'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

30 September 2010

A Writer Speaks On Writing

Face it, most of us at least fancy ourselves as writers or else we probably wouldn't be blogging and commenting. The mere fact that I can't write like Heinlein or Twain doesn't discourage me from throwing out my scribblings for public perusal.

I've always enjoyed the act of writing. Putting my words to paper or scattered bytes in a computer is both cathartic and my single creative outlet. There's more of the knuckle dragger to me than the Bard but I do so enjoy the process. Even unread, the words we write and the things we write about resonate with someone, even if only ourselves.

Kanani, a terrific writer I admire and read daily, gives good advice to budding wordsmiths here. She talks about the potentially crippling effects of a bad English teacher. Frankly, I slept through high school English classes but I'm sure if I had been awake and aware I would have met the very teachers she talks about. It's worth a read if just for the reminder that talent, however great or minuscule, needs to be nurtured if it stands a chance of flowering.


I'm Considering Another Dog

If that's not surprising to you it sure was to me.

I left the Ford at the tune up shop for a smog check earlier today and rode my bicycle home. I got the call that it was done, hopped on my Gary Fisher and went to pick it up. As I got there I saw a man walking two dogs down the sidewalk. One was a female Yellow Lab/Golden mix and the other was a pure bred male Black Lab. They disappeared around the corner and I felt a twinge of disappointment. I was hoping maybe I could chat up the owner and get a little Lab loving fix since Chrisi and Lu are still in Utah. As I turned the corner I was pleasantly surprised to see the owner at the shop door, putting both dogs in a sit/stay before going in.

Now, I'm a respecter of other people's animals. I always ask before I pet someone else's dog. It's only polite and there may be very good reasons not to touch. But as I approached that ball of black furry happiness he started what I call the Lab Wiggle.

Other dogs may have this behavior but I've noticed it most strongly in the Labrador breed. They are smart and want to please so they'll learn a command, such as sit/stay, and execute it very well. But when approached by someone they're absolutely positive has come by just to see and love them (and frankly, that's most everyone they meet) they start Wiggling. He obviously recognized a fellow traveler and a man who cannot resist spoiling a good dog the instant he laid eyes on me.

The Lab Wiggle starts in the eyes, when they recognize you as a friend they've never met. Those soft, expressive brown orbs light up with pure Labrador Joy. Then the tail starts wildly wagging. That wagging immediately infects their butt and it begins to gyrate as it ever so slightly comes up off the ground before their training kicks in and back down it goes. It becomes a sort of bounce, up and down. They start to creep forward ever so slightly as the urge to greet you becomes overpowering. They begin to shake as the friendlies start to take over and consume their entire bodies. They then start licking at the air getting warmed up for the kissing they're sure is going to begin at any moment. It all adds up to the Lab Wiggle as the desire to love and be loved wars with that innate desire to please their master and their training. It is a joy to behold and nearly irresistible to anyone who loves dogs and many who don't. I just couldn't quite help myself.

As I was drawn closer as iron shavings to a magnet, and the Lab Wiggle went into full on almost out of control mode, I did a bad thing. I started the sweet talk. You know how it goes. Most of you have done it yourselves. Don't try to deny it.
"Who's a good boy? Who's a good boy? You are aren't you? Yes you are. You're such a good boy." There was more but my sense of self respect precludes me from going any deeper into my loss of the ability to talk like an adult. Just as I got to him, and it was readily apparent that the Lab Wiggle was about to erode the last vestiges of his self control and he was going to explode from joy and pounce on me, his owner came out.

Luckily for me the man was good natured, friendly and recognized an irresistible force meeting an immovable object when he saw them. He nodded to my questioning look and I started giving Yogi (I later learned) the loving that was his due. He magically transported the two feet separating us and proceeded to rub himself all over me, showering kisses on my face and finally sitting between my feet to allow me to really work over his scratchy spot just under his chin and down his neck. All the while he was gazing into my face in adoration, as if I were doggie crack in human form and asking "Are we best friends now? We are? Oh Joy!"

We talked while Yogi and I became instant fast friends for life. I told him about Trooper and he told me about Yogi. After a few minutes they had to go and with a last shared scratch and kiss Yogi and I parted. It got me thinking.

Lu and I have talked about another dog. Even before Trooper passed we discussed whether or not to get another dog. I told her that I absolutely did not want anyone to 'surprise' me with the gift of a puppy. Maybe I was done all together.

Trooper was a once in a lifetime dog. He was irreplaceable and I'm not interested in trying to find another like him. It can't be done. He was my buddy and my pal and my constant companion and I'll miss him the rest of my life. I loved him as thoroughly as a man can love a dog and he loved me back as only a devoted dog can love his boy. Oddly enough that very thing, that unique relationship Trooper and I shared, now allows me to at least tentatively embrace the idea of another dog. If Trooper can't be replaced and I'm not trying to then maybe there is place in my life for another dog. A different dog.

At first the idea was unthinkable. It'd be a long time, maybe years, before I'd be ready. But I'm also a dog guy, specifically a Black Lab guy, through and through. I love Chrisi and she's really enjoying all the extra attention, but she is Lu's dog. She goes where Lu goes and that is as it should be. I sleep better when we're separated knowing Chrisi is near her, keeping her company and watching out for her and protecting her when I can't.

With the house in Utah needing so much work I'm going to be spending a lot of my time out there. It may be that Lu and I will go ahead and move permanently and rent out the california house but maybe not. If not I'll be spending a lot of time in Utah alone. Lu and I have been married for more than 32 years and I have learned that I'm happiest when we're together. When we can't be a dog really helps keep the lonely's away. It's nice to just have another warm, breathing body in the house, especially one who agrees with everything you say and thinks you're the smartest, most wonderful thing ever placed on God's green earth. I like having someone to watch out for, fuss and fret over. I like being swarmed when I get home by a soul who's only need is to be near me. I like the training and the walks and wrestling on the living room floor. I like training dummies and decoys and walks in the woods. I need the companionship. I'm not happy when I'm alone. I'm not complete without a dog. Who knew?

Maybe. I'm taking the first steps. I'm going to call our breeder Highland Labradors, the family we got both Trooper and Chrisi from, and see if any of their dams line (her name was Sister) is still actively being bred. I'm checking out other breeders. I may head down to the shelter and take a look. I'm still torn but at least the door is partly open and I've seen a crack of light. I don't know. It may be that I can't know until I've decided. One way or the other.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. Most of you have gone down this road before but this is a first time for me. If you have any ideas or advice I'd be grateful. I'm still struggling with perspective but maybe I'm gaining some. The worst thing would be to bring in a dog when it turns out I wasn't ready. It'd be a tragedy and unforgivable to me. I won't do that.

But maybe. Perhaps all it took was a big,wonderful, joyous dog named Yogi to show me the way.

To be continued.


29 September 2010

Wounded Warriors

I do love you all.

h/t to Geek Warrior who says it best. "I am not worthy."

The Funny

JihadGene over at Great Reader really tickled my funny bone this afternoon.

Thanks for the mental image of Dear Leader in a nurses uniform Gene. There's just not enough brain bleach in the whole wide world.


28 September 2010

It's Not About Guns

It's made the rounds and no doubt by now most have seen it. It's the 20 questions by japete.
I want to comment but I not going to post her questions. They're too vague and too loaded. Instead of going line by line, here is my response.

Ms. japete

America is overburdened by laws. We have a law on the books for just about anything and any behavior you care to name. The problem isn't a dearth of laws it's a broken justice system. When convicted murderers can go free (and please note how many of those examples escaped) to kill again and 12 year old girls can be arrested for doodling on her desk with an erasable pen then the system is clearly open to interpretation and abuse. How long before any crime, even traffic violations, are grounds for a lifetime gun ban? Who decides? You? Me? A politician? A judge who may be a political hack with an axe to grind? How about we concentrate on rehabilitation, recidivism rates and getting qualified psychiatric help for those who need it for as long as they need it and stop blaming inanimate objects. Banning guns is a little like banning pregnancies among teenagers. You can yell til you're red in the face but they'll still steal off to Make Out Point and figure out where the monkey hid the peanut.

If I don't need to so much as show an ID to vote then why should I be subjected to a background check to exercise a Constitutional Right? Where you and I fail to see eye to eye is in the idea that I know that the Constitution is the guarantor of my Rights and you believe it's the federal government. It's not about the guns it's about who exercises control and how far reaching that control is. If we can't get past that then we really are talking in two different languages.

The whole point of the 20 questions, as asked, would be moot if banning were not the agenda. Of course, banning and confiscation are two very, very different things. Banning is as easy as signing a bill into law but confiscation takes flesh and blood men and women on the ground to make it happen. I think that I, and those who think like me, can be excused if we continue the argument against banning because confiscation carries perils no one wants to visit. Of the two of us I thinks it's probably safe to say I'm the only one who has taken guns from people who really, really didn't want me to have them and all I can say is it is always risky and frequently hazardous.

Yes, I am in fact a member and supporter of the TEA Party. Please remember that the origin of the TEA was Taxed Enough Already. The TEA Party is the only true grass roots political movement in existence and the left is going to have to deal with us sooner or later. I am an Oath Keeper, retired local police officer and an Army and National Guard veteran. I'm also a husband, father and grandfather. It takes a lot to make me a member of the fringe but somehow the msm and the democratic party (as well as the mainstream gop) seems to have done so. I am unapologetic.

A firearm, in the hands of The People, is used to protect Life, Liberty and in some states, Property. You can parse that any way you want to but it's a plain, simple statement of Truth. Any law abridging the Right of The People to Keep and Bear Firearms is unconstitutional on it's face. I am forced into that position because "common sense" gun laws are exceedingly scarce of common sense. There are laws on the books to cover any conceivable bad thing anyone could do to someone else regardless of choice of instrument. A person stabbed to death is no less dead than someone shot to death. Either We The People are sovereign and the final arbiters of our lives or we're not. In which case we're subjects and not citizens and I find that unacceptable.

Gun laws are being enforced every day in every jurisdiction in this nation. It hasn't made a lick of difference. It's like the war on drugs. The only things that's accomplished it to drive up the price to consumers resulting in more crime, increased the profit margin for the manufacturer/dealer who can then reinvest that money into increasing their market share and fatalities among the innocent who get caught up in the crossfire resulting from the internecine warfare produced by the gangs as a result of territorial pressures. Banning guns is an exercise in futility and a potential tool for oppression in the hands of people demonstrably unable to resist the temptations of power.

If you're in the public arena and you're offended by the discourse then you need to grow a thicker skin. The open debate of ideas is mad, chaotic, loud, profane and often unsavory. It's supposed to be and if that's more than you can handle then take up less stressful past times. You could not imagine the things I've been called on duty.

I tend to view my fellow citizens through the lens of my own anecdotal experiences and naturally optimistic nature. I believe the majority of them are well aware of the awesome power represented in any modern firearm. Firearms, by the way, that have been improved through the years as a result of (among other things such as quality control, market share, etc.) civil penalties resulting from shoddy design and manufacture. Many states, California for instance, require all firearms sold to pass a drop test. See how market forces and a free marketplace works? If any gun owner is so stupid as to mishandle a firearm in such a way as to kill or injure then there are already a host of laws on the books to deal with that unfortunate happenstance.
Let's enforce the laws against hurting people and their stuff regardless of the tool used that are already on the books before we start banning inanimate objects.

You can compile all the statistics on gun deaths you want and include any category you desire and more power to you. They mean absolutely nothing. Constitutional Rights cannot be removed because a person or group has statistics they believe warrant such action.

Virtually every death, no matter the cause, is felt deeply by some loved one. Are you campaigning for the cure of disease? Hunger? How about traffic fatalities? Drownings? Stabbings? Falls? I could go on but you get the idea. Are you advocating against drunk driving with a 20 question post? 2o Questions for those who have swimming pools and kids? No? If you're focusing only on gun deaths then you're biased against an object and those who own them. I've lost family members to Cancer so I concentrate my fund raising efforts there but I don't call for the banning of anything that might cause cancer. I work for a cure and try to educate people to make sound choices and rely on their good sense. You can do this with guns as well. Take a course from the NRA and become an advocate for safe gun handling practices. Support the NRA's Eddie Eagle program that teaches kids not to touch guns. Advocate for safety where you can have an impact instead of for banning where you can't.

I have no reason to doubt the stories you post but if you want to impress me with your sincerity and lack of bias include stories where lives have been saved by the use of a firearm. Here's some stories for you to read and ponder. Lives saved only because they had immediate access to a firearm.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. The BATFE, as an organization, reflects the desires of their political masters. In my opinion their ranks are largely populated by honest, dedicated, sincere men and women who only want to fight crime and have a positive impact on their communities and society in general. But, in it's current incarnation and with it's current leadership, most of those agents are being sent to do things that are in violation of the Second Amendment. So yes, I do have some concerns. If we had leadership at the federal level that believed in protecting American Rights I would feel differently. The fact is that we don't and haven't in a very long time.

Let me sum up here. Gun ownership is a specifically illustrated Right of The People enumerated in the Second Amendment to The Constitution of The United States of America. "Shall Not Be Infringed". Asking The People to give up some part of that Right is the same as asking us to give up any part of the Bill of Rights.

Try this.

Background checks for every article you write before publication. 10 day waiting period for all blog posts and no automatic comment filters without an additional permit. After all, you might call someone you disagree with a liar or other demeaning name and hurt their feelings leading to almost any outcome you care to name.

How about background checks before a date? After all you might be a past domestic violence offender.

The bottom line is this. This country is made up of people. Imminently fallible, frequently wrong, asinine, stupid, coarse and short sighted people. That's exactly why The Constitution exists in the first place, so one group of those people can't force their views and prejudices on the rest. Just as I can't legally require you to write only what I deem to be safe and inoffensive neither can you compel me to give up my Second Amendment Right to Keep and bear firearms.

I'm all for compromise on most things but not on this issue. All the compromising is being placed on the shoulders of everyday Americans who have done nothing more than exercise a basic Constitutional Right. I'm always willing to talk and debate but I won't compromise on this issue. Ever. If that makes unreasonable then that is a sobriquet I will bear with pride.

Now that I've taken the time and care to answer your questions, if not exactly in the fashion you asked for, how about answering one from me?

Do You believe in the Constitution of The United States of America and the Bill of Rights or not?


26 September 2010

Sunday Kipling

Another of my favorites. I used to have a nightmare in which I gave up my career as a police officer and went back to the Army. I woke up covered in sweat screaming
"No! It's just a dream. It's just a dream."


Back To the Army Again

I'm 'ere in a ticky ulster an' a broken billycock 'at,
A-layin' on the sergeant I don't know a gun from a bat;
My shirt's doin' duty for jacket, my sock's stickin' out o' my boots,
An' I'm learnin' the damned old goose-step along o' the new recruits!

Back to Army again, sergeant,
Back to the Army again.
Don't look so 'ard, for I 'aven't no card,
I'm back to the Army again!

I done my six years' service. 'Er Majesty sez: "Good day --
You'll please to come when you're rung for, an' 'ere's your 'ole back-pay:
An' fourpence a day for baccy -- an' bloomin' gen'rous, too;
An' now you can make your fortune -- the same as your orf'cers do."

Back to the Army again, sergeant,
Back to the Army again.
'Ow did I learn to do right-about-turn?
I'm back to the Army again!

A man o' four-an'-twenty that 'asn't learned of a trade --
Beside "Reserve" agin' him -- 'e'd better be never made.
I tried my luck for a quarter, an' that was enough for me,
An' I thought of 'Er Majesty's barricks, an' I thought I'd go an' see.

Back to the Army again, sergeant,
Back to the Army again.
'Tisn't my fault if I dress when I 'alt --
I'm back to the Army again!

The sergeant arst no questions, but 'e winked the other eye,
'E sez to me, " 'Shun!" an' I shunted, the same as in days gone by;
For 'e saw the set o' my shoulders, an' I couldn't 'elp 'oldin' straight
When me an' the other rookies come under the barrik-gate.

Back to the Army again, sergeant,
Back to the Army again.
'Oo would ha' thought I could carry an' port?
I'm back to the Army again!

I took my bath, an' I wallered -- for, Gawd, I needed it so!
I smelt the smell o' the barricks, I 'eard the bugles go.
I 'eard the feet on the gravel -- the feet o' the men what drill --
An' I sez to my flutterin' 'eart-strings, I sez to 'em, "Peace, be still!"

Back to the Army again, sergeant,
Back to the Army again.
'Oo said I knew when the troopship was due?
I'm back to the Army again!

I carried my slops to the tailor; I sez to 'im, "None o' your lip!
You tight 'em over the shoulders, an' loose 'em over the 'ip,
For the set o' the tunic's 'orrid." An' 'e sez to me, "Strike me dead,
But I thought you was used to the business!" an' so 'e done what I said.

Back to the Army again, sergeant,
Back to the Army again.
Rather too free with my fancies? Wot -- me?
I'm back to the Army again!

Next week I'll 'ave 'em fitted; I'll buy me a swagger-cane;
They'll let me free o' the barricks to walk on the Hoe again,
In the name o' William Parsons, that used to be Edward Clay,
An' -- any pore beggar that wants it can draw my fourpence a day!

Back to the Army again, sergeant,
Back to the Army again.
Out o' the cold an' the rain, sergeant,
Out o' the cold an' the rain.
'Oo's there?

A man that's too good to be lost you,
A man that is 'andled an' made --
A man that will pay what 'e cost you
In learnin' the others their trade -- parade!
You're droppin' the pick o' the Army
Because you don't 'elp 'em remain,
But drives 'em to cheat to get out o' the street
An' back to the Army again!

24 September 2010

The Powder Measure Is My Friend

This made the rounds in 2004 but many may not have seen it and Sarge reminded me that reloading safety needs to be trotted out and dusted off from time to time.

I think this is probably the actual introduction of this thread (But I may be wrong. Anyone else have it earlier?). It seems that the general consensus is a double load of something hot, like Bullseye (Alliant). I once shot what I later figured to be a compacted load of IMR 4227 in my Redhawk with no serious consequences (except to my BVD's and my poor hand) but I believe Bullseye and some others may be a bit hotter.

In my humble opinion this shouldn't have happened with a double charge. The gun is a S&W 629 and it's a pretty robust design. More likely is a squib folowed by a full charge round. It seems likely that the shooter was a novice or even a rookie reloader. Hot loads and squibs are the banes of newbie loaders everywhere.

Regardless, it is a lesson for all of us. Pay attention when you're loading and on the line. If the bang doesn't sound right..STOP..keep the firearm pointed downrange for a minute or so, then make the firearm safe and run a rod down the bore.

Work up to those hot loads. If you just gotta, determine max load incrementally in a couple of bench and range sessions and then back off your hottest load by 10 percent as a safety factor. Frankly, I have never seen the need to go past the hottest listed loads in my reloading manual and then only rarely. I have never flattened a primer (compacted load notwithstanding) and I don't intend to. Max pressure loads put a lot of needless stress on your gun and they wear out brass at an advanced rate. Brass is expensive and I'm cheap.

Pay attention at the reloading bench. Read your manual and follow it exactly. Seat primers fully (and carefully) and pay particular attention to powder charges. Use the appropriate powder and charge for the gun and cartridge. Don't overseat or over crimp bullets. A bullet seated or crimped too deeply can cause pressures to skyrocket regardless of the powder load. It's easy to make mistakes here and they can have terrible consequences.

I've been reloading for a while but I know some of you out there are probably more knowledgable than I so if you have some more tips (or if I screwed something up) drop them in comments and if necessary I'll add them as an addendum to this post.

Happy shooting.


23 September 2010

Here Chrisi

It's been hot here so Lu and I decided Chrisi needed a nice swim. Grandpa's Pond is just on the outskirts of Hurricane, an easy drive from our house. So we dressed casually loaded up and headed out.

The pond is actually very nice. Clear water, about a half mile in circumference and no one about. We unloaded and headed for the shore.

A few words about Chrisi are in order. She's Trooper's half sister, same mom, different dad. Where Trooper hated retrieving and did so only on sufferance, Chrisi is a hard wired hunting dog. Trooper had a play drive a mile wide. Chrisi still doesn't really like to play. She thinks wrestling is confusing because hey, where's the ball? If there's no going out, getting something and bringing it back what's the point?

Chrisi is a predator with an unbelievable drive. If not for her hip and our indifference she could have easily been a champion. She's also 13 and will be 14 in December (Her AKC name is Lu's Chrisimas Surprise. I swear). Her days as an active retriever are long behind her but she apparently hasn't lost her drive.

See, Chrisi is hard headed. I mean, stubborn doesn't begin to cover it. She drove Lu to tears many, many times. Oh, she's smart she's just hardwired to do what retrievers do. If what we were doing, like basic commands, wasn't what her instincts told her she was supposed to be doing she tended to balk. Trooper and Chrisi were trained to voice, hand and whistle commands but as she's aged Chrisi has reverted to her adolesence just a bit.

So, there we were at Grandpa's Pond, out for a nice afternoon of fun and frolic and maybe a bit of splashing around by Chrisi to cool her off on a hot summer day. As we got to the floating dock a couple of Eider Ducks swam out from underneath. I watched Chrisi and she focused like a laser beam on the pair. Usually that's enough to send such obvious miscreants winging for safer territory but no, not on this day. Today these two decided that Chrisi was no threat and loitered in the immediate area, quacking taunts and making disparaging remarks about Chrisi's mama.

Chrisi menaced them for a minute or so, letting them know who the big dog in the pond was but alas, it was to no avail. Clearly a more pointed message needed to be sent so into the water she went. We’ve seen this before. She knows she can’t catch ducks in the water but she has pursued them enough times to know what comes next. She chases for a few feet, they take wing and fly off and her world is once again complete. Her dominance has been established and all things are returned to their proper place. But again, no.

The ducks swam away, just out of reach. Chrisi, being old but no slouch, decided that this was just too much. Somebody was going to pay and pay big. She put her head down and pursued.

Now, by this time Lu and I have decided that enough is enough and Chrisi has gone as far as we’re comfortable letting her go. Commands were issued and same were ignored as the Chrisipedo sped unerringly on her mission. Teaching a couple of uppity ducks what’s what. Now we're getting a little panicky as we see the ducks, trailed by the resolute Chrisi, fading from sight. More commands were issued in a slightly higher pitch. Nope, no suggestion that she either heard or was inclined to obey. It was pretty obvious by this point that the girl was a bit incensed and determined to mete out retriever justice as only she can.

I sent Lu on a flat run around the pond to try and intercept (after all, she’s her dog. Right?) I went to the truck and dug around for a whistle. By the time I got back Lu was chugging around the bend and Chrisi was still on course, all the way across the pond. I cupped my hand around the whistle and blew the recall, repeated short blasts. Nothing. Absolutely no response. I hollered at Lu, “You’re gonna have to go in and get her.” I’m pretty sure I heard cussing but Lu swears I’m too old to hear that far.

Now Lu wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, just shorts and a tank top. We also didn’t have so much as a towel or a change of clothes or any type of back up plan involving either of us getting wet (like I was ever going in the water). Still, Lu tore off her sunglasses, shoes and socks and dove in. Remember, faithful reader, that we’re basically sea level people, unused to the air at even the 3000 feet of altitude found in the Hurricane environs. So yeah, after about 100 feet of swimming Lu kinda ran out of gas and was relegated to a floating, dog paddling kind of locomotion. Chrisi was still churning resolutely along.

I, following the guy code of doing exactly what was expected and no more, stood on the shore and furiously blew recall on the whistle. The total lack of response only lending wings to my futility. I never could take a hint. Finally, the gap between canine and abject lessons widened as Chrisi started to tire a bit. Just shy of the far shore she broke off, apparently satisfied that the honor of Labs everywhere had been upheld. I quit whistling.

I called to Lu that I thought Chrisi was beginning to founder and that she needed to go get her. Lu made a comment about my ancestry and inquired as to just what I thought she was currently engaged in doing. She’s such a kidder.

Chrisi turned and started swimming back. By this time Lu is only about 25 feet away and is calling to her (I say screaming. Lu calls me an inveterate liar). For some obscure Labrador reason Chrisi ignored her completely and is looking back toward where the chase started. Lu reminds me that I have the only whistle and, you know, maybe I might consider putting it to good use. I start whistling again and a miracle occurs. Chrisi’s hearing suddenly returned and now she can actually hear my furious recalls and turns toward the shore where I’m standing, waving my arms like a complete idiot. Chrisi completes the swim, just as calm and unhurried as can be (though she was listing a bit to port by the time she hit the shore). Lu swims to where she started and manages to heave her oxygen starved body from the water. When she got out of the water, Chrisi gives me the “What?” look every Lab owner is all too familiar with so I know all is well.

I get Chrisi squared away in the truck and wait for Lu. And wait for Lu. And wait for Lu. Seems that in the excitement she misplaced her shoes, socks, hat and sunglasses and it took her about 15 minutes to gather her belongings and make it back to where we were waiting with great patience. I’m almost positive I made no snarky comments.

Chrisi is now ensconced in the room under the swamp cooler making snoring sounds that’d put a hippo with sinusitis to shame, sleeping the sleep of the righteous. Lu thought that a bit of refresher training was indicated but after a while she decided that Chrisi’s almost 14 after all and really, you know, she does pretty good, so you know, what’s the point and is currently making plans for a return trip to grandpa’s Pond.

I have my whistle on a lanyard for quick access.
I’ll take pictures.


22 September 2010

The end is in sight

Well I'm finally in the last week of my current semester. I won't bore you with all the details, I'll just say I'm a history major that takes 8 week classes. To say I read a lot and write often is something of an understatement. I've fallen way behind on updating here, and I never did get to the issues that the Sarge passed on to me; hopefully I will have a better chance in the next few weeks. In that light, however, I do at least have the ability to pass on the papers that I wrote about the history of the Constitution. They aren't perfect, but I've never claimed to be. I just want them to be well thought out and interesting. How we got the document is just as important as what it says, as the history of the men writing it sheds light on the original intent. As the two papers add up to 23 pages I won't throw it all out at once. Hopefully this is enlightening and not just mind numbing:)

The American Constitution: the Journey from Ancient Greece to the Convention of 1787

The real revolution of the American Revolution was not the political break from England, as that, historically speaking, was almost inevitable. The stories of the Greeks and Romans, the lessons from the ancient historians and of the European enlightenment, along with the shift in the American view of hierarchy that followed the American religious Awakenings, all influenced the strength and direction of the new American identity, and the American desire for an independent nation. The American cultural background as British citizens also educated them, as the political journey of England itself was one from subservience to representation. The new political entity the Americans created, though unique for its time, was not totally unique in the history of the world. However, for all the strength of the historical background for the Constitution, its acceptance and the creation of a strong American nation was never a foregone conclusion.

The British, and therefore colonial, background in constitutional practice began with the battle of Hastings in 1066. Hastings brought a French king to England, and with him came the Latin ideals. Pushing out the tribalism that dominated the Germanic background, the new system of laws brought Greek and Latin ideals to the nation. The English were now intimately involved with a history that had supported democracy, and introduced them to the concept of constitutions. In 1215, the nobles of England forced a weak king to sign the Magna Charta; this was the first time in English history where the rights of the people (the English nobles) were written down, and where an English king gave up part of his traditional hierarchical power. This proto constitution would have a lasting impact on the expectations of the following generations, and especially to the American colonists. For them, the very act of starting a colony followed this historical model, with a constitution written to lay out the laws of each colony. The colonies witnessed the Glorious revolution of 1688 in Britain, and the transition of traditional hierarchical rule in England to a constitutional monarchy. This transition would be a stepping stone in the colonial path to a representative republic.

Most of the Founders were well educated, and the colonial educational system was focused on the ancient civilizations. The ancient lessons were so important to the educators of the colonial era that the entrance requirements of the universities included being able to translate Greek and Latin texts. James Madison was so well educated by his primary education that when he got to the College of New Jersey he passed the freshman year courses, by examination rather then by attendance, which included reading Xenophon’s Cyropaedia.# Since the entrance requirement was so specific, the grammar schools of the age drilled their pupils in the languages that would allow further progression.# This high level of preparation would have started at about 12, giving the Founders years to learn the stories of antiquity. The basic form of learning was recitation and translation; after years of reading, speaking, and translating these ancient stories they became a part of the identity of the well educated man.

To be continued...

-The DO

20 September 2010

Holy Acronyms Batman

I'm an Army vet but unlike some I don't denigrate the Air Force. Perhaps that comes from having a daughter who went AF or maybe it comes from having read so many novels by and about our intrepid Birdmen. Getting to know and appreciate Fighter Pilot Supreme Ed Rasimus certainly helps. Whatever the case, I think very highly of America's primary air arm. As Schlock says, "Close air support covereth a multitude of sins."

Then comes this. Now I'm not questioning the utility and value of the programs but someone (Raz, DO?) please explain to me how Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided Knowledge gives you BATMAN. Shouldn't that be BATMAK? And isn't 'Man-Aided Knowledge' just a bit of a stretch?

This is what comes from having an entire service populated by the intelligent but slightly nerdy. Comic book acronyms and superhero inspired tech.

Next thing you know all fighter pilots will be issued Bat Belts with Bat shark repellent, Batarangs and Bat ropes to rappel down the sides of buildings to escape the bad intentions of an angry paramour. Or spouse.

If it was Army it'd be something like Air Supplied Supplementary Homogeneous Onsite Liaison Extractor (ASSHOLE) as in, "Where the hell is that Air Force ASSHOLE?"

See how much better that is?

(Awaiting the scorching that is surely coming his way)

19 September 2010

Sunday Kipling

Dedicated this 19 September, 2010 to the memory of our beloved Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Uncle and Friend Major Kenneth Webb. Killed near Mosul Iraq on 19 September, 2005.

Rest in peace Ken. You are with us forever.


"Cities and Thrones and Powers"

Cities and Thrones and Powers
Stand in Time's eye,
Almost as long as flowers,
Which daily die:
But, as new buds put forth
To glad new men,
Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth
The Cities rise again.

This season's Daffodil,
She never hears
What change, what chance, what chill,
Cut down last year's;
But with bold countenance,
And knowledge small,
Esteems her seven days' continuance,
To be perpetual.

So Time that is o'er-kind
To all that be,
Ordains us e'en as blind,
As bold as she:
That in our very death,
And burial sure,
Shadow to shadow, well persuaded, saith,
"See how our works endure!"

18 September 2010

Good Old Boys And Splosions

Big Dick is a man's man. He's a hard working American, author and veteran who pulls no punches and speaks his mind. He also has the best clips around.

Go watch this. It goes hand in hand with the open letter I posted to those threatening death to those who would have the temerity to burn the koran.

FYI. No korans were burned in the making of this video. Tannerite and 5.56.
Gotta love those southern boys.


17 September 2010


Lagniappe's Dad has a post up that pretty well encapsulates where I am on politics at the moment. Especially where the GOP is concerned.

I am a Conservative with a capitol C. I've also been a Republican since I first voted for Reagan way back when. I'm capitalist and pro Second Amendment and in favor of smaller government and less regulation.

I have supported the GOP but that may be coming to an end. I find the current infighting between the GOP establishment and the literal voice of the people in selecting conservative candidates infuriating.

Borepatch has an interesting take here. Raz as well.

The bottom line is that those same squishy, RINO, establishment Republicans who led us down this road are loathe to give up their power and will do anything they can to ensure that the people's choices will never be elected. It's personal politics over the good of the nation or the desires of the electorate.

It's time for the establishment to clean house. It's time for castle, rove, murkowski, mccain and all the rest (I'm looking at you here Michael Steele) to go away. It is beyond the pale that the biggest threat to a return to conservative government in this country is the Republican party.

It's now past the sending a message point. This is no longer a request. Get with the program and support the candidates We The People have seen fit to reward with our support and our votes or get the hell out of the party. Democrat lite and the good old boy way of nominating candidates is no longer going to fly and won't ever, ever again.

The handwriting is on the wall. Learn to read or be crushed. It really is that simple.


16 September 2010

Help A Fallen Marine

Now that that rant is out of my system there's some important business to take care of. A fallen brother needs our help to fulfill his dying wish. Go and read Burnpit and if you can keep a dry eye you're a better person than I am.

h/t to Blackfive.


15 September 2010

Virtual Koran Burning

I haven't commented on this whole koran burning topic because those smarter than I am have already covered it quite completely, thank you very much. But now we have this.

Now, I think Terry Jones is a headline seeking ass pimple but he's also an American. If he wants to burn a Koran, have at it. Ditto a Bible, a Torah even a flag. I don't like it but I don't have to like it. That's the point. It's been said countless times by better men than me but the First Amendment is there precisely to protect speech we disagree with. Again, that's the whole point of that particular exercise in American Civics.

Now we have the Iranian ayatollahs issuing a fatwa on anyone who burns a koran. I understand that those folks issuing death threats on people they don't like is as unusual as white bread at your local grocers but that doesn't change the fact that it is an overt act in an attempt to limit the free expression of ideas by a free people. I don't like it, not one bit. Not against Salmon Rushdie, not against the Dutch cartoonists and newspapers, not against the creators of South Park and not against Terry Jones.

So. Here's an open letter to the ayatollahs and anyone else who thinks they can curb my free speech by issuing death threats.



Is that clear enough? I am a free American. I tend to leave alone anyone who does me the same courtesy. You do your thing and I'll do mine and as long as everyone is of age, consenting and no one gets hurt it's all pretty much good. But. When you do try and limit free expression by declaring open season on those who do things you dislike I take exception. It takes a lot to rile me but I've had about all I can stomach. You are putting me in the position of not only supporting book burners (something I find personally abhorrent and I can't believe I'm saying) but following their lead on this. Must I buy and burn a koran? Is that what you really want? Do you want every freedom loving and courageous American to buy and burn one just to prove a point to you? I assure you that the idea is percolating in more minds than just my own. You are confirming the worst fears and concerns Americans have about your religion and it's adherents. Do you really want me to consider you and your followers as nothing more than seventh century barbarians bent on world domination and the subjugation of free peoples everywhere? Really? How about backing off and letting the whole thing just die from a lack of attention? No?

Ok then. I Tell you what. Just consider me as having burned one in my mind and heart. That way I don't have to actually do the deed and you can still get offended and issue a fatwa on me as well. That's good enough right? We'll call it VKB, Virtual Koran Burning (or VQB in some areas). No American worthy of the title fears exercising our God Given rights and I am not afraid of you.

So, there it is. I have burned a koran in my heart and I am unashamed, unapologetic, unafraid and will remain so as long as I draw breath. Add my name to your death sentence list please (Let's not mince words here by the use of 'fatwa' shall we? It is a death sentence in plain and simple English). If you decline to withdraw those death sentences you have already declared in this matter and/or refuse to add me to the whole "Death To <Your Name Here>" group I'll be forced to do the actual koran burning and frankly I don't want to spend the money it'd take to buy that collection of hatred and lunacy so I do hope we can make this VKB work. You might want to take a minute and read the previous post on Sheepdogs before you do go down this road however. I expect it won't dissuade you but I do try and give people all the information I think they'll need to make smart decisions.

Sincerely looking forward to your reply.

I remain


As my grandpa used to say, it's getting down to nut cuttin' time. The election is less than two months away and the rhetoric is fever pitched and panic laced. In that vein it is important to keep our sense of humor.

Go and read. There's some back story but it's worth your time. It's very mall ninjaish with just a skosh of derangement and a dash of ignorance. Seriously, I feel better about the loony left every time one opens his mouth. Or bangs his head on a keyboard.


11 September 2010


I am here in my home in Southern Utah. When I woke this morning I saw an American flag on the street before my house that I had not put up. I asked Lu about it. Apparently we pay a small stipend to the Boy Scouts and they come by on patriotic days and put up a flag. I looked up and down my street. I took a drive around the town. Everywhere I looked I saw American flags. Erected by Boy Scouts on a bright, Saturday morning.

I love my small, Southern Utah town. I love the Boy Scouts. I love my Country. I fear not for my nation because we still breed Sheepdogs and those who honor them. On this September day, when we remember horror and death and sudden, violent, unprovoked war we also remember honor and bravery and Patriotism and self sacrifice. We remember our honored dead and those who bring death to our enemies.

We cannot be conquered, we cannot be beaten we cannot be made to offer obeisance. We can be killed but woe to those who do because regardless of politics, party or those who would offer their necks to the yoke, we are still a nation that produces Sheepdogs in great numbers and Sheepdogs know what a wolf looks and tastes like and cannot be deterred.

To the enemies of my beloved America, foreign and domestic, read these words and fear. They were written by a man both remarkable and ordinary. An American Sheepdog. We will never turn away from the fight. We will never sleep until the last wolf breathes his last gasping breath.
This I swear.


The Sheepdogs
Most humans truly are like sheep
Wanting nothing more than peace to keep
To graze, grow fat and raise their young,
Sweet taste of clover on the tongue.
Their lives serene upon Life’s farm,
They sense no threat nor fear no harm.
On verdant meadows, they forage free
With naught to fear, with naught to flee.
They pay their sheepdogs little heed
For there is no threat; there is no need.

To the flock, sheepdog’s are mysteries,
Roaming watchful round the peripheries.
These fang-toothed creatures bark, they roar
With the fetid reek of the carnivore,
Too like the wolf of legends told,
To be amongst our docile fold.
Who needs sheepdogs?
What good are they?
They have no use, not in this day.
Lock them away, out of our sight
We have no need of their fierce might.

But sudden in their midst a beast
Has come to kill, has come to feast
The wolves attack; they give no warning
Upon that calm September morning
They slash and kill with frenzied glee
Their passive helpless enemy
Who had no clue the wolves were there
Far roaming from their Eastern lair.
Then from the carnage, from the rout,
Comes the cry, “Turn the sheepdogs out!”

Thus is our nature but too our plight
To keep our dogs on leashes tight
And live a life of illusive bliss
Hearing not the beast, his growl, his hiss.
Until he has us by the throat,
We pay no heed; we take no note.
Not until he strikes us at our core
Will we unleash the Dogs of War
Only having felt the wolf pack’s wrath
Do we loose the sheepdogs on its path.

And the wolves will learn what we’ve shown before;
We love our sheep, we Dogs of War.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66


I'm sorry friends, my cold is still running rampant and my brain is foggy (glad I caught that, as I don't have a Brian around here, and I have no idea if any of them are foggy), so though I'd love to write up a moving and meaningful post for today, I must bow out. My NyQuil will be kicking in soon and this day is too important for less then my best. In leu of a well written post I am going to link last years post; it is the tale of my memories of 2001, with memories from Doohickie and the Six in the comments. Please feel free to add to the discussion this year if you so choose.

May we all remember the sacrifices made, that day and all the days since.

-The DO

09 September 2010

Trooper Is Home

Hey everyone. This will be my final Trooper post.

The DO said it for me but let me just say how much your words and friendship have meant to Lu and me. That you are gracious and concerned enough to leave us your well wishes and prayers is beyond price and I will never forget you for it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Trooper was more than my dog, he was my best friend. I've struggled with the guilt of my decision to let Doc ease him from his plight. Luckily I had Lu. What I couldn't see she did. When I couldn't think she could. When I was inconsolable she somehow managed to console me. She talked me through the pain and the tears and the guilt and got me through to the other side and I will forever be in awe of her strength and her wisdom. Thanks sweetheart. I love you.

We got Trooper back today and brought him home. The circle is complete. The Doc and his staff were great and we are indebted to them for taking such good care of Trooper and us. We said our final tearful goodbyes in the place where he passed in my arms. As I held his box I stroked it and imagined the feel of his soft, warm fur in my hands. But that box contains only his mortal remains, it cannot hold his magnificent spirit. Trooper was a once in a lifetime dog and I wish I could find the words to convey that to you.
I will remember. I will remember him as he was. Happy, joyful, active, loving and comforting. I will remember the ecstatic reunions every day when I came home from work. I will remember that fat black puppy with his head in my hands. Trusting and at home with me, knowing we were meant to be together. I will remember the cake stolen from an end table. The joyful crunching of a treat on quiet evenings at home. I will remember him at the lake and the beach and a pond near work. I will remember the snores from my bedside, keeping me company on dark, wakeful nights, knowing I was never alone. I will remember him sleeping at my feet, just to be near me. I will remember his laughing bark in the back of the truck as he realized we were going to one of his favorite walking spots (He had many). I will remember what great companions he and Chrisi were. I will remember how much we loved each other and how many lessons he taught me. I will remember those things and so many more. I will remember.
Lu and I are taking off tomorrow, heading to the Utah house for a while. Too many sharp memories here right now. I see him and hear him everywhere. This house was his house and there is no part of it he has not touched. He lived his whole life here.
The DO and Sarge have taken good care of this place while I've been gone and I'm going to ask them to do it for just a little bit longer. Thanks guys. The grief is passing but I need some distance and time to regain my bearings and gather some insight.

For those of you who have loved and lost there is this:

Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.
His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author unknown
I know Trooper is there with your own loved ones. He is doubtless being shown where all the good sleeping spots are and they are playing together. Someone has a ball and a game of chase is in the offing. Trooper can see again and is no longer sick and weak. He is no longer in pain. He can run again and swim again and bark that joyous sound again. He is happy and he is waiting...
I love you my old friend. I will never forget you. There is a hole in my heart that nothing can ever fill and that is as it should be. You were the greater part of me and I was never worthy of your devotion.
I'll see you soon pal.

08 September 2010

The Misery Machine, and life in Hungary

Well, filling the Six's shoes is a tough job, I'll do my best.

First of all, I'm a child of my parents, and I love me a good zombie tale. I figure some of you out there may appreciate this as much as I do, cause I seriously need this shirt. Seriously!!Alas, it's sold out at the moment. Sigh. My life is so tough.

And now for something completely different...

The eldest child just started the first grade, and I'm sure I will have many stories too good not to pass on to you all. We've already had the first 'mishap' when the supply list had a box of matches listed as a required school supply. For 6 year olds. I'm gonna go with... No?

Yeah, turns out they wanted the match box and the translation software didn't understand that 6 year olds, bored in class, can't have matches. Damn computers. She also has a Hungarian class leader, a Hungarian that teaches them Hungarian, an American teacher that teaches English, Math and Social Studies, and a PE teacher. Remember when we had a teacher, and recess? Long gone, my friends, long gone! We lug gym clothes, with extra tennis shoes, to and from school 2 days a week, she has inside shoes (cause dirt = death round these parts), and all her school books are in Hungarian. Seriously. Cause, yeah, this is a bit of Hungarian. (Parts of the video are a bit slow, but he's actually pretty funny. The alphabet part starts at about 1:50, so feel free to fast forward)

The point is, that hungarian is hard. Boldog születésnapot is happy birthday, and goodbye is viszontlátásra. Yeeeeeah. The best, though, is kiss. Kiss in Hungarian is puszi. Remember, the sz sound is an s in Hungarian. Now say it out loud and you'll see why all the Americans freaked out when the teachers would say it to the kids!

As for the political stuff, Sarge has passed on a video about first amendment issues that I'll be working up in the next day or so. I'm also working on two term paper; one is about the ratification of the constitution and I'll try to pass on any interesting bits as they get written. The second is about the Greek influences on the Founders. If you are interested in history, at all, it's fascinating! Greek and Roman history to them was almost another language. They threw around stories that most modern Americans have never heard of the way we talk about crossing the Delaware and Gettysburg. (On a very sad note, the Safari spelling tool doesn't recognize the word Gettysburg. Talk about a headdesk moment)

Since the cold that the Girl brought home with her from school has effectively sapped any meaningful conversation I had left in my head (which bodes well for writing essays), I'll attempt to end this rambling post. Besides, the Hubby is TDY (in Germany, the turd, where they have a language I can actually pronounce!), the kids are home half the day, I have a cold, the house is a disaster, and I have two essays due tomorrow and two papers due next week, so I should probably wish you all a jó napot kívánok (good day) and actually attempt to do my job.

Or I could surf for more zombie shirts...

-The DO

05 September 2010

Sunday Kipling

I'm handling Kipling this week, I hope you all approve.

The DO

"His Apologies"

MASTER, this is Thy Servant. He is rising eight weeks old.
He is mainly Head and Tummy. His legs are uncontrolled.
But Thou has forgiven his ugliness, and settled him on Thy knee ...
Art Thou content with Thy Servant? He is very comfy with Thee.

Master, behold a Sinner! He hath committed a wrong.
He hath defiled Thy Premises through being kept in too long.
Wherefore his nose has been rubbed in the dirt, and his self-respect has been bruised,
Master, pardon Thy Sinner, and see he is properly loosed.

Master - again Thy Sinner! This that was once Thy Shoe,
He has found and taken and carried aside, as fitting matter to chew.
Now there is neither blacking nor tongue, and the Housemaid has us in tow.
Master, remember Thy Servant is young, and tell her to let him go!

Master, extol Thy Servant, he has met a most Worthy Foe!
There has been fighting all over the Shop - and into the Shop also!
Till cruel umbrellas parted the strife (or I might have been choking him yet)
But Thy Servant has had the Time of his Life - and now shall we call on the vet?

Master, behold Thy Servant! Strange children came to play,
And because they fought to caress him, Thy Servant wentedst away.
But now that the Little Beasts have gone, he has returned to see
(Brushed - with his Sunday collar on) what they left over from tea.

Master, pity Thy Servant! He is deaf and three parts blind.
He cannot catch Thy Commandments. He cannot read Thy Mind.
Oh, leave him not to his loneliness; nor make him that kitten's scorn.
He hath had none other God than Thee since the year that he was born.

Lord, look down on Thy Servant! Bad things have come to pass.
There is no heat in the midday sun, nor health in the wayside grass.
His bones are full of an old disease - his torments run and increase.
Lord, make haste with Thy Lightnings and grant him a quick release!

03 September 2010

An Update

Alright, a bit of an update for you all.

Troopie was cremated and once The Six and Lu have him back they are gonna go off for a bit of time away from the house, it's suddenly too quiet there. This also means that he needs a bit of time away to grieve and regroup. The Sarge and I will do our best to keep this place free from cobwebs till The Six is ready to get back to it.

Please know that your thoughts and comments over the last days and months have been a great blessing. For Dad to have someone to talk to about his beloved Trooper, to have someone to hope with him, and someone to grieve with him has made this transition a bit easier to bear. We can't thank you enough for your kindness and your friendship.

And so I'll leave you all with a few of the pictures I have, so that we can remember our beloved friend as he was.

Goodbye my buddy, my little brother. You will be forever missed.

The DO
Trooper, The DO, and Chrisi
Trooper and Chrisi, out at the meadows to work
Chrisi, The Six and Trooper
Chrisi and Trooper, at the meadow, on alert while working
Troopie, all ears and tongue flapping
Troopie and Chrisi, the best of friends, in the backyard