Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Great Hunting Road Trip Update

Greetings from beautiful Wolf, Wyoming, where the temperature last night was a balmy 24 degrees. Sorry for skipping a day, but between getting here, getting settled, and getting the first day of hunting in I've been a little busy. Plus Internet access here is sketchy at best. They use a satellite service provider, and the signal gets blocked whenever it's cloudy. Even when it works speeds are pretty slow. So don't expect much over the next few days. Now on with the update!

Day Three

I was a Boy Scout. I have taken their "Be Prepared" motto to heart. Before I left on The Great Hunting Road Trip I had my truck checked out and serviced. I packed for every eventuality. In case of a breakdown I have tools, flares, flashlights and lanterns, a tow strap, two cans of Fix-A-Flat, my cell phone, and a car recharger for it. In case a blizzard traps me on the road I have emergency rations, plenty of bottled water, warm clothes, and a sleeping bag. I have clothes for all types of weather; shorts and tee shirts for warm weather, all sorts of cold weather clothing, even rain gear. I have heavy leather hiking boots, lightweight synthetic hiking boots, cowboys boots, tennis shoes, and flip-flops. I have books, CDs, MP3 music files, videos, a laptop, a tablet, and a smart phone. I was convinced I was prepared for anything.

Except this.

<imagine picture of snow and ice covered truck here. I can't get Blogger to cooperate.>

This is what my truck looked like the morning I left Cheyenne Wyoming. Under all that pretty fluffy snow is about 1/2" of sheet ice. That damn stuff is about as hard to scape off as concrete.

That's assuming you have an ice scraper.

Which I didn't.

Hey, I live in south-central Texas. The only ice we see down there is in our drinks. Fortunately, the hotel had an ice scraper that they keep on hand for people like me. After I got the windshield cleared off my first stop was at a truck stop where I got one of my own.

When I get home I'll be the only kid on the block with my very own official ice scraper.

Day Four

I finally got to go hunting today. We started before daybreak with a hearty breakfast of bacon and, well, more bacon, since there were no eggs. They ran out yesterday and won't get into town until tomorrow. Oh well, at least there was plenty of coffee - and bacon!

After chowing down we headed out. Today I focused on antelope. We saw our first herd early - about 8:30. After glassing them and determining that there was a shooter or two present, we headed off on foot to stalk them. They were on the side of a ridge about 500 yards away from us, wandering slowly towards a fence line separating us from the neighboring ranch, about half a mile away. We dropped behind a parallel ridge and humped it, trying to beat them to the fence line.

We lost the race.

We came up over our ridge just in time to watch them slip under the fence and trot unconcernedly away. So we trudged back to the truck. That little stroll took about an hour. It would turn out to be the highlight of the day.

About 30 minutes later we caught sight of another herd. Again with the glassing. Again with the stalking. This time there was no convenient ridge to drop behind close at hand, so being intelligent men we decided to outsmart the dumb beasts. We reasoned that they were used to seeing people in vehicles and in trucks, but not on foot. Plus if we didn't walk directly at them, we wouldn't be perceived as a threat. So we decided to walk at a tangent away from them to a distant ridge, then slip behind it, circle around, and come at them from above. Success would be ours! So off we went.

Did I mention that it had snowed the day before, but that today was sunny and warmer (temperature was near 50). So the snow was turning into slush, making the ground muddy. The same ground that was pockmarked with horse and cattle hoofprints - six inch craters hidden in the muck that twisted ankles and wrenched knees. Plus the mud tenaciously clung to our boots. Pretty soon it was like walking with 5 pound weights strapped to your ankles.

Oh yeah - it was uphill all the way.

After one hour of pure hell, we finally topped the ridge. I eased down behind a boulder, certain that the antelope of my dreams would be an easy rifle shot away. When I raised my head up over the boulder I had a perfect view ... of their furry little white rumps as they strolled merrily over the next ridge.

Undeterred, we set off at our best pace for that ridge. It turns out that the antelopes' casual strolling pace is far superior to our best pace. We crossed the next ridge and saw them halfway up the next damn ridge.

I took a quick distance reading with my range finder - 385 yards. To far for a shot under good conditions. No chance with my heart pounding, my chest heaving, and no steady rest available.

So it was back to the truck - again. Funny thing - it turned out to be uphill all the way back to the truck. Strange how that worked out.

We got back to the truck two hours after we left it. At that point we both agreed it was time for lunch.

After a good meal (BLT sandwiches) and a brief rest, we headed out again in the afternoon. This time we didn't see anything. We drove (thank goodness) to several spots, then got out and glassed for a while. Saw a few animals, but nothing worth stalking. At sunset we headed back to the cabins for dinner drinks, and bed - which is where I'm headed now.

More later, when time, events, and the shaky Internet connection permit.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The One Constant Is Change

Amarillo By Morning may be a great song, but Amarillo In Real Life sucks. It's a dreary depressing town that suffers from poorly planned and marked roads, which makes it difficult to navigate. Of course, my perspective is that of a frustrated traveler. Other opinions may vary.

Day Two of the Great Hunting Road Trip was characterized by change and contrast in just about every way imaginable. Let's start with elevation. My starting point for Day Two - Amarillo, TX - has an elevation of around 3500 feet. After a few hours on the road I was crossing Raton Pass on the New Mexico-Colorado border, with an elevation of 7834 feet.

Then there's topography. The Texas panhandle is devoid of geographical features. It is as flat as a tabletop. The roads are laid out with rulers. From above, it looks like a checkerboard. Once I got into Colorado, however, I encountered curves and mountains. Up and down, right and left - it's enough to make a flatlander seasick. I also saw my first snow-covered mountains of the trip in Colorado. Quite a change from the Texas plains.

The weather likewise changed. Yesterday the temperature was in the mid 80s. I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt. Today the thermometer never got out of the 50s. Well, technically it did. It was in the low 30s when I stopped for the night. And the wind ... OMG ... blowing between 30-40 MPH, with gusts in the 50s. It was a crosswind today, blowing me all over the road. I don't know how the big rig drivers kept their trucks in one lane. One bonus to the wind: tumbleweeds were blowing across the road like crazy. Kind of neat...

Yesterday I spent all day in one state - Texas. Today I traveled through four; Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Another difference - yesterday I experienced only one brief construction delay. Today those damn orange cones were everywhere. Miles and miles of construction and closed lanes. The most frustrating part was that in most of those 'Work Zones' there was no visible work going on. Lanes were blocked, speed limits were reduced, and absolutely nothing was going on. Government at its finest...

The wildlife changed also. Minimal road kill, as opposed to yesterday. I saw small herd of antelope grazing near the highway in New Mexico. I hope they're just as accommodating when I hunt them in Wyoming. Also, in place of all the Deer Crossing signs in Texas, Colorado had Elk Crossing signs. Very cool!

The roads I drove on changed as well, from state and U.S. highways in Texas and NM to Interstate 25 in Colorado and Wyoming. I'll be on IH-25 all the way to Sheridan WY.

Traffic changed from non-existent in Texas and New Mexico to terribly busy and congested in the 180 miles between Pueblo and Ft. Collins, CO. Speed limits were another difference. Texas has very reasonable (read: high) speed limits. In both NM and CO the speed limits are lower, and the reduced speed zones are much larger around small towns. Even the interstate's speed limits are lowered when passing through small and medium sized towns.

In Texas and New Mexico I went miles without seeing another vehicle, and hours without seeing a tree. In Colorado there was plenty of both.

Local radio station note of the day: the Raton NM station I was listening to read the obituaries on the air - all four of them. It also read the police blotter from yesterday. One arrest for failure to appear. No other calls or incidents.

Today's totals: 560 miles and 8 1/2 hours driving time, for an average of 65 MPH. Not bad, but not as good as yesterday.

I'm spending tonight in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Tomorrow should be a relatively short day - around 350 miles, about 5 hours or so of driving time. Then it'll be time to get out in the field and reduce the number of deer and antelope playing on the range...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sticker Shock

I am observing with amused interest all the Sturm und Drang swirling around obamacare. One of the reasons for my bemusement is that I am unaffected by it - so far. But I am following developments closely, because I figure that at some point I'll be dragged kicking and screaming into that particular mess.

Along those lines, here is one of the most understandable and balanced overviews of what is happening, and what is likely to happen, to the young, the healthy, and the middle class. If you fall into one of those categories you owe it to yourself to understand the shitstorm that is about to engulf you.

CenTexTim says "Check it out."
In the past month, the Obama administration has been subject to blistering criticism over its technological inability to set up working online insurance exchanges for Obamacare. The real scandal, however, is just starting to come to light—the cost of the program to young, healthy middle class people.

Amarillo By Morning

Well, actually, Amarillo by evening...

Yesterday was Day One of my 10 day Wyoming hunting trip. More accurately, it's a 4 day hunt, bookended by three travel days on either side. It's 1400 miles from home to where I'm hunting. I could make it in two days if I pushed it, but I'm retired, so what the hell ... I'll take my time and stretch the trip out to three days.

Day One was Bergheim to Amarillo, about 500 miles. I left home at 10:00 a.m. The plan was to leave by 8:00 a.m., but things happened... It really didn't make too much of a difference, because I made great time on the road. I made it to Amarillo by 6:00 p.m.

Traffic varied between light and non-existent. The weather was good; cloudy in the morning, partly cloudy throughout the day, and cloudy again in the evening. Temperatures were in the mid-80s during the day, but dropped to the low 60s in the evening.

One of the (many) great things about living in Texas is the speed limits - 80 MPH on some stretches of Interstate highways, and 75 on most of the rural state roads. I didn't want to push my truck too much - it is, after all a 1995 model - but I was cruising most of the day around 80 MPH. The sad part is I was getting my doors blown off by West Texas soccer moms in minivans who passed me like I was standing still.

Anyway, zooming along at 80 MPH makes the miles fly by. Plus my bladder behaved for a change, so I only had to make two stops - and I got lunch to go. Distance traveled was 505 miles. Total driving time was around 7 hours. Average speed was 72 MPH. I'll take that on any trip.

Travel Notes:

You don't realize how big Texas is until you drive through it. I drove for a full day and didn't make it out of the state. There's an old saying:" The sun has riz, the sun has set, and here we are in Texas yet."  Very true.

Traveling through Northwest Texas is interesting, to say the least. My route took me through towns named Winters, Eden, and Sweetwater. None of those names are remotely close to describing the actual locales.

I haven't been in this part of the state in decades. Nothing much has changed, with one great big exception. Once I left Winters and climbed the cap rock I hit wind farms. It was mind-boggling. There were hundreds and hundreds of giant wind generators clustered along every available ridge.

Not the best picture, but it should give you some idea of the number and scope of the wind generators in West Texas. Click to embiggen to get the full effect.

It was surreal. The rotors were turning at the same pace, but were at different phases in their rotation. The effect was hypnotic. It was hard to take your eyes away.

It's a great location for them. The wind was humming at around 40-50 MPH - and that's on a relatively calm day. 18 wheelers were being blown all over the road. Fortunately, the wind was behind me, so it boosted my mileage. It was also sort of blasphemous. Pristine vistas were spoiled by either the wind generators, or the large towers supporting the heavy transmissions lines carrying the power from the wind farms to the cities south and east of them. I know it's a green energy, and that's good, but it does come with some costs (including a heavy death toll on migratory and endangered birds). More on that later.

Ironically, I drove past several ranches with wind generators churning away above old pump jacks faithfully extracting oil. To really confuse things, many of those pastures were either planted with cotton, or had cattle grazing in them. Talk about maximizing your resources!

Speaking of cotton fields, between Sweetwater and Lubbock the cotton crop was so abundant it looked like the aftermath of a snow storm.

Slightly further northwest, between Lubbock and Amarillo, the rest areas doubled as tornado shelters. Makes sense, since there's not a damn thing to stop the winds blowing down from Canada but a few barbed wire fences. The topography around here can best be described as "ping pong table."

Wildlife was plentiful, at least as indicated by the roadkill. Plenty of skunks and armadillos, of course, but also lots of deer, raccoons, and porcupines. I also saw the largest feral hog I've ever seen in person. It was the size of one of those large marine ice chests - about 5 feet long by 3 feet around. Thankfully, it was dead in a heap on the side of the road. I feel sorry for whoever hit it.

One of the enjoyable things about a road trip like this is scoping out the local radio stations. Out here in West Texas it's almost all classic country, which takes me back to my roots. One notable exception was Cool 100, which plays rock-n-roll from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Very cool!

I drove through the Panhandle towns of Snyder and Post. That's notable to me because I went through a phase where I dated West Texas gals. The first one, Sheryl S. from Snyder, taught me that there is no understanding women.

We met in Austin, after I got out of the Army. She worked retail, so I would meet her after her shift ended at 9:30 at night. I'd bring a six-pack and we'd sit in the parking lot, talking and listening to the radio. After a while we started fooling around a little. That led to weekend dates - dancing, movies, etc. That led to nights spent with each other. After a while we admitted that we were boy-and-girl-friend.

The week after that admission I met her as usual after work with the usual six-pack. She blew a gasket, reaming me out and saying that I was embarrassing her. I'll freely admit that I've embarrassed my share of ex-girlfriends and ex-wives in my time, but in this case all I did was what I'd always done. Somehow the change in our status changed other things as well. I still don't get it...

The other West Texas babe, Vicki T. from Post, opened my eyes to the ways of the world. I met her after the aforementioned Sheryl. Vicki was outwardly very proper and demure, but behind that facade lurked perhaps the wildest woman I ever dated. The first night we spent together she asked me to get something out of her nightstand drawer. I pulled it open and saw two vibrators and a .38 revolver. I looked at her and lifted a questioning eyebrow. She gave me a wicked grin and said "I like to be prepared for every possibility."

Boy howdy, was she a handful...  

On that note, I'm going to bed. More about Day Two tomorrow.

Monday, October 28, 2013

FOD 2013.10.28

I'm a little busy, so I'm reposting this excellent piece contrasting obama and the USMC.
You decide to take a Presidential trip to some steel mill to blame somebody for something, but you know you’re going to have to pass  them to get on the plane. They stand straight as a bayonet on the tarmac, their impeccable uniforms standing out in stark relief against the white of the helicopter. The brass on their belts and covers shines like gold, their shoes like black mirrors. Their salute is pure snap-and-pop, the product of years of living a disciplined, purposeful life, a life where every man is expected to give everything he has and then some for the good of the mission and the Corps, where excuses are simply not tolerated, where responsibility, respect, and honor are not quaint, outdated concepts, but a living part of who they are as individuals and as a brotherhood of warriors.

And you have to salute these men back. And it galls you, to the deepest pit of your soul, because you know that when you salute those Marines standing by that helicopter, you’re actually saluting better men than yourself.  Men that share a tradition of excellence that goes back 238 years, and it’s something that, no matter how many elections you win, or how many bad laws you manage to ram through a dithering and ineffectual Congress, you can never be a part of. They have something you don’t, and never will, have.

They have the title.

They are U.S. Marines. They weren’t given the title, They weren’t elected to the title, and they didn’t buy the title with money from Wall Street or Big Oil.  They earned it. They earned the title Marine with sweat, with blood, with fortitude, and with honor.  They have something you can’t have, and you can’t take away. For a man like you, the title United States Marine is utterly out of reach.
Semper Fi, baby...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Funnies 2013.10.27

Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our  anniversary. Mumble-mumble years of wedded bliss...

Marriage is the bond between a person who never remembers anniversaries and another who never forgets them.
-- Ogden Nash

Sadie and Benny were both 65 years old and were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. When all the family and guests had left their house, a fairy appeared from nowhere and said to them, “Congratulations, you two. I’m here to grant you both one wish each.”

Sadie said, “I want to travel around the world.”

The fairy waved her magic wand and POW – Sadie had tickets in her hand for a round the world cruise.

Then the fairy asked Benny what he wanted.

Benny replied. “I wish I had a wife 30 years younger than me."

So the fairy picked up her wand and POW – Benny was 95 years old.

A farmer and his wife are preparing their wedding anniversary dinner. The wife says, ‘Should I go out and kill a chicken?’

The husband replies, ‘Why blame a bird for something that happened twenty years ago?’

Actually, I am a very fortunate man to be married to a woman who puts up with more than she should have to. Here's to mumble-mumble more years, honey. Love you...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ungrateful Children

We are in College Station this weekend, home of your fighting' Texas Aggies. We're here for Texas A&M New Parents Weekend. We drove for three hours in heavy traffic to get here and see our son, who's a freshman here.

He let us take him to dinner, then dumped us because he had a party to go to...

Anyone out there want to adopt a 19-year-old?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2013.10.25

Dedicated to Brig. Gen. Robiie Risner.

Enjoy your weekend, courtesy of our men and women in uniform.

Headed For Heaven In Full Afterburner

Like many former servicemen, I have my own mental picture of the different branches of the military. The Army, for instance, is big, lumbering, and sometimes inefficient, but necessary - kind of like an offensive lineman. The Marines are mean and nasty - linebackers. The Navy is quick, agile, and hard hitting - an excellent free safety. But the Air Force ... ah, the Air Force.. the Air Force reminds me of the pampered quarterback.

While the Army tramps around in the muck and sleeps on the ground, the Air Force stays hundreds or even thousands of miles away, taking hot showers and sleeping on soft beds in air conditioned comfort. The Navy spends lots of time floating around in steel boxes. The Marines combine the worst of the Army and the Navy - tramping around in the muck and spending large chunks of time in those steel boxes. The Air Force, on the other hand, enjoys fine dining (relatively speaking), officers clubs, PXs, and all the comforts of home.

That's painting with a broad brush, of course - stereotyping, if you will. However, I'm willing to bet that most veterans have similar mental pictures. But every once in a while something comes along that makes me rethink my position. That happened yesterday when I read about Air Force Brigadier General Robinson “Robbie” Risner.
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robbie Risner, a former San Antonio resident and senior-ranking American POW for five of the seven years he was held in Hanoi, has died following a stroke. He was 88.
General Risner was part of an exceptional group of men who fought in three wars - WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnem war.
Risner flew a P-38 Lightning in World War II and became an ace after shooting down eight MiG-15 fighters in Korea. He was famous among tactical aircraft pilots for using the nose of his F-86 to physically push his wingman's disabled fighter away from enemy lines.
Can you imagine the courage and skill it took to do that? It would be like driving your car down the highway at several hundred MPH and trying to nudge the car next to you through a curve - except that an airplane moves in three dimensions, not just two, and nobody is shooting at you.
He flew more than 108 combat missions in the Korean War, shot down eight MiGs, and became the 20th jet ace of that war. 

During the Vietnam War, Risner was an F-105 squadron commander. On March 16, 1965, he was shot down, but made it to the Tonkin Gulf before bailing out and was rescued. A month later, Time magazine featured him on their cover.  On Sept. 16, he was shot down again, and this time, was captured. To make things worse, his captors had the Time article, and made him their "prized prisoner,” which meant more abuse.  Risner served as a leader in the Hoa Lo Prison -- first as senior-ranking officer and then vice commander of the 4th Allied POW Wing. Some called him "the most influential and effective POW there."

Risner and other high-ranking prisoners saw the Hoa Lo as a new battlefield. The Vietnamese sought to break their captives, torturing Risner and others by binding their wrists and elbows closely behind their back, then raising their arms over their head, a rope running through a hook. Days might pass before a prisoner's arms popped out of their sockets.

“He had been in solitary for over a year, and then they put him in a cell that was totally blacked out, ... and he was in that cell for 10 months..."

One day in 1971, Risner and several colleagues organized a church service, a forbidden act, which led to more punishment. As their captors led Risner away, Col. “Bud” Day and the more than 40 other POWs in the room began singing “The Star Spangled Banner” to show their support. Hearing the defiant singing, Risner walked away with his back straight, head held high, full of pride.

When asked later how he felt at that moment, Risner said “I felt like I was 9 feet tall and could go bear hunting with a switch.”  That moment and his words are reflected by a statue, exactly 9 feet high, that now stands at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Bud Day spoke at the unveiling of the statue, saying, “We knew he was in fact 9 feet tall. This is a life-size statue.”

He was awarded two Air Force Crosses for heroism in Vietnam, the first for leading the attack on the “Dragon’s Jaw,” a bridge that was one of the toughest targets in North Vietnam and withstood 871 attacks. The second was given for his leadership in the POW camp and courage under torture.

After more than seven years in captivity – more than three of which were in solitary confinement -- Risner was released. He was briefly hospitalized and reported he was ready for duty "after three good meals and a good night’s rest." He spent his remaining years in uniform commanding the 832nd Air Division, and serving as the vice commander of the AF Tactical Fighter Weapons Center, where he also commanded Red Flag. He retired in 1976.

Like many heroes, Risner spent a great amount of his remaining years sharing his story with our Airmen. At an event in the 1990s, he met a Russian MiG-15 ace who’d flown during the same time Risner had been in Korea.  The Russian pilot asked if they’d ever faced each other in combat.  Risner responded: "No way; you wouldn’t be here."

His military decorations and awards include the Air Force Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal with V device and one oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Purple Heart with three oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation Emblem, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with two combat V devices and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.
There is much more to General Risner's life and Air Force career than what I've posted here. Do yourself a favor and find out more about this remarkable man. (Sources here, here, and here.)

Robbie Risner was a credit to the Air Force, and to the United States of America. We are the better for his having walked among us, and are diminished by his passing. Well done, General Risner.

Rest in Peace.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Better Things To Do

I'm sick and tired of all the crap that passes for news these days. Fortunately, today is a work day at our new deer lease. We're headed to Sonora (Texas) with trucks full of blinds, feeders, concrete (for building trailer pads and cleaning slabs), chainsaws, tools, and all sorts of other guy toys.

The good news is that we'll be so far out in the country there's no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi. That means a full day blessedly free of the nonsense currently polluting the airwaves.

Enjoy your day...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Public Service Announcement

There are a few single guys out there who drop by this blog every once in a while. As a public service to them, I'm passing along the following two items.

First, there's a lonely gal out there who's looking for some male companionship.
Bar Refaeli, 28, speaks to her inability to find a man — 'So what’s wrong with me? Why am I alone?'
Blue-eyed, blond beauty Bar Refaeli said she’s stumped by her inability to land a steady boyfriend, future husband and potential father to her children.

“I don't understand it,” the 35-24-35 stunner said in a tell-all interview running Friday in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
I don't understand it either.

Hard to believe this gal is having trouble finding a man.
The lucky guy who lands the sultry swimsuit siren might be surprised to discover that Refaeli has no aversion to handling her own housework.

“I’m not at all a feminist,” she says. “I don’t want him to do my dishes. I’ll do the dishes, and I’ll clean, and I’m the one who wants to stay at home with the kids in the end.”
As you might imagine, there's no shortage of guys vying for her hand. If you want to be the lucky dude who sweeps her off her feet, let me suggest that you get a new haircut.
Manhattan hairdresser Mischa G laughs out loud at the grateful message from a client thanking her for the look she crafted for him the previous day.

“Your haircut got me a threesome!” texts Philip McElroy, a 21-year-old Hunter College student.

Thirty-year-old Mischa Gobie (professionally, she goes by the initial G for her last name) is the creator of “The Get Laid Haircut,” a term she coined herself.

Ask any Mischa devotee and they’ll swear it gets results in the bedroom ... She came up with the term, “The Get Laid Haircut,” a couple years ago after so many of her customers shared stories of their conquests after she did their hair...
There you go, guys. All you need to do to get lucky is get a new haircut and then call the lonely supermodel.

You're welcome...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Drowning In Debt

The recent 'solution' to the government shutdown did nothing but kick the can a little farther down the road. In a few months we'll go through the budget/debt ceiling drama all over again. Rather than spend a lot of time commenting about it I'll just post this cartoon which does a damn good job of illustrating the difference between the two different approaches favored by liberals and conservatives. (H/T Mark Perry)

Needless to say, obama and the dems are all wet...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Reasons I Drink 2013.10.22

Things like this keep my local liquor store in business.
Some states are likely to allow federal workers who were furloughed during the government shutdown to collect both back pay and jobless benefits for the time they were idled.

Golf Trip After-Action Report

This morning finds me tired, sunburned, sore, hungover, and broke.

I can't wait to do it again...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Funnies 2013.10.20

Still golfing with my buddies ... and shaking my head over our government...

A bus load of politicians were driving down a country road, when the bus ran off the road and crashed into a tree in an old farmer's field.

The old farmer, after seeing what happened, went over to investigate. A few days later, the local sheriff came out looking for the missing politicos, saw the crashed bus, and asked the farmer where all the politicians had gone.

The farmer said, "I buried 'em all out back."

The sheriff then asked, "Were they ALL dead?"

The old farmer replied, "Well, some of them said they weren't, but you know how them politicians lie."

Why Dogs Should Be President
They work for the good of the pack.

They protect their young and their elders.

They do not lie, cheat or steal.

They won't spend money redecorating the White House.

They can be NEUTERED!

There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators.
~Will Rogers

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2013.10.18

The weekend in Austin continues. And what would a weekend in Austin be without some Willie?

Weekend Plans

If all went as planned I'm in Austin for a quasi-reunion and golf weekend. In a prior career, I was employed by what was at the time one of the nation's largest financial institutions. However, it, like many other banks, was closed by the feds in the late 1980's, victim of tumbling energy prices and diving real estate values (as well as a change in federal banking regulations that forced many banks to close that might have otherwise survived).

Anyway, it was a great place to work. I learned a lot and met a bunch of fine people. Several of us have stayed in touch over the years, and still get together twice a year for golf, food, drink, and fellowship - not necessarily in that order.

The golf schedule is brutal - 2 rounds on Friday, 2 on Saturday, and 1 on Sunday. That gets tougher and tougher as I get older and feebler. Toss in the inevitable late night bull sessions (fueled, of course, by liquid refreshments) and I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to keep going.

But I'll certainly give it the old college try...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Told You So

When this shutdown farce started I predicted that the republicans would fold like a cheap plastic chair when a fat woman sits in it.

Turns out I was right.
"We fought the good fight; we just didn't win," Boehner told a radio station in his home state of Ohio in reference to GOP efforts to dismantle or defund President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms and extract deficit reduction concessions around the need to fund the government and raise the federal borrowing limit.

...the Senate deal under discussion would reopen the government by funding it until January 15. It also would raise the debt limit until February 7 to avert a possible default on U.S. debt obligations for the first time. It includes a provision to provide back pay to furloughed federal workers...
The dems get what they wanted. The repubs get nothing, except a heaping helping of blame for the shutdown and scorn for their lack of cojones. The American people get nothing except a failed healthcare system and more debt piled on top of an already unsustainable burden.

Anyone with half a brain could have seen this coming.

Of course, all this deal does is kick the can down the road for a few months. That means we get to go through this nonsense again early next year.

I can hardly wait...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

This Too Shall Pass

I've had a variety of dogs in my life. My first was a Dachshund named, cleverly, Brownie (hey, I was five years old at the time - give me a break). Since then there's been a number of mutts, a few Labs, and one German Shepherd who made Christmas 1961 memorable by chasing an abandoned kitten we brought home through the presents under the Christmas tree, up the tree itself, and then in laps around the living room. Fortunately, the kitten escaped. However, Christmas that year was in ruins. But we recovered and forgave the dog for being, well, a dog.

One thing they all had in common was that, at some point, they would chew and/or eat something they weren't supposed to. Which leads us to this story.
It took five months, but Wayne Klinkel was reimbursed $500 Monday by the federal government for his dog’s expensive taste.

“It all comes out in the end,” Klinkel said, laughing. “It was great to get the check after all the crap I went through.”

The saga of Sundance began last Christmas, when the elderly golden retriever and his owners, Wayne Klinkel and his wife were on a road trip from Montana to Colorado to visit their daughter and her husband, Amy and Coty Church, in Denver. The Klinkels stopped at a restaurant for dinner, and left Sundance in their locked vehicle. They also left five $100 bills, and a $1 bill, in a cubbyhole.

When they returned about 45 minutes later, the doors were still locked and Sundance, then 12 years old, was still inside. The $1 bill was lying on the driver’s seat. About half of a $100 bill was next to it.

The rest of the money was gone.

Wayne knew exactly what happened. Ever since they picked up Sundance at a Wyoming animal shelter, they learned he would eat just about anything in sight.

Based on his previous experiences, Wayne also knew paper wouldn’t fully digest. So for the rest of his vacation, whenever Sundance went outside to take care of business, Wayne donned rubber gloves and followed his dog, hot on his “trail,” so to speak.

Wayne retrieved quite a few fragments, but it wasn’t until his daughter visited Helena in March that she was able to give him enough remnants for him to piece together portions of all five bills. He thoroughly washed them — again with gloved hands —and let the pieces soak for about a week while he tried to get in the right frame of mind for the task at hand.

Eventually, he drained and rinsed the pieces, using a screen made for panning for sapphires. Once the bills were dry, he painstakingly pieced them back together, taped them and put each individual bill in a plastic bag. On April 15, the Klinkels submitted them in plastic baggies to the Federal Treasury hoping to be reimbursed.

“Ten days later I got a receipt back saying my letter was received, but that’s the only communication I had during the whole process,” Wayne said.

A Federal Reserve spokesperson said that it could take up to two years and nothing was guaranteed; but if more than 51 percent of the bills were there, the Klinkels could get at least some of his $500 back.

Late Monday afternoon, when he picked up his mail, Wayne noticed an envelope from the government. Inside was a green and gold check for $500.

“I opened it and thought ‘holy s—t,’” Wayne said on Tuesday. “I gave Sundance a pat, showed it to him and told him not to eat it.”

He said there wasn’t any correspondence accompanying the government check, but in small letters typed in the bottom left it said “MUT.CURR REFUND.”

They deposited the check with their bank the first thing Tuesday morning, since the government had shut down due to the budget impasse in Congress, and the Klinkels weren’t sure it would be accepted. They also didn’t want to leave the check anywhere near Sundance.

The bank readily accepted the check, to their delight, especially since they recently paid about half of its face value to a veterinarian to remove a growth in Sundance’s eye. The surgery left Sundance blind in that eye, but he’s still just as adorable as ever to the Klinkels.

And even though they had to jump through quite a few hoops to get reimbursed — including grossing out a couple of bank tellers — Wayne said it’s been an interesting experience.
                   Sundance, the golden retriever known for eating five $100 bills, rejects the taste of the check his owner Wayne Klinkel received replacing the funds consumed by the beloved pet.

I can identify. Although our dogs never ate cash (at least not paper currency - I did have one that swallowed a quarter) we've made more than one phone call to the vet asking about the possible consequences of eating something not generally considered food. And I've done my share of poking through dog crap to make sure the offending object passed through intact.

The most memorable occassion was when our Lab snatched a dropped popsicle in midair and swallowed it whole. The concern was that the popsicle stick would splinter and perforate her stomach or intestine. The treatment was to cram cotton balls soaked in mineral oil down her throat, the idea being that the cotton balls would wrap themselves around the stick and the mineral oil would facilitate passage throughh the digestive tract. The 'outcome' (hah!) was better than expected. Shortly after the cotton ball meal she threw up the whole mess -- stick, cotton balls, dinner, and a bunch of other stuff. Of course, she was inside at the time - in our carpeted living room.


Dogs - gotta luv 'em...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Last Straw

The government shutdown hasn't really affected me personally. In fact, it hasn't affected most of my friends and neighbors. All that might change, however, as a result of this.

Shutdown closes tap on new beers
The federal government shutdown is giving some folks one more reason to cry in their beers: An obscure but powerful arm of the Treasury Department has stopped approving new brews.

All new beers that get bottled or canned to be sold across state lines must be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, known in the industry as the TTB. Federal workers must approve the label, as well as the recipe if it uses non-traditional ingredients, which many seasonal beers contain.

While the TTB as stopped approving new recipes and labels, workers there are still collecting brewery taxes.
Of course they are. A little thing like shutting down the federal government won't stop the tax collectors from squeezing out every last penny from their victims.

As for that bit about "Federal workers must approve the label...", here's an extract from the Federal Regulations covering those labels on beer bottles that guys in bars spend their time peeling off.
TITLE 27--Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms




Subpart J - Marks, Brands, and Labels

Subsection 25.142 - Bottles

Paragraph (b) (3) (2):

If the location of two or more breweries is shown on the label (paragraph (b)(1)(ii)), or if the brewer's principal place of business is shown on the label in lieu of the actual place of production (paragraph (b)(1)(iii)), the brewer shall indicate the actual place of production by printing, coding or other markings on the label, bottle, crown or lid. The coding system employed will permit an appropriate TTB officer to determine the place of production (including street address if two or more breweries are located in the same city) of the beer. The brewer must notify the appropriate TTB offcer (sic) prior to employing a coding system.
It's enough to drive a guy to drink.

One last thought: if the workers who approve new beers aren't essential government employees, then no one is...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blog Update

Mallard Fillmore
If you're fortunate enough to get the Mallard Fillmore comic strip in your local paper then you already know that he is the conservative answer to Doonesbury. What you may not know is that Brice Tinsley, the creative talent behind Mallard, has just started a blog to go along with his cartoons. Check it out.

Parkway Rest Stop
It's been almost four months since this blog was updated. I don't know what's going on - I certainly hope nothing bad has happened to Jimbo - but that's too long between posts. If anyone knows the story behind this please let me know.


If you're a regular reader of this blog and have one of your own that you'd like me to add, please drop me a line and I'll add you to the blogroll.
Please come home. All is forgiven...

Weekend Update

By now you're probably seen this picture of a legless veteran carrying a barricade from the WWII monument to the White House.

He was part of this weekend's rally by veterans, truckers, and bikers protesting the obama administration's closing down our monuments and memorials. The American Thinker has an excellent photo report on the rally. Here's a few snippets from the article.
Several thousand U.S. Veterans and their admiring supporters descended on Washington D.C.'s WWII Memorial to protest the punitive treatment of Veterans by the Obama Administration during the ongoing government shutdown.

People drove through the night or flew in the day before from as far away as Florida, Louisiana, and California. One active-duty soldier flew in from Germany just to participate in the two-hour rally, and rushed off to fly back so he wouldn't be AWOL on Monday.

Vets ... took down the barricades blocking access to the WWII Memorial, some saying "Mr. Obama, tear down this wall."

The rally then moved west to the Lincoln Memorial, where vets again tore down barricades.
They then carried the barricades several blocks north and piled them up in front of the White House.
Where police in riot gear met them, along with at least one sniper on the White House roof, "in case the unruly mob of wheelchair-bound octagenarians and their supporters got completely out of hand and stormed the White House..."

The mood of the crowd is summed up in this sign.

No, veterans don't fear the federal government. But maybe the federal government should start fearing veterans. More and more of us are getting sick and tired of the contempt and abuse we're being showered with by career politicians and bureaucrats who never served and are only concerned with staying in power.

They need to be reminded they work for us, not the other way around.

Of course, after all the fun and games were over obama sent "essential government employees to re-install barrycades at the WWII Memorial".

Our tax dollars at work.
At some point this is going to get ugly...

FOD 2013.10.14

We interrupt this regularly scheduled FOD post to say "Happy (belated) Birthday" to the United States Navy.

Born on Oct. 13, 1775, the U.S. Navy has grown from two sailing vessels with 80 men and 10 carriage guns to the most powerful Navy in the world - despite the best efforts of obama and his posse.

To all past, present, and future members of the Navy, thank you for your service.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled FOD.

If you've been paying attention to the fiasco known as obamacare, you've undoubtedly come to the realization that barry overpromised and underdeliverd. In fact, I'll go farther.

obama flat-out lied to the American people.
Obama’s promise: “I can make a firm pledge under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes” (September 12, 2008).
He lied.
Obama’s promise: “We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year ... We’ll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States” (June 5, 2008).
He lied.
Obama’s promise: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits” (September 9, 2009).
He lied.
Obama’s promise: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what” (June 15, 2009).
He lied, he lied, he lied.

Aided and abetted by his accomplices masquerading as journalists.
"If only we had a free press, Obamacare would be a bloody, unrelenting scandal, like Abu Ghraib, or Watergate."
If you think it's bad now, just wait.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

3000 Words

It's been said that a picture is worth 1000 words. Here's 3000 words of commentary on the government shutdown.

Sunday Funnies 2013.10.13

Retirement is like any other job. You have to work at it. I'm currently working on my golf game. It's slowly inching up from "very bad" to "bad." But at least I've kept my sense of humor.


I was addressing the ball when an announcement came over the loud-speaker: "Will the gentleman on hole number one please not hit from the Ladies' tee box."

I backed away, a little distracted, then approaches the ball again. As I did so, the same announcement comes over the loud-speaker: "Will the gentleman on hole number one please not hit from the Ladies' tee box."

I was getting irritated now. I backed away from the ball, and then approached it one more time. This time the announcement came: "We really need the gentleman on hole number one to move off of the Ladies' tee box!"

That's when I turned around and yelled, "And I really need the announcer to shut up and let me play my second shot!"

A married couple played golf together everyday.

One day the man and his wife were on the first tee of their local course. He was on the white tee and she was waiting in front of him by the ladies tee.

He teed off and caught the ball perfectly; unfortunately it hit his wife smack in the back of the head killing her instantly.

She fell face down on the tee, didn't know what hit her.

They had an inquest on the wife's death, the coroner said it was clear how she died, she was killed by a golf ball, and that there was a perfect imprint of a golf ball on the back of her head.

The husband said, "Yes, that was my ball"

The coroner then went on to say that he was a bit concerned to find a ball inserted up the woman's backside, and could the husband throw some light on this?

The husband said, "Oh that must have been my provisional. I wondered where it went."

Four old men went into the pro shop after playing 18 holes of golf.

The pro asked, "Did you guys have a good game today?"

The first old guy said, "Yes, I had three riders today."

The second old guy said, "I had the most riders ever. I had five."

The third old guy said, "I had seven riders, the same as last time."

The last old man said, "I beat my old record. I had 12 riders today."

After they went into the locker room, another golfer who had heard the old guys talking about their game went to the pro and said, "I've been playing golf for a long time and thought I knew all the terminology of the game, but what's a rider?"

The pro said, "A rider is when you hit the ball far enough to actually get in the golf cart and ride to it."

Play it where it lies...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

An Oldie But A Goodie

This one's been around for a while, but it's worth revisiting as we watch our elected leaders clowns comically cavort around pretending to care about the plight of us commoners, while at the same time drawing full paychecks, being exempted from the disaster known as obamacare, and otherwise enjoying the obscene perks that come with their office.

One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you, I'm doing community service this week.' The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you, I'm doing community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop. The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen doughnuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Member of Congress came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The Member of Congress was very happy and left the shop. The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Members of Congress lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.

They've Got A Point

The shutdown is bad. The media's treatment of it is worse. But you know we've hit rock bottom when a terrorist organization at war with us points out our government's foolishness with more accuracy and clarity than our own press.

Taliban mock US over government shutdown
Taliban militants fighting US troops in Afghanistan taunted Washington over the government shutdown on Wednesday, accusing US politicians of "sucking the blood of their own people".
A little hyperbolic, perhaps, but pretty accurate nonetheless.
The Islamist militants issued a statement describing how US institutions were "paralysed", the Statue of Liberty was closed and a fall in tourist numbers had hit shops, restaurants and hotels in the capital.
What a sad state of affairs when a militant group sworn to destroy our country does a more accurate and unbiased job of reporting than our own mainstream media.
The insurgents accused "selfish and empty-minded American leaders" of taking US citizens' money "earned with great difficulty" and then "lavishly spending the same money..."
Like I said, accurate reporting.
The US embassy in Kabul has said that it expects "to function normally in the short term" due to the shutdown, though its Twitter feed would not be regularly updated.
OMG! No Twitter. Our democracy is in danger of falling.
Embassy press staff were not immediately available to comment on the rebels' statement.
Of course not. They've been furloughed. But rest easy, America. The National Park Service is still on duty protecting our parks and monuments from access by citizens and tourists.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2013.10.11

All the dupes who voted for obama should take this message to heart:
"You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything."

Thanks, Dad, for teaching me this at an early age.

One Bit Of Positive News

Finally, after much searching, I came up with a news story that makes me proud to be an American. The money quote is at the end (bolded for emphasis).

Honoring a Fallen Marine
“Ladies and gentlemen, there is a uniformed Marine on this flight. He is accompanying the body of a fallen comrade back to Washington, D.C. When we land, please keep your seats and allow him to deplane first.”

The flight attendant on Delta 1838 from Atlanta to Reagan National Airport repeated the announcement when we landed. No one complained. In fact, I heard no sound at all.

Those of us on the right-hand side of the plane looked out and saw seven Marines standing at attention, a very sad older couple in blue jeans, and a gaggle of airport workers–red jackets, runway workers in bright yellow vests, and gate agents in Delta blue–standing respectfully behind the parents.

Looking out, we could see the flag-covered coffin respectfully lowered from the plane. After an interval the Marines slowly marched to the plane and carried the coffin to an SUV that somehow appeared on the apron. They paused before sliding the coffin into the SUV and a white-gloved Marine slowly marched to the parents, said a few words we could not hear, and shook their hands. He slow marched back and his mates loaded their comrade into the vehicle.

I looked around. A young airport worker in a a yellow vest was holding a salute. Sniffling and sobbing surrounded me. My seat mate, a Swiss-born surgeon who had recently become an American citizen, had red eyes. Back outside, another Marine, this one ungloved, perhaps to establish more empathy, shook hands with the parents and said more words unheard on the plane.

The ceremony was completed and we silently entered the terminal.

The passengers on this airplane demonstrated why America is great. While our government might be broken, our country isn’t.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gotta Luv It

I made a pretty good living designing and implementing large scale information systems, and then teaching college students how to do the same. The obamacare debacle would make a fascinating case study in how not to do things. Rather than bore you with the technical details, I'll just hit a few of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective).
We, the taxpayers, seem to have forked up more than $500 million of the federal purse to build the digital equivalent of a rock.

We paid over $500 million for the Obamacare sites and all we got was this lousy 404.

When things still go wrong, they simply throw ‘more money at the same people who caused the problem to fix the problem.’

For a more comprehensive (and less tongue-in-cheek)discussion of the problems with the obamacare website go here.
The website launched to process customers through the new ObamaCare marketplace may experience significant technical glitches for months...
Our tax dollars at work.