Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Although, just what the fuck those things have to do with making a good Supreme Court Justice is beyond me. I would think that more people should be interested in the fact that Kagan apparently thinks the US Government has the Constitutional Right to tell us all, in detail, what we have to eat every day of our lives.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
When faced with one of life's hurdles...
like tackling an enormous cupcake when you're a lil' bitty girl, there's often nothing else to do but steady yourself and rise to meet the challenge.
And then you can sit back and savor the satisfaction of a job well done.
That's how we roll at Mema and Scruff's House :)
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I like Cabela's, but the closest one to me is over an hour away near Ft. Worth. Not exactly convenient, you know? That will change next year when we get a brand new Cabela's about 5 minutes from my house (YEAH!), but for now I'm mostly buying ammo online.
I started doing this several years ago, when I was practicing in preparation for taking the qualifier for my Concealed Carry License. I found that I really enjoyed shooting, beyond just the need to get more proficient so that I could defend myself. That required ammo at a price that a Dog Catcher could realistically afford. I've had really good luck buying online, and I highly recommend it if you've not given it a shot (ha!). It doesn't make sense to buy single boxes due to shipping costs, but as long as you're prepared to buy at least 4 or 5 boxes of what ever ammo you need - you can save some cash. You can REALLY save some bucks if you're disciplined enough to order case sized amounts. Personally, I usually don't have enough discretionary cash laying about to order the bulk quantities.
Some of my favorite spots to buy ammo on line: AIM Surplus, Ammunition to Go, LuckyGunner, Sportsmans Guide.
I experienced my first problem with buying ammo online this past week. I had ordered 5 boxes of 38 special, a box of hollow points in 9x18 Makarov for my pocket gun, and a box of 9 mm FMJ just to round things off to close to $100 for the total price including shipping. I ordered this from AIM, who I do business with most of the time all else being equal. Like the other ammo suppliers, they ship UPS.
Cue ominous music - I hate UPS.
If there's a way to fuck it up, UPS will absolutely, positively fuck it up. Here's what I got in the mail:
That's a beat up shipping box, two pieces of brown paper packing, and a single, trampled looking box of 38 spl that's missing 4 rounds. The shipping box had been torn down one corner and taped back closed. My guess : The box came apart due to rough handling, spilling the contents. The fine people at UPS managed to ignore all the contents except for the partial box of 38 spl, crammed that box back into the shipping box, taped stuff up and sent it on its way.
I emailed AIM right away and they completely stand behind their stuff and treat their customers right. The customer service manager had a replacement order in the mail to me immediately, which arrived safe and sound today.
I've known people that work for UPS. I'm sure there are some fine individuals working there, and I truly hate to cast dispersions on everyone due to the actions of a few. However, I'm well aware of the general lack of care, and sometimes intentional abuse, for packages at the hands of material handlers at UPS. If I were to list out all the bad experiences that I've personally had with UPS I'd have to start an entirely new blog.
Everything came out OK in the end with this episode, besides some aggrevation on my part. I'm at the point where I'm willing to pay more for shipping via an alternate method if one is available, rather than deal with UPS.
Friday, June 25, 2010
As usual with the Korean Model editions of Girl Friday, I'm a little sparse on the interesting anecdotes and historically relevant info.... so I'll leave you with one word:
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The latest creation from my workshop is what I always think of as a "Cobbled Project", as in something "cobbled together from various unrelated parts". My Steampunk lamp is such a project, combining a blowtorch, grease gun, plumbing line, and lamp parts into a desk lamp. The Steampunk Fan is another - combining an old fan, sewing machine motor, drive chain, etc. together to form the whirling blades of death :) This project is more properly termed "Victorian Punk" rather than Steampunk, though.
I love old telephones. I used to have a lot of them, but since we dropped our land line several years ago and went strictly with cell phones (and cable internet) I thinned out my collection considerably. About the only phones that I still have are an old Candlestick phone with ringer box that I restored, and an old Automatic Electric Monophone 50 that was my kitchen phone for years. Just couldn't bare to part with either of them.
I've always wanted a wooden wall phone, but they are hard to come by here in my part of the country. You can find them on Ebay, but they are expensive to ship and expensive to buy. Besides.... I wanted something a little more unique. I gradually started collecting bits and pieces from flea markets here locally and via ebay. Here's some of the parts I started with:
Those are wooden "ringer" boxes that originally held antique telephone wiring, magnetos, ringer sets, etc. They are incomplete, but the boxes themselves are in solid shape. That makes them inexpensive and perfect for my uses.
That's a Western Electric Interphone, which was an early style of intercom phone. You didn't use it for outside calls, just calls within your own house from room to room, or between bungalows on an estate.
I refinished the wooden boxes, and painted the metal Interphone. I also picked up a dummy receiver (part you hold to your ear) and a generic switch hook that I needed to hang the receiver on. I made a mounting board for the phone project out of oak. Here's how they look all combined:
I'll probably put a dummy crank handle on the side of the top box, eventually, to cover up the hole in the side for the original magneto crank handle.
I added the brass Montgomery Ward badge, just because I liked the way it looks. To my knowlege absolutely none of the parts for this project came from Montgomery Wards. I've had that milliamp gauge for years and years with no idea what I would do with it. I think it looks pretty cool on the bottom box, and it covers the old holes in the front nicely.
My plan starting out was to have the bells of the interphone hooked up to a battery so that when you pushed the button on the front they would ring, and the needle would move on the gauge. That worked fine in brief testing while I was figuring stuff out just touching wires and such, but apparently the old switch or wiring that I tapped into inside the interphone has a short of some sort. It lets enough current through even when the button isn't pushed to register on the gauge and the battery gets REALLY HOT! It also discharges the battery in a matter of minutes.
No biggie. I'll just have to make a stop at Radio Shack and see what kind of momentary switch button that I can swap out to make it work.
The wiring treatment is kind of interesting, I thought. I could have hidden all the wiring between the boxes, but I kind of wanted it to show. What I didn't want, though, was modern insulated wiring showing. You can buy good quality, new production cloth covered wire in lots of configurations. I've used wire from Sundial Wire in the past when I've rewired old fans, lamps, and radios. Its great stuff, but you have to order at least 10 feet and it runs $1.50 or so a foot depending upon which style you go with.
I didn't need anywhere close to 10 feet and I didn't want to waste $15 + shipping. So, I made up a decent substitute. I had regular 18 gauge insulated wire and I had paracord (550 parachute cord). I cut four pieces of paracord about twice as long as I needed, and stripped out the inner strands.
This left me with four pieces of paracord "tube" that was perfect for use as a wire cover when slipped over the modern insulated wire.
I just covered the parts that were going to be exposed. For one set of wires I twisted them together like old twisted wire sets that you can buy from Sundial. For the other set I coiled them up on a dowel and then spread the coils out a bit.
Both the top and bottom boxes are pretty much empty, except for some wire which is secured to the walls of the box. This leaves the insides available as small storage areas. If I'm successful in finding a switch that I can work into the phone to make the bells work, I'll post a short video so you can see/hear the thing work.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Yeah. I'm one of those guys that doesn't take off from work as often as they should. If you think that's bad, you should see my sick leave balance. Its even bigger. At least they don't take sick time back if you accrue too much, like they do vactation.
I'm not looking forward to going back to work. Not even a little bit. My partner has been out due to unexpected health issues and my boss has been steering the ship while we've been away. That's not good news. But.... working for a living often sucks.
Whaddaya gonna do?
I got some yard projects done while I've been off, and made some progress on another workshop project. I don't think I would really be correct in calling this one "Steampunk". Probably more "Victorian/Edwardian" punk :) I guess its an art project - though I don't really think of the stuff that I do as "art". This project will serve a purpose, even if it isn't the purpose for which it was originally designed. I hope to have it completed enough to post pics and stuff toward the end of the week. It's turned out pretty good so far.
Oh... and for all the people who bitch because Texas gets off easier than a lot of the country throughout the winter - and as an apology for my occasional rubbing of your noses in the great weather we get to enjoy down here in Paradise most of the year:
That's the temp on my back porch, in the shade, at 3:30 pm Monday afternoon. I did yard work in the morning replacing worn out soaker hoses around the foundation, and spent the afternoon working in my workshop.
The workshop that is actually my garage, with a bunch of tools and junk in it.
Which isn't air conditioned.
We'll have this type of hideous heat for at least three and a half more months. Usually by the middle of October it begins to relent a bit. Sometimes not. I can remember many Halloweens when we sweated while walking around with our daughter trick or treating at night. It makes it hard to tolerate the heat in my workshop, so this may have to be the last major project that I mess with until closer to fall.
There's nothing like working on something, while the sweat runs off your face and drips down on whatever it is that you're working on.Good times. :)
Monday, June 21, 2010
The 63rd annual Parker County Sheriff's Posse Frontier Days Rodeo was this past weekend, over in Weatherford, Texas. We went last year for the first time, and liked it so much we braved the 98 degree heat to catch it again this year. We ate at the Mesquite Pit, in Weatherford, which is pretty good eatin'. Not as good as the Downtown Weatherford Cafe, mind you, but the Cafe isn't open for dinner so you do what you have to :)
The Rodeo itself was really good. The Bareback and Saddle Bronc riders in particular were great this year. They had some really good stock. I passed on taking the video camera this year, and the rides were so spectacular that I really regretted leaving it at home.
I can't speak for everywhere else, but small town Rodeos in Texas are interesting events to attend - beyond even the entertainment that the actual rodeo events provide. This is one of the last bastions of public non-political/non-religious gathering in America with complete and utterly unabashed patriotism on display, along with unapologetic religious expression. I'm not religious myself, but I like that the Left hasn't been able to make these folks kowtow like they have so many others.
They had a touching ceremony where the members of the Sheriff's Posse sat on their horses in the middle of the arena with their hats off in honor of members who had passed away since the last rodeo. Selected members, often the men's sons, would then slowly walk the passed member's riderless horse around the area while the announcer talked about them. Most had over 30 years of service with the Posse. It was pretty emotional.
Rodeo Fan culture is pretty interesting in and of itself, too. Depending upon where the rodeo is located, this may be the biggest event some of the local people attend all year long. They pull out all the stops to have a good time. It's lots of fun just to people watch at the rodeo. While we were waiting for the rodeo to begin and the stands were starting to fill up, I leaned over to my Wife and said,
"Texas Rodeo Night. Where you can see bull rides, patriotic flag displays, public prayin', and a crapload of highschool girls dressed like strippers..."
I shit you not... You wouldn't believe the way these girls tramp it up on Rodeo Night. No, I didn't take any pictures - that would be creepy - you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm not a prude, by any means. You probably wouldn't believe how much of a prude I'm NOT. But seriously... someone needs to sit these girls down and tell them about the concept of "less is more".
I'm a pretty hard person to make feel uncomfortable, but when roaming packs of girls who are obviously in their mid to late teens flounce up and down the aisles wearing Daisy Dukes and something that aspires to be a tank top one day - I start to feel a little ookie. I mean, give a guy a break for crying out loud! If you're pretty and have a nice figure, I'm gonna look. I'll also cringe when I realize how young they are - but the psych damage is done. It's too late - I now feel like a perv.
At least once the rodeo actually started, I could concentrate on the events and it wasn't that much of a problem.
And while we're on this topic - Yes, my Wife understands that I do notice other attractive women. I don't oogle them, or leer, or stare open mouthed, or go "Mmmmm", or any other of the infinite number of classless moves that would embarass and lessen all parties concerned. However, my appreciation and acknowledgement of other women certainly didn't stop when I slipped this ring on my finger over 22 years ago. Those feelings don't just magically go away when you get hitched.
If it did, there wouldn't be any trick to staying faithful and monogamous for all that time. Anyone could do it. I take pride in the fact that, while I might appreciate the physical beauty of someone I see at the Rodeo, or the Mall, or a Restaurant... my heart belongs to one person and one person only.
Always has, and always will.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
That's my Grandfather, with my Father (the curly headed one), and my Aunt - on their farm in Northern Louisiana in 1935.
That's a better pic of my Dad back then, with a cousin playing by the woodpile. That's Dad on the left. Don't know what's up with the blonde hair, 'cuz his hair became brown like mine when he grew up.
Dad and my Sisters, before I came along.
That's my Dad and Me on a trip we took to Utah in 1977. We packed in on horseback into the Uinta Mountain range in northern Utah and spent a week fishing. Good times...
My Dad at Sunny Hill Farm - 2008.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I aborted everything else on the to-do list Friday morning, and went to the range instead :)
That's 50 rounds of .38 spl at 21 feet. I've found that if I cock and fire at the steady rate of about 2 seconds per round I can generally avoid getting yelled at by the rangemaster at my gun range for rapid fire violation - so that's my rate of fire on this target. A few semi-flyers, but every one of those rounds would have hurt like a bitch. I've shot .357 magnum in her before and its not too bad. I need to procure some more of that fodder so that I'm as equally comfortable with that caliber as I am with the .38.
My dream open carry rig would be the Thunderer on my strong side, with a 3 1/2 or 5 inch barreled Uberti Schofield top break replica in a crossdraw holster on my off side. The fastest reload being, of course, another gun.
I'm in the process of saving my milk-money for the Schofield :)
I'd make the holsters myself, 'cuz I can and I enjoy it. I'd undoubtedly buy the belt, though. All my leather stitching I have to do by hand, and cartridge loops would be a complete excercise in hand-cramping.
In all honesty, as I've said here before - I would most likely still carry concealed 90 % of the time. I'm proficient and comfortable carrying and shooting both my P64 and the Beretta .380, plus I tend to enjoy fading into the background most of the time.
That's Most of the time... but I'd sure like the option to tote my six gun if I was of a mind too.
Name another constitutionally protected right that you have to excercise in a way where no one else can see it - just in case they might be unsettled by it. Imagine having the right to worship as you please - but only if you sneek off to church so that no one can know you're doing it. Imagine being able to speek freely, but only if you do so anonymously from inside a barrel by the roadside. Imagine having the right to peacefully assemble, but only if you did so at 2am in the dark in a field 20 miles outside of town.
There are lots of reasons for me to decide for myself that I would like to carry a gun concealed as opposed to openly where others can see it. There's only ONE reason that the government chooses to allow me that right - but only if I do so secretly. If I can legally carry a weapon, and someone has a problem with that just because they can see it - then its just that:
Really enjoyable day at the range, btw. Even though it was hotter than hell. I shot beside an Asian kid that was showing two new shooters the ropes. He was very patient with them, and the gals looked to be having a good time.
Friday, June 18, 2010
This week's Girl Friday is:
Sandra Dee was actually born Alexandra Zuck, in New Jersey, in 1944. She began her career as a child model, and progressed to films during the 1950s. She appeared in many popular films including the role of the original "Gidget", as well as the title role in two of the "Tammy" movies.
Sandra married Popular Singer Bobby Darin in 1960 at the age of 16, though since her mother had lied about her age so that she could begin her career early - everyone at the time thought she was 18.
She continued to work throughout the 1960's, but by the end of that decade her career was in decline.
Sandra and Bobby Darin divorced in 1967. She passed away in 2005.
I think Sandra Dee epitomizes the 1950's girl in lots of ways.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Don't get me wrong. They are fine bikes, for the most part. I've just had some very specific experiences with some Harley Riders that sorta soured me on the brand. Kind of collateral damage, as it were, that really has nothing to do with the quality of the product itself.
That being said, however, I have absolutely no problem watching this video over, and over, and over..... Can't quite put my finger on why.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
That's PostIt notes all over the car :) Don't see that every day.
I don't like that they would be leaving a little trail of paper behind them as the notes inevitably come loose - but it would sure be easier to clean up off the car than the alternatives.
My first car growing up was a 1968 Ford Mustang Coupe. No A/C, no power steering/brakes, and it rattled something fierce. But it was fast, it had an 8 track player, and I loved it. A girl that took a shine to me in those days expressed her desire one night by writing in shoe polish on the front windshield - as was the custom then. She also enlisted a friend to help her and together they licked the ends of several bags worth of marshmallows and stuck them to every square inch of the remainder of my windows.
It was late fall/early winter at the time and the resulting creation froze over night.
I appreciated the sentiment at the time, 'cuz she was really cute. And I do mean REALLY cute. However I would have much rather the clean up had been as simple as pulling off a few PostIt notes :)
Monday, June 14, 2010
Woke up this morning to read that Jimmy Dean passed away.
Jimmy Dean grew up in Plainview, Texas during the depression. His father ran off and his mother raised him and his brother on their farm outside Plainview. Being born into hard times did not instill in Jimmy Dean a feeling that he was "owed" anything. It didn't make him cry out for the government to carry him. Nor did it drive him to a life of crime.
Instead, he worked hard and succeeded at a singing career, and acting career, and as a business owner as the founder and long time spokesperson for Jimmy Dean Sausage - which just happens to be my favorite brand of commercially made sausage. He picked himself up by his bootstraps and went on to make millions...
I'm also fond of Jimmy's most famous musical hit - Big Bad John. Its a song about a coal miner that dies to save the rest of his work crew in a mine accident, and while I generally don't go for what I consider to be novelty songs, or songs where someone speaks the lyrics instead of singing them - I still get a little chill up my spine at the end of Big Bad John.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Dean. You did good.
We typically get 3 or 4 of these calls each week. Most of the time the car, dog, and owner are long gone by the time it gets reported and we respond to the location. Sometimes the vehicle is still there, though, with dog inside and temperatures steadily rising. I don't know what possesses people to feel like they have to take their dogs with them EVERYWHERE. You would think I wouldn't have to say this out loud, but then again some folks are stupid enough to leave their kids in the car - so I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that stating the obvious is necessary:
Attention Dumbasses: YOUR FRIGGIN' DOG DOES NOT WANT TO GO TO THE STORE AND SIT IN THE
There are several reasons why I hate these calls so much, besides the fact that they wouldn't exist if some people had half a brain:
I hate them because they tend to be very time consuming to run and they take up valuable time in my day. I hate them because it puts me in the position of having to decided if the circumstances warrant breaking a window to extract a dog, if the car is locked up tight. I hate them because its hard as hell to locate an owner inside a shopping mall, or even someplace as small as a restaurant, without making a scene. I hate them because once exposed in their stupidity - dog owners guilty of this tend to be some of the most irate and irrational people to deal with.
Either they realize how stupid they were, and are embarassed over being called out on it publicly. Or they continue to think they aren't doing anything to hurt their dog, and they get angry over my interference with their day over what they see as "nothing". Either way, they are generally pretty snotty folks to deal with.
I hate these calls because it usually involves me having to stand around in the Texas heat in the middle of a busy parking lot with a Giant Dog Truck while every person walking by has to stop and get the full run down of what's going on and what I'm going to do about it.
And last but not least - I also hate these calls because they are a serious risk to the animal involved. Even with the windows cracked several inches like the truck pictured above, it doesn't take long for temperatures inside a vehicle to get dangerously high. This was on a partly cloudy day, with outside temps in the mid 90's.
That's a laser thermometer that I used to record the temperature of the cloth seat in the truck, in an area that wasn't even in full sun. That's 106.5 degrees F.
That's the temperature of the dashboard area in full sun. 126.6 degrees F.
This truck was parked in the huge parking lot of one of those Mega-Churches on a Sunday. You know the places where they have multiple services all day? I stood out in the parking lot keeping an eye on the dog's condition for over 40 minutes before finally giving up on an owner coming out. The dog had been in the car for over an hour, at the very least. The temps were steadily getting higher as the day wore on, and the animal had no water inside to help it cool off. Dog's don't sweat like we do. They sweat a bit from the soles of their feet, but the bulk of their excess body heat is expelled through panting. That also consequently means a large loss of body water through water vapor being breathed out. Its important for them to have lots of water to help keep cool in hot temps.
Since I couldn't devote my entire day to one person's stupidity, I called out the cops (as witnesses to cover my ass while entering someone else's vehicle) and took the dog. Fortunately, the doors were unlocked so I didn't have to break a window or crawl in through the split rear window.
She's safe and sound at the shelter, none the worse for wear. The owner finally called us about two hours after I had left the scene with the dog. Apparently she had just then discovered that the dog was missing.... If that's the case, then that would have made a total of at least 3 hours the dog would have spent in that vehicle with it getting hotter and hotter. I doubt seriously that the dog would have lived through it.
Makes me crazy.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Most of my "garden" is contained in a couple of large, deep raised beds that I built. I also have lots of plants in pots scattered around the section of our deck that isn't covered with shade cloth. These are all pretty much just plants that I grow because I enjoy them. They are flowering plants, or plants with interesting foliage, as well as several pots with herbs for my kitchen.
The one outright food related plant that I bother to grow right now is a dwarf blueberry bush that I keep in a half whiskey barrel on the deck. I've had it a couple of years now and it produces a bigger harvest every year. This year was pretty good, although our late snow caused us to loose almost the entire center section of berries. The bush was not harmed, but the freeze and snow shriveled the tiny fruits that had just started.
We got more than enough from the remainder of the plant for occasional snacking, and also enough to make one of my favorite fruit based deserts, a Blueberry Buckle. Opions differ over the origin of the name, but I'm of the camp that thinks it derives from the "Buckled" or broken and bumpy appearance of the top after its baked. Its a coffee cake, basically, with a streusel topping. The Blueberry Buckle is purely an American Invention, dating back to colonial times.
You can make this with frozen blueberries, but its best with fresh.
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup + 3 tbls milk
2 c flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Blueberries
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup soft butter
Heat oven to 375 degrees and grease a metal 9x9 pan.
Cream butter, sugar, egg, & vanilla together in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl, mix flour baking powder, & salt. Add to butter mixture by thirds and mix, alternating with the milk. Fold in the blueberries, and spread the whole mixture into the greased pan.
For the topping, combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pinch in the butter with your fingers. You want it to be clumpy and lumpy with the largest pieces about the size of a bean or large pea. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the Buckle and bake for 35 minutes.
This is good warm right out of the oven, its good at room temperature, its good the next day.... its just plain good :)