. I knew him in his later years and the type camping he liked to do was the type I call truck camping. He had a little pop-up camper, nothing more than two beds off the ground. His cooking was done outside under a fly that hooked to the little camper. He made two boxes that carried his cooking gear.

Through the weird conjunction of place, time, interest and inheritance, I am currently in possession of those two camping boxes. One, the smaller, is designed to fit around a Coleman stove. In that box, you have just enough room for the stove and a griddle. A small drawer in that box carried cooking implements; an egg turner, some tablespoons, matches, and dishrags. The stove box is the little one on the left.

The other box was for pots, pans, and two washing basins so we could clean up after the meal. There was generally room for some paper plates and bowls. Let's not forget the coffee pot, which you can see peeking out of the larger box on the right. These two boxes both fold out to make tables. The legs fit inside. As much as I've tried to improve on them, these two boxes seem to be the best compromise of durability and portability. Like everything else my grandfather made, they were built to last forever. Each year, I think I am going to have to begin a total rebuild, and each year I am mistaken.

Here they are, folded and ready to load into the pickup truck. The old man wanted these boxes to be one-man portable. They're cleaned up and ready for another the next trip. I do need to hit some garage sales and find a couple of pots and pans to replace the ones that were lost over the years.

That big skillet? It's a whole nuther story. I can cook one pound of bacon and a dozen eggs, all at the same time. It needs a little rehab work right now, but by the time hunting season rolls around, it'll be ready to sit atop a fire.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Just when you think the reporting about the war can't get any worse, we have reports from two American generals who talk about the nature of reporters and the war effort.
"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast." -- Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
"It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I'm readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I'll, in turn, do my best for the cause by writing editorials - after the fact." -- Robert E. Lee, 1863
We learn, from the most beloved Generals the nature of combat reportings and it seems as if the nature of combat reporting hasn't changed since Sherman and Lee faced each other across the lines.

Most, if not all, of the mainstream media are invested in making the war in Iraq look like a quagmire, a morass, a losing proposition. If you're reading the newspaper or listening to the network news, you are probably convinced that we're losing. The facts as I read them couldn't be further from the truth. While we have to convince the Iraqi people, and more particularly the Iraqi government to stand up and take responsibility for themselves, we still have to defeat Al-Queda and other terrorist clans. It's a hard slog, but we're winning. For a closer look at the battlefield, go see guys like Michael Yon.

At any rate, remember what Sherman and Lee said about battlefield reporting.

Hat tip to the Danes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I went fishing today, for probably the first time in two years. The sadness of it all is that one reason we bought this house is that it sits on a private lake. I have a small bateau boat that used to belong to my grandfather. His initials are still in the bow, and the nature of aluminum boats is to last forever as long as they are reasonably maintained. This boat was made in the mid '60s in Lebanon, Missouri, by the now defunct Appleby Manufacturing.

At any rate, I got out on the water today, and fished topwater plugs for bass. I caught three and played catch-and-release with them. If I don't keep them, I don't have to clean them. It was nice to be on the water.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The list

From Rivrdog, I got a list in the mail, 32 Things Cops wish People Knew. One of them made me chuckle.
29. If you think you can fan all the pot smoke out of the car before we smell it, good luck.

You know what dope smells like, right? It's an odor that is highly distinctive. Much like cigarette smoke is highly distinctive, the odor of burning marijuana, once learned, is never forgotten. The surprising thing is that I think marijuana smoke smells good, like a fresh-mown yard smells good. It's a nice, clean, natural odor to my nose. I like the smell of burning marijuana. If you've ever burned hemp rope, then you know the odor. It smells a lot like burning rope.

The legal problem is that because marijuana is illegal, and we can't use illegal activity in Court, sometimes we're asked in Court if we know, to a certainty, what burning marijuana smells like. Marijuana doesn't come with a seal of approval, or with a USDA label, so knowing what you have in your hand is really marijuana can be hard to articulate in a Court of Law. Except for the wisdom of the United States Army.

In April of 1975 I was a young, fresh, newly-minted lieutenant, undergoing training in Armored warfare at Fort Knox, KY. The Army had a drug problem and was trying to eradicate that problem. Young lieutenants were often the first-line against illicit drug use and were called to testify in Courts Martial. The Army decided to teach all its young officers the smell of burning marijuana. The Army obtained a quantity of good marijuana, tested it for purity and assigned medical officers to instruct other officers in a closed setting. We all filed into a class room, where armed MPs locked the doors. The medical officer then hand-rolled a number of pharmaceutical grade marijuana cigarettes and passed them around, lit, for us to sample, smell, touch, and taste. After an hour, those same MPs loaded us in buses and vans and took us home. High as kites.

I can testify to a certainty that I was taught to identify the odor of burning marijuana by the US Army at Fort Knox, KY, in April, 1975. I have so testified on numerous occasions.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Yesterday, the tomato, the butter beans and the corn were on the plant. The potatoes were in the ground.

Today, they were on my plate. Fresh butter beans, sweet corn cut from the cob, new potatoes boiled and set in a cream sauce. Icy cold sliced tomato. Along with a cornbread and a glass of sweet iced tea, it doesn't get much better than that.

June seems to be the time for fresh vegetables. Here in the United States, they are available almost year-round, but June is the time when the garden's bounty comes in full and rich and tasty.

No, I don't garden. I did for many years, and just haven't the interest these days. There is, however, a wonderful produce stand just up the road.

Now to while away the afternoon. I have to get back on the mower, but that will be in the cooler hours before dark.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Rifle

Every so often, I realize that I haven't had to spend money on one or the other of my children. I have trained my children to be self-sufficient, independent adults, but from time to time they need a little help, and like every parent I help my children.

When I realize I haven't had to spend money on a kid in a while, I make it worth their while. With my kids, I offer to buy them a rifle, within reason. We set the value of the rifle and I let them pick it out, then I order it.

My son Joey is a Junior in college. He's done it all himself, except that Dad gets calls occasionally to help out with books or supplies. Last month I realized that he hasn't asked for anything in the past year or so, so I called him and asked what king of rifle he might like, as a reward for being self-sufficient.

He called me back in a week or so. His request was certainly reasonable. The Savage, in .308, encased in the marvelous Model 10 action, and more specifically, the LEO version. Because Joey is a dedicated southpaw, he wanted his in the incomparable Model 10 FLP. It's a heavy barreled .308, weighing 8.5 lbs empty and dry. The action is pillar bedded, the heavy barrel is floated all the way back to the barrel nut. It sports the incomparable Accu-Trigger. The synthetic stock has an extra swivel stud in case he wants to mount a bipod.

I took some money to my favority counterman and ordered one. It came in today. The counterman called me and told me that it has arrived and has created quite a stir in the store. It seems that some other southpaws were there when it was unveiled and offered to buy it immediately. He told me it is on layaway in my name and I only need to show up with the balance to claim it. I told him I'd pick it up in the middle of July, in time for my son's birthday.

Joey's older brother, Matt, has one of these in 7mm mag. It seems that for one year, Savage offered a heavy barreled varmint model in 7mm Remington Mag, and that was the year that Matt had earned a rifle. It shot like gangbusters from the start and groups have shrunk as the rifle broke-in and Matt got used to shooting it. That rifle routinely turns in 0.5 MOA work and yes, I've got the targets to prove it.

It'll be interesting to see how Joey's rifle shoots.

Congressman Alexander on Immigration

Congressman Alexander responded to my Immigration letter, this morning sometime after I accused him of lacking basic courtesy to constituents. He replies:
More importantly, passage of S. 1348 would pose a danger to America. Many illegal immigrants that would be granted amnesty from this bill are terrorists. This bill weakens national security by ignoring the threat posed by amnesty. Some illegal immigrants want to come to America for the jobs and benefits, some want to harm America.

Rest assured, I will use my position on the House Immigration Reform Caucus to ensure that if and when a counterpart to this bill is introduced in the House of Representatives, it does not pass. America deserves nothing less that the defeat of this, or any other bill that provides amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Very Good.

Many pundits have noted that many in Congress want to pass the Immigration Bill, Senate 1348, but the voters are overwhelmingly opposed to it. The voters are demanding accoutability on the issue and continued pressure on our Congressmen will insure that this bill is strongly defeated.

We've heard from Senator Vitter and Congressman Alexander on the issue. Where is Senator Landrieu?

Basic Courtesy

My Momma taught me basic courtesy. Here in the Deep South, there are certain basic courtesies that have been taught over the years. The list is too long to articulate here, but that doesn't change the requirements. There are certain societal courtesies that show if a person is skilled in the social graces.

One of those rules is very simple. If a person writes you a letter, you are bound by convention to respond to that letter. I'm not certain how email falls on the scale, because much of what I receive in my inbox is spam, unsolicited mail that is not of a personal nature. I routinely delete spam. Some of my email is unsolicited communications from readers, commenting on posts here or articles I've written for my other website. I make a dedicated effort to reply to those emails.

Under the rules as I was taught, to fail to respond to a letter is rude. A corollary to that rule is that a gentleman is never rude accidentally.

In the last post, I noted that I had written my Congresscritters a letter and that Senator Vitter had responded. Congresscritter Alexander and Congresscritter Landrieu have not yet responded. In comments, Oyster reflects that Congressman Jindal has not responded to a missive filed in April.

At my parents knees I was taught that nobility is defined by a person's actions, that great privilege demands great responsibility. The closest thing we have to a ruling class is our elected officials, who, by their very nature, are our ruling class. However, the Founding Fathers required that they work for us; that we could send them packing through the ballot box. Their oath is to the Constitution, but their fealty is to the people who put them in office, the voters.

When a Congresscritter fails to respond to one of my letters, I can only surmise one of two things: 1) they think my letter is spam, an unsolicited communication of no value. If they believe this, they are wrong. Their job is to gauge the feelings of their constituents and reflect those constituents to Congress. They may disagree with the voters on particulars of issues, but they should at least have the courtesy to respond to the constituents. They are not a ruling class, they are representatives of a section of this nation. They are servants of the greater whole. Or, 2) they have no basic courtesy, no understanding of the social conventions. If they are accidentally rude, they have no business representing me. If they believe they are too good to respond to my (or Oysters) letters, they have no nobility.

And they wonder why we hold them, generally, in such contempt.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Senator Vitter on Immigration

Two weeks ago I wrote my Congress Critters a strongly worded letter on immigration. Senator Vitter responded to me via email, the first of my critters to respond to me. He writes:
You may be pleased to know that I offered an amendment to remove the amnesty provisions from the Kennedy immigration bill . My amendment would have eliminated the Z Visa amnesty provisions in the legislation that would give illegal aliens legal status . Z Visas are amnesty - pure and simple . Unfortunately, my amendment was defeated , but I assure you I will continue to fight to curtail illegal immigration .

I strongly believe that we need to dramatically improve our border security by having more agents patrolling our borders and making major investments in infrastructure improvements, such as strategic fencing and increased detention space. Congress and the p resident should focus on securing our borders and strengthening our interior enforcement , not rewarding law breakers with amnesty .

Have you written your Congress Critters lately?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Momma just stopped by on her way to tai chi class. For a number of years, she wanted to take those classes and now she has time for that kind of thing. Along with the gardening and taking care of an eight acre farm. She keeps busy.

In her hand she had a 5 quart ice cream bucket filled with fresh blueberries.

They are now mine.

All mine. Those blueberries are headed directly for the freezer. Blueberries freeze exceptionally well.

Thanks, momma.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wet Willie

When we installed the pool, the contractor included a Polaris pool cleaner. It runs on a dedicated pump, pressuring clean water through a venturi to create suction. Mine is the Polaris 280. I'm sitting at the dining room window watching it work while I type this post. Self-propelled, it randomly goes about the business of vacuuming the bottom and sides of the pool.

Sometimes it beaches itself on the top step and goes into a throe of agony trying to extricate itself. I usually see it sraying water over the edge of the pool and I'll go outside and poke it with a stick until it is free.

Milady has dubbed it Wet Willie. It's a great little device that I never knew existed until I owned one. It doesnt' take the place of a proper pool vacuum, but it does okay between serious cleanings.

Glowball Warming

Lets say that I'm a sceptic about global warming. A huge sceptic.

I had enough statistics classes in college, and enought scientific methodology to know when I'm being bullshitted, and my bullshit detector is finely tuned after 25 years in law enforcement.

Also, while I was taking those methodology classes I helped put up a climate thermometer for the local bank, you know, the kind that you could call and it would give you the current time and temperature? Our themometer was housed in a wooden box and we had to make sure it was mounted at least ten feet off the ground and that it was at least 20 feet from any concrete, or existing structure. We did the best we could, but we put it on the end of a long pole, 20 feet up in the air on the side of a microwave tower. We figured that it was close enough for government work, and every time I drive past it nowadays, I smile. It serves just fine, I guess.

Methodology taught me that if you are gathering data with 100,000 instruments and one of those instruments is giving you faulty data, then all of your data is faulty until you fix/replace/ignore the faulty instrument.

And weather data is gathered from thermometers just like the ones I described above.

Here's the problem. Your readings are based on instruments. If you have bad instrument siting, you have bad weather data.

There is a guy who is collecting data on instrument siting, and it doesn't look good. The guys at are collecting photos and siting information on thermometers used to collect daily temperature information.

Thermometers on roofs, thermometers on parking lots, thermometers near A/C units, thermometers near burn barrels. Hell, even the one at the Royal Observatory in Scotland is housed in a bad location. It's sitting in a grassy area completely surrounded by buildings. THere is now way possible that thermometer is giving good temperature data. It just ain't happening.

What's a degree here, or a degree there? Close enough for government work? The problem is that the temperature variations that folks are talking about are a tenth degree here, a tenth degree there. When you have a problem collecting the raw data, it's tough to believe any of the conclusions that result from that data.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


We're back, after two days of fun in the sun. The first half of the grandkids has been introduced to salt water, sand, and sun.

The three guys in the foreground are mine. We played hard. PawPaw rented a beach umbrella and set up in the shade, but still managed to get sunburned. Of course, just about the time PawPaw got settled in the shade, what do you think happened to block his picture-perfect view of the ocean?

You guessed it! A cutie in a bikini showed up with her blanket to spoil the view. PawPaw was plenty disturbed about that, you betcha.

I'm glad I'm home. It was fun, but things are piling up around here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Grant Police Jury sees the Light.

I see where the Grant parish Police Jury has seen the light regarding the Jena Choctaw tribe and their proposed casino.

As I understand the brouhaha at this point, the Dept of Interior has recognized the tribe's land in Grant Parish as a reservation, which cleared the way for the tribe to build a Class II casino. The tribe would like to build a Class III casino on that land, to compete with the Tunicas in Marksville and the Coushattas in Kinder.

A class III casino requires the Governor's approval.

The Grant Police Jury voted to support the Choctaw in their quest for a Class III casino and the compact helps the Police Jury with needed "impact payments" for infrastructure.
"With or without the governor, we are going to move forward with the building of this casino. We want the people of Grant Parish to benefit as well. By entering into a compact with us, the state, and especially the parish, would get the impact payments needed to build up this area's infrastructure."
Local pastors are opposed to the plan.

The pastors don't see the whole picture, and I expect most pastors to be opposed to gaming. Just like I expect them to be opposed to drinking, and horse racing, and prostitution and anything else that might be an impediment to the soul of Man.

However, the casino is coming, in either Class II or Class III guise. The Grant Police Jury recognized the inevitability of that casino and did what was best for their constituents. The question was fairly simple: Given that a casino will be built in Grant Parish, should the citizens of Grant Parish benefit from that casino?

The Police Jury answered, appropriately, yes.

Another First

I did something today I've never done before.

I put $13.00 worth of gasoline in a motorcycle.


In other news, we're taking a trip this afternoon. Milady and I are taking one set of grandkids to Gulfport, MS. Earlier this year we realized that some of the grandchildren have never seen the ocean. Some portion of a grandchild's education is best reserved to the grandparents and this is ours. We're going to take one set this weekend, and the other set two weeks hence. In each case, one parent is coming and yes, Grandma and I have a room separate from the children.

They've been playing hard outside and doing a lot of swimming in our pool, so they're brown as pecans. I don't think that we have to worry much about sunburn, but Grandma has purchased bulk quantities of sunscreen.

I'll take the camera and try to do a little blogging on the road, but don't count on it.

Y'all have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I watched my father die earlier this year after a long bout with cancer. He died at home, with dignity and peace. I miss him.

There was another grandfather in my childrens lives, their mother's father. I called him Boonie, a diminuitive of his middle name. When I was divorced in 1998, Boonie waited a respectful time then came to see me. He started the conversation, "We've been friends too long to let something like this come between us." The fact that he reached out to me while in a divorce with his daughter meant the world to me. We remained friends, to the point that he attended my second wedding in 2003.

He remained a good friend and a good grandfather and reveled in his great-grandchildren. Last Sunday, after church, my son took his children to see Boonie, and from all indications, it was a good visit. The next day Boonie fell and struck his head. The following day it became apparent that there was some internal bleeding and the condition was inoperable. Boonie passed away Wednesday morning.

I've lost a friend. Boonie and I hunted together for several years, basically the decade of the '80s and part of the '90s. He loved hunting rabbits over beagles and together with his son, Gary, we put together one of the finest rabbit hunting packs in north Louisiana. At one time we had 26 dogs, all tri-color, blanketback beagles. During that decade, we ate a lot of rabbit meat. I still yearn for rabbit, from time to time. If I ever decide to start another kennel, the lessons I learned from him about breeding, training, and hunting over beagles will all come back as I begin.

Boonie thought that a 20 gauge shotgun was all that anyone needed for upland game, and his constant cheerleading for that gauge explains why I have three in my gun rack and each of my sons lean toward that gauge for shotgunning.

Boonie was a sailor as a young man, one of the US Navy's destroyer sailors. He served during the Korean conflict and when the beer was flowing and the fire had died down, would tell stories. His 'can supported the Marines during one amphibious operation in particular and he'd tell about bringing the ship in close to the shore, so close that they could hear the gravel bottom scraping the ship, and laying the big guns down almost to the wavetops to blast at enemy guns that were killing our boys. When he'd talk of the Navy, I could smell the salt and feel the steel deck underneath me.

He loved to fish as only a Cajun can. Bream and bass were his favorite quarry and if I had to guess, I'd say that he liked bream fishing most of all. He knew spots where we could put in a bateau boat and spend the afternoon under the cypress trees with cane poles and crickets. In a matter of hours, we'd have filled the ice chest with hand-sized bream, then take them home and clean them before dark.

He always had fish in his freezer and loved to throw a fishfry, whether it was for family or a hundred of his closest friends. One Saturday he came out to my house in Natchitoches to help me throw a crawfish boil. We got the men organized and started cooking. Before the day was over, we had cooked 400 lbs of crawfish, and fried 20 pounds of catfish fillets, along with 85 of his good bream, with enough boiled corn and fried potatoes to feed anyone who showed up. At one point, a Cajun band set up in the front yard, just because. When we were throught eating and dancing and drinking, there wasn't enough fish left to make a Courtbullion.

He loved his family, oh my, how he loved his family. He raised eight children, he and Rita, working two jobs for many years to keep them in food and clothes. He loved to drink and he loved to laugh and he loved with all his heart.

I'm going to miss Boonie, too. Godspeed, old man.

Bright Lights

We've all done it. You see a cop working a stretch of road, and you flicker your bright lights to signal to other motorists that they are approaching a cop.

Police officers are not idiots. We normally work in zones, which is to say that I might be working Highway 28 east of the airport and my buddy might be working the same stretch of road, west of the airport. There is plenty to do, usually, in both zones, and occasionally one of us will set up on the side of the road to be seen by traffic while we do paperwork. The radio traffic keeps us pretty much informed about where the other is working.

Lets say I an working close to my zone boundary and I see a car approaching, lights flashing. The motorist is trying to tell me that I am approaching a cop. I know that. Yet, it irks me, so I turn around and make a traffic stop. The conversation might go like this.

Me: "Ma'am, I pulled you over because your headlights were flashing and I'm concerned that there might be some problem with your lighting equipment. Do you have any idea why your bright lights were flashing like that? I need to see your license, registration, and proof of insurance."

She: "Why no, Officer. I really can't explain that." As she digs in the glove box for the registration.

Me: "Part of my job, ma'am, is to help you stay safe on the road. Lets conduct a little inspection, please. Turn on your bright lights, please. Thank you. Now, your dims? Lets look at your blinkers. Thanks. Now, step on your brake pedal. Very good."

She" "Officer, I really don't have any idea what the problem might have been."

Me: "Me either, Ma'am. Everthing seems to be working properly now. You might want to have your mechanic look at it, first chance you get."

She: "I'll do that, officer, first thing tomorrow."

Me: "You drive carefully, and have a nice evening."

I will probably have to explain myself to Saint Peter, one of these days.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gunlocks, Eh?

I was over at Say Uncle and followed a link to a piece that talks about gunlocks. Evidently, this guy is concerned that the gun locks on the market are pieces of crap that don't do anything but comply with the law.

Here's the deal: My counterman at the local evil gun store tells me that he is required by law to give me a gun lock every time he sells a gun. Notice how I said that: He is required by law to give me a gun lock every time he sells a gun.

In other words, the lawmakers have decided that all guns sold in open commerce should have a lock, so they mandate that the retailer give locks away. We all know there is no such thing as a free lock, and that the cost is passed on to the consumer, but the gun store is trying to minimize that impact on the customer, so to comply with the law, they buy a bunch of cheap gun locks and include one with every purchase.

I appreciate them doing that. I have a couple of those locks around here someplace. The grandkids are intrigued with them for maybe ten minutes, until they figure out how to defeat them, then the locks lay on the bench until I throw them away.

A free lock is just that. You get what you pay for. The lawmakers just had to include a feel-good provision in the law, and the retailers complied with it in full and in spirit. They complied with the least cost to themselves and the consumer. It's a win-win provision.

Better that we gun owners keep our guns out of reach of the grandkids and as soon as they are old enough, we teach them how about guns. How to load and unload and how to shoot. We teach them respect for firearms and we teach them that some things are deadly and we teach them that there is no safety but the one that God provided between our ears and that there are Four Rules to gun safety that can never, ever be violated without severe repercussions.

No gun lock currently made will make a gun safe from a motivated 10 year old. That same motivated ten-year-old will listen to instruction when Daddy or Grandaddy takes the time to show how the gun works, how to disassemble it, and how to fire it.

There are always firearms available for use in my house. There is always a minimum of two that are loaded, ready for immediate use. Neither my children, nor my grandchildren have ever had any problem with knowing about loaded guns.

I'll say this one more time, another way. If you have children, it is your responsibility to teach them that some things will hurt them. Things like rattlesnakes and garbage trucks. Things like sex offenders and child predators. You also have a responsibility to keep them safe. Teaching good gun-handling manners is the best way to keep them safe. Do not depend on any device to lessen your responsibility for proper training.

If you don't train your children, in all things, then who do you expect to train them?

Wednesday Update

I had business in Natchitoches this morning, so I rode the bike. 100 mile round trip, more or less, and the motorcycle did just fine.

Got home to find that my first father-in-law passed away. He fell in his carport last week and was having some problems, so they took him to the hospital. He was bleeding in his head, and they got to it too late. He passed this morning and my children are devastated. Two grandfathers gone in 4 months. It's gonna take them some time to get used to the idea. RIP, Boonie. We should know the arrangements later today.

Milady works tonite and I'll be without adult supervision.

I paid my deer lease fees today. Do you realize that in 4 months we start deer hunting again? Times a'wastin' boys! We gotta get ready to put venison in the freezer. I'm looking forward to doing more hunting than I did last year. I didn't even get to see Junior last year, which isn't like me at all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hydraulic Lock

In an internal combustion engine, the cylinder/piston is a closed space. The piston rises in the cylinder, compressing a gas/air mixture until the sparkplug fires, expanding the gas, pushing the piston.

Hydraulic lock occurs when one cylinder is filled with a liquid. The piston, trying to rise in the cylinder, contacts the liquid and cannot move. The engine feels like it is locked up. That's what happened to my Goldwing engine. Somehow, probably the carburetor stuck open, and raw gasoline drained into the downhill pistons while the bike set up overnight. When I tried to start it the next morning, the piston hit liquid, couldn't move, and stopped trying. I thought the engine was mechanically locked, but it was only a liquid lock. A hydraulic lock. It's fixed, now.

I asked my mechanic if hydraulic lock is a common problem in the GL1500. He says he's never heard of it. We both agreed that it was a common problem of the GL1100 series. I drove one of those for two years and it was a common phenomenon to get on the bike and find it locked up. If you didn't turn off the petcock, gas was likely to drain into one of the downhill pistons.

That takes a load off my mind. And, with gas running at $3.00/gallon, it makes more sense to be on the bike than in the pickup. If I need the pickup I have it, if not, then the bike will do just fine.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Small engine maintenance

I got a call from Momma this morning. Her lawnmower wouldn't start. I poured a go-cup of coffee and headed that way. She had recently bought and installed a new battery. Turns out, the battery wasn't charged. I put a charger on it. She is going to mow this afternoon.

Then I came home and put the Goldwing in a place where I can work on it. Sometime in April, I got on it to go to work. When I engaged the starter, it made a half-tun and stopped with a decided Clunk! The Goldwing engine is legendary for reliability, especially the 1500 version that I drive. There are a couple of million out there being driven every day. It was built from 1988 to 1999 and it set records for durability. Mine has well over 100,000 miles on it. I changed the timing belts at 60,000 miles. That ominous Clunk! sounded like a timing belt had snapped, locking the engine.

I took off the front lower fairing and disassembled the bike enough to get to the timing cover. When I took the cover off, I noticed that the timing belts looked good, so I engaged the driveshaft with a socket wrench and turned the engine through several revolutions. It turns just fine and the engine is still in time. I am considerably relieved. I still don't know what the problem was back in April, but I know what it's not and that's half the answer. If the timing belt had broken while the engine was turning, valves would have met pistons with disastrous results.

While I have it torn down this far, I'll go ahead and put new timing belts on it. Later today or tomorrow morning I'll drive over to the best Goldwing mechanic in the area and ask his opinion. I'm thinking the starter has died on me, but Wayne will be able to give me some pointers.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Selling Land

I own ten acres in Natchitoches Parish that I no longer have justification for owning. I've made the move to my new digs and I offered the land to my adult children, but they've all moved on in their lives and don't want the home place. It's time to sell.

It's not much, it's ten acres with an old farmhouse. And a barn, and a pond, under fence. It is very, very rural. The house is liveable, I recently had adult children living there, but the house really needs a craftsman, someone who wants a major remodel project. The house has raised three families that I know about. I've remodeled it twice, but the last was in 1992 and everything inside is dated. It could really use someone who wanted to make sweat equity really quick.

The charm isn't the house, but the land. It rises from front to back and has meadow, pasture, and woods. When the land is clean, it is beautiful and inspirational. All a fellow needs is a 20 horse tractor, a shredder, and the usual hand tools. I could go out there right now, spend two days on the land and have it looking good. Another couple of afternoons would have it looking great.

Over the years, four people told me that if I ever decided to sell, they wanted it. I called the first fellow last week, and because of changing family circumstances he isn't able to buy it. I called the second fellow an hour ago. He remembered telling me he wanted it. His grandaddy once owned it. He's going to look at it this afternoon. I told him to let me know something in a day or two, because I had some other folks interested.

I hope it moves quickly.

Sunday Church

I went to church this morning, as is my habit. 22 brave souls assisted me in butchering the hymns.

That's a fairly good turnout for a June sunday morning. Folks on vacation, folks traveling, makes for a small worship service. I know that my mother is traveling this morning or she would have been there. I'll be traveling next weekend and won't be at services.

This is Milady's weekend to work. She works nights and sleeps days, so the house is quiet. I really need to mow the lawn, but that'll just have to wait until she wakens.

Accuweather is showing a high today of 97 F with a heat index of 109. Summer has arrived with a vengeance.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Personal Responsibility

It's been a while since I've written about personal responsibility. It seems, as a nation, we've pretty much forgotten about personal responsibility as a viable way of conducting our personal affairs. It seems that if we screw up our lives enough, we can find an apologist for our behavior, not matter how despicable we become.

Rivrdog has a great rant up about alcoholism and the inability of the alchoholic to control his behavior.

Then we come to the Paris Hilton debacle. She has managed to totally screw up her life, yet can't come to grips with the fact that it is her own fault. She has money, prestige, and privelige yet can't believe that society's rules apply to her as well. In short, she has no personal responsibility.

The government has taken away our personal responsibility. We let it happen like a frog put into a cool pot of water will allow the heat to slowly build under the pot until the water boils. One law against another, one government project dovetailed into the next and we forget that we are responsible. We deny responsibility. We duck it and dodge it and society lets us get away with it. This was not always the case.

When I was in high school, we always had one girl get pregnant during the school year and she was always expelled. Girls are the keepers of the sexual energy of our species. Girls were expected to say NO! and if they failed, then they were labeled. It was unjust, it was unfair, but it was their personal responsibility. If a high school girl was having sex, she made damn sure it was safe sex because she didn't want the labels that came from an unwanted pregnancy. Today we are more fair, more just, and girls routinely get pregnant in high school knowing that a host of government services awaits them. It's repulsive to me, personally.

When I was a young adult, the alcohol laws were not as nannyish as they are now. Over the years, somehow, we've taken away the personal responsibility of the driver. When I was starting out, laboring mightily during the day, it was taken as a badge of honor to stop at a convenience store and get one beer for the road. One beer to drink as I drove home. I wasn't going to a bar, I wasn't shunning my family, I was drinking one beer as I drove home. Drinking and driving weren't against the law. Drunk driving was, and we were expected to know the difference. Or, as a young married, on the rare occasion we found a babysitter, we'd have a couple of drinks before we went out to a nightspot, to lessen our bar tab there. Money was tight and my wife wanted a loosen-up drink before she got to the dance floor. Either way, we weren't in any danger of the local constabulary unless we were found drunk. Society didn't much care what we did as long as we didn't cross that tripwire of unacceptable behaviour.

The tripwire is much, much lower now. It's easier to get tripped up because the law has taken the place of the approbation of society. Back in the day, there was public shame associated with violating the rules of polite society. Today there is no shame.

Sometimes, I think we should repeal all the laws written since 1964, both on the federal, local, and state level. Repeal all of them and see how we progress as a society. It'd be an interesting experiment.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I got tased today, a new qualification. That was one of the damndest experiences of my LEO career. The gun they used on us was the Advanced Taser M26.

Imagine that all your muscles lock up. All of them. You can't move, you can't scream, and you're in extreme pain. You can feel the muscles lock and you can feel the electric shock rippling along the muscle mass that's been affected. My buddies had me under the arm and lowered me to the mat, but if I were alone I would have fallen immediately, stiff as a board, into the waiting mat.

Then suddenly it's over. Like someone flipped a switch, which I suppose is a true enough analogy, the ride is over. And I'm fine. Better than fine; I'm happy it is over. I've ridden the pulsed wave and come out the other side and I'm fine. Only I know what it's like and I never, never, never want that experience again.

This is probably the finest law enforcement tool to come along in the last fifty years. There is no telling how many lives could be saved if more of these were on the streets. While not an end-all, or a do-all, it is certainly another tool in the continuum of options we have available to us. It certainly doesn't take the place of a functioning brain, and good judgement is always the best law enforcement tool, this little device makes it totally feasable that a 100 lb female officer could subdue a 350 lb drunk all by herself. Or, that a 54 year old fat cop like myself could take down a 225 pound athlete without danger of injury to either of us.

While this isn't a Phaser, which would be the ultimate law enforcement weapon, it's certainly useful. Personally, I want one of these.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Home for Lunch

Home for lunch after force-on-force training. The training itself was good, but I've dont a lot of that over the years and it was starting to get old when the instructors shut it down.

I have time to grab a sandwich and say hi to the grandkids, who are over harassing Grandma. Then it's back to the training center. I'm told we're getting a class on internet predators, which should be interesting because there is absolutely nothing we can do at school to stop them. I say that because all the sites we might use are blocked from viewing within the school system. The school system has some dedicated folks blocking sites in the hopes that we keep the kids out of them. Rightfully, there are things we don't want the kid to see online, but that same blocking program blocks the administration from looking at sites we might use to protect the kids.

We call it the Green Violation Screen, which pops up whenever you've tried to access a site that has been blocked. Often unintentionally. For example; a teacher asks me to get her some information on gangs, or drugs, or the latest data on teen sex. Googling any of those search strings brings you to the Green Violation Screen, because we want to shield the students from gangs and drugs and teen sex. Sometimes, though it's useful to look at Xanga or MySpace or some of the other sites to see what the kids are doing online. Those sites are blocked too, to keep the kids from accessing their MySpace page during class time.

The Green Violation Screen is an unintended consequence, and totally a pain in the butt.

Tomorrow we go through baton and handcuff requalification.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Issue Weapons.

Someone asked if my weapons are personally owned, or if they are issued. The Sheriff doesn't issue weapons. From time to time there is a rumor that he is going to buy a bunch of Glocks and make everyone carry the same weapon, but so far that hasn't happened.

All my guns are mine.

Range Day

I spent the day on the Sheriff's range for the POST requalification.

First, the duty pistol. The 1911 ran like a dream and I qualified easily with it. No, I didn't bring any targets home. Keeping targets from a qualification smacks of being a rookie or an amateur. I'm neither, and while I post targets here for the audience edification, I don't bring targets back from qualification. Best possible score is 120, with 96 needed to qualify. Your pundit scored 115.

Next, the shotgun. The Remington 870 ran like a dream. The course of fire is two rounds of slugs and ten buckshot. We use 00 buck, nine to a shell, for a total possible of 92 points. When the Captain score my target, he got a 93, then looked again at the target and disqualified one of the holes. It seems I shot a wad through the target.

Next came the backup and the Model 60 did the job it is supposed to do. I noticed that I was getting some lead shaving. It's been 20 years since that revolver has had any professional gunsmithing. It's probably time to send it to Clark's and get it timed. Revolvers, especially old revolvers can use a tune-up from time to time and this one is long overdue. For a five-shot revolver, best score is 100, with 80 needed to qualify. I scored an 82. Not the best score, but good enough. I think timing will really help this revolver.

Then we shot the rifle course. I was shooting the Remington 760 and it became a nightmare. I was plagued by equipment problems, most prominently magazine problems. The guys on the line thought it was a hoot watching me try to shoot the rifle. I pulled one 10-round magazine out and bumped it and all ten rounds shot upward into the air. I had magazines fail to seat, magazines fail to feed and magazines try to double feed. The guys on the bench were hooting and laughing and thought the scene was hilarious. Even I was laughing before it was over. The rounds that chambered and fired did good, all landing in the scoring ring. Best possible score on this event is 80 points with 64 to qualify. I scored 40 points on this exercise.

Tomorrow, scenario shooting.

Monday, June 04, 2007

'Bout damned Time

I see where the Feds have indicted William Jefferson (D-LA) on Federal corruption charges. He is charged with racketeering, soliciting bribes, and money laundering. The indictment runs 96 pages. It ought to be a good one.

I see no mention of it on his home page. I'm sure it's just an oversight.

Annual Requalification

Today was day one of the annual requalification that we all have to go through to maintain our POST certification.

I am now recertified on CPR and AED, and it seems there's been a change from last year. Last year we were taught that the respiration cycle for CPR was 15 compressions and two breaths. This year we're taught that the cycle is 30 compressions and 2 breaths. Evidently, compressions are more important than breaths. The instructor was extremely careful to make sure we were doing compressions correctly. We'll be breaking ribs, that's almost certain. I'm reminded that the doctors can treat a broken rib. There is no treatment for death.

Tomorrow, firearms qualifications. I'll be shooting the 1911, the Model 60, the Remington 870 and the Remington 760. I always look forward to the shooting portion of requals.

Wednesday and Thursday are scenario-based training. Friday we're getting certified on the Tazer and then doing recert on the baton, along with unarmed self-defense. Friday is fighting day. I don't like fighting day. I know how. I can do it. I don't like it. I'd rather work smart than work hard, and when you've got to wrestle someone it's hard work.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Road Trip

We're headed for Natchez and Vicksburg in an hour or so. Milady's brother Bill is up from Florida for his annual pilgrimage to Louisiana and his lady wants to explore the delta, Mississippi side. We don't have much itenerary, but we're going to stop first at Old South Winery to get a case of wine for Milady's wine rack.

Thence, along the Natchez Trace for a few miles, then we'll get off of the Trace and head north, for Vicksburg. We'll spend the night in Vicksburg. Milady says she knows a few good restaurants there.

We'll be back tomorrow.