Monday, September 27, 2010

Looks like somebody got too close to the apricots*

Shorter Half sent me an e-mail with the following attachment. I didn't bother forwarding text of the e-mail because it set off my bull-shitomer to some degree, and SH's commentary essentially makes it irrelevant.

Now, I do not believe the claim that this is actual combat footage – looks like a standard firing range test to me, with a remote controlled tank. It IS fully armed though, given the results. For one, even Syrians are smart enough to run with the commander’s hatch open so he can observe what is going on, ESPECIALLY the lead tank. For two, if the crew HAD buttoned up in anticipation of incoming fire (you pretty much only button up in anticipation of small arms, artillery, or NBC – Nuclear, Biological, Chemical – attacks; buttoning up against antitank weapons is useless, and buttoning up may well keep you from seeing the shooter in time to return fire before it’s too late), they would have the main gun constantly traversing, because the only good visibility they would have would be its sights.

But a cool demonstration of why light infantry call tankers and mech infantry “crispy critters” (while they call us “squishies”, “crunchies”, or “track grease”). “Armor – making Graves Registration’s job easier since 1918. Tilt track, sift ashes for dog tags.”

This is what tankers call a “brew-up”.

*Tankers don't like apricots.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Best $50 I ever spent.

Well, maybe that $50 spent adopting a dog back in '89 was better, but this is way cooler.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Overheard in the office

So, I was sitting in a staff meeting with the Boss and various task leads, when Bitter Young Guy stated that he wouldn’t be at work on Friday – he’d be home getting his pipes cleaned. Without thinking I shot back with “I hope that isn’t a euphemism for something else.”

There was a brief silence before BYG started laughing and everyone else joined in. I’ve been with this company for almost 11 years. You’d think they’d be used to me by now.

And he was talking about tree roots in his sewer system. Really.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Random stuff

Banyan post, part 2, is mostly written but I can’t find it. I know you are all heaving a huge sigh of disappointment relief, but it will have to wait.

I’m getting ready for a reenactment near Wilmington, DE, this weekend. When Sweet Daughter comes with me (which is always, so far), I do as much of the food prep at home as I can so I’ve more time to spend with her at the event. I got home from work today and roasted two chickens, chopped over a gallon of vegetables, got a blister as a result, hard-boiled a dozen eggs, fried a pound of bacon, got the chowder started, and made dinner. I’m tired.

Place fresh rosemary under the skin, halved lemons in the cavity, roast, and you've got a lovely aromatic, lemon-rosemary chicken! Not a period recipe, but you know what? My only heat source this weekend will be a charcoal brazier, and I'm not going to try to roast over a brazier. Sue me.

School has been in session for 11 days. So far we’ve dropped money for the PTA fundraiser, a book sale, and don’t get me started on school supplies (does a kindergartener really need 30 glue sticks, or are we supplying the administrative offices, too?)

 Tommorow I'm going to see if I can get everything we need for the weekend in the car so I don't have to haul the trailer. I have a feeling I'm going to be loading 80% of what I need in the car, find out that I can'tget 40 pounds of mud in a 30 pound sack, and end up re-loading it all into the trailer anyway.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another musical interlude

In lieu of actual content, I'm posting blackmail material for future reference. Whether it's against myself and that lovely circa 1970 bathroom, or Sweet Daughter for when she starts dating, I'm not sure. What I do know is that after a long morning of playing outside in the dirt, I threw her in the shower to wash off the grime. I went and got lunch started, and when I went back upstairs, I found she had plugged up the drain on the tub, was playing in the resulting bathwater, and was singing the same song, over and over at the top of her lungs, sounding like a rooster with the croup as the result of a head cold. I snuck in and caught this.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

B-17F Flight Log

A reader passed along the following:

Not sure if you are interested but I found a B17F flight log that was scanned and posted to the web. Cover says 8th Air Force, 385th Bomb Wing Great Ashfield, England. 5 SEP 1943-21 Feb 1944. It is in a PDF format and it was very interesting. It is hand written and covers the flight to England from the US, training conducted, and accounts of missions flown with names. It ends when the writer was himself wounded.

A note at the beginning reads:

“Finally go around to sending this log. It scares me to read it. I don’t understand how we got out alive a lot of the things happened I had completely forgotten about.”

Caution: Don't go unless you've got some time to spend. It's riveting.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Banyans (Part 1)

Shorter Half summarizes a banyan as casual dress for gentlemen. “Think 18th century Hugh Hefner in a smoking jacket, but more acceptable in public. They were worn by men to indicate refinement -- to show that they appreciated the wonders of the orient, had the wealth to afford expensive fabrics, and the leisure to not have to worry about ruining a garment with manual labor."

A banyan was considered “undress” wear, meaning it was worn for informal occasions. It was paired with a cap or turban-type head covering instead of a wig. (If you wore wigs a lot, you tended to keep your head shaved. It just made things easier.) Very generally speaking, banyans ranged from loose, flowing, T-shaped robes early in the century to more fitted, Asian-inspired garments later.

Benjamin Rush observed that:

Loose dresses contribute to the easy and vigorous exercise of the faculties of the mind. This remark is so obvious, and so generally known, that we find studious men are always painted in gowns, when they are seated in their libraries.

So, without further ado, I present to you the Gentlemen of the Detached Hospital, a.k.a. the Z.Z. Top of Colonial Williamsburg.

Presenting the ZZ Top of the Reenacting World

Everybody's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.

Michael W. eschews the negligee cap for something cooler with more protection from the sun. That silk brocade is heavy, and hot.

Mike's lovely wife made this banyan for him.

Shorter Half vamps for the camera. This is a hand-block printed cotton from India, and is patterned on  a banyan in the Sharon Ann Burnston book, "Fitting and Proper". More on the construction of this later.

Chris looks refined and relaxed while he coordinates beautifully with the crepe myrtle in bloom behind him. This is also a hand-block printed cotton from India, and uses a French pattern. The cap uses a pattern from Linda Baumgarten's "Costume Close Up". More on this later, as well.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shorter Half expresses an opinion regarding a Constitutional Convention

Shorter Half received the following e-mail traffic, titled "Proposing that the legislature have to live with same rules as we". The first message said: 

I know there are dangers with a Constitutional Convention but this is worth considering.

Attached was this (and it was unattributed)

The Time Has Indeed Come!

Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.

An idea whose time has come!

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform ... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law.

I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

A Constitutional Convention - this is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come. And, with the advent of modern communication, the process can be moved along with incredible speed. There is talk out there that the "government" doesn't care what the people think. That is irrelevant. It is incumbent on the population to address elected officials to the wrongs afflicted against the and me. Think about this...

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this Email to a minimum of twenty people on their Address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

Someone responded with:

When I first saw this one going around the emails, I thought it was a good idea. But then I thought about it and I thought this won’t do a thing for me personally. Nor will it help restore Constitutional governance. I believe our legislation we will be unveiling at the convention will be much more effective than the one below. It too will require a Constitutional Convention but put the powers back where they belong. It will also beat back these regulations from these ever-growing and over-reaching agencies like the EPA who are getting more powerful and gaining a stranglehold on our lives. I would rather have their power reduced and defunded. That will change my life. The bill below will not as I believe Congress would only find new ways to spend our money to get themselves the power and the entitlements. A good point is the automatic raise in pay they get. We can’t do a convention for each of these affronts. Instead, we can defund their ability to do it. I dunno – still thinking about it. I’m just sharing the point at where I am on thinking through this.

And then Shorter Half responded with:


One way to handle the Congressional pay issue would be to decouple Congressional pay from military and civil servant pay – right now, NO employee of the Federal Government (excepting the President and Vice President) is allowed to make more than a Congressman. And, to make sure that senior officials get paid more than junior officials, the pay tables are pretty much all calculated off that max base pay, with each step down getting less, with the pay ratios painstakingly established to try and make the pay increase match the responsibility increase, while staying competitive enough that we don’t lose all the good troops to the civilian economy about the time they get fully trained up. The fact is, right about the time they are a true master of their specialty is about the time that the reality of family expenses really hits home. . . and the civilian economy is willing to pay handsomely for their technical skills.

This pay rule currently provides leverage other politicians can use against Congressmen – “My opponent claims to support the troops, yet he repeatedly voted against fair pay raises for our troops in combat!” As it stands right now, you can’t vote against a pay raise for the Congresscritters without voting against a pay raise for PVT E-1 Snuffy in Afghanistan with a pregnant wife alone at Fort Bragg, ¾ of a continent away from her hometown of Goat Path, Montana (Pop. 100).

However, there are two things to recall when proposing changes: 
  1. Anything that can be done via statute can be undone by statute the very next day if both houses vote it through and the President signs it. So, simple statutory law will not restrain Congress (and Congressional Rules are even weaker).
  2.  If it goes into the Constitution, it had better be important enough a principle to send boys off to die over it. Because that’s what their oath says.
 So, to use the Congressional pay issue as a thought experiment. . .

If you decoupled COLA increases from base pay (the rule about staying below Congressional pay rates only affects base pay automatically) altogether by statute, you could decide how to best implement a prohibition on Congress receiving any COLA increase, ever. (If they need a pay raise, they would have to pass it as a base pay increase – but anyone wishing to give the troops an across the board pay raise could do it via a fat COLA increase without raising Congressional pay. That little game of using the troops to politically blackmail people into voting for a Congressional pay increase just became unusable.)

Or, you could pass an amendment that states that pay earned directly from the government is tax free, except for elected officials. (It never made sense to me for the Federal Treasury to withhold funds paid from the Federal Treasury in order to pay them into the Federal Treasury as taxes, anyway.) PVT Snuffy (or the janitor at the Federal building in downtown Atlanta) would happily forgo an annual 2-3% pay raise if 100% of his pay was tax-free, even when he wasn’t in a combat zone.

However, the risks of a Constitutional Convention far outweigh the benefits. Just look at the difference between the Articles of Confederation and the original Constitution. . . and that resulted from a convention that was only supposed to “tweak” the Articles! Any future Constitutional Convention will be dragged out until it is dominated only by those who can afford to not go to work for a year or longer. Neither George Soros, anyone George Soros would be willing to pay living expenses to for attending (the man has BILLIONS, having him replace any lost income – or even double their old pay - by fellow-minded Convention attendees wouldn’t even dent his personal entertainment budget. . . and there are many mega-wealthy socialist fellow travelers like him, starting with Bloomberg and almost ANY popular entertainer), a lifelong welfare recipient, nor a 23 year kid who dropped out of college “to find himself and get his chi in balance with Gaia” are likely to write a new Constitution that I would approve of. The people who WOULD be likely to produce a Constitution that I could support are also generally the LEAST likely be able to show up in large numbers, every day, all day and often into the night, month after month.

If we could pull that kind of majority support to stick through the long haul and keep the crazy out of the new Constitution, then by definition, we would have more than enough political power to achieve anything we desire in the Constitution via the traditional amendment route. Without the risk of a Constitution that, for example, formally surrenders ultimate sovereignty of the United States to the transnational debating club called the UN. . . placing our liberty at the tender mercy of the same people who put Iran and Syria on the Human Rights Committee.

If you want to imagine a modern Constitutional Convention, think of the half dozen silliest or most dangerous Public Propositions you have ever heard about from ANY state in the Union. That’s the sort of stuff that would end up in a Convention, were it held under current social and political conditions. (“Everyone has a right to an above-average income” – there was a movement to do exactly THAT, in California a few decades ago! The first time I heard that statement my brain derailed. . . )

A Constitutional Convention is a complete reboot and from-scratch system install of the nation. Like reformatting your hard drive and putting a brand new operating system on a perfectly empty drive. I could see doing one after a successful rebellion against a truly tyrannical government. . . but we haven’t even fully exhausted the FIRST of the three options (soap box, ballot box, cartridge box, in that order) for government change. Armed rebellion isn’t even on the horizon at this time, so I would prefer to avoid altogether the reorganization procedure that generally only works well immediately after one.

Constitutional Conventions work well then, because it’s really apparent to EVERYONE that the old system was a failure, AND you generally can legally exclude the side that lost the war from participating. Not the case here.

Shorter Half

If you think he’s only a gun geek, you haven’t heard him talk military history. And even that pales in comparison to his political junkie geekery. He reads legal code for fun. Considering that when we met, I had little interest in modern firearms, and next to no interest in politics, I’m still not sure how that whole courtship thing came about. I have a feeling that if, when the time comes, Sweet Daughter has an incompetent "Government" or "Poli Sci" (or whatever they'll be calling it by then) teacher, things are going to get ... interesting.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Retractor

Or two. If you heard the retractor story here, this is what I was talking about. The one on the left would have been used on the upper arm or thigh, and the one on the right used on the lower arm or lower leg.

Or, as I said to one gentle guest who asked me what they were (when my group had the folly of leaving me alone in camp):

“I’ve forgotten what they’re called, but they’re for amputations.”

“Amputations??” (The guest, looking puzzled, doesn’t see a cutting blade, and is wondering what I’m talking about.)

“Yes. It’s for the meat.”


“Yes. You slide this over the bone (pointing to the hole), and grab the ends like this, and pull back to get the meat out of the way so they can saw off the damaged part.”

Yeah. They try not to leave me alone in camp anymore.

Friday, September 10, 2010

In which I try to explain why Sweet Daughter is missing some skin

It’s the first week of kindergarten, and I’m already over-sharing with Sweet Daughter’s teacher. If she doesn’t have a sense of humor, it’s going to be a really long year for all of us. Today’s inaugural e-mail consisted of:

Dear Mrs. B.,

I wanted to let you know that Sweet Daughter slid down a tree trunk last night (she was leaning against it, her feet went out from under her, she slid down and her shorts slid up), and her bum (as she calls it) is a little scraped and sore. Why am I telling you about my daughter’s backside, you ask? I thought you may need to know why she may be a bit uncomfortable today.

Also, she has flag stickers in her blue folder to share with the class today if you think it’s appropriate.

Thank you,

Nancy R.

P.S. You are collecting the notes you’ve received from parents over the years for a book to fund your retirement, aren’t you?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

For the two of you …

... who don’t already read Breda (or Alan, or Say Uncle), I’ve been invited to be on BB&Guns tonight along with TBolt. I’m surprised, honored, and alternately squeeing and fighting off a bad case of mic fright. Here’s hoping something interesting falls out of my mouth at the appointed hour.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of school

Sweet Daughter started kindergarten today. No tears, but plenty of high-fives instead. (Including ones exchanged between Shorter Half and myself.) She said she had an "awesome" day, and can't wait to go back. I have no idea how long that will last, but I'll enjoy it while it does. I hope it's for another 17 years ...

Bald Eagle

Some very dear friends took us out on their catamaran for Sweet Daughter's birthday. While we were rolling along, we saw this:

(Sorry for the lack of quality, but I was sailing at the time, and was just happy I remembered to flip the switch on the camera to the little film icon ...)

Yeah. It's not every day you just happen to have your camera in hand when a bald eagle flies by for a little fast food.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dear Sweet Daughter,

Happy fifth birthday to the sweetest girl I know! Every night I thank God for you, and ask “Please help me to not screw this up”. Thank you for teaching me that you learn best by example, and that means I have to model the person I’d like you to become. I have learned to stand up for myself, and for what I believe in. I’ve learned to ask myself what it really is that I do believe in. I have learned to push past my comfort level in many areas. Besides all the joy you bring into my life, I’m becoming a better person because of you. Thank you, Sweet Girl.

Love, Momma

Saturday, September 4, 2010


It was about two years ago when I started lurking around the gun blogs, starting with The Lawdog Files. It was the Pink Gorilla Suit that got me hooked. I stuck around because of the interesting writing, and I learned a few things about self defense along the way. I started reading the other bloggers listed on his side bar. I enjoyed their writing, too, and learned more things from them. I found my opinions challenged, and questions I didn’t even know I had answered.

At the time, I didn’t carry a gun, and really had no plans to start. Why, I thought, would I need a gun? Wasn’t that being a little … paranoid? Then one day, somewhere, there was a discussion about how, if you were going to carry, you should ask yourself what exactly it was that you were willing to defend by possibly killing someone. Was it your car? Your home? Yourself? Your kids?

Aha! The bell in my head went off. Of course I was willing to kill to defend my child!! My car they could have (unless Sweet Daughter was in it, and then all bets were off.). Then I got to thinking … why was I willing to defend my daughter, but not myself, unless I though of it as the Bad Guy hurting my daughter’s mother? I had no good, logical answer, because there wasn’t one. I suddenly realized I was worth defending, too.

So, I took a class, got my concealed handgun permit, and bought a pistol. I need to get better about wearing it more often, and practicing more. I get overwhelmed thinking about how I’ll never be as good, or as knowledgeable as most of you, but I realize that doesn’t matter so much as the fact that I now have the determination and the tool to keep my daughter (and myself!) safe. Thanks to all of you who helped me along this path, and helped make me a better parent.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Remember my Appleseed post? I believe I first mentioned kyjam and that I was thinking I should do an Appleseed shoot some day to Shorter Half on Monday. Today at dinner, he had his 10/22, a new ghost ring sight, 4x scope, and milsurp sling sitting on the table. Do you think he’s trying to tell me something?

There's one in late October that might be feasible. It’s about 2 ½ hours away. The only problem with that is that there’s no lodging close by. Right now it’s looking like the likeliest area to find reasonable accommodations is 20 miles away.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Smart aleck

Over this past weekend Sweet Daughter and I were discussing something, I don’t remember what, but she did inform me (very respectfully, and in all seriousness) that she was smarter than I was. If you use “smart” as you would “intelligent”, I could see that she might have a point. I simply said that it might be true, but I did know more things than she did. (At least for now.)

Fast forward to Monday afternoon after swim class. I was trying to sign SD up for the next set of swim lessons, and being bored with the interminable wait she was hopping up and down. Under the 48” counter overhang.

Me: “SD, don’t jump near the counter. You’ll hit your head.”

SD: ::: jump hop bounce jump hop bounce jump hop bounce :::

Me: “SD, if you hit your head on the counter, I’m just going to point and laugh.”

SD: ::: jump hop bounce jump hop bounce jump WHUMP! ::: She did not utter so much as a whimper, but she did grab the top of her head.

Me, pointing: “HAHAHAHAH! Is your head okay? You’re not bleeding on the floor, are you? Hahahahah. Ha. Does that need a smoochie?” [hugs]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


What kind of peppers are these, and will they hurt if I eat them? And, what shall I do with them all?