Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2014.10.31

A Halloween classic...

Welcome Home

Finally back at home. It was a great trip, but also a long one.

I'll have a wrap-up post in a day or two, but right now I'm decompressing from the road. To tide you over, here's a story that makes me realize how nice it was to be out of touch for ten days.

The Ebola quarantines and the great military divide
I generally try to avoid any topic about the president, because damn near everyone out there either hates the man reflexively, or sort of worships him.  And so the comments turn into a disaster, and I have to keep monitoring, because some people simply cannot confine their comments to the issue at hand.

Today I am breaking that normal tradition because of all the answers to questions I’ve seen over the years, the president’s answer to an Ebola question the other day unquestionably strikes me as his worst.  Some can argue the validity (politically or actually) of the “you didn’t build that” or the “you can keep your doctor” but for just straight up oddity, I give you the quote below.

But before we get to the quote, as a sort of framing of this, the backdrop is twofold.  First, states are trying to quarantine doctors who treated Ebola patients.  Some knucklehead decided that after treating victims in Africa, he’d just lie to the authorities:
The city’s first Ebola patient initially lied to authorities about his travels around the city following his return from treating disease victims in Africa, law-enforcement sources said.

Dr. Craig Spencer at first told officials that he isolated himself in his Harlem apartment — and didn’t admit he rode the subways, dined out and went bowling until cops looked at his MetroCard the sources said.
I literally have no position whatsoever on quarantines.  I don’t know if they are needed, constitutional, fascist or ridiculous.  I’m also not going to research it, because I suspect this topic de jure will be gone by the time I get back from my upcoming vacation.  But, I also think that this guy, and the lady doctor in Maine (my home state) are being pretty selfish.  You want me to be held aside, alone for 21 days?  You’ll bring me food, I’ll have cable TV, and I can sleep as much as I want?  Dude, sign me up.

Second, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has decided to quarantine the troops when they get back from West Africa: 
A 21-day quarantine for all military personnel serving in Ebola stricken areas of West Africa was approved by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Wednesday.

The quarantine was pushed for by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hagel said.  Initially the measure will apply to all personnel leaving the West Africa area. But Hagel said the policy will be reviewed within 45 days.

The policy creates a separate set of rules for military members than what the White House has pushed for civilian health care workers. President Obama has argued that civilian volunteer health workers returning from aid trips to Africa should not be quarantined and the White House has urged states not to impose their own quarantine policies. Science, Obama has said, does not support the need for a quarantines.
So there’s the meat and potatoes (an extra “e” for Dan Quayle) of it.  Now the quote:

Q    Are you concerned, sir, that there might be some confusion between the quarantine rules used by the military and used by health care workers and by some states?
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the military is a different situation, obviously, because they are, first of all, not treating patients. Second of all, they are not there voluntarily, it’s part of their mission that's been assigned to them by their commanders and ultimately by me, the Commander-in-Chief.  So we don't expect to have similar rules for our military as we do for civilians.  They are already, by definition, if they're in the military, under more circumscribed conditions.

When we have volunteers who are taking time out from their families, from their loved ones and so forth, to go over there because they have a very particular expertise to tackle a very difficult job, we want to make sure that when they come back that we are prudent, that we are making sure that they are not at risk themselves or at risk of spreading the disease, but we don't want to do things that aren’t based on science and best practices.  Because if we do, then we’re just putting another barrier on somebody who’s already doing really important work on our behalf. And that's not something that I think any of us should want to see happen.
There is so much in there it would take me a generation or two to unpack it all.  The first sentence alone makes no sense logically. So the troops will not be treating patients, but they are going to be subject to more rigid restraints?  That’s like saying a motorcycle is more dangerous than a Big Wheel, which is why you should always wear a helmet while riding a Big Wheel.   Huh?

The rest of the paragraph makes more sense I suppose.  When you do join, you understand you have fewer rights.  That much is obvious to anyone that has joined.  But from a public health standpoint, it isn’t even the slightest bit relevant.  If this whole policy deals with the threat of Ebola to every day Americans, how does the circumscribed nature of military service add to the discussion?  Huh?

The first sentence of the second paragraph is so long I get lost reading it.  Presumably it is referring to the health people (nurses and doctors) volunteering overseas.  But again, how is this different than the people in the military?  Military people (believe it or not) ALSO have families, also have loved ones, also have difficult jobs, and we should decide for them based on “science and best practices” as opposed to the random selection by a magic 8-ball or a gorilla who can also pick Super Bowl winners.  Again, it doesn’t really differentiate which is what the question was about.  So again, huh?

The penultimate sentence though is the one that really (judging by my emails) has people angered.  Again the specific question dealt with the differing ways we are dealing with civilians and military.  So this sentence, “somebody who’s already doing really important work on our behalf” directed ONLY at the doctors, to differentiate them from service-members seems at first blush to be a complete insult.  It’s really hard to interpret that sentence differently when given the context of the question.

I don’t know, maybe they were just free-wheeling an answer on the spot, and it was less that articulate.  Lord knows I’ve said some dumb things in responses to questions.  (Just ask my wife.)  But this whole thing just seems insulting to me, and I don’t have a position on quarantines in general.  But to differentiate between doctors who in their benevolence are dealing specifically with Ebola victims, from service-members who put their lives on the line, and then somehow create a policy that weighs safety with the value of the service, and deciding it favors doctors doesn’t make sense to me.
Sigh ... welcome home, Tim...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Eleven

I'm almost home! I stopped at our lake cabin to take care of a few pre-winter maintenance items. I'm also taking advantage of this stop to do a few loads of laundry (yeah I know, but it makes my wife happy ... and we all know that a happy wife means a happy household). So tomorrow I'll sleep in, and then take the leisurely two hour drive from here to there.

The weather here in Texas is nice, but not quite what most folks would consider fall weather. I wore shorts today, and had to turn on the truck's air conditioner arund noon. Still, it beats the heck out of winter.

Speaking of the truck, this may be it's last trip. I really like my old truck (1995 F-150 4X4), but I'm starting to lose confdence in it, Yes, it got me from Texas to Wyoming and back, but a few months ago I dropped a new engine in it and it still sputtered a few times. Plus the ride grew increasingly rough during the trip, in spite of new tires (balanced, of course) and a front end alignment. To top things off, the tranny started shifting a little rough, even after a pre-trip flushing and filter change.

I think it will do okay on local trips, but I worry about it's long term dpendibility. Too bad, because I just put a really good new radio in it.

Anyway, one more Elk Hunt Chronicles report, and then it'll be back to the normal boring stuff (although the technology will be easier - this combination of tablet and smart phone crap drives me crazy...).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Ten

All good things must come to an end. And I'm just about ready for this particular good thing to conclude.

Another long day on the road today. Some congestion from Colorado Springs through Pueblo, but once I got south of Pueblo it was smooth sailing. I really enjoy driving through Raton Pass. It's on the CO/NM border (elevation 7843 feet) and goes through some rugged scenic terrain, both up and down. The slope is pretty steep going up - so steep that semis crawl along at about 10-15 MPH. My truck was struggling to maintain 65 MPH. Of course, it's a flatland truck geared for torque, not speed (the speedometer's highest reading is 85 MPH). Like me, it gasps for air when exerting itself at elevation.

Another cool thing about Raton Pass are the 'Beware of (insert wildlife here)' signs. There are the usual yellow diamond "Deer Crossing" or "Elk Crossing" signs.

But near the summit of Raton Pass I saw a wildlife sign I'd never seen before. I tried to take a picture of it but couldn't get my smart phone into camera mode in time (too busy steering, dodging slow moving semis, manuevering around curves, etc.) Anyway, I found a similar image online.

Yes, that's a "Bear Crossing" sign.

After crossing Raton Pass I hung a left and headed through northeast New Mexico towards the Texas panhandle. I thought the drive through Wyoming was desolete, but NM just might be worse. Not much in the way of scenery (rolling plains with a few hills and mesas off in the distance). The worse part about this particular stretch is that the speed limit gets lowered from 70 MPH to the 50s or 40s, depending on location, for what are basically ghost towns. These little wide spots in the road are home to closed and collapsed businesses and buildings. There are few if any inhabitants for miles around. To make things worse, the speed limit is lowered miles before what used to be a town, is kept at ridicuously low levels during the deserted ruins, and isn't restored back to 70 until miles afterward.

It was a great relief to cross the border into God's Country, where the speed limit is higher, the gas is cheaper, the beer is colder, and the women are prettier.

I'm spending Tuesday night in Lubbock. Wednesday should be a relatively easy day - just a little over 300 miles, compared to the 500+ miles of the past two days. I plan to spend Wed. night at our lake cabin, doing some laundry, stashing some meat in the freezer there, and taking care of a few maintenance chores. Then I'll head for home on Thursday, where I plan to make my wife a happy woman...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Nine

They say timing is the key to life. That was proven today, at least in terms of the weather.

The four days I was in Wyoming were just about perfect. Blue bird skies, crisp but comfortable temperatures, light breezes (for the most part). But yesterday, when I left, the weather turned. The day dawned cloudy, cold, and damp. Overnight temperatures for the next few days are forecast to be in the 20s. Highs today and tomorrow will struggle to get into the 40s, and the wind was howling. However, I was nice and comfortable in my truck.

I underestimated how much meat one elk would provide. Those beasts are huge. Between the elk and the antelope, my large ice chest is full. In fact, I had to leave some meat behind. Of course, I made sure I took all the backstraps and tenders, and left behind most of the burger and stew meat.

I topped the cooler off with 16 pounds of dry ice and 30 pounds of regular ice. That should keep the meat cold until I get home. Of course, with all that meat and ice I can just barely lift the cooler. Good thing I spent all that time getting in shape before the hunt.

The drive today wasn't that long in terms of time (around 8 hours) but the last few were pretty stressful. After crusing for the first four hours from northern Wyoming to the Wyoming-Colorado border (I estimate I saw fewer than one car per mile), I slogged through the Fort-Collins - Denver - Colorado Springs morass during rush hour in the rain. But I eventually made it to my hotel in Colorado Springs.

Tomorrow should see me through the remainder of Colorado, all of New Mexico, and end in Lubbock, Texas. Tonight I'll kick back and watch the Cowboys-Redskins on MNF.

There are some benefits to getting back in touch with the outside world...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Eight

One of the nicest things about this trip is that I've been blissfully unaware of events in 'the real world.' For some misguided reason I decided to check the CNN website to see if obama has been impeached or shot yet (just kidding about that last one).

Alas, barry remains in office. That was depressing enough, but a couple of stories made me feel even worse.

Authorities: Suspect in California shooting spree was deported to Mexico twice
One of the suspects in a California shooting spree that left two sheriff's deputies dead was deported to Mexico twice, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Let's see obama explain to the families of those dead officers why he refuses to enforce border security and immigration laws.


In other news:

Quarantined nurse slams Gov. Christie
Kaci Hickox, a nurse placed under mandatory quarantine in New Jersey, went on CNN on Sunday and criticized the "knee-jerk reaction by politicians" to Ebola, saying "to quarantine someone without a better plan in place, without more forethought, is just preposterous." 
"This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated," Hickox told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."
While I respect her selflessness and compassion, she's way off base on this one. She's seen first hand what an Ebola epidemic looks like. Why on earth would she want to take even the slightest risk of that occurring here? IMO our right to be free of Ebola trumps whatever rights of hers that have been allegedly violated.

There were more equally depressing and nonsensical stories that I didn't bother reading. Instead, I did what I should have done in the first place - ignored the Internet and went out for a hike.

Another gorgeous day. I  wish I could take this weather back home with me.

I'm leaving Monday morning to return to 'civilization.' It's been blissful, but I have to go back ... I guess...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Funnies 2014.10.26 and Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Seven

A twofer today - it's Day Seven of my elk hunt, and it also happens to be our 22nd (?) wedding anniversary.

First, the elk hunt:

As most of you know, I've filled my tags, so this weekend is R&R. I slept in yesterday - after the shock of successive pre-dawn wakeups my system needed some time to recover. So when I walked out on the deck to greet another gorgeous Wyoming morning I was treated to the sight of several wild turkeys casually strolling away.

I guess they knew I didn't have a turkey tag.
Later in the day I went out for a hike. I managed to scare up a pair of ring-necked pheasants.

It's hard to see them, but there's a pair of birds more or less in the middle of this picture.
All in all, it was a wonderful day. Perfect weather, a nice and relaxed atmosphere, dinner with friends ... the only down note was that my wonderful wife wasn't here to share it (her choice, by the way - she was invited).

Speaking of anniversaries:

A man was walking down a street when he heard a voice from behind, ' If you take one more step, a brick will fall down on your head and kill you.'

The man stopped and a big brick fell right in front of him. The man was astonished.

He went on, and after a while he was going to cross the road. Once again the voice shouted, ' Stop! Stand still! If you take one more step a car will run over you, and you will die.'

The man did as he was instructed, just as a car came careening around the corner, barely missing him.

The man asked. ' Who are you? '

' I am your guardian angel, ' the voice answered.

'Oh, yeah? ' the man asked 'And where the hell were you when I got married? '

 * * * * * * * * * *

My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met. - Rodney Dangerfield

A good wife always forgives her husband when she's wrong.  - Milton Berle

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. - George Burns

The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret. - Henny Youngman

Marriage is when a man and woman become as one; the trouble starts when they try to decide which one. -Anonymous

Spouse: Someone who'll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn't have had if you'd stayed single. -Unknown

The Japanese have a word for it. It’s Judo – the art of conquering by yielding. The Western equivalent of Judo is, “Yes dear”. -J.P. McEvoy

 * * * * * * * * * *

On wedding anniversaries, the wise husband always forgets the past - but never the present.

 * * * * * * * * * *

At the banquet of Tom and Susan’s 25th wedding anniversary, Tom was asked to give his friends a brief account of the benefits of a marriage of such long duration.

“Tell us, Tom, just what is it you have learned from all those wonderful years with your wife?”

Tom responded, “Well, I’ve learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, forbearance, meekness, self-restraint, forgiveness and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t have needed if you’d stayed single.”

 * * * * * * * * * *

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Six

Another long day today. We repeated the 5:00 a.m. rise and shine routine. Headed up into the mountains shortly thereafter. I was riding Blue, a steed specially selected to haul my large but firm and well-sculpted ass up and down the mountainside.

What, you want to get back on AGAIN?

The biggest problem with heading up the mountain before sunrise is that it is dark! I don't mean city dark, where there is always some sort of light source. I don't mean suburban dark, where you might need a flashlight to navigate. I mean country dark, where it's darker than my ex-wife's heart.

There is absolutely no made-made light source anywhere around. There was no moon, and although the stars were 'big and bright,' they didn't give off enough light to make a difference. We were headed up a steep and rocky trail that bordered a sheer dropoff. I couldn't see a damn thing, and could only hope that Blue could see the trail better than I could.

This is the trail as seen on the return trip, after the sun came up. It's hard to get a feel for the scope and scale from this picture, but you can see part of the trail in the upper right. Now imagine coming up over the top, where those lonesome pine trees are in the upper right hand corner, in pitch dark conditions. Nerve-wracking...

We finally made it up the mountainside and settled in to glass in search of the elusive wapiti. We were searching the area where we had seen several bulls while out scouting the previous afternoon. As is so often hoped for but rarely happens, we actually spotted the elk where we hoped thought they would be. They were grazing in the foothills below us, moving up and angling towards the treeline. We were above them. Simple geometry dictated that if they continued moving up at an angle, while we moved in a straight line across the slope, we would beat them to the point of intersection, where we could set up a nice little ambush.

Of course, that neglected to take into consideration the fact that elk move faster than horses, especially when the horse riders are trying to be quiet. That relative speed of movement is further influenced by the fact that we were riding through brush and woods, while they were ambling across an open plain. Nevertheless, we got into position before they arrived. We set up on top of a wooded ridge overlooking an open meadow approximately four or five acres in size. Then the fun began.

We were sitting back in the treeline, using the pines to screen us. That also meant that the pines at times screened our view of the elk. It was a bachelor group of six young bulls, all about the same size and same stage of antler development. No huge trophy bulls among, them, but they all fell into the 'good bull' category.

Since the pine branches obscured my view and shooting lanes somewhat, I decided to move up five yards to the edge of the treeline. Utilizing all my woodcraft skills honed by years of mostly succesful hunting, I eased forward one step, only to kick a rock.

Fortunately, we had judged the wind correctly. It was blowing from them to us, so the 'clunk' went unheard. I breathed a sigh of relief and took another step.

My foot came down on a nice crunchy pine cone.

Again, the wind saved me. But now I was determined to watch where I put my feet, so, looking down, I slowly took another step.

My head hit a low-hanging limb so hard it knocked my hat off.

At this point the elk started to sense that something was amiss, and commenced to milling about. But I had finally reached a point where I had a clear shot. I waited for them to settle down, picked one out, and brought my rifle to my shoulder.

Here's where all the time at the range paid off. My mind was so busy procesing the variables (range = 200 yards, rifle zeroed in at 200 yards, no adjustment needed; wind light and into my face, no adjustment needed; shooting downhill at a fairly steep angle (approx. 45 degrees), aim slightly lower; target quartering slightly away, aim a little farther back) that the mechanics of actually shooting went on autopilot (breath control; sight picture; cheek weld, squeeze the trigger...).

For many years there has been an ongoing debate over the appropriate caliber to use when elk hunting. Some folks say a .270, which I was shooting, is fine. Others say it is not enough gun. I don't want to open that particular can of worms, but I will say for the record that this particular elk, shot with a 150 grain .270 round, took about four or five steps and then fell over. No muss, no fuss.

I shot from the knob at the treeline over my right shoulder (your left). The distance was right at 200 yards.

It took a couple of hours to clean him and transport him back to the ranch, where it took another couple of hours to cape and quarter him. Like I said, he's not going to make it into the Boone & Crockett record book, but for a first elk I think he's pretty damn good.

There is a celebration planned for tonight. Future posts may be late and/or garbled...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2014.10.24

I'm pretty bad at huntin' deer.... (sit through the lengthy commercial - it'll be worth it).

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Five

Long day yesterday. Up at 5:00 a.m. Horses saddleded by 5:30. Breakfast finished by 6:00. On the trail at 6:15. Sunrise at 7:00.

Sunrise in the mountains - two hours after getting up.
Saw a lot of elk. Unfortunately, they were a long way off on a neighboring ranch. However, I did get a close-up view of the ass end of a bull elk as it disappeared over a ridge about 50 yards in front of me. Oh well, that's why it's called 'hunting' and not 'shopping.'

It was a tough day to hunt. The wind was gusting and swirling. It seemed like it was always blowing the wrong way. But on our way back down the mountain we spotted some antelope off in the foothills. After riding hard and fast (well, maybe it was more like semi-hard and less slow) around a large knoll that sheiled us from them, we managed to get around them without being noticed. I slithered over a little knob and there they were. They knew something was up- they were antsy and milling around. But I was able to knock down a nice buck at around 230 yards. So at least we'll have something in the freezer this winter.

Later that afternoon we went out and scouted for elk for the next morning's hunt. We saw a couple of nice bulls to the south, and that large herd to the north. So it's a question of quality vs. quantity. I've still got three days to go, so we're going after the bulls in the morning (5:00 a.m. wake-up ... groan).

Of course, the bulls are in much more rugged terrain than the herd - steeper slope, more heavily wooded, farther away. But that's what makes it fun.

Keep your fingers crossed for me...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Three

Made it to my destination safe and sound. Dinner tonight at 6:30. That's a little earlier than I'm used to, but I have to be up at 5:00 tomorrow morning to saddle the horses. Then a quick breakfast and off we go.

Below is the forecast for the days I'll be hunting. Great weather for a picnic, but for elk hunting ... not so much. They tend to hang out at the higher elevations until cold and wet weather pushes them down lower.

I've been going hunting in Wyoming for the past decade or so, and every time I've gone there's been snow on the ground. In fact, last year I almost got stuck when the interstate was closed due to accumulations of snow and ice. I'm sure the locals are loving this weather, but highs in the 70s ... really?

It'll be a new experience, hunting in shorts and shirt-sleeves...

My guide and I, dressed for the weather - not!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day Two

Finally got out of Texas today. If you've never driven through the Panhandle it's hard to describe it. The word "flat" doesn't do it justice.

Take a look at your tabletop. It is positively undulating compared to the Panhandle.

The horizon is a perfectly flat line.

The roads were all laid out with one tool - a ruler. There are no curves anywhere .

(Well, except for the women. I dated two gals from out there. One was from Post, and the other was from Snyder. They were both cute as bugs and a lot of fun. But they both shared the same flaw - an inability to put up with youthful me. Not their fault - I was pretty immature back then. But still, they could have been a little more tolerant.)

There is also a noticeable lack of trees. In fact, trees are so scarce that dogs make reservations three days in advance.

Once I left Texas the terrain changed rapidly. About an hour into New Mexico I drove through Sierra Grande, at an elevation over 7000 feet. Around the New Mexico-Colorado border I went through Raton Pass, close to 7400 feet. In fact, the drive north from Raton goes through some pretty serious mountains.

I then battled my way through the Colorado Springs-Denver-Fort Collins traffic nightmare. That's about 150 miles of urban sprawl and city congestion. I don't see how people can live in those conditions (although I did live in Houston for twenty years - I guess you can get used to anything).

It was with profound relief and pleasure that I crossed the Colorado-Wyoming border. Traffic virtually disappeared. I think Wyoming has more antelope than cars.

Anyway, I'm spending the night in Douglas WYO. It's about halfway between the southern state line and the northern one, which is my destination. Tomorrow should be an easy day - just a three or four hour drive, then settling in and getting ready to start hunting bright and early Thursday.

I'm not sure what the Internet connection will be like at the ranch where I'm going, so posting my be a bit sporadic for a while. But I'll do what I can.

Y'all hold things together while I'm gone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Day One

Long day today. Actually, it began with a long day yesterday.

The deer season in Texas begins the first weekend in November. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is my elk hunting trip, Sunday was the only day we could all get together to do the before-season chores. So I drove three hours to the deer lease, put in a full day working there, and drove three hours back home. Left at 5:30 a.m. and was back home at 8:30 p.m. Then I got up at 7:00 a.m. the next day (Monday) to leave for Wyoming.


Still, I was so excited to begin the trip that fatigue wasn't a factor. What was a factor, however, was the dolts at SiriusXM radio. As part of prepping for the trip, a couple of days before I left I tested my plug-in Sirius radio. It didn't work.

I went through the whole 'contact tech support' thing. After Ajit and I determined that it was a hardware problem (duh - the unit was as dark as my ex-wife's heart) he passed me on to the Sales Department to order a replacement unit.

Since all this took place on Thursday, and I was leaving Monday, I clearly, emphatically, and repeatedly explained to my new best friend and Account Consultant that I absolutely positively had to have the new unit no later than Saturday.

Chandra repeatedly assured me that if I paid for 'Next Day Shipping' I would recieve it on Friday. I know this is so, because our conversation was recorded 'for quality purposes.'

You can guess the rest.  No radio on Friday. No radio on Saturday. I left on Sunday. The radio showed up on Monday.

Normally it wouldn't be a big deal, except that I spent Sunday and Monday driving through some very remote parts of the state. For example, on Sunday morning I could only receive one station. Since it was Sunday, and since we were in West Texas, I was treated to several hours of sermons. No doubt I could benefit from them, but it still made for a tedious drive.

Speaking of West Texas and saving souls, I am spending Monday night in the beàutiful metropolis of Dumas TX. This is such a big damn state that I drove for 9 hours and am still about 100 miles from the state line. Anyway...

Dumas is DRY. For those of you not familiar with archaiac Texas laws, that means no beer, wine, or liquor can be sold within the city limits ... UNLESS you are a member of a private club.

Oh, and by the way, you can purchase a one day membership in any private club in town for $5 bucks.

They may be Baptists, but they're not stupid.

To sum up, I'm tired, thirsty/dry, crànky, and suffering through a poor Internet connection. I'm going to bed. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day,although I doubt it.

My travel schedule calls for two more hours of driving time tomorrow than today (11 hours vs. 9 hours). I'll either have to drive longer or faster...

Monday, October 20, 2014

FOD 2014.10.20

This is what happens when a public health crisis is treated as a political opportunity.

President Barack Obama’s new Ebola "czar" Ron Klain has skipped another White House meeting on the Ebola crisis...
It's the second meeting  in as many days on Ebola that Klain hasn’t attended after being appointed into the position on Friday.
Obama held the Ebola meeting after spending four hours and 40 minutes on the golf course...
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Maybe what Barry needs is a catchy name for his Ebola response. How about Operation Fast and Infectuous...?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Funnies 2014.10.19

A hunting we will go...

A hunter is taken to the ER with multiple fractures and his clothes torn to shreds. He tells the doctor that he stepped on a nest of snakes, and he describes them to the doctor.

The doctor says that those snakes are harmless. They are not poisonous.

The hunter replies, "They don't have to be poisonous if they can make me jump off a twenty-foot cliff!"

A guy was telling his friend about his recent hunting trip to Wyoming.

"We were out in the woods all morning and our guide decided that we should take a break along the river bank. I wasn't feeling tired so I went for a stroll while the others were resting.

As I was walking, a grizzly bear burst out of the brush in front of me. I turned and started running like hell through the woods with the bear after me. The bear almost caught up with me but slipped and fell down.

I kept running and the bear almost caught up with me again twice, but slipped and fell each time. I finally reached the river bank. The guide saw the bear chasing me and shot it dead."

"Wow!" replied his friend, "That's incredible. If I were you, I would have messed all over myself."

The first guy answered, "What do you think the bear was slipping on?"

Two Aggies were driving to the woods to go bear hunting. They came upon a fork in the road where a sign read "BEAR LEFT.

They turned around and went home.

Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan, was being interviewed by a French journalist and animal rights activist. The discussion came around to deer hunting. The journalist asked, "What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him? Is it, 'Are you my friend?' or is it 'Are you the one that killed my brother?' "

Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, 'What am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the French.' "

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Never Send A Man To Do A Woman's Job - No, Wait...

I can't figure out if this is a case of irony, or of hypocrisy.

After thinking it over, I decided it's a little bit of both.

Would that be 'ipocrisy', or 'hyronic'?

Transgender Woman Can’t Be Diversity Officer Because She’s a White Man Now
A student who was born female felt perfectly comfortable identifying as a man at Wellesley College — until people said he shouldn’t be class diversity officer because he is now a white male.

Timothy Boatwright was born a girl, and checked off the “female” box when applying to the Massachusetts all-women’s school, according to an article in the New York Times. But when he got there, he introduced himself as a “masculine-of-center genderqueer” person named “Timothy” (the name he picked for himself) and asked them to use male pronouns when referring to him.
Where to start? If 'he' considers himself a man, why on earth did 'he' apply to an all-women's college? And who the heck comes up with these descriptions? A “masculine-of-center genderqueer”? WTF is that?

Anyway, after 'he' came out fo the closet, so to speak, the fun began. all accounts, Boatwright felt welcome on campus — until the day he announced that he wanted to run for the school’s office of multicultural affairs coordinator, whose job is to promote a “culture of diversity” on campus.
Stop and think about that for a minute. A “culture of diversity” on an all-women's campus. Seems like they've just eliminated half the population right there. What a tiny little exclusive world-view have the progressives at Wellesley.
...some students thought that allowing Boatwright to have the position would just perpetuate patriarchy. (How can patriarchy be perpetuated at an all-women's college? Never mind...) They were so opposed, in fact, that when the other three candidates (all women of color) dropped out, they started an anonymous Facebook campaign encouraging people not to vote at all to keep him from winning the position.

“I thought he’d do a perfectly fine job, but it just felt inappropriate to have a white man there,” the student behind the so-called “Campaign to Abstain” said.
So what's inappropriate? White, or male - or both?
“It’s not just about that position either,” the student added. “Having men in elected leadership positions undermines the idea of this being a place where women are the leaders.”
Sounds like the students at Wellesley need some mandatory transgender sensitivity training...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2014.10.17

Headed for Wyoming on Monday. My route out of Texas is mostly back roads...

Boarish Behavior

This story is a little dated - it's about a year old - but it captures some eternal truths. As one who has more experience than desired with both feral hogs and beer, I can attest to the deleterious effects of both. In fact, much like the swine in the following story, after consuming 18 beers I have found myself in altercations with a belligerent bovine.
A rampage by a feral pig that consumed 18 beers has prompted warnings for people at campsites to properly secure their food and alcohol.

The pig struck at the DeGrey River rest area, east of the remote Western Australian town of Port Hedland in the Pilbara, according to the ABC.

The animal was seen stealing three six-packs of beer from campers before ransacking rubbish bags for food.

One camper reported seeing the pig guzzling the beer before getting involved in an altercation with a cow.

"In the middle of the night these people camping opposite us heard a noise, so they got their torch out and shone it on the pig and there he was, scrunching away at their cans," said the visitor, who estimated that the pig had consumed 18 beers.

"Then he went and raided all the rubbish bags. There were some other people camped right on the river and they saw him being chased around their vehicle by a cow."

The pig was reportedly last seen resting under a tree, possibly nursing a hangover.
Been there, done that...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Imbeciles To The Right Of Us, Imbeciles To The Left Of Us

By now you've probably heard that a second health care worker in Dallas has Ebola. Not only that, but she flew on a commercial airline flight after being exposed to the disease, with a fever, with the blessing of the CDC.
The CDC has announced that the second healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola — now identified as Amber Joy Vinson of Dallas — traveled by air Oct. 13, with a low-grade fever, a day before she showed up at the hospital reporting symptoms.
In response to the event and subsequent public concern, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden had this to say:
“Those who have exposures to Ebola, she should not have traveled on a commercial airline,” said Dr. Frieden. “The CDC guidance in this setting outlines the need for controlled movement. That can include a charter plane; that can include a car; but it does not include public transport..."

Frieden specifically noted that the remaining 75 healthcare workers who treated Thomas Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital will not be allowed to fly...
Let me get this straight. The head of the CDC says that people who have been exposed to Ebola should not be allowed on a commercial airline. Yet he and the obama administration refuse to ban or quarantine travelers from regions in Africa where the disease is raging out of control.

All I can do is say WTF?

We have a federal agency staffed with imbeciles doing the bidding of an imbecilic president and his imbecilic administration, all put into office by imbecilic voters.

Sidebar: Speaking of imbeciles, how about the NBC news crew that was exposed to Ebola in Africa violating their quarantine.
Dr. Nancy Snyderman is taking the heat from the media after she and members of her NBC News crew violated a mandatory three-week quarantine after returning from West Africa.

Snyderman, who is NBC News' chief medical correspondent, recently returned from Africa after reporting on the devastating Ebola outbreak there. One of her cameramen, Ashoka Mukpo, tested positive for the virus, and the rest of Snyderman's crew agreed to a 21-day voluntary quarantine.

However, according to reports from TMZ and Planet Princeton, Snyderman and members of her crew were spotted outside the Peasant Grill restaurant in Hopewell, N.J., on Oct. 9.
So now we have imbeciles in the media reporting on imbeciles in the government (head -> desk...head ->desk...head->desk...)

For a classic contrast between our government's bungling response to the Ebola cases and how the private sector handled the same situation, check out this story. (H/T to Peter for the link.)
(The Firestone rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia) detected its first Ebola case on March 30, when an employee's wife arrived from northern Liberia. She'd been caring for a disease-stricken woman and was herself diagnosed with the disease. Since then Firestone has done a remarkable job of keeping the virus at bay. It built its own treatment center and set up a comprehensive response that's managed to quickly stop transmission. Dr. Brendan Flannery, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's team in Liberia, has hailed Firestone's efforts as resourceful, innovative and effective.
Meanwhile, back here at home, the situation must be dire. barry has canceled fundraising trips to actually stay in D.C. and do his job.
President Obama on Wednesday night canceled his planned travel on Thursday, for the second straight day, so he could stay at the White House to oversee the government’s response to the Ebola crisis, officials said.
obama is canceling fundraisers and overseeing the government's response?

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid...

Elk Hunt Chronicles - Prologue Part II

I leave Monday 20 October for my first elk hunt. As I mentioned before, I've been doing several things to be prepared (yes, I was a Boy Scout in my youth).

I've embarked on a fitness regimen to get myself in shape for traipsing up and down mountainsides at altitude. The horse will do most of the heavy lifting, getting me from the base camp at around 5000 feet to our hunting area at around 7000 feet. But once we're there this flatlander is going to have to haul his overweight carcass up, down, and around peaks and valleys. So for the past several weeks I've spent a couple of days per week busting my butt on the elliptical machine and the treadmill with their elevations cranked to the max. My heart rate gets somewhere between 130-140 BPM for 30 minutes, with a warmup/warmdown period before and after. On alternate days I've been hiking up and down the hills around home. They're not mountains, but there are a few spots where the slope gets pretty steep. While I'm hiking I'm also breaking in my new boots. In addition, I lug around 10 pound hand weights to simulate carrying my rifle (the folks around here are pretty tolerant, but the sight of a dark skinned (tanned) bearded male hiking purposefully on remote trails might result in more than one call to the local LEOs).

I also spend a couple days a week working on the upper body - low weights/high reps to get the heart rate up and build endurance. Plus I've worked up to 200 situps and 50 pushups daily. I'm not ripped or buff by any stretch of the imagination, but my flab is beginning to show signs of definition.

My wife and I have also adopted a healthier diet. We have fish once a week, chicken twice a week, wild game once a week (lean, low-fat, all natural, and cleaning out the freezer), and go meatless once a week. We relax the restrictions on the weekend, but don't go overboard. I've even cut back on my beer and wine.

The net result after six weeks of diet and exercise?

I've gained two pounds.

On the bright side, however, I've taken my belt up two notches and gone down one pants size. I also feel better and have more energy (although my knees, hips, and back ache a little more). Still, I guess it's worth it.

As for the actual mechanics of hunting, I've been going to the range weekly. My rifle really likes Hornady ammo, but I've had a tough time finding 150 grain .270 ammunition around here. Plenty of it in 130 grain, but 150 grain is scarce. I did pick up some Remington 150 grain, but the results at the range were disappointing. Groups averaged 2 1/2 - 3 inches at 100 yards, no matter what I did. (See the earlier post for the 130 grain vs. 150 grain discussion.)

I finally ordered some Hornady ammo online (is this a great country or what? - ammunition delivered to your house!). Went to the range today and in the first three round group I shot, all the holes were touching. I'm a happy man!

I've been getting some strange looks at the range. Not only have I been practicing different shooting positions (prone, sitting, taking a rest against the shed posts, even offhand), but I've been double-timing in place for 30 seconds before shooting. I want to practice getting shots off with an elevated heart rate and breathing in positions I'm more likely to shoot from when actually hunting. Nothing against those guys with their lead sleds and sandbags, but I won't have any of those with me out in the field.

I finished shopping today for provisions; granola bars, yogurt, nuts, and beef jerky for the three day drive from here to there, along with plenty of OJ, water, Shiner Beer, and Rebecca Creek Whiskey ("Texas in a glass"). The beer and whiskey isn't for me, but for those poor deprived souls in Wyoming who don't have access to those respective nectar's of the gods.

Hotel reservations are made, the truck has been inspected and prepped, and I'm doing the laundry and airing out my winter/hunting clothes. I feel like a kid the week before Christmas.

Stock market crash? Who Cares.

Ebola outbreak? Doesn't Matter.

Midterm elections? Early Voting.

ISIS? Bring 'Em On.

Screw all that crap. I'm going hunting!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ISIS And Ebola

The words ain't coming, so here's a couple of pictures that say the same thing I was going to write, but quicker.

Here's one more, just for fun.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Last Night's Dinner

A little more elaboration regarding last night's dinner:

The guest of honor was a guy I used to work with back in the 1980s. We worked closely together, but weren't close friends - more than casual acquaintances, less than bosom buddies. We respected each other professionally and enjoyed each other's company, but for some reason never became tight.

Over the years we moved on to other jobs and eventually lost touch. Thirty years later we found out that we'd both moved to the same small Texas community. Small world, indeed.

There's a reason I'm bringing this up. We just found out that my friend is being treated for prostate cancer. I heard the news shortly after the end of the Kilted to Kick Cancer campaign. It personalized the disease and the campaign for me. Last night marked the midway point in his treatment - 40 days of radiation therapy. He's doing well - no nausea or hair loss, no weight loss, still feels good and has plenty of energy. The prognosis is guardedly optimistic.

So guys, please do yourself a favor and get checked early and often. Gals, make sure your guy does what he's supposed to do. And if you have a little spare change, please consider donating it to a good cause. Or maybe even go a little farther and get involved.

Your prostate, or the prostate of someone you love, will thank you.

Busy Busy Busy

Hosted a dinner for some old friends last night. Spent most of the day cleaning, prepping, and cooking. Dinner consisted of bacon wrapped pork loin; antelope medallions with blackberry reduction sauce; baked sweet potatoes topped with butter, lime, and cilantro; roasted veggie medley; and a strawberry spinach salad. Oh yeah - accompanied by garlic bread and wine.

Lots and lots of wine...

Desert was a chocolate macadamia nut torte with homemade whipped cream and Blue Bell ice cream (from contented cows).

 Sorry, no pictures, but recipes are available upon request.

Regular blogging will return after digestion is complete - probably some time in the next day or two.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Birthday To All the Squids Out There

Today is the 239th birthday of the greatest Navy the world has ever known - our very own United States Navy!
The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on 13 October 1775, by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America.

In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized recognition of 13 October as the Navy's birthday.

Happy Birthday, swabbies. Don't celebrate too hard...

FOD 2014.10.13

Think back to the 2012 presidential election. obama was re-elected by an impressive margin. In his subsequent State of the Union address he laid out a grandious vision for a progressive second term. He was poised to usher in a new era of sweeping liberalism.

And then it all collapsed.
The problems came in waves. The attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, took place eight weeks before the election, but the many inconsistencies in the administration’s narrative dogged Obama into his second term...

The controversy over the talking points revived a scandal that the administration had hoped was behind them. At a press briefing just days before the new revelations, Carney had dismissed a question about the attacks six months earlier by claiming, “Benghazi happened a long time ago.”
Then in May 2013 the IRS scandal broke.
... a damning report from the Treasury Department inspector general was made public. And those responsible for the targeting, it soon became apparent, were not “line officials in Cincinnati” but senior IRS officials in Washington.

Top Democrats in Washington had been publicly calling for the IRS to scrutinize Tea Party groups. But White House officials denied any role in the targeting, and President Obama was quick to condemn it. “Americans have a right to be angry about it,” he said. “And I’m angry about it.” The targeting, Obama said, was “inexcusable.”

Three days later, the public learned that the federal government was spying on reporters. The Department of Justice had obtained phone records for nearly two dozen reporters and editors from the Associated Press as part of an investigation into alleged leaks of classified information...
Days later, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice had gone even further in another investigation, closely monitoring the activities of Fox News correspondent James Rosen... Amid the ensuing controversy, Attorney General Eric Holder, who had previously testified to Congress that he had never contemplated the prosecution of a member of the media for disclosing classified information, admitted having approved the Rosen warrant application...

Less than a month later, the Guardian and the Washington Post, working from documents stolen by Edward Snowden, published detailed accounts of surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Agency...

These controversies were one part of Obama’s collapse. His failing policies were the other. Four years after Obama signed the stimulus into law, unemployment remained high and economic growth was anemic...

And then came health care. The Obamacare rollout in October 2013 was an unmitigated disaster. The front‑end of the website didn’t work. The back-end hadn’t even been built. Serious security issues made potential enrollees reluctant to sign up. And many of those who signed up did not initially make premium payments.

The promise that President Obama made more than three dozen times as he worked to pass Obamacare​—​“if you like your plan, you can keep it, period”​—​was inoperative. Worse, it was clear that Obama knew when he made the promise that he would break it. Analyses the White House itself conducted had concluded that millions of Americans would not be able to keep their health care plans, whether they liked them or not. The very structure of Obamacare requires the cancellation of plans that do not meet the standards of coverage mandated by Washington.

Obama knew this. So did his aides. And so did Republicans, who warned repeatedly and with great urgency that people would lose plans they liked.

The problems with Obamacare were so bad that they elicited public criticism from Obama’s two living Democratic predecessors. “His major accomplishment was Obamacare and the implementation of it is now questionable at best,” said Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton urged Obama to keep his word. “The president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

The Obama presidency has seen many low points, but this has to have been one of the lowest​—​Jimmy Carter questioning Obama’s competence and Bill Clinton questioning his integrity. (emphasis added)

The administration scrambled to avoid a full collapse of the law. They suspended enforcement of the employer mandate. They granted the IRS authority to provide tax credits to those insured through the federal exchange despite the fact that the plain language of the law provided tax credits only to those who were insured through state exchanges. They provided carve-outs and exceptions to other aspects of the law on an ad hoc basis.

The scandals and policy challenges that shaped Obama’s fifth year have derailed his sixth. New revelations about the IRS and Benghazi scandals​—​widespread “computer crashes” among IRS employees investigated by Congress and Benghazi documents that further undermine the administration’s claims​—​have kept the stories alive despite the flagging attention of the establishment media.

Many of the policy decisions of yesterday have become the crises of today, particularly overseas... 
Obama boasted that he had ended the war in Iraq. The administration erected obstacles to an agreement with Baghdad that would have left a residual force in Iraq, and Obama celebrated the fact that he was the president who had brought all U.S. troops home from Iraq.

A year before he began his second term, Obama sent Robert Ford to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Syria with the hope that Bashar al-Assad would be a reformer. Instead, Assad responded to peaceful protests with the systematic slaughter of moderate rebels who opposed him. Obama called for Assad’s ouster but declined to do anything that would produce that result. He insisted that the movement or use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” for the United States, but balked when presented with evidence that Assad had repeatedly used those weapons.

In the face of U.S. inaction, moderate rebels turned to Islamic extremists for help, and jihadists flocked to Syria to join the fight. With better weapons, more experience, superior organization, and steadily flowing funds, the jihadists began to crowd out other elements in the Syrian opposition. Al Qaeda and likeminded groups saw an opportunity to seize territory and expand their efforts, and in due time the Islamic State controlled vast sections of Iraq and Syria.

The Obama administration dismissed or sidelined intelligence officials who contradicted the official line by warning about the growing threat from al Qaeda and the Islamic State. But that threat soon became too big to ignore.

In an announcement that at once made clear the administration’s failures on Iraq, Syria, and al Qaeda, Obama ordered airstrikes on jihadist targets in the region. The tide of war was rising once again.

The scandals and policy failures have had a devastating effect. With two years left in his presidency, Obama has no agenda. The major new investments and initiatives that he spoke of after his election never happened. Gun control measures he pushed went nowhere. Immigration reform​—​at least the comprehensive variety that Obama demanded​—​is dead. As the investigations of old scandals continue, new ones have taken their place on newspaper front pages across the country: the chronic failures of the VA and, most recently, a serious cover-up involving the Secret Service.

When he’s not on the golf course, the president seems to spend most of his time fundraising for vulnerable Democrats, threatening executive action on those things he can’t accomplish by leading, and working to minimize crises of his own making.

This is a failed presidency.
Speaking of barry and the golf course:
The First Duffer reached a milestone Sunday, playing his 200th round of golf since taking office, according to CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
It's not like there's an outbreak of a deadly disease threatening the country or anything...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Funnies 2014.10.12

I hate to do this to y'all, but I have a terrible weakness for puns...

I once loved a girl, but she and I were quite different. Sadly, things didn't work out.

She was only a whiskey-maker, but I loved her still.

I tried talking about our future but she just kept bringing up my past. It was a tense conversation.

True story - those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I used to work in the financial industry before I moved to academia. You might say that I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.

Speaking of losing interest:

A little bathroom humor:

When I get naked in the bathroom, the only thing that gets turned on is the shower.

Brace yourself. Here come the really bad ones.

'I got lost in the streets of Paris,' he said ruefully.
I was leaving a store and had my arms full of packages. A clown held the door open for me.

What a nice jester.
 "A Farewell to Arms" is Ernest Hemingway's novel about an American soldier in Italy during World War I. He falls in love with a nurse in the hospital, decides to go AWOL, and rows all night with her in a boat from Italy to Switzerland to evade the authorities.

His girl friend was sitting in the stern of the boat, and he was rowing in the middle. At one point he said, "Cathy, I love you."

She said, "Pardon?"

He said, "I said I love you."

She still didn't hear him, so he removed an oar from the lock, moved up to the stern, resumed steering the boat from that position, and said again, "I love you."

She said, "I love you too, but why are you standing there sculling when you can do so much better rowing where you were?"

He said, "You are undoubtedly right: I just sculled to say I love you."
To add to the punishment in Purgatory, Satan decided to make all the tormented souls listen to elevator music.

The Hells Are Alive With the Sounds of Muzak.
A farmer lived in ancient Rome. He was working in the fields one day when he came across a giant strawberry, about one foot wide and 18 inches high. He thought this would be a novelty that many would want to see, so he took it home, washed it off, and set up a display in a case. He advertised the giant strawberry far and wide, and people came from all over to see the exhibit. He charged admission and made a pile of money.

However, he failed to report his earnings to the tax authorities, so they came to his farm to confiscate the exhibit. When they arrived at his door, he said, "I suppose you have come all this way to admire my exhibit as well?"

"No," they said. "We've come to seize your berry, not to praise it."

I apologize for the terrible puns.

The last one - I promise.