Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Forcing Change

This is a view of the New York Public Library taken in 1908, shortly after its completion. Note the prevalence of horse drawn vehicles and foot traffic.

1908 new york library

This is a view of the same area, taken in 1913. The camera is looking down the street in front of the library and you can see the edge of the library itself on the left side of the picture..

1913 New york library

Notice any major differences in the two views? How about this picture, which is basically an identical perspective to the 1908 picture - only this one was taken in 1915.

1915 new york library

In 1908, almost all the vehicles on the street are horse drawn. Just 5 years later, in 1913, most of the vehicles on the streets were now automobiles. By 1915, automobiles were the norm rather than the exception.

That's 5-7 years to acheive a drastic and sweeping change to our preferred method of transportation. There were still horse drawn wagons vehicles in use for many years after this, but it was clear in a very short time period where the future of transportation was going. This massive and rapid change took place without any government subsidies. Without any central federal government planning offices to decide for us what we want as consumers. There was no infrastructure in place for automobiles in 1908. No gas stations, no repair shops, no auto parts stores.... and yet all these things magically appeared without Massive Federal tax and spend schemes to "stimulate" and "invest" in our infrastructure.

There was no Federal bailout of the Wagon and Carriage Industry. There was no extension of unemployment benefits to keep wagon builders on the public dole for years at a time. The President and Congress didn't step up and buyout Studebaker Wagonworks because they were "too big to fail". 

People adapted. They moved on. If your business went under because people no longer wanted the product you made, you either:

a. Switched over to making a better product that the public did want.


b. Moved on and did something else.

People didn't crawl out into the street and drop over dead because the Federal government didn't wipe their bottoms for them during hard times.

Remember all this when the Feds tell you over and over again that we can't do anything without them. Remember these facts when they crow about the need to "invest" billions and billions of your tax dollars into green energy schemes that fail again and again. Remember that when you see the dismal stats of electric car sales (that virtually no one wants) over the past several years... even though YOU are paying a subsidy via your federal tax dollars for every single one of these vehicles sold. Cars that cost thousands of dollars more to make than they can be sold for.

Remember all these things. And then ask yourself if the Federal Governments "help" is actually helping anyone at all?

Or is it instead holding us back?

Monday, February 25, 2013

I'm glad I waited

A Kindle - 1935 Style.

kindle 1935 everyday science
Via Everday Science and Mechanics Magazine 1935

I really enjoy my Kindle, but I don't think this contraption would fit in my gear bag for work.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Antidote to Old?... and Thanks.

I've been really feeling my age here lately and it's got me down. Thanks to everyone who commented on the Paladin-don't-bounce post :) I haven't been replying to comments here or commenting much on other blogs since last wednesday since I'm still having to type one handed now. The well wishes are appreciated, though.

It started with the prolonged dental misery at the hands of a dentist who I'm pretty sure is the last remaining Nazi to remain uncaptured by the Israelis. Grey and dreary Winter is lingering on too - with tantalizing hints of warm spring just out of reach. Add on my recent full force encounter with the immovable object that is Mother Earth, and I've been feeling about a million years old.

You know what's good for that?

Well, lots of things actually.

But one of the things that always makes me feel better is reminding myself of the exuberance of youth... that lively spark of excitement and energy that fills (some) young people with enough energy and charisma to power a small city if you could just plug into it.

Here's an example of what I mean.... Meet Michelle Jenneke.

Yeah.. Yeah... I know. She's a pretty girl.

But that's not what I'm talking about. Michelle isn't a model. She runs Track & Field for Australia, specifically: The Hurdles. She was largely an unknown, except among people who follow track, until a Television camera caught her doing an excited little dance to stay warmed up before running the hurdles at a track meet in Spain.

Not only does she embody the "exuberance of youth" that I was talking about - she also went on to kick everyone else's ass in that race :)

I'm telling you, forget about solar, wind, and all the other alternative energy schemes... just find a way to harness her kind of energy and we'd be good to go!

Physically I'm still a wreck.. but at least my attitude feels a little bit better now :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013


So, last Wednesday I'm standing out in the cold and sleet euthanizing a skunk in a live trap (oxymoron alert). The multi-million dollar house where the trapped skunk was located has had an infestation of skunks. They've burrowed beneath the foundation and so far we've removed 6 adults.

(If you're curious about how and why we euthanize skunks, I posted about it a couple of years ago with a video of me actually "doing the deed" with a skunk in a trap. You can go to that post by clicking here.)

The Rich Dude who lives there went kind of overboard with the traps and has at least 5 traps set all the time now. All is proceeding as usual... when I happen to notice that he's jammed yet another trap back behind some bushes in the flowerbed and there's actually another skunk in it as well. Having skunk traps set in obstructed areas is not my favorite thing. It doesn't increase the liklihood of catching a skunk, but it does greatly increases the odds that I'll end up getting sprayed while I wrestle with the trap to get it out into the open.

I ended up having no difficulties sending either skunk to meet their makers. But I wanted to talk to the homeowner while I was there and make sure he was clear about where, and where NOT, to set traps in the future. I packed up my gear, loaded it into the truck, and then walked up the walkway to the front door of the house.

There's a series of wide terraces leading up to the door at this house. Each one steps up, its flat for 5 or 6 feet, then it steps up again - all the way up to the front porch. As I walked along, I stubbed my toe on one of the steps and stumbled forward. I'm not the most graceful person in the world but generally I can handle walking around without too much drama. I'm thinking maybe I was just cold from standing outside in the freezing drizzle?... who knows.

Anyway, I'm stumbling forward trying to get my feet back under me and I almost get the situation under control when I reach then next step up. Yeah. I hit that one too and pitched back forward into another rolling stumble... until I hit the next step up.

See where this is going?

By the time I hit the last stumbling point I had built up a pretty good head of steam. I shitwhipped down full tilt into the flagstone covered front porch landing on my right knee and both hands. Basically I took a running start and dove into the ground like an Olympic Swimmer. Falling down has to be one of the most embarassing situations you can find yourself in while still remaining fully clothed.

The impact jarred me so hard that at first I couldn't move anything but my head and my left leg. Gradually I was able to get back on my feet and carry on. I pretty sure that I didn't break anything, but my left hand has been virtually useless for the past couple of days. I've been icing it off and on and its (very slowly) getting better. I was actually able to tie my own shoes this morning, even though it still hurts like a bitch.

I'm just glad that I've made good progress on my outdoor projects the past couple of weekends here at the house. I'm still ahead of the game time-wise getting ready for spring. As long as the hand squares itself away and becomes functional again in the next week or so I'll still be on schedule.

I guess I'm at that in-between time in my life now. When I was younger, something like this wouldn't have slowed me down one bit. If I was older, I'd probably have broken both arms.

Now I just suffer and cuss and slowly get better.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Girl Friday - 2/22/2013 - Xenia Tchoumitcheva

This week's Girl Friday was born in Russian, grew up in Switzerland, and is more than just a pretty face. In addition to being a model, actress, and TV host... she has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics, speaks 5 languages, and has served internships with Merril Lynch and JPMorgan's Investment Banking Group.

Xenia Tchoumitcheva

xenia-tchoumitcheva 2

Hit the jump for more...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quail Pens

Finished the Quail Pens....

quail pens

That's 4 cages total - 2 over 2. Each cage measures about 2' x 3'. I'll run 1 breeding pen (3 hens and 1 cock) and 3 "grow out" pens. "Poop boards" go beneath the wire floor of each cage to catch the droppings. Then the droppings get dumped on the compost pile.

I also knocked together a brooder setup in the garage - but it's nothing photo worthy. Just two halves of a very large dog kennel with netting stapled to a wooden frame over the top to keep the birds from hopping out as they mature. I still have to pickup heat lamps. Baby chicks have to be kept around 95 degrees for the first week after they hatch.

So here's the Poultry gameplan (subject to change): I'm planning to pick up a dozen straight run (unsexed) Buff Brahma Bantam chicks the first or second week of March. That's more than I want eventually - but since they are sold unsexed there's no way to tell if you're getting pullets or roosters until they mature a bit. I have to buy more than I want to increase the likelihood that I'll have at least 3 or 4 females when all is said and done. 

These will be day-old chicks and will go immediately into the brooder in the garage. Over the next several weeks they will mature and feather out, needing the heat lamp less and less. It will also, hopefully, be getting warmer and warmer outside so that I can transfer them from the brooder in the garage into the chicken yard outside.

At some point (depending upon on several factors) I'll be able to tell the boys from the girls and cull my flock down to the 3 or 4 pullets that I want to keep.

I'm space limited. I'll only be using the garage brooder for actual Bantams one time. The rest of the time I'll be using it in a smaller configuration to brood the batches of Quail chicks for two or three weeks before moving them outside to the growout pens. They mature faster than the bantams. For these reasons it makes my timing kind of a grey area for the first run of both chickens and quail.

I don't want to start incubating my first batch of quail eggs until I'm pretty sure that the Bantams will be out of the brooder before the quail eggs hatch - you see? And there's no way to forecast exactly when that will be. They are ready when they are ready. If the quail eggs hatch and the brooder is still occupied by bantams, then I've got no place to brood the baby quail. If I wait too long, then the bantams will be out of the brooder and it will just sit empty until I can get my quail eggs hatched.

Won't be a disaster either way, of course. I can always rig up something temporary to use as a one-time quail brooder if I have to.

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's Giving me the Finger

january coyote 2

Shot that pic from the truck window at work the other day.... no zoom at all. Brazen suburban coyote living in/around a golf course in the middle of town. It'll let you get this close if you're in a vehicle, but only within 100 feet of so if you're on foot. It's not stupid.

Annoying, but not stupid.

january coyote 3

I can tell you what it's thinking.... but I can't write it in a blog where women and children might stumble across it. We'll probably have to remove this one from circulation since it's become a serious pest.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Attention Texas Shooters...

The Texas Legislature is in Session again, and there are several Firearm related pieces of legislation up for consideration. As usual, since this is Texas, most of them would be positives for us if passed. In Texas, even Democrats can sometimes be counted on to promote 2nd amendment rights.

We can't fall asleep on the job, though. Its important to not become complacent just because we don't live in New York or California. There are still plenty of people in Texas that would love to crap all over your Consitutional Rights - if you let them.

Some highlights: There's only two on the list that I come down against. There's a bill that needs to go away that would give government entities the power to ban gun shows from public property. There's also a bill that would stop Texas residents from carrying concealed with an out of state CHL. Both those need to die on the vine.

Aside from those two stinkers I'd give every other bill a thumbs up.

HB 700 would allow people who have a concealed carry permit to also carry OPENLY. That would be a very good thing indeed.

HB 47 would reduce the CHL classroom hours from 10 hour to between 4 and 6 hours- not affecting time on the range to qualify. Anyone who has sat through the classroom portion of the CHL requirements knows this would be a great idea. Texas has one of the highest classroom hour requirements in the US and the 10 hour benchmark was made even before the curiculum was decided on. Its WAY too much time to spend on the amount of material there is to cover, IMO.

HB 706 would make it legal for CHL holders to carry on College Campus. This one is also paired up with a companion bill in the Senate (SB 182).

There are some other good bills under consideration as well, but these are my personal top favorites. Contact your State Representatives in the Texas Legislature and let them know you want their support and votes to reflect your Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights.

You can find your State House Representative HERE.

You can find your State Senator HERE.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Girl Friday - 2/15/2013 - Jessica Chobot

This week's Girl Friday is well known to the internet gaming community and G4 watchers. A simple photoshoot for PlayStation catapulted her from unknown to Geek Temptress...

Jessica Chobot


Hit the jump for more

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Real America

A couple of weekends ago, Mrs. Paladin and I made our annual pilgrimage over to Ft. Worth for the Stockshow.

fw stockshow beef

I've posted before about how much I enjoy visiting places like livestock shows, rural fairs, and the like. It's really nice to get back in touch with life that reminds me of my youth. Its also nice to immerse yourself in an environment that doesn't yield so easily to Political Correctness.

fw stockshow sticker

We enjoy walking around through the exhibitor barns to see the animals and watch the kids getting their critters ready for show. There are several barns like these filled with beef cattle, poultry, sheep, pigs, and goats. Many city people don't understand the level of work involved in getting the food they eat into the store.

fw stockshow barn

fw stockshow herefords

fw stockshow ram

There's also lots of wonderful food, and exhibitors hall with vendors of art, clothing, equipment, etc. There's also a really good Rodeo... but you'd best get your tickets early if you want to see it.

And lest you think that the Stockshow is unbalanced and one-sided... I offer proof that Liberals and Progressives are indeed welcome and given a place of honor and attention:

fw stockshow sheep
Huh... Looks like these have already been sheard.

Monday, February 11, 2013

If I had the cash...

I'd buy one of these.

barber chair

Preferably in battered, but restorable, condition. Because bringing it back to life is half the fun of something like this for me.

barber chair 4

The other half of the fun would be using it as an awesome recliner in the living room.

barber chair 2

All these Barber Chairs date from the late 1800s/early 1900s.

barber chair 3

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hawk Mystery Solved...

I posted a couple of days ago about a Hawk I spotted.

january hawk

I had a couple of ideas about what type of Hawk it was and Commenters put their two cents worth in. Turns out we were all wrong :)

I sent an email to the Blackland Prarie Raptor Center, which is a place where we send injured hawks and owls for rehab when I pick them up on the Job. They ID'd it as a Harlan's Hawk - which they explain is sort of a sub-species of Red Tailed Hawk.

It's not a common Hawk to see - so we can all use that excuse for getting it wrong :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Damn it.

Just spent 4 hours at the dentist.
Two.root canals and three crowns.
I'm sitting and waiting for a prescription and then I'm going home to bed. Somebody wake me up in about a month.

Chicken Yard

I finished up the Chicken run construction last weekend and got the Coop in final position inside the run and leveled. The run itself measures 7 feet by 11 feet.

chicken yard small

I still need to bring in sand. I'm putting down a sand layer a couple of inches deep inside the run to make cleaning/sanitation easier. On the left hand side in the picture above there are going to be quail pens (1 breeding pen and two or three "grow out" pens) attached to the fence inside the run. I was going to start construction on the quail pens - or go get a load of sand - today, but I've got a tooth that's gone bad on me and I've got to go to the Dentist instead.... Joy. Probably looking at either a root canal or outright tooth extraction.

Double Joy.

We'll see what, if anything, I can manage to get done this weekend.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hawk identification

Anybody know what kind of hawk this is?

january hawk 2

Most of the hawks I run across on the job are Redtailed Hawks, Coopers Hawks, and the occasional Kestrel - and almost always adults. I've seen juvenile Redtails and they all had a lot more white on the chest. I did a little poking around on the internet and it looks kinda like a Juvenile Swainson's Hawk. However, if it is a Juvie Swainson's Hawk someone forgot to tell it that it's supposed to be in Argentina in January....

I'm thinking maybe its a Juvenile of another species that I'm actually familar with as an adult. Any ideas?

january hawk

Monday, February 4, 2013

Do you think you own it?

I paid my annual Property Taxes Thursday morning. I never pay before the last minute. I don't see any benefit to paying before I absolutely have to. I do pay, though. Every single year - every single penny.

The line moved pretty quickly as it usually does where I pay. There were a dozen or so people in line in front of me when I got there. As the line suffled forward, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the other people in line ever thought about Property Ownership. I'm pretty sure that everyone in the line with me thought they own their home if their mortgage is paid off. On paper, I do too.

The key thing to remember if you think that you "own" something, is what happens if you don't pay up (or do any number of things required of you by the powers-that-be) to someone else. If I don't pay my property taxes I get fined. I have no problem with that. If I don't like the taxes assessed on property that I own I can work to change that via activism and the voting booth. If I simply don't pay the taxes and continue to be in arrears, then the fines/penalties increase and an increasing percentage of interest kicks in.

At this point... I may have a problem with the idea of "property" taxes over all. I may think those taxes are too high, or that the money given over to the government through that tax scheme isn't being spent wisely. But over all, if property taxes are the law of the land and they have to fine people who don't pay and even negatively impact the credit rating of scofflaws who don't continue to not pay the bill.... then OK.

Eventually, though, if I don't pay the taxes and fines then the Government will either foreclose on "my" property and take it away from me - or more usually the Government will sell the lien on "my" property to a third party who will then foreclose and take that property away.


Its pretty clear that under that sort of system - I don't really own the property at all, do I? I'm just renting. As long as I'm a good little citizen and do what the Government wants me too, I get to live there. I have a serious problem with that sort of arrangement- and I think you should too.

This isn't about whether or not you should have to pay property taxes. This isn't about whether or not there should be a punishment if you do not pay. My problem is with the erosion of Property Rights of the Individual. If someone can legally take property that I've paid for completely, just because I don't do what they want, then that property was never really mine to begin with.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Girl Friday - 02/01/2013 - Joanna Krupa NSFW

Hope everyone is doing well. Sorry for my absence from the Comments section of my blog-friends. Between the Anniversary and the recent beautiful Texas weather (outdoor projects) I've been even more pressed for time than usual. I'll get caught up at some point...

In the mean time.... nothing stops Girl Friday :)

This week's Girl Friday is

Joanna Krupa


Hit the jump for more...