Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maternity Photos

We'll probably do a few more, but here are my favorites from the first attempt.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The new house

2-2, CH/A, slab foundation so no skunks can move in underneath. More than twice the space of the rental, a garage I can use half of for workspace and appliances that work right. (Except for the dishwasher, but we didn't have one at the rental, so even just having the space for it set aside is nice, and it may just be hooked up wrong.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Moving soon...

Well, we closed on the house Tuesday, and the sellers are expecting to be out by the first, though they technically have until the fifth if they need it. If I disappear from the net for a few days, I'll either be fighting with a new internet hookup, hauling stuff, or resting up from those tasks. We're paying the full month on the rental so we can take our time moving and cleaning.
Unfortunately, this house doesn't have all the extra rooms of the one we tried to buy before, so I won't get to have a dedicated studio/photo-work room, but it does at least have space for me to finally have a dedicated workspace for reloading, metalworking and woodworking.
The baby's due in February, and we plan to take advantage of the empty rooms to do a few maternity shots before we move most of the stuff in, so hopefully I'll have a couple of those posted as soon as things settle down. I bought a 9x10ft piece of muslin for a backdrop just in case, but I think we'll have enough blank white walls before we start hanging photos to not need that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

They're at it again

Remember the last bunch of attention whores?

Well, they can't even be troubled to come up with a new story. Same old lights in the sky.

There's even yet another picture of a point source of light. Gee, can't find thousands of those on any given night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pics from the Sonogram

I'd post the video, but I don't think I have any video editing software on here than can black out the personal information.





Appendage counts are all correct for a female, and proportions are within normal parameters, so it looks like we're in good shape so far.

Oh, by the way...'s a girl. Unfortunately, my wife has the sonogram video and pictures stashed somewhere and I'm not waking her up to ask where, so you'll have to wait a bit for pics.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Let's get tacticool

A few weeks ago, I picked up two Kimber LifeAct Guardian Angels, one for my wife, and one for myself. Mine have "Kimber Guardian Angel" on the clip, but for some reason, Kimber, as you can see at the link, has decided it should relabel the device as the "Kimber PepperBlaster."
I guess I won't be getting a couple more to keep in the cars, now, unless the older ones are still in stock at the shop where I got them before.
Now this was a nice discreet way to carry pepper spray; it looks like pretty much anything except a weapon. It could be a radio, garage door opener, PDA, phone, medical device, whatever. Now that they've stack a tacticool name on it, that advantage is gone.
Part of my reason for getting these was that they could be clipped to a pocket or bag, and carried discreetly in places like classrooms where I can't legally carry my gun. The shape and rather noncommittal name would prevent awkward questions from the anti-self-defense crowd, and allow it to even be carried in-hand in a potential confrontation without losing the element of surprise. Not only did they kill that capability, they also did it with a goofy-sounding name that belongs on mall-ninja gear, not a serious self-defense tool.

I've sent an email to Kimber requesting that they explain their logic. We'll see what their response is.

(Yes, I know I could just sand all the writing off the clip, but after paying $40 for a two-shot pepper spray device, it shouldn't be left to the user to modify it back to a more useful state.)

EDIT TO ADD: Thanks to EmergencyEm for reminding me: support SCCC and make this post less relevant.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What the hell?

Does some manufacturer now make a cologne or body spray in a 2-gallon "single-use" size? I've had four people walk by in the last couple hours that made me dig out the air freshener. I thought maybe it was just me until I went to get a fresh can of Ozium from the cleaning lady and she knew exactly why right away.

It's rarely even a scent that would be good in normal quantities, either. There seems to be a strong preference for godawful cloying some-kind-of-fruit-rotting type stenches.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Regency Bridge

Now that's an out of the way landmark. Fun side trip, though.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jumping on the bandwagon

What the hell, I got curious about this thing.

You are a

Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(88% permissive)

You are best described as a:


You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness. loc: (24, 143)
modscore: (53, 34)
raw: (5132)

Link: The Politics Test on Free Online Dating
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The carnival's in town...

It's gotten so small the last few years that they've stuffed the whole thing into a relatively tiny area with parking all around it. That makes it kinda tough to get photos without traffic in them, but it still makes for some interesting long exposures.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A couple more

I know I'm taking forever with these...I'll get a few more of them up eventually.

CanonS2IS NewMexico
Sell photos on photrade | By KD5NRH

CanonS2IS NewMexico
Sell photos on photrade | By KD5NRH

CanonS2IS NewMexico
Sell photos on photrade | By KD5NRH

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Things are settling down

Vacation's over. After a couple more days at the 12x7 contract, it's over, and I'm just covering a couple extra shifts so the guys that were having to work 12x7 at my regular contract during the other one can get some time off.

I've been slowly going through the photos from the vacation as time allows. I've got almost all of the B&W film developed and scanned, and it looks like about 600-700 shots total. Obviously, not everything turned out, and a lot are near-duplicates for exposure bracketing, but I'm guessing around 50-75 keepers by the time I get through adjusting exposure levels, touching up dust on the film scans, etc.

Here are a couple of my favorites so far:


Full set of the ones I've gone over so far at Flickr.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Originally uploaded by KD5NRH
I've been working 12+x7 for a while now, and vacation starts after tomorrow, so here's a baby picture to keep you entertained.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

For those who haven't heard... wife's pregnant. First positive was 6-25 when she went in for gallbladder surgery. (Needless to say, that didn't happen.) I decided to hold off the announcement for a bit to make sure, and on 7-2 we went for the first OB/GYN appointment where they're pretty well convinced, though we're still waiting for the second test results.

Mom's coordinating the hand-me-down maternity clothes and assorted infant supplies from the rest of the family, and we're still trying to buy a house, since there's almost no chance we'll get anything built on our land in time, given the hassles of getting a construction loan right now.

Vacation is still on for August, since it doesn't look like we'll be getting one for a few years afterward.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What would the media say...

...that the SWAT team found in your house?

Thinking back to the Lisa Nowak incident and the description of the contents of her car's trunk, I decided to look around the house a bit and see what the media could report on finding.

Multiple loaded firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and high-capacity magazines. Well, duh. There's at least one brick of .22lr, and several boxes of handgun ammo running around. At some point, I also got a good deal on 12ga #8 loads, and we keep finding boxes of them that have been moved out of the way. Let's not forget the military ammo, either; I still have some Greek surplus .30-06 and Russian 7.62x54.

Bottles of mixed chemicals, including one containing pentetic acid, which is used to treat radiation poisoning. Maybe, but I'm going to have to be pretty near death to drink T-Max developer and hope for any improvements from one of its minor ingredients.

Several knives. Gnawing apart a raw chicken isn't very appetising.

Professional-grade photographic equipment. Because terrorists would rather spend a few thousand on cameras than use Google StreetView to do their surveillance, no doubt. They're also so concerned with the quality of the images that they'd rather lug around a big obvious SLR and tripod than discreetly use a camera phone.

Books on combat shooting and survival skills. Another duh. The gun isn't much use if you don't know what to do with it, and a dead animal is going to be mostly wasted if you don't know how to butcher and cook it properly.

Highly accurate GPS devices. What good is a highly inaccurate GPS device?

Police scanners. Gotta have something for local news.

Encryption software. Yep. Make 'em work for it. Encrypt lots of boring stuff, even if you don't have anything good. They won't know until they waste the time.

Camouflage clothing, including parts of a ghillie suit. I don't know what *you* wear to hunt coyotes, but blinky-light sneakers and a propeller beanie aren't exactly my first choice.

There's probably a lot more, but I have to go feed the cats.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Yep, not much to say...

...on Heller that hasn't already been said.

Start here at SCOTUSblog
Then Pagan Blacksmith.
And LawDog.
More discussion back at SCOTUSblog.
Don't forget MattG.

That ought to keep everybody busy for a while.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Is there really anyone... lacking in tastebuds that they actually Can't Believe It's Not Butter?

Just curious.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How not to win friends in law enforcement...

Obama campaign stop demonstrates a serious lack of respect.

I'm not surprised to see a lack of coverage in the mainstream media, but I am surprised that so few bloggers have hit on this.

Monday, June 2, 2008

WalMart Customer Service

Tonight I decided to stop by WalMart on my way to work. It's not my favorite place to shop, but there aren't a lot of places to get batteries at 11:30PM without paying $7.50 per 4-pack at the gas stations.
When I pulled in, there was a guy on crutches making his way slowly to the grocery side doors, no doubt looking forward to one of their little electric scooters to do his shopping from.
For those not familiar with WalMart's late night policies, in order to keep things from being too convenient for the customers, they lock the general merchandise side sometime after 9PM and everybody has to go through the grocery side. The two door sets have two automatic doors each, and are roughly half the width of the supercenter-size store apart, so if you're getting 50lbs of kitty litter and not planning to use a cart, you need to know which set will be open.
The guy got to the door, hesitated, and started to head back to his car. I still didn't think too much about it other than something along the lines of how much it must have sucked to go to all that effort only to realize that he has to go back to the car for something.
By this time, I was about halfway to the door. There was a roughly 2ft square piece of cardboard cut from a large box against the wall between the two sets of automatic doors, but nothing that looked out of the ordinary until I got within about 10ft of the door.
There was writing on that cardboard, in ball point pen, no less. "PLEASE USE OTHER DOORS," with an arrow pointing toward the general merchandise side.
Now, that's a pretty common message, and I'd bet there are plenty of companies out there that make nice big signs in sharply contrasting 3-inch or larger letters with that message on them that the guy could have read from the handicap parking space, but in ballpoint pen on brown cardboard, it was hard to read from just a few feet away, and didn't even look like a sign from the parking lot. Even a piece of white posterboard and a large black marker would have been readable from the parking spaces, but I guess WalMart doesn't know where to get such things.
It's not too bad of a walk for me to go to the other doors, and not too far to walk back to the car with the single bag I came out with, but for the guy on crutches, that would have been another 5-10 minutes of what certainly appeared to be painful hobbling. Is it too much to ask a company that spends millions on advertising signs throughout every store, to simply have one large black-on-yellow "PLEASE USE OTHER DOORS" sign made for each store?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Still clicking the other magic boxes...

Been fiddling with cameras lately...some more results at

I think I've narrowed down the light edges on the scans to some curling of the negatives. The humidity changes between air conditioning and outside air leaking in are playing hell with flatness even on some older negs.

Looks like my next experimental film project will be home processing of color film. I might have to put it off for a bit, but it's looking more and more attractive since I can do the rest of the process (scan and print, except that I don't usually want prints of everything on the roll - I don't know what resolution they scan at for their prints, but the last bunch of photo CDs I got weren't exactly impressive) just as well as the local one-hour places. If I can get from exposed film to stable, decent negatives, I can not only save the processing costs, but avoid having a bunch of extra prints running around too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My new scanner finally got delivered... door...two hours before I had to be at work. FedEx may be fast and a lot easier on fragile items than UPS, but they've only gotten one delivery to us in three years; everything goes to the neighbors despite the sign on our gate, clearly visible from the turnoff to the neighbors' house. Fortunately I spotted the truck on its way out and jogged over there to get it. I should have done a self portrait afterwards - it's been nearly 20 years since I was any good at running, and it was 93 degrees at the time.

I only got to play with it for a little while before having to get ready for work, but here are a couple of scans (scanned at 1200dpi so this laptop wouldn't choke on the adjustments, scaled and/or cropped for easier uploading via this cellular connection) from the bike race last weekend. I left it running some 2400dpi scans of the next couple of strips, and out of curiosity I tried 4800dpi on some color's really slow, but the quality is worth the wait. I'm almost afraid to see how long it will take on 120 negs, but it ought to look really nice.



The bottom one is cropped somewhat, and starting to show the lost resolution of the 1200dpi scan. I'll have to retry that same crop from a 4800dpi run and see how it looks.

For those keeping score, these are from Tri-X 400 pushed one stop w/TMax Developer. As the sun came up a bit more and the thin overcast got thinner, I switched to Ilford Delta Pro 100. Looking at the negs, there's a marked difference in density, but it hardly shows on the scans even before tweaking in GIMP. As I get them scanned and edited, the workable ones will make their way to Flickr.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


BEDFORD — College student Chris Brown, 19, defeated closed captioning editor Jim Wallace, 35, for the Place 6 City Council seat Saturday, according to complete but unofficial results.

People actually edit closed captioning?  People actually admit to editing closed captioning?

No wonder he got stomped 4-to-1 by a kid.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

They called it an improvement

On the county road to my house, just outside of town, there used to be a little one-lane bridge about 20ft long that had stood up for decades.  About a year ago, the county came to the conclusion that one lane bridges are bad.  They therefore took out the bridge, put in a culvert pipe and dumped dirt over the whole thing, making about a 20-30 yard dirt section in an otherwise paved road.  A couple of heavy rains later, and this is what we have:

Pics from the storm last week

Digital shot back towards Stephenville from the fron tyard during a lull in the storm.

Water over the bridge in the park.

More water over the bridge.

Fortunately, the ducks just think it's cool that they can sit around in the road without getting run over.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Playing with the camera

Testing Kodak BW400CN and the local one-hour processing places.

Unbalanced photo of an unbalanced kitty.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Road trip today

Just a couple photos from today's road trip to Brady.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The aliens are pretty safe

Well, here's the first attempt at Conservative UAW Guy's Postal Match with the .357 Blackhawk.  I'll have to try this again with the .45 once my arms stop shaking from the gas weedeater and my hits (hopefully) get less random.

Those things are pretty small from 10 yards.  OTOH, I also take comfort in a few common facts: 10 yards is the maximum range for the vast majority of defensive shootings, and those 8.5x11" sheets are roughly the size of the center-mass target area on most people.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Postal Match This Month

In light of January's events, I've just got to give this one an entry from Stephenville.

Also, keep an eye on's postal match forum.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rights vs. Entitlements

First off, let's call a spade a spade; if taxpayers are forced to fund some part of your existence that doesn't directly benefit them, you're on welfare.  It doesn't matter what other names you might call it, whether you're getting a check or just receiving some kind of free service that someone else would have to pay for, it's welfare.

Nobody argues that the second amendment entitles anyone not actively involved in defending the country to have guns provided to them at taxpayer expense.  Why then is it so hard to accept that you, and only you, are responsible for the cost of exercising your right to live?

Yes, you have a right to live; that means, with the notable exception of the extreme circumstances where deadly force is justified, you cannot legally be deprived of your life by any person or governmental entity except by due process.  It does not mean that any person or governmental entity owes you anything for your healthcare costs unless such entity has directly caused your health issues.

Scalpel keeps beating and beating and beating and beating and beating the faint smudge that might once, long ago, have been a dead horse, and a lot of people still can't get it through their heads that they are entitled to precisely nothing they have not personally earned, no matter how much they need it.  Assrot, though he's talking about illegal immigrants, pretty much sums up the welfare mentality as well.

UPDATE: A load of old shite also has a pretty good post on the topic.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Just give them what they want...

Every time I see another bleeding heart telling people to just comply with criminals' demands, I dig up one of these articles for the response. I figured I might as well stack up a bunch in one place for convenience. Feel free to use the list in your own responses to idiots.

From reading the stories, none of these victims tried to fight back before being wounded or killed. If anyone has other links to news articles about compliant victims being killed or seriously injured, post them in the comments and I'll update the list from time to time.

Man beaten and stabbed during robbery. (Dead link, can't find a good one for this)
Unprovoked shooting of store manager during robbery.
Two guards killed during robbery.
Restaurant manager killed in robbery
Student robbed and killed
Robbery victim dies from head injury
Woman set on fire after robbery
Man shot in head after robbery
Store owner shot in robbery.

Even if they don't intentionally kill you, it may still not go well: Robbery victim suffocated by gag

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Car Emergency Kit Idea

Had a thought; I carry antifreeze premixed in the car, in a normal antifreeze jug relabeled in Sharpie.  This takes up some trunk space, so I'm thinking I could increase its usefulness.

There's spraypaint out there formulated especially for painting plastic, and it comes in blaze orange.  I also have some circular retroreflective decals for driveway marking and such.  I'm thinking that if I remove the labels on the antifreeze jug and paint it orange, then apply a couple of the decals, it will not only serve when I need antifreeze, but it could double as a safety cone any other time I have to stop on the road.

Anybody used the plastic-specific spraypaint?  I think I'll try this, and a couple other ideas I've had for improving the car kit, and maybe put up a detailed post about it as soon as we have nice enough weather to really dig everything out and update it all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Home system working again...

My desktop PC crashed for the last time a couple of weeks ago, and I'm finally back to being online properly instead of having to use the laptop through the cell phone.  (Anybody got madwifi working properly with the current Debian?  I don't have enough space left on its hard drive to unpack kernel source, so I can't even try compiling it myself on there.)

Given that I worked in the computer field for ten years (tech, sales, phone support, internet project manager, etc.) I initially didn't even consider looking at prebuilt stuff.  Then I found out that the only place I could buy a motherboard in this town closed down last year.

I looked around a bit, and eventually settled on a Compaq SR5333WM.  Not bad for $600, and I'm even starting to think Vista isn't quite as bad as I'd expected.  I've got my old 200G hard drive in it now, and dedicated to Debian, but I haven't had time to hammer out all the bugs and get it all running again, so in the meantime, I appear to have Vista to the point where I can actually be somewhat productive on it.  I guess we'll find out what wins once I sit down and play with Linux on it long enough to either get everything working, or at least decide what won't work.

The 19" widescreen LCD monitor rocks for DVDs, by the way.  The actual movie view for anything in widescreen appears to actually be bigger than on our 21" TV, and the resolution and color are definitely better.  It makes some web pages look a bit weird, though.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Another one I've missed...

Not sure how Xavier avoided being on my link list so far, but this post is an absolute must-read.  Don't miss the comments, either.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Since EE asked what knife I carry, I got to thinking about all the stuff I have on hand in case of problems. I'll try to work in some pictures later, but here's the basic rundown.

On me whenever I'm wearing pants:

  • Benchmade Griptilian - the old model, with the 440C blade. I don't know how much of an improvement the 154CM and other steels they're using more these now are, but the 440C is excellent, and I've never heard of Benchmade going downhill on a product, so they're likely to be every bit as good if not noticeably better.

  • Monadnock Persuader with my car key. Not just a weapon, it also keeps the key handy so I don't have to dig it out of my pocket. Since I rarely need to get into the house in much of a hurry, the house key is in a key wallet with lockbox and bike lock keys.

  • Photon II Microlight. This is also on the Persuader's ring for some quick light.

  • RayOVac Xtreme 3 Watt LED light. Uses AA batteries, so it's cheaper to operate than the Surefire, and not nearly as bright, but better than a Mini Mag by leaps and bounds.

  • Butane lighters. Usually at least two. Beats the heck out of flint and steel.

  • P38 can opener. It fits in my wallet, so I might as well never be stuck without one.

In my Coronado vest:

  • Taurus 605 .357 Magnum. The smallest (overall size) of my carry guns. Sometimes replaced or supplemented by either a Taurus PT-99 9mm or a Colt Government Model .45ACP

  • At least two reloads for whatever I'm carrying. I sometimes cut back to one with the 9mm, since the mags are 15 and 17 rounders.

  • Surefire G2 flashlight with P61 reflector assembly. At 120 lumens and a 20 minute battery life per pair of CR123s, it's nearly as close as you can get to turning cash directly into light energy.

  • Notepad and pen. This comes in handy way too often to not dedicate a vest pocket to it.

  • Pocket Constitution. Just in case I ever need to prove that I'm one of those subversive types that think the Constitution really should be the supreme law of the land.

  • Earplugs. More often than not, just because I grabbed them in case I didn't have my shooting muffs with me, and ended up leaving them in the vest afterward.

In the car:

  • Full canteen and water bottles. I've owned problematic cars before, and in a rural area, I might have a long walk ahead from a minor problem. Besides, it's nice to be able to wash up anywhere I happen to get dirty. There might even be enough to top off the radiator in a pinch.

  • Canteen cup. There's usually tea or coffee in the car, so it's nice to have something to boil the water in.

  • Trioxane bar and matches. Vacuum sealed to keep the matches dry, this provides fire to boil the aforementioned tea or coffee, and a really hot firestarter if there's wood available.

  • Chlor-Floc water purification tablets. The ones sized for a canteen, in case I need a refill and there's only questionable water available. Considering the nature of some of the disasters ARES provides communications for, these are a good idea. Considering the area's tornado count in the last few years, they could turn out to be a lifesaver.

  • MRE. At least one. Sometimes I don't have time to get food on the way to work, and the stuff in the machines is not exactly real food.

  • Towel. One of those spiffy microfiber ones from the automotive section at WalMart that comes in a tube. Compact and works well on just about anything (or anyone) that needs to be less wet.

  • 100ft of heavy rope and two 3500lb rated carabiners. I don't think I've ever bought rope with a use in mind, nor have I ever failed to find a use for it afterward.

  • Gloves. Necessary to use the rope in certain ways.

  • Various car repair and maintenance items. These vary by season and mood. Generally wrenches, screwdrivers, a quart of oil, gallon of premixed antifreeze and flares.

  • Two cans of evaporated milk. It's cheap, and helps disguise some off flavors in water. Besides, it's cheap.

  • Tarp. A small (8x8ft as I recall) one, mostly in case I need to crawl under the car while wearing something I want to keep clean, but it has a lot of other uses too.

  • Clothing. Rain gear, dry socks, extra jacket, etc.

  • CRKT M16-12Z. Not the best pocketknife I've ever owned, but durable as heck and good in a pinch when I've misplaced the Benchmade or just don't want to get it dirty.

  • Pelican M3 Xenon. 140lumens from three CR123 batteries. Much longer battery life than the Surefire, and bigger, but still fits easily in the odd little cubbyhole by the driver's left knee.

  • Box of green lightsticks. They were cheap, and could come in handy as path marker lights or something along those lines.

  • Extra ammo. Not so much intentional, but I think there's at least one reload for just nearly every gun I own rolling around in the car somewhere.

  • Slide rule. I was wondering where that got to.

  • Bag of miscellaneous food and first aid items. This just turned up one day. I think it was my wife's way of tidying up a few of the things that had been hiding under the seats.

  • A few cheap flashlights. Good for loaning to people who don't prepare for even the most basic emergencies. It makes them go away before I start throwing bigger things at them for not being prepared. Especially important when anyone says, "I don't carry those things because I can always borrow them from someone when I need them."

At the house:

  • 6 gallon water jug. There ought to be a 7.5 gallon somewhere too, but it may have ended up in storage.

  • Various drink mixes. Stored water tends to taste funny.

  • Vacuum sealed matchbooks and dried foods. There's another box of trioxane bars around too, for heat.

  • More flashlights. I'm not even going to try to count.

  • Guns and ammo. Suffice it to say I'm pretty much prepared to turn any animal in the western hemisphere into something resembling food (or a godawful mess if it's attacking and I don't need to eat it) if necessary. Most of the ones in the eastern hemisphere too. That's not to say I'd want to eat some of them, but a lot depends on how hungry I get.

  • Batteries and charger. I have a lot of stuff that eats AAs, and in a pinch I can briefly run my transceivers off of enough of them. I keep any that aren't being used fully charged.

  • Radios. Everything from shortwave receivers to VHF/UHFham gear. Most of it isn't hooked up in the rental place, but in a pinch I can rig it up pretty quick.

  • Strike-A-Fire firestarters. Think firestarter blocks with built in match heads. These things rock for getting a campfire or grill going.

  • Tools of various types. Shovel, mattock, saws, and other stuff to make repairs, build firebreaks, clear brush or dig a latrine.

  • First aid kit. Probably a bit overstocked, and focusing more on major bleeding, but then if it's not major, I just tend to wrap it in a paper towel and cuss at it until the bleeding stops.

That pretty much sums it up off the top of my head. Of course, we have the typical items around too, like fire extinguishers in the house and car, but I consider those more or less normal equipment.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Useful Reading

Apparently I haven't been visiting Don Rearic's site much lately, as he's snuck in some interesting articles I wasn't aware of.

His Kids' Stuff pages are good reading, as is the rest of the site.  Set aside a couple hours and browse when you get the chance.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What happened to the good "young readers" books?

My wife and I were in a local bookstore this week, (no, not the horsefeed place with a better nonfiction section than WalMart, the actual bookstore next door to it) and since we have friends with kids who are getting towards the "young readers" age, I did some browsing in that area.

Now, this store has the best selection overall in town, and yet I've still been pretty steamed at the lack of certain authors.  Am I the only person on the planet who thinks there should still be some H. Rider Haggard or Edgar Rice Burroughs in that section?  I don't mean right in among the "Cat in the Hat" books, but there are a couple of shelves of teen books where the Allan Quatermain series would have fit in perfectly.  There were a few good selections, and a lot of them might be good at keeping the kids' interest and making them better readers, but for the most part, there was a definite lack of the type of series that used to provide good role models for young minds.  I have to wonder if "The Dangerous Book for Boys" and its recent companion "The Daring Book for Girls" are really a good idea without the moral lessons of the older stories.  (I have nothing against those books in themselves, though, and would give them to properly raised kids without hesitation.)

I've noticed similar trends in other things; sure, I had educational toys, but most of them were of the sort that encouraged parent-child interaction, not the modern electronic babysitters.  There were card games, outdoor activities, and field trips of all sorts.  Both of my parents worked as far back as I can remember, and yet they found the time to take an active role in my childhood.  When they couldn't, there were other family members who could.

One of the things that firmly etched into my mind is that children are damned inconvenient.  You don't just stuff them in the back of the closet when they get in the way of your social life or anything else.  That's one of the main reasons we still don't have any.  I wonder if any of the pregnant high-school age girls I had to squeeze past in the aisles of the store had enough experience from the child's side of proper parenting to realize that.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Now we just need an Elvis sighting...

We have a plastic cow on the courthouse square.
There are more places in town to buy horse feed than nonfiction books.  (However, even though they're all about agriculture-related topics, one of those horse-feed places has a much better nonfiction section than WalMart.)
Last year, the big story was the Klan rally.

This year, people are seeing UFOs.

Great; the news equivalent of a Camaro on blocks has come to town.  It's even on Wikipedia already, appropriately right above the 1974 murder spree.

Let's examine the Star-Telegram article:

STEPHENVILLE, Texas -- In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.

Clear, starry skies...well, sometimes.  I've actually gotten a few good photos lately, but the light pollution is terrible in several areas, and as far as in town goes, there are places in Dallas where you can see more stars than most of Stephenville.  "Abuzz" apparently means "the usual loonies are all over it, the rest of us are just making fun of them as usual."

Several dozen people - including a pilot, county constable and business owners - insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.

Several dozen seems to be up quite a bit from the five or six when the story first ran.  Inflation, I guess.

"People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times," said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. "It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts."

For values of "everyone" that only include the aforementioned loonies.  "Nothing from these parts" just means it wasn't a tricked-out horse trailer.

While federal officials insist there's a logical explanation, locals swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane. They also said the object's lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane. People in several towns who reported seeing it over several weeks have offered similar descriptions of the object.

Hmm..."lower to the ground than an airplane," eh?  What kind of plane is incapable of flying low?  How many people can actually estimate things like these guys are claiming with any degree of accuracy?  One of the first stories claimed it was travelling about three thousand miles an hour: I'm pretty sure I can't estimate Mach 4 by eyeball.

Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300 feet over a pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after reading similar accounts in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

Notwithstanding the fact that people were making fun of Ricky long before this, a flat metallic object hovering over a pasture isn't exactly the behavior I'd be looking for from a race of beings intelligent enough to develop interstellar travel.

"You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a different deal," Sorrells said. "It feels good to hear that other people saw something, because that means I'm not crazy."

Sure, big bass and buck hovering over pastures are pretty common.
Free tip; just because other people are crazy too doesn't make you not crazy.

Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifle's telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.

"Dunno what it is, so I think I'll aim a gun at it."

Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, said no F-16s or other aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when most people reported the sighting.

Lewis said the object may have been an illusion caused by two commercial airplanes. Lights from the aircraft would seem unusually bright and may appear orange from the setting sun.

"I'm 90 percent sure this was an airliner," Lewis said. "With the sun's angle, it can play tricks on you."

The other 10 percent in that equation being all sorts of normal things; reflections from satellites, meteors, hallucinations, made-up stories to get on Larry King Live, etc.

Officials at the region's two Air Force bases - Dyess in Abilene and Sheppard in Wichita Falls - also said none of their aircraft were in the area last week. The Air Force no longer investigates UFOs.

No doubt they quit investigating because they were tired of having to visit people who lived in old Airstream trailers full of white robes, bug zappers and Elvis commemorative plates.

One man has offered a reward for a photograph or videotape of the mysterious object.

As yet mysteriously unclaimed.

About 200 UFO sightings are reported each month, mostly in California, Colorado and Texas, according to the Mutual UFO Network, which plans to go to the 17,000-resident town of Stephenville to investigate.

Every time I see MUFON mentioned, I have to suppress a giggle at how much it sounds like a new STD treatment from the makers of HeadOn.

Fourteen percent of Americans polled last year by The Associated Press and Ipsos say they have seen a UFO.

Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan said that he first saw red glowing lights and then white flashing lights moving fast, but that even with binoculars could not see the object to which the lights were attached.

"I didn't see a flying saucer and I don't know what it was, but it wasn't an airplane, and I've never seen anything like it," Gaitan said. "I think it must be some kind of military craft - at least I hope it was."

Yeah, because if the aliens want to be subtle, they'll do it with flashing lights.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More Muzzle Flash

It's really nice to have a place where I can go shoot a bit after dark.  Since the closest neighbors are about 250 yards away on the other side of the ridge, I'm not sure how loud the shots are to them, but I set myself a 9PM cutoff on target shooting anyway.  Mom's house is about 600 yards away on the same side of the ridge, and she can hear them, but says that only the rifles are very noticeable from inside the house with the TV on.

First up is the relatively tame CorBon PowRBall factory load in the Blackhawk.
Then my handloads; 16gr of 2400 over a CCI Magnum primer driving a 125gr Berry's plated bullet.

And finally, the redneck flash-bang; the same handload in the Taurus 605.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My late Christmas present to myself

I put in some extra hours over the holidays, and had a bit extra on my paycheck, so I went looking for something in either a classic single action, or a good hunting handgun.  This one was both, and a fitting big brother for my carry gun, so I just had to grab it.

It almost seems odd that they both use the same ammo.  I've definitely gotten toughened up to the magnum loads from shooting the snub, though; the Blackhawk feels downright tame even with the hottest stuff I had on hand.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shotguns and slings

Why is it so wrong to have a sling on a shotgun?  Granted, I haven't read through a Bible in a while, but I don't recall there being any prohibitions on it in there.

I can see not wanting sling swivels on some $10,000-plus Perazzi that will only be used for skeet, and carried to and from the line in its special fitted case, but for anything you're going to lug to the dove field or duck blind, why wouldn't you want to be able to sling it?

I got my wife a single-shot 20ga, and it came with sling swivels installed; they're great for carrying the gun, and reduce the chance of dropping it, (potentially plugging the barrel with mud or snow) or having an unintentional discharge due to a finger getting into the trigger guard while stumbling, etc.

My Mossberg 835 came with a magazine cap that has a post for swivel attachment, though no predrilled hole in the stock; that's fine, I can drill it easily, and someone else can have their stock unmarred by the hole.

My Norinco copy of the Ithaca 37 riot model came with Ithaca's annoying solution; predrilled holes, with an insert in the stock, both tapped in some fine, nonstandard thread.  Finding posts for these has been rather annoying, but at least they were thinking along the right lines.

I see a lot of shotguns, though, that have no built-in provision for mounting the front swivel.  To me, this is right up there with not providing a Weaver or Picatinny rail on a rifle that has no iron sights; why nickel and dime me to death to get the darn thing running right?  I'll pay an extra $10 on the cost of the gun gladly to get something necessary from the factory, but I get really annoyed at paying $150-$500, then having to buy a bunch of $10-$15 accessories just to get it properly usable.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hukt on Fonix

This wouldn't be quite so bad except that it's in front of a school, and has been there for at least two years.