Friday, December 29, 2006

Well, that's that.

It seems that Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti got a personal audience with God a couple of hours ago courtesy of a short drop and a sudden stop.

Methinks the interview probably didn't go the way ol' Saddam might have hoped.

Say what you will, the world is a tiny bit cleaner today.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ye Gods and little fishies

Well, time for a bit of a Christmas update.

I spent the evening of the 24th in the Emergency Room with my first ever strep throat.

Since I am, well, me I was ignoring what I thought was an irritating little sore throat.

Turns out that this may not be the best course of action when your "minor sore throat" is, in fact, a "strep throat".

Seems that strep bugs tend to take being ignored somewhat personally -- and will do all manner of unpleasant things to get ones' attention. In my case, they picked up camp and relocated into my lungs.

This is a Bad Thing, friends and neighbors. Trust me on this one. It does tend to get your attention, though.

Christmas Day was thoroughly, if somewhat woozily, enjoyable. Many gifts were exchanged, and I have come into possession of several novels in Philip McCutchan's Halfhyde series, a slow cooker, and other sundries.

Another, albeit unexpected, gift came on Christmas Eve by way of somewhere in Indiana, and was my 200,000th visitor. Merry Christmas and thank you.

The LawDog Files haven't even been around a full year yet, but people have dropped by 200,000 times just to read my little scribblings.

That is very humbling. Again, I thank you all.

After much swearing, throwing of items and fervent sacrifices to the Magic Elf Box, I think I have discovered the secret of adding links. I hope.

New to my Link section should be A Day In The Life of An Ambulance Driver, and long-time Gentle Reader Diamond Mair. Go by and wish them a Happy New Year, if you would.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all a Happy New Year.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:
Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall
Where shields and axes deck’d the wall
They gorged upon the half-dress’d steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw’d rib, and marrow-bone:
Or listen’d all, in grim delight,
While Scalds yell’d out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly loose their red locks fly,
And dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin’s hall.

And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night;
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung:
That only night in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn’d her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress’d with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open’d wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside
And Ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The Lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of ‘post and pair’.
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s head frown’d on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb’d ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death to tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish’d with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reek'd; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor fail’d old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry makers in,
And carols roar’d with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what maskers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

--Sir Walter Scott

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Friday, December 22, 2006

A good book.

Yesterday I was gifted with a book written by one of my Gentle Readers named Kelly Grayson.

Mr. Grayson is a paramedic over in Louisiana, and has written a book concerning his adventures -- and misadventures -- called Life, Death and Everything in Between: A Paramedic's Memoirs.

This book is funny, sad, thought-provoking, realistic, sensitive and chock-full of gallows humour. I stayed up well past midnight reading it, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is in Public Service or thinking of running with ambulances.


Intermittent blogging

I'd like to apologize for the intermittent blogging here of late. The holiday season is hell on cops, plus Nana and ordinary-people holiday stuff -- I've been falling a bit behind.

I promise that the posting rate will return to normal once Target-Rich-Environment Season is over.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blimey! I've been sussed!

I have just discovered that I am a fool.


This is the stated opinion of one Joseph Rago, who writes a column for the Wall Street Journal.

Bloggers and Blog World were the topic of today's column, and young Joey apparently holds blogs -- and their readers -- somewhat in contempt.

I believe the actual quote is:
"The Blog Mob

Written by fools to be read by imbeciles"

I would link to the actual article, but I have come to the conclusion that -- since I blog and therefore am a fool -- that maybe the Wall Street Journal is a little too high-falutin' for this poor fool. Thus, no more links and no more subscription.

I find it somewhat incongruous for a professed journalist to be throwing around the title of 'fool' so carelessly. There are an estimated fifty million blogs throughout the World Wide Web.

50,000,000 individual sites showing prose, pieces, sonnets, exposes, poetry, string-of-consciousness rants, stories and even some fairly respectable journalism.

Are some blogs foolish? Some people may find certain subjects foolish, while others find the same subject endlessly fascinating -- who is to define what exactly a 'fool' is?

Yet, here is a journalist, happily tarring all fifty million blogs as the work of 'fools'.

It must be nice to be so certain of a thing, to be so convinced that fifty million things you've not read yet -- and shall never read -- are 'foolish'.

All fifty million, hmm?


Now, I don't claim to be an expert -- indeed, according to Mr. Rago I am naught but a fool -- but as I read the piece authored by Joey Rago, I am struck by a mental image of the Main Stream Media playing the part of Rome, while the Visigoth bloggers happily scale the city walls.

Like Rome, Joseph Rago and the rest of the Main Stream Media are convinced that non-journalist Visigoth types should remember the glory days of years past -- and ignore the current incarnation, which, more often than not, involves partisanship, irrelevance, lies, scandal and corruption.

We should, they pontificate, Trust The Media -- because everyone knows that the media back in the Golden Age was noble, pure of heart and had only our Best Interests At Heart.

Mr. Rabo reminds me of a Roman noble, standing in the middle of a sacked and flaming Rome, shouting that the Visigoths are fools and imbeciles for even daring to challenge Rome -- while those very same Visigoth bloggers run past him carrying off the household silver and his daughters.


Oh, well. It's fun to watch.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Now we discover what the Bulgarians are made of.

In 1999 five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were arrested in Benghazi, Libya and charged with deliberately infecting 426 children with the AIDS virus.

In 2004 a trial was held which, quite frankly, strained credulity to the breaking point. Evidence that showed the children were infected before the six accused came to Libya -- possibly years before -- was ignored.

Evidence that showed that the children were most probably infected due to non-existent hygiene standards and Third World sanitation conditions prior to the arrival of the accused was ignored.

The fact that some or all of the 'confessions' were extracted by way of torture was ignored.

The statement of Colonel/Brotherly-Leader-and-Guide-of-the-Revolution Khadaffi that the strain of AIDS the children were infected with was developed by either the CIA or MOSSAD and the accused gave it to the children as an experiment was -- apparently -- taken as Gospel.

Although he did generously offer to drop the charges for a sum of $10 million per infected child.

After the 'Guilty' verdict in 2004, the European Union, the USA and the United Nations threw a hissy-fit of Biblical proportions and threatened not to invite the Libyans to any more parties.

Since Khadaffi didn't see any money or other inducements heading his way, a re-trial was announced.

So. Last night the new trial -- again ignoring every bit of exculpatory evidence -- found the medicos 'Guilty' and sentenced them to death by firing squad.

The Bulgarian President and Prime Minister released a statement "rejecting the ruling and questioning the fairness of the trial."

Well, no [deleted], Sherlock.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini voiced “great disappointment” at the sentence and warned that it could harm Libya’s efforts to improve ties with Europe.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy deplored the court decision and urged the Libyan legal authorities to "show clemency".

The World Medical Association and International Council of Nurses is apparently "appalled by the ruling".


While we here at Rancho LawDog -- being more than familiar with the good Colonel -- are not in the least surprised by this new ruling, the sheer nutlessness of the international response is mildly annoying.

What the hell did you honyocks expect? Fairness and justice in a Libyan trial? Did you fall off the turnip truck last night, or was it early this morning?

Personally, I like my countries to be a bit more than "disappointed" in these kinds of cases. "Appalled" doesn't quite cut the mustard, either. "Angry" works, although "pissed-off", "enraged" and "furious" are more to my liking.

This must be the 'civilization' that the UN and the EU keep bleating about. A jumped-up tin-pot Third World Dictator with delusions of adequacy and a full-blown Napoleon complex jams up five of your folks with not one, but two kangaroo trials -- and you release a statement in which you question the fairness of the bushwa court proceedings.


This is why you have special forces units full of knuckle-dragging monsters.

Since the Bulgarian Special Forces are thoroughly grounded in the old USSR Spetsnaz doctrine and tactics, I would imagine they are perfectly capable of wandering into the Tripoli Central Prison at about 0400 local time and removing their nurses whilst leaving a bit of a message behind.

Emphasis on the "mess".

But, what do I know -- I'm just an uncivilized, uncultured, barbaric Texan.


Edit: It seems that I have erred in calling the inhabitants of Bulgaria "Bulgars". The error has been corrected.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Sweet Shivering Shiva! Squeals! Everywhere! (part one)

They broke me. I can't stand being made to wait five bloody days just to buy a sodding firearm any more.

"Instant Check" my furry arse.

So, I have taken the Texas Concealed Handgun License course in order to by-pass that miserable excuse for mass public self-gratification that leftist politicians piously refer to as the "NICS Instant Check" and I maintain is a bureaucratic way to legally reduce LawDog to a second-class citizen.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I'm here to tell you, I have received an education.

Probably not the one intended, but an education none-the-less.

And I have Reno as a witness to this, by Gawd.

Where to start?

In this class was a young man who had completely shaved his head and who took every question posed to the class by the instructor as an opportunity to divulge not only the fact that he was in the Army, but that he was an Iraq War veteran.

This kid was somewhat taller than me, and running what Reno estimated to be about 300 pounds. I call it 320, myself.

I had no idea that Iraq was located in "a unique geographical location which caused the moon to only come out six nights each month."

This tidbit of trivia was after Ricky Rambunny announced that since there was no electricity in Baghdad, there were no electric lights on, so Night Vision equipment was useless.

However, opined young Rambunny, the uselessness of NVG's was off-set by the fact that you could simply stay in a black room for an hour or so, and your eyes would be adapted enough to see.

An incredulous Reno asked, "So ... dark-adapted eyes are enough to see at night, but night vision gear is worthless?"

Yes, replieth our Squeal, who proceeded to expound on the unique location of Iraq which only allowed the moon to appear for six days each month.

This was followed by the story of Rambunny falling twenty feet off of a misplaced fast rope, but heroically climbing to his feet to kick in the door -- "so he wouldn't let down his buddies".

Personally, I figure if my butt had 400 pounds riding on it (320-pound Rambunny + 80 pounds of gear), and I just fell twenty feet -- call a front-end loader to scrape up my screaming, weeping, sucking-my-thumb-and-shrieking-for-Mommy carcass and take me to the hospital -- because the only thing I'm even going to consider kicking after that sort of incident is the bucket.

Either curious or appalled -- I'm not sure which -- I asked Young Rambunny what his MOS was. "Military Intelligence", sayeth him. Goodness, sez I, what's the the designation for your MOS and where'd you go to AIT?

"Some guys go to Huachuca, some go to Ft. Meade."

Yes, but which one did you go to?

Rambunny discovered an urgent need to go to the class instructor and offer his services as an assistant -- said need preventing him from answering my question, I might add.

Kee Riced All My Tea.

Not only did this twinkie have two -- count 'em: two -- folding knives in his trouser pockets, but he brought a ruck-sack to the firing range which had two fixed blade knives attached (one taped to the chest strap and one tied to the side of the ruck).

This ruck itself was a wonder. Brand new, not a speck of dirt or wear anywhere on it. For that matter, both of the knives riding on the ruck itself had pristine blades and totally unmarred Kydex sheaths.

Of course, in order to shoot, Rambunny had to ceremoniously don his Hatch Nomex Flight Gloves, black in colour (in use by professionals around the world!)


I would have been considerably more impressed with Young Rambunny if he'd been able to keep all of his shots on the target at ten yards.

Him loading an empty case into a female students magazine by mistake while trying to "help" her made an impression on me all right -- probably not the one he was going for, though.

And when he told me that the EOTech holosights he used "in the sandbox" could be rotated on their mount to enable the operator to "see around corners", I was floored.

The absolute worst part, though, was a tie between him: announcing that the tooling used by Beretta to make M92 barrels was only good for 250 barrels, after which they had to completely refit the factory; or him announcing that the M4 was better than the M16, because the M4 was lighter -- so the bullets went faster.

I don't know how many of my poor, innocent brain cells that man slaughtered during that misbegotten 10 hour class just by opening his cakehole.

Bad as that was, Rambunny was the comic relief.


Shooting the Crickett

The Crickett rifle that Reno ordered for his daughter came in.

Since Reno is a thoughtful father, it was, of course, necessary to take it the range and sight it in before being presented to the young lady on Christmas morn.

And before you ask: any firearm should be tested with at least 200 rounds. So we brought a 550 round brick of .22LR. Maybe two. I forget.

*scratch, scratch*

You know, you'd think that no one else has ever seen two gentlemen of the knuckle-dragging persuasion hunkered down with a spotting scope and a hot pink .22 rifle -- properly sandbagged and resting on a benchmount.

The peep sight is a little coarse, but we got a 25 yard POA/POI good enough to reliably break clay pigeons.

Unfortunately, Reno has a scope mount on order, so when that comes in, we'll have to do the whole "sighting-in" thing all over again. Forced to put another box of .22 through it.


Ah, well, the sacrifices one must make.

It's a sweet little rifle -- emphasis on the "little". Had some teething problems with extracting empty cases, but we hit some burrs with a file and pretty much cleared that up.

I'd recommend the Crickett rifle for any parent who wants to give their little shooter that first rifle.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas music

You know, when you have a tree covered in pink plastic flamingos, just any old Christmas music won't do.

Voila! I give you Savatage -- excuse me, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra:

Crank the knob to '11', and break out the air guitar.


Normal? What's that?

The Christmas tree at Rancho LawDog is now up. Looks very nice, very stately, yes?

That's because you haven't gotten a close look. Those lights aren't red -- they're pink. And, since Mom was in charge of Operation Decorate the Tree, they're not what you might think of as ... normal.

You know, there are people who go through life completely surrounded by predictability. There are people that you know exactly what's going to be on their Christmas tree, because their tree is going to be very normal.

I pity those people.

Somewhere, somehow, Mom found:

Pink flamingo Christmas tree lights!!!

How cool is that?! Are you not jealous?!

Merry Christmas, everybody.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

You're stealing Baby Jesus?!

Show of paws here: how many people know what a pogonip is?

For the unwary, a
pogonip is also called an ice-fog and is basically a thick blanket of winter fog that freezes on contact with anything solid, forming a super-slick rime of ice up to several inches thick.


As penance for my brutal assassination of Santa Claus the year before, the Sheriff had graciously allowed me to be volunteered to play the Jolly Olde Elf at the town Christmas pageant.

The suit was a wonder. Even wearing armour and a gun-belt, I still disappeared in the deep, dark depths. This little problem was solved by the addition of several pillows from the trustee cell and three crumpled editions of the Sunday
Dallas Morning News. The boots were actually overshoes, which velcro-ed quite nicely over my ropers, and the issue beard was tossed in favour of something dug up by the Chief Dispatcher (who also did the wardrobe for the town theatre group), said dispatcher promptly gluing the beard to my face with some kind of clear adhesive which she assured me would come off quite easily once the performance was over.

Lying heifer.

Anyhoo, I pulled on the supplied mittens, extracted my 22-year-old-Sheltie from under the Dispatch desk (the ladies in the office had given her a Christmas-themed sweater, put bows on her ears and painted her toenails in sparkly red-and-green hues) and drove my cruiser over to the Fire Department.

The night before, our area of West Texas had received one of the rare pogonip fogs, which had rendered the entire area about as slick as a greased hockey rink.

I didn't realize
how slick everything was, until I wallowed out of the cruiser and slammed the door, which sent the cruiser sliding slowly about a foot left ... and into the gutter.


Anyhoo, I rode the brand new pumper truck over to the courthouse, did the "Ho, ho, ho" thing, got my lap wore out, everyone exclaimed over my Sheltie and she suffered herself to have many, many pictures taken with various personages...a generally good day.

After the festivities, I discovered that the guys at the FD had been nice enough to pull my cruiser out of the rain gutter...twice.

I plunked the dog into the side seat, shoehorned myself behind the wheel and was gingerly inching my way home, when...

You guessed it.

The radio went off. Burglary in progress at one of the local churches.

I pull up to the church, and mindful of my experience at the Fire Station, I get out of the cruiser, but I
don't close the door.

Parked in front of the church is a pick-up truck, engine still running. Across the street is a little old gentleman with an absolutely
huge mustache, holding a cordless phone and giving me the old hairy eyeball.

I immediately assume that the gentleman with the phone is most probably the Reporting Party, and I start to waddle across the street to get more information, when I notice that someone is in the act of walking from the front lawn of the church to the pick-up truck, and the person is carrying one of the figurines from the outdoor Nativity scene. This kind of strikes me as odd, so I holler, "Sheriff's Office, may I have a word with you?"

The old boy heisting Joseph (or maybe one of the Wise Men - I never was real sure), immediately drops the purloined porcelain and takes off at a high-speed shuffle for the pick-up.

Deciding that I really,
really wanted to have a talk with that critter, I also kick into (sorta) high gear for the truck.

He gets there first, snags onto the side mirror, pirouettes a couple of times and goes ass over tin cups onto the street --

-- just before my feet abruptly kick out from under me and down I go. God bless the Dallas paper, I couldn't have been better padded if NASA had given it a try. I roll over and start pushing myself to my feet, when the critter rights himself, glances over at me and starts a high-speed slide/crawl to the curb.

Once on the chapel yard, he finds (somewhat) better traction and abruptly takes off at a dead sprint, me breathing down his neck. At the corner, he pulls a sneaky. Since he hasn't slowed, I figure we're for a full sprint down the block, but he puts out an arm, grabs the guy-line for the telephone pole and makes an abrupt right turn. While this is, indeed, a good move, unfortunately it dumps him on his fourth point of contact and the critter slides a good 10 yards down the street.

Not having benefit of the guy-line, I turn right much like a battleship under full steam: I use the entire street and most of the yard across the street just to change direction, said extra room giving the afore-mentioned critter enough time to scramble to his feet and head back the way we came.

Apparently, I was still a bit too close for comfort because the critter ran past his pick-up without even slowing down. Which put him on a direct course for my cruiser. With the drivers side door open.

I could almost see the 25-watt bulb light up over his head as he Got An Idea. Visions of dog-napped Shelties suddenly coursed across my minds eye.

Not to mention the thought of having a fully-equipped Sheriff's Office cruiser stolen out from under my nose, of course, but priorities and all.

Fortunately, my Sheltie chose that moment to daintily step into the driver seat, fix the approaching critter with a gimlet eye, and utter a short, sharp "Ah'm wee, but Ah'm
wickit" bark -- thus causing my critter to lock up the brakes, his legs shoot out from under him and he slides under my cruiser, slick as a pin.

My last desperate grab for the Manger Bandit cost me my balance, and I hit the ice, sliding along at full speed, and scrabbling frantically at the ice, because my visions of a dog-napped pooch had been replaced by visions of my over-loaded butt slamming into the cruiser and sliding the whole enchilada into the gutter -- crushing my critter along the way.

By the grace of God, I narrowly missed my cruiser and slammed into the gutter -- not as bad as it sounds, due to the extensive Santa padding -- spun about and there is my critter, staring at from under the cruiser about ten feet away.

"Right then, boyo," I snarled, "You're nicked. Let's go."

My critter blinked at me in utter incomprehension. "What?"

"You're under arrest. Let's go."

"No" sayeth the critter. Now it was my turn to blink in confusion. "What?" I snappily replied.

The critter turned over and got a couple of good handholds on the undercarriage of my cruiser. "Make me."

I pushed myself to my feet and stomped over to the cruiser. "You're under arrest." I gritted through clenched teeth, "Get out from under there!"

"Work for it, fat man."


I was digging past umpteen pillows and the Lifestyle section of the Dallas paper trying to lay a paw on my pepper-spray, when my gaze happened to land upon ...

... it.

There. In all its glory. Not twenty feet from the front bumper of my cruiser. Left over from the heady Frontier Past of the city:

A horse trough.

I happily, one might even go so far as to say joyously, ambled up to said horse trough, peered over the side -- and it was full of water, with only a three-inch thick crust of ice over the top.

I'll have you know that I was wearing a full Santa Clause beard glued to my face, so anyone who testifies that I was "Grinning like an ape" as the stopper gave way is obviously mistaken.

I ambled back to the cruiser, watching my Very Own Tidal Wave creep down the gutter and said, gently, "Time to come out from under the car."

"Don't you have an elf to play with?"

"It would really be in your best interests to come out."

"What are you going to do? Put coal in my sto -- HOOOOoooo WHoooaaaa Ohohoho Haaaa! Haa! Huh-huh-huh!"

I tugged reflectively upon the beard. Yep. Between a combination of Panhandle winter wind and three quarts of glue, it was stuck but good. Under the cruiser the yodelling briefly died down to a series of gasps, but a sudden soprano shriek signaled, I thought, the infiltration of Polar water into the underwear area.

The impromptu yodel-fest died down to noises strongly reminiscent of a rapid-fire castanets, so I cleared my throat gently and remarked, "There's hot coffee down at the jail, dry clothes and a warm bunk."


"Or I could come chip you loose when the cold snap breaks. I figure, what? This time next week?"

A dripping, kind of blue-ish, vibrating-a-bit face appeared above the front quarter panel and stared accusingly at me.

"I d-d-didn't n-n-nknow S-santa Cl-Clause was such-such a s-s-sumbitch."

"Believe it. Into the back seat, Nanook. Let's go put you into a nice warm cell."


Monday, December 11, 2006

I Was A Teenage Moonshiner, part one.

Sometime during our early teenage years, Chris, Tole and I over-heard Someone Who Should Have Known Better mention that it was legal to produce 200 gallons of beer or wine per year for personal consumption.

You know what was going to happen next.

Unfortunately, this was sometime before the existence of the World Wide Web, and if you needed to research something -- say, the origin of wine or beer -- you had to go down to the library and start paging through books.

Normally, I am all for a relaxing day in the library, hunting down stray facts, but after a couple of days, we began to suspect that maybe the Chief (and only) Librarian in Small Town Shi'a Baptist, Texas might have been a bit remiss in the ordering of books that might detail the manufacture of Demon Rum.

So. We had a brain-storming session in the living room, pooled our intellectual resources on the subject of Booze, Production Of; and decided that we probably needed some juice, some yeast, one was probably supposed to go into the other ... and then we'd wing it from there.

We pedalled furiously down to the corner store, announced that we were in the middle of an experiment; bought a gallon jug of apple juice and a three-pack of bakers yeast; and pedalled back to the house with our booty.

Once back at our house, we poured a packet of yeast into the apple juice, decided that we had an awful lot of juice, emptied the other two packets in, screwed the lid down good -n- tight and hid the jug in the pantry.

Four days later, during our after-school observation of our proto-booze, we discovered that fermentation produces CO2. A lot of it. CO2 that desperately wants to be somewhere else -- and a firmly screwed-down lid doesn't slow it down much.

The effect following the sudden *POP* of the cap is best described as a Fountain of Fermentation.

Manky apple juice everywhere. Ceiling. Walls. Floor. Shelves. Cans of foodstuffs. Oh, and us.

Two hours of mopping and sponging up apple fermentation in an unventilated itty-bitty little room later, we pedalled -- slightly unsteadily -- back down to the corner store, announced that we had exp-, expushr-, hexpear-, had a bit of a problem with the thingy and re-stocked our supplies.

A nice gentleman who had been coughing in line behind us insisted that we accept a ride back to the house in the back of his pick-up and, as he dropped us off, mentioned -- apropos of nothing -- that some experiments needed to breathe -- through a tube was best -- and that the addition of a quarter cup of sugar was never a bad thing. In some experiments.

Tube, hell. After we dumped the yeast and sugar into the gallon jug of apple juice, we bunged the jug -- sans lid -- under the kitchen sink. And waited.

After about ten days the bubbling and frothing stopped. In our gallon jug, we had ... stuff.

The bottom of the jar looked remarkably like the bottom of a cattle tank. The top looked somewhat like the surface of a peat bog. And in between the two was ...

... a thriving colony of sea-monkeys.

Not the sea-monkeys that you saw advertised in the back of comics books at the time. Not Mr. and Mrs. Sea-Monkey and the babies with the crowns and the lunch-pails and the castle in the back-ground.

No. These bore a striking resemblance to the demonic, mutated, sub-aquatic, ninja-SeAL alien sand-fleas that the lying bastards sent you after you mailed them the [deleted] coupon and your hard-earned money THINKING you were going to get Mr. and Mrs. Sea-Monkey!

Errm. Ahem.

We stared at the swimming thingies for a while, and then Chris said, "I don't think anyone's going to want to drink this."

I ventured that maybe if we didn't tell anyone about the presence of the ... only to be interrupted by Tole stating, "We don't have to tell anyone about them. I think they're more than capable of announcing that fact on their own."

"Okay," sez me, "What if we strain out the scum and algae and thingies?"

"Straining may get the bugs, but do you think they crawl out of the jug to go to the bathroom, or do they do the deed right there?" snarked Chris, Master of the Bad Mental Image.

"Wait, wait, wait," said Tole, "What if we strain it, then distill what's left? Purified, right? No sea-monkeys, no sea-monkey leavings."


Story to be finished tomorrow. Or sometime.


New blogger in town.

One of my brothers from another mother got a look at my 'blog and decided to leap head-long into Blog World.

I present to you Tole's Place. Tolewyn is the proud papa of this little sprog I have mentioned earlier, so he's not a stranger to most of my regular readers.

Tolewyn was one of the first people to actually, you know, speak to the funny-talking red-head who "grew up in them furrin' countries" some three decades ago.

In that time we have worn off on each other a bit -- me, more than him, I believe ...

Go by, put your feet on his couch and swipe some of his beer and popcorn.


And a merry Christmas to you, too.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has apparently hosted Christmas trees in and around its terminals for what I'm guessing are several years now.

Well, until just a little while ago, that is.

An area Rabbi -- Elazar Bogomilsky -- decided that the Christmas tree display was missing a menorah, and requested that the airport either install one, or allow him to do the installing a couple of weeks ago.

It seems that not only did he not get a response, but no menorah appeared next to the Yuletide trees.

His lawyer -- yep, welcome to America -- seems to believe that the airport was simply stalling and delaying. The airport says they didn't have enough time to consult with everyone necessary.

Whatever the reason, Rabbi Bogomilsky did the American thing and had his lawyer threaten the airport with a Federal lawsuit if the menorah didn't appear.

I'll give you three guesses as to the reaction by the airport. It was the exact same reaction that everyone else gets when beat about the head and shoulders (metaphorically speaking) with the Civil Rights LawSuit bat: they took down the trees.

Someone whinges that because 'A' is up, they should be allowed to put up 'B'-- then the safest legal route is to simply take down 'A'. No 'A', no reason for 'B', no reason to lose everything you own to a Fed lawsuit.

Now, Rabbi Bogomilsky is claiming that he didn't mean for the trees to come down.

What the hell did he expect when he threatened a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit over the sodding thing? Hmm? What?

Is he a naif that he didn't see this coming?

It is his fault that the trees were taken down, and he should cowboy up and accept the consequences of using the threat of a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit to get his way -- no matter how "unintended" the consequences are.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Much ado about nothing.

"but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

--Constitution of the United States, Article VI.

Keith Ellison, Democrat, MN announced earlier that he intends to take his oath of office on a Koran.

Since Mr. Ellison is a Muslim, one would tend to think that this would have been expected.

I should have known better.


As long as the candidate swears to uphold the Constitution, it really shouldn't matter what book he swears upon, or which deity he swears by. Not only that, but I'm of the belief that things betwixt a man and his deity are not anyone else's business.

I hear many people -- most of whom should know better -- claiming that since the United States was founded as a Judeo-Christian nation, candidates are supposed to swear their oath of office upon a Bible.

The state of education in this country brings me to tears. It really does.

I present to you the Constitution of the United States. It is the first word, it is the last word, and it is the only word on the powers, duties and requirements of the Federal Government of the United States. Period.

Show me where the Constitution requires the use of the Christian Bible during the taking of the oath of office.

There are plenty of things to be outraged about. This isn't one of them.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Your very own pocket camel!

One of the things I don't miss about the Middle East is being the occasional camel cuspidor.

You would not believe how far and how accurately a camel can hork a semi-digested glob of yuck. Or how little provocation a camel requires to begin offensive expectoration. Brr.

Well, some self-defense-minded folks in Switzerland have apparently micro-sized a camel for those folks who -- for whatever reason -- might be a skosh averse to just shooting opportunistic critters dead.

Kimber of 1911 fame has seen fit to import and distribute these little darlin's under the name "Guardian Angel", and there seems to be a stouter version called a "Jet Protector".

Huh. No imagination. I prefer "Pocket Camel".

What these little gadgets do is shoot two 90 EmPeeHaitch globs of OC -- and in imitation of the wily camel --the user of this little widget is hopefully going to put these 90MPH globs right smack into the face of whichever critter happens to be taking up space downrange.

As seen in the company promo video below:

A Kimber employee volunteered to take a double hit here:

Pocket camels! Isn't it great living in the future?

Gee Whiz Factor aside, the concept looks interesting. Knowing me, I'll probably get one just because it is so bloody neat -- but -- I think I want some thorough in-the-field testing and complete wringing-out before I entrust the lives of kith or kin to one of these doo-dads.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Meditations on shooting

In my earlier post, I made mention that a whole bunch of pink .22LR rifles are apparently being given as presents this year.

It is our duty to see that these new shooters enjoy our sport -- and continue to enjoy the sport of shooting.

With this in mind, I'd like to do a bit of a riff concerning introducing New Shooters to Shooting.

Ladies and gentlemen, shooting should be fun. Further, I state to you that shooting must -- must-- be an enjoyable experience for the new shooter.

"Fun" and "enjoyable" are not always the same thing to a beginner as to an old hand.

As an example, I give you my own experience.

My Granda -- Mom's father -- was a deacon at the Church of the Sub-MOA. That old gentleman truly delighted in one-hole groups at whatever distance he was shooting at.

When I was gifted with my first rifle -- a Remington 552 that I still possess -- Granda was the first person to take me shooting. Bear in mind that I may have been ten years old at the time. Although I don't think so.

He took me to his favorite shooting grounds, thumb-tacked an NRA slow-fire paper target to the back-board, and then we spent the next couple of hours shooting three rounds, walking to the target, walking back to the rifle, shooting three rounds, walking ... you get the point.

Once I got used to the crack of the rifle ... I was shooting holes I couldn't see in a paper target ... whee. I was bored nigh unto tears.

If I had been left to that kind of shooting, I probably would never have picked up a firearm ever again.

Fortunately, Mom and Dad took me out the next weekend with a brick of .22's and a sack of empty cat-food cans.

Dad set up a bodged-together two-by-four frame at about seven yards, put three cat-food cans on edge across the top and then came back to the line and we loaded the rifle.

I took aim, squeezed the trigger ...

... and the can disappeared!

It was wonderful!

I spent the rest of that afternoon setting up cans and then knocking them back down until I was out of ammunition and light.

From that point on, I was hooked.

Don't get me wrong: shooting paper targets can be gratifying -- if you're an experienced shooter.

If you're taking a beginner out, leave the paper at home. Grab something that will instantly reward the new shooter.

Get something that will pop, or fall over, or explode, or disappear. Use targets that do something.

Tuna or cat-fishfood cans are good -- and can be reused for about an afternoon. Be sure to pick them up afterwards.

Supermarkets can be cajoled into giving you their manky old fruit. Mealy apples explode quite gratifyingly when hit by a .22LR, as do oranges, grapefruits, etc. And the local critters will probably be rather grateful for the goodies after you depart.

El Cheapo charcoal briquets explode nicely into a puff of black dust, and mass packages of generic candy wafers, lollypops and cookies also explode nicely -- and are a bit traditional.

Stay away from glass -- nobody wants a shooting afternoon to be ruined by a trip to the ER for stitches. Especially if some other oik broke the bottles that cut you or your children.

Instead, use balloons -- filled with water for the tyros.

Many shooting places sell knock-down-reset rimfire targets, and these are a blast to shoot.

Also remember that you are there for the new shooter. Not the other way around. You should not only make the targets fun, you should put them at a good distance. I wouldn't put a target further than the ten yard berm for any new shooter. Seven yards is probably better.

Yes, I know that you can probably hit that charcoal lump at twenty or thirty yards -- but it's not about you, is it? It's about your new shooter.

Make sure your new gunnie has good eye and ear protection. I suggest that you use both foam earplugs and earmuffs for your newbie.

If they get tired -- pack it in. Don't force a new shooter past the point of Fun and into Ordeal just for you. If your new shooter gets tired, take them home and then come back, if you're not done yet.

Make it enjoyable for them, make it an experience they'll want to enjoy again -- and you'll make a gun person.

Every new shooter you make keeps our gun rights that much safer.



Spent a bit of today helping Reno find the right present for his daughter.

I'm not exactly sure how old the colleen is, but I'm thinking about 8 or so. I think. Less than ten. I think. I'm sure Reno will chime in and correct me if necessary.

Anyhoo, a while ago Reno bought her a Daisy BB gun so she could have a gun to bring to the range, too.

The little sprite has become pretty darned good with it.

It's a lever-action jobber, with a horrid BB-gun trigger-pull and this lovely great fibre-optic sight sitting on top of the muzzle. Little Miss has gotten quite good at daubing that orange ball on her target, and then putting a BB-sized hole through it.

I kid thee not, even with a trigger pull that feels a lot like dragging an anchor chain through a box of rocks, she can clean 12-gauge shotgun hulls off of the pistol berm.

So, being the proper Papa that he is, Reno has decided to gift her with a Crickett .22 rifle this year.

These little wonders are absolute jewels. They're single shot, bolt-action rifles with about an 11-inch length-of-pull, and they are dedicated Kids Rifles.

You work the bolt, insert a cartridge into the chamber and close the bolt. Once that is done, you still have to manually draw back the striker before the rifle will fire.

It also has a integral key lock.

Those who know me, know that I absolutely loathe, despise and hate key locks on firearms ...

... except in this case. In the case of a child's rifle, I find that I don't have an objection to the key lock.

Of course, since Little Miss is a girly-girl, nothing will do but to get her the Model 225.

Why, you ask?

Because it's the one with the laminated pink stock. Duh.

I don't know about anyone else, but I find that to be completely and utterly cool -- It's a dedicated Girl's First Rifle.

About bloody time!

Apparently, I'm not the only one to think this, because we couldn't find a Crickett Model 225 at any of the gun stores we called.

Not only that, but each store we talked to informed us that their suppliers were out of the laminated pink ones until after Christmas.

That news gives me the warm fuzzies.

That news tells me that a whole bunch of little girls are getting a rifle for a present.

Mark my words -- the future of shooting in America -- the future of guns in America -- rests on the distaff side of the species.

The future of the Second Amendment in the United States lives or dies based on women. If women come to love the shooting sports as much as men do -- then gun control will fail in the United States.

If women never come to appreciate firearms as men do, then no matter what we do -- the Second Amendment is doomed.

The fact that suppliers are completely out of pink Dedicated Little Girls Rifles tells me that a whole bunch of little girls are going to be shooting in 2007.

That is nothing but good news for us gunnies.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Cheeze undt krakers!

I actually tied for first place in a contest!


I'd like to thank Cowboy Blob for my munificent prize (it's on the right side of his page), Chris "Anarchangel" Byrne for graciously sharing the pedestal, and Mr. Carter for making me memorize more sodding Shakespeare than you can, well, shake a spear at.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Twisted .sig lines

Some years back I got a little impish and wrote some brief passages to use as signature quotes on the forums I was frequenting. Since I am, well, me, they were a wee bit ... warped.

I was leafing through some old notebooks, and found some of them.
Thought the Big Bad Wolf as Little Red Riding Hood reloaded, "Is why I voted for the Democrats."
"We go in hard and fast. Watch your fire sectors and your threat ID."
Happy slammed a full mag into his MP5, "Nail anything taller than four feet except the Queen. Dead queens can't give us antidotes."

Dopey looked up from his equipment check, chin quivering, "What if she won't talk?"

"She'll talk,"
said Doc, grimly, "They always talk. Eventually."
bellowed the King, and the palace guard opened up on the Evil Fairy with full-auto AK-47s.
"That sounded like the safety on a Browning Hi-Power," murmured the Old Witch.

"Uh-huh," said Gretel.

There was a pause.

"I suppose the whole oven thing is out of the question, then?"
"I'll huff and I'll puff ...woah! Nice shotgun. Umm. Look at the time! Should have been home hours ago! Wife will be frantic. Nice meeting you. Bye, bye now!"
"Plan 'A' is to ask the ogre to change into a mouse. I eat the evidence, no muss, no fuss, no body"
said Puss-in-Boots as he screwed the silencer onto his HK Mk 23, "Plan 'B' gets messy."


Friday, December 01, 2006

Deja fu*, all over again.

Some readers may remember me writing a piece regarding the election in Mexico earlier this year.

Well, the new Presidente was sworn in last night, and it appears that Mexican politics are as robust as ever.

Allegedly, somewhere in the Mexican Constitution there is a passage which apparently states that if you can't make it to the swear-in platform, you can't be President.

This led to Mexican lawmakers packing in sleeping bags and camping out around the podium -- some to assist him up the stairs, others to assist him into unconsciousness.

Debate between the two parties was ... spirited. And when I say "spirited" -- they were fast-pitching chairs at each other.

I'm guessing that the Mexican version of Roberts Rules of Order has a "No Edged Weapons" clause, a standing eight count replaces the filibuster, and when eloquence fails, a good right hook is an acceptable rebuttal.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been invited to observe the swearing-in/swearing-at ceremony, was heard to declare, "It's good action."

Man has a point.

I'll say this: if an election has to be contested, the sight of poli-critters attempting to bludgeon each other into unconsciousness is a lot more fun to watch than the sight of lawyers scurrying back-and-forth.

Maybe C-Span ought to take notes.


*The feeling that somewhere, somehow, you've been kicked in the head like this before.