Monday, June 30, 2014

Social Media in Law Enforcement

Surfing around this morning, waiting for our travel partners to start moving around, I find this article in the Baton Rouge Advocate, talking about how law enforcement uses social media.
Seeking to harness a torrent of data gushing from smartphones and computers, authorities are increasingly surfing Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, among other popular sites, for investigative leads and evidence they use to solve crimes. As if patrolling a neighborhood, police monitor social media websites to contact witnesses, identify suspects and look for chatter that might signal potential violence.
Yeah, we do that.  We look at Facebook and Twitter, and all manner of social media to help solve crimes.  People talk about things that interest them, and the drama of crime interests people, and there is lots of that stuff on the intertubes if you're willing to look.  I've made cases off of Facebook, when folks brag online about their thefts, or their drugs, or air their threats and grievaces online.

Id be willing to bet that the good detectives in the NOPD are looking at social media this morning, trying to figure out who shot all those people on Bourbon Street yesterday.   Somebody is going to post something on Facebook, and the digital cops are looking.  Thankfully, the bad guys aren't smart enough to realize that once you put something on the World Wide Web, it's there for all to look at, enjoy, and catalog as evidence.

You have the right to remain silent.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


We got as far as Tunica, MS yesterday and checked into a nice Quality Inn near the casino strip.  Awoke this morning to thunderstorms, and the Weather Channel on the TV tells me that Memphis is having a really interesting Sunday.

We had planned to go into Memphis today and poke around, maybe eat some barbecue, but it looks as if the weather has conspired against us.  Flash-flooding, stalled cars, heavy thunderstorms, and a threat of a tornado.  Can I pick a vacation spot, or what?

Some thoughts on the Tunica Casinos.  They're built in a corn field.  Seriously, the folks who decided to build these casinos on the Mississippi river in northern Mississippi used agricultural land to build their casinos.  In this motel on a road that's called Casino Strip Resort, we/re surrounded by soybeans, corn, and cotton.

When we left yesterday morning, we crossed the river at Vicksburg and headed north on US 61,  I've driven in Mississippi lots of times but I didn't realize that the Mississippi Delta had so much farm land.  Nearly 200 miles of crop fields along both sides of the highway, about half of that a two lane road.  It was an interesting drive if you like looking at crop land (and I do, I'm basically a country boy at heart).  One thing that surprised me is the amount of rice growing this far north.  Lots of rice being grown in the Delta.

More later.  I'm going to watch the weather and try to plot a course that will keep us entertained today.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Milady and I escaped yesterday, on a long weekend designed to get us out of the net for a few days.  We'll be back sometime Monday or Tuesday, depending on how we feel, and I may do some posting from the road.  Or, I might not.  However, we made sure that the dog is properly boarded at my mother's house, so I'm sure that he's being spoiled rotten.

I took this picture of him Friday, of a cat nuzzling him.

We'll be back next week, and regular posting will continue.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cat Blogging

Milady and I are on the road this morning on a escape weekend, so I'm giving you a video I took last week of the cats playing on the patio.

Enjoy.  We'll be back next week.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Fatigue

Seems like every time I make plans to go on vacation, something crashes.  Two years ago, it was my home A/C unit that crashed the day before we left.  I was able to get it fixed late that afternoon and I felt truly blessed that I was able to get it done relatively cheaply.

Today, as I worked my list pending Milady and I heading out tomorrow morning, I decided to upgrade my phone.  Bad idea.  That little green Droid icon, the little robot.  You know the guy?

Yeah, him, the little bastard.  He came up on the screen and locked-the-hell up.  Couldn't turn the phone off, couldn't re-boot it, nothing.  I had some errands to run, so while I was out, I went to Best Buy who sold me the phone.  No friggin' luck.  So, I went to the Verizon store, where they piddled around for a while, told me that the phone is still in warranty, but they can't get me a phone until tomorrow at the earliest.  Just Damn.

Oh, and the Verizon store doesn't have a computer that will run the Upgrade Assistant program that comes with every Verizon phone.  Go figure.  They don't have a computer and a USB cable.  That's what the tech told me at the store.

SO, I came home, did some testing, made sure that I had a good connection, with a good USB cable, then let the Repair Assistant look at the phone.  It took about 40 minutes, but the phone booted back up, and installed the upgrades.  So, the phone is working, and I have dodged another bullet.

I'm going to mop the kitchen and take a nap.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Thunder-Bumpers

Thursday afternoon and we've been tormented by thunder storms all day.  Not much rain has fallen on my acre, but thunderstorms have been around us all day, as Accuweather shows.

As the thunderstorms have swirled around us all day, the dog is terrified, hiding under any available cover and cowering in fear at every thunderclap.  Poor dog is going to give himself a heart attack.  We've tried thunder shirts, we've tried everything, he's simply terrified of heavy weather.

I, on the other hand, have been totally worthless today.  Haven't hit a lick at a snake.  Still in my slippers.  Maybe tomorrow I'll get something done, but today has been a down day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Game Cam Pictures

Those of you who read this blog know that I like using a trail camera to evaluate hunting areas, to watch wildlife, and to catch cat-food thieves.  This may be time to review a trail cam that I used last year, in case anyone is considering buying one, and to look at photos I've taken on the little camera.

Last year, Milady gave me a Moultrie D55 IR camera as a gift.  I sat it aside for a while, then moved it to the family property to see what type of traffic I might see.  With the loss of my deer lease this month, I've been going through the pictures on the camera and I have some observations that might be valuable.

First, there is a disturbing tendency for the older cameras to "white out" some photos.  I've found that this happens most often during twilight, where the camera can't decide if it wants to shoot a photograph during those times when it can't decide if it's daylight or darkness.  The Moultire doesn't have that problem.  Of over 200 photos on that memory card, each of them was viewable.  For example, this photo:

Of course, you can click on the photo for a larger view, but this pic was taken in mid-December, at 7:23 am, on what obviously was a foggy morning, the perfect time for a camera to "white out".  Clearly, I can see a doe standing in the middle of the photo, a great job by the little camera.

Notice this photo, taken at 6:47 pm on Ocober 25th of a nice, shootable buck.  What I find interesting is that we can see sky through the trees, and while the buck might not have been visible with a lesser camera, it might also have presented itself during the last available minutes of legal shooting hours.  This is a great job by the camera in capturing an image that lesser camera's might have missed.

This picture really gets my interest, because it shows me the caliber of the deer that are using that meadow.
Taken in the wee hours of the morning, these deer are plainly nocturnal and I might never see them during a hunt, but the camera proves that they are there, so we have a healthy deer population in that area.

I really like this photo, taken in late May, or a deer that's just coming into velvet.  That's a nice deer, and I suspect that I'll be looking for him during the coming months.

One other thing that surprised me about the Moultrie, is that it took pictures for seven months on the same set of batteries.  My particular camera uses six C-cell batteries, and I only use Duracell in my cameras.  It took this photo of me in early June, as I was taking the batteries out of it.

I really need to learn to turn the camera off when I take it off the tree.  But, if you're looking for a game camera that displays time, date, temperature and moon phase, takes great pictures with great battery life, you could do worse than the Moultrie D55IR.  For a $120.00 camera, it is a whole lot of camera.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gun Weights

A recent forum posting asked about carry weights, so I thought I'd get out the scale and see how my various sidearms stacked up.  The scale is an old family scale, and while it may not be exactly accurate (or it might be precisely accurate), it serves to give an idea of some standard weights.

Let's start with my chromed Colt, 3 lbs, 2 oz.  Interesting.

Next, we'll try the Kimber, also a 1911, with the same magazine of ammo.   The Kimber comes in at one ounce under 3 lbs.

So, who's my next victim?  How about the Smith and Wesson Model 38 that goes everywhere with me?  Heh!  1 lb, 7 oz, I knew it was light, but I didn't know how much it weighed.  Now I know.

Next we'll try my duty gun.  A Glock 22 with 15 rounds of ammunition.  At 2 lbs, 3 oz, that isn't bad for 15 rounds of .40 SW goodness.

Okay, one more.  How about that Ruger Super Blackhawk that I carry when I'm woods cruising?  At 3 lbs, 4 oz, it's just a little heavier than the Colt 1911.  Ain't that interesting?

Now, I know how much those guns weigh, fully loaded and ready to go.

Sad Day

Our hunting club disbanded this past month, for a number of good reasons.  It was too hard to find good members, the lease rates were going up, and none of us could financially afford to float the whole lease fee.  So, we held some phone conversations and decided to move our stuff off the lease.  Today we moved stands and feeders.

My deer stand is disassembled and leaning against a fence in the side lot.  It needs a little work, and that's a good place to work on it.  The feeders are stacked by the shed, and I've got a good opportunity now to give them a good cleaning.  It was emotionally draining this morning, taking stuff off a place I've grown to love, but I feel that we made the best decision we could make.

In another month or so, I"ll move the stand and feeder to family land.  Lots of deer there, but I didn't hunt it.  No particular reason, and a variety of reasons.  This season, it will get plenty of use.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Eaton Rapids Joe asked about cobbler recipes, and I admit a fondness for easy, filling, tasty sweetness.  Cobbler fits the bill exactly.

Years ago, when I was scoutmaster for a troop of hungry Scouts, several of my brethren scoutmasters started a little competition during camporees.  Each scoutmaster would make one cobbler, in a large dutch oven on Saturday night, and we'd submit our efforts to the boys who would decide the winner.  I won a few, but my friend Billy Netherland won more than his share.   The basic recipe went like this:


1 stick butter or margarine
2 cans fruit filling.  Peaches, apples, blueberries, it didn't matter
1 box cake mix.  Cheaper is better.  We're talking Dollar Store, True Value cake mix.

Line a large Dutch Oven with aluminum foil.  Melt your butter in a saucepan.  Add the two cans of filling to the dutch oven, then sprinkle that whole box of cake mix on top.  Drizzle that melted butter atop the cake mix, then give it one stir with a wooden spoon.  One stir.  You've not mixing, you're simply giving it one stir.


Put that Dutch oven in the fire and put some coals atop it.  You're going to need the equivalent of about 18 charcoal briquettes on the bottom and about six on top.  Let it bake for about a half-hour, or until the bubbling mixture passes the toothpick test.  You'll know when it's done.

Caveat.  For proper cooking on a campfire, you're going to need a proper Dutch Oven.  One with legs, and a lid that will hold coals.

This one is from Camp Chef, but several manufacturers make them.  I've used Lodge, and other makes, but for proper campfire cooking you'll need the legs and the lid.  One of the cool things about a proper camp dutch oven is that the lid can be flipped over to use as a skillet.

I have my inside dutch ovens, and I have my campfire dutch ovens, and never the twain shall meet.  You can't use a legged oven on the house stove, and you can't really cook on a campfire without legs.

One winning cobbler secret.  Add a tablespoon of vanilla extract into the fruit topping.  (Don't tell Billy I told you.)

Monday Cat-Blogging

Busy this morning, but I've done what I intended to do, and now I'll find a cool, shady spot to siesta for the afternoon.  It's hot out there, about 90F with 70% humidity.  The air is like walking into a wet wool blanket.  The cats are likewise seeking a shady spot, someplace where they might catch a breeze.

This one has crashed on top of the carpeted cat-house and is sound asleep.  Not a bad idea for a hot, humid Monday afternoon.  I'll take care of a few little details when the afternoon heat moderates, but for now I'm going to be inside under the air conditioner.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Three Deloreans

A stretch limo made from three Deloreans.

That's just wrong, and so very cool.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Fooling about with the dog, Milady snapped a picture of me tormenting the dog with my baseball cap.

No animals were harmed in the filming.  Well, except maybe for his pride.  He got over it quickly.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Game Camera

I'm a fan of game cameras, and love watching the wildlife that appears in the unblinking eye of the camera.  However, a game cam has other uses as well.  Like catching a thief.

Recently Milady noticed that we were going through a lot of cat food after dark, and asked me to set up the game cam to watch the food bowls.  Easy-peasy, I set it on a convenient lawn chair, and turned it on as we went inside for the evening.  Fifty three pictures later, I've got some idea where that cat food is going.

That's our inquisitive kitten, wondering what I've left in the chair.  Several close shots of the kitten, Smokey, investigating the camera.

 Our other cat, Sparkle, getting a snack.  No problem with this cat, either.  That's her food bowl, so she's right where she should be.

Aah, Haa!  The thief.  I've seen this big cat before, but only at a distance.  The question is whether he's a pet who is let out at night, or if he's feral.    Either way, he's found a convenient chow spot for a midnight meal, and I"ll have to make plans to deal with him.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Afternoon

Spent the morning working at the nursing home, installing privacy curtains, until we ran out of material, then took Milady to lunch before heading home.  Driving toward the house, the classic station played this old favorite by Arlo Guthrie.

And the sons of Pullman porters, and the sons of engineers,
ride their father's magic carpet made of steel.
Mothers with their babes asleep are rocking to the gentle beat,
And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel.
That song gives me wanderlust in the worst way, and it's a good thing that Milady and I have a trip planned, or when she got home this afternoon, I'd tell her to put some jeans in a bag, and we'd hit the road.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Majority Whip

I see that Louisiana's 1st District congressman, Steve Scalise, has been elected majority whip for the US House.
House Republicans elected Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) majority whip on Thursday, adding a red-state conservative voice to the upper leadership ranks.
This is a pretty good posting for Rep Scalise, "raised-up" as he was in Louisiana politics, he should be a nice fit for the job.
The victory makes Scalise the chief enforcer for GOP leadership; he will be responsible for whipping votes and corralling a conference that has often failed to unify on major votes.
Scalise represents the 1st Congressional District, which comprises the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, as well as a big part of the coast line. His district looks like this:

Congratulations, Congressman Scalise.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Urination Festival

It looks like our Governor, Bobby Jindal, today initiated a pissing contest with everybody.  His Secretary of Education, the legislature, the BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) and school district superintendents across the state.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued executive orders Wednesday to withdraw the state from the Common Core standards and federally subsidized standardized tests, defying his state legislature, his superintendent of education and the business community — but endearing himself to tea party activists across the country who could be influential in early primary states if he chooses to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Within an hour, his Sec Edu was quoted by reporters.
Within an hour of Jindal’s announcement, state Superintendent John White was telling reporters that the governor had no authority to back out of the Common Core or scrap the exam the state was planning to use, which was developed by a federally subsidized consortium known as PARCC.
“The state will continue to implement the Common Core and continue to implement the PARCC tests — the governor’s comments notwithstanding,” White said.
White needs to pay a little more attention to what happens to appointed officials who buck Bobby.  Those folks are known for ending up in the unemployment lines.

Allahpundit says that Bobby is running for President.  We'll see.  I do think it's interesting that both those links are national, not state links.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Poison Ivy

Eaton Rapids Joe was talking about poison ivy recently (I couldn't find the post), but it sent me into my memory banks, to find an old-home remedy that we used years ago to protect ourselves against the inching, burning, scritchty rash that shows you've been in contact with the stuff.

Lead.  Yeah, that's right.  The same stuff we make bullets from.  Years ago, I heard about lead against the skin as a protection against poison ivy, so I tried it myself.  Simply to tie a lead bullet on a string and wear it against your skin.  We trued it when we lived in the country, a place where poison ivy was a constant companion, and it worked for us.   Later during that period, I even carved some crosses into wood and poured molten lead into those rustic molds for some of the lady-folk.  They wore them around their necks and were also protected.

Go Google it, you won't find anything on it, but it's always been my experience that raw lead, worn against the skin, protects against poison ivy.  Don't aske me how or why it worked.  I didn't care.  All I knew that with rour kids running wild through the woods, I suddenly wasn't buying as much calamine lotion.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Brutal Politics

Hillary Clinton was talking politics yesterday and made a seemingly boneheaded statement concerning her presumed presidential bid.  As Hot Air reports:
“Politics is so unpredictable,” Clinton responded. “Whoever runs has to recognize that the American political system is probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world.”
Yeah, right, Hillary  Politics is brutal in the US.  Tell that to the Syrians, in the midst of a civil war.  Tell that to the Libyans as their country dissolves into chaos  Tell that to the Ukrainians.  Or for that matter, the Iraqis as the jihadists are beheading people. 

This woman has no idea what brutality is, and is demonstrating that she has no idea, even after her globe-trotting as SecState.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Good Fuel

The old lawn tractor took a dump on me Saturday.  It's a 20-year-old Murray, and it's provided good service for a long time, but I decided to hop down to Sears and see what they had.  I don't need a zero-turn, and I didn't have time for a lot of complicated wrench-bending, and it was time for a new lawnmower.  It sucks, but there it is.

I bought one of these, and the particular lawnmower doesn't matter.  The subject of this blog post is a sticker that I found on the gas tank.

Of course, we all know that ethanol gas damages small engines.  And this sticker tells us that the new E85 fuel is a no-go in that engine.

I don't use ethanol fuel in small engines.  Go to and find out where to buy real gasoline for your engines.  Especially your small engines.  They'll last a lot longer.

Father's Day

My Dad.

I miss you, old man.

Sunday Morning Dawg

With the heat of summer firmly on us, the dog likes to capture the shade that he can.  It's a lot easier to be outdoors this time of year if you can find a shady spot, and the dog is small enough to take advantage of every smidgen of shade.

Even the shade from the trash can is quite usable.

Y'all have a very happy Father's Day, and be sure to stay in the shade this afternoon.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Changing Horses

I was nominally off work today, having no assigned duties in uniform, so I went to the nursing home to help the maintenance guy with a few projects.  Walked out of there about 3:00 and went to Sam's Club to pick up a few supplies for the weekend.  While I was there  I decided it was time to change ponies, to get away from the bourbon and turn to my favorite summer drink, vodka and tonic.  With a splash o lime juice.  Tart, crisp, refreshing, I learned to drink vodka and tonic at the Officer's Club at Knox.  During a two week scientific experiment we all got hammered on a specific alcoholic beverage, and went running the next morning in formation.

This was important, because a good troop leader should be able to drink his soldiers under the table, then get up the next morning and exhort them to greater glory through physical training.  I learned during that two weeks that if I drank beer, I'd be puking in the ditch before the run was finished.  If I drank tequilla, I'd be better off if I called in sick.  If I drank bourbon, I'd be sweating like a pack mule, but if I drank vodka, the morning run was not only attainable, it was sort of enjoyable.

We did have one sick sonofabitch colonel, my battalion commander, who would pull out a big black stogie halfway thru the run, light it, and exhort us for being pussies.  How he smoked that cigar while running was always a mystery to me, but I have to admit that following a cigar smoking madman on the morning run had a certain panache.   By the end of the run, he was blowing smoke, literally, he looked like a steam engine under a load.

What's your favorite summer drink?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

None of the Above

It seems that the voters in Nevada have chosen "None Of The Above" as the winner in a Democratic primary.
Eight candidates were vying for the Democratic nomination for Nevada governor, but the winner wasn’t even on the ballot. With over 20,000 votes, 30% of all cast, “none of the above” was the clear winner in Tuesday’s primary.
That was 3,600 votes more than the “winner” – former State Economic Development Commissioner Robert Goodman, Fox News reports. Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.
Nevada allows its voters to select “none of the above” in elections for President and statewide office. The last time “none of the above” received the most votes was 1976, in a Republican primary for U.S. Congress.
The hell you say?  That sounds like a wonderful endorsement by the voters.  Of course, the second-place winner will be on the ballot, but it ought to be really easy to beat someone who has already been beaten by None Of The Above.

I'd like to propose a similar allowance for the Gret Stet of Louisiana.  Let's put None Of The Above on our ballot, but with the caveat that if None wins, the other candidates on the ballot are forbidden from seeking any elective office for 20 years.

Retrainer - Day 4

Today was first aid, CPR, and departmental updates.  Training I've had 34 times in the 34 years I've been a police officer.  CPR changes occasionally, and for years it was 30 compressions, 2 breaths.  Then they switched to Hands-Only CPR for a couple of years.  Today we learned that Hands-Only CPR was designed for citizen onlookers, to help them to be more responsive, and that we, as first responders are expected to use the 30-2 routine that we learned so long ago.

Of course, we also got redundant training on the AED, which is a very nice tool to have and one that has saved countless lives.  The AED is a huge step forward in emergency medical care, and I'm glad that they're easy to use and virtually everywhere.

And, we learned that some of our training is going online, stuff that doesn't really require a classroom can be done online.  So, that's cool, a way to save money and to let officers schedule their training when it best suits the schedule.

So, for another year, I'm fully certified as a law enforcement officer and can legally serve the people of the state of Louisiana.  Yippee!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Retrainer - Day 3

About six months ago, the sheriff sent out an email and had us respond to it.  He was trading in the SW M&P for Glocks, and asked us what we wanted.  The choices were the G17 or G19 in 9mmP, or the G22 or G23 in .40SW.  I honestly don't remember what I voted for, thinking that he'd go with what the bulk of his officers wanted.

I've never been a Glock guy, being more a disciple of JM Browning (pbuh).  But,if the Sheriff is going to issue new pistols, who am I to say differently, so I marked the page and sent it in.  I later learned that it wasn't a popularity contest, he was actually asking what we wanted.  So, this morning when my name was called, I was issued a brand-spanking new Gen4 Glock 22 in .40 SW.  That must have been what I voted for.  That's what I got.  Along with a brand-spanking new Safariland holster to carry it.

The chief firearms instructor, who was handling the swap, did a good job, with very little hassle.  Then we went out on the range and got 18 rounds to familiarize.  During the familiarization, I tried to concentrate ton the basics, and tried to learn the reset, which on the Glock is very tactile.   Then we posted the Louisiana P1 target and prepared to qualify.  Our qualification isn't bad; 60 rounds at ranges from 25 yards to 2 yards, with a possible max score of 120 and a minimum score of 96 to qualify.

I shot a 106, solidly in the middle of the pack, and I'm qualified on the new pistol.  It's not as good as I'd have liked, but it was my first time downrange with a Glock, so I don't feel too badly about it.  I did stop at the local  box store on the way home and pick up 100 rounds of practice ammo.  I've got to learn how to shoot this thing.

Tell me, is it true that you don't need to clean or lubricate a Glock until the 5000 round spring change?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Retrainer, Day 2

Today was the baton, a device that I've never had much use for.  On, I carry one every day, but I don't think I've ever used it to strike a person.  Of course, I've never shot anyone in the line of duty, but I also carry the pistol every day.  But, once again, I'm certified on the baton, so that's done.

Speaking of pistols, tomorrow we turn in our SW M&P pistols and get issued new Gen4 Glocks.  I''m not sure if I'll be issued a 9mm or a .40SW, but I'm getting a Glock.  And we'll qualify with them tomorrow.  I may be the only peace officer in the state of Louisiana who has never pulled the trigger on a Glock, so we'll see how that goes.  It's just another bullet launcher and the course isn't that hard, so I bet that I'll do fine on the qualification course.

We have an opportunity to buy our issued SW M&Ps, so I picked up a money order on the way home.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Retrainer - Day 1

It's time for our annual re-trainer, and I gathered with about 30 of my brothers and sisters today to qualify on various aspects of the law enforcement craft.  President Reagan started this, back in 1984, when he stipulated that all law enforcement officers be trained to set standards.  It's an annual thing, and today it was our turn.

Today was unarmed self-defense, or DT, (Defensive Tactics) as we call it.  We focused on kicks, strikes, blocks, and handcuffing.  Practicing on each other.  I only suffered one cut on a finger from a handcuff ratchet, and almost knocked myself out when I hit a brother officer with a strike we call the front elbow srike.  I forgot that my fist was on the end of my hand, and struck myself in the jaw.  Rang my own bell, I did.

Tonight is going to be a one Alleve night.  I'm kind of sore and still have a headache from giving myself an upper cut.

Tomorrow, the baton.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sunday Morning Dawg

Yesterday morning, we let Beau out while we made coffee, and he started barking ahd yelping and carrying on, so we went out to see about him.  He had a kitten cornered, and the kitten was defending itself with its little claws.  We separated them, and the kitten was obviously not injured, nor was Beau, but the two of them had some real issues with each other.  After just a few minutes of Milady mediating and making proper introductions, they each learned that the other wasn't a threat and came to an understanding of mutual tolerance.

She's a cute little grey kitten, and we're not sure where she came from.  She's not afraid of people, and now she's not afraid of Beau.  The other cat, of course, is watching all this with detached indifference.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Unknown Steel

Last week, I talked about steel targets, and the challenges of hanging them so that grandkids wouldn't destroy them with gunfire.  You might recall this photo from last week, where I hanged some targets from discarded fire hose.

That target on the right is good, AR500 steel, and it's absorbed lots of strikes from everything from .22LR to 7mm Rem Mag, and it continues to satisfy with a good "thunk" and no deformation.  Of course, we follow all safety precautions and don't shoot centerfire rifle at it any closer than 100 yards.  However, it's that little steel plate on the left that I was uncertain about.

An acquaintance who knows I like to shoot steel targets brought me several of those little Mickey Mouse targets.  They're some sort of blind flange that his company makes and he told me that they're the hardest steel that he ever tried to cut, and thought that they might be suitable for target material.  These particular ones didn't spec out to the customers needs so he saved them from the scrap pile and brought then to me in the off-chance they might be good target material.  I agreed to give them a go, and until this morning I haven't had the opportunity to pull a trigger on them.

This morning, after finishing my chores on the land, I pulled the truck around to our range, laid a roll of carpet across the hood of the truck, took out my rifle, and sent one shot downrange.  The target swung, hit solidly, and I cleared the rifle to walk downrange.  I was shooting my rifle, a Savage 110 in .30-06, and the ammo is my load of good Reloder 19 pushing a 150 grain Hornady SST at about 2900 fps.

I walked downrange to find that the little target isn't very hard.  That 150 grain bullet punched completely through it, and left a really interesting spall wound on the face of the target.

Ain't that interesting?  I don't know what type steel that is, but it darn sure isn't target steel.  I guess I"ll have to buy a couple more of these Quality Steel targets, because that unknown steel doesn't look like it will hold up to standard centerfire rounds.

But, you never know until you try.


Yesterday, while cooking ribs, I took a break from the smoker and ran to Wal-Mart, looking for a thermometer.  Yeah, the smoker has a bi-metal thermometer on it, but those are notorious for inaccuracy and I wanted to see what was available.  I came home with two, and put them to work, monitoring various parts of the smoker.

The larger unit is a Taylor thermometer that I picked up at Wal-Mart.  It cost 15 bucks, and has a probe that you can put in the oven.  So, I wrapped the middle of the probe in a ball of aluminum foil to keep the probe tip from touching anything, and put it in the middle rack of the smoker.

The display unit has a small magnet that you can use to put it on the smoker, but I preferred to use a gas pipe that's running up the wall.  That keeps the unit away from the heat of the smoker and puts the display at a convenient height.  The thermometer displays two temps, the actual on the left and the target on the right.  It comes with an alarm feature when you're using it as a meat thermometer, but I'm ignoring that read-out for todays purposes.  This little unit supposedly has a range of 32F ro 482F.  We'll see about that.  As long as it goes to 400F, I'm good.

The second thermometer, also by Taylor, is a smaller, pocket thermometer.  I stuck it in the top vent of the smoker to see what the temps coming out the top vent are.  I can't find it in Wal-Mart's online catalog, but it was hanging right next to the other one, on the shelf.  Also, 15 bucks.

Interesting that this one is reading a good 35F higher, out of the top vent.  But, heat rises, so there's that.

Still, it's nice to see how temperature varies across the various places in the cooker.

Friday, June 06, 2014


Since I got the smoker, I spent a morning dialing it in, and have cooked on it just exactly one time with pretty fair results..  Last week, I asked Milady her opinion on my next cooking project, and she said "Ribs!".

So, I started researching rib-rub recipes, and after diligent research I came upon several that mimic'd each other and found some common attributes.  Then, I went digging in the spice rack to see what spices we actually used.  Here's what I came up with.

You can click to enlarge, and no, I'm not going to write it down for you.  Those are spices I had in my rack, and while I admit I'm not a rib expert, I certainly found a common thread in rib recipes.

Then, I called my hog-stealing brother-in-law (it's an old joke) ad asked if he'd like to be the guinea pig on my first rib episode in the smoker.  He said that he and his lady would happily attend.  So, I hied myself down to the butchers to find some suitable ribs, and came home with two racks.  This morning I salted them let the salt sink in for an hour, then gave them a good rub with my rub recipe.

In another hour I"ll fire off the smoker.  By 6:00 we should know if my rib-rub is ay good, and if the smoker will actually cook ribs.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

June 5, 1944

I am reminded that this is the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy.  True, the historical date is June 6th, but today the die was cast.  Soldiers and sailors  loaded on to ships, paratroopers checked their gear, and airmen maintained and armed the planes that would support the invasion.  In just a few short hours, the airborne troops would launch and the the armada would mass at critical points off England, turn east and head for the beaches.

It's true that we invaded Normandy on June 6th, but by now the wheels were in motion and there was no going back.  The invasion had begun.  To quote General Eisenhower:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
The preparation was over, the orders were given, the troops were briefed.  All that remained was to execute the plan.  The planning and forethought of the Allied command was placed in the hands of the privates, the lieutenants, and sergeants.

The invasion had begun.

Purple Martins

The purple martin is a swallow, the largest swallow common in these parts, and many folks put up martin houses to attract them.  Martins are a're sleek little speedsters, and their aerial accomplishments are amazing.  How a bird can go from a sleek power dive into almost an immediate hover is beyond me, but I've seen these birds do just that, countless times.

Yesterday, while I was on the family land, I was offered an unused martin house.  We're moving a trailer and the martin house had to be moved, so I put in in my truck.  When I got home yesterday afternoon, I stood it up in the corner of the yard.

Common wisdom is that a martin house should be installed in February because the migration occurs in March and the martins will find the house and move in.  I didn't know if installing a martin house in early June would benefit the birds, but I installed it anyway because a bird house standing up takes a lot less yard space than one laying on its side.  Imagine my surprise when I looked in the corner of the yard two hours later and watched purple martins swarming across the sky.

Evidently, the little speedsters intended to move right in!  Martins eat a lot of mosquitoes, so they're welcome in my backyard.  They're a lot of fun to watch, and I'm glad that the old house has been put back in service.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Hurricane Season

I am reminded that June 1st starts the hurricane season, a time when we residents of the Gulf coast keep a weather-eye on the goings-on down in that warm water mass.  It seems that there is a tropical disturbance down there with a low probability of getting organized.

I'm sure that the folks in Mexico and south Texas will be keeping an eye on this one.

On the Land

I went out on the family land with Momma today to take care of some business, and while we were out there, I took the time to hang the steel targets I talked about here.  Here's a picture, they're hung with discarded fire hose.

Last year, I cut down an old swingset fram to hang targets on our family range, and they got broken when grandkids shot the chain.  The fire hose is an attempt to move the chain away from the target itself, and the bright yellow should help to make the target easier to see from the 100 yard line, where they look like this.

Yeah, they're down there.  Those two little yellow rectangles in the far treeline are the pieces of fire hose.  Here's a picture from the 50 yard line.

I think that the grandkids should be able to see that a little bit better.  Of course, you can always click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


Not something you see every day, but often enough that it's not unusual.  The neighboring cities of Alexandria and Pineville, LA are connected downtown by a drawbridge over the Red River and when river traffic comes through they have to raise the drawbridge to let the traffic through.

There, you can see PawPaw stuck in traffic and the road surface of the bridge about 15 feet higher than it normally is.  That bridge will move 30-40 feet vertically to let tug boats through, regardless of the pool stage of the river.   This isn't the only river crossing, there are high-rise bridges both downstream and upstream.

Talking About Tires

Like Rivrdog, who commented in this post, I was once also a fleet manager for a bunch of police cars.  I was working for the local parole office in a small, rural district, and like police agencies everywhere, we drove the iconic Ford Crown Vic, police package.  This was 1995 or so, and the cars ran a 15 inch tire, and came from the factory with Goodyear Eagles, the speed-rated version, P22575R15.  That tire today is known as the RS-A, and is still available for those folks who drive those big, lovely sedans.  Today, it lists for $186.00, and back in the day, it was an ~$80.00 tire if you walked into the dealership and paid cash.

However, there were so many of those cars in use, and the Crown Vic was such a magnificent police cruiser, that everyone in the police business bought them.  Ford sold those cars to virtually every police agency in the US and Canada, and export versions were sent as far as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  I don't know how many of those cars Ford made, but US sales averaged over 5,000 units per month during the entire production run.  That's a lot of vehicles, probably upwards of a million units, in service all across the world.

The State of Louisiana, because so many of those cars were in use, entered into a contract with Goodyear for tires, sold locally through the myriad Goodyear dealers in the state.  When we needed tires we took the cars down to the Goodyear store and told the manager that we wanted a set of tire under the state contract.  The state contract price was $25.00 per tire, with a $10.00 mounting/balancing fee.

I wish I could buy a set of speed-rated Eagles for $140.00 today.

For the record, the new tires on my car are Yokohama Avid Touring, which I understand is a good, mid-range tire for that vehicle.   I paid considerably more than $25.00 for each of them.

Monday, June 02, 2014


This past weekend, I noticed that my car had developed a shimmy, a shake that I couldn't identify.  I ran my errands in the pickup truck this weekend, then decided this morning to take the car to the tire shop and check it to see if I had flung a tire weight.  I got in the car and headed to Ball Tire, a shop I've dealt with in the past.  Got about a mile from the house and the shake developed into a bad shake, then the passenger side rear tire turned loose.

That explains the shake, shimmy and wiggle I was feeling.  So, I put on the spare and continued gingerly to Ball Tire where the nice folks there hooked me up with a couple of tires.

I'm glad that happened on the way to the tire store.  If I were in a bind for time today, I"d have been completely aggravated.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Smoker AAR

Old NFO asked for an AAR on my new smoker, so it's only fair that I give him one.

I wanted to cook a brisket in the smoker as the first go-round.  I know plenty about briskets, and I've been cooking them for years on a variety of pits, smokers, and even in the household oven.  I may not be the best brisket cooker, but I'm consistent, and I know brisket.  So, yesterday I went to the grocers and found a nice, select, packer-cut brisket.  About 14 lbs raw.  That's a nice brisket with plenty of fat for cooking.

Milady and I counted heads for lunch today and found that we'd be serving a light crowd for Sunday lunch, about 20 people.  So, I packed it home and I picked up about 5 lbs of good Richards smoked sausage.  Milady and I decided that we'd cook the brisket, that sausage, along with bean and Ouida potatoes.

I haven't talked about Ouida potatoes, a recipe given to me by Milady's good friend Ouida.  They're damned fine and you've got to try them.  Don't over-think this recipe.  If you can boil water, you can make Ouida potatoes.

Ouida Potatoes.

3 lbs red potatoes
Green onions, chopped for garnish
Bacon bits
Regular bottle Ranch Dressing
Grated cheese.  Any type.

Wash those potatoes, and cut them in bite-sized pieces.  Boil them till they're fork-tender.  You've done all the cooking you're going to do.

In a casserole dish, put the drained potatoes, hot.  Add ranch dressing till they're covered.  Garnish with green onion and bacon bits, then cover it all with grated cheese.  Set aside.  In about five minutes, the heat from the potatoes will soften the cheese.  Serve.

Really, that's all there is to it, and they're magnificent.

Okay, back to the brisket.  We decided to do beans, sausage, brisket and Ouida potatoes.  Then we got invited to go catting, so we put everything in the fridge and went catting-around.  Had a few drinks, a few laughs and got home about 1:00 a.m.  A Saturday night with friends is a wonderful thing.

So, about 1:00 this morning, I fired off the smoker then went inside and gave that big brisket a good rub with nothing but salt and pepper.  Put it in a pan and added half a beer.  Drank the other half.  I put that brisket in that 225F smoker, added a good handful of hickory chips and went to bed.

Woke this morning about 7:00, made coffee and went out to check the brisket.  Looking good, so I added a handful of hickory to the chip tray and closed the lid.  At about 10:30, pulled it out, and had my younger son help me trim and slice it.  We put the brisket back in the au-jus, and returned it to the smoker, bottom rack.  On the next rack we put Milady's beans, and on the top rack, we put 5 lbs of that good smoked sausage.

We let that cook till about noon, the sausage dripping fat into the beans, the brisket soaking that au-jus, and keeping everything hot until feeding time, when we pulled it out, said grace, and let the thundering herd at it.

It mist have been okay, because when it was over, I had no sausage, and even though I tripled the recipe on potatoes and cooked plenty of beans, this is what I was left with at the end of the day.

There is still lots to learn about this smoker, but judging by the results, it seems that the brisket was palatable.  I can see that this smoker is going to get a lot of use.  I generally feed a platoon every Sunday, and the extra oven space is going to be wonderful.

Sunday Morning Dawg

It's June 1st, and time to get into summer temps.  We've been lucky this far that the springtime has been fairly cool and wet, and while that makes the grass grow, we decided that the dog needed a summer trim, so this week we took him to the groomers.

That's a little bit better, don't you think?  Although a front-on shot makes him look positively skinny.

When the summertime temps finally get here, maybe he'll be a little more comfortable.