Saturday, January 31, 2015

That Redbone Hound

When we lived on Bayou Derbonne, in south Chinquapin parish, we had dogs.  I kept beagles for hunting, and we always had at least one house dog.

One day, I noticed a Redbone hound near the feeders.  He wasn't greedy, simply got a bite of kibble, then took a drink of water, and moved along.  I figured that he was a transient and promptly forgot about it.  Two or three days later, I saw him again.  A bite of kibble, a drink of water, and he moved along.  No problem, but I asked a neighbor about that dog.

"No" he said.  "Not my dog, but I've seen him around here.  He gets a bite of kibble and moves on."

So, a week later, I asked another neighbor.  "Nope," he said, "but he comes around a couple of times a week, gets a bite of dog food and moves on."

It looked like we had a neighborhood dog.  He didn't cause trouble, start fights, or bother the children, he just took a bite of food, a drink of water, and moved along.  He became a known quantity.  Just a Redbone hound that preferred to be a hobo.One day, the boys were out exploring, riding bicycles, and came home to tell me that the Redbone had become deceased.  Got run over.  Laying in a ditch about a mile from the house.

Except, as it turned out, that Redbone wasn't as dead as he appeared.  He had gotten run-over, but it hadn't killed him..  However, his shoulder was broken and when he layed in the ditch for two or three days, that front shoulder had knitted wrong and when he finally got his strength and stood up, that front shoulder held his paw up, crooked, over his head.

Everybody waves in the country.  If you're driving your vehicle, or taking a walk late in the afternoon, you wave your hand at folks you see.  It's friendly.  It's expected, you wave.

That Redbone had become a tripod dog.  Three legs on the ground, and one leg over his head.  When he moved, that leg moved too, and it looked like he was waving. Without thinking, you'd wave back at him.  It was a Pavlovian response, something waved at you, you'd wave back.  That dog became the friendliest dog on the Bayou, and everyone commented on the waving dog.  He lived several more yars, then succumbed to a bout of parvo, or heart worms, or maybe simply died of old age.

Friday, January 30, 2015

New Puppy Commercial

Budweiser's new puppy commercial is out.  This one is supposed to debut on the Super Bowl, but I see that it posted early.

It's good, but I don't think it's as good as Puppy Love, the one they showed last year.

Which one is best?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

So, This Guy Walks Into a Cop Joke

This guy in  a hoodie and a mask walks into a Dunkin Douts and tries to hold the place up, but just then the cops walk in.

It's a donut shop, dumbass!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Handguns, Again

I retired as a parole officer in October of 2000.  By August 2001 I had painted everything at home that needed paint, and decided it was time to go back to work,  I signed up with the local Sheriff's office and worked there for eight or nine months, then moved down the road to my hometown, the place I grew up.  Again with the Sheriff's office.  In 2003 the Sheriff instituted a new program to put deputies in the schools, and I volunteered.

We started training.  I was still carrying my 4" Model 66 as my duty revolver, but most of the law enforcement worldwide had gone to the plastic fantastic wonder pistols.  Glock, mainly, but a smattering of other brands.  I was extremely confident in my handgun and continued to use it, eschewing the new and fantastic for the old and reliable.

One day during training, we were burning the Sheriff's powder at the range, and the trainers set up a practical exercise.  We'd step through a door and engage a small steel plate, then move downrange to an old USPS mail box, reload under cover, then engage three more steel targets about 20 yards away.  It was a fun little drill, but it soon became apparent that the .38 special loads we were using were too anemic to knock down the steel. I had to shoot one of those targets three times in quick succession to make it go down, and I knew that I had enough handgun for the job, just not enough ammunition.

Those targets were thick plate steel, about 1/2 inch thick, hinged at the bottom, but those piddling little .38 target loads simply didn't have enough energy to knock them over reliably.  I knew I had some stout handloads in my pickup truck that should do the job.

We had to run the course three times, so after the first run, I went to my pickup truck and dug out a box of my handloads.  It featured that Lee 158 grain semiwadcutter of wheelweight alloy with a little added antimony. A stiff charge of Alliant's 2400 powder and WSP primers. It gave me about 1350 out of my 66, but you couldn't shoot too many of them.  After two cylinders, your hand would start tingling.  It was a fairly stout load.

I got back in line, and when it came my turn for the second run, the instructor asked me if I were ready.  I stepped through the door, unholstered and engaged that first target, immediately to my left.  The bullet hit the target so hard that the target flopped down, hit the plate underneath it, and rebounded to a standing position, so I shot it again.  The hinge pin turned loose and the plate fell to the ground.  That was a kill.

I turned to take the three targets downrange, and decided that they were in range of this good ammo, so I engaged them from right there.  Three shots for three targets and everything fell.  I had fired five shots on four targets, destroyed the close target and killed the far ones, all in under 10 seconds.

The instructor went off.  "What the hell are you shooing?  You're supposed to go downrange and engage those targets down there.  Not stand here with a hand cannon and long-range them."

I think the instructor was a little shocked and he may have taken some splash when those first two bullets disintegrated on that close target.  I had destroyed one of his targets, and I was the new guy, so I got ready to take a butt-chewing for sneaking my own ammo on to the line.

"Leave him alone", someone barked.  The instructor and I turned to see the Rangemaster standing there.  He was an old crusty retired Sergeant Major and he had a bemused look on his face.  "If you use enough gun, you don't have to walk downrange."

Handguns From My Past

For several years I settled in to a routine with my pistol shooting.  I used the snub nose for work and the 4" gun for play.  I was shooting lots of .38 special trying to learn the craft.  Competing when I could, trying to shoot at least once a week.  I  had been a field officer for about six years and was up for promotion to a supervisors job.  I wanted a smaller, J-frame gun to carry as an office revolver, but couldn't come up with the scratch to buy another handgun.  Growing kids need shoes, and they want to eat on a regular basis.

The Model 60

One day in late April, I believe it was in '87, I had to run over to the courthouse to have the judge sign a warrant.  I talked with the judge's secretary.  He was in court, but they were finishing up a trial and if I'd wait, she'd make sure I got in to see him.  So, I waited, cooling my heels in the hallway outside the judge's office.  After a while, the judge came down the hallway from the courtroom.  He was holding a small plastic evidence bag, and inside I could see a small frame revolver.  He looked distastefully at the little gun.  "What am I supposed to do with this thing?"  More a rhetorical question than anything.

"Give it to me, your Honor."

He looked at me.  "You need to see me, Dennis?"  He looked at the gun.  "Come on in."  We walked into his office and he called his secretary.  "Take a minute entry," he said.  "I'm ordering that this" he looked through the plastic on the bag "Smith and Wesson revolver, serial number.  XXXXXX be given to Agent Dennis Dezendorf for the furtherance of law enforcement in Chinquapin Parish."  He tossed me the pistol.  "So ordered."

As the judge signed my warrant, I looked at the little piece.  It had been used in a pistol-whipping.  Blood was evident on the revolver and the trigger guard was crushed, pinning the trigger against the frame.  That evening, at home, I got some hot, soapy, bleach water and washed the blood off of the revolver, then took down my 4" gun and removed the side plate, studying the internals.  Then I took the side plate off of the little Model 60 and compared the internals  The little gun didn't look hurt, simply held captive by the crushed trigger guard.  I grabbed the trigger guard with a pair of vice grip pliers, got the guard in a good strong bind, and gave it a yank.  It bent back out and the little gun worked.  I tweaked it a little bit, and I had my Model 60.

As I recall, this was about 1987.  I was promoted soon after and got a Don Hume Level II holster to carry it.  I still consider that old Don Hume one of the very best holsters for belt carry.  Unfortunately, they don't make that holster any more.  Fortunately, I have two of them and they're very good leather.  I carried that little pistol as a supervisor.  My 4" gun still did duty as a woods and competition gun, and I turned in the 2.5" Model 66.  It was a good gun, but I didn't need it.

That little pistol digested a lot of my 4.3 grain Unique load, but for duty, I carried Federal's Ny-Clad 125 grain load.  At the time, that was the very best .38 Special ammo that ran standard pressure and I didn't want to beat the little gun apart.

One day in the late '90s I came home on a sunny afternoon.  As I was getting out of the truck, I heard a boom and figured my elder son was target practicing in the back yard.  So, I grabbed some ear muffs out of the truck and walked around the house.  Elder son was standing there with his big Ruger .44 magnum.  He had set up a hay bale about 25 yards away and had set a line of beer cans up on the bales.  I watched him fire the big hogleg, then stepped around him, unholtered my Model 60, and peeled one can off the hay bale.

"Keep practicing, Slick.  Front sight, trigger squeeze."  I holstered my revolver and turned toward the house.

"I bet you can't do that again, old man." he retorted.

I kept walking.  "I don't have to do that again."

I retired a couple of years later, and that Model 60 became my pocket pistol. Dropped in a jeans pocket, or in my slacks, the little gun was a constant companion.  In late 2012 my daughter-in-law was looking for a steel J-frame.  She had tried her husbands alloy frame and the recoil was too stout, but she liked the size of that frame.  I had found a Model 38 Airweight and was considering using that for my pocket pistol, so I passed the Model 60 on, as a semi-permanent loan.  She carries it today as her concealed carry piece, and from all accounts, shoots it just fine.

We did do a bob job on the hammer, because she carries it appendix carry and the hammer spur was digging into her skin.  I now use the Ariweight for a pocket pistol and anytime you see me with pants on, you can be assured that the little gun is riding in my pocket.  It suits me fine.

Oh, Missy.  If you look on the bottom of the trigger guard, you might be able to see the marks that those vice-grips made so long ago.  I never polished them out.  They're part of the story, and the history of that little pistol.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Handguns From My Past.

Where were we?  Oh, the Ruger.  That little Ruger didn't stay with me for long, only a year or so.  After I had been a parole officer for a while, working a rural caseload in Chinquapin parish, I started getting to know the local cops, and started watching what they carried.  Almost to a man (and there were very few women in police work those days) the Smith and Wesson K-frame dominated police work.  Specifically, the Model 66.  Smith and Wesson started making handguns from stainless steel in 1960 with their Model 60,  The Model 60 is a J-Frame five shot revolver, generally with a 2.5 inch barrel and it was beloved of plainclothes officers.

The Model 66

In 1970, Big Blue came out with their Model 66, the stainless version of the K-frame Model 19.  A six shot revolver in .357 magnum, by the early '80s the Model 66 was almost a universal sidearm for police officers.  You'll recall that the "wondernines" didn't come out until the late '80s and weren't widely accepted until the early '90s.  You might also remember that Gaston Glock hadn't develop his pistol until the early '80s and the Austrian army didn't adopt them until 1982.

Back in the '80s the revolver still dominated police work, either as a duty gun or a plainclothes gun, and Smith and Wesson was the leading manufactory.

Sometime about 1983 or '84, my department bought a bunch of SW 66 pistols on contract.  These were identical stainless pistols with round butts and 2.5 inch barrels.  They were roll-marked LAPP on the water table, under the cylinder on the left side of the handgun.  We were told that these were the handguns we'd use for duty work, and that was that.  No matter that each of us had heretofore purchased our own handguns, the department was now issuing them, and no argument.

My Ruger represented a week's groceries and the department had issued me a pistol.  The Ruger was excess inventory and I had kids at home, so it went on the block.  I got $100 for it.  I still regret selling that handgun, one of only four firearms I've ever sold.  But, that Ruger and the subseqent Smiths began my love affair with the .357 magnum.  Even today, I consider the .357 magmum cartridge one of the most versatile handgun cartridges ever developed.

If I had to limit myself to one handgun cartridge, the .357 magnum would get the nod.  Loaded with light charges of fast powder and lead bullets it takes small game with authority.  Loaded with a good flat point harcast bullet, it is the bees knees for medium game up close.  In a carbine, it shines out past 100 yards, the limit of much of my shooting in the piney woods.  With good expanding ammo, it's just right for holstering and rural law enforcement.  I carried a Model 66 for well over 20 years in rural law enforcement and never considered myself under-gunned.

In the mid '80s, a good family friend came by and asked me to hold a near-mint Model 66.  This one had a 4" barrel.  She was in an abusive relationship, was going through a divorce, was afraid of her soon-to-be ex, and asked me to hold the revolver.  I cleaned it, wrapped it in denim, and hid it in my closet.  A year or so later, I asked her about it, and she told me to keep the gun.  She didn't want it. Too many bad memories.  I didn't ask any questions, but told her I appreciated it.

Woot! I suddenly had a 4" Model 66, probably the perfect woods cruising revolver, and a damn fine service revolver.  I had just begun reloading and I settled on a practice load of Lee's great little tumble-lube 158 grain semi wadcutter over 4.3 grains of Unique and anybody's small pistol primer.  Even today, 30 years later, that's still my favorite .38 special load.  It gives me about 800 fps, is wonderfully accurate and very mild.

Over the next several years, the department started letting us use our personally owned revolvers, if we could qualify with them.  I qualified with my 4" gun and got a leather rig for it.  Over the years I won several department matches with that revolver and consider it one of my very favorite pieces.  The only thing I didn't like about that gun was the square butt, but a new set of Pachmayr Signature grips and a half-hour on a belt sander, and I had a revolver that fit me like a glove.  The grips look like hell, but they fit my hand.  That gun served me for almost 20 years before I retired it, and it's got more stories than I can tell here.  - - Well, maybe one.

One day in the late '80s I was hunting deer as part of a large group of folks in Red River parish, north of Coushatta, LA.  We  were "running dogs" across timber tracts late in the season.  We'd ring a section  of woods with standers, turn loose the dogs, and try to shoot the deer as they came out.

If your dog ran a rabbit, that was considered poor form, and the hunt-master that day swore that his dongs didn't run rabbits.  They put me on a small utility cut in the middle of the damndest thicket you've ever seen and told me to watch one particular hole in the brush.  They were going around to the other side of the woods, about a mile away and turn the dogs loose.  "If a deer comes through that hole, shoot it.  If you miss, catch the dogs, because there's nothing behind you but pine forest."

So, I found a convenient place to watch that hole and got comfortable.  After just a little while, I heard the dogs "jump" and it sounded like they were heading straight for me.  So, I hunkered down and watched that hole.  The dogs got closer, and I tightened the grip on the shotgun.  The dogs kept coming, and I shouldered the shotgun waiting for a deer to fill that hole.  Suddenly, I could see dogs about 40 yards down the lane, hot on the trail of a big ol' cottontail rabbit.

The rabbit came out that hole into the utility cut and squatted down.  I drew my revolver and shot the rabbit's head off from a range of about 15 feet.  That same load of Unique with a 158 bullet.  I caught the dogs and tied them before they could get across the cut, then waited for the driver.  He was considerably dismayed that his dogs ran a rabbit, and I was considerably pleased that I could prove it to him.  He took a lot of ribbing about that for the remainder of the weekend.

I retired that revolver in 2003 after 20 years of honorable service.  I loaned it to a daughter-in-law to use for her concealed carry class, and it still lives in my elder son's gun safe.  That old Model 66 is one of my very favorite revolvers.  It may serve the family for another generation at least.

Shooting Stances

Before I go into any more of my personal history with handguns, lets talk a little bit about shooting stances.

When I joined the Army fill-time in 1976, they were still teaching the old one-handed Bulseye stance for shooting pistols.  Basically, like you've seen the duelists in the movies, you held the pistol out in one hand, turned your head to align with your arm, sighted the pistol and fired it with one hand.  Not the most accurate way to shoot, but that's what we were taught.

What they didn't teach us (or tell us, for that matter) is that Jeff Cooper, a budding writer in Californai had begun trying to evolve the Modern Technique back in 1957. (Yeah, that's 20 years earlier).  Cooper started holding matches at the at the L.A. County Sheriff's Mira Loma pistol range.  A deputy named Jack Weaver evolved a stance that used two hands.  You can go to the linked page to learn all about it,but Weaver had evolved something revolutionary, and started winning everything that wasn't mailed down.

In 1977, when Copper formed his new range, the American Pistol Institute, he published the Weaver stance and started teaching it.  You might know that range now as Gunsite, the premier firearms training facility in the US.

I was taught the Weaver Stance in 1981 during a firearms qualification and thought it was wonderful stuff.  It was easy for me to shoot the Weaver, because it mimicked the rifle stances and shotgun stances I had already learned. Body at about 45 degrees to the target, both hands on the firearm, support hand doing the work, strong hand operating the pistol.  It seemed a natural.  It still does.

Yeah, yeah, I know that the Isosceles stance has taken over the pistol shooting world, but it's a relative newcomer.  First popularized by Rob Leatham and Brian Enos in the 1980s, we weren't taught it until the early 1990s, and by then I was firmly a Weaver Stance kind of guy.  I still have to talk myself into the Isoceles stance, falling naturally into the Weaver.

Jerry Miculek uses the Isoceles and talks down about the Weaver stance.  Jerry is good, probably the best pistolero in the US today.  If you're going to shoot a pistol today, learn the Isoceles.  It's a good stance.  But, it will probably never surplant the Weaver for the old dinosaurs like me.

We'll speak no more of this.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Handguns From My Past

Reminiscing the other day, someone asked me when I started shooting handguns, and that is a fairly simple answer.  My Dad never liked handguns.  When we were growing up, we were shotgunners.  Shotguns for everything.  Squirrels, rabbits, ducks and geese.  Buckshot for deer.  Dad was a shotgunner, and I was too.  My first paying job, at 12 years old, I was a trap boy at the old McBride Rod and Gun Club at England Air Force Base.  Every Saturday, the Air Force had skeet intramurals, and they needed trap boys to keep the skeet-throwers full.  I managed to get a job at the skeet range.  Hanging out in the club house, they had a room in the back where the handgun instructors reloaded for the .38 Specials that the Air Force used as crew handguns on the aircraft.  Those instuctors used big gang molds, made by Saeco, to cast wadcutters.  They wouldn't let me help, but I remember big kegs of Bullseye pistol powder.

In the early '70s I determined to become an Army officer, and after college and ROTC, I got orders to Fort Knox for Armor training.  We had to qualify with the Army's 1911.  So, in early April of 1976 I found myself in a classroom, undergoing classroom training on the Arny's 1911A1 pistol.  We went through the disassembly, cleaning, operation and malfunction drills in the classroom setting.  The next morning we went to the arms room, drew pistols and headed to the range.  I was 22 years old.  When we got off the bus at the range, we got a quick safety briefing, then lined up to get magazines and lane assignments.  I remember being surprised that the pistol they issued me was made by Ithaca, a shotgun company from upstate New York.  It rattled when I shook it, but I figured that the Army knew what they were doing, so I dropped it in the holster and got on the bus that was waiting outside.

The range itself was a pop-up range, with electrically operated targets.  The targets were plastic, either head silhouette or half-torso silhouette at varying ranges from 10 yards to 50 yards.  When my firing order came up, I stepped to the lane and waited for the command.  "Shooters, watch your lane."  As I recall, a 50-yard target, a half-silhouette came up.  I lifted the pistol, found the front sight, and pressed the trigger.  Bang, and the target fell over.  I was considerably amazed, but didn't have time to think about it  A five-yard head silhouette popped up and I tagged it too.  I settled into the rhythm of the range, and before I realized it, I was done.  Forty rounds for forty targets and I had cleaned the course.  The Army had given us seven, seven-round magazines for the course, and I had ammo left.  Amazing.  Maybe this handgunning stuff wasn't so hard after all.

I had a lot to learn about handgunning.  But, the Army didn't give me much training.  For the next three years I never drew another pistol, and got off active duty in 1979.  I went to work in a plant that killed chickens.  Lots of chickens, and there wasn't much use for a budding pistolero in that line of work.

In 1980 I decided I had killed enough chickens, somewhat over 2.5 million by my calculations. I applied for and got a job as a parole officer with the State of Louisiana.  Back in those days, police officers didn't go to an academy, all the training was OJT, and the first inkling I got that I was a cop was when my supervisor told me to go buy a handgun.  Colt, Smith and Wesson, or Ruger, in .38 Special or .357 magnum.  We were going to qualify next week, so get something to shoot.

I went to a pawn shop and looked  a the available choices.  I hadn't drawn a paycheck yet, so money was tight, and they had a used Ruger Security Six, with the 2.5 inch barrel.  I made a deal for $150.00 and bought a pancake holster for $15.00.  I was set.  At Wal-Mart, I picked up a box of .38 target wadcutters to practice with over the weekend.

We lived in the country, with farmland around us, so early Saturday morning, I strapped on my holster, loaded the wadcutters in the Ruger and decided to take a walk.  Walking along a turn-row about 100 yards from the house, I was considerably surprised to see a large swamp rabbit come out of the soybeans.  He stopped in the turn-row about 35 yards away, sat up on his haunches, and looked at me, probably trying to decide if I was a threat.  I unholstered the Ruger, thumbed the hammer, took a fine bead, and let one of those wadcutters fly.  He fell over on his back, kicked once and was done.

I walked to the rabbit and looked closely.  The wadcutter had struck him in the chest, went through-and through, coming out his back.  That was my first experience with flat-nosed bullets in a handgun and I was pleased at how cleanly it killed the rabbit and how little meat damage was done.  That rabbit ended up in the pot later that week.  I was also amazed at how easily the Ruger was to shoot.

I thought I had this handgunning thing down pat.  I had a lot to learn.

More about this later.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Morning Dawg

Piddling in the shop yesterday, working on a fish cooker, the dog wanted to come out and see what was happening.  Dogs and little boys are curious types, and the shop is a favorite place to be curious.

It looks like we're going to have a beautiful day today.  Get outside and enjoy as much of it as you can.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I t looks like a bunch of folks are going to Davos, Switzerland to discuss global warming.  Jon Stewart goofed on them, telling us that 1700 private jets were going to arrive so that their occupants could worry about global warming.  There's some discrepancy in that number, and some say that the number might be as low as 200, but still that's a lot of private jets, and a huge carbon footprint for a conference that tries to make us believe that man-made global warming is a problem, especially when private jets have a huge carbon footprint.

Yeah, yeah, I've heard the news.  2014 is was the warmest year on human record, edging out 1998 by a whole tenth of a degree.  That's one-tenth of a degree Farenheit, folks.  And, there is some skepticism, when NASA gives the measurements a 38% confidence level, and NOAA gives those dame measurements a 48% confidence level.  So, I'll just park this right here.

So, even NASA and NOAA can't say with any confidence that 2014 is the warmest year of record.  Sorry guys, but even a 48% confidence level doesn't start to be convincing.  Either it was, or it wasn't.  Come back when you've got an answer.

But, until the jet-set quits flying their private jets around, talking about global warming, I'm not convinced.  If it's a problem, park the damned jets and Skype the conference.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Gut Truck

Back in the Army, we always had the Gut Truck come through the motor pool before lunch.  Also known as the Roach Coach, this was a mobile food truck provided by AAFES as a service to the troops.  They had the very best foot-long chili dogs that a young, greasy, Armor officer had ever eaten.  I've eaten hundred of foot-long chili dogs off of the Gut Truck.

Imagine my surprise when this pulled in to the work parking lot today.

A food truck from a very well-known restaurant hereabout.  I had already made lunch arrangements, but it offered the standard fare.  Tamales, enchiladas, quesadillas, etc.

The ladies tole me later that the food was very good.  This is the first food truck I've seen in Central Louisiana, and I hope that it's the start of something that will fill a niche.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Culture of Corruption

Politicos shouldn't enrich themselves at the public expense, and taking bribes is a time-honored way of enrichment.  It's also against the law.  I see that a long-time Tammany player is today feeling the bracelets for that very thing.
Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York state Assembly, was arrested Thursday morning on corruption charges. Silver showed up at 26 Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan at 8 a.m. where he was arrested by FBI agents. He’s set to make his initial appearance before a federal judge Thursday afternoon. Silver’s spokesman, Michael Whyland, declined comment before the arrest.
Of course, we have to wait until the second paragraph to learn which party Silver is affiliated with.
 US Attorney Preet Bharara scheduled a press conference at 1 p.m. to detial the charges.The powerful Manhattan Democrat Silver has been the target of an on-going federal probe of undocumented payments he received from a law firm, sources said…
Silver isn't the first Democrat to be snared in a corruption investigation recently, although I am amazed that Holder's Justice Department is investigating Democrats.  I'm sure that Harry Reid is uncomfortable with such investigations.  He's widely noted for making millions while serving in the Senate.  Harry will be a very rich man when he retires.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


You've got to love a bailiff.  Those deputies who keep the peace in a courtroom.  They see all manner of things, and have to put up with all manner of crap from people.  Until they decide they don't have to put up with your crap.  If the man says no cameras, he means no cameras.  First found at this site.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.  Only the Judge can screw with a bailiff.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wax Bullets

This weekend I went out with some friend to watch a Cowboy Fast Draw match, where they shoot wax bullets at steel targets.  Lots of fun, but as all things gun-oriented, it got me to pondering.

I taught my boys to shoot using wax bullets on the back of our tool shed.  Good fun, safe, and very inexpensive.  I didn't really know what I was doing, but I learned that a small pistol primer would push a wax slug out of the barrel.  No problems, easy-peasy.  I could prime a hundred cases, push them into a bar of wax, and teach the boys how to shoot revolver.  I did that with nary a problem, until the boys graduated to full loads.

Of course, the Cowboy Fast Draw Association uses .45 caliber, single action revolvers, with special barss that's been cut to take a 209 shotshell primer.  Still, after shooting with those guys all afternoon, it got me to wondering. So, I came home, did some research, and found this article from the American Rifleman.  This morning I made a trip to the grocers, then walked over to the hardware store to get the rest of the ingredients.

I loaded five rounds each of .38 Special, 44 magnum, and .45 ACP.  I did not drill the cases to enlarge the flash holes, just loaded with standard pistol primers.

The .38s shot great through my Airweight.  I could even double-tap the board I was using for a backstop.  Of course, the wax bullets simply splatted on the board, doing no harm whatsoever.  About that time the neighbor came over, wondering what I was doing.  We took out the Super Blackhawk, and tried the .44 wax loads.  Problematic.  The primers flowed back and tied up the cylinder.  I may have to drill a few cases for shooting wax in the .44.

About that time, the neighbors teenage son came over.  I took out my old Colt 1911 too see if the wax bullets could be used in a semiauto.  Of course, they didn't have enough energy to cycle the slide, but they fed fine and shot fine, and made a satisfying splat on the board we were using for a target.

That's the neighbor kid shooting my 1911 at the board.  The old pistol is chromed like a Chevy bumper and we got a lot of reflection, but the gun fed them, you'd just have to cycle it by hand.

Shooting wax bullets is a lot of fun.  I can see that I'm going to have to make up a bunch in .38 Special.  I love this neighborhood.  When someone hears Pop! Pop!, they come over to see what you're shooting.


Let's talk about this.  It seems that it has come up in several conversations lately.  Shampoo.  Soap for your head.

Years ago, I learned that hair should be washed (thanks, Mom), and that I needed soap to wash my hair.  Fortunately, we kept soap in the bathroom, right there near the tub, so it was easy to find the soap.  In the Army, we didn't have much hair, so it really didn't matter.  It came as a shock to me that men use shampoo.  Why?  If you're in the shower, there's a bar of soap in your hand.  If it's good enough to wash your butt, it's good enough to wash your hair.  Start and the top and work down.  Which leads me to this graphic.

I think that's overly complicated.  If it says shampoo, it's for your wife, or girlfriend, or whoever shares your shower.  If you're holding a bar of Irish Spring, that's your shampoo.

Don't get me started on shaving cream, which is just soap.  You've got a bar of soap in your hand.  You don't need a mirror to find your face.  Shave in the shower like a man.

I understand that there are some (allegedly) male adults that use shampoo, but I don't think they should call themselves men.  If you use shampoo, keep it to yourself.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Italian Beef

I found this recipe in 2012 at this guy's site, and immediately decided to try it.  It's nothing more than a good beef roast, simmered slowly in Italian seasonings.  Normally, I update a recipe over time, to try different things, but I haven't tinkered with this recipe.  I'll normally put it in the crock pot at bedtime.  When I get up in the morning, I'll shred the beef with forks, then put it back in the au jus to let it absorb more flavor.  Serve it as a sandwich, with a good hoagie roll, or sliced French bread.

I'll repost the recipe below, to make it easier to find.

Rodger's Italian Beef.

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (5 pound) rump roast

1. Combine water with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil.
2. Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat.
3. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork.

So, basically, simmer your beef for eight hours (or longer) in good au jus.  It's wonderful.

Sunday Morning Dawg

There's no question that the dog loves Milady, and there's no question that she loves him.  What he really loves is scratching, especially when he's getting scratched by her long fingernails.

He looks like he's in a lot of distress, doesn't he?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Irony Is Complete

David Burge, also known as Iowahawk, sees the irony in this photograph of the latest protesting insanity.

From his Twiter feed:
Black cop cuffs all-white protest blocking I-93 to protest white police brutality against black people
You can't make this stuff up.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Finally Friday

It's finally Friday, and the world keeps getting a little weirder.  I see that a strip club in Chicago has been awarded a prize for civic improvement.
Albany Park Neighbors decided this month to give one of six "Block Star Business" awards to the Admiral Theatre. The group's website says the award is meant to spotlight businesses working to keep the neighborhood clean and beautiful, as well as provide top-notch customer service.
Just exactly what is top-notch customer service?  One example.
 The Admiral Theatre has previously made headlines for trying to help the community. CBS Chicago reported that the club offered a free lap dance to anyone who donated an unused, unwrapped toy before Christmas. In 2010, the effort raised five carloads of toys.
Congratulations to the Admiral Theatre.

In other news, John Kerry had James Taylor sing a song to the French.  Yeah, our Secretary of State.  That John Kerry.  This world keeps getting weirder and weirder.

I need some recoil therapy.  I may have to take some pistols to the range tomorrow.  It looks like it's going to be a nice day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Beans!

plblark asked, in Comments
That Boy scout story and recipe / method would be of great help to me this summer ... (I'm not quite the from scratch and improvise cook that you are)
Heh!  Back in 1980 I was part of an Order of the Arrow lodge, Ouxouiga Lodge, based in the old Attakapas Council of central Louisiana.  Both the lodge and the council are now defunct, being absorbed in other Scouting organizations, but at the time Ouxouiga (Ox-wee-ga) Lodge was a going concern, with several hundred active members.  In March of that year we hosted the annual section conclave at Camp Attakapas, and we expected upwards of 500 members to descend on us on Friday night and stay with us until Sunday morning.

I was tasked with helping the kitchen staff, and we got to the camp early and set up big dining flys outside the back of the kitchen where we could prep and serve food.  The chief cook, a fellow named Gary, decided that in addition to the normal standard meals, that Red Beans and Rice would be available at all times in case someone got hungry.  So, we commenced to soaking beans in two pound lots.

We're talking about those big steel industrial soup pots  We'd generally have three of those going at all times.  One soaking, one simmering, and one that folks could serve themselves from.  All of the meat trimmings from the various beef entrees went into the bean pots.  As I recall, the old Cudahy packing company had donated some beef halves, so we cut those up and cooked them on big pits. Great hunks of bloody beef, cooked on hardwood fires to be served to hungry Boy Scouts, with the fixings, it was quite an operation.

And the entire time, on a small propane camp stove out back, red beans were bubbling, ready at a moments notice to serve hungry boys.  Even at 3:00 a.m., those pots bubbled, kids or adults would come through and get a bowl of beans.  Each pot was different, because the cooks rotated through and seasoned them differently, and whatever portion of meat was being sliced, the trimmings found their way into the bean pot.  Nobody went home hungry, and when it was over, the conclave was considered a huge success.

I think we wound up serving 50 lbs of dried beans that weekend, done up in two pound batches.

Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Never Over

Sometimes, it's never over.  I was a parole officer in 1990, in Natchitoches, and worked intimately with this case.  You can also read about it here, and here. Click on the blue links for details. I won't go into details, and I won't name names, but I learned the other day that the killer was getting out of prison and this case began to haunt me.

I wasn't the lead investigator, nor is my name on any of the court documents, but like every other officer in that area, I was grunt labor while we searched for the little girl.  I was a parole officer at the time, and I still know folks in that line of work.  I wanted to let the folks who will supervise this monster know what they're going to be dealing with, so I spent a good portion of the day doing my homework and letting folks know how I feel about this guy.  Hopefully, my efforts will pay some dividend and the community in which he settles will know who they have in their midst.

Back in 1990, when he was sentenced, I thought it was over, but he's still alive and getting out of jail.  Has it been 25 years already?  I guess so.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and rice is a traditional Louisiana meal, normally made on Mondays.  Traditionally, we soak dry beans for several hours, then put them on a slow simmer for the rest of the day. In the mid afternoon, add a chopped onion, some bell pepper, and a pound of good sausage, sliced into rounds.

It's a wonderful meal, served over rice.  Inexpensive, filling fare.  It's easy to make, you can give it a stir ever hour or so as you walk past the stove.  I've made beans by the pound like this.  Probably the largest pot of red beans I ever made was in a 15 gallon pot, for a Boy Scout encampment, but that's another story.  We kept beans in that pot all weekend, feeding 300 boys.  If a kid was hungry between meals (and teenage boys are always hungry), they could stop by the cook tent and get a bowl of beans and rice.  We went through over 50 lbs of dried beans that weekend.

Then, there's the quick recipe,where you cheat and use canned beans.  That's hat I did today.

Quick Red Beans
3 cans red beans
half an onion
12 oz pack of smoked sausage
Pack of brown gravy mix.

Cut up that sausage and onion, sautee lightly in a frying pan then put it in your bean pot.
Add three cans of red beans.
Mix that gravy mix and pour it on top.  You don't need much gravy, just enough to flavor the beans.
Simmer for an hour, then make a pot of rice.

Whoo, red beans, rice and sausage.  It's what's for supper.

Police Work

All policemen, at one time or another, have to deal with the press.  The press and the cops jobs often intersect, and it is the rare police officer who hasn't at one time or another, been photographed or interviewed in the line of work.  Elected Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police are especially susceptible to being quoted in the local fish-wrapper, and mistakes happen, though this one is the worst I've ever seen.

I once lived and shopped in Hardin County, Kentucky.  The county seat is Elizabethtown, and the local paper there was interviewing the Sheriff, when this regrettable quote was garbled.   Ward says he stated in an interview that police officers go into that line of work “because they have a desire to serve the community.”  But, somehow, that's not how the quote showed up in the paper.
“Those who go into the law enforcement profession typically do it because they have a desire to shoot minorities,” the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise quoted John Ward as saying.
Somehow, I'd say that was a misquote. To the paper's credit, they've issued a full retraction, and taken full credit for the mistake.
A retraction and apology has been printed Friday on Page A1. As community members and neighbors, we feel it is important to repeat this apology again publicly to Sheriff John Ward, the entire law enforcement community and to you, our readers. We share the outrage and disgust expressed by many of you. Internally, the newspaper leadership spent yesterday researching this error, discovering the form it took and taking corrective action. As a result, the two people involved were fired.
The editor goes on to say that he understands that the credibility of the newspaper is at issue, and that the trust they've spend years earning was lost with one horrible mistake, but ...
It takes years to develop trust. It takes only seconds to destroy it.
We understand our credibility may be called into question but the sheriff should not be subjected to the same scrutiny.
 That's the way to make an apology and retraction.  I hope that the the Elizabethtown n News-Enterprise can recover from this mistake.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Afternoon

Lunch at PawPaw's House today was a big beef stew, perfect for a cold, rainy afternoon.  After lunch, the boys started talking about home-made whistles and they started playing with cartridge brass and needle files.

They worked on it for the better part of an hour, making prototypes and rejecting them.

They finally got one to work, after much trial and error.

Just something to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  Piddling in the shop.

Sunday Morning Dawg

The dog finally got a haircut this week, and he certainly looks a lot better.  I bet that he can also see better, what with all that hair out of his eyes.

Of course, we took him to the groomers during a very cold week, and Milady was concerned that he might get cold when outside, so she wrapped him in a little jacket.

A very nice plaid vest to keep his core warm.  I think he'll be all right until his hair grows out a bit.  He doesn't spend enough time outside to get hypothermia, anyway.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Two Paris'.  Two solutions.

We're not helpless.

Another Season Over

This morning I wiped my hunting firearms and put them away.  Another hunting season is over, and in a couple of months I'll start getting ready for the next.  Of course, the end of one season simply heralds the beginning of another, and I've got a lot of shooting to do.  I haven't pulled the trigger on a pistol in several months, so it's time to get busy with my handgun work.  No human skill erodes as quickly as skill with a handgun.

So, the calendar turns in its own way, and the seasons change, and it's time to get ready for another season.  And, I have an AR to build, and the new Scout rifle to break-in.  There's lots to do and very little time available to do it.

I'd better get busy.

Friday, January 09, 2015


Thank God It's Friday.  Fabulous Friday afternoon.  I'm home in blue jeans and tennis shoes for the first time in several days.

I see that they've caught those assholes in France.  The followers of the pedophile prophet.  Shot them dead, they did.  Very well.

I am reminded of the words of Winston Churchill on Islam.
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.
The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities – but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.” 
We would do well to remember his cautions.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Terrorism is Preventable

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I am reminded that not all of us are as vulnerable as others.  This photo, found at The Smallest Minority, illustrates that fact.

A good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun.  If the guy who took this image had been properly armed with a rifle, instead of with a camera, we might be reading a totally different story.

But, that was not to be.  Self-defense is a basic human right.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

I had never heard of the satrical French newspaper until this morning, but it appears that the Islamists heard of them.  Evidently, that newspaper had been satirizing muslims in general and Islam in particular, so adherents of the religion of peace went on a rampage, killing twelve people, includinng two policemen.

It's all over the news, Google it yourself.  Quite an horrific incident. Of course, the White House couldn't immediately call it a terror attack, although the gunmen were heard shouting islamic phrases.

And, I note that the first responding French policemen arrived unarmed, on bicycles.  That's not a knock on French cops, but it is a knock on French policy.  Police should be armed.  Everywhere and all the time.

So, I guess it's time to go ahead and post this picture again.  If the Mohametans don't like it, screw them.

Freedom of speech doesn't care if you're offended.

UPDATE** This should be on the front page of every paper in the US tomorrow monring.

Hat Tip to David Pope.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Better Powder

I believe, and I have believed for a while, that we live in a golden age of riflery.  Better rifles than every before, more accuracy, better powders and better bullets.  Much better bullets.

Back in the day, 1906, to be precise, we got the .30-06, a whiz-bang cartridge that improved on the older .30-03.  The new .30-06 pushed a 150 grain bullet to the unheard of velocity of 2700 fps.  Perfectly suitable for every shooting task, and quickly adopted by various military formations.  Indeed, today that same cartridge, pushing that same 150 grain bullet to that same 2700 fps is perfectly useful, but nowadays it's considered anemic.  It's little brother, the .308 Winchester, pushes that same 150 grain bullet to the same 2700 fps, and in practice, handloaders often do better.  We've got better powders.  Today, I can flirt with 3000 fps in the .30-06 and a shade over 2800 fps in the smaller .308, simply because we have better powders.

Back in 1915, a fellow named Charles Newton developed a cartridge based on the .300 Savage.  The .300 Savage case is roughly equivalent to the .308 Winchester in capacity (and I'm speaking in broad generalities here).  But, Charlie Newton was a fan of the quarter-inch bore, so he necked that big case down to .257 and stuck an 87 grain bullet in it.  A new cartridge was born, the .250-3000, so named because it pushed that 87 grain bullet to 3000 fps, a whiz-bang velocity for that era (and nothing to sneeze about today).  Today, the .250-3000 cartridge is almost deceased.  I don't know of any major manufacturers who build a rifle chambered for that cartridge.  It's mostly a custom proposition, although the caliber still has its advocates.

In the 1980s, a fellow named Wes Ugalde started playing the Thompson/Center Contender, a long barreled single-shot pistol.  He re-necked the .223 Remington cartridge to larger sizes, making a whole family of cartridges for that pistol.  His most famous design necked that cartridge to 7mm, but he built a whole family of cartridges, to include the .25 TCU, the 6.5 TCU, and  the .30 TCU, all based on the diminutive .223 cartridge.

Powders get better, allowing us to push bullets faster, to put more energy into smaller spaces, and last year, the new Sharps Rifle Company came out with their .25-45 Sharps cartridge.  Designed to run through the modern AR-15 rifle.  It pushes an .25 caliber, 87 grain bullet to 3000 fps, just like Charlie Newton's wildcat did in 1915, but it does it in a much smaller package. What's the difference?  How can the guys at Sharps get the same performance out of a much smaller package?  Better powder.

I admit that I like .25 caliber cartridges and I profess a fondness for small, light rifles.  I was thinking last year of building a rifle in .250 Savage, but now that I've found this new wildcat, I'm doing some pondering.  The smart money would be to wait another year, to see if it catches on, or just becomes a niche cartridge.  But, I admit that scrolling through the Sharps Rifle website has me pondering.


Back in 1975, I graduated from Northwestern State University of Louisiana.  A small, teacher college in Natchitoches, LA.  It also had a pretty good business school, one hell of a music department.  But, NSU is known as a teacher college and it's graduated lots of classroom teachers over the years.  I, on the other hand, took a degree in business, and later went back for graduate school under the GI bill.

If you've been on the intertubes very long, you've seen those pop-up ads that insert themselves in articles or websites you're reading.  I haven't thought of my alma-mater in several months, and certainly haven't clicked on its website.  But, this morning, an ad for NSU popped up on my browser.

Odd, that.  I wonder how it found it's way onto my browser?

Monday, January 05, 2015


The big word this weekend seemed to be protests.

A bunch of protesters disrupted brunch restaurants in New York and Oakland this weekend,
“People who have money and privilege have the leisure to brunch,” Carrie Leilam Love, media liaison for the group Black Brunch NYC, told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “Other people don’t.”
And, in Oreegon, a bunch of protesters interrupted a medal ceremony for a 100 year old veteran.
Dario Raschio was at Portland Community College's Southeast Campus to be honored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, at a public town hall meeting. But shortly after Wyden began speaking, more than 100 demonstrators in the back of the room started shouting, The Oregonian reports.
So, we're working in mixed metaphors here.  We interrupt liberals in blue towns who are trying to have a Sunday brunch, and we interrupt a medal ceremony for a century-old naval veteran.

I'm trying to see the connection here, and I'm missing it.  I understand protest, but it's supposed to have some connection to the event in progress.  At some point, protesters start to look like idiots, and I'm afraid that we're nearing that point.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Savage Model 10 FCM Scout

The Savage Scout is not considered a true Scout rifle, but it was in production for several years, and it has its proponents.  With a 20" barrel, an overall length of 40", and weighing in at 7/5 lbs, it certainly doesn't rigidly meet Col Cooper's criteria,  But, it certainly looks like a handy rifle, and is probably eminently shootable.

Savage didn't catalog them last year, and nowadays if you want one, they're a custom proposition.  I know how shootable Savage rifles are, having several in the family.  The Accutrigger is wonderful, and now Savage has the AccuStock, which I've been interested in trying out.  So, several months ago when I saw a Savage Scout on the rack of a local shop, I decided to put it on layaway.  I finalized the deal yesterday, and haven't really had an opportunity to do more than simply take a quick first glance at it, but so far, I like what I see.

 The front sight is a plain ramped bead sight, and the peep on the back seems to be a Williams WGRS.  It's a perfectly rugged, durable, well-known peep sight.  The rifle sports a detachable box magazine, the AccuStock and Accutrigger.  The bolt handle has a smooth, oversized knob.  The recoil pad is soft and thick.  The caliber, of course, is .308 Winchester.

Next month, I'll order a scope for it.  I've been wanting to play with the Scout concept, and now I have the rifle to accomplish that task.  If I find that I don't like the forward scope, it will be a simple matter to change it to a standard mount.  Either way, I think I'm going to like this rifle a lot.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Not much sunshine this week, but the weatherman is predicting partly cloudy skies today.  I took this picture earlier this week, during a sunny interlude between hellacious rain storms.

We'll see after the sun comes up, but hopefully we can get outdoors today.

Saturday, January 03, 2015


It's been raining for the past three days, one storm after another.  Milady and I left yesterday to have a little fun, and we got back just an hour ago.  The yard is awash, the ditches are running, and the swimming pool is full.

Accuweather tells me that we should expect this for the remainder of the day.

It looks like it may be a good afternoon to take a nap.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Nice Elephant Story

First found at this forum
Here's a touching elephant story I read recently:
In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.
As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.
Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.
Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenage son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.
Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.
The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.
Probably wasn't the same elephant
I'd say probably not.

Road Trip

Milady and I are getting out of town this evening, a little road trip, as it were.  We're not going far, but these folks have offered us a room, and we decided to take advantage of it. I doubt I'll do any blogging while we're away, but we'll be back noon-ish tomorrow.

Who knows, maybe I'll come home dragging a sack of cash.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Blackeyed Peas and Cabbage

I can't imagine starting the New Year without blackeyed peas and cabbage, and I don't have to imagine doing that because the peas are simmering, and the cabbage will soon be sliced.

Blackeyed peas and cabbage (or other greens) is a tradition in the South.  I'm told that it stems from the Civil War, where Union troops, foraging for supplies for their army, left the southern folks with not a lot left to eat.  This rendition says that the Yankees considered field peas to be animal fodder, and they didn't have a taste for greens, so they left those behind.

Whatever the reason, that menu has become a southern staple.  Peas for good luck, greens for money.  Of course, you've got to have some pork on the plate, so I always save the bone from the Christmas ham, For continuity, and because it tastes so darned good.  And cornbread.  Always cornbread.  A simple, humble meal that's become a tradition all over the South.

Milady and I were engaged on January 1, 2003.  We went to a New Year's party, and I'm not sure just exactly when the question was popped, (either before or after the ball dropped), but we've always celebrated New Year's Day as our engagement.  We don't do New Year's as a big family event, but simply invite close friends.  Today we're expecting a couple who has shared New Years peas and cabbage with Milady for almost 30 years.

Happy New Year, everyone.