Sunday, February 28, 2010

WASR10 Stock upgrade

I've enjoyed my WASR10 a great deal. It's affordable, reliable, and pretty danged accurate as a short/mid range battle carbine once the terrible front sight cant was corrected. I love the cheaply available magazines, the reasonably priced ammo, and the fact that it packs a whallop. Its basically kick ass, and I think its a great entry-level AK platform.

Granted, the fit and finish of the WASR isn't anywhere near the level found in Arsenal AK's - however, the fact that I could buy two Wasr's for the price of a new Arsenal manufactured one, and still have change left over to buy extra mags, is pretty compelling.

The wooden stocks on my Wasr were pretty hideous, though. They are typical laminated crap. I refinished them when I got the gun, which helped, but still wasn't too crazy about them. Here's what she's looked like most of the time I've had her:



wasr10



I took the leap this weekend and installed an ATI Strikeforce stock. I've been happy with Tapco's synthetic stocks in the past, but really liked the look of the Strikeforce better for the WASR. The Tapco seemed too blocky to me. The ATI stock just plain looks better, and it has the added benefit of being not only adjustable in stock length, but folds as well.

Here's the gun broken down sufficiently to replace the stock. You'll notice the optics still mounted. I've never shot with a red dot before, so I picked up a cheap but serviceable BSA red dot a while back so I could get my feet wet and see if I like it. I've not shot her in yet, but didn't want to mess with removing it unless I had too. Luckily, the tear down didn't make that necessary.



wasr10 tear down


You have to take the gun down farther than necessary for basic field strip and cleaning. The upper handguard and pistol grip are removed, as well as the lower handguard. The gas tube is also rotated and removed from the upper handguard.

They advertise these stocks as "No Gunsmithing Necessary", and I guess that's true. I didn't have to perform any modifications on the gun itself. However, you do have to mark and drill holes in the stock itself, as well as do some minor modifications to the new stock so that it will fit your particular gun. Nothing major, however some files and a dremel will come in handy. You have to remove some of the "flash" that is left over from the casting process. And the upper and lower handguards will need some fine tuning in order to fit correctly.

All in all, its a simple process if you're at all good with your hands. Took me about 30 minutes total, including the tear down. Here she is with her new clothes :


wasr10 ati strikeforce 30rnd tapco



The stock is really solid. I left off the longer picatinny rail from from upper handguard, and put the filler provided in that spot. I don't see me ever using a scout scope setup. I did install the three provided rails on the lower handguard - though I have no plans to attach anything to them. I'll cover them with rail covers, but have them available just in case. The lower rail has an attachment for a sling swivel.

That's a Tapco 30 round magazine. I love the Tapco mags and have several of them. They are tough and reliable. The tolerances on the mag well for WASRs leaves alot to be desired. It seems like the Tapco mags have less wiggle than 30 round steel mags.

Here she is with the stock folded. I don't intend to shoot with the stock folded, although I could. The folding feature is strictly for ease of storage in vehicle situations and in range bags/rifle cases.


wasr10 ati strikeforce folded



And here's a final shot with a 20 round steel mag. I've heard these referred to some places as "tanker" mags:


wasr10 ati strikeforce 20rnd



The 20 rounders sacrifice 1o rounds, but are shorter so they are easier to shoot from bench or prone. They also weigh less and are not as unwieldy as the longer 30 rounders. I picked up some at a good price recently for use with my Wife's upcoming BAG day choice, a Saiga in 7.62x39. 20 rounders are easier for her to carry weight wise, and maneuvering is easier as well - but we would maintain the benefit of having interchangeable magazines. Her battle rifle has been the Tapco'd SKS up until now, but obviously the mags don't interchange with my WASR. That's a problem we're solving with the purchase of the Saiga.

Stock mags for the Saiga are only 10 rounds, and are expensive. With some pretty simple mods to the gun and mag release, however, you can modify a Saiga to accept both 10 round original mags and standard AK mags. She'll be able to use the 20 round tanker mags as well as my 30 rounders. Once we have her gun I'll post a walk through of the modification.

Now I just need some range time to sight in the red dot and I'm good to go :)


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oh Canada...

I'll admit, I haven't watched ANY of the Olympics this time around. Just didn't have an interest in it. I haven't even heard much news coverage of it - except a couple of mentions about the US Men's curling team sucking, big time.

I've also heard that the US has done pretty good medal-wise, which is nice.

I did catch a blurb about the Canadian Women's Hockey team wining a gold over the US team, and the "uproar" over their celebration after the game. From what I've heard, its mainly US voices that are whining about the mean old Canadians being "bad sports".

Attention Crybabies:

In sports, as in real life, there are winners and losers. Contrary to the way that you've insisted that your kids youth athletic leagues function, everyone doesn't get a ribbon for "trying". The US Women's team brought their best game. They have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The Canadian Women's team brought their best game, and beat the snot out of them.

They didn't burn the American Flag. They didn't taunt the US team to their faces. No obscene gestures were made to US fans in the stands. This group of hard working women went out onto the ice a LONG TIME AFTER THE GAME ENDED, and celebrated a moment of joy together that will be like no other they will experience for the rest of their lives.

There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, AT ALL. I'm just sorry that a few crybaby scolds made the Canadians feel it necessary to apologize afterward.

Good on you, Canada. Enjoy your victory, because you've earned it. Next time around maybe it will be the US that kicks ass and smokes a cigar on the ice :)



hockey

Friday, February 26, 2010

Girl Friday 2/26/2010 - Carrie Underwood

After the past couple of weeks spent lingering around the early 20th century, Girl Friday returns this week to a more modern theme. This week's offering owes her career in large part to a television show that I can't stand... American Idol.

This week's Girl Friday is Carrie Underwood:




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Carrie was born in Checotah, Oklahoma (which isn't too far from here, but still in the middle of nowhere) in the year I graduated high school - 1983.

Crap, I'm old.




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Attention female readers: In case you're wondering- Boots like that are good.

And no, we usually don't care if you can actually walk in them or not :)

Anyway.... Ms. Underwood isn't the stereotypical "dumb blonde". She graduated Salutatorian of her High School class and Magna Cum Laude with a bachelors degree from her college in Oklahoma. All while singing where ever she could and competing in beauty contests.



Carrie_Underwood_CD_Photo





Carrie Underwood



She appeared on American Idol in 2005, and went on to win the competition. I haven't particularly cared for the "stars" that American Idol has produced over the years. It's just not my taste in music or television viewing. I make a definite exception in Carrie Underwood's case, however.


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I not only think she's a beautiful woman, but I very much enjoy her singing skills as well. She'll occasionally pick a song that is too low for her register, in my opinion, but as long as she's in her range she's spot on with a very strong, beautiful voice.

Here's a video of a performance from the Grand Old Opry when she was inducted:


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Paladin's Random Crap

I thought I'd do an abbreviated installment of Paladin's Random Crap, since I've not done one in a while. Among the many odds and ends that I "collect" are old tools. As a subset of that, I have several hand crank drills and push/rachet drills. Here's a few from a display rack on the wall of my study:


goodell pratt drills



The three "eggbeater" drills and the yankee style push screwdriver are all made by the Goodell Pratt Company. Several companies made these types of drills from the late 1800's well into the modern age. I think a couple of companies still made the eggbeater drills into the 1960's.

When I get the drills, usually they are pretty hard looking. Most of the paint gets worn away under heavy use and often they get lots of paint spatters, gummed up gears, and some surface rust. The ones I can afford aren't "rare" so I don't worry about ruining their value by restoring them. I take them apart, clean them up good, repaint the parts that were orginally painted, and otherwise try to make them look and work like new.

Many of these drills had gearing that allowed them to operate at two speeds, and it was also common for them to have drill bit storage concealed in the handle. Pretty slick for early technology :)

I've tried to narrow my collecting habits on these drill to Goodell Pratt only. The ones in the pic above date from the 1920's. Here's an old ad from 1924, featuring a similar Goodell Pratt made drill:


goodell pratt 1924

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Identity Theft

I got a surprise today... I went to pay for a cup of coffee at a convenience store and had my card declined at the register. I tend to use my debit/visa card everywhere. I don't usually carry cash (accept for my emergency stash) and I haven't carried printed checks in a long time. Almost immediately afterward I got a call from Visa Fraud Prevention asking me to verify some suspicious looking transactions that they had blocked this morning.

4 transactions. All online. All to Spanish Language websites for stuff. Total amount they tried to forge as Senor Paladin: About $900.

Thank goodness for Visa Fraud Prevention. Now I just have the hassle of getting my card replaced. I think I'll have to consider going back to a cash transaction basis for most of my shopping.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sonograms and Civil Rights

When my Mrs. and I early voted in the Republican Primary Saturday morning, there were several "non-binding resolutions" included at the end. It was the voters opportunity to directly make their opinions known to lawmakers on several different issues, ranging from Voter ID requirements to the acceptability of using the words "God" and "The 10 Commandments" in/on government buildings.

The last proposition, Prop 5, read as follows:

Ballot Proposition No. 5: "The Texas Legislature should enact legislation requiring a sonogram to be performed and shown to each mother about to undergo a medically unnecessary, elective abortion."

There's a difference of opinion among conservatives as to whether this would be a good idea or not. Even some of the people who think its a good idea, in its intent, balk at another intrusion of the Government into people's private lives. After all, abortion is legal for better or worse. No matter how you feel about that fact, forcing citizens to view a sonogram before they obtain a legal abortion is something that people concerned with protection of personal liberties may be uncomfortable with.

Clearly, the Prop (if it were turned into law) is intended to cut down on the number of abortions by forcing women to see exactly what it is they are aborting. The theory being that it is easier to get an abortion if you think of the fetus as just "a mass of cells". Seeing that it has a heartbeat, fingers, or a face might jog someone into changing their mind. From what I've heard, that's a pretty good supposition. Its happened quite often.

So.... the question is whether the Government has a right to put the squeeze on a woman's ability to get an abortion without seeing a sonogram first. Its legal to get an abortion - so why should the government be allowed to poke its nose in and make a woman see a sonogram first?

I am Pro Life. I wasn't always so convinced of my position on this matter, but I've become more so, the older I get. I won't get into why, or how, my opinion on this subject has changed at this point. This isn't a post about Pro Life vs Pro Choice.


I am also less than enthusiastic at potential intrusions into our private lives and decisions by government - and I become more so with every passing year.

However, I voted in favor of Prop 5.

How do I justify this seeming contradiction? It's pretty simple, since I don't see it as a contradiction at all.

Because abortion is not just about a Woman's right to choose. We allow, and expect, the government to put restrictions on some of the freedoms we exercise when the exercise of those liberties has an negative affect on some other person's freedoms. For example: The Freedom of Speech is tempered in situations where the excercise of that right infringes on the rights of others. You can't yell FIRE in a crowded theater because that type of behavior can infringe on the "rights" of other theater patrons to not be trampled to death in a panic rush.

You see, there's more to consider here than just the woman's rights. There's the fetus' rights too. There's another person involved in the mix. What she decides to do doesn't just affect her. It affects the baby even more.

Your rights as an individual don't get to run unchecked over my rights as an individual. A woman's rights shouldn't trump the rights of a baby's - even one not yet born. The inconvenience and discomfort that a woman might feel at having to view a sonogram of the baby she's about to abort is MINUSCULE compared to the abridgement of rights being performed on her unborn baby. I think that this small thing is the least we can do for someone completely unable to protect their own rights at all. Protecting the rights of the weak is one of the concepts our nation was built on.

The argument by many, of course, would be that an unborn fetus is not a person at all. Its just a mass of cells.

If that were true, then one wonders exactly why it would be so upsetting for the woman wanting the abortion to see a sonogram? Seeing a black & white picture of a mass of cells surely can't make that much of an impact....

Can it?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Childproofing

Heard this news story on the radio this morning, and couldn't resist a quick post:

Pediatricians Call for Warning Labels on Hotdogs due to Choking Hazards

Seriously? People are insisting that Hot dogs now carry warning labels so that parents can be advised of the "danger" they present? Some of the doctors recommend hotdogs actually be "redesigned" to make the "safer".

Give me an effing break.

I have an idea. Why don't we put a big warning label over the doorway into and out of baby delivery rooms in hospitals, warning of the risk of eventual death that has been definitively correlated with the process of being born.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Early Voting

It was a lazy Saturday for us yesterday. My Mrs. is nursing some sort of allergy or cold bug, and has an unpredictable coughing fit thing going on. Whatever it is gives her a tickle in her throat that comes and goes. We didn't want to annoy folks around us at the movies, so we just spent the bulk of the day running errands.

Started the day off with early voting at the courthouse here in town. Its hard for us to squeeze voting time in on the weekday of "regular voting". It was nice to go in with no lines and breeze through the process. This is the first time I've voted in a primary, ever. Its important, though.

If we don't like the choices given to us by the Republican Party on election day, this is our chance to at least have some sort of say in who gets to appear on the ballot with an "R" by their name. The actual process of promoting and supporting and learning about candidates starts long before the primary, of course. But actually showing up to cast your vote in the primary is what makes everything else matter.

I've heard Mark Davis, a local talkshow DJ here in the DFW area, lambaste against early voting. He says its a "tool of the devil". He's making a joke, of course, but his point is that if you cast your vote early, you might discover something in the week or two before the actual election that would have changed your mind. His example recently was Debra Medina's faux pas in handling the 9/11 Truther question from Glenn Beck.

As it turned out, her statements after the fact were sufficient to convince me that she and I are of basically the same mind concerning the hardcore truther idiots. But what if they hadn't been? What if she had come out of the closet after I voted early, and claimed to be an alien visitor from another world??... If I had cast my vote, according to Mr. Davis, it would be too late.

Of course, that logic only works if you think that surprising revelations only come out BEFORE the actual election date. Truth is, stuff like that can come out at any time. There's no magical cut off that occurs on Mar. 2 when the primary race is over. The best you can hope for is that you've done your homework and gotten to know as much as possible about the potential candidates as possible by the time the election gets here and you cast your vote.

If you've done your due diligence, then there's little likelihood that you'll learn something that's a deal breaker a mere week before the election day. Your odds of finding out something bad about your pick after you've cast your early vote are about the same as those of people that vote on "the day".

At any rate, we voted.

Browsed Barnes and Noble for some books to read this week. We picked up some baby shower decorations at Hobby Lobby for my Mrs (not her shower... her sister-in-law's ;), ran a few other random errands, and then finished the day with a late lunch at Ye Olde Butchershop in Plano. Cool place to grab a burger if you're in the area. Buffalo Burgers and Onion Rings... yum! We're kind of on a Buffalo Burger kick here recently. They sell ground elk at this place too - so I'm gonna have to pick some up and make Elk Burgers at home sometime soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crossing the Line


That's Vernon Hunter. A little bit about him, from an Austin, Texas news source:


Neighbors say Vernon Hunter was the kind of guy who offered trash collectors Gatorade on hot summer days.


"He was a very spiritual man, kind of the life of the neighborhood," said Darren McDaniel, who has lived two houses away since their homes were built in 1996. "We were all sort of like his kids."


Hunter, who public records show is 68, is believed to have been killed in Thursday's attack on a Northwest Austin building that housed Internal Revenue Service offices. Andrew Joseph Stack III is suspected of flying his single-engine plane into the building.


And this:


Earlier, police delivered Hunter's Chevy Silverado truck, emblazoned with Vietnam Veteran and POW MIA emblems, to the home. Hunter served in Vietnam and often spoke of his time during the war, neighbors said.


Robert Foster, who has lived near Hunter for about 10 years, said that he knew Hunter was a veteran and wanted to honor him with his American flag. "Out of respect to him, when I came out this morning, I put my flag out," Foster said. "You could talk to him about anything. He always had a smile."


He was known to friends, co-workers and relatives as the one who gave. Hunter is also described as a devout Christian and father of six grown children who loved his white cowboy hat. At Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church in East Austin, where Hunter served as a lead usher, news of the tragedy weighed heavily.


You'll read lots about Joe Stack everywhere on the internet. You'll read about his family, about his grievances with the IRS, about how angry and pushed to the edge he was. I just wanted you to read about the man that he murdered, too.


I've read sentiments on several blogs recently, expressing understanding and even empathy for the murdering bastard that flew his plane into the IRS office in Austin. Often its prefaced with "I don't condone what he did, but I can sure understand why he did it" or "I don't think he should have done it, but at least he had the balls to do something".


This makes me sick.


Vernon Hunter didn't do anything to Joe Stack. Neither did Shane Hill, who is still in a San Antonio burn unit in stable condition after being severely injured in the attack. Mr. Hill didn't even work for the IRS. He worked for the Comptroller's Office.


Almost 300 people worked in that building every day. It was filled with people who, just like you, get up in the morning and go to work to try and earn a living a support their family. It wasn't a nest of vipers that needed to be stamped out. It wasn't a faceless government fist that needed to be resisted. These people, in large part, play ABSOLUTELY NO ROLE in determining what the government does to us.


This was a building filled with our neighbors, or friends, our family members, our fellow church members....


You may have had a run in with the IRS that left a bad taste in your mouth. You may hate the IRS, or some other Government Office, with every fiber of your being and be completely justified in that feeling. I've made my political opinions known fairly often here, and will continue to do so. Its no secret that I find much of what government has done in the past and present is detestable.


If you sympathize with Joe Stack and what he did to the point where you forget about the consequences of his actions in the real world, though, there's something seriously wrong with you. Being angry with the IRS and upset over our Government's inattention to our wishes IN NO WAY calls for murder of one innocent man and the potential murder of hundreds more. To paint Joe Stack as anything other than the out of control murderer that he was would be the same as Islamic apologists asking us to "understand" the anger of the 9/11 terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center.


Joe Stack would have had my empathy before he chose to cross the line and become a murderer.


Now he has my contempt, and so does anyone who stands on his side of the line.

Friday, February 19, 2010

O'Reilly is a Douchebag

H/T to MAInfo.

I've never been a Bill O'Reilly fan. Now I not only don't like him, I want to make sure that every person that I know who is concerned with the potential for Government interference with their exercise of the Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms is fully aware of his support for government confiscation of firearms during "states of emergency". Short video is below.




Every Governor in the country, as well as Mayors of large cities, have the power to declare a "State of Emergency" due to weather conditions, disasters, or other widespread or localized emergencies. The thought that one of these people could, at a single pronouncement, suspend my Constitutional Rights to own and possess firearms should be considered ridiculous.

Apparently, O'Reilly thinks it just makes good sense. After all.... if the government and police admittedly can't control rampaging mobs of looters and murders, it seems like a fine idea for the police to take away MY guns.

Doesn't it?.....


Girl Friday - 02/19/2010 - Maude Fealy


All the Girl Friday Women are special in one way of the other. Their appearance here on this blog every week reflects the fact that I find them appealing in some way.

This week's Girl Friday is particularly special to me. She's appeared here before, in a short post long ago. In my opinion, she is by far the most beautiful Girl Friday to grace the pages here at The Reluctant Paladin. I've some new pics of her to share, so here she is once again.

This week's Girl Friday is Maude Fealy:


mf2




mf4



Maude Fealy was born in 1883, in Memphis, Tennessee. Most of her life, though, she lived in Colorado. She began appearing on stage at the age of 3 years old, with her mother who was also an actress. She remained close to her mother over the years, until her mother's death in 1955.

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Maude worked on stage, and appeared in films during the teens in silent films. She then largely disappeared from the big screen for the entire 1920's and into the 1930's. Late in the 1930's she reappeared, only to disappear again during much of the 1940's...


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Maude didn't make very many films, compared to other popular actresses of the day. She garnered a large following of fans, however, in part due to her obvious good looks. She loved performing on the stage.

During her time away from the big screen, Maude taught acting and speech at schools in several different cities in the US. During her later years, she appeared mostly in bit parts - not even getting a credit as a named member of the cast. I've seen some of the movies she was in during the 1940's and 1950's - but I don't recall her being in them at all. I'm planning to watch a couple of them again and specifically watch for her. One of her bit parts was actually in the epic "The Ten Commandments".


mf1



Maude's personal life was stormy. She married and divorced a couple of times, and even had a lesbian affair with Eva Le Gallienne, who was a writer/director/actress during those days. Maude Fealy passed away in 1971.

Its hard to put my finger on why Maude is my personal favorite. She's beautiful, without a doubt, but there's something about her expression and apparent demeanor in the photographs I've seen that goes beyond that. They provide a picture of someone I would have truly liked to have known.


mf8

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comes with the territory

I'm 45 years old. I'm a white guy. I smoked for over 20 years. I have a history of Cancer in my family through my Father and a few male members on my Mother's side. I've worked outside in the elements and spent a lot of my leisure time outdoors for most of my life.

When you add all those factors together, you find the result is having to "get stuff looked at" more and more frequently. I haven't been to the Doctor due to illness in quite a while, but I make the annual pilgrimage to get my fluids checked and let the Doc take a peek under the hood, so to speak.

That last part is not my favorite thing, especially if I'm not wined and dined a bit first, but its important. Prostate Cancer screening is vital, in my opinion. My Dad caught his very, very early and has not had a recurrence since. My "God Father" on the other hand, ignored potential problems with his prostate and we buried him a couple of years ago as a result.

It's not time for my annual visit, but I had to go in to the Doctor this morning anyway. My Mrs. noticed a "suspicious" looking mole on my back recently and I went in to have it looked at. I always sphincter over stuff like this. I worry that my long stint of smoking and sun exposure will catch up to me one day, regardless of the fact that I've been tobacco free for over 2 years now.

Anyway, the Good News is the GP that I saw today is pretty confident that there's nothing to worry about.

However, the Bad News is that he has enough doubts that he thought it would be a good idea for me to see a dermatologist and have it surgically removed and analyzed. Hopefully I'll be able to get in to the specialist's office here before too long and get it over with. Waiting patiently isn't one of my strong points.

I guess we'll see if my luck holds out :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Something for nothing

Angela, over at Adventures in Self Reliance has teamed up with CampingSurvival.com for an interesting give-a-way. You can register to win an Aurora Magnesium Firestarter, if you are so inclined. I have largely decided to go the route of disposable lighters for the bulk of my fire making needs (quite alot of them, actually), but have always wanted to pick up one of the magnesium jobbers just for the hell of it.

This one looks like a peach and I'm entering for one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I really should get help...


I know there's probably something wrong with me since I find the following story so funny.

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) –

A Slovenian who saved his three dogs from being put down for attacking humans was himself mauled to death by them, police said Wednesday.

"Three dogs bit their 52-year-old owner to death in Ljubljana yesterday," police spokeswoman Maja Adlesic said.Four years ago, the three bullmastiffs attacked and seriously injured a passer-by outside their owner's house. They spent years in custody pending legal hearings, but when one of them attacked a dog handler, authorities ordered them to be put down.

Their owner, a doctor, succeeded last June in his legal appeals to get the dogs back, sparking a national controversy. After his death, an opposition party said the agriculture minister should resign for failing to stop the dogs from being released.

The dogs attacked the man in his garden Tuesday, killing him before the police arrived. All three dogs were put down following the attack.

Yeah... Good Times.

I can't help it. It makes me smile every time I read it.

You see, I have to deal with assholes exactly like this guy on a regular basis in my job. No one matters but them. No one elses safety is important in comparison to their own wishes. They see their crazy ass dogs as people in little fur coats... and think they should have more rights than the actual people in their community. Most of the time they are in complete denial about how potentially dangerous their animals are, or can be. Often, they even go as far as blaming the person who gets bitten for the whole mess.

You wouldn't believe the lengths I've seen people go to.

I like animals. I am particularly fond of my own pets. I've had to put a couple of my own pets down over the years (for health issues, not aggression issues), and I cry like a baby every time. It never gets easier. You'd think maybe I'd get calloused about it, considering I've euthanized literally hundreds and hundreds of animals in the course of my job over the years - but its different when its your pet. My current Rottweiler, Angus, is over 10 years old now and I know that day is coming for him as well.

I dread it.

But I realize that animals are animals, and people are people. As much as we try to make animals into people. They aren't. This guy didn't get that.

I'd bet he had an epiphany, though, right there at the end.

It warms my heart to see that fate turned around and bit him for a change, rather than someone else. He got what he deserved, and I can only hope that the dolts that bent under pressure from nutty animal rights activists, and allowed dangerous animals back out in public, loose their jobs over it.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Having it both ways...


I normally leave the Man Made Climate Change analysis and commentary to my buddy Borepatch - mainly 'cuz he does a much better job than I could ever hope to. Something about the number of brain cells I've killed over the years, I would imagine.

I read a little Q&A by the BBC recently, though, that I couldn't let slide without a word. It was an interview with Phil Jones - Director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia... you know, the people at the center of the climategate scandal.

Here's the bits that made me scratch my head:

They asked this question:

Question:

Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

After a bit of hemming and hawing... here is the answer to what was basically a yes or no question:

Answer:

So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

Here's another interesting question:

Question:

Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?


And here's his answer:

Answer:

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

So basically there you have the Big Kahuna of "Man Made" Global warming stating flat out that the earth's temperature is NOT changing any faster or slower than it did during previous periods going all the way back before the Civil War. That the temps went up and down at the same rate before the internal combustion engine was even invented.


They you have him flat out stating that there has been NO SIGNIFICANT WARMING IN THE PAST 15 YEARS!

That seems pretty plain, even to my simple brain. That's why it makes this question and answer a little hard to understand:

Question:

How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

Answer:

I'm 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 - there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

WTF?

I'd be willing to chalk this massive denial of the facts that he himself admits are true up to personal delusions... but that doesn't explain why the BBC itself still continues to tout phony Man Made Climate Change crap all over its website after hearing evidence to the contrary from the head priest of global warming himself.

Does Al Gore himself have to notify these people that its a hoax before they admit it?


Rules of Engagement


Stories are starting to surface in the press now, regarding the recent push by coalition forces against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan.

This was a brief story, describing a firefight between US troops and Insugents that I thought was interesting. This bit describes a US Serviceman getting wounded:

"When the shots went off, I heard him yelling. I thought he was scared. I was yelling too," McQuiston said later. "Then I heard him coughing. It sounded weird. I looked back and he was coughing up blood."

With shooting all around, soldiers cut away the injured man's shirt, and put a chest seal on the wound to prevent air entering.

"I'm going to be good," the man said. He was able to walk and had the energy to shout an obscenity at the Taliban.

And then further on, and interesting observation about the Rules of Engagement our boys are having to deal with:


Close to the road and relative safety, soldiers saw a man in black walking. He was unarmed. They watched him in their scopes but did not shoot. Western forces in Afghanistan are operating under rules of engagement, or ROE, that restrict them from acting against people unless they commit a hostile act or show hostile intent. American troops say the Taliban can fire on them, then set aside their weapon and walk freely out of a compound, possibly toward a weapons cache in another location.


"The inability to stop people who don't have weapons is the main hindrance right now," McMahon said after the firefight. "They know how to use our ROE against us."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Paging Dr. Gore.. Dr. Al Gore...


Here's some pics I took from the Snowfall we had here in the Dallas area this past week. This is the coldest and "snowiest" winter we've had in quite some time. We ended up getting over 12 inches out of this single storm, which is an all time record for us.

Which, of course, is directly the result of Man Made Global Warming.



snow headstone b&w





pond snow



I know its wimpy by northern and eastern standards... but this is Texas, for Pete's Sake.



snow palms



I have an idea for a way to eliminate a small amount of Carbon Dioxide emissions. It involves Al Gore and a big plastic trashbag.

Every little bit helps in our quest to preserve Mother Gaia, you know.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Obamalusional Disorder


Jamie, over at Eye of Polyphemus, recently posted about a Financial Times article which describes President Obama's inner circle of advisers. Jamie makes some great observations and his summary of the article is really interesting.

He mentions the fact that Obama is described by some as oblivious to negative reactions to his policies and actions. I think he's spot on. Further, I'd propose that the President may suffer from Obamalusional Disorder.

Some Delusions characteristic of Obamalusional Disorder:

1. The President believing that the Massachusetts voters elected Scott Brown, not because people overwhelmingly reject his over-reaching health care designs, but instead because Congress had failed to pass the Health care Bill.

2. Thinking that businesses should hire people, not because their business is doing so well that extra employees are needed to meet demand... but instead because it is their moral obligation to do so.

3. Believing that the world's tyrants will see reason if only they have the chance to hear his dulcet tones.

4. Acting as if maybe if we just don't call them Islamic extremists... terrorists won't exist.

And the list goes on, and on.....

Unlike other psychological disorders, Obamalusional Disorder can be contagious under certain conditions. His Wife exhibited signs of the disease last week when she characterized The President's first year as "phenomenal", even though he's failed at every major policy push since the massive Stimulus Bill and his approval ratings continue to fall. He just needs to "stay the course" and "keep pushing".....


Friday, February 12, 2010

Girl Friday - 02/12/2010 - Billie Burke

I enjoy all of the Girl Friday posts, but the ones I like the best of all feature Women who you may not even realize that you know. Last week's Girl Friday, Sylvia Sidney was one of these - being a lovely, prolific actress with a career dating back to the beginning of "talkies", but whom you probably wouldn't even be aware of had it not been for a couple of roles that she had later in life.

This week we find another hidden gem:

Billie Burke



billie burke 9





billie burke 7



Billie Burke was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke, in 1884. I've always thought her name was quite a mouthful! Long names like that were common in those days even for girls. She was born in America, but spent her earliest years touring the world with a circus where her father was employed as a clown.



billie burke 6



The family eventually settled in London, and it was there that Billie grew to love plays and dream of being a stage actress. She returned to the US as a young lady, and found great success as a Broadway actress. While living in New York she met and married Florenz Ziegfeld (as in Ziegfeld Follies). She also began to appear in the silent movies that were starting to take off in theaters around the nation.



billie burke banjo

Woot! Banjo Chicks Rule!!

billie burke 4



Billie continued to work on stage and in film for much of her adult life. In 1938, she landed a small role that would probably be her best known work to those of us walking around today. She was cast as Glinda, the Good Witch of the East in the 1939 production of the Wizard of Oz.


billie burke 1939-glinda



Ms. Burke passed away in 1970, due to what was termed "dementia" at the time - but was most probably Alzheimer's. What a brutal friggin' disease. Its hard for me to imagine a worse way to leave this stage. Other diseases might kill you. Alzheimer's kills you by inches... and you're still around afterward.



billie burke and westie



If you'll indulge me for a final note:

You know I'm not a big "Cause" person. You won't often see blegs here to support this, that, or the other thing. Aside from 2nd amendment issues and supporting the troops, I don't generally push that sort of thing much.

I make a definite exception in the case of Alzheimer's, though. If you want to help make a difference in defeating a disease that strips away who you are before it kills you... I encourage you to visit the Alzheimer's Association Website to find out what you can do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Disappointment at the last minute... UPDATED

Go to the bottom for the update:

Texas is deep in primary campaign season for the upcoming Texas Governor's race. I had decided a while back that no matter which of the Republican contenders won the primary - Texas would be in good shape for the foreseeable future. For much of the race it looked like a race between incumbent Rick Perry and Senator Kay Hutchison. Recently, though, Debra Medina has appeared as a fresh face, done well in debates, and shown a marked rise in the polls.

I had pretty much decided that Perry would get my vote, for a number of reasons. I have my issues with Perry, but over all the state is doing much better than the rest of the nation. Perry isn't responsible for all of that success, but he gets at least part of the credit. Kay Hutchison has done a passable job as a Senator - but has become increasing disingenuous to my eyes. She's not as conservative as I would like, and has not shown me anything major in the way of how she would do things differently from the way they are now.

After I heard more about Medina, though, I began to consider her as an alternative. I didn't think she had a chance of winning, but I thought it might be a good idea to throw my vote her way since it looked like it would also be a vote against Kay - at least in the primary. Maybe my vote would send a message to Rick Perry that many of us are less than happy with some aspects of his reign. He would undoubtedly get the Republican Nomination, though, but he would hopefully get the message.

Most recently, though, Medina has shown serious legs in the race. I began to hope not only that she would do well.... but might actually go on and win. So much so that after spending the morning running errands and listening to the non-stop attack ads on the radio from the bigger candidates, I had decided to come out on this blog as an all out Medina Supporter. Great big banners and links publicly endorsing her as my choice for Governor.

I heard something disturbing on the radio a few moments ago, however. Apparently, Debra Medina was on Glenn Beck's show this morning. He asked her if she was a part of the "9/11 Truther" crowd that believes that the US Government was directly involved in the plot to destroy the World Trade Center Buildings.... and she did not come out firmly against that non-sense.

Its very easy to make yourself clear. When asked if you are part of a group that is clinically insane, the answer is NO. You don't equivocate. You don't become evasive. You don't remain vague.

I'm going to give this a bit and see how the Medina Campaign reacts to this. However, if I don't hear, in simple plain language, a public statement from Medina that she IN NO WAY lends any credence to the 9/11 Truther bullshit.... I'm am completely done with her.

Period.

UPDATE: Medina posted a statement on her website today, that clarifies her position on the Truther Stuff. You can read the whole thing here, but this is the bit I was looking for:

I was asked a question on the Glenn Beck show today regarding my thoughts on the so-called 9/11 truth movement. I have never been involved with the 9/11 truth movement, and there is no doubt in my mind that Muslim terrorists flew planes into those buildings on 9/11. I have not seen any evidence nor have I ever believed that our government was involved or directed those individuals in any way. No one can deny that the events on 9/11 were a tragedy for all Americans and especially those families who lost loved ones.

That seems pretty clear to me, and I'm willing to accept that as her position on the matter. As long as that's the end of it and there's no more quibbling about it on her part, I'm more than satisfied. She goes on to state that she was surprised by the question, and I'm also willing to give her a pass on having a deer in the headlights moment with that too. One of the prices you pay for having non-career politicians in the running is the lack of complete "polish" you find on the lifers. I'm OK with that, as long as such flubs aren't indicative of a deeper problem.

If George Lucas covered current events....

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meeting 1




Obama




hillary obama copy




I like corn copy




83287804




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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Fun with Demotivators


Photo via The Big Picture... Commentary via me.



useful skillset

There's more than a little truth to this.

In hard times, the people that succeed are the people who not only can do for themselves, but who have the particular mindset of people who expect nothing else. People who enjoy the challenge of figuring things out. Who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. These people, when faced with a challenge, don't automatically think:

"Who do I call?"

People who truly enjoy learning to do things "the old way" - whether they ever actually use those skills in a practical way or not, would be the ones I would want at my back during dark times. I like to think I'm one of those people. I make a conscious decision to learn as much as I can about a wide variety of skills that most people today consider obsolete. I may not be the "best" at any one particular skill - but I at least try to master each skill sufficiently enough to be serviceable at it.

Given an ax, and a stand of trees, I could build myself a fairly decent cabin. It might not be on par with the log homes you see in modern Log Home magazines... but it would be sturdy, warm/dry, and would beat sleeping in a tent or out in the open. I can milk a cow, shoe a horse, work a blacksmith forge, harvest honey from bee hives, make cheese, cook with a dutch oven, make rawhide, etc, etc, ad infinitum ....

Occasionally, having a short attention span works in my favor :)

The list of things that I still need to educate myself on is even longer, though. I've only just begun to brush the surface of the things I still need to learn. It seems that every time I pick up a new skill, I uncover two or three others that I need to look into.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fun with Demotivators

I saw this photograph on The Big Picture, and couldn't resist....



kryptonite


I think a lot of people are realizing that there has to be some sort of substance behind the flash. That a slick presentation and hollywood production values do not a leader make. That when its time to do the hard work necessary to make the gears turn - whiney, unfocused, petulant brats are not who you turn too.

And if they haven't realized it yet, they really should.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Good Buy Alert! - Eton FR150 crank radio

I'm a huge fan of Eton's crank emergency radios. I have an FR300 that I bought last year for my truck gear. It retails for around $50. I got it because it runs from a crank charger, has a light, picks up AM/FM and Weather Band channels with wonderful reception, and it can charge cell phones.




This past weekend at Bass Pro, I found their smaller model FR150 on sale for $19!!!




It has virtually all the features of the FR300, but in a much smaller, compact package. It also has the added feature of being able to charge via a solar strip on the top. I picked one up for the kit in my Mrs.'s car. If I didn't already have the FR300 for my truck kit, I'd have gotten another one for myself.



Prepping Update

A grab bag of Prepping Updates....

Bug Out Bag Gear:

I had to put my Tacoma in the shop this week, since its almost at the end of its warranty and had developed a "tick" in the ac/heater fan. That made it necessary for me to remove my BOB gear from the back seat storage area.

While I had the gear out, I took the opportunity to update some of it with additions and substitutions that I had picked up over the past couple of months but hadn't gotten around to working in. I did the same with the kit my Mrs. keeps in the back of her car. Nothing drastically changed from the BOB gear I described here in a previous post, or from the BOB first aid kit I described here. Just some fine tuning. I added a small hacksaw (basically just a handle for a hacksaw blade, some granola type bars for nutrition on the run, swapped out the old GI canteens for Gerber Hydration systems, and added a cookset, fuel and small stove to my Wife's gear.

Transport:

I also took the opportunity to swap out my last ditch gasoline supply while such things were fresh in my mind. I keep 10 gallons of gas in two 5 gallon cans in the garage for last ditch Get Out Of Dodge situations. I figure if TSHTF and I end up going through the gas in our vehicles and can't get more, that gasoline stash will give me enough to fuel our bail out and relocate us to our fall back location to ride things out - plus have a tad left over. I use a fuel stabilizer in the cans so the gas stays "good". I write the date of fill up on the cans with a sharpie. After a year or so I put the gas in one of the vehicles to use it up and replace it with fresh gas/stabilizer.

Given recent events, I've gone to keeping at least a half tank of gas in both our vehicles at all times. Never hurts to be a bit cautious.

Food/Water:

I stopped laying up food/water when I reached the point where I didn't have any more room to store it easily in the very small closet space I had allocated. I'm still short of the stockpile I wanted to hold the two of us for a month, comfortably. I'm toying with a couple of different ideas to increase my storage space for food, water, specialized equipment, and the like. I should have a good plan soon, so that I can move forward and complete our planned preps.

Of course, that will only lead to me considering expanding even further - but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. :)

Medical:

I have steri-strips and super glue that will suffice for most cuts that might require stitches, and have used both effectively - so I know they work. There are times, though, when nothing short of stitches will do. As much as I DON'T relish being on the giving or recieving end of stitches without lidocaine... I've decided that I better learn how to do it correctly. Me fumbling around not knowing what I'm doing would only make a painful situation worse. I'm picking up a suture kit and some expired sutures (for practicing) and plan to teach myself via some video tutorials that I found. I'll be praticing on Hogs Feet, and I'll post pics of my stitchery :).

I still need to flesh out my medications stash. I'm planning to add two (or maybe three) varieties of anti-biotics, and some potassium iodate.

Misc:

I'm seriously needing to lay up a respectable ammo stash, now that ammo is available once again. This is going to even more important soon, since the upcoming spring weather should make trips to the range a possibility once again. I don't want to have to restrict my range trips to keep from dipping into my ammo stash. My wallet has taken a beating recently due to unforeseen events, though, so ammo shopping sprees will have to wait a bit longer.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lesson from the Past

I'm a huge fan of Shorpy. For those of you unfamiliar, Shorpy is a blog featuring huge, high resolution images from the past. Most of the images are from the Library of Congress archives, and are reproduced from glass plate negatives. Typically the images range in dates from the late 1800's through WWII. You can browse Shorpy, or go directly to the LOC Archive and query the database yourself to see the pics in their high rez awesomeness.

Its a fascinating glimpse of the past. Some of the pictures are of city scenes. Some are portraits of prominent people of the day. Others are of vehicles and storefronts and day to day life.

I tend to gravitate toward the images that show people going about their daily lives. That fascinates me. I also enjoy the storefront and delivery vehicle pics.

Its useful, also, to take a moment to examine some of the notable landmarks that you see in the pictures. Many buildings appear multiple times in the archive, over a period of years. For example, here is a shot of the Flatiron Building during its construction in 1902.


1902 flatiron construction resized


The epitome of construction technology at the turn of the last century. Amazing.

Here's the same building after its completion. This pic is from 1908:


flat iron 1910 resized



It looks virtually the same today. A tangible piece of our past that we can see every day.

Now the next two pictures I'm posting not because I think they are particularly attractive or interesting in subject matter:


nypl 1908 resized


That's the New York Public Library as it's construction was nearing completion circa 1908. Notice the almost complete lack of automobiles. In fact, there is only one engine powered vehicle in view. Street cars were prevalent, and would remain so for many years. Foot traffic was pretty continuous. The balance of traffic during this period in any photos is horse or mule powered.


nypl 1915 resized


This is another shot from virtually the same angle just 7 years later. Notice anything besides better landscaping in front of the library?

It's useful to note some things:

For all intents and purposes, the Automobile virtually replace horse drawn conveyance in less than a decade. This change involved more than just people deciding to buy cars when they became available. In the beginning there was virtually no infrastructure to support Automobiles. No Gas Stations, no repair shops, no parking lots. There were no car lots. There were only the beginnings of automobile manufacturing industries.

Hell.... in the early years almost no one even knew how to drive!

Yet still the Automobile almost completely replaced the horse & buggy in almost the blink of any eye - in historical terms.

There was no Government Bail Out of the Wagon making industry. They weren't considered "too big to fail". The Government didn't take over the Wagon building industry. There were no mandates from the Government that people switch from horse powered locomotion to engine powered. There were no Government subsidies inacted to support the new industry.

So, what was the secret? How on earth did this happen?

The Automobile replaced the Horse & Buggy because it was a good idea.

People had a need that the automobile filled. It was an improvement to their lives that they were willing to pay for with their own money. The people in the wagon and buggy making business either adapted to making automobiles (Studebaker) or shifted to Farming Implements (John Deere) or just flat went under. As people bought Cars and Trucks, they needed gas, parts, and repair shops. Other people saw this swelling need as an opportunity and gas stations and repair shops soon sprang up to replace livery stables and feed stores.

You'll notice the complete lack of "The Government" taking any role at all. They weren't needed to encourage people to behave in one way or the other. The first thought in people's minds wasn't "How can the Government help me?". The Government was largely expected to just get the hell out of the way and let us get on with living our lives.

The Past is a place that is often glorified and looked upon longingly by those with selective memories. Undoubtedly, though, they certainly managed to get quite a few things right. We could learn a lot from them if we could manage to pull our heads out of our collective butts long enough.

I think on this phenomenon whenever I hear the President and other Liberals tout the importance of "Green Jobs", "Green Energy", and the ever pervasive need they have to insinuate themselves into every aspect of our lives - because of course we need them.