Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cemetery Photographs

Finally figured out how to embed video from YouTube. Here's one featuring photographs I took at one of Dallas' oldest Cemeteries. The video got a mention in the Dallas Observer, and I've heard from several people how have relatives buried here, but have never been out to see it.

The cemetery itself is in a pretty bad section of town. Its a beautiful place, made even more so by its decay in some parts.

If you enjoy the video, I have a couple more on my Youtube channel, including some live walkthroughs at a couple of different cemeteries in the DFW area.

Heres my youtube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/reluctantpaladin


Flashback

Working in the yard today. My wife and I came into the possession of one of those old cast iron bathtubs, with the claw feet, several years ago. We decided it would make an interesting planter for the yard, so we set it up beside her workshop last year.

What we failed to consider is that even in the middle of summer, that spot only gets an hour or two of direct sunlight every day.... so that meant I had to move it before planting this spring.

Cast iron bathtubs are HEAVY, especially when they are full of dirt. Alot of shoveling, and even more grunting, later - and I had the beast moved over to a spot underneath our bedroom window. The plan is to add a trellis and some Star Jasmine vines to add color and shade the window from evening sun.

I went to the garden hose and washed the mud/dirt from my hands. Then I took a drink from the hose......

Have you ever done something completely "every day" in nature, and had it trigger a memory? Drinking cold water from the hose with the sun shining down took me back to my youth in a flash. One second I was a 43 year old man with a sore back, and the next I was a 12 year old kid who just finished playing a baseball game.

I've found that several things cause this for me. Drinking Dr. Pepper (Dublin only please) from a glass bottle. The sound an Aluminum bat makes at the ballfields near our house when someone really whacks one. The little surge of adrenalin when a big fish hits your lure. ....

I love those moments.

Lovin' Life

Sold my 58 year old truck last night :) I'll miss her, but not as much as I'll enjoy the extra cash in my pocket and space in my driveway. She's going to a good home, and eventually I'll get something "new" to play with .... maybe a hearse? :)

Weather here has turned off nice, for spring. Sun is out and I'm finally getting to work on some stuff outside in the much bedraggled looking yard. Saturday is supposed to be beautiful as well, and it just happens to be Canton Texas Trade Day weekend, so we're headed out there first thing Saturday morning. We'll meander around some backroads on the way back home, and drop by the Gun Show in Mesquite on the way home. Its put on by the Texas State Rifle Association, and since I've been planning to join anyway - I might as well do it there and get free admission to the gunshow at the same time.



The extra truck cash is going mostly toward paying off a couple of small loans and new tires for the Valkyrie in preparation of the spring/summer riding season. Most of what's left over I'm just gonna sit on.... but I have decided to treat myself to a new gun (or two). There are a couple of guns currently on my list for consideration:



WASR 10 - Romanian made AK47 type in 7.62x39. Not the cream of the crop of Klashnikov type guns, but generally thought of as fun to shoot and pretty cheap to pick up.
Beretta Ultra Compact -


I really like this gun's looks, and Bersas are generally excellent guns for the money. I've been wanting to pick up another 9mm pistol, or possibly this same gun in .45acp - I don't currently own a .45. It will all depend on how the gun feels in my hand. I've got strong hands, but relatively short fingers. Double stack magazines aren't generally the most comfortable for me when it comes to finger placement on the trigger. That's why I swapped out my Beretta 85fs for the single stack version.

Taurus PT917 -

Somewhat compact version of the Taurus PT92/99 series of pistols. Main difference is the 4 inch barrel vs. the longer 5 inch version on the 92/99. Again, like the looks, reliability seems good, warranty is strong... but the potential for thick grip problems keeps me from ordering one before being able to handle one in person.


Bersa Thunder Concealed Carry -
This one doesn't really count, because I've decided to get it regardless of what else I get. I need an inside the waistband gun that doesn't print much at all under a tshirt. Texas Summers are extremely hot, and wearing an overshirt like I did last summer ain't happening again this time around. My wife owns a regular Bersa Thunder, and its an excellent value. This is basically the same gun, but trimmed down even more.

Add to this list potential "impulse buys" at the gunshow:

Enfield .303 rifle
K31 Swiss (in walnut, since I already own a beech)
Schmidt Rubin 1911 rifle

I'm like the lion in the zebra herd... just can't decide which one to jump on :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm a star...

Ok, not really.

One of my pictures did make it into the Schmap Fort Worth guide:

(www.schmap.com/guidewidgets/p=11508562N07/c=SF20172487).

Schmap is sort of an online city guide, with pictures of the interesting places and things it highlights. One of the spots on their map needed a picture to go with it, and they chose one of mine that I took last summer of the Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House, at 1100 Penn Street in Fort Worth.

Here it is:

BEMcolor1

One the the things my Wife and I enjoy most is scratching our photography itch. Old victorian houses, farm houses, and cemeteries are some of our favorite haunts (no pun intended). My tastes run more to the old, run down places... but I'll not pass up a restored beauty like the BEM house.

These are the types of shot I really enjoy, though:




oakland2



gainesvillesep3

More of my pictures can be found in my flickr album. You can get there by clicking one of the pictures above.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Long Day...

No time or energy for a post today... so in lieu of that, here's a link to a video that I have up on Youtube. I tried to embed it here, but doesn't seem to work. I'll try again when I'm not so exhausted:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgcyHPYrROI

Saturday, February 16, 2008

And the Dumb Ass of the week is.......


Me, apparently.

Extremely dreary, wet day today... so the Wife and I took a little road trip out to a gun shop I had heard about in the middle of nowhere. I was less than impressed. Ammo prices were no better than I get at my usual haunts, and nothing to peak my interests modern gun-wise.

They did have quite a few military surplus rifles, though, so I spent some time looking through the rack. A TON of Mosin's - quite possibly the ugliest rifle ever made, IMO. Shoot great and very reliable, but Geez.... can't get past the looks. They had the requisite batch of Yugoslavian SKS rifles, and a few rusty and battered enfields. All of which were priced at or above what I've seen them elsewhere in better condition.

A couple of Swiss rifles did catch my eye, though. I LOVE the K31 military surplus rifle. Here's mine:



Mine has a Beech Stock, and I've often thought about picking up a Walnut stock rifle - assuming I could find one at a good price, and in good shape. These guns are almost guaranteed to increase in value over time. The ones at this store were all Walnut stocks, but were pretty dinged up and the price was a little high.... then I saw it.

Tucked in among the K31's was another swiss rifle that is pretty similar to the K31 to a casual observer. This one was a 1911 rifle... the predecessor of the K31. It was in much better shape than the younger rifles, and all the numbers matched. They had it labeled as a K31, and were selling it at the same price as the less valuable rifles.

I waffled back and forth over jumping on it. I didn't have cash on me, and the shop adds 3% for credit card purchases. Again, we were out in the sticks, so there isn't an ATM for miles. I waffled some more, then we left to go run some other errands.

Later, after thinking it over, I grabbed some cash and headed back over to the shop.

It was gone.

I'm an idiot.

Argggghhhhh.......

Friday, February 15, 2008

Anti-Theft Device

I'm 43 years old. This past December, I purchased the very first "New" vehicle I've ever had. We've bought new cars before, but I always gave the new vehicle to my Wife to drive, and either drove her old car or continued to drive my old clunker.

After spending summers driving without an air conditioner for the past 10 years, though, I decided it was time for a change. My daily driver before this point was a 1950 Ford pickup truck. Very high on the "cool" rating, extremely low on the safety and comfort scale.

So... I went out after Christmas and picked up a brand spanking new Toyota Tacoma Prerunner truck. I LOVE IT!!! No frills but looks good, drives good, and has AC!!!!!

Flash forward to a couple of weeks ago, and you'll find me watching the morning news (Meagan Henderson is a Babe, btw). They do a story about how crooks are targeting foreign cars and trucks and stealing their catalytic converters. Often they do this right in the parking lots where the cars are parked while the owners are at work. Then the news guys go on to show exactly how easy it is to steal them.... complete with a camera view of some guy sawing easily through the exhaust pipes with a battery powered reciprocating saw.

Number one target of choice for these crooks?:

Toyota Tacoma trucks.

I park in a remote lot at work, get there before anyone else, and leave after most have left for the day. Alarms are mostly ignored these days, and only the expensive motion/movement sensor types would detect someone trying to steal my Cat, since it doesn't involve entering the cab of the truck.

I've thought about rigging this up near the Cat underneath the truck, complete with scary looking trip wires- right out in plain view.


Obviously its inert, but it looks deadly enough. Logically, you wouldn't think someone would be stupid enough to blow up their own truck to avoid having their $800 Cat stolen... but maybe it would freak someone out enough to make them back off?

Just have to remember to remove it BEFORE I take the truck in for an oil change. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Score One for the Good Guys

Go here : http://www.wfaa.com/video/?z=y&nvid=217902&shu=1 to watch a WFAA news story about a 80 year old WWII vet who was attacked by two punks in his own home. They stabbed him repeatedly in the face, head, and body....

What they didn't count on was the fact that he has a closet full of guns, and that he had slipped a little revolver into his pocket before answering the door. They caught both the little bastards when they had to go to the hospital, and both have been charged.

James Picket, the hero of the story, is recoverying fine.

Warms the heart, don't it?

Spring Fever...

Man, I've got it bad.... spring fever, that is. Texas summers are long, hot, and recently even dryer than usual. By the time fall and winter get here, I'm done with it and more than ready for some relief. Especially since until now my daily drivers have been sans-airconditioning.

So... I'm generally a fan of cold weather. However, I've found that the older I get - the more I look forward to warming weather. February in Texas is the bait & switch of weather months here. The high temperature today is supposed to be around 70, with sunny skys.

The high tomorrow is supposed to be upper 30's - lower 40's and rainy.... with more of the same for the weekend. Which of course means its the ideal time for me to have to help my daughter move to a new apartment.

And here's one of the many reasons I enjoy spring/summer in Texas:


2000 Honda Valkyrie Tourer. This model isn't made by Honda anymore, being replaced by the Rune... but I love my Valkyrie all the more. Harley's and Shadows are so prevalent around here as to by almost indistinguishable from all the other bikes on the road... but the big chrome flat 6 engine on my Valk never fails to turn heads.

We are blessed in North Texas with miles and miles of winding country roads, and interesting destinations. Many of those destinations have great eating spots conveniently nearby :) Once the weather turns definitely pleasant, I hope to highlight some of our weekend rides here.

Come on... Summer!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday Trip

Saturdays are my favorite... its the one day of the week that my Wife and I usually get to spend together, and we try to make the most of it. Road trips are the norm. Pack the cameras and head off on an adventure.

This weekend it was Bowie Trade day time. Second Saturday of every month, there's a nice flea market/trade day located in the small town of Bowie, Texas. Lots of cool old stuff, and very little of the "Dollar Store" import crap that's ruined most other flea markets near larger metropolitan areas - Mckinney Trade Day used to be good when I was a kid. Now its twice as big, with absolutely NOTHING interesting.

Bowie is well worth the drive, though. Not as huge as Canton, but still nice. From there we back tracked to Sanger, Texas, for a great lunch at the best Chicken Dinner place on the Planet - Babes. One of the few photo ops I had was this old chevy truck I found hiding out near a shed in Sanger... I love old stuff like this:














Then it was off to Cabela's in Ft. Worth - again, well worth the drive from home. We have a couple of Bass Pro Shops closer to home, but we're Cabela's folks. I looked longingly at the Yugoslavian SKS's and the couple of Swiss K31 rifles they had in stock - pretty good prices, but I've got a couple of other "firearm irons" in the fire right now so I talked my self out of both. Maybe later :)

On the way through Denton to Cabela's, we spotted photo op #2... a couple of Belgian Draft horses hanging out in a pasture near the road. Couldn't coax them closer to the fence for a better shot, but they sure were pretty.















All in all... a good day.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Newest addition to the Family


I do love a beat up gun :)

Its extremely hard for me to resist picking up a good buy on a gun that functions perfectly, but looks hard. Since I didn't have a tactial shotgun... I didn't feel too bad about scratching the itch this time. Found the gun on Gunbroker.com, and since the seller was nearby I didn't have to have it shipped or tranferred from my FFL. She's a Norinco 98 12 gauge. Basically, a Chinese made copy of the Remington 870. only about 20% of the blue was remaining, and someone had put a folding stock on her that was wobbly, painfully narrow at the butt, and interferred with the slide action when folded.

Picked up a T-6 Style pistol grip stock, and duracoated her once I cleaned her up a bit. Ready to rock :) I'll pick up a stock mounted shell holder and possibly mount a small tac light up front, but other than that this one's done.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Boys and Their Toys

Here's a example of one of my "hobbies"... I like guns. I like to shoot them, I think they can be beautiful works of art, and I enjoy tinkering with them.

I also have learned that my safety is my responsibility. The police are not your personal body guards. I have a great deal of respect for our Boys in Blue... but they'll be the first people to tell you that they can't protect you when the shit hits the fan. In most instances, law enforcement shows up after people get hurt/dead. They secure the scene, collect evidence, and try their best to catch the people responsible.

None of which really matters to me if I'm dead, ya know?

So, I learned to handle firearms and went through the process of obtaining a Concealed Carry Permit. I carry almost everywhere, all the time. If its legal for me to carry a gun somewhere, you can bet I've got one on me.

Here are a couple of my guns:



Llama 1911 style .380 semi auto. Most of the blueing was gone and the grips were partially melted. In addition, the sear, sear spring, and disconnect where so worn the gun wasn't safe to shoot when I got it.















Here she is after some work. Bobbed the hammer a bit, duracoat in HK Black, two toned amboyna burl grips, and replaced the internal parts that needed replacing.

















And another - This time a Star BM 9mm (before):















And after I "spruced her up" a bit:




One of them Bloggy things....

Ok..... the man with the world's shortest attention span attempts to blog.

Who knows where this will go? I sure don't. I can only promise a couple of things:

1. I won't post with clockwork regularity. Posts will be sporadic, come in fits and spurts, and may fizzle out completely.

2. The opinions are my own, and will reflect my own views as they stand at the time of writing them down. I don't promise that they will be correct, well thought out, or understandable, but I'll try.

3. My interests are varied, and my posts probably will reflect that. Guns, motorcycles, cooking, fishing, books, photography..... blah, blah, blog :) Hopefully there will be something of interest for a variety of people, assuming anyone ever reads this.

So... I suggest you get comfortable and take a hint from my pal Angus -