Friday, August 26, 2011

Girl Friday - 8/26/2011 - USC Edition

I'm not a sports guy. Just don't have the time and can't seem to generate the interest. My Father had season tickets to see the Cowboys when I was a kid and we went to every home game. I enjoyed it, because I was with my Dad, but wasn't a fanatic about the game back then either.

One facet of the outings that I DID enjoy, however, was the cheerleaders. I would watch the game, but odds are when the action stopped my binoculars were glued to the Dallas Cheerleaders prancing around the sidelines. When I went away to College, I couldn't get my cheerleader fix anymore. Texas A&M doesn't have cheerleaders. They have "Yell Leaders" and they are all male.

Not the same thing.

So, to make up for the gap in my cheerleader appreciation time - Girl Friday this week is:

The Song Girls of USC:

usc squad

Hit the jump for more....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Texas preparedness alert

Last winter, many areas of Texas were subject to "rolling blackouts" of electric service due to the abnormally cold weather conditions as well as outages due to ice storms and power line damage. We dodged the bullet at Castle Paladin and didn't lose power, but many neighborhoods were without heat for hours, days, and weeks at a time.

Of course, this time of year I could do without a little of the "heat". Spending an hour trying to coax a feral kitten out of a hot car engine compartment in 104 degree heat is no fun - at all.

But, I digress....

I have already decided to purchase a portable fuel powered heater in preparation for this coming winter, and I encourage you to do the same after hearing the news this week:

Because of a new requirements from the EPA, due to take effect January 1:

The company says the industry's standard time frame for installing emission controls is several years, but the rule requires compliance in six months. So Luminant, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, has said it may have to shut down some coal-fired power plants in East Texas.

"Curtailing plant and/or mine operations will be the only option" if the 1,323-page rule goes into effect as planned, Luminant said.

The Electric Company spokesperson went on to say that she had a high degree of confidence that "Curtailing Plant Operations" would mean rolling blackouts across the state during the coldest part of the year.

And while we are looking forward to possible risks, just think about what might happen next summer. The Texas heat is responsible for more deaths each year than any other weather related cause (floods, tornados, etc.). We skirted the edge of blackouts this year, and continue to do so because of the heat wave. We use virtually every kilowatt of electricity we are producing now with very little margin for error.

Just imagine the predicament next summer with even fewer power plants supplying that electricity. The hammer fisted Green Agenda of the EPA will be responsible for a whole lot of dead people.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Then and Now

The Cotton Exchange Building, New Orleans, LA. Built in 1871, and appearing in the photo circa 1900.

cotton exchange 1900

And the Cotton Exchange Building Hotel, as seen in modern day:

cotton exchange 2007

Same location, different building now. I like the idea of turning it into a hotel, but it certainly would have been a more beautiful and interesting place to stay before they "Blah'd" it down to look like every other modern building.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What would you do?

H/T Fox News Dallas

That's a guy robbing an Exxon/Mobil convenience store in Dallas this week. Yes, he's wearing a dress and underwear on his head as a disguise, or perhaps a fashion statement. He also has one hand under the dress pointing it at both the clerk and a bystander inside the store. Don't know if he had a gun or not, but clearly that was the impression that he was trying to give. He robbed both the store, and the bystander.

As someone who carries a gun virtually all the time, I think its important to consider situations like this and what my response would be were I to be in the shoes of the bystander. I have a responsibility to myself and others to - as much as possible - determine what my actions would be under those circumstances.

Trust me.... If you haven't spent some time thinking "What would I do, if XYZ?" before something like this happens you certainly won't have time to think about it when/if it comes up. I might freeze up regardless.... I'd like to think that I wouldn't, and I've never yipped under pressure involving physical force or physical danger before, but you never know.

As for me, the decision to use lethal force is pretty clear cut. When he asked for my money I would turn slightly to the side (to reduce my profile), reach my hand in my pocket ostensibly to get my money, draw my loaded Makarov from its holster, and put as many hollow point rounds center mass as necessary to stop him from being a threat to me. I've practiced that drill many, many times both dry fire and live fire at the range. Hopefully that training would pay off and carry me through the adrenaline and fear affects from facing a "real life" situation.

So lets assume for moment that I am successful in stopping the threat. What then?

Maybe he has a gun, maybe not. Maybe he has a gun but has no intention of using it. Yes, if it turns out he is unarmed theres a chance I'd face criminal prosecution. That's more likely elsewhere, but it could happen even in Texas depending upon the Grand Jury and the particular District Attorney. I'd be virtually guaranteed a lawsuit from this idiot's surviving family which would cost me a bundle in attorney fees even if I win the lawsuit.

So, given all the bad things that might/will happen if I shoot - why do I choose to shoot? Because I won't take chances based on hoping that a man unbalanced enough to walk into a store wearing a dress and underwear on his head brandishing what I have to assume is a weapon, will make reasonable choices and not shoot me. I don't want all those bad things I described to happen to me, but I'd prefer that to bleeding out on a convenience store floor. For every surveillance video I've seen that ends OK like this one, I can show you one where the robber opens fire. Often for no reason.

I'd feel like shit if the guy turns out to be unarmed and that would stick with me forever - but in the end that's a choice that HE made. I'm put in that position by HIM. I think that would piss me off more than anything.

So, if you carry and found yourself in the shoes of the bystander - what would YOU do?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Girl Friday - 8/19/2011 - Christine Kaufmann

It's back to the past again for Girl Friday this week. The featured gal was born in Germany, to a German father and a French mother. She began her professional career as a ballerina and went on to appear in several films both in America and abroad.

Christine Kaufmann


You know what to do...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dios Mio!... EL CHUPACABRA!!!!11

I received an email at work this week. It seems a couple had been away on a trip and their house sitter had spotted a mysterious animal lurking around their backyard. She snapped a picture of it, which the residents emailed to me.


Apparently, they took the picture to a local "Wildlife Expert" to identify the creature in the picture. Even after consulting references for native Texas animals they were unable to solve the mystery of the creature's identity...

Could this be the fabled Chupacabra? The crypto-zoological rarity whose name means "Goat Sucker", for its reported fondness for feeding on the blood of livestock?


It's a young coyote with a bad case of mange. Took me about .05 seconds to ID it. If you Google "Chupacabra" you'll get tons of news reports and amature videos that feature images of animals that look very similar to this one. They baffle the experts - but not the dog catcher :)

Coyotes in an urban environment face several challenges not faced by their rural counterparts. This is most likely demodectic mange - which occurs when an animal's immune system is compromised too much to combat the mites that cause the hair loss. In the wild, if an animal is injured or sick to the point that it can't hunt it dies relatively quickly from starvation. There's not time for diseases like demodectic mange to progress to the point where the entire body is affected.

In town, though, the coyote is often able to find enough food (garbage, pet food left out) to linger on longer before eventually dying.

I actually saw a news report several years ago on a "mystery animal" (coyote) spotted and filmed locally. They interviewed someone of authority from the Fort Worth Zoo - who declared that it might be some strange hybrid between a domestic dog and an African Wild Dog.

So much for the Experts. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

But what if we grade on a curve?


You've all heard the stories and seen the pictures coming out of the London area regarding the riots and the looting. So, lets take a look some of the main theories from the Left on how to make us all shining happy people.  You know what I'm talking about. The common sense abandonment of personal liberty that would make everything wonderful -  if only the gun loving Tea Party types would just shut up and get in line....

liberal fail

Hmmmmm... it would seem that there isn't a Grading Curve steep enough to keep those ideas from sucking.

If stricter gun laws and increased government intrusion and control are the answers to society's ills, then England should be the safest, happiest, most utopian place on earth.

They aren't.

It ain't.

britain-riots 2

Friday, August 12, 2011

Girl Friday - 8/12/2011 - Colleen Farrington NSFW

This week's Girl Friday comes from the pages of Playboy magazine, circa 1957. She appeared in the magazine with a variety of hair colors - my favorite of which is red.

Colleen Farrington

colleen_farrington oct 1957

Hit the jump for some NSFW, yet classy, shots. And also a reveal of Colleen's connection with a beautiful modern day actress...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The touch, the feel, the fabric of our lives....

Now I have that stupid ad campaign song stuck in my head.

cotton 1

This is a cotton boll. One of several on the two cotton plants that I have growing in a galvanzied tub of dirt on my deck. I hadn't intended to raise cotton or anything. I just never got around to buying plants to put in that container this year until it got so ridiculously hot and dry that I new fragile annual plants would fail there miserably.

The empty planter was taunting me, so found some cotton seeds in my seed drawer and planted them. Cotton makes a visually pleasing plant, being related to okra and hibiscus, and its pretty drought tolerant. It puts on short lived flowers throughout the spring and early summer. The blooms soon fall off and the base of the blossom turns into the cotton boll. The boll gets bigger and bigger until it matures and begins to split open.

cotton 2

Fairly rapidly the boll dries and opens all the way to reveal the cotton fiber inside.

cotton 3

You can pick the cotton bolls at this stage, and plucking out the white cotton fiber it can immediately be spun into thread. You can even make cotton string just twisting it in your fingers using cordage techniques. Inside the cotton fibers are several seeds - the removal of which via cotton gins was a major breakthrough for the cotton industry many, many years ago. Before Eli Whitney made that possible, it all had to be done by hand.

My Grandfather raised cotton in Louisiana for many years, and my Dad picked cotton by hand in the fields from the time he was a little boy until he moved away to go to college.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I always feel like somebody's watching meeeee......

vulture watch

These guys were hanging around watching me the whole time I was eating my lunch at a park the other day. Do they know something I don't know?....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bird's got a job, shit's got a job, seed's got a job....

That's one of my favorite quotes from the movie Cold Mountain, as spoken by one of my favorite character's from the movie.

I always assume that other people share all of the random, miscellaneous crap that I have rolling around in my head and I'm surprised when they don't. I was reminded of this recently so I thought I would take a moment and share something with those of you who don't know how this happens...

hackberry fence 4

That's barbed wire running through the middle of a living tree in a fence row. A Hackberry Tree, to be precise. In my part of the country you see lots of tree lined fence rows comprised mainly of hackberry trees, juniper trees, and bois d' arc trees. A friend of mine commented the other day wondering why farmers/ranchers would bother to plant trees all along the fence rows like that.

They aren't planted there intentionally, of course. All three of those trees produce seeds/fruit that are favored by birds. The birds eat the fruit. The seeds pass through their innards and are pooped out by the birds while they sit on the fence wire. The seed germinates in the ground under the fence and grows up in or very near the fence as a sapling that doesn't get mowed down or cultivated under by the farmer because its protected by the fence.

hackberry fence

So, you eventually get a whole row of trees growing up right along a fence row getting bigger and bigger while the fence ages. Over time, the original fence posts rot (if they are wood) or rust out (if they are steel) and the farmer/rancher needs to replace them.

hackberry fence 2

Nailing wire to the convenient row of trees that now mark the fence line is often the most expedient method of repairing the fence. These trees grow very quickly, as trees go, and they can grow right around the barbed wire where it is nailed to them until they completely engulf it.

hackberry fence 3

This is the type of high-quality programming you get here at The Reluctant Paladin when its so friggin' hot every day your brain wants to melt out your ears :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Girl Friday - 8/05/2011 - Odette Yustman

This week's Girl Friday is an actress who has been in only one movie that I've seen - and the actual movie might surprise you so I'll save the reveal until the end....

Odette Yustman


Hit the jump for more...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blackland Prairie Quicksand - Bovine Rescue

We're up to 33 days in a row over 100 degrees now. More importantly, we have not had any rain to speak of for a couple of months. Its not really unusual for it to be dry for long periods around here during the summer. It does produce some unwanted effects, though.

cow mud 1

That's a farm pond in the city where I work. Its down to less than 25% of its usual capacity due to the drought. Unless there's significant rain soon, it will be dry in a couple more weeks. The big lake levels are also down in the area and many of the smaller farm ponds have dried up completely already.

Did you notice the cow at about 3 o'clock in the picture?

cow mud 3

No, its not the worlds shortest cow.

She came down to the pond to drink and discovered that drying pond silt can be a deadly trap. The ground in this part of Texas is heavy black clay. As silt is deposited by runoff over the years it collects at the bottom of ponds like this. There isn't any foot traffic from animals to compact it and it can be several feet deep. As the surface bakes in the sun and dries, it gives the illusion of a firm (although cracked) surface.

cow mud 2

Underneath, though, it can be deep, deep mud. I've stepped off into stuff like this while seining farm ponds and it can pull the boots right off your feet.

This cow sunk all the way down to her belly in the mud and couldn't get out. Judging from the amount of dung she deposited I'd guess she was there at least 12-24 hours before I found her while in the area on a different call. I know the owner of the cows on this property, having had to chase these cattle up and down the highway a couple of years ago when they got out. We were able to contact him and make him aware of the stuck cow.
Getting her out was pretty simple. They looped a hauling strap and chain around her neck and pulled her free with a truck. Once free of the mud, she just lay on her side. Her attempts to escape had exhausted her and being in the mud so long will cause their legs to go numb and wobbly.

cow mud 4

We rocked her a bit and got her upright.

cow mud 5

After a couple of failed attempts to get up, she was able to make it to her feet and rejoin her buddies in the herd.

I had pretty awesome hatcam video of the whole process.... but the camera was tilted down too far on its clip and I ended up with an entire video of the ground several feet short of where all the action was.

DOH! That's what happens when you try to shoot video without any kind of viewfinder.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

LOL - Wut?

From the Great State of Idaho.....

By Laura Zuckerman
Reuters –

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Police in Idaho Falls have told a man to stop wearing a bunny suit in public after people complained he has been frightening children.

Residents in the northwestern U.S. city of 54,000 people also reported William Falkingham, 34, occasionally wears a tutu with the bunny suit, police said in a statement on Tuesday.

Police warned Falkingham after a woman said she saw him dressed in the costume, peeking at her young son from behind a tree and pointing his finger like a gun.

While a police report said other residents were "greatly disturbed" by his activities, one neighbour defended Falkingham as eccentric but otherwise harmless.

"He's got the bunny outfit, a cowboy suit and a ballerina dress but you don't see him except where he's tripping through his backyard," Deborah Colson told Reuters. "He's got a strange lifestyle at home but we all do weird things at home."

No, Deborah..... we don't. Behold the myth of equivalence. We can't think this guy is weird because "we all do weird things at home"?

Scratching yourself while you watch TV on the sofa or wearing a ratty pink bathrobe where no one can see you is not the same as prancing around the backyard in a ballerina dress.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paladin's Law - the new Godwin's Law

Are you familiar with Godwin's Law? Its the premise that in any disagreement or discussion there is an increasing likelihood that one side will compare the other to Hitler, or Nazis in general, even though the comparison is ridiculous and unfounded. One of the corallaries to Godwin's law is this:

There are many corollaries to Godwin's law, some considered more canonical (by being adopted by Godwin himself) than others. For example, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

I propose a new law. It's called Paladin's Law and it asserts that in any modern discussion where one side is compared to Terrorists - even though the comparison is ridiculous - the side making that assertion automatically looses the argument.