Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home Alone

Our 17-year-old son is the human equivalent of a Labrador Retriever. He's a friendly, good-natured kid, reasonably smart, but totally clueless.

We left him home alone overnight for the first time this week. My wife and daughter went to Houston on short notice for a chick fling with a couple of friends of theirs. I was planning on spending several days hunting, but cut the trip short when they decided to go. Still, that him left one night with no adult supervision - and a brand new girlfriend. He's normally a pretty responsible kid, and we trust him, but ... he is 17 years old.

So he and I had a heart-to-heart talk before I left, and we set the ground rules. The main one was "No visitors." In light of his new-found love, I also passed on two rules my Dad set for me when I was 17.
Rule #1 - Keep it in your pants.
Rule # 2 - When you break Rule #1, keep it covered.
Both my wife and I left town on Tues. The boy and his girlfriend were planning on exchanging their Christmas gifts that day, and then going out to dinner afterwards. About 3:00 that afternoon I got a phone call from the boy. His girlfriend's parents were having some people over to their house, so he wanted to shift the gift exchange to our place.


At least he asked. And like I said, we trust him. So I said okay, but she had to leave by 8:00, and he had to be back home no later than 10:00 that evening. And I told him I'd be calling the house to make sure everything was okay. (Trust, but verify...)

When I got home Wed. evening I asked him how things went.
  • The gift exchange went well. He got her a cookbook (!), which he said she liked.
  • Rather than going out to eat, he fixed her dinner. We've been working with him in the kitchen trying to teach him the basics. Evidently some of the cooking lessons stuck, but the tips on romance didn't. For their big romantic dinner he made her scrambled eggs and toast.
However, when I stopped and thought about it, I realized that (1) he has a girlfriend who has a job, and (2) she likes to cook.

Maybe the boy is smarter than I give him credit for...

Friday, December 30, 2011

I'd Like To See Obamacare Top This

I've been having a little problem with one of my eyes. Nothing serious, but enough to be aggravating, verging on painful. It started a couple of days ago and has slowly gotten worse. Since there's a holiday weekend coming up (and my wife has gotten tired of hearing me fuss about it), I decided around 10:30 this morning to get it checked out.

I called the ophthalmologist at 10:30. By 11:30 I was getting examined. After a series of tests I got a prescription, which was filled by 1:30.

In short, within three hours of me making a phone call I was seen by a medical specialist, tested, and medicine was dispensed. It cost me $40 for my co-pay, and $4 for my prescription (over and above what I pay in medical insurance premiums, which ain't cheap, but which are affordable).

obama and the libs think they can improve on that? Fat chance...

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2011.12.30

An oldie but a goodie - and just in time for the New Years weekend. It's a 1977 song from a Canadian band called Trooper: "We're Here for a Good Time, Not a Long Time, so Have a Good Time."

Sounds like a New Years resolution to me...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It Was A Great Hunting Trip

Just got back from a quick day-and-a-half trip to our hunting lease. It would have been longer, except for the fact that our 17-year-old son with the brand new girlfriend was home alone (more on that later). Didn't shoot a thing but had a great time.

I know this is difficult for many non-hunters to understand, but the motivation to go hunting is not driven solely by the desire to shoot something. Yes, that adds to the experience, but most of the folks I know hunt for a mix of reasons: the building excitement and the fun of preparing as the season nears (like Christmas, but with guns); the enjoyment of getting away from everyday life and doing something engaging, challenging, and outdoors (like hiking or camping, but with guns); and strengthening relationships with friends and family (like hanging out in a favorite tavern, but with guns*). If you happen to get lucky, that makes the whole thing even better (like dating, but with guns).

* We don't have a lot of rules, but we are very strict about safety. Rule #1 is "Once you have a drink you cannot touch a firearm until the next day."

Anyway, on this particular trip the weather was, finally, fantastic. Beautiful deep blue skies, crisp temperatures, just a light breeze. The ground was soft from the previous rains, but not muddy or squishy, making it easier to move around quietly and to see tracks. The roads were, for the most past, passable, although there were a few remaining bogs where I got to play 4x4 road warrior.

Best of all, since it was the middle of the week, no one else was there. It was just me, my older son, and his son (my grandson). I'm not much for stand hunting - I like to get out and move around - but with a full lease it limits how much roaming you can do. This trip I would get into position while it was still dark, then about an hour or so after sunup I'd move a few hundred yards and find another spot to sit for a while, and then move again. Probably not the most efficient way to hunt, but that's the way I like to do it.

We'd meet up back at camp for lunch, hang out for a while, and then go out again mid-afternoon.

Meals were simple. We had sandwiches for lunch. Dinner was sausage roasted over the fire, then covered with salsa and wrapped in tortillas. Dessert was leftover Christmas cookies. Elegant dining at its finest.

The only thing missing was the game. Between the three of us we saw one deer on the entire trip. It was a little forkhorn with one antler broken off at the base. Damn thing looked like a unicorn. I saw it early on the first day and passed, thinking I'd surely see something better. Wrong again.

I also saw a javelina family. Saw them several times, in fact. They showed up at 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. both days at the intersection of a couple of game trails I was staking out. I thought about shooting but I've been successfully anthropomorphized by Walt Disney. There was Daddy javelina, Mommy javelina, and a cute, tiny like piglet about the size of a football. He stayed under Mom most of the time. It was amazing watching them move in tandem, both changing direction simultaneously.

Unfortunately, Dad proved the old adage that all males are pigs. At one point, while Mom had her head down eating acorns, he mounted her. There was poor Mom trying to get something to eat, with Dad getting busy on top of her, and Junior underneath her butting up against her teats trying to nurse. Then Dad lifted his head and curled his lip back, showing his tusks. It wasn't an angry or threatening gesture, or even a triumphant one. It was more of a "Gee, is this a great world or what, and I'm so friggin' happy right now" grin. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. I would have given Dad a high-five but it would have broken up their tender moment.
Later that day there were nine (I counted 'em) large v's of geese fly overhead. It looked like those old WWII movies where waves of bomber fly over in formation. They were moving from west to east, headed for the Texas Gulf coast with its lakes and marshes (or at least where the lakes and marshes used to be before this year's drought - I guess the geese don't watch the Weather Channel). Seeing them spread out over the sky and hearing their cries gave me goosebumps (seriously).
There were other birds as well. In addition to the usual sparrows and wrens, we had plenty of dove and quail. There were several of the brightest, reddest cardinals I've ever seen, along with something I'd never seen of even heard of - green jays. They're medium-sized birds, bright lime-green with a dark blue or black head, and a light yellow underbelly. I had to look them up when I got home.

And then there were the predators - a couple of owls, several hawks, and even one caracara - the Mexican eagle (probably here without papers).

Add in the mammalian food chain - rodents, rabbits, racoons, coyotes, and bobcats - and it was a veritable Wild Kingdom.
Didn't see any feral hogs, but saw plenty of sign - tracks, wallows, rooted-up areas, and droppings. I had a game camera set up in one area, and there were nightly visits by a couple of packs, usually between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Spotlighting hogs is legal in Texas (they're considered vermin, and rightly so) so after deer season we're planning a weekend to go night-hunting for hogs.
All in all, a great trip. But now it's time to catch up on everything I put off over Christmas, including school work.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Try Try Again

I'm slipping away today and tomorrow for one more try at this hunting season. After the last two rainouts, I'm hoping the third time's the charm.

The forecast is clear and sunny, but the damn weatherman has lied to me more than both of my ex-wives combined, so I'm not gonna believe it until I see it...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Freedom Of Religion

Around this time of the year here in America there is a lot of Sturm und Drang around the holiday traditions of various religions. Although there are the usual assholes who get bent out of shape regarding Christmas, Chanukah (Hanukkah), and/or Kwanzaa displays and message, most of us are relatively tolerant.

Would that it was the same elsewhere.

Attacks Against Christians In Nigeria Kill At Least 39
Attacks across Nigeria by a radical Muslim sect killed at least 39 people (on Christmas), with the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church in a massive explosion after Christmas Mass.

The first explosion Sunday struck St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla near Nigeria's capital just after 8 a.m. The attack killed 35 people and wounded another 52, said Slaku Luguard, a coordinator with Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.

The wounded filled the cement floors of a nearby government hospital. Bodies lined an open-air morgue.

In Jos, a second explosion struck near the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church, state government spokesman Pam Ayuba said. Gunmen later opened fire on police guarding the area, killing one officer, he said. Two other locally made explosives were found in a nearby building and disarmed.

By noon Sunday, explosions echoed through the streets of Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, where fighting between security forces and the sect already had killed at least 61 people in recent days. The most serious attack on Sunday came when a suicide bomber detonated a car loaded with explosives at the state headquarters of Nigeria's secret police, the State Security Service.

(The group claiming responsibility), Boko Haram has carried out increasingly sophisticated and bloody attacks in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law across Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people. The group, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the local Hausa language, is responsible for at least 504 killings this year alone, according to an Associated Press count.

This Christmas attack comes a year after a series of Christmas Eve bombings in Jos claimed by the militants left at least 32 dead and 74 wounded. The group also claimed responsibility for the Aug. 26 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, that killed 24 people and wounded 116 others.
Men look at the wreckage of a car following a bomb blast at St. Theresa Catholic Church outside the Nigerian capital Abuja on Christmas Day. 

In other countries the words may change but the tune remains the same.
Kirolos Andraws had every reason to be excited about the January uprising in his native Egypt, figuring democracy would bring hope for young people like him.

Then one day in February, says Mr. Andraws, a gang of thugs beat him and told him, "you deserve to die." His offense, he says: refusing to convert to Islam.

Mr. Andraws is one of thousands of Coptic Christians—followers of an ancient form of Christianity with its own language and rituals—who have come to the U.S. to escape rising persecution in Egypt.

For decades Copts have suffered attacks by Islamists who view them as "kafir"—Arabic for nonbelievers. But there is now a sense among Middle East experts that they have become more vulnerable since the revolution.

This year, mobs have looted and attacked Coptic churches, homes and shops throughout Egypt. Churches have been burned down, and one Copt had his ear cut off by a Muslim cleric invoking Islamic law.

Strong gains by Islamist parties in the recent elections have further raised fears among the Christian minority that they won't have a place in the new Egypt.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal advisory agency, asked the State Department to place Egypt on its list of "countries of particular concern"—egregious violators of religious freedoms. The department declined, saying that its goal is to work with the Egyptian government to improve conditions for Christians.
That last paragraph is another indication of how dysfunctional and delusional Hillary's State Department is.

The common theme of these two stories is, of course, the absolute lack of tolerance of Islam. Not surprising anymore, but still disturbing. I am getting really, really tired of Islamic apologists who say it's only a few radical fundamentalists who give the rest of them a bad name. It is past time for so-called moderate Muslims (if there is such a thing) to stand up and denounce their radical cousins. And it is way past time for the rest of the world to enforce civilized standards of behavior on any religion that uses its beliefs as a shield to protect cowardly and murderous behavior.

Thought exercise: go back to that first story about the church bombings in Nigeria. Switch the words "Christian" and "Muslim."Change "churches" to "mosques." Now imagine the world's reaction. The media's. Would it be the same? Greater? Less?

I think w all know the answer to that one.

I'm willing to bet that the majority of Americans, regardless of their religious leanings, are not overly concerned about others who believe differently. Our guiding tenet is that you have the right to do whatever you want, as long as you don't interfere with my right to do the same.

Again, would that it was the same elsewhere...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Count Your Blessings

We take so many things far, far too much for granted. Especially those close to us.

Yesterday we had a large gathering of family and friends share Christmas with us. We opened presents, had the traditional excessive dinner, and then sat around socializing. (Socializing, of course, is greatly facilitated by various forms and amounts of adult beverages.)

We have what real estate folks refer to as an open floor plan. That means the kitchen and living room are basically one large room, separated only by an island that is kitchen on one side (stove top, sink, etc.) and living room on the other (a chest-high bar top, lined with high-backed bar stools). I was on the kitchen side, helping clean up, while the guests mingled and chatted on the other side.

Suddenly my 94-year-old father began coughing. Not ordinary coughs, but great, heaving, retching hacks. They came in spasms that shook his entire frame. He couldn't talk, was having great difficulty breathing, and was starting to change color.

We live about 15 miles from the nearest town of any size. It would take at least 20 minutes or more for EMS to reach us. Fortunately, one of our friends who lives about five minutes away is an Emergency Room doctor, so we called him.

Unfortunately, he wasn't home.

Fortunately, his wife, who is an ER nurse, was.

We explained the situation to her and she said she'd be right over. In the meantime, the coughing got worse. Dad had an upper respiratory infection earlier in the week, and it seemed like he had tried to cough up a wad of mucous which became stuck in this throat. It reached the point where I was running through the Heimlich maneuver steps in my mind, while at the same time sticking the blade of a boning knife in the stove burner flame to sterilize it in case an emergency tracheotomy became necessary.

The problem was that Dad would have a spasm, be in extreme distress, but then recover slightly for a few seconds. Every time I got ready to give him the Heimlich squeeze he'd rally slightly. I've always been taught that if the victim is breathing even a little bit, don't do anything. But it was so damn frustrating, not to mention frightening, to stand there basically helpless, watching the man who gave you life in danger of losing his own.

Finally he gave one really huge hack and expelled a plug of blackened, dried-up mucus, along with about a cup of totally gross liquid. Immediately afterwards he leaned back and began to breathe a little easier.

About then our friend the ER nurse showed up. She checked him out, confirmed that the crisis was over, and gave us a few suggestions for care and treatment in the near term.

Today Dad's doing fine. He's a little tired from the ordeal (he is, after all, 94) but is resting comfortably and breathing normally, for which we are all grateful.

We're also grateful to have friends who will interrupt their own holiday celebration to help us in our time of need.

So the moral of this story is to not just count your blessings, but to also give those special people in your life a little extra hug or kiss, and let them know how much they mean to you.

You never know when they might be taken away...

FOD 2011.12.26

First of all, I hope everyone had their fourth best Christmas ever - if not better.

In a recent 60 Minutes interview, humble barry obama ranked himself as the fourth best U.S. president. Below is a list of his 'accomplishments' that prompted him to do so.

Thank goodness he wasn't the best president ever. I don't think the country could take it...

Twas The Morning After Christmas

Here's hoping your Christmas exceeded expectations.

Santa's certainly did...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I can think of no better Christmas wish than that old standard:

"Peace on Earth. Good will towards men."

May it come true this year...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cancelled

Bad news. Christmas has been canceled this year.

Naughty Or Nice?

Your choice...



Friday, December 23, 2011

Chrismas Lights

Things have been hectic here in the idyllic hamlet of Bergheim. Consequently, I've fallen a little behind in certain Christmas activities, such as putting up the outside Christmas lights. My wife has been giving me grief about it, so to get her off my back I finally put them up today.

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2011.12.23

'Tis the season ... dedicated to those who can't be with their loved ones this Christmas.

Our Little Boy Is Growing Up

Our 17-year-old son has just entered into his first 'serious' relationship.' He had a girlfriend a few years back, but she was a contender for the reality show Real Housewives of Bergheim, in that she acted like a diva, demanding 100% of his time, attention, and discretionary spending. That experience convinced him that casual dating was the way to go.

At least until recently.

We first learned about his new girlfriend from - what else - Facebook, when his status changed from Single to In A Relationship. (Yes, we made him friend us.) That prompted a flurry of posts from his real friends, which gave us more intel than we ever got from him.

She joined us for dinner the other night. She's a very sweet girl - attractive, smart (early acceptance to Texas A&M, with acceptance decisions pending at Rice and Boston College), good work ethic (rancher's daughter, has a job working at a fashion boutique in town), simple tastes (just about every other one of their dates is a walk in the woods followed by a picnic alongside the creek) ... just about everything a parent could want in a girlfriend for their son.

She's been an excellent influence on him. He is paying more attention to clothes and hygiene than I ever thought possible. He even asked for an electric razor for Christmas, which is a massive case of overkill (he could be clean-shaven just by scrubbing his face with a rough washcloth once a week). It would be an ideal match, except for one thing.

She's a high school senior, and he's only a junior.

That means next September she'll go off to college, get swept off her feet by some frat boy, and that'll be the end of the boy back home.

I can see it coming, but there's nothing I can do about it.

Oh well, it's all part of growing up...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Another Last Minute Gift Idea

Evidently there were some women out there who were less than pleased with yesterday's suggestion that their man get them an old-fashioned Christmas present. So today we present something for those bitter, man-hating women in our lives - a five piece kitchen knife set with a unique knife holder.

"Not only functional, but also therapeutic, this five-piece knife set plus holder makes for the perfect gift and a guaranteed conversation piece."

And I can only imagine what the conversation will be about...

One Person, One Vote Follow-Up

A little while back I posted about Eric Holder and the obama Department of Injustice planning to "be aggressive in reviewing new voting laws."

Today there was was a letter to the local paper addressing that very topic. In response to an editorial cartoon criticizing a new state law requiring voters to produce a photo ID, a reader penned this gem.

Texans must show a photo ID to board an airplane, cash a check, drive a car, use a credit card and a raft of other everyday activities, yet it is the cartoonist's opinion that having to show an ID to vote is “voter suppression.”

Give me a break! The specific purpose is to prevent vote fraud and ballot-box stuffing. My grandparents all lived in Illinois and voted Republican until the days they died. They've been staunch Democrats ever since. We need to stop such practices here in Texas.
Gotta luv it...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Minute Gift Idea

For you men out there who are still struggling to come up with a special gift for that special gal in your life, we here at Bergheim Follies have just the thing.

Let me know how it works out for you...

Follow The Money

Recently, a trading firm named MF Global filed for bankruptcy - the eighth largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. The story behind that bankruptcy is still unfolding, but there is more than a whiff of another obama-related scandal emerging.

MF Global has been around in one form or another since 1783. It survived over 225 years until former democrat senator and former New Jersey governor (until Chris Christie kicked his ass) Jon Corzine became CEO in 2010.

Oh yeah - Corzine was also one of obama's top economic advisers (Obama: Corzine Is “Our Wall Street Guy”). He helped craft obama's failed stimulus package. VP Joe Biden called Corzine "the smartest guy I know in terms of the economy and on finance.”

As part of MF Global's failure, $1.2 Billion - that's Billion with a "B" - of its customers' money is missing. If you're like me, you keep pretty close track of every dollar. The thought of 'misplacing' $1.2B is literally incomprehensible. Yet Corzine, testifying in front of congress, stated "I simply do not know where the money is..."

Needless to say, that isn't going over very well.
It's been more than six weeks since the bankruptcy of Jon Corzine's MF Global, and everyone from the FBI to Congress to frustrated customers is still trying to figure out what exactly went wrong.

In the commodities market, customer funds entrusted to firms like MF Global are supposed to be sacrosanct, protected even in the event of a bankruptcy. A firm can invest these funds for its own purposes, but only provided that it puts safe forms of collateral in place, such as U.S. government bonds, to keep the value of accounts whole.

If these procedures aren't followed, the use of customer funds for a firm's own purposes is a serious violation of industry rules that may also carry criminal liability...
With any luck, this story will play out over the next eleven months, keeping the Conzine-obama-Biden connection in front of voters during the upcoming campaign.

In the meantime, here's a pithy summation and illustration of the MF Global debacle.
During the Age of Obama, the scandals come so thick and fast that you can hardly remember them all, let alone keep track of their details. One of the most recent is MF Global, which not only went under–with former Democratic Senator and Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine at the helm–but misplaced $1.2 billion in client funds along the way. How do you lose track of a billion dollars? ... Michael Ramirez has the definitive answer:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Rich Get Richer - Not

Politicians lie. The media misinforms. Not exactly a surprise, but when a particular theme is repeated over and over, some people eventually take it as gospel.
“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

 Joseph Goebbels
A good example of this is the 'evil 1%' message currently being parroted by liberals and the media: "They get richer while everyone else gets poorer;" "They don't pay their fare share."

The only problem is none of that is true.

Myth #1 - They get richer while everyone else gets poorer.

Fact - The rich have gotten poorer much faster than anyone else.
The total income of the top 1% - or those earning more than $343,000 - fell by more than 30% from 2007, according to the most recent Internal Revenue Service data. By contrast, the average income of the bottom 90% fell less than 3% during the same period.
Subsumed in Myth #1 is the notion of an inequality gap - the gap between the rich and the poor - that not only is large, but growing. Again, however, the facts do not bear this out.
... the most recent data from the IRS and Federal Reserve show that income inequality was lower in 2009 (the latest period available) than it was in 1995. The top 1% of earners held 16.93% of the nation’s income in 2009. In 1998, their share was 18.47%.
An interesting side note to the inequality gap is that most Americans don't see it as a problem, despite what the politicians and pundits would have us believe.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 52% of Americans say the rich-poor gap is “an acceptable part of our economic system.” A slightly lower 45% said the gap “needs to be fixed.”

The survey found that Americans prefer growth over a reduction in inequality. Some 82% said growth was either “extremely” or “very” important; only 46% said “reducing the income and wealth gap between rich and poor” was “extremely” or “very” important.
The poll goes on to note that "Americans are less concerned about inequality now than they were in 1998."

Myth #2 - They don't pay their fair share.

Fact - the rich pay more taxes proportional to income than any other group.
... the infamous top 1% – those earning over $380,354 – paid 38.02 percent of federal income taxes... Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent of income earners – the group that, according to the liberal world view, is subsidizing tax handouts to the wealthy – shouldered just 2.7 percent of the federal income tax burden.

The top 1 percent ... earned 20 percent of the nation's adjusted gross income – yet their share of the tax burden was nearly twice that (over 38%). Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent earned 12.75 percent of the nation's income, while their share of the tax burden was about one-fifth of that. You can see this demonstrated in the chart below.

Furthermore, the tax burden shouldered by the rich has remained essentially level over the past decade, even as tax rates went down as a result of the Bush tax cuts. So much for tax cuts that favor the rich.
... the distribution of the tax burden across income levels was roughly similar in 2000 – the last year of the Clinton tax rates – than it was in 2008, after the Bush rates had been effect for years. In fact, the rich paid a slightly higher share in 2008.

So the facts show that the income of the wealthiest 1% has dropped more than any other group, the inequality gap has shrunk, and the wealthiest 1% pay proportionally more in taxes than any other group. Yet obama and his drones, aided and abetted by the blathering sycophants in the media,  continue their class warfare campaign in a shameless attempt to impose their socialist agenda on the rest of us.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not part of the 1%. Not even close. But I hope to be some day. And I don't believe in punishing people for being successful.
I guess that means I can't be a liberal...

Monday, December 19, 2011

FOD 2011.12.19

Actually, today is  a combination of FOD and FED (E = Eric, as in Eric Holder).

Posted without comment, mainly because Jeffrey Kuhner says it much better than I could.

Obama's Watergate
A year ago this week, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. He died protecting his country from brutal Mexican gangsters. Two AK-47 assault rifles were found at his death site. We now know the horrifying truth: Agent Terry was killed by weapons that were part of an illegal Obama administration operation to smuggle arms to the dangerous drug cartels. He was a victim of his own government. This is not only a major scandal; it is a high crime that potentially reaches all the way to the White House, implicating senior officials. It is President Obama’s Watergate.

(Attorney General Eric) Holder insists he was unaware of what took place until after media reports of the scandal appeared in early 2011. This is false. Such a vast operation only could have occurred with the full knowledge and consent of senior administration officials. Massive gun-running and smuggling is not carried out by low-level ATF bureaucrats unless there is authorization from the top. There is a systematic cover-up.

Mr. Holder and his aides have given misleading, false and contradictory testimony on Capitol Hill. Perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power - these are high crimes and misdemeanors. Mr. Holder should be impeached. Like most liberals, he is playing the victim card, claiming Mr. Issa is a modern-day Joseph McCarthy conducting a judicial witch hunt. Regardless of this petty smear, Mr. Holder must be held responsible and accountable - not only for the botched operation, but for his flagrant attempts to deflect blame from the administration.

Mr. Holder is a shameless careerist and a ruthless Beltway operative. For years, his out-of-control Justice Department has violated the fundamental principle of our democracy, the rule of law. He has refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panthers for blatant voter intimidation that took place in the 2008 election. Career Justice lawyers have confessed publicly that Mr. Holder will not pursue cases in which the perpetrators are black and the victims white. States such as Arizona and Alabama are being sued for simply attempting to enforce federal immigration laws. Mr. Holder also opposes voter identification cards, thereby enabling fraud and vote-stealing at the ballot box. What else can we expect from one who, during the Clinton administration, helped pardon notorious tax cheat Marc Rich and Puerto Rican terrorists?

Mr. Holder clearly knew about Fast and Furious and did nothing to stop it. This is because the administration wanted to use the excuse of increased violence on the border and weapons-smuggling into Mexico to justify tighter gun-control legislation. Mr. Holder is fighting ferociously to prevent important internal Justice documents from falling into the hands of congressional investigators. If the full nature of his involvement is discovered, the Obama presidency will be in peril.

Fast and Furious is even worse than Watergate for one simple reason: No one died because of President Nixon’s political dirty tricks and abuse of government power. But Brian Terry is dead; and there are still 1,500 missing guns threatening still more lives.

What did Mr. Obama know? Massive gun-smuggling by the U.S. government into a foreign country does not happen without the explicit knowledge and approval of leading administration officials. It’s too big, too risky and too costly. Mr. Holder may not be protecting just himself and his cronies. Is he protecting the president?
And just where is the media in all this? Whatever happened to investigative reporting? Or is that only the case when questionable and unsubstantiated allegations are made against conservatives...?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Not With A Bang But A Whimper

Is it just me, or does the exit of the last U.S. troops from Iraq seem anti-climatic? There's been no banner headlines, no high-profile celebrations or parades - just a soft, almost silent sigh of relief from the troops and their loved ones. It all seems quite unsettling, almost surreal. Even the reaction of the media and the blogosphere seems strangely muted.

It is worth keeping in mind that the troop withdrawal deadline was specified in the Status of Forces Agreement signed by George W. Bush towards the end of his presidency, and overseen by obama. Of course, both sides will try and spin this to their advantage (e.g., pro-Bush here ; pro-obama here).

I'll leave it to others to debate the success or failure of the Iraqi mission. To me, the important thing is that thousands of our service members are out of harm's way, in time for the holidays.

For that, at least, we should all be thankful.

Rained Out - Again

Tried to go hunting again this weekend, and again Mother Nature didn't cooperate. It didn't rain nearly as heavily as last weekend, but the week in-between was generally drizzly and damp. It wasn't so much the amount of rain we got, as the fact that the dirt roads on our lease didn't get a chance to dry out. They were pretty much impassable last weekend, and even worse this weekend. So Saturday morning we opted to head for the comforts of home and hearth.

As Charlie Delta pointed out in a comment on an earlier post, Texas is in the midst of a prolonged severe drought. We should be grateful for what precipitation we have received.
The recent rains have brought some relief to the area, but have done little to change the overall drought situation. Most of Central Texas and the Colorado River basin remain in the grips of an extreme drought.

The weather outlook ... over the next six months still doesn't offer much hope for significant rain.
The recent rains are indeed welcome. However, as an American, a veteran, and an almost-senior citizen, it is my God-given right to bitch about anything, no matter how beneficial. Whoever controls the weather should arrange for it to rain during basketball season, when it won't bother anyone...

Sunday Funnies 2011.12.18

Another semester has come and gone ... thank goodness.

The pretty coed was shocked when the biology professor asked her "What part of the human anatomy enlarges to about 10 times its normal size during periods of emotion or excitement?"

"I - I - I refuse to answer that question," the girl stammered and blushingly turned her face away.

Another student was asked the same question and answered correctly, "The pupil of the eye."

"Miss Fenster," said the professor, "your refusal to answer the question leads me to three conclusions.
  • One: You didn't study last night's assignment.
  • Two: You have a dirty mind
  • Three: Your marriage will be a tremendous disappointment."

Old professors never die, they just grade away.

Old professors never die, they just lose their class.

There once was an old man from Esser,
Who's knowledge grew lesser and lesser.
It at last grew so small,
He knew nothing at all,
And now he's a College Professor.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Week That Was

Between the end of the Fall semester, hunting season, and the approaching holidays, I let a couple of things slip last week that are worthy of going back and revisiting.

The first is the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights becoming part of the U.S. Constitution. Conservative and liberal groups both noted that event, and both shared a common perspective on it -- praising the original intent, and bemoaning its erosion over time -- something that is at once surprising and encouraging.

The Cato Institute commented on the amendments one by one, coming to the conclusion that the only one which retains much of its original scope is the Third Amendment:
The Third Amendment says soldiers may not be quartered in our homes without the consent of the owners.  This safeguard is one of the few that is in fine shape...
The Huffington Post takes a different approach, tracing the historical evolution -- or perhaps a better word is de-evolution -- of the Bill of Rights.
U.S. history reminds us of why so many early Americans wanted a Bill of Rights. They understood that governments abused their power, a truth that has since been corroborated by our presidents' actions time and again.
Interestingly, both organizations used the TSA as an example of violating the Bill of Rights. And both came to the conclusion that it is the responsibility of We the People to ensure that our rights are not violated by the government.
HuffPo: "If we want to have a Bill of Rights Day worth celebrating, we must demand that officials at all levels respect our freedoms -- and not let the government get away with abusing them."

Cato: "The key point is this: A free society does not just “happen.”  It has to be deliberately created and deliberately maintained ... let’s resolve to be more vigilant about defending our Constitution."
That sounds like a resolution worth keeping during the New Year.

A second, more troubling anniversary, also took place last week. It was the one year anniversary of the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry at the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, armed by Eric Holder and his flunkies at the U.S. Department of Justice.
It turns out, the gun used to kill Brian came from the Obama Justice Department through Operation Fast and Furious. One year later we have no details about what really happened that night, no justice for Brian, no justice for the Terry family and an Attorney General who thinks he is above the law in providing details about the lethal Fast and Furious operation which has left more than 200 dead in Mexico and tied to the murders of two federal agents. Even Eric Holder admits more people will be killed because of his department putting over 2000 guns into the hands of ruthless cartel members.

Brian, the Terry family and the American people deserve better.
So please, take some time during your holiday activities to say a prayer for Brian Terry and his loved ones. And resolve to honor Brian by doing whatever you can to 'preserve, protect, and defend' the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights during these turbulent times.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2011.12.16

Our hunting trip was rained out last weekend. It's rained off and on all this week. And the forecast for this weekend is more rain. But we're going to try it again and hope we don't get too wet. Still, I wonder ... who'll stop the rain?

One Giant Leap To A Nonsensical Conclusion

I'm not sure what to make of Tebow-mania. His stats are shaky, he doesn't fit the mold of the prototype NFL quarterback, and I have my doubts about the likelihood of his long term success. And yet, as his disciples acolytes supporters say, all he does is win.

Without getting into the football-related arguments regarding his ability, success, and future, I will note with dismay that some people just don't get that football is a game, not a religion (unless you're talking about high school and college football in Texas - then it is THE religion of the masses).

Anyway, via Jammie Wearing Fools, we have this example of Tebow hysteria taken way too far.
People are always looking for signs of God’s beneficence, and a victory by the Orange Crush over the blue-clad Patriots, from the bluest of blue states, will give fodder to a Christian revivalism that has already turned the Republican presidential race into a pander-thon to social conservatives, rekindling memories of those cultural icons of the ‘80s, the Moral Majority and “Hee Haw.”

If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants...
WTF?!? Sounds like something a MSNBC commentator would say.

If you think that's a little over the top, you're not alone. The post has disappeard, and has been replaced with the following bland statement:
The piece has been taken down and I apologize to all those whom it has offended. Some additional reflections will be forthcoming. Thank you.
However, as JWF points out, nothing ever really goes away on the Internet. You can go here to see the piece in its entirety.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

One Person, One Vote - Unless You're A Democrat

Alright, boys and girls, today we're going to review that most fundamental of all democratic principles, the one most of us learned in our first civics course - the concept of one person, one vote.

Underlying that simple concept is the premise that the person casting the vote is a valid and legitimate member of the body politic, fully qualified to cast his or her ballot as part of the democratic process.

The question before us is how to determine the legitimacy of an individual seeking to vote. Several states have recently passed legislation stating that possession of a state-issued form of identification is not only acceptable, but required.

The obama administration and its usual coalition of out-of-touch leftist drones and clones are now voicing outrage that people must prove who they are in order to vote.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday entered the turbulent political waters of voting rights, signaling that the Justice Department would be aggressive in reviewing new voting laws that civil rights advocates say will dampen minority participation in next year’s elections.
This is the same Eric Holder that saw no problem with thugs carrying clubs and hollering racial epithets while patrolling in front of polling places during the 2008 presidential election. Since the thugs were black instead of white, Holder didn't consider that voter intimidation.

Decrying a common-sense identification requirement is bad. Turning a blind - or racist - eye to blatant intimidation is worse. But the really scary thing is Holder's vision for the future.
Mr. Holder also laid out a case for replacing the “antiquated” voter registration system by automatically registering all eligible voters...
No potential for abuse there.
This year, more than a dozen states enacted new voting restrictions. For example, eight — Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin — imposed new laws requiring voters to present state-issued photo identification cards.
There is precedent regarding the legality of such laws. However, previous cases were decided on the basis of states vs. federal rights. Holder's position is that the Voting Rights Law - a federal law designed to protect the voting rights of minorities - trumps the equal-protection clause of the Constitution. I'm not a legal scholar, but I always thought the Constitution was the supreme law of the land. I guess that's no longer the case.

In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law requiring voters to present photo ID cards, ruling that the state’s interest in preventing fraud outweighed the burdens the law placed on voters. That case, however, was based on the Constitution’s equal-protection clause and did not address the different standards imposed by the Voting Rights Act.

In a 2009 case involving a Texas water board, the Supreme Court said that a key section of the Voting Rights Act, despite its “undeniable” historic importance, “now raises serious constitutional concerns” because it intrudes on states’ rights. However, it declined to strike down the law.
Another perspective:
Hans von Spakovsky, a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Monday that Holder’s stance is driven by “ideology and politics.’’ He noted that courts have found laws requiring voter identification in Georgia and Indiana to be nondiscriminatory. “Georgia’s law has been in place for five years and not only did the turnout for African Americans not go down, it went up,’’ said von Spakovsky, a Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration.

Holder said the laws could depress turnout for minorities, poor and elderly people and those with disabilities who would have difficulty securing valid identification documents. He rejected any notion of politics influencing Justice’s decisions on the new laws.

“We’re doing this in a very fair, apolitical way,’’ he said. “We don’t want anybody to think that there is a partisan component to anything we are doing.’’
Yeah, right. And obamacare will reduce health care costs, improve health care quality, and reduce the budget deficit.
Proponents of such restrictions — mostly Republicans — say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud that could cancel out the choices of legitimate participants. Opponents — mostly Democrats — say there is no evidence of meaningful levels of fraud...
No meaningful levels of fraud, huh? I guess it depends on what your definition of 'meaningful' is.
Never mind the fact that Mississippi NAACP leader Lessadolla Sowers was recently sentenced to 50 years in prison for vote fraud, that the now-defunct ACORN recently received the maximum fine possible for vote fraud by a Nevada judge or that Holder’s own Justice Department is accused of making a sweetheart settlement with members of the New Black Panther Party who were accused of voter intimidation in Philadelphia on Election Day 2008.

(Never mind that) "The chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party announced his resignation Monday, as investigators probe allegations of election fraud stemming from the 2008 Democratic presidential primary."

Dan Parker, who served for seven years, did not cite the scandal as a reason for his decision. But the uproar over possible fraud in a race for the White House has already claimed the job of one county Democratic Chairman, who sources say was forced out because of the allegations.

(Never mind that) Adolf Hitler and Mickey Mouse signatures will be counted in the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, so long as they are properly dated and bear a Wisconsin address.

The Government Accountability Board reviewing the petitions unanimously approved a plan that would allow questionable names to be counted if they are signed within the circulation dates and have a proper address...
In a delicious bit of irony and an outstanding example of hypocrisy, "As each person entered (to hear Holder talk) they were required to present their photo IDs in order to be allowed in to hear the speech."

Finally, a picture is worth a thousand words. Unions, of course, are huge supporters of the democrat party, and contribute millions if not billions of dollars to its campaign coffers.
As you’ll note in the photo below the union requires its own members to produce a photo ID in order to vote.
In America, one needs an ID to vote in a union election, buy liquor, drive a car, board an airplane, use a credit card and a slew of other things in our society. Yet, the Democratic party refuses to back the idea of requiring an ID to vote in state and federal elections under any circumstances. A sensible voter ID law that respects the rights of the poor, elderly, and minorities is a great idea. What are Democrats afraid of?

Don't Mess With Grandma

A supposedly true story from a Kansas Highway Patrol officer.
I made a traffic stop on an elderly lady the other day for speeding on U.S. 166 Eastbound at Mile Marker 73  just East of Sedan, KS.

I asked for her driver's license, registration, and  proof of insurance. The  lady took out the required information and handed it to me.

Along with the cards I was somewhat surprised (due to her advanced age) to see she had a concealed carry permit. I looked at her and asked  if she had a weapon in her possession at this time.

She responded that she indeed had a .45  automatic in her glove  box.

Something---body  language, or the way she said it---made me ask if she had any other firearms. She did admit to also having a  9mm Glock in her center console.

Now I had to ask if that was all. She responded once again that she did have just one more, a .38 special in her purse. I then asked her what was she so afraid of.

She looked me right in the eye and said, "Not a freaking thing!"
If it's not true, it should be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Early Holiday Celebration

I just finished posting my last grade for the semester. I'm done (with classes, at least) until next January.

In related news, I just opened a celebratory Shiner. Now it's time to go online and do some Christmas shopping.

Shiners and online shopping - it's gonna be a very merry Christmas...

CBS Disgraces Itself - Again

I ran across the following at Irons in the Fire. It made my blood boil. If you get as riled as I did, please take a moment to let CBS know how you feel.
No excerpts; you need to get the full flavor of this. CBS, screw you; I've seen the show a time or two, but I won't be watching it again. I think I'll wander over to their feedback form and say so.
I'll provide one excerpt, and one picture, just to give you an idea of what got me so upset.
... to discover the actors and crew walking ON the graves (of Pearl Harbor and other WWII veterans). The production equipment was laid over the grave stones. I was amazed at the audacity of the crew to treat the graves as just a prop in their show, their lack of respect augmented by walking on the grave stones.
If you read the entire thing you will notice that there is some disagreement over exactly what was said and done. However, for me the photographs clinched it. They make it pretty clear that CBS' actions were disgraceful and inexcusable.
What else is new...?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Life Is Good

I gave my last final tonight. I'll grade them tomorrow, but in the meantime I'm luxuriating in the feeling that comes from being done with classes for another semester - kind of like post-coital afterglow, but not quite as fulfilling.

It's still damp and cool down here, so I threw together a quick-and-dirty tortilla soup for dinner. I had some leftover chicken breasts from last weekend's rained-out hunt. They were wrapped in foil with bacon, chopped onion, garlic, and spices, then dropped in the campfire for about 45 minutes. Yummm...

The rest of the ingredients should be on hand in any reasonably well-stocked kitchen.

Normally when I make tortilla soup it's all from scratch, including the stock. However, since I'm at my bachelor pad in South Texas, rather than my fully stocked and equipped home kitchen, I opted for speed and convenience. It still came out pretty damn good.


    1 onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons veggie oil
    4 teaspoons chili powder
    2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 14 oz. can Rotel tomatoes
    4 15 oz. cans chicken broth (or 2 32 oz. boxes - I like the free range organic stuff)
    juice of 1 lime
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    2 cups shredded leftover chicken or turkey
Optional Toppings:
    crushed tortilla chips or shredded fried tortillas (shred first, then fry)
    sliced avocado
    shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
    chopped green onions

Sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

The basic recipe is a little on the bland side, so feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste. For example, you could toss in a diced jalapeño to kick it up a notch. Another option, and one I really like, is to add a couple of tablespoons of chipotle flavored salsa or enchilada sauce. That gives it a nice smokey flavor.

I couldn't decide whether red or white wine would be best with this soup, so I went instead with Shiner. Of course, margaritas would also be a good choice.


Golf Is More Dangerous Than What???

In my profession, we try to base our opinions and decisions on data, not conjecture. A good example of the difference between what everyone 'knows' and what the facts tell us is exemplified by the following. Plus this is the middle of hunting season, so I thought it was timely.

Contrary to public opinion, hunting is safer than golf
... hunting with firearms is one of the safest recreational activities in America.

... hunting ranks third in safety when compared to 28 other recreational pursuits, ranging from baseball to wrestling. Hunting with firearms has an injury rate of 0.05 percent, which equates to about 1 injury per 2,000 participants, a safety level bettered only by camping (.01 percent) and billiards (.02 percent). For comparison, golf has an injury rate of 0.16 percent (1 injury per 622 participants), while tackle football topped the list of activities with an injury rate of 5.27 percent (1 injury per 19 participants).
This did come as a bit of a surprise to me. I knew hunting was relatively safe, but I had no idea that it was safer than golf. How on earth do you get hurt playing golf? Of course, if you play like me you could throw a club in disgust after a lousy shot and hit someone. Or drink too much and drive the cart into a tree.
"Many people have the misconception that hunting is unsafe, but the data tells a different story," said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF's director of industry research and analysis. "Comprehensive hunter education classes that emphasize the basic rules of firearm safety and a culture of hunters helping fellow hunters practice safe firearms handling in the field are responsible for this good record."

To put hunting's safety standing into perspective, compared to hunting a person is . . .
• 11 times more likely to be injured playing volleyball
• 19 times more likely to be injured snowboarding
• 25 times more likely to be injured cheerleading or bicycle riding
• 34 times more likely to be injured playing soccer or skateboarding
• 105 more times likely to be injured playing tackle football.
Furthermore, in the big scheme of things, firearms account for a miniscule 0.5% of all unintentional fatalities.

Of course, all this means nothing to the anti-gun nuts. Their motto is "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."

Monday, December 12, 2011

FOD 2011.12.12

A picture is worth 1000 words...

And in related news, in Sunday night's 60 Minutes puff piece on obama, alleged journalist Steve Kroft strayed from the White House approved script and snuck in one semi-tough question when he asked the commie-in-chief which Republican contender he would prefer to face in 2012.

obama's answer: 'It Doesn't Really Matter' Who GOP Nominates
He boiled down the 2012 campaign to a single question to be answered by the voters: “Do they see a more compelling vision coming out from the other side?”
Hell yes.

In spite of their tendency to self-destruct, whoever (whomever?) the GOP nominates will have a pretty good chance of defeating the loser-in-chief. Especially if he continues to blame Bush, four years later. More obama:
"... we can't have an honest conversation about the irresponsibility that resulted in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, without somebody saying that somehow we're being divisive.”
obama also refused to answer when asked why there have been no criminal prosecutions of anyone on Wall Street responsible for the financial collapse in 2008. That could be because the people most responsible are democrat congresscritters, most notably Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.

Left unasked were the really tough questions, like why did the White House refuse to turn over to congress documents related to the $535 million loan guarantee that the Obama administration gave to now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra?

Or why aren't there any criminal prosecutions in the case of Jon "I simply don't know where the money is" Corzine, former democrat U.S. senator, former democrat New jersey governor, former obama economic adviser, and former CEO of MF Global, which collapsed into the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history while an estimated $1.2 billion in client funds is unaccounted for.

Or why hasn't Eric Holder been indicted, impeached, or at the very least forced to resign for, among other things, the Fast and Furious fiasco?

So many questions, so little time.

Only 60 Minutes...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Random Thoughts - Sunday Evening Version

I just finished fixing dinner. Is there anything that smells better than sautéing onions and garlic in bacon drippings?

After dinner I checked my email. A friend of mine who is a retired Air Force F-16 pilot, and who now flies for UPS, sent me the following. You aviation-minded folks may have already seen this, but I got a kick out of it. Enjoy.

* * * * * * * * * * 
After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet,' which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft.

The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance.

By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident....

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from the midget.
Remember, it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one...

Sunday Funnies 2011.12.11

Things didn't work out quite as expected, but still ...

Two hunters went deer hunting every winter without success. Finally, they came up with a foolproof plan. They got a very authentic female deer costume and learned the mating call of a female deer. The plan was to hide in the costume, lure the buck, then come out of the costume and shoot the buck.

They set themselves up on the edge of a clearing, donned their costume and began to give the deer love call.

Before long, their call was answered as a huge buck came crashing out of the forest and into the clearing.

When the buck was close enough, the guy in front said, "Okay, let's get out and get him." After a moment that seemed like an eternity, the guy in the back shouted, "The zipper is stuck! What are we going to do!?"

The guy in the front says, "Well, I'm going to start nibbling grass, but you'd better brace yourself."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rained Out

Well, we tried. The Friday afternoon hunt was okay - didn't see anything much, but at least we were out in the field. There were a few sprinkles Friday evening and overnight, but nothing serious.

Saturday morning started off okay as well. Then about 8:00 the weather changed. The wind picked up - WAY up - from hardly noticeable to 30+ MPH, with gusts much higher.

As the wind speed went up the temperature went down, from mid 50s at daybreak to low 40s a couple of hours later. At the same time the rain began. Not sprinkles or drizzle, but RAIN - big, fat drops, and lots of them.

Low 40s is tolerable, but when you add in high wind and heavy rain it gets intolerable pretty damn quick.

We were expecting the weather change, and had appropriate gear, but still ... when everything you have is damp and muddy, and the only time you're warm is when you're sitting in the truck with the heater cranked up to High, a lot of the joy goes out of the hunt. And the weather forecast was for more rain and continued cold temperatures.

To top things off, on our lease here in South Texas the soil is predominately caliche. It is relatively impervious to rain - that is, the rain doesn't penetrate caliche like it does loam or regular topsoil. So the rainwater is funneled into the ranch road ruts, making them a slippery, soupy mixture that clogs up tire tread and robs them of traction.

My hunting truck is an old 1995 Ford F-150 with 4WD and off-road tires, so I was able to get around without too much trouble. But after I pulled out a couple of other vehicles we decided it was time to head for home.

The good news is that the South Texas rut starts in mid-December, and the season doesn't end until late January. So we still have plenty of time to put Señor Muy Grande on the wall...

UPDATE: It was still raining and chilly this morning. Yesterday set a one-day record for rainfall down here - almost 2.5 inches. (That's a one-day record for that specific date, not all time.) Still, that's a lot of rain for down here. The news last night was nothing but car wrecks and localized flooding.

Gone Hunting

Back Monday ... sooner if I get lucky.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2011.12.09

By the time you see this, I'll be on my way to the deer lease. My wife isn't too thrilled, what with all the holiday chores piling up at home, but I pacified her with the promise of fresh venison.

The only problem is, I'm pretty bad at hunting deer...

More Why Professors Drink

The semester is winding down. I only have one more final to give and grade, and then I'll be done with classes for a few weeks.

The students are actually behaving themselves so far (relatively speaking, of course). But the administration is picking up the slack in foolishness. Two examples:

#1 - I apparently got some kind of award based on something I did my first year here (Sep. 2008-May 2009). I'm still not sure what I did or why I got the award.

The award was dated Feb. 2010 (remember, this is for the academic year ending May 2009).

I must have missed the award ceremony. I don't even remember being informed about it.

I received the award today via interoffice mail.

To summarize:
  • award for year ending May 2009
  • dated Feb. 2010
  • received Dec. 2011
I emphasize to my students that consequences for behavior should be adminstered as closely as possible to that behavior in order to maximize the effect. Management 101, right?

Did I mention that the president of the university received his PhD in English Lit, and the provost comes from the Biology department? 

#2 - Like many other organizations, we have been affected by the current budget crunch. In response, faculty are being required to teach one additional course with no pay increase. On the plus side, this has allowed us to avoid layoffs, so there is minimal grumbling.

In conjunction with the increased teaching load, the minimum class size has been increased. For upper level courses the new minimum is ten students. That doesn't sound like a lot, but the effect is to cause the cancellation of small, specialized elective courses.

The mindless enforcement of these two edicts, with no employment of common sense, has resulted in the cancellation of two electives for graduating seniors in the Spring 2012 semester. This leaves them with the choice of hanging around until Sep. 2012 - nine months from now - in order to graduate, or else taking some fluff elective that has absolutely no relationship to their major, and will be of no use in the real world ("Leadership Traits of barak obama: Theory and Application").

Furthermore, it leaves one professor without a class to teach. So we have figured out a way to game the system. We are dividing a course I teach in half, creating two sections instead of one, each with half as many students. Sounds like a good idea - smaller class size, more personal interaction, all that good stuff - except that it's an online course.

The course material is delivered through a content management system (an application that was created specifically for online teaching). Homework and exams are given and graded by the system. I do have a running discussion forum where we talk about current events in the field and how they are related to the course material. It takes an hour or two per day to maintain, but it's like blogging. The amount of time and effort is relatively the same, whether you have one reader or one hundred.

So instead of one instructor (me) teaching 60-70 students (which, because it's an online class, isn't that big of a deal) we will have two instructors teaching two classes of 30-35 students. It won't improve the quality of instruction, and it will cost twice as much in terms of instructor time, but it satisfies the whim of the administrators.