Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Animal violence.

"This is an emergency call," the voice on the other end of the line was saying to me, as I stood over a desk at the P.D. The caller should be dialing 911, I thought, as I quickly grabbed a Post-It pad and clicked out my pen.

Pointless to say so at this point, so I said, "Go ahead. Where is it?"

He reeled off a 7 digit address of a road that indeed ran into our town, but the vast majority of which was outside of our little town. It would be a county call, but this wasn't time to point that out. "What's going on?" I asked, after I reconfirmed the numbers.

"My wife called to report that a pit bull and two labs are actively attacking the livestock and her. We have animals down."

"Is she injured?" I asked, motioning to my coworker that it was time to go.

"I don't know. I'm not there, but I'm leaving for there, right now, coming from Big City," he responded.

"I'll be en route, and will notify the County, I told him, hanging up. I told my colleague, "Dog attack, west of town," as I ran to my car. My co-worker ran to his, and I notified the County of our destination and why, so that they could get their own deputies on the way. We charged down the road with lights and sirens.

Upon arrival, I found a woman who was fully into hysterics, at the gate. She was gasping, sweating, and had some blood on her. I kept the medics en route. She said, "They were at the barn!" I sped past her, toward the barn..

As I pulled to a stop, I unlocked the shotgun from the rack, and jogged into the paddock around the small barn. A large ewe was down, bleeding heavily from the neck and hind end. She did not look good. In the barn, two sheep were on the ground bleeding and bleating. I went around the outside of the paddock, and found excited dog prints, where the dogs had gotten into the enclosure. They had taken advantage of poor fence-building technique, and pushed in the wire panel which had been holding the sheep in, but held nothing out.

The lady arrived, sobbing. The dogs had been after her sheep. They had hazed the sheep into the barn, and then locked onto the older sheep's necks, while other dogs chewed at their anuses.

Nasty. Effective.

We got a couple of the sheep up on their feet, to assess them and help them breathe. Blood on the oily wool transferred to our hands. One knelt back down. We went back outside to the worst-hit sheep, and it was clear that she was shuffling off her life. The dogs were gone. I slung the 870, muzzle down on my weak side shoulder.

"I saw them messing with my sheep, and I went down with my sheep dog to the barn, and my sheep dog started to fight with the pit bull. I pulled my dog back, and that's when the pit came after me," she said. "I kicked it back, and it didn't get me. I think Old Lady's dying, and suffering. I think one of you should put her down." The deputies were beginning to arrive, including the Animal Control deputy. I was out of my city, and that call would be made by the deputies. "I didn't know what to do. We have a .410, but I don't know how to use it," she confessed.

I rather hoped that she would learn, in the future.

"You weren't bitten?" I asked, marveling. She'd waded into a small pack of dogs, fought, and come out unhurt? "Are you sure? You've got blood on you."

"Oh, that's just the sheep blood," she said. She was still shaking.

"Do you know the dogs?" I asked.

"Oh, I've seen them before," she responded. "While running, I see them out in front of the house with the old car up on blocks in front, just east of our place. This isn't the first time that they've harassed me or my livestock." Her voice began to get some steel in it. "When you find their owners, you have them come right here, and you have them dig a grave for Old Lady! You bring them right here!" she had begun to yell just a bit. At that moment, the old ewe she called Old Lady kicked her last, and died from her several wounds, in dust under the shed overhang. The woman gave an angry sob.

"You're angry now," I said.

"Y-yeah. Yeah I am," she responded, balling her fists up, tight. "Who the hell leaves their damned dogs out to pack up and attack sheep that never did anyone any harm, just for the fun of killing? Who raises dogs that would do that? Why did they do that? Those weren't strays. They weren't hungry. They were just... in a blood lust! They came after me!"

"Dogs are kind of like people in that respect," I reflected. "They'll do something in a pack or a mob that they never would do by themselves. But the good part is, you're angry. You're mad. That's a much more useful emotion than terror. Hold on to that. Use that."

"I guess I was pretty terrified before," she said, casting her face down and looking dejected as she reflected on herself, ruefully.

"Maybe. But when you had to, you fought back," I reminded her. She was a medium-sized woman in her late thirties, wearing shorts and running shoes, and had fought off a pack of blood lust-filled curs with her feet. This was worth mentioning.

Her head snapped up, and her fists clinched a little bit. "That's what I do," she said. "I fight."

"Good," I said. "Don't forget that. The deputies are calling a vet for you. Call us if you need us."

We headed back to our city.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do you still get to use $0.29 stamps?

32 year-old friend Claire writes a letter to her 17 year-old self.

Man oh man, why didn't I ever get any of those letters from my current me, back then?

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Go listen, learn, and be disgusted.

This American Life put together the most concise and easy-to-digest explanation about how the housing mortgage crisis came about that I've yet heard. It's seriously worth a listen:

And so Mike noticed that every month, the guidelines were getting a little looser.Something called a stated income, verified asset loan came out, which meant you didn't have to provide paycheck stubs and w-2 forms, as they had in the past. You could simply state your income, as long as you showed that you had money in the bank.

Mike Garner: "The next guideline lower is just stated income, stated assets. Then you state what you make and state what’s in your bank account. They call and make sure you work where you say you work. Then an accountant has to say for your field it is possible to make what you said you make. But they don’t say what you make, just say it’s possible that they could make that."

Alex Blumberg: "It’s just so funny that instead of just asking people to prove what they make there’s this theater in place of you have to find an accountant sitting right in front of me who could very easily provide a W2, but we’re not asking for a W2 form, but we do want this accountant to say 'yeah, what they’re saying is plausible in some universe.'"

Mike Garner: "Yeah, and loan officers would have an accountant they could call up and say 'Can you write a statement saying a truck driver can make this much money?' Then the next one, came along, and it was no income, verified assets. So you don't have to tell the people what you do for a living. You don’t have to tell the people what you do for work. All you have to do is state you have a certain amount of money in your bank account. And then, the next one, is just no income, no asset. You don't have to state anything. Just have to have a credit score and a pulse."

Actually that pulse thing? Also optional. Like the case in Ohio where 23 dead people were approved for mortgages.



Shorter version here.

For those of us who rage at the public perception of this "crisis," it's nice to get confirmation of where the problems originated.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Shocking, I know.

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(68% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Libertarian




Link: The Politics Test



That link above isn't working. Try this one, to find where your politics lies.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

American Hunters and Shooters Association

The American Hunters and Shooters Association does not represent the law-abiding gun-owner's rights.

Oh, they say that they do.

But they do not.*

Their web site is a fan dance of implications that it's a pro-gun rights group. But even its own site lays out their group's policy statement on its stance toward allowing FBI access to NICS records (which NICS was never supposed to be used for. That was how it got passed-- on the promise that it would never be used in this way.).

The implication is that all decent gun-owners are hunters, and that those interested in conservation should be interested in joining their association. In fact, they use that last issue (conservation) as a wedge for shooters. They accuse the NRA of failing to support conservation efforts, and that's why the NRA is a bunch of baddies.

Friends, this is a red herring. The NRA is not about conservation, any more than the AMA is about airline deregulation.

If you were thinking about joining the AHSA in a support of 2nd Amendment issues, think again. In this statement from their president Ray Schoenke, they take shots at the NRA, and make clear that they plan to equivocate their support for the 2nd Amendment:

And, for 77 million gun-owning Americans who are not Members of NRA, we invite you to join an organization that is steadfast in protecting our Second Amendment rights, conserving our environment, and will support common sense efforts to keep guns away from criminals.
This is code for "abating your rights."

And what about Ray Schoenke and his fellow leadership of the AHSA? They are, to a man, people who work for abridging and banning rights to own firearms. Ray Schoenke himself has donated over $10,000 to the Brady campaign. Jon Rosenthal campaigned for and saw passed some of the strictest handgun registration laws in this country, in Mordor Maryland. Joseph J. Vince, Jr is literally the head of a hired gun organization supported by Handgun Control Inc.

When Barrack Obama tells you that he supports 2nd Amendment rights, and claims as proof that he is supported by the AHSA, understand that he is in fact thus proving his support for the abridgement of your rights to keep and bear arms. Barack Obama wants to take your 2nd Amendment right (which is not about hunting) away.

Advocates for a given right do not, first shake out of the box, qualify their support. Politics is about compromise. If your advocate is compromising from the start, what will the eventual compromise be? Will you be advanced in your fight for your rights, or regressed?

Do not compromise. Certainly do not do so by throwing in with conniving, mealy-mouthed, weasel-talking, inverse-speaking people such as these. Keep your rights, and don't sign on with those who would take them.

You. Hold. You HOLD!
___________________________________________________________________
*The popular term for this type of person is "liar."

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nicest people you'll ever meet...

"You know, snuff film actors and crew are the best folks you'll ever meet..."


Don exposes his idealistic position that all people are basically good, throughout the world.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Somebody hand me a tournequit.

And perhaps some Quick Clot.

I'm hemorrhaging money.

I expected, when I bought this house, to have to repair the foundation.
I expected to have to work on the air conditioner.
I expected the repair of the holes in the walls and ceiling (courtesy of the previous residents who were foreclosed on).
I expected the roof repair.
I expected the replacement of every square inch of flooring and counter top.

But now come the plumbing problems. I replaced the clean-out yesterday. I busted a hole through the floor in the kitchen yesterday, and am trying to dig out a sewer leak, exploring where I'm pretty sure the leak will be, instead of paying $580 to use the leak-finder service.

My hand is getting writer's cramp, writing all these checks until the money dries up.

Bah.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Interesting...

Ever try tahini on a bologna sandwich?

Not bad. . .

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I've made the drive...

...from north Texas to Alamogordo, NM a few times in my life.

My mother just drove it again. Join her, and you'll have a taste of the journey, and your mouth set for it.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Wish I were out with them.

Early September morning in North Texas. The gold of the sun contrasts like pyrite against the lapis lazuli sky, on this, the first morning after the hurricane churned past. The breeze is from the north, and it dries the streets and the dewy ground quickly. There are gunshots in the distance, and as usual, the radio crackles with hunter complaints.

It's dove season.

Noticing a couple of flights of mournng dove over the new-ish housing development near the edge of town, I begin to motor over toward the pastures at another frontier of my jurisdiction, improbably far from my position to be the source of the pops. But the north wind on a quiet morning does in fact blow the sound of the shotgun reports a good long way, and I find the hunters' pickups parked at the back end of a new housing development that's built of ghost streets to nowhere, without houses or landscaping or even street signs. A line of round hay bales denotes the edge of the large meadow next to the development. Out of habit, I stop and run the plates, in case I get a call later.

In the distance, I see a camouflaged man walking toward me, unloading a shotgun and putting his shells in his belt pouches. It's a nice gesture, but he doesn't have to do it; I know he wasn't hunting on the road, and I've never been afraid of a sober hunter who minds his muzzle, as he's now doing.

"You doing any good?" I ask out the window of my cruiser. I don't bother getting out of the car because I don't want to hold the man up. It's coming up on 8:00AM, and this is the Golden Hour for morning bird hunting. I also don't want to give the impression that I'm here to give him any trouble. Getting out implies that I'm here to do just that, or at least give him more attention than he might prefer.

"Aw, I got a few. Three dove, and a couple of pigeon. Dad says they're worth eatin', but I don't know," he answers as he extends his hand to shake mine. "Henry."

"Matt," I respond, shaking his hand. "You're dad's right. Look in the craw of those feral rock doves, and you'll see that they're eating the same stuff your mourning dove and white wing dove are eating, but with three times the meat per bird."

"Yeah, and there's no limit on 'em. I know that. They're meatier, to be sure. I have to hit them a bit closer in than the dove," he answers.

"With that 20 gauge, I don't believe I'd try to bring them down further than those hay bales, I say, pointing to the line about 20 yards away,"unless I were carrying bigger shot than 8 shot."

"I reload, and these shells hold an ounce and an eighth of #6 shot," he says, with a grin.

"Then I formally withdraw my previous comment," I say, laughing with him. I consider making some worry-wart comment about being wary of excessive pressures, and realize that it would be foolish. I don't know much about shotshell reloading, and I've no way to know his experience level with the skill, and I'd be a little peeved if some Johnny Law took it upon himself to question my own careful efforts at reloading rifle and pistol cartridges, without any evidence of ineptitude. For alll I know, this guy's a master. I grin inwardly, and let my unnecessary warning die in my throat.

Instead, I ask him if the choke is a Modified, and he glances at the barrel to report that it is. He's thus well-suited to the long-range passing shots that he gets in that half-section field he came out of.

About this point, a flight of dove comes over, and I point to them. He laughs and reminds me that he's unloaded. I suggest that he step a few steps off the newly-poured road right-of-way and reload, lest we be overcome by attacking migratory game birds. He looks around and asks if I thought that the new concrete streets would count as roads that he couldn't hunt from. I nod and admit that they probably are, and point out where the right-of-way is.

I ask him whose land he's hunting on, and he shows me a card for the lease he's signed on to, which includes the meadow. Wow. I never had a printed card from any land that I hunted on. A few times, I've carried a quick permission notice signed onto a scrap of paper. Once it was a napkin. I wave it away when he offers to hand it to me, and point out another bird flying the tree line a hundred yards distant.

"I don't want to keep you," I say. "Good luck and good hunting, sir."

"You too," he says. We both chuckle as we simultaneously admonish the other to "be safe."

I haven't driven a hundred yards away before I hear the bark of his Wingmaster. I turn to see him already walking to pick up another bird, as two more do aerobatics to fly away from him.

Wish I was out there with him.

I log a note on my clipboard, and move on.

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Setting myself up to lose... and maybe them to win.

I've long said that I don't expect to be my children's friend, but hope to be respected as their daddy. But then I go and make them laugh at me, and am glad of it. Huh.

We moved into this little rent house about 14 months ago, and my (then) 9 and 5 year old daughters had to share a bedroom. They were surprisingly okay with it at first, like if they had gone camping. But after a few months, they both wanted their own rooms again. Not until we buy a new house, they were told. They sulked, and I began a campaign to make them cleave to each other.

It wasn't very subtle. I took them each aside and told them that they had to be best friends. Oh, they could have other best friends, but this was a true BFF, and no one could take the place of their sister. It wasn't very hard with the younger girl, who very much loves her big sister and wants to do stuff with her. The big girl was a harder sell, not least because her other friends like to pick on and put down their little sisters. I explained that this would NOT be acceptable behavior, and told her what I expected. And, surprise, surprise, she's pretty much done what I asked.

We put the little one to bed minutes before the elder one on principle, but in reality, they go to bed within 10 minutes of each other every night. (And the younger girl always gets up first, bright-eyed.) Their bedroom is just off the living room, so I can hear them when they get to talking. I LOVE that they're talking in the dark, with the lights off. You can get very tight with someone that way. Of course, I go to the door, and make a show of yelling though the door in a grumbly voice: "Girls! No talking! Go to sleep! No. Talking." I then stomp away from the door, hearing muted giggles behind me. I know full well that they will continue to giggle and talk for another 15 minutes. I know that my failure to enforce my orders will probably cause a very slight slide in my role as a disciplinarian.

But they're going to remember those chats in the dark forever, and stick together long after they've got their own kids. I hope.

We've recently bought a tired three-bedroom brick house down the road, and are fixing it up to make it fit to live in. It probably will be ready for move-in by Halloween. Each girl will get her own bedroom, after about 15 months together in the same bedroom. I pray they'll love each other.

__________________

I use corporal punishment on my kids occasionally. Not a lot, but it happens. I was a child who was spanked, and I will use a spanking when all else fails. My wife was a child who was pinched, and she will pinch when all else fails. I have grown to admire the subtle strength of the pinch, inasmuch as there is no way to accidentally give more or less then you intended, and it frankly looks less horrific on a parking lot when your kid ran out into traffic.

I find that the fact that I do pinch or spank influences my directives to my kids, a lot. Early on, we set the "1, 2, 3" rule. Tell a child to do something, and if they haven't done (or begun to do) it by "3", they get a spanking. Or a pinch. I have almost NEVER had to get to three. Often the kiddo is running to (get in the car, clean up a mess, get ready for school, get ready for bed) to do what she was told with her hands over her rear end, if I get to "2".

Recently, I was intentionally being over the top when roaring at my girls to clean their room. They immediately read me as having put some additional mustard on my hollering, and kept playing with their toys as they slowly, slowly put them away. I blustered again, knowing all too well that they had busted me-- I wasn't really mad at them. Still, I had told them to clean up their room. I quickly told them that if they hadn't begun cleaning in 5 minutes when I returned, a spanking -- er, pinch would be forthcoming.

I'm afraid I misspoke.

4 minutes later, I stomped to their room, asking "Girls? Are you cleaning now, or am I going to have to...?" I could hear giggling from them.

"What? Are you going to "Spinch" us, dad?" asked my 10 year-old. The 6 year-old burst out laughing. I thought back to what I had said, and started laughing, too.

Now, "spinch" is our favorite word. My wife envisions it as a form of punishment that would be applied with the same level of dexterity as patting one's head and rubbing one's belly. My girls laugh at every utterance of the word.

They're laughing at me.

And I don't even mind.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Never.


I'm never moving to the coast. It's a nice enough place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Hunker hunker burnin' love

I've never been a fan of Houston. The climate (muggy), the traffic (siege-like), the crime (post-apocalyptic), and even the people (by and large disconnected from the rest of the state) have always caused me to have a general distaste for that city. Oh, I know it's a necessary town down there on the cesspool region of the Gulf, sort of like certain orifices on one's body are necessary for divulging wastes. But it's not my preferred city.

But I have to admit a certain admiration for their boldness in their decision to "stare Ike down," and "hunker down" through the storm. In this day and age of post-Katrina over-reaction and finger-pointing over who's to blame for what are basically uncontrollable acts of weather, it's a bit refreshing to hear a city say,"Yeah, we're a Gulf city. We get hurricanes. What of it?"

Hope that all works out for you, guys. Seriously, and with no snark: good luck.

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The Great Forgetting

The great forgetting has begun, and although I suppose I should be reassured with such glaring evidence that life does indeed go on, I've felt very alone all day in my remembering.
Breda puts more eloquently the same thought that I had last night. I spoke to roughly 40 people yesterday, and not one of them said a word aloud about the day. I did notice the boys at the elementary school putting the flag to half-staff, but didn't discuss it with them; I wonder if the parents watching it all thought about it. I was shaken, that day 7 years ago, and being shaken to that magnitude doesn't leave a person. I may occasionally pay no attention to the ache of that day, but it's never left me.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11


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Am I The Only One Noticing?

That a turner named Ike is about to smack another bitch beach?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On bended knee.

I've been having trouble tuning in to read Crystal's great blog, lately.

Normally a hilariously profane blog about the reality of mothering, Crystal has for the past 6 months been posting a series called "The Crazy Chronicles." In it, she details the life journey that took her from a Mediterranean island to Texas, to Mississippi, to a mental hospital.

Reading the "Crazy Chronicles" has been like watching a wayward child grow into a girl, into a woman, all at fast-forward, with the mistakes and miscarriages of justice all highlighted. No, that's not fair-- she also points out bright moments of kindness, too. But they're too few, too unpredictable. And all this occurred to Crystal, a lady we know and like.

For a guy like me, who for better or worse is a "fixer," this has been almost unbearable to read. But I had to. So every couple of weeks, I would steel myself, and go back to read what I had missed.

Yesterday, it came to fruition. Even if you don't know Crystal, and you don't ever read her blog and have never read "The Crazy Chronicles," you owe it to yourself to read the very brief installment that is Chapter 31. Read it, and have hope.*


______________________________
* F.Y.I.-- While that post doesn't get very explicit, it does acknowledge that dating people have premarital sex. You've been warned.

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Sounds jingoistic, I know.

I just happen to believe it.

It's nice to be appreciated.

From Comments on my last post:

(yes, it's a sexist term, but it's hundreds of years old, and what's a person to do?)

I see what you did there, and it amuses me.

Carry on.

I try, Jason. :)

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Since when is learning to use a tool a bad thing?


I don't know much about the Appleseed project, beyond what I've read on Breda's site, and a couple of comments elsewhere. I gather, through remarks made in (and out of) context, that there seems to be some sort of criticism of the project.


I'm a bit confused about all of this. The concept, so far as I can see, is to teach rifle-owners the basics of riflery, so that they may present themselves as competent, able riflemen. (yes, it's a sexist term, but it's hundreds of years old, and what's a person to do?)


I had a fair amount of luck-- my father was taught riflery, and insisted that I know about it. When I asked about slings on rifles in my Boy Scout trips to the range a quarter-century ago, I was smirked at: "Why do you need some device to hold the rifle for you?" Even at 11 years of age, I already knew that those "instructors" had missed something valuable.


When I went to U.T. Austin, I joined the rifle team mostly as an opportunity to get to shoot on campus, with all the .22 ammo I wanted to burn for a measly $20 a semester. I ended up shooting one match against Texas A&M, where I got my arse handed to me. When Dad came down for my birthday, he presented me with a copy of the military guide to riflery.


I've got a long way to go yet, to consider myself a true master rifleman. I've also gotten to a stage in my life where I feel my muscles, nerves, and eyesight declining. If I want to stake my prowess at a high point, I'd better get busy learning, and practicing. I realize that I'll never make Olympic class (give up coffee? Are you frickin' kidding me?!?), but I'd like to know that a breadbox at 500 yards is within my abilities to hit while standing. (Think you can do it? Have you actually tried it?)


One of the features of being a good rifleman that I have found is the ability to give up one's ego, and assess honestly what one's capabilities are. Don Gwinn can do it, but he's an exceptional person. As a hunter, I know what I can and can't do, and have turned down surprisingly short shots because the light, sights, and movement of the game simply didn't synch up to provide me with a sure hit at that range. As a cop, I've found myself looking through the sights of my rifle and knowing that I "owned" a doorway 80 yards distant, behind which a felon held a hostage. Knowing that I had the skills to absolutely guarantee a head shot at that distance gave me a lot of peace, which would have (had things gone badly) reduced the stress and allowed me to shoot to my potential. That comes from more than just qualification, or "famfire;" it comes from honest self-assessment. If I'd been forty yards further out, with that light and those sights, I would have probably disqualified myself as being capable of consistently being able to make a head shot. (As it was, things went well, with no further harm to human life.)


What I do know is that we learn by repetition, and that committing one's self to a weekend-long seminar on shooting a rifle will absolutely burn in some skills, if they are taught correctly. If the training is done correctly, it will teach students how to practice on their own, to improve themselves on their own.


How could anyone criticize such a project? Look, even if you're a hopeless hoplophobe, wouldn't you want those scary gun-owners to understand how to shoot safely, and competently? That's a whole lot better than the alternative, don'tcha think?


Just thinking out loud, here.

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Giant Spider Seen Over Europe! Agh!

From Ugly OverLoad, we get the spider you can play with.

I like to add my own sound effects.

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Because a me-me is easy, I'm short of content, and I like to eat (a LOT).

Lifted from Dad's, Roberta's and the Atomic Nerds' sites.

For a guy who considers himself a Foodie, I can't believe how much of this I've never touched. Many times I've seen it, but was involved with something else at the time.

Some correction is in order.


1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison (preferably killed and butchered myself-- I don't trust many other people's meat-handling practices.)
2. Nettle teas (at a Boy Scout jamboree many, many years ago. Eh.)
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (No, but I have eaten aligator.)
6. Black pudding (Sounds interesting)
7. Cheese fondue (Surprisingly, no.)
8. Carp
9. Borscht (My wife loves it. Eh.)
10. Baba ghanoush (I make it at home. Yum.)
11. Calamari
12. Pho (Looks good)
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi (Oh, yeah!)
15. Hot dog from a street cart (Outside of Home Depot counts, right?)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (Only as an ingredient)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (Surprisingly, no.)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda (Want!) (How is it that I've never...? Need to go find this.)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (interesting)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (never together)
37. Clotted cream tea (Very tempted to strike this out)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (Who the hell hasn't had a jello shot, who went to college?)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (Well, not intentionally.)
43. Phaal (sounds awesome)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (Thanks, Bill! Shared a drink with Dad after Heller. MacAllen 18 year)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala (Hell, yes.)
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (Even blogged about it.)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear (We call 'em nopales, but the fruit is called "tuna." This is oft considered to be why Southwesterners say "tuna fish" to refer to the fishy meat.)`
52. Umeboshi (once. Pickled, dried, and salted. Never again.)
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (It was after a wedding, and I was wearing a tux. Never again. Blech.)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (I'll do it once, maybe.)
63. Kaolin (Only in Kaopectate, and as a yeast nutrient in homemade beer. Heck, I'm counting it.)
64. Currywurst (Sounds superb.)
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (I'm a little scared.)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (Never jugged, though. I may have to try that.)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (uh, not knowingly)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (WANT)
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (I've been offered it, before, but can't recall ever having eaten it. I've no objection to it, though.)

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

I can't really argue with that.

My mother is returning to her childhood home in Alamogordo, NM to see a dear old friend interred. When she told me this, I said I'd help her find the cheapest tickets and rental car. She protested that it was way too much trouble, and too expensive. What with gas prices going up the way they have been, I suspected that it would be a wash between the cost of driving and flying there economy class. It turned out that it would cost a bit more to fly and get a rental. Still I persisted in suggesting that she follow my plan, which entailed flying to El Paso, and taking the rental car the 85 miles to Alamogordo.

"No!" She said. "Thanks for checking on the cost of things, but it's all just too much trouble, what with checking my pistol in and out at the airport and everything. If you think this little old lady's traveling unarmed, you've got another thing comig. And if it's all the same to you, I happen to prefer to drive through the mountains around
Cloudcroft in September."

Well. Of course.

I stand corrected, and a bit abashed. Heh.

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To the long list of things that I don't care about, please add also this one:

I don't give a damn about a political candidate's family.

Be they good, bad, well-to-do, poor-as-church-mice, straight, gay, literate, less-than-literate...

I don't care.

I don't care.

I DO. NOT. CARE. ABOUT A POLITICAL CANDIDATE'S FAMILY!!!!

If, perchance, you find the opportunity to catch the ear of a pundit or two, or of a news journalist who reports on the elections, please be so kind as to pass this on.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Worth voting for.

My pal LawDog has been nominated for the Blogger's Choice Awards. Frankly, he deserves the recognition, and more.

If you don't yet know him, you might check him out. How many north Texas cops do you know who were born and reared in the Mediterranean area, and grew up in Africa under the tutelage of a Scottish nanny, with a deep love of his roots in Texas? After serving as a soldier, he took to Texas law enforcement, where a cop with a funny accent and a love of good books and good teas is an anomaly.

He also has a way with the written word.

LawDog is famous for his rants.
LawDog is famous for his amusing LawDog Files-- funny tales of rural Texas law enforcement.
LawDog is not as famous as he probably deserves to be for his tales of growing up abroad.
LawDog should have more fame from his heart-touching tales of life, seen from his unique point of view.

I know it's a pain to do, but I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd take just a second to go vote for LawDog's blog. I voted for him as "Blogs About Stuff."

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Oh, and that R.N.C.?? Forget it.

NOTHING better could possibly come from the Republican National Convention than this past week's nominatin of the presumptive V.P. nominee. The only possible outcome of making a big hurrah out of the convention will be criticism. McCain, if you've got the savvy that you seem to be suddenly showing, you'll keep doing what you've been doing this week: tone it down, be inclusive of all, and distance from W like a prom queen from an acne patient.

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Prediction:

Lemme put on my fortune-teller's hat for a second, and issue this prediction:

Even if George W. Bush stands on the coast of Louisiana and fights off Gustav with a home-made light sabre, and puts up refugees in suites at the Ritz, the current administration will be decried as having failed to deal with the on-going storm.

I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

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Ruh Rhroh, Hraggy!

Looking at what's just now peaking into view of the New Orleans radar screen... you think maybe some butts are clenching in southern Louisiana, right now?
Good luck, folks. Today's going to be interesting.

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