Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rainy Day Workshop Job

So, I got to go to the gun range today and play - but just to show that I didn't just sit around pouting when I was rained out yesterday, here's proof.

My Mrs. is VERY into scrapbooking since the birth of our Granddaughter. She's appropriated half of our Daughter's former bedroom as a "craft room", where she can work on her stuff and store everything. The over all theme of the room is hunting/fishing, though, so I've had to be creative in order to keep that general feeling - while still providing the workspace and storage space she needs.

Previously, I made her a craft cabinet with profiles of Moose Heads on the doors, and featuring handles made of deer antler with deer tracks scrimshawed on them. You can see that cabinet HERE. Yesterday I made a shelf for her that is along the same lines.

deer shelf detail

deer shelf support

I scroll sawed stylized deer heads and laminated supports for the shelf. The screws anchoring it to the wall will be covered with stained wooden plugs - I just didn't have them in place when I took the picture.

deer shelf

Pew-Pew-Pew... Range Day - Take Two.

wasr and mags 2

Today was MUCH nicer than yesterday. Yesterday's storm front even cooled things off a bit.

Not a lot, mind you. This is Texas in June afterall. I bought a cup of coffee at a drive through on the way to the range and drank half of it on the way. I left it in the truck and it was still pleasantly hot when I left the range 2 1/2 hours later.

All things are relative:) At least it wasn't over 100.

The range was very active, as it has been ever since January. Usually this time of year I've got the place to myself. Seems like lots of folks are interested in exercising their 2nd amendment rights - which is a wonderful thing. Still, I kind of miss having the elbow room sometimes.

I took the K31, the WASR, and the SKS. I didn't shoot handgun this time around. I shot all three girls at a 50 yd station, but I walked the K31 out to 100 yds, in addition.


I started with the K31. I've not shot her at 100 yds with iron sights until today. I started out at 50 yds to "warm up".

k31 50yds

Then we moved out to 100 yds.

k31 100yds 10rnds

I'm pulling a bit to the right. Still not too bad (for me) at 100 yds, shooting at a target the size of my fist, with iron sights.

I don't "cherry pick" targets to post. Don't get me wrong... I'd love to do that. Problem is, all my targets are pretty much the same for any particular gun and range - so it wouldn't do me any good :) I'm pretty pleased with the way I'm shooting her now, with the exception of the occasional flyer. Much better than when I first started rifle shooting, that's for sure. My groups get a little better every time and that's what I'm working toward.

I switched to the SKS, next.


Yeah... that's right. I'm firmly in touch with my inner-Bubba, so go ahead and taunt me for altering an SKS with a Tapco stock. I've heard it all before, and I am completely unimpressed :) I'm a dogcatcher, for Pete's sake. Think you're going to make me self conscious about my gun?


I shot OK with the SKS. I'm still having trouble with the double "ring" that I'm seeing using the aperature sight. I can also see the circle of the front sight hood and I find myself not focusing on the front post like I should, with so much crap in my field of view. I'm seriously considering altering the front sight hood and leaving just enough to act as protective "ears" on either side of the front post. It would end up looking like an AK front sight.

Here's 20 rounds on a typical target at 50 yards.

sks 50yds 20rnds

You can see the upper and lower flyers that crop up when I loose the front post focus. All these shots would have fit on a paper plate, but I know I can do better. Over all, I'm pretty pleased to group this well. I have a hard enough time just seeing the black bullseye on these targets at 50 yards. There's always room for improvement though.

Last, I picked up the WASR.


The main purpose of the WASR shoot was to try and sight her in. If you aren't familiar with WASRs, they are pretty low on the totem pole as far as AK47 clone knockoffs. They look cool, are fun to shoot, and are rugged as hell, but they do have their issues.

The mag well was originally made to fit a single stack mag. They were later cut out to accomodate a double stack mag, but the quality control on this is so lax that the mag will wiggle in the opening on most WASRs- just enough to annoy me. It won't come out or anything, and I've never had a feed problem, but that wiggle is irritating. Also, and more importantly, the front sight posts on many of them are canted one way or the other. Mine was canted so much that I couldn't hit paper on a normal sized target from a sandbag at 50 yds! I had to tap out the pins and tap the sight post over with a mallet to somewhat eyeball it true.

wasr adjust 063009

That's my WASR 50yd target. You can see how I barely made it on to paper at first (upper left). At least now I could adjust with the sight tool a bit at a time until I was consistantly nearer the center of the target with each shot. This was the last gun I shot today, and I was fatigued, so we'll see how she does next trip.

I can't believe how much WASR10's have gone up in price since I got mine, pre-Obamapanic. I wouldn't have sold her at all, until I was sure I had the accuracy issue resolved. It wouldn't have seem right, to me. Now that I have that problem fixed, I'm pretty sure I could sell her for twice what I paid for her. I don't have plans to sell her now, but I have been drooling over the Ruger Mini14 short tactical rifle... MMMMMMMmmmmmm....


I shot a little video while at the range today, just to mess around with. Nothing fancy, just me taking a couple of shots with all three guns. I read several different "gunnie" type blogs, but I don't see actual shooting very often on any of them. I see the occasional target, and lots of gun porn (and I DO love both!), but almost no actual shooting.

So, in the absence of anyone actually good shooting - you'll get me. If you're stuck at work, looking out the window and wishing you were at the range - give the video a look-see. Maybe it will make you feel like you're there :)

Police Pursuits

I saw this on TV last night, and it made me so angry I had to look it up and watch the stupidity all over again this morning. This is a news story that ran on Fox 4 news in Dallas covering a high speed chase:

I'm all for law and order.

My favorite part of the "Cops" TV show is when some asshole refuses to come out of store he's been caught burglarizing, and they send one of the Police Dogs inside to gnaw on him until he screams out like a little girl.

Was this guy an idiot for running from the Police? Yes, absolutely.

Did he risk the lives of Police Officers and other citizens? You bet your ass he did.

Would I have a problem if he Darwined himself running from the police? Nope. I'd probably even chuckle about it.

But my anger over the danger everyone was exposed to by this chase extends not only to him, but to the Dallas County Constable's office as well. This guy wasn't wanted for a violent crime - he had outstanding warrants for forgery. There's absolutely no reason they couldn't arrest him at his house, at his workplace, or just follow him with the police chopper keeping track of him until he ran out of gas - for crying out loud.

My family drives on these streets. My Daughter works in Richardson, a suburb adjacent to where this ridiculous 90 minute car chase ended in a vehicle crash. Did you see the idiotic Constable that stood on the dividing lane between the HOV and the High Speed lane on LBJ freeway and flung out a spike strip in the middle of all the other traffic?....

All to serve an eff-ing FORGERY WARRANT???

And for everyone who reads this and thinks I'd rather the police just let criminals go when they run - there are many other options for capturing these crooks that don't involve risking innocent lives.

The driver of the truck that t-boned the runner could easily have been killed or seriously injured. Same goes for the Motorcyclist that had to lock it up on LBJ to avoid hitting the stupid Cops standing out in traffic.

I want the Police to get the Bad Guy.

But I don't want to loose any one I love so that they can bag a stupid check forger. I shudder to think about my Daughter driving through that area with my Grandbaby in the car within hours of this mess.

bailey mothers day 2009

Catching some dumbass check forger isn't worth harming one hair on her head.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Crap on Range Day in 3...2...1

I'm on vacation. We're not going anywhere special. I just needed to take some time off, and my vacation balance is pretty high.

I got up this morning with every intention of spending a large chunk of the day at the Shooting Range I frequent. I made breakfast, got the SKS, the WASR, and the K31 out and cased them up for the trip. I cased the Thunderer as well. My P64 would be attending too, but it was right at home in my pocket. I gathered sufficient ammo to see me through the 2 or 3 hours I intended to spend sending lead down range.

Hearing protection? - Check

Eyewear? - Check

Range Card? - Check

Staple gun and staples for setting targets? - Check

Targets? - Check

All ready to go and I gather up my gear to head out the door, when i hear it....


Did I mention it's an outdoor range?

Heres the radar I just pulled up.

The red dot north east of Dallas is approximately where the range is. I live north of there. The storm front is moving verrrrrry slowly to the SSE.

Damn it.

Looks like its tinkering in the workshop day, instead. Not as good as a range day, but still beats the hell out of working. I'll give the range another shot (hehehe) tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Surf and Turf on a Dogcatcher Budget

"Ach... what a dog's life.
Work hard all day I must, then in the evening I speak English yet!
- Quote from a Pennsylvania Dutch Farmer

Once again, reading Brigid's dinner menus over at Home on the Range has gotten my mouth watering for food off the grill. She did a bang up grilled chicken dish that looks great. I eat chicken several times a week, though, so I thought I'd go in a different direction for the weekend.

That... and the grocery store had a good deal on Rock Lobster Tails this week :)

My grill is nothing fancy. I use a Weber Kettle Grill that I've had for several years. I convince myself every summer that I'm going to "upgrade" to a propane grill. Its faster to get cooking on a propane grill. When you're done, you just turn if off and forget about it - no waiting for the coals to burn down and out all evening. I usually even go look at them at the hardware store at some point during the grilling season.

But that's as far as I get.

I'm not a grilling snob, mind you. I don't profess that I can really tell a difference in taste between charcoal/wood grilled food and propane grilled. I like to think that I can, but that could just be in my head. Something about cooking over fire just really appeals to me on a gut level, even when it's a pain in the ass to deal with. It lets me get in touch with my inner caveman, I guess :)

The menu tonight:

Grilled Ribeye steaks with roasted garlic, Grilled rock lobster tail with herbed-garlic butter baste, boiled sweet corn on the cob, rolls, and Shoe-fly Pie (no garlic involved).

If you like garlic, even a little bit, you'll LOVE roasted garlic. It's very easy to do. Take a head of garlic and rub off most of the outer papery skins. Leave the individual cloves attached to each other. Take a sharp knife and cut off the top 1/2" or so of the head. You'll be able to see the meat inside the individual cloves now. If you can't, slice off a tad more until you can. Place the head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil (maybe 6"x6") cut end up, drizzle a touch of olive oil over the exposed cut end, and then fold the foil up sealing the head inside. Place these little bundles in a pan (I usually do 5 or 6 heads at a time) and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Take them out of the oven, and let them cool a bit. The garlic inside is all mushy and delicious now.

It's also unbelievably fucking hot, so leave it alone until it cools off. If you want, carefully unwrap the heads a bit so they cool off faster. When cool enough to handle, take a head in your hand and squeeze it, cut end down like you squeeze a lemon, over a bowl or container. The mushy roasted garlic comes squishing out and you are left with the papery shell remnants in your hand to toss out.

You can use roasted garlic in all sorts of ways. I mush it up and mix it with fresh herbs and store bought mayonnaise to make my own sandwich spread. You can spread it on bread and broil it for garlic bread. Or you can use it like I do in the following recipes.

First, the Shoe Fly Pie - which has no garlic in it what-so-ever:

Shoe-Fly Pie

Refrigerated pie shell

Crumb mixture:

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbls packed dark brown sugar
2 tbls cold butter cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp kosher salt


3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup molasses
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the pie crust in a glass pie dish, and prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Place the empty pie shell in a 425 degree oven and bake it for 10 minutes. Check the pie and make sure no large air bubbles are poofing it up - if they are pierce them with a fork. Continue prebaking the pie shell for another 5 minutes or so. Take it out of the oven to cool, and turn the oven down to 350 degrees while you prepare the rest of the pie.

Combine the brown sugar with the flour and kosher salt for the crumb mixture. Pinch the butter pieces into the flour/brown sugar mixture until there aren't any pieces larger than a BB. Scoop out 1/4 cup of this mixture and set it aside.

For the filling, put the 3/4 tsp baking soda in a large bowl and pour in the 3/4 cup boiling water. This is to release the leavening effect of the soda - 'cuz you don't want your pie filling to rise up like a cake. Whisk the two together well, and then whisk in the molasses, egg, and vanilla. Lastly, whisk in the large amount of crumb mixture.

Pour this liquid into the now mostly cool pie shell, and sprinkle the 1/4 cup of crumb mixture on top. Place the pie in the 350 degree oven and bake for 50 minutes. The top will poof up a bit and you'll start to see little cracks in the pie surface.

When its done, take the pie out and let it cool completely before cutting.

shoefly pie

Shoe fly pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch staple, and popular with the Amish community. It's sweet, but not cloying as you might think, even though it has both brown sugar and molasses in it. It reminds me a little of gingerbread, with the upper half of the pie being a moist cake like consitency and the lower layer being even more moist.

Now the Rock Lobster and Garlic Steak:

I buy the rock lobster tails when they are at a good price at the grocery store. It's not the same as buying fresh live lobster, and it's REALLY not the same as eating fresh lobster steamed on the pier in New England.... but it's still pretty damned good. Here's how the little guys look when I buy them:

lobster tails before

To get them ready to grill, take some heavy scissors/shears and cut through the shell along the back, down to the fan of the tail. Then take a sharp knife and slice down through the meat, but don't cut through the bottom shell. When your done, you should be able to spring the tail open a bit like this:

lobster tails split

A made a basting butter from half a stick of butter (melted), mixed with a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped basil and a good clove sized lump of the roasted garlic. I mixed all that together well and brushed the exposed meat of the lobster tail before grilling.

When the coals are ready, you place the tails over the hot coals cut side down. This will help sear in the juices of the meat. After three minutes or so, I flip the tails over and cook them until the meat is white and firm - but not dried out. Usually this is another 7 or 8 minutes, and I baste with the garlic herb butter a couple of times while they are cooking.

tails ribeyes grilling

For the ribeyes, I bought somewhat thin ones, since we were having lobster as well. I rubbed them with some of the mashed up roasted garlic earlier in the afternoon and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I kept the steaks in the refrigerator until about an hour before grilling. Then I put them out on the counter to come to room temperature before grilling them 4 to 6 minutes per side.

Since I'm cooking thin steaks, and split lobster tails, the total cooking time is about the same for both items - around 12 minutes - which works out pretty much perfect.

Here's the pairing:

tails ribeye pairing

And a parting shot of the Shoe-fly Pie:

shoefly piece


No actual flies were harmed in the production of this pie.

Someone for Everyone

Love conquers all.

someone for everyone
I saw this picture on Yahoo News this morning and couldn't resist.

Make your voice heard

Here is a copy of an email contact I sent to Senator Cornyn (R) from Texas yesterday. I sent the exact same email to my other Senator, Kay Hutchison (R).

Dear Senator Cornyn,

I am writing to you today to request that you vote NO to ANY version of the CAP and TRADE BILL that might come before the senate for possible approval.

Clearly, Cap and Trade is a terrible idea. By the President's own admission it will result in higher prices for families and small businesses and the loss of countless jobs - all so that the ruling party can fund it's outrageous plans that already threaten to bankrupt our nation.

The recent vote in the House was troubling. Not only because such an awful piece of legislation passed, but because of how it passed. Last minute arm bending, under the table midnight deals, and the 300 page amendment that no one even had time to read and understand disgust me. Members of the House that were being relied upon to stand up against this travesty suddenly caved in. There can be no other explanation than either they were bought off, or strong armed into supporting the bill.

This can not happen in the Senate.

I thank you for all the fine work you've done in the Senate on behalf of Texas and America. I pray that you will continue to support the conservative ideals that make this country great.

The temptation to "compromise" and "be bipartisan" will be enormous in the coming weeks. Please to not bend to that pressure. Anything short of a complete and utter defeat of ANY CAP AND TRADE LEGISLATION would be a betrayal of the trust we place in you, and would be remembered most vividly in upcoming primaries and elections.

Thank you again for your service to our country,

You'll find "political" opinions and posts on this blog from time to time, because I live in the world and am effected by events and attitudes just like everyone else. I try to seek out my own information on the big issues and make up my own mind accordingly. I would encourage you to do the same. Don't let anyone tell you how to think, regardless of which side you're on.

What you usually won't find on my blog is an in depth analysis of the issues like Cap and Trade, Economic Stimulus, GM Buyouts, and the like - 'cuz this ain't that kind of a blog.

If you feel the way that I do about the ridiculously underhanded way that Congress is behaving over the past several months - this is the time to make your opinion known. My Senators are both pretty strong conservatives that can be relied upon. I'm not taking any chances, though. I would encourage you to contact your senators so that they know where you stand. Several House Reps who were firmly against Cap and Trade bent to pressure at the last minute and caved in. Don't take anything for granted in the Senate.

Things to remember to make your contact count:

Be Polite, and respectful. - If they read your email and understand that you think they're a douchebag, then they won't listen to you. Politicians enjoy counting the opinions that support them, and dread loosing the votes that keep them in office. They have to believe there is a real risk of loosing your support if they don't behave.

Be very CLEAR. The goal of my email is to tell them how I want them to vote, and what will happen if that is not carried out. I want there to be no chance that they will misunderstand that I will do everything in my power end their political career if they compromise or give-in, in ANY WAY. Don't get sidetracked into 20 different other issues, or even any in depth analysis of the issue at hand. Make your point, and get out.

Make sure you follow up on your "threat", after the dust settles. We have to hold our representatives accountable.

There was an ENORMOUS amount of arm bending, shady deal making, and other monkey shines going on in the last minute circus that was the House vote on Cap and Trade. The Democrats and handful of Republican traitors jumped with glee like a bunch of fucking schoolgirls when they squeaked by in the vote. This, after the congressional switchboard was literally SHUT DOWN due to the flood of calls coming in from citizens begging them not to pass this bill.

This is a teachable moment, if Conservatives have the balls to stand up and do it. Those kinds of tactics need to be exposed. Details of the 300 page amendment that was jammed in at 3am the morning before the vote need to be made public. The fact that Nancy Pelosi and President Obama have repeatedly lied about inclusiveness and transparency needs to be pointed out. A detailed examination of exactly WHY cap and trade is an awful idea needs to be conducted, and Conservative alternatives offerd in its place, to combat the President's strategy of painting all oppostition as people who "want to do nothing".

Most of all, though. The bastards in Washington need to be reminded that they have less to fear from the Liberal heads of the House and Senate than they have to fear from me. They should worry less about how the President views them, than they do about how I will cast my vote in the next primary and election.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Yet another hobby...

I don't think I've ever posted a knife pic on the blog.

My knifemaking comes in fits & spurts. At this point, I don't make the knife blades myself. I haven't talked myself into buying a decent grinder since they're expensive, and while I've done some simple forgework in the past (when I worked as a farrier), I don't have a forge setup at the moment to do forged knives. I've got a spot out at my Dad's farm for a coal forge. I just need to get a new one built.

Maybe this fall.

Anyway.... my knifemaking is limited to using premade blanks. I either use them as is, or modify them a bit. The real work for me, is making the handles. I carry a fixed blade knife at work. Its a Gerber. It's my workhorse knife and it looks it.

I wanted a little nicer fixed blade knife for when I'm not working, so I ordered a blank from Jantz Supply, in Oklahoma. I had some amboyna burl scales tucked away for use as gun grips, so I hijacked them for the project. The last bit was a short piece of mosaic pin stock that was barely long enough to use in place of the traditional handle scale pins.

Here's the raw materials. The mosaic pin isn't shown in this shot, 'cuz I didn't know I was going that way when I took the picture:

knife kit

I pinned the bolster to the blade and peened tight. Then I cut out the handle scales and red fiber liner material that goes between the tang and the scales. I epoxied one scale to the tang and let it set up for about 30 minutes. Then I put the knife on my drill press and drilled holes for the pins through that scale, using the existing holes in the tang as a guide. I used the lanyard hole and one of the forward weight saving cutouts in the tang for my pin locations.

Then, I epoxied the other scale/liner to the tang and clamped it up for 30 minutes. Here's how that looks:

knife clamp

You'll notice that you can still the the lines I drew for cutting out the handle scales. You want to cut the scales bigger than you need them, so you can sand them down exactly to match the tang.

When the epoxy had set up, I took the assembly back to the drill press and drilled the two pin holes in the new handle scale, using my previous holes as guides. This way, all the holes are perfectly lined up. I cut my mosaic pin in half, rolled it in a little epoxy, and tapped the pins into the two holes. Then the whole mess is left to sit overnight.

The next day, I sanded the scales down to their final shape. When everything is shaped like I want it, I go finer and finer with the sandpaper. The pins in the bolster seem to disappear, if you peen them right. This blade had a satin finish, so I don't really go for a mirror finish on anything. If I wanted to do that, after sanding to about 400 grit, I would buff on a buffing wheel.

I usually have some leather laying about, so I roughed out a pattern on a file folder and cut out some leather. I'm a trial and error guy, when it comes to knife sheaths. I knew what I wanted in my head, so I just fiddle with it until it's the way I want it.

knife sheath start

Here's the finished knife and sheath.

knife done

knife done 2

And here's a closeup of the amboyna burl and one of the mosaic pins:

knife amboyna detail

The blade is single edged, and measures 4 1/2 inches long, so its perfectly legal to carry in my state.

And it will look alot better than my beat up work knife too :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Girl Friday - 06/26/2009 - Jaclyn Smith

We lost one this week, guys and gals. It's hard to believe that Farrah Fawcett is dead at her age. From all accounts she fought the Cancer to the very end. For any of us that have either had a family member fight that battle, or have fought it themselves, we know that's a tough row to hoe.

You're seeing alot of pictures of Farrah on news sites and blogs, so it didn't take me long to decide against having her as this weeks Girl Friday. I had a crush on her as a kid, just like most boys my age. Even had the ubiquitous poster on the wall of my bedroom.

But my favorite "Angel" wasn't Farrah.

It was, and ALWAYS will be: Jaclyn Smith:

She's a Texas Girl, born in Houston in 1945.

She was obviously beautiful, but not in the artificial way alot of Hollywood stars were back in the late 70's and early 80's. She just seemed like a normal, everyday person - who also happened to be one of the most gorgeous women on Television at the time.

And today?.... Wonder how she's doing at 63 years old?

That pic was taken in August of last year. No airbrushing, and if she's gone under the knife to stay looking that good - she has to have the best surgeon on the planet, 'cuz it sure looks natural to me.

She's had her own bout with Cancer, and seems to have come out on top. I hope she gets to stay around a long time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Illegal Search

Man... it's not too often I find myself agreeing with the ACLU, and disagreeing with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas - but it does happen, from time to time.

If you haven't heard about Savana Redding, here's what happened in a nutshell - there's plenty of detailed info available all over the internet.

Basically, Savana Redding was a 13 year old honor student who had never been in any trouble. The school which she attended, has a strict policy against students possessing over the counter or prescription drugs of any kind. If a kid has to take medicine - it stays in the nurses office until its time for them to take it.

Sounds reasonable enough so far?

Another girl in the school was caught with some tablets of Prescription Ibuprofen. When the school officials pressed her to reveal her "source", she fingered Ms. Redding. The officials then called Ms. Redding to the office, to ask her some questions. When they weren't satisfied with her answers, they searched her backpack.

Its not unlikely that a student caught with a banned substance might finger an innocent party, rather than the friend that actually gave them the drugs - but the school is still well within their rights to search the student and her bag for the pills. I'd be disappointed in them if they didn't.

Here's where the wheels start to fall off the wagon.

When the school administrators failed to find anything, they took Ms. Redding to the nurses office and searched her person. When no pills were found in her clothing, they ordered her to:

"take off her shirt and pants. Redding said they then told her to move her bra to the side and to stretch her underwear waistband, exposing her breasts and pelvic area. No pills were found."


The Supreme Court issued it's ruling today, stating 8-1 that the school had overstepped its bounds in strip searching the 13 year old. The only dissenter was Clarence Thomas, which is disappointing because I generally like him.

Kids within schools don't have the same "rights" as adults do. Some people don't like to hear that, but its a basic truth that has held true for all time. The school, IMO, has the right to search lockers, backpacks, and even cars in the parking lot if they think it's justified. We place an ENORMOUS amount of responsibility on our schools to keep our kids safe when they are there. If I suspected my kid of being up to something, I would have searched her room, backpack, vehicle, - whatever. I think the school has to be able to do the same. When my daughter was in school, I wouldn't have had any problems with them searching her locker or her backpack under the circumstance described.

Had they STRIP SEARCHED her without my knowledge and consent, on the other hand, I'm afraid the administrators in question would have had a little difficulty on their way home from work the next day.

Unrelated note: How the hell can the word "internet" not be in blogger's spell check??

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Modern Day Mixtape

Remember Mix Tapes?... do people still do that?

I guess it would have to be digital, these days, so it wouldn't really be a tape. Video slideshows using pictures off the internet and set to music, are the modern equivalent of the mix tape. I didn't take the pictures, I didn't make the music, but I put them together in a way that pleases me. I collect different types of images on the net as I come across them. Images that touch me in some way or the other.

It's kind of odd, but I enjoy doing it if I'm in a particular mood.

If you enjoy melancholy music, are patriotic, and owe a debt of gratitude to members of the armed services - you might enjoy this one that I put together. I'm appreciative of the sacrifices made to protect my freedom - and I'm especially mindful of that the closer it gets to our nation's birthday.

Oddly Familiar

I found this video, embedded on Geekologie - which I usually read every day because I have a stupid sense of humor and I normally find the items and comments hilarious. Its an Onion spoof on a newscast "from the future".

As I watched it, though, I realized more and more that what I was seeing is not very different from what I see any time I watch the actual news these days.....


When I was listening to the Presidential news conference yesterday, where in President Obama sought to look a little tougher in regards to Iran (fail), I was struck by the very un-inspiring nature of his comments.

A government, traditionally unfriendly to us (to say the least), starts killing it's citizens and hammering protestors.... and he wants to wait and see who wins before committing? That's basically his position, and there's no other way to look at it. He tries to come off as measured and thoughtful, but that's basically what it boils down to.

Watching to see who ends up winning, and then tailoring your public response to fit the victor so you can cozy up to them afterward?

That's leadership?

No one is calling for the US to attack Iran, for Pete's sake. But that's a common response that I've heard from Obama supporters who are defending our non-leader's lack of support for the Iranian people.

"What do you expect the US to do?... GO TO WAR WITH IRAN????", they say.

When did doing nothing or waging all out war become our only two possible courses of action? All most of us who are ashamed of the US official response thus far wanted, is for the US to come out firmly, and loudly, in support of the protestors that are being brutalized. None of the nambi-pambi "We respect the soverignty of the Iranian government.... blah, blah.."

Really?... You want to go on record publicly stating repeatedly that you "respect" the "supreme leader" of Iran's chosen form of government? The same government that is currently beating and killing it's own citizens in the streets to stay in power?

.... Really?

I'm just sayin'.

At the press conference, a reporter actually pushed the President to state exactly what consequences the ruling regime in Iran could face if they don't stop murdering their citizens.... and each time the president repeated his stance of "We will monitor, and wait and see how things play out".

I guess enough Iranians have been murdered at this point, that they feel justified in activating the strong arm of Obama.

Are you ready for it?

Recently, the US extended invitations to Iranian officials to attend July 4 celebrations and bbq's at our embassies. It would seem that those invitations have been rescinded:

Here it comes......

Press Secretary Gibbs:

"Understand that July 4th allows us to celebrate the freedom and liberty that we enjoy. I don't think it's surprising that no one has signed up to come given the events of the last few days. Those invitations will be no longer extended."


That should teach them a lesson they'll not soon forget.

Good job, Mr. President.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Door to Door Waterboarding

It it just me, or does anyone else find it ironic that as "Citizens of the World", our government now finds it necessary to occasionally mirandize enemy combatants that we capture - and our trained intelligence officers aren't allowed to even physically threaten or coerce terror suspects that may have information that could save human lives....

But my own government can prosecute me if I fail to answer invasive questions on the 2010 census?

This isn't a Republican vs. Democrat thing. I hate the sneaky bastards equally when it comes to them poking their noses into my butter. The Constitution gives the government the right, and responsibility, to count me and gather the most basic of information on me. The fact that I am compelled to provide all the other bullshit irks me to the bone.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Exactly what about that paragraph do they not understand?

If 50 people see me shoot someone, and the police arrest me on the scene with the smoking gun still in my hand, I don't have to open my mouth one little bit to provide any information what.so.ever.... and the fact that I don't, can't legally be held against me.

But my responses to the "American Community Survey, like its predecessor, the decennial census long form, are mandatory."

And what happens if we refuse to answer, or give false information?

Title 13, Chapter 7 of the US Code:

Section 221

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.

(b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a) of this section, and under the conditions or circumstances described in such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be fined not more than $500.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no person shall be compelled to disclose information relative to his religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body.

and Section 222:

Whoever, either directly or indirectly, offers or renders to any officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof engaged in making an enumeration of population under subchapter II, IV, or V of chapter 5 of this title, any suggestion, advice, information or assistance of any kind, with the intent or purpose of causing an inaccurate enumeration of population to be made, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

So... if you screw up their plans on purpose, you can end up $1000 poorer and spend up to a year in jail.

Think they wouldn't make an example out of you if you hold out "on principal"?

None of this is anything new... but it sure bugs me.

Here's some of the questions that the Government has determined it "needs" to know:

Does this person have difficultly dressing or bathing?

Last WEEK, was this person temporarily absent from a job or business? (so, they need to know if I called in sick last week - why?)

How many cars do you own?

How do you get to work?

What time do you leave your house, when you go to work?

How many minutes does it take you to get to work?

It goes on and on..... including detailed questions about my income, and all sources of that income.

You can find information on the proposed list of questions that has been submitted to congress HERE.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Road Trip 06/19/2009 - Looking for America

If you're reading this, you and I probably have some things in common. Hold on.. I'll get to the road trip in a minute.

There are probably several other blogs and websites that you read on at least a semi-regular basis. Among those sites are undoubtedly discussions of the many political issues facing our country, the erosion of traditional "values", the perception that America is changing - but not in a manner that many feel is positive.

In addition, you may or may not listen to conservative talk radio during the day. I'm in and out of a truck for 12 or more hours every working day - so I'm more or less tuned in a large chunk of that time. To that, you can add the books that "we" read - like Mark Levin's extremely good book "Liberty and Tyranny" (HIGHLY recommended, btw.)

The end result of this barage of information (hopefully) is a clarification in our own minds of several things:

1. What exactly is going on in our country, and in the world, beyond what an obviously tainted mainstream media would put forward.

2. What exactly are the things that we feel are important as individuals. Not what some talking head somewhere says we should believe, be they conservative or liberal, but what WE as American Citizens want to preserve and protect for our kids and grandkids.

3. And lastly, what is the best way to go about stopping the erosion - so that we can turn this bus around before the current nutty driver takes us all the way over the cliff.

A side effect of the above can be, at least for myself, moments where you focus too much on the negative. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the crush of current events and the changes that are coming so hard and fast these days, without any apparent way for us as "little guys" to stem the flow.

It's incredibly easy to think the battle already lost.

It's easy to think that the America that we grew up in is gone forever, amidst a sea of "change we can believe in". Mean-spirited class-warfare and a sense of entitlement over shadows the tradition of working hard to get somewhere in life. Political Correctness elevates the desire to "not offend anyone" over the need to speak the actual truth. Every viewpoint and opinion in the world has to immediately be given equal footing, regardless of how off the wall it is - and failure to respect those ideas is seen as "closed-minded" or even bigoted. The desire to be "liked" by everyone is deemed paramount to any actual good we could do in the world.

And, most frighteningly, our detatchment from the hard truths of life make it impossible for us to see that measured, thoughtful, respectful extensions of the olive branch of peace in some instances, serves only as an opportunity for the other guy to stab you with it.

Yeah... I do feel that way at times. But I've got some news for you if you've read this far and find yourself occasionally thinking that everything is uniformly bleak.

It's not.

Take a breath. Take a step back from the websites, the blogs, and the news. America is still out there. She's everywhere around us, just waiting for us to get our shit together and sweep out the rats that have infested the halls of government in Washington, the State Capitols, and your local governments.

No place is that truth clearer than at one of our favorite events - The Rodeo.

american youth

Picture from Blue Ridge Texas Rodeo - 2008

We go to rodeos throughout the summer. These generally aren't the gigantic, televised PRCA and PBR events that you see broadcast from arenas - although we hit those once in a while too. Mostly, the rodeos we attend are small town affairs. Lots of the small towns around here have them, but you won't hear them advertised on the radio or TV. We find out about them mostly by accident. A flyer at the Tractor Supply store, a banner viewed by the roadside as we pass through some small town on a weekend adventure.... or maybe just by word of mouth.

If you get your impression of America, from people who hate America, your vision of our country will obviously be blurred. You know the people I'm talking about. They are the same people Dean Koontz describes in his novel "Relentless":

.. "boisterous and free-spending egotists taught since infancy that self-esteem matters more than knowledge, that manners and etiquuette are merely tools of oppression. They like the sound of their own braying, and they seem to be convinced that the louder they are, the more desperately every onlooker wants to be in their clique."

I'm hear to tell you that those people ARE NOT IN THE MAJORITY!!!!

They just make more noise than the rest of us, most of the time.

Want to see someplace where the people are unapologetically patriotic? Want to be around folks that aren't afraid they'll "offend" someone by standing and removing their hat when the flag passess by? Want to be in a stadium with hundreds or thousands of people who aren't afraid to sing the National Anthem out loud... Or bow their heads and pray in public? Want to spend time with folks who understand what it is to live by the sweat of your brow, and create things that last with their own hands?

Spend some time with the hard working people who frequent events like small town rodeos. You'll be among friends.

little cowgirl

This past Friday, my Wife and I did just that. We hopped over to Weatherford, Texas to catch the 62nd Annual Parker County Sherriff's Posse Rodeo. It was a beautiful early summer Texas evening. Cost us a grand total of $20 for a pair of tickets. The rodeo started at 7:30pm and we headed home around 11:00pm. In between was a ton of classic Texas rodeo action.

Here's a highlight video that I shot while we were there:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gooseneck light & Stealthcam Mod - Updated

In my BOB first aid kit that I described in a post yesterday, I mentioned a "gooseneck light". I thought I would spend a few minutes discussing it, for anyone not familiar. This is a cool little light that I have several of:

gooseneck light

Its a little led light with flexible neck and a magnetic base. In the picture above, its stuck to the side of an old antique typewriter as a demonstration. The led light is surprisingly bright. It has a pocket clip, a momentary red laser pointer, and comes with three extra batteries.

I've seen similar lights sold at gunshows for around $15, as bore lights. That's what I got it for myself. The difference is, I buy mine at CVS (yeah.. the pharmacy) for about $4 a piece.

Pretty good deal. They are very handy to keep in range bags, first aid kits, and anywhere else you need a small portable light.

The are so cheap that I modified one as an attachment to my Stealthcam.

stealthcam mod

This should help with lining up my subject when I'm up close. No more random shots of concrete just inches away from what I'm trying to video :) I snipped off the led gooseneck. I also was concerned about the magnet in the base being right next to the sd card, so I drilled the magnet out. I zip tied the result to the Stealthcam and had an instant laser sight - for about 4 bucks.


Apparently, not knowing what you're doing isn't a good thing.

The laser worked perfectly, and allowed me to pinpoint exactly where the camera was aiming. Unfortunately, it also caused a green line to appear on the video on the right side of the image. This line continues to appear on test videos, regardless of the fact that I have removed the laser and replaced the sd card.


Girl Friday - 06/19/2009 - Alice Roosevelt

Swinging back old-school for this week's Girl Friday post.

To the everyday man on the street, the word "Roosevelt" doesn't exactly bring to mind visions of Victorian Female Beauty, you know? Teddy and Franklin are undoubtedly the first images to pop up, and if a female image surfaces at all it's probably Eleanor....

Yeah,. not so much.

Surprisingly, though, the Roosevelt Clan does have it's share of beauties. I give you Alice Roosevelt, eldest daughter of T.R.:

alice 1902

alice 1903 jpg

Both these pictures are from the Library of Congress Archive Online.

Even lesser known among people today is Alice's younger sister, Ethel:

Photo via Shorpy.

Equally stunning in her own right. She was the first of T.R.'s children to serve in WWI, when she joined up as a Red Cross nurse. She went on to become a proactive civil rights advocate -

And she was a Republican, by the way :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Guns Don't Kill People...

Gorillas with knives do!!!!

Ok.. so no one was killed, but I can't wait to see the funny captions people come up with to go with the picture. Read the original story here - but I bet the made up ones down the line will be SO much more interesting :)

Raccoon Roundup

Yipee Ki-yaaaaaaa....

That's right, boys and girls. It's time for another HATCAM video. This time featuring the famous Raccoon Roundup of 2009, otherwise known as "That time the two young raccoons got into the dumpster and couldn't get out".

You'd think they'd be a little more appreciative of my assistance. Grumpy little shits....

How I'm Preparing - BOB first aid kit

As the second installment describing how I'm personally "prepping" for disasters and emergencies, I bring you the ubiquitous "Bug Out Bag":


This is my BOB, although it's not really a BOB as much as it is a mobile fallback measure. It's not really intended primarily to be a "pick it up and go" from the house type of pack - although it would work in that regard as well. It sits quietly and unnoticed in the backseat of my truck, waiting until the time comes when I might need all or part of it.

It's basically a German rucksack, with a 5.11 molle tactial medic pouch and surplus canteen w/cover attached to it. Along with this grouping, I also have this arrangement in the back of the truck:


This is a two person army surplus shelter (two shelter halves w/poles & stakes), a swiss army surplus folding shovel, gerber machete, and a poly groundcloth/tarp wrapped around a couple of wool surplus blankets. There are definitely lighter arrangements for shelter - but it's not too bad to tote with the sling strap and I favor heavy duty to light & flimsy.

I'll touch on individual items pictured above in future posts, but I want to talk about the first aid kit in this one. Here's a look inside:

bob firstaid

When I first decided to do this, I looked at commercially prepared first aid kits like you find at walmart and sporting good stores. They didn't do much for me. Seemed like a lot of money for basically some antibiotic ointment and a couple of bandaids. So, I decided to make my own. This isn't my primary first aid kit, its just my mobile one that travels around with me when I'm away from home. My home first aid kit, which we'll look at later, is LOTS more involved.

Here's a list of what currently rests within:

zyrtec (allergies)
Pepcid (heartburn/stomach acid)
tylenol sinus
Prescription generic vicodin*
alcohol swabs
assorted bandaids
butterfly closures
"hot hands" hand warmers
Thermacare heat wrap
"OFF" towlettes
eyeglass repair kit
small lock blade knife
small multitool with pliers, wire cutter, screwdrivers
roll gauze bandages
Gauze sponges
Quik Clot**
Small gooseneck magnetic light

The kit is small, but I could (and probably will) cram a little more in it. Like I said, it's not supposed to fill all medical needs. It's just supposed to help us out in the short term, should the need arise.

A couple of notes:

*The prescription generic vicodin are left overs from previous medical issues. I tend not to take hardcore pain killers unless I really need them.... but I'll fill the prescription every time the Dr. is willing to write one. I stash them for use in an emergency, just in case medical care isn't available. If I have a broken bone or other serious trauma - I don't want to be stuck with OTC tylenol. The tablets are kept IN A PRESCRIPTION BOTTLE THAT HAS MY NAME ON IT. I can't stress that enough. Possession of a prescription pain killer like vicodin that looks squirrely to the cops can cause you some grief.

**Quik Clot is some amazing stuff. I hope like hell I never need it, but having it could easily mean the difference between having a bad injury, and completely bleeding out. Its a dry compound that is applied to serious trauma like a severed artery. It causes rapid clotting, so that the subject doesn't bleed out and die before help can get there. Stabbings, gunshot wounds, vehicle crashes are all instances where severe arterial trauma could result in fast bleed out. It used to come in a dry loose granular form, but now is available in "sponges" that are individually wrapped. That's what I have in all our first aid kits. I wouldn't go anywhere on the motorcycle without some in the saddlebags.

I'm embedding a video below, in case you aren't familiar with Quik Clot. It's EXTREMELY GRAPHIC, so if you're disturbed by such things DON'T WATCH IT. I personally think everyone on the planet should watch it, and then buy some of the stuff to have around. If you're serious about living through disasters and taking responsibility for your own safety and survival, I think you should be willing to see what you're up against. - But, it's up to you.

The video is of test trials where they sever the femoral artery of a hog, and then apply the Quik Clot. They use the loose dry granules, but the sponges are even easier to apply. Just shove them in there and apply pressure with gauze rolls, t-shirt, or whatever else you got handy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Epic Stealthcam Test

I posted earlier about searching for an affordable, hands-free video camera that I could use to film certain aspects of my job, trips to the range, motorcycle rides, and other instances where it was impossible/unsafe to film with my regular, more expensive, video camera.

I had decided to try the Epic Stealth Cam, after seeing sample videos online. It arrived in the mail last week, and I've had a chance to play with it just a little bit.

The unit itself is pretty cool. It comes in two configurations, a black model and a real-tree camo model. I went with the camo model, solely because it came with an accessory that the black model didn't - a clip that mounts the unit on a cap brim :)

The controls are easy to use and understand, and it has a "tone" feature that you can use to determine exactly what you're telling the camera to do without having to see the display. Different tone lengths indicate if you're turning the unit on/off, starting video taping, stopping video taping, etc. That's great, particularly when you are using the unit on your hat. You can turn the tone off, if you're using it while hunting.

It uses an SD card, and can down load video to my computer via the card, or a regular USB cable.

The video on highest resolution isn't anywhere near as good as my regular video camera, but for the price it's pretty good. There's only two complaints that I have so far. Since the unit doesn't have a display, and is completely out of your line of sight when mounted on a hat brim, it is impossible to tell exactly where your pointing the unit with any kind of precision. For example, I shot a video of myself catching a distempter infected racoon in a parking lot. When I downloaded and viewed the video on my computer later, I discovered that I had filmed the concrete parking lot a foot away from the racoon the whole time.

The other factor is wind noise. Even a moderate breeze can cause a rushing wind noise on the playback video that drowns out all other sound. This is pretty common when filming video with sound outdoors, though, and not solely a problem with the Stealthcam.

I'm not sure what I'll do about the wind noise, if anything. The alignment/aiming problem I'm in the process of trying to fix. I'm hoping to find a small, inexpensive laser pointer that I can ziptie to the unit that will allow me to "red dot" whatever I'm filming. That way I'll be able to adjust the tilt of my head to maker sure my subject is in frame.

Below, is a short video I shot as a test run of the unit.

The call that I was responding too was this:

mama duck and drain

That's an overflow drain for a suburban park pond. It keeps the pond from flooding into the nearby houses during heavy rains. Its about 12 feet out from the bank, and is about 8 feet deep. At the bottom, is a large drain that channels water away to the storm sewer. The duck that you see in the picture is a Mallard Hen. Her 7 babies are at the bottom of the drain, having fallen in.

babies at bottom

That's the babies all huddled together at the bottom. I had to wade out to the drain in water that was roughly chest deep. It took a couple of trips back and forth before I was ready to try to extract them. This video is of when I was ready to scoop them out. You have to be carefull at the moment of capture, because ducklings have an annoying tendancy to scatter and run down the storm drains where they are lost forever.

Here's the babies safe in a bucket:

babies in bucket

And here's a shot of Mom and her brood after being released at a nearby pond that doesn't have a drain like this:

family released

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

North Texas Tractor Show

Finally had time to compile and upload video from the Annual North Texas Antique Tractor and Engine Show. There are several similar events held by different antique tractor groups in this area throughout the year.

cockshutt 50 grill

This is the first time we've been to this one in Terrell, and it was pretty good. I've been to bigger shows, but there was still plenty to look at. The people are really friendly, and pretty much everyone was more than happy to talk to you about any old tractor or machinery that you had questions about.

1937 farmall f30

future tractor driver

They had an 8N Ford tractor, which is the tractor I grew up riding, custom painted in a Pink Ribbon Theme for breast cancer awareness. My Wife thought that was the neatest thing, and immediately wanted a pink tractor. And she say I'm random :)

ford 8n breast cancer

They did a great job on the tractor, and it attracted alot of attention for the raffle they held to benefit breast cancer research.

Near the end of the video below, you'll see an ancient McCormick Deering Thresher being powered by an old John Deere 70 via a long-ass belt. Back in the day, reapers cut the wheat in the field - like a big mower.

If the reaper was a reaper/binder, then it tied the cut wheat into neat sheaves as it went. If not, then farm hands had to gather the loose wheat and tie it by hand. Threshers where used to seperate the wheat grains from the straw and chaff. This was a huge advancement over having to beat the grain out with sticks and winnow it all by hand.

The guys had some difficulty getting the thresher at the show to spit out the straw... but it was neat to see the old girl work anyway.

More pics in my flickr stream..

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Road Trip 06/13/2009 - Antique Tractor Show

Had a great weekend, punctuated by a visit to the North Texas Antique Tractor and Engine Show in Terrell, Texas. Took some pics and shot some video - none of which I've had time to fiddle with yet. Too much fun to do it this weekend, and now I'm back on the job so time is short.

I'll throw up a post with some of the pictures and links to the video, for those that are interested in such things, later this week. Lots of cool old tractors, and a McCormick Deering thresher demonstration.

John Deere