Sunday, May 31, 2009

Officer Down

Being at the bottom of the food chain, in regards to any respect afforded public servants, Animal Control Officers like myself often find themselves as the Butt of peoples jokes.

How many times have you heard the old line "I wouldn't vote for that guy if he was running for dogcatcher"...?

People tend to look down on us, and minimalize the skill it takes to do what we do. They also tend to overlook the very real dangers that we face on a DAILY basis. I'm not just talking about danger from the animals we have to handle, either. I'm talking about the very real danger that we face everyday when dealing with the public. I've had people threaten to assault me. I've had people threaten to kill me. I've worked with other ACO's who were physically assaulted.

Everyone acknowledges the dangers that Policemen face when doing their jobs. Obviously, when a Police Officer goes into a building to look for a burglar, or chases a bank robber, they are putting themselves in harms way. What most Cops will tell you, though, is that it isn't these obviously dangerous situations that pose the most risk to them during their daily duties.

Its the danger they face walking up to the window of the car they just pulled over for not stopping completely at the stop sign. It's the danger they face when walking into an ongoing argument within a family, or between neighbors. Those are the situations that put Police Officers at risk more often than any others.

Oddly enough, those are exactly the same risks that I face over and over throughout the day as I go about my job. Here's a
news story to show my point. It's short, so I'll include it all:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —


Oklahoma City police are searching for a man who stabbed an animal control officer on the city's northeast side.Lt. Don Holland says the officer saw a man walking with a pit bull that was not on a leash about 3 p.m. Saturday and asked the man for identification.

Instead, Holland says the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed the officer two times.Holland says the animal control officer was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police are still searching for the suspect.

If it was a Police Officer that had been stabbed, I bet that the story would have garnered a lot more coverage. Instead, the absolutely only reference that I can find is the generic AP story above, which appears even on the local Oklahoma City news station websites. They wouldn't even commit their own reporters to look into the story.

This is the potential for violence that I deal with every day, on top of the occasional animal that wants to EAT ME.


Nobody sees that, though.

Hands-free Video

I've been on the hunt for a solution to a video camera problem for a while now. I've wanted to find some way to film some of what I do at work (Animal Control), as well as video footage from the motorcycle, neither of which would be wise to engage in one-handed.

I seemed to have two main alternatives:

The WT method, ie. duct taping my regular video camera to helmet (which risks damaging my good camera and looks weird too).

And, option 2: buying a "spy camera", which is a major investment for something I just want to mess around with a bit. I can't justify dropping several hundred dollars on a specialized camera for this.

I think I may have found a good compromise between the two, though. This is the Epic Stealth Cam:



Its just under three inches long. It takes SD cards for video storage, and can store over 1.5 hours of video. This comes with several different clamps and straps for mounting, including one that allows you to clip it to a hat brim (score!). It also had a waterproof case that lets you film under water (do you hear that, Bob the Bass?). It comes in black, or camo (as shown above). The camo model is marketed to hunters, as an interesting way to video their hunts. I'm mainly interested in the camo model since the hat clip is included with the camo package, but not with the black model.

The unit retails for around $170, sale price trends around $150, and I've seen them go on past ebay auctions for around $100. Not too bad, and acceptable as an experimental investment. I've watched several videos from people using the unit (Youtube), and it looks to be ok quality for the price.

I'm going to try and pick one up in the near future and give it a try. I'll post links to the videos here if they turn out decent.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A day fishing is better than....

... pretty much anything else I can think of, at the moment.

My folks went out of town for a long weekend, and asked me to look in on their place today. Mainly just to ensure that the livestock were all where they were supposed to be, and that everything was secure.

Ever the opportunist, I decided to capitalize on the time/gasoline investment and haul the fishing gear along so the Mrs and myself could enjoy a nice afternoon in search of "the big one". It was a beautiful day, and one full of surprises.

Sunny Hill is a nice, quiet place. Great view from the house on the hill. Good pasture for grazing the stock. And a sweet little stock pond for fishin'. For those of you not familiar with the term "stock pond" (or "stock tank"), it doesn't necessarily mean a pond that has been stocked with fish. In my area, a "stock pond" just means a pond on a farm/ranch for the purpose of providing water to livestock for drinking.

Most ponds that hold water year round will eventually have fish, due to wading birds bringing in the eggs. However, the really good ones like my Dad's have been stocked by man. The pond at Sunny Hill is stocked with largemouth bass, and Channel Catfish. There's also a population of bluegill and some sunfish. This pond will come in handy, should we ever have to implement our zombie Apocalypse evacuation plan. A ready source of meat from the fish will be worth more in a disaster than gold.

Within minutes of arriving at the pond, on the first cast, I landed a nice channel catfish:

channel cat

This is the perfect eating size for catfish, in my opinion. I mostly catch & release these days - for no other reason than I am within driving distance of the best catfish restaurant on the planet, and I hate to clean fish. LOVE catching them. LOVE eating them. HATE cleaning them. We occasionally catch a bunch and clean them all at once for family fish cook-outs... but for the most part I'd rather just have fun and throw 'em back.

Right after catching the catfish, my Wife landed this nice Largemouth:

j largemouth

We caught a couple of smaller bass, and then my Wife hooked this bluegill:

bluegill

We were fishing with nightcrawlers (worms), and we'll often catch the small bluegill and sunfish instead of the larger bass/catfish we are trying for. Unfortunately, sometimes these little guys are injured when the larger bass/catfish sized hook is removed from their small mouths. This blue gill swallowed the hook pretty deeply, and was bleeding when we put it back in the water. It kind of fluttered around near the surface for a while, and then a dark shape came out from underneath the pier we were fishing on and zeroed in on the struggling bluegill. It was a large bass, and it swallowed the bluegill in one gulp and dissapeared back into the darkness of the water.

My wife and I both stood there with our mouths open...

My next cast resulted in this little guy:

baby fish

Don't laugh... they can't all be wall hangers.

Anyway, I posted that picture to explain what I did next. I hooked this little guy through the top of his head and dangled him in the water out away from the pier. I gave my Wife the video camera, and told her to keep an eye on the baitfish.

Sure enough, the big bass came out again and struck the little fish three times - taking it on the third try. I set the hook and landed him. I was really surprised to see the end of the bluegill's tail sticking out of the throat of the bass when I looked down into it's mouth!

Luck was not with us, though, as my Wife had forgotten to push the "record" button on the video camera. We didn't discover this until too late :( We did notice, though, that this particular fish had an odd shaped pectoral fin on one side.

We put "Bob", as we had named him, back in the water and continued to fish - catching several more small to medium sized bass. Right before we left, though, my Wife yet again hooked into a big one. She caught it way out in the middle of the pond and fought it all the way back to the pier. When we pulled it out of the water, we were surprised to see that it was BOB !!!

The tell tale odd fin was there, as was the bluegill tail STILL partially sticking out of his throat. You can see both in the pictures below:


bob the bass

bass swallow


Monday, May 25, 2009

Red Tailed Hawk

Sunday, I had the city where I work to myself due to the holiday weekend. Usually Sunday's aren't very busy - but since i was by myself it turned out to be the busiest we've had in a while. I started my day just before 7am, and finally staggered home around 9pm.

One of the interesting calls was for a "big bird stuck in a batting cage at the high school". I went out there and, sure enough, there he was:

Batter Up...

Usually, the only close contact that I get with raptors is when they've manage to get themselves hurt in some way. It was a pleasant change to be able to simply catch and release, rather than have to hunt down a rehabber. I seriously need to rig up some sort of hands-free video camera so I can tape when I'm actually going about the process of doing what I do.

I caught the "big bird" without incident, and set it free.

Never let go.

I imagine that the vast majority of people consider Memorial Day just another day off from work, if you're lucky. Maybe do a little BBQ in the backyard, or go to the lake?

I know I used to never give the meaning of Memorial Day much thought. As I've gotten older, though, I've come to appreciate the sacrifices and pain that we commemorate today - and should remember every other day of the year as well.

Being a fan of old photographs, I thought I would post a couple of images from World War II, as my memorial day post. These three are from the Library of Congress archive online, and date from 1942:

1942 infantryman

1942 jd estes

1942 inglewood cali plant


I love these old pictures. As a kid, I grew up thinking everything in WWII was black and white :) I can remember my surprise upon seeing my first Kodachrome picture from the 1940's.


This last image is a crop that I took from a larger photo that appeared in Life Magazine in 1944. The look on the woman's face as she says goodbye to her man in Pennsylvania Station really got to me. It reminded me of a fragment of a poem that I found online a while back, which I've copied below the image:

1944 Let me hold you while I may


".... let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so.


One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and wish more than all the world for your return."
-Mary Iron - 1964

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dulcimer video

I don't care if you like Bluegrass music or not. I'm not a huge fan myself. I'm kind of like the guy that goes to the art gallery and says "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like."

I'm that way in regards to music. I like various pieces of LOTS of different types of music, regardless of the genre.

I like this... ALOT.




Now I'm going to have to learn how build and play a mountain dulcimer. Once I've thoroughly conquered the Banjo :)

Clouds on the Horizon

So... first the DHS outlines the threat of "Right Wing Extremists", and gives that label a basic definition that could apply to anyone that supports the 10th amendment, or is actively in support of issues like preventing abortion, or actually making our borders secure.

Now, the NY Times reports that Obama may be considering a push to allow "Preventive Detention" for people who he considers a "threat to national security", but against whom he lacks the evidence to detain legally.

When the President gave his speech on National Security at the National Archives, I'm surprised that the Constitution didn't spontaneously burst into flames.

Washington DC flyby - 1928 style

On my regular morning visit to Shorpy, I was amazed by this picture:



That's the German Graf Zepplin flying over our nation's capitol way back in 1928. I know in my head that zepplins, both domestic and foreign, were a pretty common sight in major eastern cities of the US around this time in our history - but it still stuns me whenever I see it in a photograph.

Shorpy is such a cool website for stuff like this. If you click here, you'll go to the Shorpy site where you can see the picture really large. You can see people on the roof of the capitol that are just as impressed with the zepplin as I was, I'm sure :)

Easy Project - Antique irons

I'm drawn to old stuff.

Whether it's old tools, old guns, old pictures... it doesn't matter much what it is. I'm particularly drawn to everyday items that were made with care, substance, and an eye for the artistic - that are lacking in their disposable counterparts today.

Another criteria for items that I can't avoid at flea markets is a low pricetag ;)

On a recent trip to a flea market, I picked up an old Gasoline Iron. I had a couple of old irons at home already, which of course makes me a "collector", so I had to snag this one on the cheap.

comfort self heating iron before

It was marked as a "steam" iron, which is a common mistake. It's actually a Comfort brand gasoline fueled iron. The tank on the back held fuel, and was pressurized with a hand pump like an old coleman stove. The burner inside would have been lit with a match, and the burning fuel would have heated the iron. Seems archaic to modern iron users, but it was a big improvement over sad irons. Sad irons were basically big hunks of metal that you had to heat and reheat over a kitchen stove or sad iron heater in order to iron your clothing. With a gas iron, you just lit the thing and ironed - no more reheating.

I took the old girl apart, and went over the metal parts with a brass wire wheel. That zipped off the rust without wearing at the steel parts unnecessarily, since brass is softer than steel - but harder than rust. For the non-painted parts, I scrubbed in a 50/50 mixture of orderless turpentine mixed with boiled linseed oil. Then a wiped off the excess after giving it time to soak a bit. If you leave more than the microscopic layer of this mixture on metal, it will get gummy as the spirits evaporate. Wiping almost all of it off gives the metal a warmer look and protects it against a return of the rust.

Everything came apart really easily. If the screws had been rusted enough, I would have soaked them with penetrating oil until I could get them out. Fortunately, these came out pretty slick.

This is not a rare iron, nor was it expensive. Rust had pitted much of the metal, and the plating on the fuel tank was in bad enough shape that cleaning/buffing would never make it look good again, in my opinion. So... I decided to add a bit of color in my spruce-up job. I think it looks alot better with the red:

comfort self heating iron after

If you're a Antique Iron Collector "Purist", settle down.... its just an iron, for Pete's sake. It always amazes me when collectors try to enforce their collecting/restoration opinons on everyone else like its scripture, or something. There are people who will see the fact that I painted the fuel tank on this inexpensive, commonly found old iron and almost have a stroke over the heresy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mini-me

I found this picture of yours truly, while looking through a stack of old family pictures...

paladin baby

This apparently is my reaction to the news that Lyndon Johnson had just defeated Barry Goldwater.


Either that, or I'm building my street-cred by throwing down some gang signs....WEST SIDE!!! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blackland Outdoor Sports

You won't find much in the way of negative reviews of anything here. If I eat someplace that I don't like, I usually just won't eat there again. I don't see the need to trash someone online because I had a bad experience there. At most, I might just mention that I didn't enjoy my contact with the person/business and let it go at that.

Occasionally, though, You come across a business person that behaves SO badly that it is your duty to warn others.

Recently, I engaged the services of Blackland Outdoor Sports, in Greenville, Texas, to perform a FFL transfer on my newly acquired Polish P64 pistol. I won't go into detail here, beyond saying that my bad experiences go far beyond simply the fact that they sat on my gun for two weeks and only completed the transfer after I tracked the gun down at their shop. That was only the beginning of my irritation with them.

Suffice to say that I will never use them again in ANY capacity, and would not recommend them to anyone for ANY purpose.

Take that for whatever it's worth, but it's my opinion.

Hidden Costs

Over at Bitmap's Miscellaneous , he makes some very good observations about the new vehicle mileage and emissions standards announced today by President Obama. Not the least of which is the President's reference to the "fact" that the increase in vehicle costs will be offset by fuel savings, because consumers will need to buy less gas.

I heard the President say its a solution where "everybody wins".

Bitmap isn't buying into the premise, and neither am I. President Obama has proven himself very adept at pulling numbers out of his ass. Numbers that turn out to be way off the mark once he gets what he wants, policy-wise. There are a ton of facts that show this type of federal interference is a bad idea, most of which Bitmap points out quite readily.

Here's another wrinkle that the President isn't telling you about.

The foundation for funding Highway construction and maintenance in Texas is largely the tax on Gasoline sales. Here in Texas we pay a 20 cent per gallon tax on Gas. That amount has remained constant for almost 20 years. Similarly, other states have their own state taxes on fuel to fund highways, education, etc.

For example, in Texas in 2008, $3.1 billion in gas tax revenues were collected. This chunk of cash went mostly to highways (72%), with the balance going to education and administrative costs.

Why am I telling you this?

Because the Texas Transportation Commission is very concerned about a decrease in Gasoline Tax revenues that has occurred due to decreased driving - and the subsequent decreased use of gasoline - brought about by changing driving habits. People are driving less and using less gas. So far, gas tax revenues have been 3.2% lower this year than last year. That's about $100 million that is not going into the state coffers as tax revenues.

Now imagine what happens when the gas usage decreases even more, as Obama says it will, over the course of the next few years. That's less and less tax revenue because we're using less gas.

What do you think the response from the government will be to increased expenses (increased highway costs, inflation, etc.) combined with decreased revenues (decreased tax receipts)? They will need more money, and have less money coming in...

If you guessed that they will raise your taxes, then give yourself a gold star.

So, in the end, you will be driving a less safe automobile - using less gas - being a good little citizen of the world....

And you'll still be paying more for the privilege due to increased taxes.

How's that for hope and change?


Monday, May 18, 2009

Road Trip 05/17/2009 Part 2

Outside of Weatherford, east of town on 180, there's a wonderfully run down looking old place called the "Studebaker Farm". They apparently specialize in old Studebakers, and had several old girls parked out front.

studebaker row

I do love me some rusty old trucks....

studebaker emblem

We were pretty hungry after walking around Greenwood Cemetery all morning, so we stopped in at the Weatherford Downtown Cafe:

Weatherford Downtown Cafe

I had read good things about it, and I can definitely recommend that you get there early. We didn't have trouble finding a table at 11:30, but by noonish it was getting pretty packed with the after-church crowd. A+ Cafe food!! Service was good and the food delicious.

weatherford lunch

We didn't even have room for desert.

When we left the Cafe, we headed over to Mineral Wells, which is just 30 minutes of so to the west. We had passed through Mineral Wells in a hurry back in the winter and I wanted another opportunity to see the old Baker Hotel.

baker hotel 2

The beautiful old Baker Hotel opened its doors in 1929. Clark Gable, Ronald Regan, Lyndon Johnson, and Marlene Dietrich are just a few of the celebs that visited the Baker during it's heyday as a mineral water spa. By 1932, though, financial troubles began to plague the Baker and would continue to do so until it finally closed for good in 1972.

baker hotel 3

They don't let you go inside anymore, though there used to be official tours. If I were as reckless as I used to be, and single, I'd be in there in a heartbeat to have a look around. I love old wrecks like this. The Mrs. and I only bother to watch a handful of shows on TV anymore, one of which is Ghost Hunter's on A&E. I'll admit to hoping that a spectral, spooky face would appear at one of the windows, but it never did.

baker hotel 4

There are rumors of hauntings, and it certainly looks the part. You can find all sorts of info on the Baker online, including pictures of the inside from several years ago. I'm pretty certain that the old girl will continue to deteriorate with no hope of making a comeback. I don't see there being enough demand for her services to make a restoration possible. Likewise, I imagine that the cost of demolition and cleanup would far outweigh the value of the property.... not just a whole lot going on in Mineral Wells these days.

So, we'll have to see if she just gradually crumbles into the dust like the buildings in those "After Man" shows on Discovery.

I'll miss her when she's gone...

baker hotel 9

On the way back through Weatherford, we were please to find that a couple of the Antique shops off the square had opened for Sunday afternoon business. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours wandering around looking a stuff. Even bought a couple of small doo-dads that caught our eyes.

On the way back home, we stopped off at a roadside Malt Shop called, oddly enough, The Malt Shop. The fries and hotdog weren't that good, but the malt was great! They certainly seemed to be doing a good business, with 50's music playing through the intercom outside. This picture was taken around 3pm, and it got even more crowded as we left with the arrival of a large group of bikers.

maltshop

The last picture opportunity was a group of heavy draft horses we spotted along side the road. I'm a huge fan of working horses, and seldom pass up a chance to photograph them, or just stop and stare. These are Gypsy Vanner horses, which is a breed that I had never heard of before my Wife brought them to my attention a couple of years ago.

gypsy vanner 1

I never thought I would have a chance to see one in person, much less several.

gypsy vanner bad hair day

They were really friendly, and came right up to the fence for some scratchin'. A little TOO close at times :)

gypsy vanner sniff

Road Trip 05/17/2009

Sunshine... on my shoulders, makes me happy.......

Words can not describe how great it felt to get out and enjoy the sunny Texas skies this weekend. Not even John Denver's words. After so much rain, weekend after weekend, it did my heart and soul good to feel the sun in my face.

If you click on most of the pics in this entry, you'll go to my flickr photo album online. There, you can see other pictures from this trip that aren't in the blog and see the pictures larger for more detail.

We took a run out to Weatherford, Texas yesterday. Being a Sunday, we didn't have high hopes of many of the antique shops being open - but dammit, I wanted to get out of the house. Weatherford has one of the coolest downtown areas of any small/medium sized Texas towns. Its the County Seat of Parker County, and it's Second Empire Victorian style courthouse is one of the few courthouses I've been to that doesn't have powerlines ruining the photo composition:

weatherford courthouse

Our first stop, since we arrived before anything else was open, was Greenwood Cemetery, located northeast of downtown. Public cemeteries are generally open from dawn to dusk, which is pretty convenient for the drop in visitor :)

The cemetery was pretty well kept, although there is the usual evidence of vandalism and general decay you get in most older cemeteries. They've clearly taken conservation steps on most of the damaged stones, though, which is good. A common method is laying the broken stone down and embedding it in concrete.

greenwood preserve headstones

Not a bad method, since it pretty much eliminates the repeat damage that might occur if you just patched it together and stood it back upright. Still makes my blood boil when I think about the shitty people who sneak into cemeteries at night and break stuff "for fun"...

Anyway, Greenwood had some surprises for us. As usual, there were the poignant sentiments and the beautiful works of art that characterize most pre-1950's headstones. This one caught my heart in my throat:

not forgotten

It's a 6 mo old girl's headstone (laid down in concrete to preserve/repair it). Obviously loved by her family back in 1861, I was drawn to the stone by the flower left by a previous visitor. There weren't flowers on any other graves nearby, and obviously nobody that actually "knew" her would still be alive. She didn't even live long enough to have an kids. So there's no great-grandchildren that might visit the old relative that they never knew, but still felt a connection to.

So... who left the flower, and why?

Maybe just a passerby, like me, that felt something for the faceless people slumbering beneath the ground. Maybe someone that wanted the little girl to know she isn't forgotten....

One of the surprises was this odd crypt like structure that was partially buried:

swaim crypt 2

The carving at the peak of the roof explains that it is the grave of Hiram E. Swaim, who was buried within back in 1883.

No other info, and seems like a REALLY big crypt just for one occupant. No mention of his family, what he did, who he was... just the basic name/date arrangement. I guess Hiram liked his elbow room...

Another set of interesting residents of Greenwood were the real life historical inspirations for fictional characters that most of you will recognize.

oliver loving and wife

The above picture is the gravesite of Oliver Loving and his Wife. Loving is believed by many to be the inspiration for the character of "Gus", played by Robert Duvall, in Lonesome Dove. Gus is one of my all time favorite fictional characters. The Goodnight-Loving trail is a famous piece of American Western History as one of the first legendary cattle drives.

The other notable resident is also linked to Lonesome Dove. This is the grave marker for Bose Ikard.


Bose

Mr. Ikard was the inspiration for the character of "Deetz", played by Danny Glover. Bose was born a slave in Mississippi, but after emancipation he joined up as a cowboy with Charles Goodnight (the inspiration for Woodrow F. Call, in Lonesome Dove). He became a trusted employee and good friend to Goodnight over the many years and trails they were together. Charles Goodnight had the sentiment inscribed on the marker. It's difficult to see the engraving, since the sun was directly overhead. Here's the quote:

Bose Ikard served with me four years on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, never shirked a duty or disobeyed an order, rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with Comanches, splendid behavior

Pretty cool :).

The next entry will continue our Weatherford Trip, including a visit to a reportedly haunted old hotel...

Road Trip Posts to come...

Just finished uploading some pictures from our Sunday road trip to my Flickr account. I'll be posting this week about what we saw and did - found some interesting stuff :) We visited Weatherford, Texas to see Greenwood Cemetery and do some antiqueing. We also took a quick run down the road to Mineral Wells to visit the spooky old Baker Hotel.

Saw some interesting sights at both places, and at other points along the way. Check back for the trip details blog post. I'll post it up whenever I get a chance to put it together.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rainy Days

I know I'll be wishing for rain in July and August, when everything around here turns crunchy and brown with the heat, but right now its getting a little old. Seems like every weekend is a soggy mess. My tomato plants are drowning, the Valkyrie still sits all dusty and neglected, and our road trips have been a little squishy...

Still, tomorrow promises to be sunny, dry, and cool. A road trip plan is in the works.

Today, however, we had to entertain ourselves indoors and local. First stop was a favorite diner, and a place that I highly recommend if you ever visit Dallas. I've written before about Babes Chicken Dinner Restaurant, which has several locations around Dallas. Today we went to the spot that started the Babes phenomenon:

Bubba's

bubbas

Bubba's sprang to life in the early 1980's, when the owners refurbished an old 1927 era Art Deco gas station and started cranking out some wonderful southern/soul food, including some of the consistently best fried chicken we've every had anywhere. The owners later went on the start the Babes mini-chain, but they've kept the very successful Bubba's operating through it all. The place is located just northwest of the SMU campus, on Hillcrest. They offer dine in, take out, or drive thru service. If you arrive during peak hours, expect to either wait a while or take it home. The delicious food is not a well kept secret and they get BUSY!

We got there just after the breakfast service ended, and just as the lunch crowd was starting to show up. When we sat down, we immediately were engaged in conversation by a couple of elderly regulars - both of whom complimented me on my choice of hat - instantly securing a place in my estimation as good eggs.

Soon, the breakfast shift wait staff came over and sat with us to eat their lunch - joking back and forth with the regulars by name, talking about the cabbage and sweet 'taters, and basically enjoining the comfortable patter that I love about home style places that really are home style.

We both had the two piece fried chicken. I chose the green beans (slow cooked for a long time with pork) and mashed potatoes. The Mrs. picked cabbage and sweet potatoes. Both dinners came with a delicious yeast roll and honey or sorghum.

The rest of the day was mostly errands, with an enjoyable wandering through Forestwood Antique Mall.... I honestly don't see how most Antique Malls stay in business. My house is full of cool old stuff. If I could get half of what they are asking for the same items found just in my study alone, I could retire right now.

To me, though, wandering the aisles of an Antique Mall isn't usually about finding something there to buy. To me its like when other people go to an art gallery, or museum. Except this is actually a museum featuring stuff that I want to see.

Plus it gives me ideas for stuff to look for at more affordable venues ;)

I Want.. You Need

First, the I Want:















That's the Cimarron No. 3 Schofield. The model above shown above is a 7" barrel. That's too long for my tastes. I'm lusting after both the 3 1/2" barrel and the 5" barrel. Cimarron markets wonderful reproduction old west guns.

This past winter, I picked up a 4 3/4" barreled Thunderer, in .357 magnum:

thunderer


This is my favorite gun to shoot, by far, at the moment. The single action trigger is crisp and clean, the recoil is very easy to take, and the birdhead grip allows me to point/shoot with ease. I'd carry this bitch every day of the year as my concealed gun if I could hide it effectively.


The FFL that I bought it from quoted me $900 on the Schofield, cash price - out the door.

Maybe I can save my milk money between now and fall and actually score one :)

Now the YOU NEED:


























Apparently, I was one of the 6 conservatives that hadn't read Mark Levin's "Liberty & Tyranny". I corrected that shortfall last week and picked up a copy.

OUTSTANDING read.. and not just because it clearly states much of what I already believe, and know, to be truth. He takes the time to clearly explain the basics of conservatism, and backs up all his assertions with a massive amount of footnotes so you can see the basis for his statements in fact.



I was pleased that Mr. Levin, while definitely a Christian Conservative, doesn't bash the reader in the head with Christian Dogma as much as many conservatives do. That's refreshing from the perspective of a non-Christian conservative.



If we just swallow what ever the talk show hosts say without doing our own homework, we're no better than the mindless sheeple that flocked to support Obama in the last election. I really enjoyed being able to backtrack and see exactly where he got his facts from .

If you are one of the remaining 5 slackers that hasn't read it yet - GET IT!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

100 Year old Steampunk film

Found this movie on Youtube, posted by BFIfilms. It features what is arguably the earliest practical application of a gas driven continuous Caterpillar track. The tractor was made by Hornsby, in England, and the film was shot there too - but the subtitles of this only surviving copy of the film are in German.

Doesn't matter.... its steampunky, and cool as shite no matter what language its in.

Girl Friday 05/15/2009 - Marie McDonald

Today's Girl Friday is Marie McDonald, one of my favorite of the World War II era Pinup girls:

marie mcdonald 3

Can't you just see her on the nose of a Bomber?...

marie mcdonald 2

Maybe we need to go back to this method of encouraging support for the troops and the war effort?

Marie McDonald

Range Day P64

FINALLY made it to the range today to break in the Polish P64, that I hope will be my "hot weather gun". Here she is, as I received her from J&G Sales in Prescott, AZ.

p64

She's in really good shape for a surplus gun, and J&G was very fast with the shipping. She sat at my worthless FFL's shop for two weeks because he didn't notify me that it had arrived. No explaination + no apology = not using him again.

At the time of this writing, J&G has these for about $180, including shipping to your FFL.

I had done quite a bit of research before buying this gun, via the internet. I found that the most common complaint was the awful double action trigger pull. In its stock configuration, it clocks in at a whopping 25-27 lbs!!! Fortunately, Wolffe springs produces replacements springs that are much more reasonable. I replaced mine with an 18# spring, and that makes it much more manageable.

Shooting the pistol in DA is still rough, but from what I've read I can expect that to improve more after a box or two of ammo go down range. We'll see. I may use some powdered or spray graphite. I've been warned off manual polishing on this particular firearm. Single action trigger action is pretty decent after the spring swap. The gun shoots fairly acurately. More than sufficient for defensive carry ranges in most situations. I kept most shots inside a two inch circle today, which is pretty good for me considering it's been a while since I've shot anything and this is my first experience with this particular gun.

I bought this gun for pocket carry during weather too hot for IWB with overshirt carry that I normally engage in. I whipped up a holster the other day:

p64 pocket holster

I haven't treated the leather yet, but I'll probably just go with a neatsfoot oil treatment. The flap on the back faces out when the holster is in my jeans pocket, concealing the outline of the gun. Here's a shot of how you access the gun inside your pocket... works pretty slick:

p64 holster 2

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the gun. The DA trigger pull will have to improve a bit more, but it's plenty accurate enough (once I practice with it some more) for carry and it will sure be nice not to sweat my ass off any more than necessary this summer!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Begining of the Zombie Apocalypse?...

So, I'm sitting here at the 'puter waiting on a storm front to pass by so I can take my "new" P64 to the range. I picked her up from the FFL last weekend and we need a chance to get to know one another.

The rain, I can handle. I'm not going to melt. Standing in a lightning storm holding a gun, though?... not smart. I'm itching to go, but at least the weather delay is giving me a chance to catch up on my blog reading. Work and life in general have been really busy over the past couple of weeks.


If you've read very deeply into my blog, you know I don't have a high tolerance for alarmists. Wild, baseless leaps of illogical thinking don't sit well with me. I believe in identifying threats accurately, and dealing with them with the least amount of flailing around possible. The current government bent of "worst ever" this, and "doom and gloom" that... really irritates me beyond belief.

That being said, its also important to keep your eyes on the horizon to see what might be coming up.


If you enjoy zombie movies, I'm sure you're familiar with the plot device of using a mutated form of Rabies as the trigger for the creation of the shuffling hoards of brain eaters. Its not too much of a stretch, from the point of view of a writer of fiction. The bullet shaped Rabies virus, after all, is one of the few diseases that actually alters the behavior of the host in such a way as to increase the likelihood of disease transmission. Shy, reclusive animals become aggressive. Tame, sweet animals become violent. It gets in the host's brain and turns them into an irrational, aggressively violent monster.


brightside


Rabies in this country is virtually limited to wild animals. Finding a domestic animal with rabies in the US is pretty rare, and finding a human with rabies in the US is even more rare. That's fortunate, because once a human develops rabies symptoms, they almost always die an excruciatingly awful death. You'll notice I specified in the United States. Those same statistics don't hold elsewhere in the world.

55000 people die from Rabies every year world wide. Once a human develops rabies symptoms, they almost ALWAYS DIE. It's an awful death. You can find photos and videos online of people with the rabies virus if you want. I've seen them as a part of my job, and I don't particularly care to repost them here.

The main reason there are virtually no deaths from Rabies in the US, compared to other countries, are the Animal Control and Zoonosis control measures that are enforced here.

Think about that next time you look down your nose at the "dog catcher".

You're welcome.

Anyway... the gist: Rabies = Bad.

It's so deadly, that unless you realize you've been infected by saliva contact (bites, usually) with a rabid animal - you'll never know you have the disease until its too late to treat. With Rabies, once you're symptomatic - you are done, in almost all cases.

Now its potentially even worse, according to research findings reported in the National Geographic.

You see, a rabies strain in Arizona has been discovered that is mutating and evolving faster than any strain known before. It has not only developed the ability to jump from Bats to Foxes and Skunks (which is pretty common), but has also apparently developed the ability to spread through casual contact (which is a horrifying concept). Its not even necessary for the host to be bitten, for the disease to spread.

"What is unusual is that the strain appears to have mutated so that foxes and skunks are now able to pass the virus on to their kin—not just through biting and scratching but through simple socializing, as humans might spread a flu. "

That's a very bad thing.

Nothing to panic over, but definitely something to watch. The main danger in this lies with not realizing if you've been exposed to the virus, and the fact that this strain spreads easily without requiring a bite or other invasive blood/saliva contact. So far its not shown up in the pet population. However, current strains of the virus are transmittable to both domestic pets and people, so there's no reason to believe that this one is any different.

Here's a scenario to think about:

Bill has a dog, Rover. Rover is an inside dog, so Bill has never seen the need to get Rover rabies vaccinations. Last week Bill put Rover in the backyard before bedtime, as usual, to do his business. While outside, Rover discovers a Brown Bat that has fallen to the ground beneath a tree because it is sick with the Rabies virus. Rover is exposed to the virus by contact with the Bat. Bill lets Rover back into the house, none the wiser.

Over the course of the week, Rover develops rabies and exposes Bill and his entire family to the virus without their knowledge. The following week Bill and his family have casual contact with other people through school, work, public transportation....

See the potential for this?


As a side note, I think its interesting to note that I have had pre-exposure vaccinations against Rabies - so I'll most likely be immune. All I have to worry about is reloading the SKS fast enough to take down any shuffling Rabies zombies that discover my stronghold and wait it out.



sks1

.... and so it is written: Surely the Dogcatcher shall inherit the earth......

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fashion Statement

I've been out of pocket for a while, due to work and life in general. Posting should resume later this week - Sporadically as usual.

Found this pic on while browsing the news online this morning. The guy on the left is from Texas... Gotta love the sense of fashion risk taking :)
Seems everyone had to haul ass to get on the line to take a defensive position due to a threat.
Still a great picture, though.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Have a good Weekend Everybody..

We were planning to attend the Mayfest Arts festival in Ft. Worth this weekend, but it was canceled due to Swine Flu Fears.


So, we changed plans and decided to go over to Weatherford and check out a trade day (flea market) that we have been wanting to visit. Unfortunately, it has been canceled for the same reason - Swine Flu.


I have tickets for the Kenny Chesney/Miranda Lambert concert in Frisco this weekend.


If they cancel it due to Swine Flu, I'm afraid I will become quite vexed.



Click HERE to take a quick diagnostic test to determine if you are, in fact, infected with Swine Flu.


The Waiting is the Hardest Part....

Ever since I first obtained my concealed carry permit a couple of years ago, my daily carry situation has evolved.

In the begining, I carried this Beretta 84fs:

beretta84fs

Wonderful gun. I took my CHL range practical with it and shot the bejesus out of the qualifying test. The only problem is, apparently I have the hands of a twelve year old girl. Even as a "small" pistol, the double stack magazine makes the grip just a little too wide for me. When my hands sweat, the gun wants to jump around and I had to continually readjust.

So... my carry piece evolved to this:


starbmafter2

This is a Spanish made Star BM, in 9mm. Its a surplus gun that I picked up for about $200. I duracoated it, made a set of nicer grips for it, and proceeded to love every minute of shooting/carrying it. The single stack mag made for a comfortable grip, and the overall size (about 2/3 the size of a standard 1911) made it a decent concealed gun.
The problem? Bitch started shearing the barrel link on me. Replaced it twice, and the problem continued. Can't have that in a self defense piece, obviously, and the "inexpensive" nature of the gun made it unpalatable to seek out a real gunsmith to ferret out the problem and fix it.

So... My carry piece became this:


beretta 85fs small

This is the Beretta 85fs, which is the single stack version of the 84fs I started with. Perfect compromise between size, capacity, concealability, and I shoot it ridiculously well (for me).

Downside?

I live in Texas. It gets mother f-ing hot here in the summer. So far, I've gotten by in the heat of summer with the Beretta in an inside the waistband holster, underneath a t-shirt with a short sleeved button up shirt worn open over all. Works great in the spring and fall - but criminy it's hot in the summer.

I got to looking around for a "pocket pistol", and considered several models. I looked at everything from two shot derringers to the Ruger LCP. My final choice (is there ever really a final selection when it comes to guns?):

Polish Makarov P64 in 9x18 (9mm Makarov). Here's a pic I found online, since my gun is still on its way from J&G Sales:














I've read about the awful trigger pull and the equally punishing recoil issues - and I have replacement wolfe spring kits that will arrive with the gun to solve those issues. Overall, the gun should fit nicely in a pocket holster and make daily carry less of a torturous affair this summer. I can't wait to shoot the little beast, and it seems like its taking FOREVER to get here, since J&G are backlogged a couple of weeks just like most internet gun shops.

I've been putting off going to the range, 'cuz I'm uncomfortably low on ammo for all my usual companions at the range. Everyone that freaked out over Obama getting elected by buying up all the ammo to horde it, is having more of an effect on my ability to exercise my 2nd amendment rights than Obama is.

That's ironic, ain't it?

9x18 is still pretty plentiful, and pretty cheap too. I ordered several boxes from AIM the other day, so I would be ready to go when the Mak gets here. In fact, the UPS driver handed me a box today, while I was out mowing the yard:



They mock me, sitting there.... all those little bullets.

And no f-ing gun to shoot them out of.

Grrrrrr.........